Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Then vs. Now

I've hit a plateau in my weight loss progress, mostly because I'm working to enjoy the holidays. I haven't gained much, but I haven't lost either. I was feeling a little discouraged as I had hoped to hit my goal by the end of the year, so instead of fretting, I decided to remind myself of how far I've come.

This picture was taken last Christmas. I've never shown it to anyone as I hated it. I felt so awful physically last fall and, after seeing this, even on the little display on my camera, decided change was necessary. Later that night I weighed myself at my parents' house and, while I wanted to cry, instead let it be a driving force for change. That "straw that broke the camel's back" sort of thing.

Fast forward eleven months to Thanksgiving. I'm still at roughly the same weight as Thanksgiving; I also wanted to compare to another picture with my hair back to be "fair." Down 45 lbs with about 10 to go.



Yes, I still have about 10 lbs to go, but I think I've covered a lot of ground in the last 11 months. And I'm thankful for the stamina, diligence (I'm not so good with the diligence sometimes), and newfound love of fitness and healthy eating.




And since I am close to goal, I'll share the reward I plan to give to myself. A pretty dress (most likely on sale) from Anthropologie. Surprised? :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Confession

I think pictures with Santa are slightly creepy.

Thousands of kids sitting on an unknown man's knee, spreading germs and taking pictures. Kinda creeps me out.

I've thought this for a while, but only recently verbalized said creepiness to my mom. She then let me know that I was afraid of Santa as a kid, so she only has one picture of me with him...and one with my dad dressed as Santa for an Officer's Club Christmas party (yes, we knew it was dad). Guess this has been a lifelong thought. I'd blame it on the creepy Santa in A Christmas Story, but obviously I didn't see that until I was older. Hmm...I don't know where this stems from.

Yes, I have issues.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sparkles & Bends

Um, could my nieces be any cuter in their sparkly pink TOMS?!?! Gift courtesy of my aunt, Amy. I can't wait to give them both hugs over Christmas!

Secondly, I'm in some serious need of this:


Well, my backbends are so not as graceful...I look more like a deformed animal, but you get the point. My back has been so stiff and achy this week! It's ready for some intense yoga-ing on Saturday, followed by lovely zumba.

Happy almost Friday! Today is insane for me, but will probably go fast, so that's nice. :) Can't believe it's almost Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Assuming

Donald Miller tweeted this picture this morning and, while seemingly simple, I thought it was actually quite profound, particularly for me.

I smiled when I read his line "I assume I'm a bother or a drain." Can I tell you how many times that exact thought, or something strickingly similar, has crossed my mind? I rarely think people want to talk to or hang out with me.


Challenged to reframe my thinking. And not in a prideful way, but in a Christ-honoring way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Compliments

A few weeks ago someone told me my outfit was cute and looked very 1940s.

Today someone told me I could pass as a French person.

These are very, very good compliments in the book of Sarah. Seriously.

Merci mes amis, merci.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Plot Thickens

I think I may be turning into a crazy person. Or, at the very least, a person who's thoughts are being continually turned upside down; really across a lot of my life, but today's relates specifically to poverty. Because, why not?

I'm currently reading a book (along with two others...) called Brother, I'm Dying. It's an autobiography written by a Haitian-American immigrant who spent her childhood in Haiti, much of which was apart from her parents, and adult life in America. I'm only about 50 pages in, but was struck by something she wrote regarding her father in setting the stage of why her parents immigrated from Haiti to America, leaving their two oldest children with family for eight years.

Her father was skilled as a tailor, making simple clothes for Haitians. In the 60s, a stream of used clothes from America flooded Haiti and thereby removed the need for Haitian tailors or seamstresses as the Haitians have a tendency to think American products are better than their own. Her father looked for work in other areas, but continued to struggle, particularly after a wave of government corruption hit and gangs took what they wanted. Given that, he left for America to find work.

What the world?!?!

I was, once again, struck by how sometimes our efforts to help can inadvertently hurt. Yes, the donated clothes were likely given in an attempt to help, but perhaps that wasn't the best course of action (obviously I have no idea if it was or wasn't, this is merely an observation)? Or perhaps it was part of the Lord's plan and was a piece of the story to get us where we are today. I don't know.

In any case, though, I continue to be challenged to not try to fix everything (in poverty, friends, life, etc.). And to not act hastily apart from the Spirit's leading, while knowing that at times His leading may lead to struggle. He is sovereign and can fix my blunders, but sometimes a little pausing, praying, and considering what He says may prevent some blunders.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9

Today I'm thankful for this story.

For the provision provided within and the timing with which I became aware of said provision. For the author's rawness and unknowingly encouraging others through her words.

And for Haiti; how it is being changed from the inside out, and that I am eternally blessed to have walked it's dirt roads, hugged it's children, sang praises with it's people, and loved its beauty.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Under the Microscope

Lately, I've sort of felt like I was living under a microscope. And I don't particularly like science (which makes the fact I was both an engineering and nursing major in college quite amusing)...

As I ponder this notion, I can't help but remember my days in high school science class. I had a love/hate relationship with lab days. On one hand, it broke the monotony of lectures, but on the other, it made it unbelievably clear how much I had no clue as to what the world I was doing... Sometimes I'm not sure how I passed biology or chemistry...in high school or college! Anyway, I remember the microscope days. You know the ones, when you're supposed to look at gross, weird stuff on the little slide? Yeah, I feel like I was great at faking it. I'd look and say I saw X and Y, when in reality it looked like a gross blob.

I think perhaps my teachers liked my creative responses? Who knows. Back to present day.

Along with not being a fan of science, I'm also not a fan of looking at myself or thinking about how I feel. It's interesting as I'm most definitely a feelings-based person, but when it's about me? No thanks. I'd rather focus on you. Or the random person I don't know. Or imaginary people. (before you think I'm crazy on that last one, I mean fictional characters...you know, books, movies, TV shows)

Lately I feel like I'm being pushed on that weirdo slide and shoved under the microscope. And then, to make it even more uncomfortable, am forced to look myself. So not a fan! I don't particularly want to see the gross blobs. The parts of my story I wish would just disappear (and you can bet your bottom dollar I've prayed that they would...hey, God can do that).

And yet, as a glutton for punishment, I keep going back to that science class. I keep allowing myself to be microscoped. And keep looking in that greasy eye piece (I remember them being greasy; random, I know). And keep analyzing the blobs and trying to figure out answers, yet typically turning up with none.

I hate the microscope. I sort of want to break the microscope, and yet I know it's necessary. I'm fighting it tooth and nail, sometimes thinking it's a big waste of time and energy, and sometimes feeling like a horrible person as I get tired of looking at my own blobs. I don't want to look at mine! I want to help others and not be annoying by asking others to help me decipher said blobs!

Even so, I know I have to keep going. Keep listening to the Instructor, keep looking at the microscope, and trust that eventually the blobs will make sense with the Instructor's help.

So while I hate the microscope, I'm choosing to be thankful for it.

Constant & Great Name

Today, I'm thankful for these two songs.

The first has been on replay for quite some time (though not this version, I prefer the one from the Passion album :)). I think part of the reason it's extra special is that I first heard it with my sweet college girls on the way to our retreat last spring. We had a tradition of listening to and singing praise music the whole way to our small group retreats, which ALWAYS were some of the sweetest moments of the trip. And pointed to how much growth they've had from the days of Fergie and other Top 40 hits blaring...we transitioned to blaring praises to Jesus.

The second is a newer one for me that I just downloaded last week after hearing on the radio. It's actually spurred an interest in further understanding the names of God, as I think perhaps that may help me better understand his character. And I'm sort of confused by his character right now.

Enjoy. May they encourage you, too.



Friday, November 4, 2011

Obsession

I have a completely unhealthy obsession with these shoes. I very well may start dreaming about them.

They're so pretty. *sigh*


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Yesterday's Thanks

Yesterday I slept pretty much all but four hours of the day. I really hate being sick. And while I still don't feel well today, knew I needed to go to work purely because I have so much to do.

So my thanks for yesterday is:

1. Sick time and the ability to sleep most of the day in a cozy bed

2. Nyquil. They miracle medicine that helps me sleep when my head and throat are throbbing

3. Sweet friends who check-in on me. I'm a little like my dad, though, and always worry I'll get others sick so tend to go being sick alone. I greatly appreciate those of you who did check-in!

4. A body that, with God's help, has the ability to fight whatever is wrong and heal itself

Now here's hoping I feel 100% tomorrow. Or maybe even later today.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

29 Days

I'm stealing an idea from a friend, but tweaking it a bit. I'm working through some things right now in which I think it would be beneficial to sow a thankful heart. Therefore, I want to take time every day for the month of November to recognize and write-out what I'm thankful for. Hopefully this practice will develop a habit, but I'm at least aiming to focus for this month.



I may not blog everyday as some of my thankful things may not be things I want to share with the whole world (not that I have more than one or two readers, but still).



For day one, though...



1. My sweet nieces who bring joy to my life. Thankful they are being raised to know who Jesus is and why he is the most important man they could ever meet. And thankful they're girly and cute. :)


McKenzie is a precious, dear little evangelist. And, as I've said before, she shares my love for all things French...and scarves. Morgan is a squishy love bug who smiles like it's nobody's business. Unless she's hungry, in which case she resorts to growling. Oh and her choice for getting around is currently rolling. Goofy girl.

2. Discipleship. I think I could write a novel and still not come close to expressing how thankful I am for being blessed with the opportunity to share in the lives with others. Nor how much I love these four precious girls!



Melissa and Emily surprised me last weekend and came to serve at Hideaway, our high school retreat! They served beautifully (not surprising at all...they have such servant's hearts) and shared about their idols to encourage/challenge the students. They did SO well and I am just so darn proud of them. And yes, I maybe had to try not to cry when I said bye. Oh, and I may get to see Margaret this weekend...three girls in one week? Yes, please!


I'm also beyond thankful for the opportunity to continue discipleship with my new group of freshman girls. Excited to continue to get to know them and shepherd them in Christ. I pray they, too, will be ripples for Christ's love.


3. David Crowder Band's Christmas album. Yes, it's only November 2nd and yes, I've taken to listening to this album pretty heavily over the past week. And I don't care that it's still before Thanksgiving.


Lately I've been faced in a big way with the depravity of man and this world. The Truth of Christmas and the hope that comes with the birth of dear Jesus is helping me to see through the depravity and on to beauty, joy, and love.


And besides, for all we know Jesus' birthday is tomorrow. :)


4. Community. For loving me in the midst of my ugliness, anger, and bitterness. And for a host of other things. :)


5. Laughter and penguins. Monday night I was at a thing and was about to share something that was challenging. Right before I started talking, a woman walked in dressed as a penguin. While it was Halloween, this venue was not quite costume-appropriate, so for a moment my inner Billy Madison kicked-in and I thought perhaps I was seeing things. Alas, it was just a woman dressed as a penguin. It -brought a big, laugh-to-tears moment among the women I was with.


That's it for now. I feel like junk and just finished work for the evening so think I'll hit the hay since my head may soon explode and I have about 24 hours of work to do tomorrow... Oy, is it Friday, yet? :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

No Talking

I failed my no eating out test. Though I think I have a good excuse.

I have a poor little ole sad tooth that has gone through the ringer in the past five years. It broke and has since gone through three crowns, one because it didn't like it, another because it made it angry, and now the third which it seems to be friends with. Even so, tooth is still quite sad and has given me trouble the past month or so, but was sneaky and masking it's frustration in other ways. It doesn't know good coping skills.

This past weekend in California (which I'll update on later), it decided to make its present frustrations known. I went back to the tooth doctor, who sent me to a special tooth doctor, who said tooth is angry and needs to have its nerves removed. Aka, root canal. I hemmed and hawed, and then decided that I'd allow tooth to be happy.

Well, it most definitely is not. Tooth got sick with an infection, so the root canal has to be executed across two weeks. Round one was Wednesday, and it has subsequently wreaked havoc on my mouth. Pain and some intense swelling. I suppose tooth's last hurrah is to make me look like a one-sided chipmunk! Grr...

So onto the no talking and failing on my no eating out goal. Essentially, it hurts to talk. Sort of challenging in my job, especially when I have client meetings and such. And it's also hard to eat. Partially because of chipmunk cheeks, but also because I'm only allowed to eat on one side. Seemingly easy, yet challenging given upset jaw and chipmunk cheeks... So I've resorted to smoothies and soup. It's been a whirlwind of not feeling well and work since root canal was done, so it's been easier to buy as opposed to standing in the kitchen and cooking.

On top of that, the medicine I'm on makes me nauseous. That is sort of why canned soup hasn't been tried. I have some, but the thought makes me a little, um, queasy.

I made some chili yesterday in the crock pot (aka throw a buncha stuff in a pot and let it stew). Going to try that tonight.

So here's hoping angry, sad ole tooth gets better and happy. I'm tired of looking like a chipmunk and being in pain. And I sort of like to talk. And I'm mad I may not be able to go to zumba tomorrow if it still hurts...we all know how I feel about that!!

In other news, sad tooth has made me so humbly grateful that antibiotics, doctors, dentists, and easy-to-eat-when-my-mouth-hurts food options exist for me. And exist so easily! So many other people in this would could die from an angry tooth. I hate that.

Thy Kingdom come.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crush

So I have a crush...on a dead guy...

I'm currently reading Eric Metaxas' biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and it's amazing. And I now have a crush on ole Dietrich. Sadly he was a martyr and died at the hands of the Nazi's in World War II, so I'm out of luck.

Regardless, it's incredible to read about someone who fought for injustice during a dark period of history. Read it. Maybe you'll get a crush, too!

This also makes me want to read Eric's other biography, Amazing Grace, about William Wilberforce, another man who fought against injustice and was used to impact the end of the slave trade in England (it's a movie, too). Maybe I'll get a crush on him, too. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No More Eating Out...

...well, not ever, just for two weeks.

Tomorrow I leave for California for a long weekend to visit my brother, Adam, and his lovely family of girls. I can't wait! We're going to San Francisco on Saturday and I haven't been there in about 18 years. Ca-razy! I can't believe it's been that long since we lived in California...

I'm excited and will be sure to post lots of pictures and fun updates of the cuties! Random side note of cuteness, I called Adam on Tuesday and McKenzie answered. She then told me she's six now and reminded me that I haven't seen her since she was only five (mind you, I last saw her a mere five months ago...though that's an eternity for a six year old!).

Anyway, I've been thinking about my struggle with balance and reflecting on the pace of my life this fall. Which is essentially 110%. I was also thinking about my goals and struggles. Through that, I decided to do a little test starting Tuesday (I'm in California until Monday night) to run for the rest of October.

I'm going to attempt, very hard, to not eat out for the rest of the month.

My speed demon, overflowing life makes the appeal of picked-up meals or walks to Whole Foods (I stare at it out my office window!) very tempting. And that just isn't so great for my wallet, or my waistline!

This will be challenging in that I do have a crazy schedule right now, but also because I'm already apt to inadvertently forget my nicely packed lunch as it is. Also, most nights I'll need to pack a lunch and dinner since I have something nightly until 9-ish (except Wednesday!). I will also have to be diligent with cooking meals for the week on Sunday, or else I'll end up eating just sandwiches which, although not bad, don't allow for much variety. And if I end up eating the same thing every day, I'm more apt to be greatly tempted by the Whole Foods! :)

So, two week challenge. We'll reevaluate, and perhaps then I can continue with minor modifications (i.e. dinners with friends which aren't really a struggle since they don't happen that frequently...it's the solo eating out that's a bug!).

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Music to Fall Into



I love the power music has to transport, evoke emotions, set an ambiance, wrap you up like a blanket, and so much more. My miriage of styles and artists each have a place and each impact me in different ways.

Right now I'm quite obsessed with Katie Herzig's newest album, The Waking Sleep. It's full of interesting sounds through the use of cellos, violins, and the piano (all of which instantly cool-ify music in my book...along with the banjo). But even more than that, with several songs on the album, I feel as though I'm falling into another world. A magical one, full of vintage beauty.

Since the album was only released a few weeks ago and Katie has since had a family tragedy, there are no videos up of my favorites on the album. However, the above video was her announcement of the coming release and includes a snipit of one. Plus, it's just pretty with the vintage feel. :)

Enjoy. And yes, I fully recognize my view and take of music is probably bizarre to some (i.e. the falling into it reference). Oh well, you're just missing out. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Balance

Sometimes I just want to go back here. Life is insane, things pile up, and I think about the beautiful beach and beautiful people of Haiti. I think about how challenging, yet how simple life is there. Granted, we were there for a defined period, sort of like a strange vacation, so real life somewhat fades away. But it was certainly more simple.

Some days lately I feel as though my brain may explode. Not literally, but there's so much going on and I feel pulled in a hundred different directions. Work has exploded again, and there's added pressure as our agency is merging offline and online (which I know probably doesn't mean anything to folks not in my industry), so I essentially will have to learn a new role while still managing all of my accounts...this starts on Monday.

Student ministry has returned full-force. While I don't feel the same level of connection as usual since I'm with a new group and don't know them yet, I have a mix of feelings as I want to get to know the new girls, lead them well, and keep track of my college girls (which is proving difficult given their college crazy schedules).

I'm working on a few things personally which, are ultimately good things, but hard and take lots of time, energy, and emotional focus.

I'm 14 lbs away from my goal weight. And yet it seems so far away, partially because all of the above things steal my time and attention and I feel like there's little left for me to cook healthy meals and work-out to the level that I'd like to, and that I was last spring and this summer. I haven't gained anything back since life exploded to this level a month ago (and actually lost some two weeks ago), but I'd like these last pounds to come off! And I want to be diligent and work-out, partially since I've experienced the benefits...so I miss it right now.

I long to invest deeply in friendships, but sometimes I find myself empty at the end of the day. I care so much for my friends, especially my community, but feel like I'm not loving them well and am focused too much on my junk right now, which just makes me feel guilty.

I have so many other things I'd like to do. I randomly decided I want to learn how to knit. Currently I'm only a crocheter. I know the knitting basics, but have not really made anything further than a basic scarf. I have books I want to read, both fiction and Scripturally-based, clothes to make (I even have the patterns and fabric!), there are places in Dallas I want to go, etc., etc.

All that to say, my life is suddenly quite busy and full. Realistically, it's all good things (though some are challenging, I'm trusting they're ultimately for good), but I'm struggling with balancing it all. Some things will have to give and then some things are necessary for mental, physical, and emotional sanity/stability.

I don't have any wild "ah ha!" thoughts. I suppose ultimately I'm working to balance everything, give myself grace, but also fighting to prioritize the things that are essential, including gym time, friend time, and the personal work stuff. Thankfully I know it's a season and won't last forever. And I know it's not a surprise to the Lord, so I'm trusting that all of this colliding at once is purposeful and will teach me more about him.

But this spontaneous-loving, schedule-hating girl is ready to return to a slower-paced life. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sweet Babies



My brother sent the above pictures to me yesterday of my dear niece, Morgan. And can I just say it gives me great joy that she has the Buckley family eyebrow raise down pat? She also has a Franks family dimple; it's just not showing in these pictures. And selfishly, I'm glad both of these mirror mine: left dimple and right eyebrow raise. :)



But she most definitely has my brother's black olive eyes. And the first picture is so reminiscent of his facial expressions. I'm excited to hug this little rolly polly girl in a few short weeks!


This morning I read a blog entry of a couple I've never met, yet feel a bit of a connection to them due to our mutual loves for a country in the ocean. My friend Kristie introduced me to the blog (thanks Kristie!) and I found today's entry so real, and yet so scary.



This couple lives in Haiti with their family and work for a ministry called Heartline Ministries, that sounds as though it has similar goals as MOH. The wife works as a midwife for the ministry and the entry I read this morning was powerful, so I thought I'd share.

I originally found myself jumping onto a soapbox in this post as my view of poverty alleviation has shifted so much from going to Haiti, hearing from MOH, and reading When Helping Hurts. But then I decided me going on a rant would not be helpful and I feared it would overshadow the truth of this particular blog entry.


So instead, I simply will say read it. And then join me in praising God for the successes and the lives that continue to be changed in Haiti. And pray that more will be changed, more will be educated, and more will glorify God as they learn how to care for themselves, their families, and change the nation of Haiti for God's glory.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Little Joy


I am very priviledged that I have many memories of five of my great grandparents.

One set of great grandparents, my Big Mema and Papa, lived a few miles from where I live now. Every trip to Dallas from wherever we happened to live always included a visit with them (and my great grandmother Mimi), even if we were staying at my grandparents' house in Ft. Worth. I have many fond memories playing in the "old timer" stuff in the garage of their Oak Cliff home. A home which I always remember being huge yet in reality, it's pretty darn tiny.

Even now, I sometimes catch a whiff of perfume that immediately makes me think of Big Mema and I always smile. Grandfather clocks make me think of their home. And any time I hear How Great Thou Art, I'm reminded that that's her favorite hymn (I'm not sure I'd remember that on my own, but my dad told me).

Given my fond memories of them, years ago I was honored to be given their dining room set. It wasn't necessarily my style, per say, but the memories and people tied to it made it special. I kept it for many years, until I was moving into an apartment that it would no longer fit. It took some time (I don't let go of sentimental things easily...), but I finally felt okay parting with the set, knowing it would go somewhere good.

This process of selling the furniture ended up being bad. I won't go into it, but suffice it to say, it tarnished all good memories of this furniture.

Well today while taking a quick break to eat lunch, I perused a few craft sites and stumbled upon something that brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. See here.

This looks EXACTLY like the hutch! And the blog's author lives in Austin, so could it be that Big Mema and Papa's hutch could have landed into the hands of a crafty person who would refurbish it to enjoy in her family?

I hope so. Or if it's not this exact piece, that some other family is enjoying it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Have No Great Title

Last night was the first high school “church” (aka shoreline). It was my first one without my dear college freshman girls, and my first one meeting my new high school freshman girls. It was weird, to say the least.

I continue to be shocked by how much reminds me of my sweet college girls. A song (or lots of songs, really…we were a musical bunch), a story, a book, a bible verse, and so much more. Multiple times last night something would occur and I’d almost lean over, only to remember they weren’t there. While it seems like that would sadden me, it doesn’t really. Don’t get me wrong, I miss them terribly, but instead these moments bring me deep abiding joy as this group of girls have been written into my story of grace. I am privileged to disciple them and it is a privilege to know they are carrying the torch well. Every time these moments occur (and other times with the Lord), I smile and then pray for them. Pray for their hearts to remain entwined with the Lord’s, for the Holy Spirit to help them withstand temptation, for them to do mighty things for the Kingdom, and for anything else I may know they need prayer for.

And then meeting the new girls. I was quite nervous and, honestly, still am. I question if I have it in me to lead them, if I’m strong enough and I question how to balance and not compare. While it was a little chaotic last night and I couldn’t really tell you most of their names as it was super loud (which doesn’t bode well if you have a hearing loss…), I was invited to chat one-on-one with my new co-leader and one of the girls after shoreline. That, too, was a bit overwhelming, but also encouraging. This girl shared big things with me, a complete stranger! I again questioned this morning if I am equipped to lead them. And then interestingly today’s portion of a little study I’m doing was on the Holy Spirit and the Lord graciously reminded me that I was not equipped (nor am I now) to shepherd my college girls through the plethora of hugely challenging things that came up across our six years together. But he is.

So again, I was pushed to my knees (well, figuratively as I was sitting in my bed) and into his Word. I am worthless to shepherd and lead any these girls apart from the Holy Spirit’s power. My words are utterly meaningless unless they are seasoned with God’s words. I’m thankful for the complete dependence true discipleship reflects.

Healing also requires this type of dependence. I’m going through something else on my own that, if I’m completely honest, I so wish I could avoid. Or wish I could fast-forward and skip. It is probably the hardest thing I have ever chosen to take part in. Sure, I’ve had other hard things that have happened to me or a season I’ve fallen into, but this was something I chose to walk into.

This past week we were looking at lies and how we must identify them, combat with truth, and then continue to walk in that truth until our minds are renewed. I’m sure when you read this you may think that doesn’t sound so bad. Yet it is ridiculously hard. You see, many of these lies I’ve believed for 20+ years and many I’m sure I don’t even recognize. And then of those I do recognize, I don’t exactly know how to combat them with truth. How do you make yourself believe something you don’t? And how do you beat lies you can’t even see?

I decided to return to a place of biblical comfort. Yes, I’m a little all-over-the-place at times with my bible reading. And yes I read multiple different things every day, but whatever. Anyway, I decided to step back into one of my most favorite books ever. Exodus. The last time I spent considerable time in this was during CR a few years ago. After someone mentioned it last week, I felt like it was an ideal place to walk through as I literally try to walk from slavery into freedom. And already I’m seeing things I’d never noticed before.

Anyway, this is a little on the rambling side, and I don’t necessarily have deep profound thoughts to share (not like I ever do) but it’s where I am. Grateful, challenged, overwhelmed, and trying to step from bondage into freedom even though it is ridiculously hard.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fifteen Minute Lunch Break

I took a mini lunch break as I needed a moment to not think about TRPs, flowcharts, decks, and TV. I ran down to the deli in my office because I couldn't be bothered with packing a lunch at 6am. I don't eat at the deli very often and, when I do, typically just get a sandwich.

As the guy was making my sandwich, I couldn't help but wonder if I had something crazy on my face or if he thought my sandwich toppings were weird. Why? He kept laughing and chatting with someone else in Chinese. But not the kind of conversation where it's happening while you're ordering. He kept looking at me funny.

I think I'm getting paranoid...

Prior to speedily sharing this, I also read this on my mini lunch break. Short, sweet, and pretty awesome.

Can I saw how much I cannot WAIT for this weekend? One afternoon and a trip to San Antonio left before I can bask in my few-to-no plans over Labor Day weekend. Come on sweet rest!

Positive Self-Talk

So, I've always been one of those who thought the notion of positive self-talk was goofy. I guess realistically, I didn't understand how many detrimental lies I tended to feed myself, but am discovering that now.

I'm in a group right now in which the study is big on self-talk. I mean, at the end of each lesson, one of the directives is to say a particular phrase outloud. To be honest, I haven't done it. I've read it in my head and moved on.

I got to work this morning extra early (i.e. the sun was barely waking up) and thought about this morning's positive self-talk from my lesson. Why is this so goofy feeling to me? They talk about it a lot in WW, too; everything from not beating yourself up if you gain or don't lose to converting your way of referring to foods as good and bad (which I've learned is a quite ridiculous trend of ours; it's not like food can do good or bad things in and of themselves!). I've gotten pretty good at it in the healthy living realm, so why can't I seem to carry this over in the rest of my world?

If I'm honest, I guess I've never believed there was much power in positive self-talk, yet I do believe in the flip side. I see where negative self-talk is extremely powerful. I've seen it in my girls and pushed them toward stripping that away. So, why is it hard to recognize in myself the tendency to speak ill of myself, to myself?

I have no "ah ha!" moments in this. It was purely meant as a few minutes' break from an early morning work day to get some random thoughts outside of my head. Maybe I'll try to give this positive self-talk thing a try. Perhaps it'll work.

And happy September! We've officially entered into my four most favorite months of the entire year, thought September is my least favorite of the four. But whatever! Happy months of ber!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Not to Harm You

My precious ones are in the middle of sorority rush. Well, actually the end as bid day is today. It has been a little bit of a rollercoaster of a week, with unexplained cuts, confusion, and all that other joyous rush stuff (spoken sarcastically).

My rush experience was pretty darn awful after the first three days, yet it is also a time in which I can look back and SO clearly see the Lord's hand directing me where he wanted me. So I know that this experience for my dear girls is a time of refinement. I knew going in that feelings would be hurt, but trusted the Lord to place them exactly where he wanted them. Because of that knowledge, I have showered them with verses to hopefully remind them that their value lies not in which sorority they are in (or not in), or what happens with their friends, or dorm, or classes, or anything else. Their value is rooted solely in the fact that God sent his Son to live a perfect life, die an excrutiating death, conquer death, and raise us in the newness of life. "He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." Ephesians 1:4

At the same time, I know he may also allow hurt and shattered dreams, if it's what will best lead them to be more like Christ. It's the hurt I wish I could shield them from, but know it's necessary.

One of the verses that has come to mind as I've prayed for them is the ever-famous Jeremiah 29:11. As I meditated on it, though, I started to wrestle with the "not to harm you" line. As I really thought about it, I was confused as hurt and suffering for Christ is promised. And it's a necessary part of refinement and growth in Christ. So what does it mean?

It kept popping into my head yesterday over and over...almost to the point of annoyance! And then I realized, my definition of harm is not the same as the Lord's. To me, I want to feel comfortable. I want to have what I want. I also desire this for the others in my life who I love. But to God, THAT is harmful. Keeping me where I am, sitting in the depravity of sin does not give me a hope or a future (the last words of the verse). My flesh naturally desires temporal comfort whereas God is in the business of lasting joy and eternal security. And for that, the fleshly desires must be stripped away. My hands must be ripped from the earthly things and moved over to heavenly ones.

So it's true. The Lord knows the plans he has for us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us by keeping us where we are. But plans to give us a lasting hope and future through stripping away us and molding us to be more like Christ. It'll hurt for a little while, but it will create freedom on earth as those worldly bits are stripped away and eternal joy in heaven.

Thankful he doesn't harm me by keeping me where I am.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Proverbs

For whatever reason, I've never been a big Proverbs reader. I suppose it's because of the way it's structured and it feels disjointed. I tend to gravitate to the story-like passages in Scripture, places the incite images and events in my mind. I think this is partially due to how I'm wired and my love of a story.

In any case, I know quite a few people who follow the Proverbs-a-Day practice. Since there are 31, they read one every day. Sad ole 31 only gets read on months with 31 days, and a few are lopped off in February, but nonetheless, they study most of them 12 times a year. I know many people who do this with their families, applying a portion of the day's proverb to each day as a family. I've thought about it before, but just never felt inclined to follow this. Again, it's the seeming list of dos and don'ts as opposed to the richness of story.

Well, in the past few weeks I've realized how frequently I rely on my own set of wisdom. Be it how I view things or even how I may interpret said story. Not that this is necessarily bad when viewed through the lens of God's word, but I could stand some wisdom. So, I decided to give this practice a try. So as to not overwhelm my mind with lots of God's word at a time (I tend to take a long time to chew through it, letting it mull and soak in my mind and heart), I decided I'd break-up the day's chapter. Read a few verses to chew on in the morning, and then check-out at various points throughout the day. We'll see how this works...I'm only on day one. :)

Today's Proverb has some mighty good nuggets in it. I thought I'd share a few from the first half:

1-2: When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Can I get an OW! Considering I'm on the path of healthy living, this one was especially, um, wow. :)

10-11: Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you. Oh how I love reading about God's heart for the orphaned and the poor. He loves them so very much and has certainly built a heart for them in me.

17-18: Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. I too often am envious of temporal things others receive, yet this solidifies my hope and reminds me I work for a treasure in heaven, not one on earth.

Funnily, I was watching the Duggars at the gym while ellipticalling it this morning since I didn't get my butt up in time for bodypump, and they were visiting the Biltmore house. One of the kids asked about why they needed a gigantic house and dad Duggar took the moment to share about storing up treasures in heaven as opposed to earthly treasures. While I think the family is a little odd, I do appreciate their vocalization of their faith and standing firm for Truth. Though I think it's also biblical to have fewer than 19 children... :)

Oh and in the show, they subtitled "y'all" incorrectly. And you can bet your bottom dollar I mentally corrected them. Yes, I have a problem. And TLC maybe needs some new editors...

Excited to see how the Proverbs shape my daily thinking. Already I'm questioning my previous avoidance of this 31 chaptered book!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Refinement

We all have to do things we don't want to do. Things as simple as cleaning the house when we'd rather watch TV or something harder...whatever that may look like.

And then there are the things we know God is calling us to. Things we know will likely hurt, but that are required for righteousness. Things that we'd rather keep hidden away in a box on the inside, ignoring their contents, yet knowing that will weigh us down and keep us from freedom. These things scare me the most. I guess it's because surprising hard things just appear and don't give you time to contemplate, analyze, and consider. Where as deliberately choosing to walk into something you know will be hard produces questions and tempts you to wonder if God really will show up. Or if it's really what he's calling us to.

In these moments, my greatest comfort comes in knowing this is what Jesus did. He endured excrutiating pain to release grace, joy, love, etc. He did not need refining or punishment as he is perfect, yet he took it for us.

The goal of my life is to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ. To accomplish that goal, ugliness must be stripped away. Refinement is necessary. While I wish it didn't, this produces pain as part of me wants to cling to the ugliness as it's what I know.

Trusting is so difficult. Trusting that greater glory comes through suffering with Christ, is especially difficult, even when I've seen it happen in my life before. In those moments, I become like the Israelites and would rather stay in the comfort of slavery instead of walk through the desert to pursue freedom. Trusting each day that the Lord will bring manna, exactly the amount I need for each day.

I do want to become more and more like Christ. And I want my life to bring him glory, and to be used to impact his Kingdom and his people. For that, I will walk into the tumultuous times. I will take that first step into the desert, for I know in my head that God will use it to refine me for his good. And I choose to trust in my heart that he will use that refinement to draw me closer to himself. And I'll prayerfully ask that he'll use my story, my experiences, to bring others freedom through Christ.

I fell in love with the truth of this song while in Brazil. It has continued to stir my heart for Christ and I've listened to it about five times just this morning. :) (side note: sorry for the cheesy background; this version is better but it won't let me embed it)



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Joy

One of my favorite things about having gone to Haiti is the ability to follow-up with the ministry happening there. I'm so grateful that Mission of Hope has a blog, Twitter, and Facebook, and that they update with prayer requests, needs, and talk about what is going on at Mission of Hope. I'm grateful to have tangible prayers, celebrations, and a touchpoint to a place that touched my heart so deeply. Due to the nature of our Brazil trip, that would be near impossible. I still think of and pray for Brazil often, as I know the Lord knows what is occuring there.

It's also great as my church is launching more and more trips to Haiti, so hopefully I'll hear first-hand updates from folks who are blessed to experience all that Mission of Hope is doing and the wonderfulness that is Haiti.

In the meantime, I was so excited about two recent updates from Mission of Hope! I mean, beyond excited. When we got home, I perused their site again and saw so many faces that I knew from our time there; especially of the sweet orphans living on their campus (the orphanage is called Vision of Hope). These kids have really hard stories as most of them would likely not be alive had it not been for MOH. Their lives are still so different from how I grew up. They do not leave MOH very frequently as it's not always safe for kids. They have a "mommy" but no father. And they have a string of people coming into and out of their lives through different teams that visit Haiti. I can't imagine, and yet they are being trained in Truth and educated to be the leaders of Haiti.

We learned when we were visiting MOH that they have various behavior monitoring and one of the rewards this summer, while they're not in school, is a trip to the beach. MOH posted this picture on a recent blog update, and I was beyond excited and filled with joy to see their elation and sheer excitement!

AND I know the sweet little boy at the front! The one with his number 1 finger up and tongue sticking out. His name is Widler (pronounced Widlay) and he helped with arts and crafts through our week. He is a quiet, but unbelievably sweet little seven year old boy. So fun to see him.

MOH also posted that their newest primary school is complete!! We helped paint this building in Bercy during one of our work projects. The village is right on the water and none of the kids have access to school unless they go to another village (which is very unlikely and expensive). It was sweet as one of our team members asked a kid where they went to school and they pointed to this building.

So excited to know that more kids will be educated. More future leaders of Haiti are being discipled in Truth.

Changes continue to grow in this small country. Continue to pray for the Haitians. For their hearts to turn toward Christ and for the Lord to bring glory to his name through their lives.

Praise God!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wherein Sarah is Neurotic

We all have a few neurotic tendencies in life. From having to do things a certain way, or being hyper organized, or eating foods in a specific number, or a host of other things.

I have lots of neurotic tendencies myself. But the one that is probably my worst is actually a secret to most people. And it's quite embarrassing.

I am a huge stickler for grammar and mentally correct people's grammar when they're speaking or if I'm reading something they wrote.

What? That's insane. Especially considering I make up words all the time and most certainly do not have perfect grammar. And yet, I do. The most bothersome faux pas for me are:

Misuse of "your" and "you're"
This one occurs so much and every time I see it, Ross' voice (yes Ross from Friends) comes into my mind when he's correcting Rachel:
Y-O-U-'-R-E spells you are. Y-O-U-R spells your!
Um, does this make me like Ross?!?!

Mispelling "y'all"
The apostrophe always takes the place of the letters that are dropped when creating a contraction. Y'all is a contraction for you all; therefore, the apostrophe goes where the o and u were. Erg, it frustrates me!

Incorrect use of adverbs...or really the lack thereof
This one is 100% due to my mom. Growing up if I did not use an adverb when I should have, she wouldn't let me finish my sentence until I corrected it. It was so annoying!! And yet I credit much of my grammar neuroses to her. And my decent grammar. Anyway, here's a lesson:
Incorrect: I am real hungry.
Correct: I am really hungry.

I mean, it'd bother you, too, if you grew up with your mom saying "leee!" constantly when you spoke incorrectly. :) Thanks, Mom.

So there you have it. I fully admit I'm a wee bit psycho. And feel free to mentally (or verbally!) correct my incorrect grammar. I probably won't mind since I'm used to my mom doing it. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Getting Closer...

I'm 0.8 lbs away from my 10 lbs loss by my birthday!! I think I can do it... I'm also 18-23 lbs away from my ultimate goal! The reason for the range is I haven't fully decided which goal weight I'm going for. I figured I'd see how I feel when I get to the first and decide from there.

The remaining weight to lose is still a little daunting as it took several months to get that off initially, but I think it may be attainable by the end of the year.

We'll see. Pretty excited!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why Haiti







Note: these pictures were taken by one of our unbelievably talented students who served with us in Haiti. I especially love the sweet girl giving thumbs up. :)

Since returning home and before I left, I have received accolades for going to Haiti and been asked on multiple occasions if I feel fulfilled from doing something good. While I understand these responses/questions, they also make me a little uncomfortable. The reason is simply that I do not deserve accolades as I went merely out of obedience. And I am not fulfilled from going as my fulfillment comes from someone else, someone greater. I simply went to Haiti because I am loved by a magnificent God and want others to know they are loved, too.

While I most certainly make mistakes, act selfishly, and sin too frequently, my sole purpose and goal in life is to glorify Christ. This purpose manifests itself in various ways, be it sitting quietly before the Lord or enjoying dinner with friends or discipling my girls or choosing to dress a certain way or avoiding/doing certain things or work with diligence or playing with orphans in Haiti. These choices aren’t punishments or attempts toward prudishness for the sake of boasting, they are choices made because God loves me and has something greater than earthly treasures or experiences in store for me because of Jesus.

God’s word says “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. This seemingly simple phrase molds and shapes my being as it proves I have a perfect, loving God. For I know the depths of my depravity and I know how useless I am apart from his love. This love compels me to act. It compels me to serve. It compels me to love others, all the way down to the least of these. I love because he first loved me. And I pray that he will give me the strength, boldness, and ability to love as he loves, so others may come to know the saving grace of Christ.

God’s word also says, “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.” Deuteronomy 15:7-8. Over the past two years, my understanding of how God loves the poor has shifted significantly. My eyes have been opened to the prevalence with which he speaks of this in his word, and his commandments to us, the rich. But even here, my heart for the poor is still based solely in the truth of Romans 5:8, that the poor are sinners just as the rich are. And because Christ loves them, I love them. And I prayerfully long for their eyes, as well as fellow eyes of the rich, to be opened to salvation as mine have.

At times throughout the trip, my American self wanted to see big changes happen or I wanted the Haitians’ lives to shift to look American. Quite silly since I was only there a week and silly since we most certainly do not have it all and are unbelievably broken people bent on the love of self and material items. Yet the Lord gently reminded me of his timing and something he said about the Israelites and the promises he made to them in Hebrews 11:39-40: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

No, I didn’t see a huge change directly from our work. And, by the help of God’s word and an amazing book on poverty alleviation that I’m working through, When Helping Hurts, I strive to not measure “success” through my American lens. I know that the Lord is faithful and he will use the collection of all of his people who serve to continue to impact his Kingdom, both in Haiti and the rest of the world, for his glory. And this truth encourages me here at home, too, when I long for quick action: to walk a little more slowly, increase in patience, and trust the Lord’s perfect timing. For he will never fail or mess up.

So you see, my only reason for going to Haiti was to bring glory to the Father. I believe our team did. I believe that we honored him as we served each other, served the other teams at MOH, and served the Haitians. And I believe we will continue to bring him glory as we share what we saw and learned back at home, and walk with hearts more in love with him.

Haiti has many, many problems that riddle the country and its people. My heart grieves for the mountainous amount of change that is needed, yet it first and foremost cries out for the salvation of the Haitians for only then will true, lasting change be possible. I’ve been broken-hearted for the news of the impending storm, but the Lord is faithful as I was reminded from reading Jean-Julien’s comment in this article. Pray for Haiti. Pray for salvation and restoration. Pray for change to be built from the inside out. I hope I can someday return to the beautiful country filled with beautiful people. And I pray the Lord will continue to provide opportunities to meet more of his people in America and throughout the world, and use me to show his love.

It is an honor to be a part of Kingdom work. That God would choose to use me, a sinful, fearful, selfish, foolish person to shine his Light is beyond imaginable.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

Monday, August 1, 2011

Merci Seigneur

I am home from Haiti, and am officially in love with the country, but especially the beautiful dark faces of it's people. I miss them terribly already.
















I really can't believe how quickly it went and yet how strange my normal life feels after a week in a third world country. I have a lot to process, and know it will take me time to sift through everything swimming in my heart and mind. And I pray that it won't stop there; I pray that this trip and the things the Lord has shown and will show me will be folded into the fabric of who he is creating me to be. I still think of Brazil often, and pray Haiti stays as well. In the meantime, I thought I'd go ahead and get my processing started. I'm allowing my stream of conciousness to flow out of me, so this may seem disjointed. But I'm going with it.




The title of this blog means "thank you God." It was a phrase heard often on the Mission of Hope campus and among Haitians throughout the week. And it is certainly the theme of the week. (Side note: I encourage you to look on Mission of Hope's site to learn more about what they do; they certainly explain better than I can. And maybe watch some of the videos in Orphan Care and Education...we met the featured kids and many of the others in the video! So fun)



I spent most of my time with Haitian kids, which was an enormous blessing and yet so challenging. Never before have I seen the level of poverty and hunger as I saw in Haiti. Yet never before have I seen joy amidst those types of circumstances. Mission of Hope is solely focused on bringing life transformation in Haiti through the power of Jesus Christ. Read their vision here. Not the same as hearing it live as we did, but I hope it still gives you a picture of their purpose and goal.


Our students were rockstars this week. They didn't complain or avoid kids even if they were naked (quite common) or dirty or sick, and they served with their whole hearts, in spite of what may have been asked of them or how menial the task. They challenged and encouraged me with their faithfulness to serving the Lord! It is a blessing to be a part of this ministry.


For me, I was never tempted to complain about the conditions. Regardless of how hot, smelly, weird, or hard. Don't get me wrong, I sadly complain in America too frequently, but when you're surrounded by such poverty, a little sweat seems very meaningless. And for some reason it seems easier to face the challenges as I knew they were opportunities to learn about God's people and his character. This is something I'm working on carrying over into my normal life here at home as I believe this mentality should not be exclusive to international service! I think it's much harder to serve without complaining at home, though, so this will be a daily act of dying to myself.


Another thing I'm working on is fully rooting my identity in Christ. For most of my life, I have felt unvaluable and easily forgotten. I'm not really sure where this stems from, except that perhaps it's just folded into me. Anyway, one of my dear friends was also a leader on this trip and she has a contagiously fun personality. I was tempted on many occasions to believe that, because students were drawn to her (who wouldn't be, she's fun!), it meant I was irrelevant and unimportant. There were other circumstances that further excentuated this, such as my group was staying in a place apart from the rest of the team which made bonding more challenging, and feeling separated from other leaders.


One day while serving in a village (in my next post I'll explain more about what we did each day :)), I was surveying the ramshackle living conditions of it's inhabitants. Many of it's children went without shoes and clothes, the "streets" were muddy, there was a stench from the outhouses and the skin-and-bones livestock, and many adults had a slightly pained look on their faces as they worked. As I looked around, I thought about how the poor are often blamed for their situation and how many people think they are unvaluable. Yet they did not choose to be born Haitian, poor, and hungry no more than I chose to be born a middle class American. God placed them there as he placed me here. And God does not mess up.


I am no better than the poorest of the poor in this world. And I am no worse. We are all broken in spirit through sin. We are all God's children who he gave his Son to restore that broken relationship, if we would only accept the gift of grace and follow after him. I thought, these Haitians are valuable because God says they are. And again, he doesn't mess up. And I love them because he first loved them.


A few days later as I battled my own feelings of being invaluable, the Lord sweetly and gently laid a question on my heart: how could I so easily see the value and importance of these Haitians and yet refuse to see or accept it in myself?


This is a question I will likely wrestle with for a while, and thought at church yesterday I may seek-out a specific female-focused study on identity to really dig into this truth intentionally. I want to believe I am valuable in Christ. Not to be prideful, but to grow closer to him and be more free to love and serve others in Christ.


Merci Seigneur for the truths you are teaching me now and the ones to come. Merci for allowing me to meet your people, to serve and love them. I pray I will be able to see them again on this earth. Merci Seigneur.


Next up, well, maybe what we did each day. Unless the wind blows me in another direction. :) Thank you for your prayers and support. I pray my updates and learnings draw you closer to Christ.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hobbly Grandma

On Saturday, my roommate, Katie, decided to join me for my "alternative to long runs" Saturday fun. I.e. power yoga plus zumba. It was so fun to have a workout buddy! And I think she likes them both. :)

My yoga instructor hurt her shoulder so she decided to focus primarily on legs. And, um, I can feel it. Since Saturday, I've been hobbling around like a granny because my hamstrings and gluts are so stinkin' sore! I think the combination of yoga plus an intense zumba workout of LOTS of jump moves made for some sore legs. Good sore, but sore nonetheless.

I was almost tempted to sit on my cube floor today to stretch out, but then thought that'd be a little extreme and the floor would likely stain my white pants. I'm sure my podmates would have found it amusing, though!

I've been thinking about the majority of poses we cycled between, and can't figure out which one put us over the edge with soreness. Maybe this one?

Or this?

Or perhaps this?
Confession: my standing splits look NOTHING like this. I look more like a dying animal or something...

Or maybe the zillion lunges we did both high and low?





Or holding chair pose for, gosh, 30 minutes?

And here I go, heading to zumba again. Hopeful it can loosen up my tight hamstrings!

In other news, two weeks from today I'll be in my second day in Haiti! I feel like I have a hundred things to do before going, but I am getting excited! I need to go through my things and make lists this week to determine what else I need to pick-up this weekend. I also need to figure out a ride home from the airport. Maybe I'll hitch-hike. :)


Off to party it up at zumba!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

M&M

My brother, Heather, and the girls are moving to California. I'll definitely miss being able to see them somewhat frequently, but am excited for their new venture. For one, my brother got a great promotion. And two, they'll be living about an hour or so from where I spent my childhood. This will be the first time I'll ever re-visit a previous, non-Texas home! I haven't been to California since we left when I was 12, but am excited to see our family's favorite sites from the west coast.

Adam has been telling McKenzie about some of our favorite places, including aspects of Yosemite, San Francisco, and Monterey. The two things she's most excited about? Waterfalls and China town. So random! But, not surprisingly, McKenzie called me the other day to let me know that Mommy and Daddy were going to let her decorate her new room in a PARIS theme! Oh la la! Tres bien.

Maybe very soon I'll be strolling down old stomping grounds and making new ones in Napa (since I never went there as a kid...parents left us with our grandmother). And maybe their next move will be to my favorite part of the country - the east coast! :) In the meantime, excited for them. McKenzie's just a little older than I was when we moved to California.

Speaking of, below are two new pictures of my cutie nieces! Kenz looks so grown-up! And I'm quite jealous of her awesome tan...

And Morgan finally decided to smile for the camera!!!!!!!!! Yay!! Love her smiley face and sweet dimple.

A tout a l'heure mes amis.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

30 Before 30

So, I’m quite behind the eight-ball on this, but whatever. :)

I turn 30 in 41 days. Ca-razy! I’m really looking forward to being 30, flirty, and thriving and haven’t had any qualms about moving into a new decade…even as a single person. I’m not sure why, I guess I’m over being in my 20s. Ha.

Anyway, I know lots of people do the 30 before 30 list and I figured I’d just cram it all into 41 days. I considered making it in 30, but figured I’d take advantage of the extra 11. Also, some of these things were pre-scheduled, but since they’re big, they’re so going on the list! Here it goes:

1. Go to Haiti
2. Speak French to people who speak French natively and aren’t my professors…wahoo!!
3. Finish Cutting for Stone. It’s an intense book and definitely requires lots of thinking!
4. Try my hand at cooking scallops even though it scares me a bit
5. Grill meat…on my own!
6. Practice yoga every day for at least a week in addition to other workouts, and practice at home when I can’t go to or there isn’t a class
7. Lose another 10lbs, getting closer to my goal. Maybe not fair as I can’t fully control this if my body decides to plateau, but I’m going to try!
8. Finish Matthew (yes, I’ve been reading it since January…uber slowly) and finish Mark
9. Memorize Romans 6
10. Go through my closet and purge all clothes that are too big…yay!
11. Write more letters…because letters are so magical
12. Try one new fruit (this will be hard as I feel like I’ve had most fruits…gonna get creative at Whole Foods!)
13. Try one new vegetable…maybe bok choy?
14. Try one of those scary grains like bulgar or quinoa. Not sure if they’re grains, but I’m gonna figure out how they’re cooked and try one out
15. Get ready to send my dear girls off to college
16. Do something that scares me…unless it involves fish because they’re just nasty
17. Come back from Haiti with a bigger heart for God, his people, and sweet orphans…but not bringing an orphan home to live with me though I know I’ll want to!
18. Introduce my mom to zumba!
19. Walk the golf course with my dad and maybe learn how to properly swing a club…maybe
20. Learn how to change tires on my bike all by myself (I sound like a two year old)
21. See the very last Harry Potter movie…tear
22. Try a new restaurant
23. Stop drinking diet pepsi (the only soda I drink)…again
24. Go to an art museum even if it’s by myself…either the DMA or the Kimbell (though I’ve never been to the DMA)
25. Go to the Dallas farmer’s market
26. Clean out my plethora of books
27. Watch the entire Band of Brothers series
28. Go to the Park Cities pool in spite of my fear of looking bad in a swim suit with the pretty people…ha
29. Keep my iPhone from dying…it’s getting close
30. Turn 30! Maybe that’s cheating, but it’s an accomplishment in my book

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweatin' & SBux

How do these two things relate? Well, let me tell you...

I've decided I think I'm officially addicted to sweating. No, not the stand-outside-and-immediately-feel-drenched sweat, but the that-was-a-darn-good-workout sweat. WHAT?!

For those who may not know, this is WEIRD and if you had asked me a year ago, or sheesh, even six months ago!, if these words would come out of my mouth, I'd say you were delirious. And maybe ask what you were smoking (because for whatever reason that phrase crosses my lips a little too often...?).

Anyway, you see, I danced for nine years and don't think I broke a sweat much then. Sure, I played soccer some as a kid, but I think I quit when I was 9 or 10, so never got intense. Then I started swimming competitively and, while I know you do sweat in swimming, you don't feel it. When I stopped swimming, I hated going to the gym and getting all gross. It was certainly not a good feeling.

Well, after looking down at my yoga mat on Saturday morning realizing quite a bit of sweat had dripped off of me (yes gross...get over it :) and no I don't do hot yoga), and then finding my hair completely soaked after my subsequent zumba class (did you catch that? I did both classes again this week, yay!), I was excited. Weird, eh? Really it had nothing to do with loving to sweat, it was more loving the workout and pushing myself. And I can't believe I'm saying that!

Side note 1: I promise my ridiculous workout excitement in posts will subside eventually...well, maybe.

Side note 2: Holy cow can yoga make you sore in the weirdest places! But a good, deep sore. I'm definitely addicted to yoga! And thanks, Heather, for the tips with downward facing dog...my wrists haven't hurt since!! Now I just need to work on this sweating business so I don't fall on my face in poses like warrior 3...eek!

Now onto Starbucks.

I don't go to Starbucks super frequently anymore, and only every few weeks in the non-fall/Christmas season. But on occasion I'm either running late or feel the need for a second cup of coffee so swing into one by my office.

Last fall I was at the creamer station with this super cute guy. We talked for maybe two seconds about creamer (stimulating) and that was that. Since then, he's been in the Starbucks reading any time I've popped in and always smiles.

I always wonder how he has time to sit there all day, but then am thankful for the little smile from the cute guy. Though realistically he smiles at everyone, so I'm not extra special or anything.

Anyway, my roommate told me recently that I seem more confident with my steps toward healthy living. I'm not sure if I feel any more confident, but perhaps I'm exuding something? Or maybe just a sweaty glow...hahaha.

Katie is out-of-town and this morning I was a bad planner with packing my lunch and making breakfast so I completely forgot to turn on the coffee. I decided I'd just get coffee at Starbucks (in case you're super curious, I'm boring and just get the drip coffee when it's not fall or Christmas).

Cute guy wasn't there, but there was another ridiculously cute guy...probably cuter than other guy! He was sitting working on his computer and when I walked by, did the double take and smiled.

Now, I fully realize it's mostly because I was probably staring (he sort of looks Latin...) or he perhaps thought he saw someone he recognized. But, since I'll never know, today I like to pretend that I do seem more confident and what-have-you.

Feel free to now make fun of me. I'm cool with it. :)

And in other news, I made all new recipes for breakfast/lunch/dinner this week. Maybe a bad decision, but I'm sure it'll be fine. This morning's breakfast was overnight oats and banana muffins.

With the muffins, next time I'm going to use really ripe bananas as the one I used was a little green and therefore made the muffins a tad dry. Not sure what I was thinking as my Mema always used yellowy brown bananas for bread! Oh well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Petite Moi

My soon-to-be-six (how'd that happen?!?!?), niece McKenzie wants to be like me. Yes, she's wearing a scarf in 100+ temperatures...to be like Aunt Sarah. :)

Oh how I love this little cutie! Can't wait to go to France, see the Eiffel Tower, and take in the magicalness of Parisian life with her...all while wearing scarves of course.

J'adore ma petite moi.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Un Peu de Celebration

I'm so excited to have had three little celebrations this weekend! All along the same vein.

First, Saturday morning I went to weight watchers and, after a few weeks of plateau (but no gain) lost in a big way. Then, I successfully completed two hours of intense workouts, power yoga and zumba. I have wanted to try doing those classes back-to-back for a while, but was worried that I'd be too tired after power yoga for zumba. And we all know how I feel about zumba! Particularly Saturday's class...my favorite. I think in the end it's good that zumba was second as the hour of yoga made my muscles warm and more flexible, so I actually feel like zumba was a better workout than normal. My bootay is a little sore, but a good sore!

Then yesterday on a whim I ran into Gap. They're having a massive sale (all sale items 50% off) and I've been trying to slowly build-up my workout attire as I've discovered t-shirts are so not fun to workout in. Cotton + sweat = ew. Anyway, most of my pants don't fit very well anymore. I still wear them, but they're baggy. In cleaning my room, I had tried on a bunch of clothes I've kept from college/right after college and knew that I have dropped a size in some things, depending on the shape (i.e. not quite down in pencil skirt styles yet).

I looked and there were a pair of jeans on sale for $10 in a lower size. I had a little debate in my head, fearful that I'd be sad if they were too tight yet recognizing that would be a likely possibility. My curious side won-out and I added them to my few workout tops.

Once in the dressing room, I decided to bite the bullet and start with the jeans. And what to my wondering eyes did I find? THEY FIT!!!

Yes people, I have officially dropped two jeans sizes since starting weight watchers in January. I can hardly believe it. I was definitely excited and had to call my mom.

I still have a ways to go, but I legitimately am excited to workout and eat well now. I don't crave foods that are not good choices for me and crave gym-time! I still can't believe I'm saying that... I'm likely not going to make my goal weight by my birthday like I'd hoped, but that's okay. I'd rather change slowly and experience the benefit of the joy that comes from hard work as opposed to shedding weight quickly and not learning from the plateaus, hard days, etc.

So thankful for the Lord's help in making me more disciplined; something I am not naturally. And thankful for what he's teaching me about food and moving my body through this experience. Prayerful that he uses this experience to continue to draw me closer to him and shine his light for others to know him. I believe he can and will use all things for his glory.

Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy. Isaiah 66:5

Friday, June 17, 2011

Creative Skirt

So this isn't really about a creative skirt, but I liked the weird title better than a normal one. This is really about a skirt and bring creative.

Skirt
Today I'm wearing a skirt that I have not fit into since, oh, maybe the year after college? I've kept it all these years as I liked it and hoped to one day sport it's paisley design again. On a whim this morning, I decided to try it on and what to my wondering surprise, but it fit! Holy cow.

I have one other skirt and two dresses that I've also kept and someday hope they'll fit. Both are more fitted so have a little more to go there. And, regardless, I have quite a ways left to get to my goal. I've become more comfortable with the process moving slowly, though. I've had several weeks without loss, but I have not gained at all since I started in January!! That's a major feat.

Tomorrow I'm considering trying to go to TWO classes at the gym in the morning. I've toyed with the idea for about a month, but am scared my body will break. But I suppose that's goofy as, if I do hurt, I can easily stop. So, I'm going to attempt to go to power yoga and zumba...back-to-back. We'll see how it goes!

Creativity
I saw this today and found parts of it challenging.


29 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE from TO-FU on Vimeo.

Why? Well, probably the beating myself up...

Incidentally, I told my mom just a few weeks ago that I was going to stop sharing things I've created with others and instead give store-bought gifts. I know this may sound strange, but I have started to wonder if people find handmade things annoying and if anyone uses them. I know the things I've made are never perfect, so just feel like people would probably rather have something perfect.

For whatever reason, I'm not always brave when it comes to sharing creative aspects of myself. I've gotten significantly better in the past few years, but still have a wall where this is concerned. I'm not exactly sure why. I don't know, another consideration for another day.

Not sure yet. Still working through this one. Regardless, this video was good.

Have a ya ha and hey hey Friday!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Box

There once was a little girl who may have seemed like an everyday, normal girl, but in reality, she carried an invisible box full of secrets. Growing tired of carrying around the heavy box, one day the girl attempted to open the box, yet she was ridiculed for the few secrets that escaped so she instead locked the box up tighter and chained it to her neck for safe keeping.

Several years later, the little girl met a man who was greater than any man she had ever met. He was brave, good, and she couldn’t help but peel her eyes from him, even though he was not what others would call beautiful. This man invited the girl to walk with him and promised to hold her hand so she wouldn’t fall. Knowing he was different than any other man, she agreed and reached for his hand, noticing that it was scarred with what looked to be a hole through the middle.

As the girl walked with the man, she found that things were often harder than they were before. She couldn’t figure out why as she knew this man was so good. She asked him to help her understand and, instead of explaining, he merely pulled her along faster. She soon found that she could barely keep up and became very frustrated, “why won’t he help me?” she questioned.

Then one day, the man brought her to another woman. The girl was hurt and confused, and very tired of running. She was ready to give-up following the man as she felt it was too hard. But then something happened, this woman pulled out a box. The box was large, square, and had obviously been beat-up. At closer look, the girl realized the lock on the box had been broken. The woman opened the box and out flowed a plethora of secrets. The secrets were a deep black and swirled around the room, finally settling into a wall between the woman and the man. The girl watched in astonishment, wondering if the woman would fight to stuff them back into the box.

But another amazing thing happened. The woman began to explain her secrets and, as she did, the man swirled his scarred hand around the black wall, transforming it into swirls of bright colors. Blue, purple, red, yellow, pink, and any other color under the rainbow. The girl’s eyes were fixed to the changing wall and quickly realized the swirls formed a painting of an open window looking out a hill with a single cross on it. She turned to the man and he simply smiled.

Then she understood. The man had set this woman free from her box of secrets. But he had not done so by taking the heavy box from the chain around her neck, he had done so by holding her hand as she broke the lock, opened the lid, and released the secrets. Once she trusted him, he took the darkness of these secrets and made them beautiful.

After that day, the girl felt a mix of excitement and fear. She was tired of running with the heavy box, but was scared of the ridicule that could come should she share her secrets. She did not know what to do, so she simply grabbed the man’s hand and walked along with him.

Many days later, the girl was talking with many other girls and, like the woman, one of these girls opened up her box. Once again, the man swirled his hand through the dark ugliness and changed it to beauty. The girl was scared and felt tears brimming behind her eyes. She looked up at the man and he nodded. She then removed the box from the chain on her neck and began to fiddle with the lock. The man reached over and helped as she broke the lock, opened the box, and released the secrets. Her heart pounded inside of her chest as she explained each swirling black mess. The blackness began to envelope her to where she could no longer see the man.

Then, as the last secret was released, they began to shift. She saw the scarred hand of the man waving among the black. As he waved, the secrets changed from black to red and swept into the holes in his hands and feet. For a moment the man looked as though he was in pain, but then the pained look transformed to a deep smile. As he smiled, the secrets poured out of him shining white as snow. Once they were all out, he swirled his hands to create the beautiful window painting she had seen with the woman.

Immediately the girl understood. This man had long ago taken her secrets and bore the punishment and ridicule for her. She had been walking with him for a while, but did not understand until that day that she could not be free from the weight of those secrets until they were released. She alone carried the ability to pass the box to the man.

From that day on, the girl tried very hard to keep the box open. Secrets would come, threatening to re-lock the box, but each time she would look at the man and he would smile. The smile reminded her that the box would make her tired, not free. As the girl became more and more brave, she began sharing her secrets with many people for she longed to be like the woman who first shared with her. She longed for the man to use her to free others from their boxes so they could run with him.

The girl also had little girls who followed and looked up to her. She loved these little girls so very much and wanted all of them to walk with the man. One day she knew it was time to open her box of secrets for them. She was scared but, once again, the man smiled and showed her it was okay. As she opened the box, she once again saw the blackness emerge and the man change it to the beautiful window masterpiece of his creation.

After this day, one of the little girls told the girl that she, too, had a box of secrets and was tired of running after the man with the box weighing her down. She, too, was ready to open the box and be freed from its weight. The girl wept with joy and thanked the man for his goodness. He smiled and reached out, displaying his scarred hands.

The man was indeed better than any other man the girl had or would ever meet. And even though he took her through hard and scary times, he never let go of her hand.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sad - and not in the boo hoo way

"Sad" thing 1

I have shin splints. STINK! I thought I escaped their horridity when I embraced my hatred of running. But oh no, apparently they're a common injury for dancers.

No, I'm not a dancer, but I have added zumba to my repretoire of workouts. Stepping-up my zumba intensity has in turn created painful-to-the-touch shins.

In the meantime, I'll have to stay away from zumba until my shins are better. Thankfully I already couldn't go to this Saturday or Monday class. I'll just have to keep practicing on the yoga and spin front. Probably would help with zumba anyway!

If anyone has any tips to heal shin splints, let me know! It's been such a long time that I really don't remember...

"Sad" thing 2
I'm hooked to a book I've already read...TWICE!

Memorial Day I was itching for an instantly engaging book so, why not pick one up that I already know has that potential? No brainer, eh?

So now I've found myself hooked to the wizarding world of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And yes, I've unintentionally stayed up until midnight the past two nights reading. A book that I already know how it ends. Wow. That's sort of sad...

Oh how I love Harry, Hogwarts, and it's marvelous ability to suck me into the magicalness. Still a little sad the whole shebang will soon be over come July. :(

So that's it. Shin splints and ridiculous addiction. Hmm...

PS my mom told me that I could be a zumba spokesperson. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing...