Friday, July 30, 2010

Tesser Well

Hollywood Housewife is hosting a link-up of celebrity sightings/crushes/meetings in honor of her move to LA 9 years ago.  It's been a treat to read about her early days in LA.  If you're not already reading Hollywood Housewife, you're missing out!  I quickly posted my most recent celeb sighting but I wanted to take time to write about an early encounter with a famous person.

I've always loved the written word.  I can remember how proud I felt the first time I read a book to myself. Childhood summers offered endless amounts of time devoted to books, amidst playdates and outdoor activities.  At times I would be so consumed with a book, propped up on my favorite couch, that my parents would remind me to go outside to get some fresh air.  How many times would I take my book with me and read on a swing or sprawled across an inflated inner tube?  As any dedicated reader will understand, I could not tear myself away from the characters, from wondering how a story would unfold, and from wondering what I would do in those circumstances.

I believe I was 9 when I first came across "A Wrinkle in Time."  I know it was on the Battle of the Books list when I was 10 or 11 but I had read it well before then.  I don't remember if someone recommended it or if I simply spotted it at the library.  However it came into my life, it is a book I've never forgotten.  From the Murry family to tesseracts (a.k.a. wrinkles in time), I was hopelessly lost in L'Engle's world.  Imagine my joy when I learned Madeline L'Engle herself was coming to sign autographs at a local children's bookstore!

My childhood best friend Ruth and I, along with our mothers, headed to the bookstore on the appointed day.  I remember wondering what to say to Ms. L'Engle.  What do you say to the author you most admire?  Especially when you're a 9 year old book nerd!  It was a cold winter day.  The line was long but at least it didn't stretch outside.  There was a palpable feeling of excitement in the air.  Ruth and I were among our kind.

And then suddenly, the excitement cut short.  The book signing had gone over its allotted time.  Madeline would have to leave.  Our books would not get signed.  I felt crushed!  We stood in the bookstore, close enough to see her at the table, and yet not close enough. 

Then the measure of the woman shined through.  Madeline L'Engle personally greeted everyone left in line.  I remember her kind eyes, her smile, my awe that I was face to face with someone who had written my favorite book.  I hoped that if I ever managed to write my own book, I could be the kind of author and person that she was.

The bookstore manager collected Ruth's and my books.  A few days later we picked them back up and found bookplates with L'Engle's signature tucked inside.  I treasure the book still to this day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Welcome to my Kitchen

Thanks for joining this very slow tour of my new home. My bedroom is here and the bathroom is here. I'm happy to report the maintenance man finally made some much needed repairs last week.  I'm putting furniture back in place and starting to attack the clutter in the office.  Everything is finding its own place.  And thanks to the fabulous wooden chest I found at the flea market last week, the living room should be added to our tour sometime soon!  In the meantime, let's explore my kitchen.  I love to cook so I spend quite a bit of time in this space.  Enjoy!
The view from the living room.  
The bar stools were a bargain at just $30 apiece.
The other side of the island: lots of counter space.
It makes all my food prep so much easier.
The cupboards hold a lot!
I suppose I could have put a table and chairs here.
But I'd rather do my laundry at home.
And that air conditioning unit?  It makes me miss central air.
It reminds me of my childhood without air conditioning.  That's why I love fans so much!
I get such a kick out of the White Sox, Anne Taintor, and QuotableMagnets.
This area is a bit cramped but I make it work.
That's basil growing!  Yum, a summer filled with pesto.
The tea kettle on the stove is for iced tea right now.  
I love drinking tea, especially Irish Breakfast.
I love wearing an apron while I'm cooking.  It makes me feel more professional somehow.
I bought this baker's rack in college at a dollar store.  It has served me well over the years.

As you can see, I have used all the space in my kitchen and more.  I still have two storage bins full of other kitchen/entertaining supplies.  Plus, I have my sights set on a KitchenAid mixer, a food processor, and a few other gadgets and gizmos.  Until then, I'm making this space work!

Remembering Thailand" Part 5

Thanks for accompanying me as I remember my time in Thailand 6 years ago. (Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 here.)  My last journal entry involves saying goodbye, Thai dancing, and possessed people.  Seeing someone that's possessed?  Definitely one of the freakiest things I've ever witnessed.  It would be right up there with the Cubs winning the World Series. Thank God that will never happen!

Thursday, July 29, 2004:
"I did my exit interview with Phanuthat this afternoon.  He actually got me a little handwoven basket!  He told me it would be our secret because he'd only bought parting gifts for a few of the volunteers.  He is so sweet!  Phanu told me all the staff wish I was staying longer and that they love me and wish they could communicate better so they could tell me this themselves.  I melted.  I told him I felt the same way about them and that I wish could stay longer.  The last week he'd been trying to get me to change my mind about staying an extra week or two.  {I had wanted to go to the Bangkok program in June so I could do a longer 4 or 5 week trip.  I wouldn't have traded Trang for the world though!}  Because of Tracy's wedding {my best friend whose wedding was 4 days after my return}, I've been resigned to only staying 3 weeks but I'm so comfortable here I could easily spend more time here in Trang and exploring the rest of Thailand.  I never thought I'd feel that way.  I'm definitely ready to go home but it will be strange not being here.
Tonight we went to see Thai dancing. When we first got there, it was just music and singing.  There was not a stage per se but a canopy tent over a beautiful rug. Then a man got up on the "stage."  It turned out his grandfather had died the night before and they were trying to channel his spirit. He had these jerky movements, as if he was not in control of his body.  It was freaky and so evident that he was possessed by, if not his grandfather's spirit, something.  Then this other woman catapulted herself on to the stage and she was possessed too!  She was running all over, her body appeared looser but she definitely had no control.  All of a sudden she did a backflip and landed on her back.  I could see that the spirit left her as soon as she landed.  She was dazed and disoriented, very clearly had no idea what had happened.  I just prayed for God's protection while I was watching this bizarre scene unfold. 
Eventually the dancing began.  The Thai dancer was actually a man.  The dance was a series of slow, deliberate moves. It was interesting to watch but long. We left before it was over because most of us were getting restless.  Still, I'm really glad I was able to see a performance.  People start leaving tomorrow. It's going to be a strange day.  I have to pack but hopefully I'll get to do a few last fun things.  Then my 2 long days of travel begin!"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


1. I finished reading Ahab's Wife the other night. 
2. It took me almost 3 weeks to read.
3. I usually read books in a day or 2.
4. Apparently I wanted to treasure every word.
5. Sometimes when Anna sees me she says, "Eeeee."
6. The other day she saw me, pointed, and said "that."
7. I still took it as a compliment.
8. I went to my first Nashville Flea Market on Saturday.
9. It also happened to be the hottest day of the summer.
10. I didn't care though because I found a fantastic wooden chest for $45.
11. The past week, the "c" on my keyboard has been truant.
12. Sometimes it works the first time I type it and other times I notice it's missing.
13. I'm really happy "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Top Chef" are on tonight.
14. I think that Ali is getting back together with beady-eyed Frank on The Bachelorette finale.
15. I would not approve of that choice.
16. On the other hand, that means Chris would be free to find me.
17. Then everyone wins.
18. Even though I'm a die-hard White Sox fan, I never would have guessed the season would turn around the way it has.
19. We're still in 1st place in ALC!
20. The 2005 season was the first year my friend and I bought partial season tickets.
21. We were both gainfully employed and thought it was high time we started going to more games.
22. Is it a coincidence that the Sox won the World Series that year?
23. I like to think my cheering had something to do with it.
24. That's why I'm glad that my absence hasn't affected their playing this year.
25. It's been a strange summer without going to Sox games.
26. You might think that I belong to a family of Sox fans.
27. They're actually all Cubs fans in my extended family.  (My parents and brother aren't baseball watchers at all.)
28. I always liked rooting for the underdog and irritating my cousins.
29. Thus, a Sox fan was born.
30. Speaking of Sox fans, my Sox fan friend and traveling buddy extraordinaire Jill gets married next Friday!
31. I'm going to be a hot bridesmaid in her wedding.
32. The bridesmaid dresses cost just $30!
33. I spent more on the shoes!
34. Doesn't the price of the dress make you want to hug Jill?
35. It'll be weird going back home and being a guest.
36. But I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.
37. Although, I won't actually get to see EVERYONE.  I'm there for a wedding after all.
38. I don't like making plans on Sunday night if I have to work the next day.
39. Spontaneous plans are OK but if we planned to do it, I'll probably back out.
40. I don't know why. 
41. I must be worried about being too tired to work on Monday.
42. Yesterday I was so busy at work, I didn't eat lunch.
43. And I strangely didn't mind.
44. This is from a girl that is proud of her propensity for eating.
45. My friend Jason claims the second thing I told him was how I like to eat.
46. I don't think that would be the second thing I would say.
47.  Maybe the tenth.
48. I really, really love my new job.
49. I've been scrapbooking like a fiend lately!
50. I'm glad the maintenance man finally completed repairs on my humble abode.

Back to School Deals

Amazon has some great back to school deals.

College students can head to the Amazon Student page, where they can sign up to get FREE Two-Day Shipping for one year with a free Amazon Prime membership ($79 value). This page also features one-stop shopping for the dorm or apartment dweller with laptops, textbooks, clothing, bedding, electronics, and more.

And on the Back-to-School Savings page, parents can find backpacks, uniforms and other clothing, healthy snacks, and every classroom supply that ever made it onto a teacher's list.

Hope this helps you, whether you're a student, parent of a student, or simply a student of life.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Remembering Thailand Pt. 4

I really did do some work while I was in Thailand.  A few of my favorite memories from the special ed school. (Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here.)

 "Shea and I were in another deaf classroom today.  This teacher focused on us more than the students at first but I think that was because she was nervous about teaching in front of us. At one point she asked me if I draw ad I said yes, so she asked me to draw animals.  I drew a tiger, which I thought was a pathetic attempt but she said it was good and asked me to do more of the same. So I drew 2 more and then the kids started requesting animals based on their flashcards. The last one was a panda and the teacher liked it so much she taped it up on the wall!"

"Today Shea and I joined a lass of younger autistic children. There weren't any structured activities and there were at least 3 different "teachers" in the course of the morning. I stayed mostly with one very low-functioning boy, Johnny. I just did a lot of stimulus and sensation on his arms, legs, and back which he responded really well to.  He even smiled and laughed! I was glad he was able to get a lot of one-on-one attention for today because I'm sure it doesn't happen that often."

"For my last English lesson, we taught the teachers "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles. The Assistant Director had karaoke for it so we actually had accompaniment music today. The teahers enjoyed themselves but I think the tempo might have been too fast for them to really learn it. Then Oy, another teacher, and then secretary taught us a Thai song- the Smile Song. The teachers were sad to know it was my last day. They said I was very nice and they enjoyed having me around to help.  And they want me to come back and visit."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Remembering Thailand Pt. 3

I saw Green Curry sauce at Williams and Sonoma today.  There's nothing better than Green Curry Chicken, topped off with some Thai Iced Tea.  I really miss authentic Thai food!  My trip down memory lane continues. Today I went to church in Tennessee but 6 years ago, I went to church in Trang. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.)

Sunday, July 24, 2004:
"I went to the service at Trang Church this morning. Cha {our driver} dropped me off at about 9:40 because Phanuthat's friend told him the service started at 10 but it actually didn't start until 10:30. I just got to spend a lot of time reading my Bible which was good.  Ja, the woman who does announcements, sat with me during the service. She spoke English pretty well but I was able to teach her some new words. Another woman translated the sermon notes for me so I at least knew what the message was about. Even though I didn't understand a word, the pastor was entertaining and clear in his conviction and calling. There was such a sense of community in the congregation. A few of the songs had been translated into English so I sang along to those.  Also there was a girl who became a believer this week so she went before everyone in a white baptismal gown and the pastor prayed for her.  That was neat to see. At the end of the service, Ja had me stand up so she could only introduce me, the only ferang in the whole place. The woman who translated the sermon notes talked to me after the service and filled me in on the church.  It was started about 100 years ago by a missionary doctor. Today there are about 400 members. It's amazing how connected I could feel with strangers just because of our shard faith."

Sunday Sentiments: Sex

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

I'm writing this with a mixture of trepidation and hope. Trepidation because this is not an easy topic to write about and I question whether I'll reveal too much about myself and hope because it's a much-needed conversation and I'm glad to share what God has been doing in my heart this past week. Rob Bell has been on my To Read list for awhile.  I finally read Sex God last weekend and have been ruminating on a few passages.  This is not your typical Christian book about sex.  For one thing, Bell doesn't delve into questions like "how far is too far?" or deal with Hot Topics.  Instead, he looks at the relationship between sex and God.
"Because this is really about that.  It's always about something else.
Something deeper. Something behind it all.  You can't talk about sexuality without talking about how we were made. And that will inevitably lead you to who made us.  At some point you have to talk about God.
Sex. God. They're connected. And they can't be separated. Where the one is, you will always find the other. This is a book about how sexuality is the "this" and spirituality is the "that." To make sense of the one, we have to explore the other." -p. 15, Sex God by Rob Bell

I really appreciated Bell's perspective.  It makes sense that all of our questions about sex, the rightness, wrongness, are really about something else, something deeper.  This is not to say that Bell does not touch on some of these questions, because he does share stories and examples, it's that they're not the focus.  As he states throughout, this is really about that.

While the scope of sex is larger than my circumstances, I can't help but read through that particular lens. As a 30 year old Christian single, it is frustrating that sex is not addressed more directly within the church.  The truth is it's hard to be 30 and a virgin.  Part of me winces to be this vulnerable, to even write the word "virgin."  I'm not ashamed of my virgin status but I am aware that I am in the minority.  Virgins of a certain age have become a rarity.  I somehow made it through my rebellious college years with my virginity intact.  I'll never understand how this was one of the few things that stuck.  God protected me during those years and I'm glad it is not on my list of regrets.  Most of my extended family, co-workers, and even friends assume that I've had sex at some point in my life.  Given the sex-saturated culture we live in, it's not a bad assumption.

Even within the church, there are a lot of "born again virgins" or people that interpret Scripture regarding sex differently or plain decide it doesn't apply to them.  Sex has become a gray area, whether married or not.  Don't ask, don't tell, and certainly don't confront. The idea of "saving sex for marriage" is encouraged perhaps for teens but becomes quaint and old-fashioned as they age.  Living together has become a given progression of a relationship. Many people wonder how they could marry someone if they didn't also know they were sexually compatible.  Which is perhaps why it's not out of the question that when the Bachelors/Bachelorettes have their Fantasy Suite dates, they are sleeping with all three of their potential mates.  (How can that not be awkward when they have their next Fantasy Suite date?) 

Even though I am doing my best to be obedient in this area, it's not easy and this is what I wish a pastor or woman's ministry or something would talk about.  I am a woman, an inherently sexual being.  I didn't expect to be single when I turned 30.  So what to do while I'm waiting for Mr. Right?  Despite being active in a young adult group at church for most of my 20s, that question has never been addressed.  You can't tell a 13 year old and a 20something the same thing because the issues are completely different.  But you can instruct on the root issues because these tend not to change over time.  I'm glad that Bell takes the time to go beyond the nitty-gritty details and look at the Big Picture.  I want to get married for many reasons but I'm not so naive to believe that there isn't some flawed logic mixed in.  I want to be wanted.  I want my other half.  I want to fit in with all the married couples that surround me.  And yes, I want to experience the intimacy of sex within a covenant relationship and hopefully raise a family.  Yet, here I sit, doing life without my other half.

Two passages especially stood out to me in this book:
"You can't be connected with God until you're at peace with who you are. If you're still upset that God gave you this body or this life or this family or these circumstances, you will never be able to connect with God is a healthy, thriving, sustainable sort of way. You'll be at odds with your maker. And if you can't come to terms with who you are and the life you've been given, you'll never be able to accept others and how they were made and the lives they've been give. And until you're at peace with God and those around you, you will continue to struggle with your role on the planet, your part to play in the ongoing creation of the universe. You will continue to struggle and resist and fail to connect."  p. 46
 "You don't need a man by your side to validate you as a woman. You already are loved and valued. You're good enough exactly as you are. Do you believe this? Because it's true. You have limitless worth and value. If you embrace this truth, it will affect every area of life, especially your relationship with men. You are worth dying for.
Your worth does not come from your body, your mind, your work, what you produce, what you put out, how much money you make. Your worth does not come from whether or not you have a man. Your worth does not come from whether or not men notice you. You have inestimable worth that comes from your creator." p. 123-4

Those passages do not contain new concepts to me but they were words of which I needed reminding. For now, contentment is my goal and continuing to center myself in Christ.  People may disagree with Rob Bell or the emergent church but I think it would be hard to disagree with the heart of this book: this is really about that.  We need to have a right view of God and a right view of sex.  And we need to keep the conversation going. Other interesting conversations: read Rachel Held Evans' response to Early Marriage  and Sarah Markley's thoughts (and the comments that follow) about heading to a Christian conference on sex.

Does any of this resonate with you?  Is this really about that?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Chef Sighting

Tonight exceeded my expectations.  I have been a Top Chef fan since the second season.  If I'd had cable during the first season, I'm sure I would have watched that one too.  If you've been watching the latest season, you probably noticed Nashville's own Arnold Myint.  He owns three critically-acclaimed restaurants here.  Four co-workers and I headed to ChaChah after work.  It's fun having new friends that are Top Chef fans and foodies!  I loved the decor and the wait staff was very attentive and informative.  Our waiter didn't hesitate to let us know what the must-have items were on the menu but he also gave honest opinions, which was refreshing.  We decided to share a bunch of tapas, a wise decision as the happy hour special was buy 2 tapas, get 1 free.  We ordered the White Bean Citrus Hummus, Papas Bravas, Yucca Fries, Valdeon and Bacon Stuffed Dates, Sesame Lamb Meatballs, Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Vinegar and Almonds, and Queso Fundido.  What can I say?  Every single thing was amazingly delicious.  I wanted to marry the dates.  (A statement that got quite a laugh at our table.)  The Sesame Lamb Meatballs were out of this world!  Kristina referred to them as Top Chef Meatballs, as Arnold made a version of these on the show.  They definitely deserved the judge's praise!  I hate Brussels Sprouts but this version was actually quite nice- I didn't stop at one polite serving.  I can't wait until the next time I eat there.  So many more things to try!

As if the food wasn't enough, who should walk in to his own restaurant but Arnold!  We were reduced to giggling schoolgirls as we poked each other, slack-jawed to see The Man, The Myth, The Legend right in front of our eyes.  Our waiter made fun of us but I'm sure they're used to this kind of silly reaction.  He had a meeting of sorts by the bar so we didn't get to gush our praise but I'm pretty sure he knew he had some fans in the other room.  I thought it would be cool if we got to see him but I didn't expect it and I certainly didn't expect my stomach to do a flip when I saw him!  I guess celebrity chefs are here to stay.  And as long as they keep serving up excellent food, I'm fine with that.  On to the next Arnold-owned restaurant!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wee Bit Wednesday

Grab the button above and
link up at Leigh Ashley.  And yes,
it's strange "knowing" another blogger also named Leigh.
I've never written my name and not referred to myself before:)

{one} if you could go on a road trip anywhere with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and where would you go?
This is a tough call.  I love road trips!  I guess I'd have to go with Jill, my tried and true travel buddy.  We rented a car in Ireland and returned it in one piece.  That has to be a good sign!  Jill and I like to explore countries in Europe so I think France or Italy should be next on the list.

{two} if you were stranded on a desert island, which one person would you bring with you?
My dad!  He's a carpenter so he could build us shelter and maybe even figure out how to get us off the island.
{three} what's your earliest memory?
I remember being outside our house.  I was a baby and my mom was pulling me on a sled.  It was white with snow and mom was happy.  My next memory is of my 2nd birthday.  No one could come to my party because it was negative 80 windchill.  But my parents still lit the candles on my cake.  I remember running around the kitchen and asking them to light the candles again!

{four} what's the best advice you've ever received?
Trust God and do not lean on your own understanding.  Any advice that has pointed me back to God has proven true.

{five} if you could have an endless supply of food, what would you get?
I don't want to choose!  I love food so much that I don't want to leave any categories out.  Plus, I can't go long without fried pickles but I don't think I'd want an endless supply.  If you eat too much of something, you won't want it anymore and that would be sad.

{six} would you rather be a famous musician or a famous actor?
Given my love of music, it may be surprising that I would choose to be a famous actor.  I'd rather perform on a set instead of a stage.  And I'd rather appreciate music than be the one performing it.

{seven} if you could be a star athlete in any sport, which would you choose?
Rowing!  I don't know if there are rowing stars anymore but I loved being on the team in college.  My insomnia was the only reason I stopped.  It's hard to go to 6 am practice on one or two hours of sleep.

{eight} if you were offered the job of u.s. president, would you take it?
Nope.  I wouldn't want that kind of responsibility. 

{nine} would you rather have the ability to fly or the ability to breathe underwater?
Flying would be pretty cool.

{ten} what music are you listening to today?
The wonderful William Fitzsimmons.  He's playing at Mercy Lounge right now and it kills me not to be there.  I decided to be a grown up though and go to bed at my usual time instead of staying up late.  Work is going to be busy tomorrow and I need to be at my full strength.  I just hope the next time he comes to town, he either plays earlier on a weeknight or else comes on the weekend when it doesn't matter what time I go to sleep.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Remembering Thailand Pt. 2

Alternate title: The Time I Impressed a Buddhist Monk (Read Part 1 here.)

Six years ago on this very day one of my favorite Thailand experiences occurred.  I don't think I could ever forget this day, which is probably why my journal entry doesn't fully capture all the details so I'm pretty much going to rewrite it. It'll make much more sense this way.

Monday July 19, 2004:
Shea (other volunteer) and I joined the deaf classroom and even got to learn some Thai sign language. There was an actual lesson plan (not every class did) and structured activities.  It was amazing!  The teacher was really nice and let me be very involved with the kids.  I even got to do a little teaching- signing the numbers 1-20, which I'd just learned.

This afternoon Phanuthat (CCS program director) arranged for us to go to a Buddhist temple.  While I was excited to go to the temple for purely artistic reasons, I was worried about the spiritual component and had prayed over the weekend that God would protect me and that the other volunteers would not be swayed toward Buddhism.  Most of the volunteers did not have any religious background but some were interested in pursuing Buddhism.

The temple and grounds were beautiful, backed by a mountain made of marble.  There were golden statues and various paintings throughout the temple.  It was a huge honor to be at this particular temple.  You don't just wander there off the streets; you need to be invited.  Similarly, it was a huge honor to be addressed by a monk.  Especially if you're a girl.  Women should avoid any physical contact with the monk.  And no one should make eye contact with the monk.  Monks are highly respected in Thailand; they have to follow a litany of rules themselves.  By doing my part, I could ensure that I wouldn't add to a monk's penance.  Phanu happened to know this monk from childhood and he was pretty cool.  He addressed the respectfulness rules and allowed us to make eye contact and to even take a picture of him this visit.  Because he addressed it, it became OK.

After a tour of the temple grounds, we were led back inside to be taught how to meditate.  We sat down in two rows facing each other (feet facing away from Buddha, naturally), with the monk at the head.  Interestingly, the meditation was very similar to mindfulness, which I had learned in my DBT class in grad school.  We focused on breathing and counting.  The goal is to clear your mind of any thoughts.  When a thought intrudes, you re-center on your breathing or counting.   Meditation, of course, is not solely an Eastern philosophy.  Christianity often utilizes meditation to become centered in God; instead of emptying, we are filling.  Which is why, during mindfulness training in school and this Thai meditation lesson, I prayed.

After the first part of this lesson, the monk poured two glasses of water to the brim.  He then directed two volunteers at a time to sit cross-legged in front of him, pick up the glass, and hold it about waist high.  We were to hold it for one minute and keep it as still as possible by meditating.  The logic being if your mind was emptied and focused on the cup, the water would be still.

This first few sets of volunteers did horribly.  Water was spilling all over the place.  I didn't see how I would do any better.  It sounds like such an easy task but I would dare you to try it!  Finally it was my turn.  I picked up my glass and began to pray.  The whole time I thought about the wonder of God and how his mercy and grace overflows in my life.  Thinking about overflowing seems counterintuitive when you're supposed to keep something still but I was truly appreciative in that moment of all that God had done for me, especially during this trip.

I didn't think my hand was that steady. The water seemed to ripple as I looked at the glass.  But I didn't care.  I just kept praying and reflecting.  The visualization of God's mercy and grace streaming into my life was beautiful.  When the time was up, the monk was amazed and told me how still my cup was!  He said he'd never seen a first-timer do it so well.  From what Phanu and the other volunteers said, the water in my glass had stayed completely still.  I was shocked!  Now I couldn't exactly tell the monk the reason for the water's stillness but it did open up some conversation with the other volunteers.  I don't know why God chose to show up in that moment or if He used it in those volunteers' lives.  I still marvel over it though and maybe that's enough.

And thus concludes the time I impressed a Buddhist monk.  Anyone interested in hearing about the possessed people at a Thai dance?  That didn't happen until 7/29/04 so stay tuned...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Sentiments: Love

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

Have you heard "Love Never Fails" by Brandon Heath?  It invariably makes me teary eyed because I tend to hear it the moments I need it most. Sometimes I question if I know what it means to love.  I tell people I love them but do I mean it?  What does that look like in our day to day lives?  Do I really know that God loves me or is that just words I say that never make their way to my heart?  I love the words to this song.  The lyrics spell out what God's love is.  So yes, I do know how to love and that I am God's beloved.  I just needed to be reminded.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Remembering Thailand

6 years ago at this time I was volunteering with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Trang, Thailand.  It was probably one of the best experiences of my life.  I had just finished grad school and the job search awaited me upon my return.  It was the best 3+ weeks I've ever spent. It forced me to make my faith my own.  It exposed me to a beautifully foreign culture.  It developed my love of green curry chicken.

Thailand has been on my mind this last week, reflecting on my time there.  I decided this morning to dig out my journal and look through my scrapbook.  (I took all the pictures on my Canon Rebel and I don't have a scanner so you'll have to use your imagination.  Suffice it to say, Thailand is gorgeous.)  This trip was probably the best I've ever journaled.  I didn't want to forget one detail and I'm so glad I have it all recorded.  Some of my words make me want to cringe but overall, my heart is transparent.  I was trying to figure a lot of things out.  I was uncertain of what would happen when I came home.  I wanted to know who God had made me to be.

Some of that rings true now.  I'm in a place that I don't know like the back of my hand.  I'm still trying to figure things out.  There's uncertainty when you live in a new town and have started a new job.  I have a better sense of who God created me to be but I often pray about whether I am living that out.  It's striking to read some of my ponderings and see how I've grown but also realize that some of my questions may never be answered.  I am so thankful that I am not the same person I was when I went to Thailand and I am so grateful for the ways that country shaped me into the person I am today.  God used that time richly.

I thought I'd share some excerpts from my journal from the exact day 6 years ago.  This was after my first full week in Thailand.  A small group of us (there were 22 other volunteers) went to the Phi Phi Islands for our weekend break.  We had had a late night but still plunged ahead with our plans to go on a snorkeling and kayaking tour.

Saturday, July 17, 2004:
"The day started out promising. We got to the first cove where we could snorkel. No one gave any instructions but I gave a good attempt at figuring it out. I jumped in the water and adjusted the goggles but felt like I was going to suffocate. When I tried to move the goggles, the band snapped in two. No more snorkeling for me. I swam around anyway.  The water is so clear I could still see a lot of fish from the surface. When we got back on the boat, it started sprinkling and then it was a full out downpour. People still snorkeled at the next stop. I was going to do kayaking but I got so seasick. It's so strange- I've never had problems on a boat before. Shawna had dramamine so I took some and that helped, but it knocked me out. I slept a lot on the boat and it continued to rain off and on. I wish I could have kayaked but I felt so miserable. By the last stop I felt much better but you could only snorkel. Oh well.  I figure everyone needs one rained out island story."
"I decided not to go out with everyone {to the bars after dinner} since I was so tired {yay dramamine} and felt like God was telling me not to go.  Am I possibly under some kind of spiritual attack?  I've felt so off-kilter all day and I don't think it's due to being sick. I've been praying a lot- probably more than I do at home- because God is the only one that can get me through this. But maybe I need to step up my quiet times for added spiritual nourishment and protection.  I want to know Him better and i don't want to be afraid if other people know that about me or not. If He's what is most important to me in life, then that should be one of the first things people know about me."

Hope you enjoyed hearing about seasickness and my grapplings with God.  Still to come: meeting a monk and meditating over a glass of water. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Show Us Your Life- Make me a match

Kelly's Korner is heading in a new direction for the latest Show Us Your Life: matchmaking.  She's invited everyone who knows of a quality, single guy to post a profile and see what happens.  Single ladies are invited to post their own profile.  I think this is such a fun idea no matter what happens!  If you poke around my blog, you'll have a pretty good sense of who I am and what my interests are.  In case you don't have time to poke around, here goes nothing:

I am 30 years old and a recent Nashville-transplant.  I'm a social worker at a local children's hospital, pretty much my dream job.  Sometimes I pinch myself when I think of how God lined up the details to get me to this place. I just went through the membership process at my church and am so excited to get plugged into a community group and start serving there.  Hospitality is my number one spiritual gift, with counseling following close behind.  I love having people over, whether it's for a dinner party, my infamous Chili and Doughnut Night, or a random friend who's in the neighborhood.  I also love to cook- it's a great stress reliever and creative outlet.  I am originally from the Chicago suburbs and a huge Chicago White Sox fan.  Family is very important to me.  My parents are still in the suburbs and my younger brother is in Virginia.  I'm especially close with my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  Being far from family is about the only real downside of living here.  It will just make trips home even more meaningful!  Luckily, I live 5 blocks away from my best friend and her husband and 17 month old daughter Anna.  I have been teaching Anna who her favorite auntie is- she is a quick learner!  I read like a fiend and love to paint when I get a chance.  Traveling is a priority and I try to hike when I get a chance.  I'm a big music fan and always try to find new artists to listen to (latest faves: The Civil Wars, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers.) I'm looking forward to sharing my life with someone and raising our family together.

Faith is the most important thing I'm looking for in terms of a husband.  He must be passionate about his relationship with Christ and engaged in the beautifully messy process of sanctification.  After that a good sense of humor is essential.  I prefer a man who knows how to banter!  I would love a guy who is open to wherever life takes him.  Even if romance isn't in our future, perhaps friendship will be or I can introduce him to one of my other single friends!

Pictures from my goodbye party:
30th birthday trip to Asheville, NC with my mom:
With my cousin Zack at Easter:
Thanks in advance for considering me and thanks to Kelly for starting this!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Odds and Ends

The White Sox are ending the first half of the season in first place!!!  I am excited.  And that is an understatement.  When I moved here, the Sox weren't playing so hot.  It was frustrating because clearly they have all the elements to be successful.  It just wasn't happening.  Somehow things have changed.  They started getting hits.  They finally grew up.  They have made me proud.  Fingers crossed!

Next Wednesday William Fitzsimmons is coming to town.  I am in love with his music.  Heartbreakingly beautiful. 

Did you know you can make your own deodorant?  I had no idea but I just might try it.

In honor of the upcoming new season of The Rachel Zoe Project, a Funny or Die spoof.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Sentiments: Joy

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books: Sacred Thirst by M. Craig Barnes. The subtitle is "Meeting God in the Desert of Our Longings."  We have all been in the desert at some point. I have come back to this book time and time again ever since a friend told me to read it 6 years ago. The words resonate.  They are a balm for my soul and hopefully for yours as well.

Of course we do not always get what we really want- but that does not mean that we dare give up the joy of having hope. We are a people who must have hope. Not because it makes us feel good, but, more profoundly, because God is involved in this world. The most powerful illustration of this truth can be seen in his coming to be with us in Jesus Christ. After all we have seen Jesus do in his life on earth and in his death on the cross, after he rose from the dead, who knows what a risen Savior may do in our lives? Do we dare tell this Savior God to be realistic? God is the One who creates reality, and with God all things are possible.
Apparently, Abraham's encounter with God seemed so bizarre that he couldn't even share it with Sarah. A little later, when several angels came to remind Abraham that God was, in fact, serious about Sarah having a baby, she overheard them through the tent walls. This time it was Sarah who started laughing. In response, God asked Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh?...Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?"
This really is the question, isn't it? Those of us who have waited and waited for a blessing from the Lord, who have grown so weary of waiting that we have edited down our dreams, must face this question. Those who have settled for bodies that do not work very well, for loneliness that permeates the end of every exhausting day, or for jobs that strip away every shred of our passion- what would happen if one day out of the blue God were to say, "The waiting is over. It's time to recover your dreams"? Would we say, "Preposterous!" Or would holy joy well up again within our hearts, freeing us to say, "Why not? Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?" It all depends on what we have discovered about the Lord.
Our job is not to worry about when, or if, we will receive the desires of our hearts. That is up to God. Our job is to pray and to hope. And along the way, as we pray, we are drawn closer and closer to God. In time we will discover that being drawn close to God is even more important to us than our dream, because alongside God is where holy joy is found.  (p. 206)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shoe Heaven

I have a new favorite store.  I've been looking for flats for awhile with no luck.  I mentioned this off-handedly to my officemate yesterday.  We talked about a few places, like DSW, Target, and TJ Maxx. I told her how I'd found a pair of Kate Spade flats at TJ Maxx once (sadly too small) but otherwise usually couldn't find shoes there. Mentioning Kate Spade must have done the trick because then she told me about Marti and Liz Shoes in Cool Springs. They apparently get designer shoes worn once on the runway or in a fashion shoot.  This sounded too good to be true!  I decided it would be my weekend fieldtrip.

I headed out this morning and found my way with no trouble.  It's not too far from the mall in Cool Springs.  If you know where the Kroger is, you know where Marti and Liz Shoes is located.  I wasn't sure what to expect but it's set up like any other shoe store, everything separated by size.  I was impressed after just looking at the first section of shoes!  I walked away with 4 pairs of shoes for work for under $100. 

Look how cute these are!
Bandolino, Aerosole, Juicy Couture, and Nine West

The Juicy Couture wedge heels might be my favorite purchase of the day.  It's not what I would typically gravitate towards but I love the wedge heel and smart details.  Plus, it's just a fun color!
I have no idea how much these originally retailed for but it's safe to say they were 
more than the $29.99 that I paid!

There are so many unique and classic shoes at this store.  I will definitely be going back there for my future shoe needs.  There are also stores in other parts of TN and one in KY.  Be sure to check it out when you get a chance!  And to all my friends that plan on visiting, yes, this will be one of our stops.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Show Us Your Life- Favorite Bible Verse

The verse that I've been keeping close to my heart as I started work is 2 Corinthians 9:8.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
It reminds me that God brought me to this very place, this very job, this very moment and He will use it to bring glory to His name.  I may still make mistakes, human that I am, but I will only do my best when I rely on God's strength and grace.

The verses I have clung to for the past few years are found in Romans 8:24-28.  Romans 8:28 was my starting point.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
When my world was falling apart, this was my tangible reminder that God would sift the good from the bad and make something beautiful from the aftermath.  It's too easy to hope for things to work out the way that I want them to but that's not what the verse is about.  That's where the preceding verses come in.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
I love the imagery of the Spirit interceding on our behalf, groaning with the weight of where our hearts are at. I have the hope of salvation, which far outweighs present circumstances. This time on earth is a time of patiently waiting for heaven.  I lose sight of that though.  I think we all do.  These verses call to mind what is truly important.  Yes, God cares about what I'm going through- He literally searches my heart! But He also sees the big picture.  I want my life to be lined up with His will, with His big picture.

Take a moment to share your favorite verse a la Kelly's Korner.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


This afternoon it hit me all over again that I really live here now.  I'm closing in on 7 weeks of Southern living and so far it seems to agree with me.  I've noticed a little drawl slipping in to my speech, especially when I'm at work and especially when I'm talking with my "born in the South" coworkers.  I predicted I would pick up an accent fast and this appears to be holding true.  Surprisingly there are a lot of Midwest transplants in Nashville.  I seem to run in to people from Illinois just about everywhere I go.  This is still a different pace of life for me.  The friends that I have here are mostly married and mostly with kids, meaning their first priority is not hanging out with me.  I feel blessed that I get to hang out with them as much as I do!  While I continue getting to know new people, I still have a good amount of solo time.  I'm taking advantage of it, seeing as I have a few things left on my 31 Things list.  Yesterday after work I joined some of my fellow social workers for happy hour.  I seriously enjoy the people I work with!  It was fun to get together outside of work and get to know some of them better.  They have all been so helpful and great about answering my million questions.  Plus, they're just plain fun!

While things continue to progress here, I can't help but think about what I'm missing out on back home.  I was seriously bummed that I couldn't go to my hometown 4th of July parade.  I've probably only missed it once or twice in my life.  This is a parade that gets all the Illinois political bigwigs and even had Bob Dole (presidential race) and Barack Obama (Senate race) come through.  It's huge, runs way too long, and I love it.  The floats are always creative and the parade gets a great turn-out.  It's fun to people watch and find old classmates and kids I used to babysit for.  People who didn't grow up in my hometown don't always understand our love of the 4th of July parade but that's their loss!  Nashville didn't have a parade, just fireworks.  I guess one out of two will do.

This Sunday marks our big family reunion at the farm.  Something else I've only missed a couple of times in my life- once while I was in Thailand and once for a White Sox game.  My Cubs-fan cousins never let me live down missing the reunion for a game!  We get well over 100 people at the reunion and it won't be long before we hit 200.  It's surprising it's not any bigger considering my grandpa was one of 13 kids.  It's so fun catching up with great-aunts and uncles, cousins twice removed, and of course my more immediate family.
 Everyone brings a dish to share so there's tons of food.  (I'm really craving Trish's Taffy Apple Salad.)
Adam demonstrates the 2-plate phenomenon
There are games for the kids and a hayride for families.  

Plus, the illustrious Chicken Poop Lotto.  

And if I was lucky, there would be kittens in the barn to play with.  Mostly, it's just nice to be together, catching up on life and relaxing in the sun while the cows graze nearby.  I hope they miss me!

It's strange not going to White Sox games.  My partial season tickets with Brooke have been a defining part of the last 5 summers.  I can still catch the occasional game on WGN but otherwise I'm left to checking scores online.  I already have permission from my boss to fly back if we make it to the post-season and I hope I can keep coming back for the home opener.  It would be a shame to break my streak!

My dear friend Jill is getting married in less than a month.  I'm honored to be a hot bridesmaid.  But I'm disappointed that I haven't been around to help her with wedding stuff or go to her bridal showers and that I'll miss out on her Bachelorette party.  Normally I'd look for an excuse to get out of a bridal shower but I am so excited for Jill that I haven't wanted to miss out on a moment!  At least I have the time off for the wedding.  I can't wait to celebrate!

Finally I wish I could go to another Pitchfork Music Festival.  I've gone the last 3 or 4 years and have picked up a few favorite bands this way.  I'll never forget the first time I listened to Fleet Foxes, the zany Flaming Lips performance, or seeing Yoko Ono and her crazy "flashes of love."  So many memorable moments.  Plus, I'll miss seeing my Pitchfork friends- the people I usually only see at Pitchfork.  This year has a fantastic line-up of course.  Ravinia has had a ton of shows this summer that I would have for sure attended.  Is there a Nashville version of Ravinia?  Every state needs a good outdoor concert venue where you can bring your own picnic and wine.  Alas, I am here and not there.  Let me assure you I still think this is a good thing!  While Chicago has a great music scene, it doesn't compare to Nashville's in terms of cool venues, cheap tickets, and awesome new artists.  That's not to say Chicago doesn't try- it's treated me well all these years.  Nashville just has the upper edge.  Plus there's the Hot Chicken Festival!  I'm having a blast checking out new restaurants, thrift shops, and more.  While I wish I could transport myself back for some of my regular summer routine, I'm sure I'll make it back for a few of these things next summer.  By then, I'll actually have vacation time at work and a better handle on how to manage my time between two states.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Memory Lane

Simply Staci tagged me in a Photo Meme Game.   You go to the 8th folder where you store your photos, select the 8th photo, post it to your blog and tell the story, then tag 8 other people to do the same.  I hadn't heard of this game before but it was fun to look through old pictures.  I ended up with this:
This is from a photo shoot I did of my best Friend Erin's daughter Katelyn.  Is she not the most precious thing?  She was probably about 5 months old here.  I believe Erin's sister Amy bought the flower headband for her.  The photo shoot was to get some nice shots to be given to family at Christmas.  I am completely amateur and welcome any opportunity to play with my Canon Rebel.  Oh, I miss this little girl!

I have lots to do today so I'm going to skip tagging anyone specific and charge all my readers to participate as able.  If you want to take a trip down memory lane, please do!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hot Chicken Festival

I did something totally Nashvillian today.  I went to the Music City Hot Chicken Festival in east Nashville.  I had never heard of hot chicken before moving here but according to festival lore, hot chicken is to Nashville what cheesesteak is to Philly, chowder is to New England, and pizza is to New York.  I actually take offense to pizza being associated with New York because when I think of pizza, I think deep-dish from Chicago.  I suppose we all have our pizza preferences.  In any case, a coworker invited the social workers to come to the festival and I took her up on it.  I like chicken.  I like spicy food.  And I like getting to know people.  Win-win-win.  The first 500 people got 2 free samples and we were lucky enough to be in that group.

I tried mild from Bolton's and hot from 400 Degrees.  The mild was spicy but not overly so.  I could pick out certain spices, including lemon pepper.  Delicious.  The hot chicken was a slow burn, thickly coated with spices.  It's a good thing festival volunteers reminded us not to use our hands to wipe our eyes because my eyes were streaming and my hands were coated with spice.  Many thanks to the lady handing out the wet naps.  The lines for the hot chicken vendors were pretty long but thanks to my samples and the huge free piece of watermelon, I was doing fine.  Instead of more chicken, we opted for ice cream from Pied Piper.  I got a double scoop of Lady Goo Goo, which was more like 5 scoops.  Nothing like ice cream on a hot summer day.  There was live music, of course. 
Tracy, Joel, and Anna stopped by, thanks to my influence, but I didn't see any other friends that were also planning to go.  I'm sure today will be a record turn out for the festival!  Lauren and I wandered around for awhile and then concluded we had had our fill and called it an afternoon.  Happy 4th of July!

Sunday Sentiments: Dependence

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

The Greatness of Our God- Fellowship Worship Team
"No sky contains
No doubt restains
All You are
The greatness of our God
I spend my life to know
And I'm far from close
To all you are
The greatness of our God"

It Is Well With My Soul- Horatio G. Spafford 
 "My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

It seems strange to discuss dependence on Independence Day.  Perhaps because we so often view dependence as a bad thing.  The truth is dependence is the very reason I moved to Nashville in the first place. Crazy Love was an incredibly convicting book to read.  As I've stepped out in faith, God has blessed me in ways both big (a house 5 blocks from my best friend, my dream job) and small (being invited to join a Book Club, someone who walked me to the right building for orientation day 1.)  I continue to marvel about the way God lined up everything for this move and since I've been here.  And yet, I was convicted all over again this morning.  I haven't fully processed this yet so forgive my clumsy words.

While I hoped that God would line everything up for this move, I didn't expect it to work out the way that it did.  I have indeed sung God's praises for lining things up.  However, I realized that when people have asked me why I moved to Nashville, I tend to give a short answer because the real answer is too lengthy for most conversations.  Especially when you're meeting with a million people during orientation.  So while I might say, "it was a step of faith" or "God lined everything up," I also talk about visiting Tracy and Joel the last 6 years and being ready for change.  Or not being able to stomach one more Chicago winter.  Could I be bold enough to say "I read a book that challenged me to be more dependent on God and this is the direction it took me in" or is that not an accurate response for the workplace?  I'm not hiding my faith at work but perhaps I'm missing out on opportunities to speak up.  That's one thing I took away from this morning.

The other thing I took away was a recognition of my sin and how I do not deserve for God to have been as gracious as He has been in getting me here.  The sermon centered on how Noah's first, immediate action after getting off the ark was to build an altar so he could worship God.  There's much to discuss within Noah's actions but the "So What?!?!?" portion of the message really hit home.  Bill asked, "to what extent does God let sin go so that man is allowed to worship Him?" In the context of Noah, God wiped out mankind and then invited man, through Noah, back in to relationship with Him.  From judgment (flood) to grace (choosing Noah to build the ark).  Bill then asked, "to what extent will God go for my sin, for me to worship Him?"  God sacrificed His only son so that I could be reconciled in relationship with Him.  From judgment to grace. And at the heart of all this is so we can do what we were meant to do: worship God.  It's easy in Christian circles to become complacent or to become less aware of your sin.  We all know we're sinners but we're not always aware of our sinfulness. 

I guess I just realized that I don't deserve, in and of myself, all that God lined up for me here.  This job, this house, these new friends...all gifts from God.  I don't deserve any of it but I am grateful.  And my response is to worship God.  Not just in church but in my day to day life.  Giving Him credit for anything good that might come out of my life.  Allowing others to see Him in me. 

Most of the "song-singing" portion of worship came after the message which was so necessary.  The bolded lyrics above stuck out to me the most.  My mission is to keep seeking knowledge of the greatness of our God.  I will never fully grasp it this side of eternity but I hope to know Him more and more fully each passing year.  The lyrics in "It Is Well With My Soul" seemed tailor made for this sermon.  Noah sacrificed animals that could have fed his family but he didn't hold back.  The animals and birds on the altar were totally consumed by the fire, nothing was left.  Noah was once again in a place of dependence on God to meet his needs.  As Noah did not offer part of a sacrifice but the whole, God has forgiven my sins, not in part but the whole.  As if forgiving my sins was not enough, I am in relationship with Him who forgave my sins.  It's easy to lose sight of this precious fact. 

Another song had lyrics along the lines of being "needy, broken, and desperate."  It pierced my heart.  That is how I need to be before God each day.  When we depend on God, our needs are met.  Not always in the way we envisioned.  Not always on our timeline.  But that is the beauty of God.  Being in limbo means I am more open to what God would have me do but also I am positioned to receive ever more blessing.  Not in the prosperity gospel sense. In the sense that I am not holding anything back so I am more aware of the God who is behind the blessing.  This morning was a good reminder of why I'm here and what I hope God will accomplish through me as I remain dependent on Him.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cafe Nonna review

The other night Kelly and I headed to Cafe Nonna on her excellent recommendation.  Kelly and her husband especially love the pizzas there.  The humidity has eased up here so we were able to sit outside and enjoy a nice breeze.  Unfortunately, the breeze kept catching the curtain hanging behind me (although there's outdoor seating, it's not open air- the curtains are up to block the sun so you don't have to squint through your dinner) and the curtain would settle upon my head like a nun's habit.  I thought it was hilarious!  The staff were helpful and friendly.  They did offer to do something about the curtain but then the sun would have blinded Kelly and I really didn't mind an occasional veil.  We decided to split the house salad and ordered the pizza with mushrooms and kalamata olives.  The house salad was clearly comprised of fresh ingredients and their homemade dressing was out of this world delicious.  Then our pizza arrived and I took a moment to thank the Lord that pizza was invented.  This is not your Chicago-style pizza.  This is a thin, crispy crust covered with fresh tomato, marinara, mozzarella, and basil, plus the desired toppings.  In short, it was perfection.  I can't wait to browse the rest of their menu.  Lunch-time options and the pizza are more in line with my budget but Cafe Nonna is in line to become my "special" restaurant of choice.
7/4/10: Kelly kindly emailed me this picture, taken with her Iphone.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Kindred Connection: Bursary of Bliss

When I moseyed over to Kristin's blog to see what the latest Kindred Connection topic would be, I was a little stumped.  What is a Bursary of Bliss? defines bursary as the treasury of a monastery.  It is the collection, then, of the sacred.  In this sense, a bursary of bliss is comprised of the things that bring you pleasure, joy, and a sense of calm.  She writes, "we are much more capable to handle the trials of everyday life, when our souls are fed little moments of bliss...This list is of the delights that God planted in your heart to respond to in a special way." In a way, this is a great guideline for self-care, a necessity in my line of work.  What an interesting window into the souls of others!

1.  Irish Breakfast tea on a lazy morning
2.  Rain/Thunderstorms
3.  Fireplaces
4.  A good meal shared with friends or family (bonus if there are fried pickles)
5.  Cooking- few things are more therapeutic than slicing, dicing, and preparing a meal for loved ones
6.  Music (country excluded)- especially going to shows or blasting the radio after work
7.  Losing myself in a book
8.  Sunrises and sunsets
9.  Hiking
10. Traveling: seeing how other cultures express themselves
11. Creating (painting, scrapbooking, crafting)
12.  Resale shopping- I love finding a good deal!
13. Spending time with my nieces-in-love, especially their smiles when they see me
14. Intentional gatherings
15. A handwritten letter or card
16. Making mix CDs or receiving one from a friend
17. Working on a crossword puzzle
18. Invitations from new friends
19. Walking around the neighborhood on a breezy afternoon
20. Porch swings
21. Scripture that makes your heart pound
22. White Sox winners
23. Unexpected compliments

What feeds your soul?  What things keep you going?  Think it over and then create your own bursary!

Windy Poplars

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Party Planning

I've been following Trish's blog for close to a year.  I have no idea how I found her but she has been a fount of excellent book and music recommendations, as well as recipes and party planning ideas.  It was no surprise to learn that she has launched Frilly Milly Events, an event planning company for parties, showers, and more.  Trish will design all of your party's elements, from invitations to place cards to packaging.  She will design the theme, decor, and how everything should be arranged.  You should definitely take a look at pictures from her Alice in Wonderland party.  As if this is not enough, Trish will even coordinate the food to go with your party's theme.  Let me tell you, she comes up with some fantastic cakes!  (If only I got to taste them instead of reading the recipe and trying to figure out how soon I can make it for myself.)  She will do as much or as little of the party planning as you want.  Even if you don't live in the Nashville/Franklin area, she is still available to design and print your invitations, as well as send instructions on how to set up the table, what food to serve, and so on.  Prices are "per request" right now.  I'm a pretty good hostess myself but Trish inspires me to take party planning to a new level.  Happy planning!