Sunday, December 20, 2009

Faith and Frapps

(photo by live life loud)

Friday I spent a few hours at our local Starbucks. I was focused on some work that I really wanted to get done before the weekend. 'Bucks was packed.

In Utah, Starbucks is different. I've only been to three stores out there (all of the stores within 12 miles of my house), and am disappointed with every one. They are slow. They make drinks wrong a lot. They don't have the charisma from their staff that Starbucks is known for. But, how could they? They live in Mormon-ville. Mormons dont' drink caffeine, so their clientel is very limited, and so is their employment pool.

Going to these Starbucks has been strange for me. They are cold and empty, and just don't feel the same...

Spending an afternoon in a real Starbucks again was great. I've only been in Utah for 5 months, but still I was surprised by my experience at my neighborhood 'Bucks. After I had been there for about an hour, I started to be more observant of the parties around me. I was completely surrounded by [Evangelical] Christians. In Colorado Springs this is pretty typical, but in Littleton, i was caught by surprise. The woman next to me was writing a final paper (i assume) for some Christian course - probably either at Denver Seminary or Colorado Christian Univ. There were ladies sitting on the couches exchanging stories about their missions experiences in China and Kenya. There was a lady beside the door reading her Bible and writing in her journal who had come up to them to ask questions - she had overheard that they were missionaries. 

"Hi, i'm so sorry to disturb you, but do you love the Lord? I love the Lord!" she shouted with such joy and anticipation.

And i rolled my eyes as I hear these women near tears, talking (rather loudly) about their time with other cultures overseas, finding a kinship in each other through similar experiences and through a mutual love for God.

For the first time, i really understand what it feels like to be in the religious minority, even though in this instance I wasn't.

It's amazing to me how coffee shops attract the Christian crowd in many places. And I guess even I was sitting down working on a student sponsorship program that helps kids living in poverty around the world to receive a Christian education. And Starbucks is my favorite place to go and read and write in my journal. As I've previously mentioned, the coffee shops are where I have met with ladies for prayer and accountability and Bible studies. And there is nothing wrong with that. I was just so surprised by my annoyed response to these womens' interactions. I was surprised by my amazement when i realized that I was surrounded by Christians.

It is pretty strange to be on the outside looking in...

Friday, December 18, 2009

You probably guessed it by now.

And i'm sorry.

I'm so lousy at keeping up with my blog when i'm not in my usual routine.

(photo by subtlet: of the "downtown" street in my hometown!)

We are in Colorado. It's amazing to drive 8 hours and make it home. Versus the 15-18 it took us to get here from Illinois. And the drive is lovely. We left after I worked until noon and we got "home" in time to eat a late dinner and hang with the fam a bit! And I was well-slept with low stress so Landon and I just had so much fun together laughing, talking, and listening to good music (thanks Titol and G - the ipod dock makes ALL the difference in our road trips!)

I'm working today. Landon's planning mountain adventures and catching up on the much missed sleep these last two weeks of finals have bestowed upon him.

I am SO EXCITED for tomorrow, because it's Saturday and there will be no working from anyone. Only "family fun time" as we once mockingly called mandatory family time. But I think we're all looking forward to it.

And then once Monday arrives, we're flying to Georgia to spend Christmas with the McBrayer's! Hooray!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Some days there is so much that i want to share with you. I am saddened to have to wait for another day for my next post. I want to share it all NOW!!! I really should start writing those down, because I know that yesterday was one of those days and today I am at a total loss when it comes to posting ideas.

Welp, this will have to do.

Remember i told you that I have put together the most embarrassing display of Christmas lights? Seriously, the houses around her are all lit up in a very organized and beautiful way - you know, when the lights line the frame of the house right beneath the roof? I love that. Mine isn't quite as grand.

But because Christmas decorating season ALWAYS seems to come at the busiest time of Landon's semester, the last few years I have been decorating by myself. Which is fine, but Landon has asked me not to get on the roof, of which i gladly oblige.  So I dominated our railings this year.

We have white lights leading up to our front door, and on my back porch we have colored lights (whenever i type colored my fingers automatically jump into colorad....o? analyze....). I even went to the womens' meeting at my local ward (The Mormons call this group of women The Relief Society. We had an inspiring talk, prayer, dinner, and crafting. It was nice) and women there stopped me to tell me that they can see the lights on my porch from their kitchen! Wow. I wondered what ELSE they could see from their kitchen. Reminded me to shut the blinds in case i need a drink of water at night and i'm wearing nothing but my birthday suit.

But these lights are growing on me. Makes it feel a little bit like Christmas around here!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bonnye's Breakfast in a glass

Landon's parents made us Bonnye Woodlief's famous breakfast smoothies while we were at their beach house with them this summer. They made them for us again while they were visiting us here in Salt Lake City this fall.

We've been enjoying them every once in awhile ever since. I thought I should pass it on, because we all love it.

Disclaimer: this was never written down, so this may not be exactly right, but it's still yummy.

1 cup green tea, brewed concentrated
1 banana
1 cup of yogurt
A handful of almonds
1-2 tsp of ground flax
1/4 - 1/2 cup of frozen blue berries

(I've been known to add orange juice, or vanilla ice cream on occasion. and keep in mind that the measurements are guestimants.).


It's obviously full of antioxidants and is really yummy. Landon and I both like it!

Happy blending

and slurping...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Remember when i said that the way to my heart is with cheese?

A few days ago I received my first Christmas present delivered to my doorstep by Mr. UPS!

The past couple of years, my uncle and aunt have been getting me this delightful assortment of delicious goodness. I don't want to be hasty and say that it is becoming a tradition (wouldn't that be great!?), but each year I have enjoyed this gift for weeks.

Because it is edible, I didn't see any sense in waiting until Christmas to enjoy it (of course!). So for the last few days Landon and I have been savoring delicious summer sausage with Edam cheese, flat bread crackers,  and Spicy mustard. 

It's amazing. And wonderful in another way. I absolutely refuse to go grocery shopping the week before we leave for a long period of time. And we are headed to Georgia (by way of M&D's) at the end of this week. So we are still getting our protein (and saturated fats!) even though our refrigerator is practically empty of all but pickles, green beans and orange juice.

Thanks Uncle Chuck and Aunt Cathy!!! You always know how to love this girl in such a special way!

Friday, December 11, 2009

paper waster

I've mentioned a few times before that Landon and I are trying to be a paper-less family. I did succumb to purchasing paper towels a few weeks ago when landon offered to trade in his toilet paper usage for just a roll of paper towels. But that was tough on me. And hopefully this roll will last us the next 3 months.

I alluded to the fact that one of my great pet-peeves is when there aren't electrical hand dryers in the bathrooms. Drives me nuts, even, when i'm sitting in the stall and I hear the automatic paper-dispenser chugging along for a wasteful person that wants three towels for their two hands. at least they're washing their hands...i guess.

when we were traveling through thailand, there was a woman at the door to the womens' restroom that you paid for 3 squares of toilet paper... most opted to drip-dry i think. (i snuck in my own toilet paper!)

The Sierra Club is doing a initiative for Christmas, trying to get people to be creative about their gift wrapping - foregoing the traditional paper wrapping. Can you think of some creative wrapping alternatives?

Landon refuses to get the local news paper when we can just read the news online. I have a hard time imagining that the traditional and powerful newspaper will some day move into oblivion because of the internet. But maybe it's a good thing, really...

Maybe a tiny  (and totally attainable) new years resolution for this year would be to waste less.
Here's some easy things to do:
1. buy a few cloth table napkins. do not buy any paper napkins in 2010. see how you like it.
2. buy cloth grocery bags (they're $1 a piece and I usually just need 3 or 4 per trip) and forgo the paper and plastic bags at the stores. seriously, if this is too difficult, then you're just plain lazy.
3. reuse, reuse, reuse: wash and dry your ziplocks, wrap sandwiches in cloth napkins instead, reuse the paper and plastic bags that you get with your chick fil a, bread loaves, cheese, chinese, etc....
4. abandon bottled water. if you really can't handle the tap, buy a filter and a nalgene. seriously.
5. invest in a pile of rags and use those instead of paper towels to clean your house. you can do ALL the glass surfaces with one towel, ALL the wood surfaces with another, you end up using 3 or 4 towels in the whole house and save TONS of paper towels.

I noticed that almost all of these say "buy" which could turn you off. I just did some calculating in my mind and realized that for all the things i mentioned buying (besides the water filter), this entire purchase would be around $15-$20. Which all of these things are REUSABLE, so you will spend a TOTAL of $20 for the entire year instead of continually stocking up on paper products. So don't let that deter you, friend. (and if you're being even more resourceful, you could make rags and napkins out of old clothes that are too tattered and not spend a penny).

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned each of these on my blog before, but I haven't actually challenged anyone to do this. And granted, when you have kids, you probably are cleaning up many more messes (my goodness, i can only imagine!), but maybe for that reason it will be even more worth it!

People have commented to me that washing these cloth napkins and rags wastes power and water! it's a catch-20-20. but it's actually not. It's not even one whole load to wash those each month. He have a HE washing machine, but still - i'm sure yours won't do much damage.

Please comment if you have anything else to add about how to waste less. Maybe you want to challenge me to do something I've forgotten when it comes to conservation.

And read my friends blog today about water conservation and environmental stewardship. It hits the nail on the head.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Bells

(photo by ali tse)

I don't think i knew all the verses to the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Christmas Bells

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the war with the alarm

(photo by francis paraan)

listening to Landon's alarm(s) going off. Landon sets his two alarms five minutes apart and hits snooze as long as it takes to get him out of bed. So each morning, i usually hear his alarms A LOT. sometimes he hits snooze for an entire hour.

Poor guy; this week he is working from morning light until well past midnight. He has found himself amidst final papers and exams as well as "Holiday" end-of-the-semester dinners. Come next Monday, he will emerge into a month of FREEDOM!!! yay! But until then, the alarm clock beckons him from the flannels as he tries his hardest to open his eyes, and ultimately, succumbs to sleep still.

I have turned on the area heater in his office (there are no heating vents that go to the bottom level of our bi-level and it is about 15 degrees cooler down there), have the tea kettle roaring, and am about to go wake him up with kisses....again.

Good luck to many of you dear friends who are amidst final exams - you have almost reached a time of respite - just push on a little longer! you can do it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

a lesson from the Deut

(photo by John Wilcox)

I was reading Deuteronomy this morning as the sun rose, muted by our continuing snow storm (yay!). Warm cup of coffee, flannel-lined khaki's, fleece socks and fuzzy slippers have been keeping me warm today while "the weather outside is frightful!"

But I wanted to share with you a little bit from my reading today, if I may. At the beginning of Deut, we find Moses leading the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt, to the land that God promised to them. Yet, when God told them to take possession of this land (by first destroying the Amorites), the Israelites "rebelled", and "grumbled" and concluded that "the LORD hates us" and desires to "destroy us" (1:27). And then Moses tells the Israelites something that continues to soothe and encourage me,
"Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place." (1:29-31)
I love this passage. And thus begins the theme in Deuteronomy that challenges and excites me: remembrance. Moses tells them to remember what the LORD did in Egypt, remember how he has provided for us until now. Remember, for many years, God provided for the Israelites: food, water, the 10 commandments, victory over all of their enemies, etc... And now they doubt him again (AGAIN!). If I could be a woman of remembrance, i think i could walk more confidently forward in my life. If i could hold on to God's promises and remember the life of Jesus, remember God's hand in my life, his healing, his provision, his glory that I have seen in countless lives of others.... God is the same: he is not changing: he is not a different God to Lindsey than he is to Maggie;  he is God.

After this encouraging testimony and reminder from Moses, the Israelites did not "trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by show you the way you should go." (1:32-33) So God chose not to give them the promised land. He only would allow Caleb who "followed the LORD wholeheartedly" and Joshua and those children who were too young to have moral calpability to enter into this land that he had promised.

So God leads the Israelites into the wilderness for 40 more years. Yikes! And even during this time,
 "The LORD your God has blessed you in all the works of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert...God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything."(2:7)
And I am encouraged, that even if i forget God's promises, and doubt his leading, he will still provide for me all that I need as I wait on his timing. He will give me that time (hopefully not 40 years, eh?) to acquire the faith to follow him to bring about what he had always intended for me.

When i got onto Facebook this morning and saw some of your status updates and read some blogs, i thought to myself that this is a truth that some of you might be encouraged by. I'm not a theologian, and I am especially inarticulate in these matters, but I hope that maybe you can read these passages for yourself (Deut 1 and 2) and remember his faithfulness and see God's provision and purpose during the waiting and transitional periods of your life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Me

(photo by thomatically)

More snow this morning! I love waking up to fresh snow! Especially when it covers the beautiful Christmas lights that are still twinkling before sunrise on my back porch.

Although i can still hear the train and the traffic roaring across the street, the snow really does bring a stillness to life. It is amazing how we live our days with schedules and goals and things that NEED to get done and be accomplished and when the weather comes in like this and slows us down and cools us off, it is as if it's saying, "Who are you? Don't you see you live in this big beautiful world!? Be still." There is a beautiful presence in this reminder. I'm not sure why, but I really see God in the snow. Of course, he is everywhere. Of course, he is certainly in the sunshine that frees us from this freezing puff. But, my goodness, the snow does cause us to slow down a bit, to reflect on the beauty; and when I find myself doing this, I can't help but see God here. I love the quiet of the snow. I love the beauty.

I am so happy that we've had snow on and off these last 3 days!

It's a wonderland!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ski Utah

Finally, a beautiful snowstorm here with enough snow to give us an incredible wintry weekend. I spent Saturday with a little bit of Christmas crafting and candy making, accompanied by many Christmas carols  and the rest of my Thanksgiving hot cider. We then went to Snowbasin to ski the last 2 hours of daylight. Before we went to bed, we completed the day with "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

on the gondola getting stoked 
(hey, my last two fingers on my hand are double-jointed, can you tell? my ring finger won't go all the way down when my pinkie finger is up - weird, huh?)

I'm still learning to ski, so there are no pictures of Landon skiing because i didn't trust myself to carry the camera. I only fell once all day, actually...

Landon, sitting with me, making our way to the top of the bunny slope. Beautiful out there, wasn't it?

and then back down the bunny slope.

Don't worry, only two runs on the bunny slope, and Landon had me up to the top of the mountain. We did not spot any moose this trip. I got totally schooled by the Jr. Ski Team - those kids were amazing, i thought. I had fun watching Landon experience twin-tips for the first time, skiing backwards and still making beautiful tele-mark turns. He's awesome on skis. I was feeling more comfortable and was able to fall less and ski more than last weekend. I'm mostly afraid that someone behind me will run me over since i'm not too slow and am sometimes on the ground.

I'm loving skiing, and am surprisingly picking it back up again pretty easily.

Landon pulled one all-nighter last week and has some more on the horizon, as he has final papers and exams coming up this week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Emilie Lee

I love this artist.

A former "dirtbag" (a nomadic rock climber) and incredible artist, she is really such an inspiration to me.

In the last five years, her work has been published in magazines like "Rock and Ice Magazine", "Alpinist Magazine", "The Denver Voice", and the Patagonia Catalog (among others).  I love to look over her work from time to time. see her bio and her .blog She's great.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Little Miss Quirky

Lately, I can't help but notice these little quirky things about me. A few years ago, Lindsay tagged me to blog about my quirkiness, of which i never did, because i couldn't think of anything about me that was quirky enough to be endearing. And of the quirky things that aren't endearing, well, i wanted to keep those between me and whoever is unfortunate enough to notice them.

but now i guess i'll share:

(yes, that is an artichoke heart behind my ear)

I am Quirky:
1. I like to sit in the same seat every time i fly on an airplane. The window seat behind the exit row. I always opt to choose my own seat when buying tickets, and i choose that one. I don't know, I just like it.
2. I smile every time i crawl into bed at night.
3. I can't put my mascara on without opening my mouth into a big "O" - always been this way
4. I am not very competitive. Except when it comes to playing cards with my husband. I've been known to scream of frustration. Well, and I almost got in a fight with a lady playing soccer a few years ago - and I would have if i was fast enough to catch her!
5. I'd take cold weather over warm weather any day.
6. When i was a little girl i thought that i would be famous some day. I think deep down, i'm still waiting for fame
7. I miss Africa. Every. Single. Day.
8. I am a morning person. I hate laying in bed if i am not asleep. I have more motivation to wake at 7 so that i have an hour to hang out before work than get an extra hour of sleep and dive right into work at 8. I'd much rather have a relaxing morning, it's worth an hour less of sleep, definitely!
9. Cheese is my favorite thing. If you're at a loss of what to buy me for Christmas - think cheese.
10. I'm extremely self-conscious about my song writing. I don't mind singing for you, but if you want to hear one of my songs....
11. I get scared easily and i'm not really fond of fear.
12. I can't sit still. If i was born in a generation that diagnosed ADHD, i'm sure I would have had it.
13. I actually enjoy cooking these days. I really think it is an act of God that he has changed my heart! I used to hate and dread cooking the first 3 -4 years of my marriage. And I've gotten much better at it.
14. I get very frustrated whenever i am in a bathroom that doesn't have those electric hand dryers. i hate to watch the trash cans overflowing with paper towels that are barely wet. I consider us a paper-less family. I want to clean messes with towels, use cloth napkins, cloth grocery bags, and wrap sandwiches in cloth napkins. The other day, Landon asked me to buy paper towels at the grocery store. i told him no. He said, "Don't worry, I can use paper towels - I'll make up for it in toilet paper." Ha! What an awful wife. My sweet husband has to barter his toilet paper in order to receive permission to use paper towels. He must REALLY want those paper towels. I started the free-range diet in support of him, he's been doing a pretty good job in humoring my cloth napkin, cloth grocery bag, no wasted paper/plastic rules. But i guess he has to draw the line somewhere.
15. I'm non-confrontational to the extreme. When Landon and I were dating and he wanted to "talk" over dinner, i wouldn't eat a thing. Confrontation makes me literally sick. Pathetic. So please never prep me for a confrontational conversation, I'll be in a worrying fit until the big moment. Just come out and surprise me with your rage and contempt. I can handle that better.
16. Mountains nurture my soul. Without them, i am quite literally lost (which way is west again?)
17. Pet peeves: buying bottled water (what a waste!), when my neighbors put their trash can on the curb a couple days early and leave it there until the weekend, when people lie to me to be nice, rudeness, vanity(especially when i see these in myself), sitting in traffic, humidity, pop-country, Hannah Montana, corporate greed.
18. I love the smell of dirt, rain (landon says that rain smells like dirt - but i don't think so), snow, fire, decaying leaves, Ponderosa pines, patchoulli (sp?), and cold mountain mornings.
19. Easter is my favorite holiday.
20. Deuteronomy is my favorite book in the Bible.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

dreams - another random post

drinking coffee.

catching up on friends' blogs.

wishing i could write a blog too. blogging isn't coming as easily to me as it used to. maybe it's the hiatus. maybe it's just that kind of season.

Last night I dreamed I was hiking through Africa with Duvick and Steve (one of my best friend's ex boyfriend from highschool - weird- and I'm not even kidding). As I was trying to keep Duvick away from Rhino and Alligators (::ahem::) Crocodiles while trying to give him the opportunity to drink lots of water while we were so lucky to have a source, i was attacked by a alligator crocodile - and I could feel it's teeth in my skin - and Steve did nothing - and I woke up before it drowned me. (apparently i've been away from africa too long to remember that there are no alligators in hunny is so sweet to remind me)

I used to dream in Africa almost exclusively while we lived there and at least 3 or 4 months after we got back. My dreams usually consisted of beating the African elements while taking care of my sweet orphans. Usually we were running from lions or drunken men.

These last 2 years I've dreamed in Starbucks. Calling out drinks, opening the store, etc... Landon  used to tell me the drinks I had called out in my sleep the next evening at dinner. ha! funny. I hated that though - dreaming with my blood pounding in a morning rush and then waking at 3:30am hardly rested, going in to brave the cold  , and another morning rush - it was never ending.

But now.... my dreams are scattered. I do dream about my work day with sponsorship sometimes. I dream about hiking through the wilderness. I dream about friends and family (and friends' ex-boyfriends, evidently). But my life is a bit more chill these days. and so are my dreams.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wow, I have been so incredibly busy since my last blog post - in a good way.

(photo by gardawin)

Last weekend flew to Washington, DC for an ACSI convention. Since I fly out of Salt Lake City these days instead of Chicago or Denver (like the past 3 years) I can NOT find a direct flight to anywhere. So, i had a layover in Denver. In fact, i extended my layover and got to spend 2 days in Littleton with my mother and my sister. It was wonderful.

DC was great. Gosh, i'm a little discouraged because I have had a really hard time at conventions this year. Not many responses, not nearly as many as we usually receive or that we desperately need. DC was a fun town. I got to take the Metro, which was a fun experience, navigating the underground of our nation's capitol. I was surprised to find it a bit fun and exciting! While i was there, i got to have dinner with a great friend and her husband!! It was amazing to see my sweet Maryn, and see her with her hubby as newly weds! Definitely the highlight of my trip out there!

I got home around midnight on Tuesday night. Justin, Anna, and the boys got to SLC for Thanksgiving around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon. We had so much fun with them!

Our Thanksgiving spread was amazing. It was the first time i have actually hosted, planned, and cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Anna and I spent most of Thursday in the kitchen and it was fun to hang out together and cook with our boys in mind and gratitude in our hearts. Wonderful!

Friday we went SKIING!!! My first trip downhill skiing in15 years, actually. And it was fun! Landon and I took Diddles up and down the bunny slope and I was amazed at his ability. He just turned 5 2 weeks ago!

I was sad to see everyone leave yesterday morning. I spent the afternoon putting up Christmas decorations in our house and lights outside.  Last night as we were driving home from Redbox, I was admiring all the Christmas lights on the houses in the neighborhood. I was excitedly anticipating my masterpiece, and as we drove into our driveway, i was so embarrassed i almost started to cry! I have the most pathetic display of Christmas lights in the entire neighborhood. I will share pictures some day.

I am relieved that I am not traveling for ACSI again until February. So, friends, I will be here more regularly. Thanks for continuing to read even though I have been on hiatus without warning off and on this fall. You are great!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

blood:water mission

Landon and I love this ministry

They have a new project for Christmas that I think is incredible. Check out the video:

Give the Gift of Clean Water from Blood:Water Mission on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

more Things i'm Loving Lately

some things that i'm really enjoying right now that i was thinking you should know about and maybe give a try:

Aquafresh iso-active foaming gel. We are die-hard Aquafresh brushers and have been for many years, so we thought we'd try this funky new stuff. It is incredible. My teeth are squeaky clean!

Jon Schmidt's CD. This man is an amazing pianist and a wonderful performer. I was very fortunate to see him live with a few girlfriends in September. He's awesome. This CD features him playing piano, with some Cello and percussion accompaniment .

Socks. I noticed that the last time we did laundry, there were lots of socks! That means that fall is full-blown here! No more Chaco's for now - or no more Chaco's without some thick fleece socks, at least.

"In Christ Alone" is such an amazing song. I love singing it and I finally printed off the chords so i can pound it out on the piano. It's amazing. (this isn't my favorite version - but at least this one allows me to imbed the whole song - the getty's only let me imbed the first 30 seconds). Isn't it beautiful? "Here in the love of Christ I stand!"

This hour between 7 and 8 when i get to hang out and drink coffee and play around before I begin my work day! I've even been able to watch the sunrise lately.

Real Simple. I love this magazine. I cranked out some of last month's recipes recently, which were a little quirky. We usually love the recipes and I really enjoy reading this mag every month. Full of wonderful ideas, encouraging stories, and great resources. Just got my December issue in the mail yesterday :)

Aveda Men exfoliating conditioner. Mom buys Landon and Janelle and I fancy shampoos each year for Christmas. She got these for Landon last year and i LOOOVe the way that Aveda products smell. Landon only uses the conditioner when he has long hair, which hasn't been since before the summer, so I get to use it as much as I want - he says - so I have been. And i Looove the way my hair smells!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Landon just asked me when I'm going to finally post another blog.

"I donno," I said.

"But what about your constituents?" he prodded.

Hm.... that would be.... you.

I've been wanting to return to some posting - sorry for the week lapse. I just always feel like the first post after a lapse in posting should be something substantial or meaningful. But honestly, I don't have anything like that right now.

Something that I've been struggling through lately are my feelings about wanting to return to Africa. Living in Kenya was difficult. What I saw in the people and the land there tore me to pieces. The people are betrayed in every way: by their government, by the missionaries, by their land, by each other, by G**....... The land is as neglected as the people. What was once a place where people could grow and thrive has become a place that is robbed and left barren. But the people, and the land, are strong and though struggling, pushing on - breathtakingly beautiful. I will never be the same, having experienced Kenya and her people.

And when i think back on my time there, I wish so desperately to return to those there that I love. To return to a simpler life - everything, though much was heartbreaking, was so clear, so sure. Priorities were not difficult to sift through, stewarship was not hard to delegate.

I miss the children. I am currently reading Melissa Fay Greene's  "There is No Me Without You", which is the prompting of all my wishing and remembering and wondering about Africa. It is a remarkable story of an Ethiopian woman who answered the call of her community to shelter and care for AIDS orphans. And her story touches me deeply - not only in a way where i am inspired and feel warm and wonderful thinking of the good that she has done in the world. But it touches me deeply - opening and festering places in my heart that I have tried to ignore and forget - I have been touched deeply by a few dozen orphans. And somehow, their ministry in my life is beyond anything else I have experienced. Though I witnessed the suffering of a nation and I wondered to myself if God was even present in such a place, I saw him in those children. every. single. day. every. single. smile. every. single. tear. They are his. He is theirs.

And I feel like some part of myself is lost being separated from these kids, being disconnected from their lives and their ministry. I miss them desperately. I want to kiss their cheeks and hold their hands and sing their songs and lift them high into the air and swing them around and love them again with my whole heart. I want to see their beautiful faces and hear their angelic voices and experience life with them again - with them the world is radiant and I am whole in it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

there were all these things that i wanted to tell you while i was away.

but now i just can't think of them. and for once in my life, i'm not really in the mood to write anything. so...

sorry. maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ragnar 2010

I need a team of 12. how 'bout you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Style - for lack of a better term

I was thinking about style the other day. What's my style? Eclectic? I don't really care all that much. Most of my clothes are still from high school  - when Mom bought me enough clothes to last at least 10 years. Well, it's been about 8. So I guess my style is probably more late 90's. Probably mostly just casual. More work-from-home convenient. But i was thinking to myself, if i could pull off ANY style that i wanted, what would i do? I had a little fun thinking through this and browsing google images.

So these are accessories that I know wouldn't really fit with my own personal style (or especially, my budget), but for some reason, I wish they would. These are styles that  I know i can't really pull off, but wish i could:

anthropologie's scarf

 (photo by firenzerasta)

(photo and cuff by loveatfirstblush)
Leather cuffs

(necklace and photo by missrubysue)
Bib Necklace

(crown and photo by whichgoose)

That's about all i could think of for now. Cute ideas, huh?

for now, i'll just remain a fleece and jeans (and fanny pack?) kind of girl

Monday, November 9, 2009

Russell Crowe movie marathon

Last week we unconsciously rented three Russell Crowe movies in a row from netflix.

A Beautiful Mind

The Insider

Mystery, Alaska

Good movies. Good actor. I especially love Mystery, Alaska. Those movies that take place in beautiful mountains always make me want to just give in and get rid of everything except my sleeping bag and snow shoes and finally embrace the wild mountain woman inside of me that sometimes is really difficult to deafen. If you haven't seen this movie, you really should. There is wonderful scenery, it's hilarious, and heart warming in a Rudy sort of way.  Here's the trailer:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The worm

My mother always had the most beautiful hair. When i was growing up, it was always very long, very thick, and very curly. Oh, and a beautiful red. You know, in the 80's, long curly hair was the best a woman could do (along with thick full bangs that made us each look 3-5 inches taller). Mom always had idealic hair throughout my childhood.

When I was growing up, we loved doing each other's hair. Mom always woke me early enough in the morning before school or church to do my hair. It was always perfect (until soccer and kickball with the boys at recess). Mom taught me how to do a french braid and a fishtail braid on my barbie dolls. She bought me books so that i could learn other hairstyles. I loved doing hair. She worked evenings throughout my childhood and there were a few years where she would let me do her hair before she went to work. I liked our arrangement - doing each other's hair. It made me feel really special.

Another hair hobby that we shared during my childhood were "worms". Mom would weave beautiful colors into my hair with beads. I felt so beautiful with these long exciting "worms" in my hair (that's what she called them - why is that?). Hers were always really long, and she wore them forever. Until they fell out on their own.

One evening this last month as i was watching a movie, i thought to myself, "worm". it took me about an hour to construct this hemp worm in my hair. It reminds me of my mom. And it makes me feel cool - just like it did when i was a kid.

The worm on our anniversary

Friday, November 6, 2009

The morning after Halloween night, Landon and I went for a hike on a trail we had never visited before.

We drove into a canyon  tucked into the mountains behind a rural community and monastery. Driving deep into the canyon, we commented on how beautiful this place can be even when the only color we see is brown - the different shades of brown make it such an incredible landscape. We parked outside of an iron gate that was closed. I guess there is a camp there, but we saw no sign of residence. The only indicator of human life outside of us was the Jeep that we parked beside. Landon hid our keys under a rock on the hillside and we crossed the bridge over the river and began our hike deeper into the canyon, through the almost barren trees.

Landon commented on the forest. It was dense and deciduous - something we haven't seen since Illinois. And we liked it. We could tell that the trail had been traveled on. We didn't see any footsteps, but the fallen leaves were a little dirtied and there was horse manure every once in awhile. Although, everything was very quiet. The trail was very muddy in the parts where the sun was able to touch the ground, and completely frozen in the parts that were shaded.

 We should have been hiking beside a stream. But we didn't see it or hear it. We kept walking. Farther into the canyon, beyond hearing and seeing the road, beyond hearing and sight of the camp itself. Deeper into the canyon. We still hadn't seen anyone or heard people at all. Though i was keeping my eye out for others - there was that Jeep...

As our trail started turning and tucked deeper into the trees, i saw Duvick rolling in the dirt on the trail beneath a tree. We ran to see what kind of mischief he was in (we know from experience that a dog rolling in the dirt means one of three things: poop, vomit, or dead things). It was a tiny deer carcass. The pieces were strewn all over. It was mostly bones by now. The body was Duvick's rolling place, the head further down the trail, the leg bones and fur were strewn about. I couldn't believe we had encountered a carcass actually ON the trail.

 Lion, I thought. I tried to remember the lions we saw in Africa. I remembered them hunting, remembered them stalking their prey. Tried to decide how to keep any lions away. But i know that mountain lions are different. They are solitary. I wouldn't know if a lion was stalking us until it was upon us.

We continued deeper into the canyon. I love to try to identify the trees, the flowers, the rocks, and the animal scat. so i tried to concentrate on the smell of the dead and rotting leaves beneath my feet, and the tree branches overhead. What a beautiful world. I came upon what i thought was animal scat. I knew it couldn't be dog or human because it was very furry. After a short analysis of it, we discovered that it wasn't scat at all, but a piece of an animal.

Just up the trail we came upon our second carcass. This one was fresh. It was missing the meat, the guts, but the entire thing was intact, minus a few limbs, and it was still covered in fur. This carcass was similar to the last. It was similar in size, also a deer, and left to rot right on the trail.

At this point I was starting to feel uncomfortable. We continued walking and I looked for jagged stones that i could carry in my hand. i found two that were pointed, thinking that if anything jumped on me, i could jab these rocks into them. To avoid that possibility, i started banging the rocks together periodically as we walked, hoping the loud clacking would echo through the canyon and scare any beasts away.

I then started thinking that maybe there was something worse in this forest. This was the morning after Halloween, after all, and I wondered about any ceremonial or ritualistic sacrifices that could have taken place here. I was hoping that we wouldn't find the owners of the Jeep.

Our trail intercepted a stream and we sat down so Duvick could have a drink. We took our Nalgenes out of our pack to hydrate. I wasn't too thirsty, though. I was distracted by the forest. I remembered from our time in Africa that the best place for the predator to get the prey is at the water hole, and this was the first sign of water we had seen all day. So I smacked my stones together and searched the trees and the surrounding mountain sides. I listened carefully for movement. I heard nothing.

Landon read that this trail would intercept the approach of some wonderful rock climbing deep into the canyon if we only stayed on it for about an hour.

"I'm a little scared," I said. I was trying to master my fear, though. Landon tells me that I need to learn to control my fear (he mostly says this to me when we're rock climbing and I'm near tears when i know i need to make a scary move). I didn't want fear to ruin my day, or his. So I shrugged, "...I just wanted you to know". So far Landon hadn't asked me about the stones I was carrying, and I was too embarrassed to tell him that I was keeping the lions (or whatever else may be in the woods) away. ha. crazy woman.

So we went deeper.

Soon after the trail turned from the stream, I saw Duvick sniffing and licking something beneath a tree. As I approached the dog, my heart started racing at what i saw. Unlike anything i had ever seen before: a gigantic dead carcass. The rib cage was giant. The jaw bone, disconnected from the skull, was as big as my forearm. The femur was long and thick. The skull was covered in a thick fur. a moose, i thought to myself, or a horse.

Lions don't take down moose OR horses.

I wanted to keep moving. I didn't want to stand there. I didn't even want to get close to it. I wanted to leave, NOW.

"Just a little further and then we'll get to the cliffs. I really want to see what kind of climbing is back here," Landon said, the dead animals not bothering him a bit.

"Landon this is getting a little freaky. Lions don't eat moose. At least not this time of year."

He laughs.

We continue into the woods. I think if i would have been standing still, I would have been physically shaking. My mind was racing, trying to find an explanation for the huge dead creature. Not a lion, nor a bear would do this. Something larger had to do it. Like a man. And as I have been reading New Moon lately, of course i imagined that possibly a vampire might have done this. I liked the idea of someone from the Cullen clan being responsible for the carcasses MUCH more than the idea of some gang of satanists sacrificing animals in some ritualistic pagan worship. But i don't believe in vampires... So that leaves.....

I started hitting the rocks together much more often. It soothed me a bit, to be making a loud noise in the quiet and still forest. It made me feel like we had a presence here. We were not prey that could be easily stalked and captured.

"Well, we've been hiking for over and hour and I haven't seen the cliffs, have you?"

I casually said, "nope. sorry. maybe we should turn around and go back?"

Landon saw the desperation in my eyes. He laughed and complied. He thinks it's funny when i'm scared. Well, only when i'm scared for no good reason (in his opinion). Like during tornado warnings, when i'm cowering in the hall closet with the flashlight on. That's funny. When our car stalls in the middle of Banana Hill at night - when we were advised not to drive at night through the African villages, and then the people start approaching our car and pushing it backwards down the street, Landon doesn't laugh at my fright. That's not funny.

Our hike out was quick. We passed over the three carcasses again, stopped at the stream to get Duvick some water again, while i waited, antsy. I continued to click my rocks making me feel better: armed and annoying.

When we got to the bridge, I threw my stones into the stream and breathed a sigh of relief. The Jeep was gone.

Landon got mad at Duvick for eating crap that was hidden in a bush next to the road, and we drove out of the canyon with the windows down to keep the smell of human feces and rotting carcass in the back seat with the dog.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Two Weeks  left to get your Operation Christmas Child boxes in!

and this year you can track your box by giving online! What a fun and educational thing for your kids to do this year for Christmas. Landon and I enjoy putting together our boxes every year and we are so excited to see where they will be this year.

National collection week is November 16-24