Tuesday, December 14, 2010


God is here.

My heart warms with this thought.  And my soul rests.  This is one of the most profound-yet beautiful-truths of Christmastime.  Amid the hustling and bustling, shopping, baking, partying, wrapping, list-making, caroling, cleaning, decorating, tree-hunting, giving, etc., etc. this is why Christmas matters most to me.  The age-old nativity story is a simple one of a tiny baby and more love than I can grasp.  And no matter what happens or doesn't, God is here and ready to love me, hold me up, and share life with me.  *Exhale*

And now for my "adult world" Christmas wishes!
  •  For Mom:  A quick and complete recovery from the crazy-and-hard-to-pronounce-hip-surgery.
  •  For Morgan:  A job or teaching opportunity in India!
  •  For Brandon and Erica:  Motivation.
  •  For Bukesa, Mengo, and the rest of the homes and schools in Uganda:  Committed individuals to support the kids' development consistently.
  • For My Precious Grandpa:  A boost of health.
  • For Alissa and Mark:  A large sum of money, so they can get to Asia faster!
  • For Dani and Mac:  More time together.
  • For Me:  An open heart and crystal-clear clarity, so I go, do, and be exactly what Christ intends.  And maybe a Kindle... only so I can read all of BBC's Big Read books!!  So silly, I know.  I'm shamefully admitting that I want one. 
  • For My Dearest Friends, Near and Far, Who I Didn't Specifically Mention Above:  A peaceful Christmas and 2011 filled with wonder, opportunity, health, love, provision, and laughter. 

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"I've got a thousand love songs.  Far too many, they've just got away.  I've done a thousand things wrong.  Far too many for me to name.  But I'm not too far gone to fall headlong, into the arms that love me." 

Today is a much better Monday than I anticipated.  Over the Rhine pre-released their new album, and I'm listening to it while drinking a new blend of coffee.  I was trying to avoid instant gratification, but OTR doesn't apply.  Mmm.

For the love of sultry music, Christmastime, and anticipation of yoga class.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Promises (that require) Playlists

The Context:  

My couch is cozy this time of year, especially while watching my favorite French movie or reading Eat. Pray. Love. and romanticizing about foreign lands I have yet to visit where I will kiss intriguing men.  I also enjoy a margherita pizza with red wine for dinner and dark chocolate M&Ms for dessert.

The (Problematic) Reality:

Despite my passion for the country's film, I failed learning the country's language.  Turns out it's much more difficult than AmĂ©lie let on.  Also my preference for high-calorie dinners is making me a flubby sloth. And because she stopped her yoga routine and consumed excessive amounts of wine and pizza, Elizabeth Gilbert gained 15 pounds in Italy, because, well, all she did was eat.

The Solution:  

Even though I hate it, 24 Hour Fitness is my new boyfriend.  He's always available for a chat or late-night walk.  I know, I know, I've said it before.  But I'm running a 5k on January 23rd in Washington Park.  My first one ever; I just registered.  I don't want to do it, but if I don't do it, I won't go to 24 and will spiral into a glutenous sloth. 

A Promise and A Playlist:
So with that promise, I've spent hours deliberating over the perfect combination resulting in the following playlists.  Goodbye, excuses.  Hello, iPod. Expect an update on January 24th or 25th.  Enjoy the tunes (they're treadmill tested and runner approved) and share your favorites! 

The Current Favorite (Better Known as the "I Only Listen to Chill Music, and Running is Foreign to My DNA" Playlist):
  1. Feist - I Feel It All
  2. Death Cab For Cutie - The Sound of Settling
  3. Fiona Apple - Better Version of Me
  4. Cake - Love You Madly
  5. The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
  6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll
  7. Radiohead - Idioteque
  8. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Can't Stop
  9. Coldplay - Strawberry Swing
  10. Mumford & Sons - Little Lion Man
  11. John Legend & The Roots - Our Generation (The Hope of the World)
  12. Eagle-Eye Cherry - Save Tonight
  13. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Learning To Fly
  14. Explosions In the Sky - First Breath After Coma
The Motivator (Better known as the "Get Off Your Butt... NOW" playlist):
  1. A.R. Raham, from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack - Mausam & Escape
  2. Jason DeRulo - Ridin' Solo
  3. MGMT - Kids
  4. Jay Z with Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind
  5. Angels & Airwaves - Everything's Magic
  6. Justin Beiber - One Time (Hey, if the Fever works...)
  7. Eminem - Lose Yourself 
  8. Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling
  9. Kanye West - Stronger
  10. Beyoncé - Single Ladies
  11. Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
  12. Cake - The Distance
  13. Jamie Foxx - Winner
  14. Flo Rider - Club Can't Handle Me
  15. R. Kelly - Ignition (remix version)
Surprised?  :)  Love to my fellow addicts to Netflix streaming and passionate couch potatoes.  I'll never judge you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck... we should just be thankful for being together!"

Recognize that quote?  It's from a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  I rely on Peanuts to remind me of the important things in life.  And if I crafted a hand turkey, I wouldn't have enough appendages to display all I'm thankful for.

  • Family - We've been through it all (well, almost...), and I love them.  And they still love me; that's the cool part.
  • Degree - During these few, post-grad months, I've come to appreciate my education.  I gained much more than a deeper understanding of literature.  I learned how to think, question, and change.  As one of my favorite profs says, "It's something that can never be taken from you or lost."
  • Friends - What can I say?  Mine are the best in the world, and we will change it together, because we believe it's possible.
  • Google - It's walked with me through many troubling dilemmas.  And reminded me of my humanity.  I should invest in stock; now only if I could afford it...
  • Cassidy and Finn - Two boogers of giggles.  They remind me to slow down, smile, and not be too serious.
  • Small Group - They are honest.  They give.  They listen.  They challenge.  They work.  They tell weird stories.  They believe in me.  They drink alcohol.  And they love Jesus.
  • Freedom - To be a different, better, more real person.  To change.  And to try again after making a mess of things.
  • Uganda - The individuals I met there.  The story that's unfolding.  The redemptive possibilities.  The something in my life that's bigger than me.
  • Grace - It turns my bad days good, and I'm only beginning to understand it. 
My heart is full.  What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 15, 2010

*Seeking to understand instead of being understood.  *Finding where I fit in God's story instead of writing my own.  *Seeing good in people I dislike.  *Waiting patiently.  *Not giving up on those who have given up on themselves.  *Opening to the possibility of love and being okay with not having that right now.  *Letting go of hurt and forgiving.  *Departing from expectation.  *Being content.  *Appreciating the twins and liking my job.  *Not gratifying instantly.  *Cultivating a passion for the Bible that I've never had but always wanted. *Running.  *Loving the person in front of me. *Respecting lifestyles and viewpoints I do not understand.  *Letting God out of the box I've placed him in for years.  *Moving away from cynicism toward hope.  *Being Christ instead of thinking about it.  *Caring about the person and cultivating him or her as opposed to furthering a cause.  *Abandoning my fear to follow my passion.  *Making my own Christmas presents.  *Living a restorative lifestyle.  *Believing and being faithful.  *Disliking my landlord and squirrels less.

I'm learning a lot and maybe growing up a bit.  And I'm concluding with some Mumford & Sons, which is currently on repeat:

In these bodies we will live.  In these bodies we will die.  Where you invest your love, you invest your life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Death of the Squirrels!

Okay.  I hate squirrels more than anything else in the world.  That's sort of an overstatement, and I say "sort of," because I also hate world hunger, war, and child neglect.  But my strongest aversions are for blue pens, bad coffee, parking tickets (I seem to break every rule about parking in this city), and SQUIRRELS!!!  They are NOT cute.  They are NOT cuddly.  They are NOT meant to live in my attic/crawl space/walls/apartment.

On Sunday I heard a nasty scratch-scratch and called our landlord yesterday.  After a few hours, the nasty baby beast was trapped, and the landlord walked it out of my apartment.  Eeeeewww.  This is squirrel terrorism, and no words will convey my disgust.  I Googled about squirrel problems this morning (as I do with every common problem-Google is sort of like my guru, if I had a guru...) and found this picture on another girl's blog.  I added the slash-out and verbage, but I think this is an excellent expression of my mood.

Poop on squirrels.  Thank you, Cyberspace, for allowing ranting blog posts like this one.  But at least I get to see Sufjan Stevens tonight and drink a cold brew at the Cheeky Monk.  Mmmm... that's nice.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Never Too Far Away

This picture was taken near Kampala, Uganda at the Dorcas Children's Home in May of 2008.  During that month, I played soccer, sang, ate the best mangoes of my life, filled an entire journal, showered twice a week, made new friends, cooked with more vegetable oil than I consume annually in the States, and taught teens about American dating practices.  That May was one of the worst and best months of my short life.  But saying goodbye was the hardest part.  I cried the entire matatu ride to the airport; I didn't want to leave and knew I might never go back.  

It's been almost three years since that trip.  The kids are growing into young men and women; Uganda's next teachers, artists, doctors, leaders.  And after everything they've seen and experienced, they are joyful and believe they can do anything.  They form a true family with a deep love for one another, and out of that community will come incredible things.

I am blessed to be a part of this story.  And even after a few years, the kids aren't that far away.  Maybe physically, but they will always be in my heart.  The restoration here is beautiful.  If this isn't the heart of the kingdom, I'm not sure where it is.  Check out the full story here:   http://www.haloworldwide.org/halo-homes/bukessa and http://www.bukessafamily.org/bukessafamily.org/Welcome.html

Friday, October 22, 2010


I'm grateful for the inspiration and encouragement that I've encountered recently. 
  • Morgan's going to India.  She's taking a class to prepare.  And nothing anybody says is making her re-think her decision.
  • Anyone is welcome at the Coop/Elder house, and everyone who enters is loved.
  • Some kids at my church had a lemonade stand.  They bought mosquito nets with their profits, so five kids in Africa could have a lemonade stand, too.  Now ten kids get to grow up on both sides of the world.
  • Sarah's learning about the Middle East; her heart really breaks for those people.
  • My family's going to have Thanksgiving together... at Christmas.
  • Elizabeth's students are staying in school.
  • Dad's reading the book I borrowed him last summer.
  • Finn's beginning to crawl.
  • I told friends about the kids in Uganda, and they want to help.
  • Jess made the Law Review!
  • Even when no one else shows up, Beth and Nick hang out with the JS kids every Saturday.
  • My neighbor and I had a front-porch chat.
  • I met a new friend at church who lived in Kenya and started an HIV-AIDS project.  She left, and a Kenyan took over.  
  • Alissa and Mark applied for Peace Corps!
I know the most beautiful people. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

30 Years

Last night good friends and I talked about accumulating PTO, taking sick days for unnecessary things (like snowboarding in fresh powder), and eating Italian food in Italy.  We talked about this, because none of us are content and would rather be doing above said activities. 

One friend's co-worker has a paid, month-long vacation to Vietnam this coming Christmas.  He works for the government.  We're jealous of him.  Okay, I'm not jealous of the government job, but seriously, 30 days of PTO!!!  I may eat free food and watch a lot of TV, but nannying doesn't offer 30 paid days off.  Everything good has a catch, and so does this man's month-long, paid vacation.  He's worked the same job for 30 years to accumulate a benefit like that.  When he told us this, we all laughed not joyously but nervously.  

None of us are 30.  We haven't worked one job longer than five years.  Some of us haven't even lived on our own for more than six months.  30 years is a long time, and the amount makes me realize I have a lot of growing up to do, lessons to learn, and ideas to turn into action.  I'm kinda excited to see what happens in 30 years, who I am in 30 years, what's happened in and through me in 30 years.

Someone said this last night right before we left:  "Waiting doesn't prove a lack of faith but wisdom." I hope it's true.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pure Delight.

Autumn has arrived, and it is beautiful.

Colorado's aspens.  Nothing quite like them.

Echo Lake.  I want to kayak here sometime.

I want to skip work and sit in the woods all day.

Crunchy leaves.

This picture expresses my current emotional state.

And to celebrate the arrival of my favorite season, I baked pumpkin bread last night for my friends and watched Sunday Night Football.  


Friday, September 24, 2010

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts

For a day or two, I was embarrassed.  Now I am smitten and not one bit ashamed about it.  I love Friday Night Lights.  I don't know if it's the small-town dedication coupled with neighborly compassion, Coach Taylor's unconditional love for his wife and girls, the contagious enthusiasm for the Dillon Panthers that ultimately brings the most diverse individuals together, or the perfectly-succinct soundtrack by Explosions In the Sky, but I'm taken every episode.  I've teared up countless times.

What's even more amazing than my addiction to a fictional television show about a high school football team in a small, Texas town is my craving to go to a football game on a Friday night to cheer.  And love a man and raise our own kids who might play football on Friday nights in our future.  Then I could cheer them on, too.

Oh my.  Oh my.  Even if I do want a meaningful job and a life full of traveling adventure, I still want the simple, traditional things somewhere inside me.


Anyone with clear eyes and a full heart absolutely cannot lose, whether in football, love, family, or social entrepreneurship.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's that Crispness In the Air

Fall is here.  And to celebrate, I'm writing this under a tree at St. Mark's with a mocha while admiring the nerdy boy in a cardigan.  (Side note:  If only he were wearing plaid, and I had the guts to say hello.)  And going to Oktoberfest in the mountains tomorrow.  I hope the trees have turned.  I'll still love them if they haven't.

This changing season and crispness in the air makes me miss the Midwest terribly.  Words I never thought I'd utter.  For the first time in a long time, I want to go home.  To the place where I grew up, where the family that chose me lives.  To the land of dairy aroma, traditional family values, and small town boys and girls.  For the first time in a long time, I might be a little homesick.  Or possibly very nostalgic.

I'm also bored.  Proof of said boredom?  In the past six days, I've tried three new recipes with tofu.  I get on (what my sister and mom call) a "kick," where I go crazy with a concept or idea and beat it dead until it seems normal, as though it were always part of my convictions and lifestyle.  I made meatballs, mousse, and stir fry.  Next week I might try a cheesecake or "meatloaf."  Secret?  It was on Manager's Special at King Sooper's for 89 cents.  And I was bored.

And I miss writing.  In my lit classes, I always felt a little out of the loop.  My admiration for Tolstoy never surpassed my love (borderline obsession?) for Donald Miller, and smirk from Whitman's wit never trumped the laughter inspired by Billy Collins.  Plus, I didn't scheduled writing into my iCal like I did for the elliptical or girls' night.  Regardless of the facade, I'm a nerd.

Even though I don't handle boredom well- and my restlessness often transitions into discontent and preoccupation-I'm determined to learn to live with it, learn from it, and become a better woman from it.  My life feels like an extension of yellow:  Nothing has stopped (I'm still dreaming and thinking), and I'm preparing to go... somewhere, although the destination hasn't clearly arrived.  So while I learn to live better in the moment, enjoy opportunities authentically, and appreciate a pause, I conclude that this missing things means my significance is in a different world, a bigger vision, and an eternal kingdom.

Love from beneath an umbrella.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Comprehending and Processing

Now that the final wedding of the summer is over, and I'm back "home," it's time to hit the gym with brutal force.  Somehow paying $30 every month motivates me to utilize 24 Hour Fitness, and, unfortunately, I have no excuse.  After all it's open all day, every day; however, I've concluded that I go to the gym for the future... reducing future medical costs, preparing for future, outdoor endeavors, staying healthy for the people I love and will love.  I go because it's good for me, but 24 and I haven't bonded to the point of unconditional love or even unwavering addiction disguised as commitment.  No, we sort of have a love-hate connection going down.  

I understand why everyone looks like death on a Stairmaster.  Who knew climbing 80 floors in 20 minutes-I'm sure the pros do more than 20-could be that taxing.  My friend and I want to go to Peru next summer on a hiking trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  It's been on my list since high school Spanish, and Donald Miller did it, so that means I can do it, too.  But everything I've ever heard, read, or seen about this hike leads me to believe that the Stairmaster could be real helpful.  If I do 30 minutes a day until we leave, I might not collapse in Peru.  Logical thinking.  And who wants to pay $500 to pass out on the trail?  Not moi.

(Hikers on the Inca Trail:  Damn, that Random Hill setting on the recumbent just wasn't enough...")

All that ranting about the gym was a long (but apparently necessary-hello Stairmaster anger!) tangent, which proceeds to the more pressing concern:  Precious.  Despite warnings from friends and family ("you're going to cry and might not make it through in one sitting), I'd resolved to see the film.  I wanted to relax after my Stairmaster experience, and Precious wasn't the right choice.  Not only did I have a good cry, I ruined my 80-floor workout with a large bowl of ice cream (whatever... I work out, so I can eat what I want).

All over the movie, it says, "based on the novel," but we know that Precious is a composite story.  People suffer from similar abuse, illness, and poverty daily down the block from my cozy apartment.  My reaction to the film made me think about the professional route I want to pursue:  social work.  If I can't hack a movie, how will I ever do my job?  Am I cut out to hear people's stories day in and out and find some way to help them out of the downward spiral?  Who am I-broken and ill-equipped-to "handle" others' problems with some formal training and compassion?  

But what amazes and encourages me beyond my frailty is the beauty in the tragedy.  If I choose to go into social serves, my heart will be broken.  And it might be nearly impossible to completely separate from the people I serve, because they are people.  Individuals with feelings, hopes, dreams, fears.  But that relationship, that vulnerability is beautiful, and tragedy can be healed into restoration.  It might be difficult.  It will be tiresome.  It will be unnerving.  It will be underpaid.  It might not yield tangible results.  But I want to experience a better, fuller life with all people everywhere.  And I believe it is possible, even in the darkest situations.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Save them!


As a lover of rhetoric, I can't resist.  Check out this website, and help save the English language!  :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eat. Pray. Love.

I'd love to take four months off of life to eat.  Another four to pray.  And a final four to love.  That would be nice.  But, surprisingly, I'm not in the mood to trade my life for her's.  Two-and-a-half straight hours of AC was nice, though... ;)

In the meantime, I'll have backyard bbqs with friends I adore.  I don't mind our grilled salmon, $8 wine in plastic, party cups, conversation illuminated by Penske truck signs, and smores roasted indoors over a fondue candle. Life is good anywhere alongside the people you love; I'm thankful I could go to Bali to discover this, but right now I don't have to.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

As It Should Be

Last night I arrived at my friend's house to meet with my small group from church.  Usually we discuss the Bible and how it relates to our lives and try to move one step closer to understanding the beautiful mystery of Christ.  But yesterday was a long day for everyone, so we decided to go to the local pub for a beer.  We talked about how weird and complicated dating could be in the regular world and, especially, the Christian community.  One friend discussed his idea to film a documentary about the local children's hospital and give a voice to families' stories.  Mostly, we asked each other about life and listen to each other's stories.  The most beautiful part was a genuine desire to listen present among the group.  I go to church every Sunday, but I go on Tuesdays and Saturday nights as well.  The later times don't occur in a building but with people.  People living life, figuring out how to be better, seeking always to understand not necessarily be understood, and attempting to live more in Christ every day.  Church happens in a brick building.  Down the street in the bar.  Around the backyard fire pit.  During a walk through the park with a good friend.  And in the grocery line with a stranger.  I forget how beautiful the Church-the body of Christ- can be and that it is everywhere; isn't this how it should be?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Good Things

1.  Do-it-yourself decorating blogs!  Savin' the monies!
2.  Roommates who work at Starbucks and fuel my coffee addiction for free. 
3.  Bicycles and bike lanes down tree-lined streets.
4.  Over the Rhine.
5.  Summertime fruit.
6.  Cassidy & Finnigan.
7.  Friends who help me out just because we are friends.
8.  Dreams, opportunities, and possibilities.
9.  Real conversations that go from 9 PM until 3 AM and feel like 20 minutes.
10.  Accessible tickets in the front row of the Sufjan Stevens show... on accident.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


After trudging four, poorly-packed loads across the suburbs, Classy and I made it to the city.  The boxes are three-quarters unpacked, and decorations are on the walls.  No lie... I've enjoyed a glass of wine in a candle-lit living room paired with Over the Rhine every night this week.  And the key word to that sentence is enjoyed.  Our attic apartment is becoming a home slowly but certainly.

I love this new life in the city.  My neighbors, including the musician downstairs, who grill in the courtyard and smoke on the porch.  The hipsters walking around hand-in-hand.  Bicycle rides to work and around City Park at sunset.  Walks to the grocery store, coffee shop, and bookstore.  Jazz concerts on Sundays.

People in my neighborhood are incredibly friendly and intriguing.  This is no amazing discovery; however, I had forgotten after living in the same, isolated community for the past four years.  I loved those years, but it is nice to have change.  It reminds me that the world is big, possibilities are endless, and hope is alive.

Yay for becoming an uptown girl!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moving Into the Real World

After touring about twelve places, we signed a lease.  I get the keys to my first apartment on Saturday, and I'm nervous.  Is that weird?  But I'm excited, too, about the attic apartment in the Victorian house, walking score of 95, lively neighborhood, and slanted ceilings that will prove to be a moving challenge.  

Everyone says I'm in the "real" world now-as if I was in a fake world before-but I can see it.  Signing a lease, working from 7:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday, paying bills.  Even though I do those "real" things," I still feel like a kid.  I reflect on who I was last July and can see growth and maturity, but a long road still waits ahead.  

I like this new phase of life... backyard dinners with friends, neighbors, routine consistency, new acquaintances that grow into friendships, girls' nights with wine and fruit, big dreams, awkward groups of unknown individuals bound by a common purpose and vision, an unpredictable but bright future, community grounded in a commitment to grace and authenticity with room for mistakes and error.

Love from a hopeful idealist.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Craigslist Life

Question of the day:  Can one spend too many hours on Craigslist?

I'm not sure of the answer, but if it is "yes," I am terribly guilty.  We're hunting these days for our new home and furniture, and it feels so weird.  So adult.  Yesterday I purchased a used bedroom set.  It doesn't feel like me, but after a paint job, it is going to be spectacular.  For the past four years, I've lived in cookie-cutter dorms with pre-ordained furniture.  I haven't had to do one thing for myself outside of hanging a tapestry or two.  I'm stoked for the opportunity to make this next place a welcoming, creative, and personal space.  The mental vision is beautiful... we'll see what I think of the results!

As excited as I am, I also wonder if I'll even be here in one year.  I have no clue.  For the first time in my life, I have no plan.  I am focusing on TODAY.  And no words can describe the feeling exactly.  What I have is mine, but it belongs to others, too, and I am excited to share, learn, and figure it out from scratch.  Much inspires me- from the DIY decorating ideas found on Google to the Spanish prayer uttered in church on Sunday after the bluegrass set and the hole-in-the wall coffee shop I passed on my walk with the twins-and I have a new idea every day.  Good thing I'm only 22.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Confession:  I adore blogs.  With my new job, I have lots of time to surf the web, and I'm back on the scene.  And I love it.  My first blog attempt was one of those Xanga things back in high school, then I started several in college when I felt inspired/turned a monumental corner... there are so many of those in college.  The final attempt in January was a college cooking blog with healthy recipes on a tight budget (the result of watching "Julia and Julia"), but I graduated, and the blog wasn't relevant.  I'm now off to this new start, in so many ways, but this blog is yet another expression of the internal workings of my soul... and a fun little distraction/entrance into the bigger world.

At this time last year, my vision of the future looked entirely different.  What unfolds daily now is 110% not what I expected, but I like what's happening.  I am excited, anxious, confused, eager, and ready simultaneously.  When I consider my life, I am blown away by how undeserving I am of the grace and beauty I encounter everyday.  Life is for living, and I want to do just that.

Cheers to the next year of new:  home, job, relationships, perspective, attitude, budget, schedule, dream, surprise, and love.