The 2010 Highlight Reel

In celebration of a great year, here are my 2010 favorites:

  1. 2.5 years of marriage to husband and 4 years of building a relationship.
  2. The Ashland Shakespeare Festival.
  3. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  4. National Parks: Yosemite, Arches, Canyonlands, Crater Lake, Mt. Rainier.
  5. Traveling with dear friends and both of our families.
  6. Starting a backyard garden and having it actually grow vegetables and then being able to eat the veggies!
  7. Discovering Ravelry (www.ravelry.com).
  8. Knitting.
  9. Friday Night Lights.
  10. Netflix Instant Queue.
  11. Enjoying the last year of our 20’s.
  12. Concerts: Shawn Colvin, Zoe Muth, Patty Griffin & Buddy Miller, the No Depression Fest.
  13. Playing Settler’s of Cataan, Munchkin, and Carcassonne.
  14. Getting closer to friends at church.
  15. YD’s 40th Anniversary Bash.
  16. Mentoring and sharing life with some fabulous teen girls.
  17. Traveling to San Diego for and incredible week with 13 teens.
  18. Our friend Katie surviving the Haiti earthquake and making a full recovery.
  19. Singing in 2 church musicals and growing as a singer.
  20. Joining the AFMC worship team.
  21. Watching Lost with Clay and Bethany.
  22. Starting yoga classes at Movement Arts.
  23. Goonies Weekend in Astoria.
  24. Starting Spiritual Direction meetings with an awesome mentor.
  25. Enjoying some of Seattle’s best sushi restaurants.
  26. Wedding weekends in Dallas, Houston, and Tampa.  Celebrating a new life for Brittany&Wilson, Dan&Tracy, and Matt&Kacy.
  27. Our church transitioning to a new Senior Pastor.
  28. Cabernet Sauvignon.
  29. Teaching from Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and Henry Cloud.
  30. Women of Faith, especially Sheila Walsh.
  31. Successfully pulling off with my staff team: 8 fundraising dinners, Golf Marathon, the 40th Anniversary Celebration.
  32. Eating cake and watching Inception at the IMAX to celebrate 2 years of marriage.
  33. Smoked Gouda.
  34. Teavana.
  35. Sweet Potato Fries.
  36. Paradise Sushi in Arlington.  Dinner for 2 for under $20!
  37. Mae Phim’s (Thai) Crispy Garlic Favorite Chicken.
  38. Lunch Specials at Asian 1.
  39. Reading the Bible cover-to-cover with 9 teen girls and watching it come to life for them.
  40. Continuing to walk through life with my tri-mails, near-daily emails with 2 of my best friends.  Seasons of life change, but we continue to write and walk together after 10 years.
  41. Celebrating the births of best friends’ babies.
  42. That husband got 1st place in his fantasy football league.  (Not really a highlight for me, but funny to watch husband brag all day and giggle with glee at being victorious.)

So What’s Up With Seasonal Taste Buds?

What is it about changing seasons that changes taste buds?  No, I mean seriously…no one sits around at the beginning of August saying, “Give me some chili!”  We’re totally thinking “Hot Dog!  Hamburger!  Watermelon!”  But in November, it’s all about the chili, the cider, and the pumpkin-spiced everything.

Some of this is obvious, because hello, fruits and vegetables are (or at least they used to be) seasonal.   But it’s not like Hamburgers are seasonal…so why, in this day and age when we can have strawberries in January and cantaloupe in April and pomegranates any day of the year, do we still have any seasonal ebb and flow to our tastebuds?

I noticed this weirdness this morning, as it was pouring down horrible, horrible cold and horrible rain, was how I immediately thought, “I want a peppermint white chocolate mocha.”  What is it about cold and rainy weather that screams “GIVE ME PEPPERMINT!”

My best guess is that it’s a link to memories…an entire childhood of buying the first available box of candy canes I could get my hands on…the memory of a chilly weekend in November visiting NYU with a good friend and curling up in a corner of Starbucks with a peppermint mocha…and now, on an uncomfortable dreary day, for $4.00, I can buy a bit of reassurance and a link to the past.

My second guess is that we still love tradition at the holidays.  We love the sights and smells and flavors that belong to this time of year.  To drink peppermint mochas in June erodes the value of drinking peppermint mochas in December.  We love the significance we give to the seasons when we put away the barbeque grill, but pull out the pumpkin pie; we say goodbye to the last bit of Christmas leftovers, with no intention to prepare the dishes for another 12 months, because to do so would reduce their special role in the holiday tradition.

And somehow, the corporations know this…they know that if they put candy canes at the checkouts in November, I can’t help myself.  They know that if they take away McRib and suddenly bring it back one day, that suddenly I’m compelled to want a McRib simply because I remember enjoying eating them as an 8-year-old. (GROSS.)

Really, a few minutes after beginning this reflection, my main conclusion is that I should be careful in the seasonal traditions I establish with my own family, because I don’t accidentally want to be stuck eating McRibs as our holiday tradition just because it links to some fantastic memory we all had of eating McRibs together.  Which reminds me…Christmas this year is in a time-share in Florida, but, well, it won’t be Christmas without the sausage and cheese casserole, so…we can’t forget to pack the recipe. 😉

Shopping Can Change Lives

Lately my ears perk up when I hear the word “microenterprise.” What is microenterprise? It’s the idea that by giving someone a small amount of capital, she can use the cash to invest in a business that allows her to create a product or service to support her family. Overseas, a microloan of a few hundred dollars can transform lives.

There are tons of organizations out there involved in this work. I purchased my first microloan through World Vision, when brother and I bought presents for our family from the World Vision catalog one Christmas. The big one I know about is Kiva, which has given away $150 million in microloans in just 5 years of business. (Wall Street Journal, 10/22/2010).

The one I think about the most is a microeconomics organization that’s now a part of the Free Methodist Church, called Heavenly Treasures (HT).  We first met the peeps from HT last June at our annual FMC Leadership Summit.  Heavenly Treasures is helping people all over the globe setup their own business to create products which they are selling at conferences, in specialty shops, and online.  On my first visit to one of their shops, I was blown away at the quality of the goods, and went

on to discover that their founder works with the local artisans to help them create products that will appeal to Westerners and thereby increase their earnings.

I think about HT most days, as I carry around this beautiful hippie bag knapsack with an embroidered sequined elephant, through which I invested $20 into the life of the woman in Thailand who created it.  HT’s slogan is, “Every product represents a changed life.”

Anyways, Christmas, the season of giving gifts to loved ones is around the corner, and so I just wanted to give a shout out on behalf of the incredible products at Heavenly Treasures, which you can buy online, and which I’ve found to be both beautiful and high-quality. And the cool part is you can tuck a brochure in with the gift and give your sweetie the knowledge that this gift improved the life of a stranger so much more than and equivalent made-overseas-piece bought from the mall.  Whereas when we shop at Target or The Gap, the person who made that piece is seeing pennies of it, at Heavenly Treasures, 100% of that money is being reinvested in the business that created it.

So, go  check out Heavenly Treasures online and change a life through your shopping this Christmas!  Your friends and family will love you for it, and you’re doing a really, really cool thing.  So.  Go do it.  Right now.  What are you waiting for?  Seriously, go.  *Click*

Tiny Cute Things as an Temporary Antidote for the Late-Fall Blues

It’s usually about this time each year, when it’s pitch black by 5pm, and the morning commute is foggy and gray, that my own little version of Seasonal Affective Disorder sets in, and I turn to my two late-fall vices: espresso and yarn.  Such are my drugs of choice, forcing my body to greet the day with a heavy dose of caffeine each morning, and pulling out my latest creative project each night in order to feel some small bit of joy and productivity while I cope with 6 or so hours trapped in our 850 square feet of apartment with a husband who loves to assuage his own Seasonal Affective Disorder by chasing radioactive mutant ants with an axe.*

This weekend, I was thrilled to finish a project that’s been in the works since we visited Astoria, Oregon in June for the 25th Anniversary of Goonies, and I picked up this incredible little crochet book on tiny and incredibly cute Japanese stuffed animals.  It’s referred to as Amigurumi because apparently, in Japanese, there’s a whole word devoted specifically to what we would refer to as, “incredibly cute and tiny crocheted stuffed animals.”  (Who KNEW?!  What an incredible language, and even more incredible people group because of their intense love for tiny and cute stuffed crocheted animals!)  Soon after purchasing the book, I decided to use its contents to create a special gift for my college roommates little girl and little girl on-the-way.

And thus the journey began.  5 months of working on these tiny cuties off and on, and finally this weekend, I was able to package them up and ship them to two little girls in Iowa under the auspices of “sister stuffed animals” to celebrate the blessing of sisters.  It was hard to say goodbye, because I seriously fell in love with these “Frogs on Holiday” and “Piggies in Love,” but I must say, I coped a bit better than I did the last time I made a stuffed object and ended up writing a song about how sad I was to give it away.  (The song, and stuffed object were aptly named, “Little John Lennon,” and while it may seem like an interesting story, worthy of you asking more questions and this blog getting trapped in some insignificant rabbit trail, it is not the story for today.  Maybe someday, if you’re lucky, I’ll introduce you to LJL next time I’m back in Ohio, where he currently resides.)

Because I love these guys sooo much, I needed to share them with you. So, here they are…tiny guys made of yarn, who are currently trapped in a box in the middle of Kansas, totally stoked for their new life with a fabulous child to love.  *Queue the Toy Story score and commence weeping.*

*While this is a general reference to husband’s overall love of video games, particularly those of the 1st person shooter variety, this season, it’s in particular reference to Fallout: New Vegas, which has been on active duty in our house since mid-October.

This morning in Exodus

This morning in Exodus, I read of Moses’ trips up and down Mt. Sinai, dwelling in the presence of the Lord.  In response to the commands that Moses receives from the Lord, the people say, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”  (Ex. 24:7.).  We know, through reading the rest of the Old Testament, that these words were not so simply lived out.

Something in their lives was not fully submitted to the Lord…maybe it was because they were impatient about getting to their destination.  Maybe they’d become too comfortable living in Egypt, or maybe, they just got tired of a God they couldn’t see, so in the case of the Golden Calf, they replaced Him with one they could see.

This morning, I reflect on how it’s easy to say we’ll be obedient and do everything the Lord says and how there’s a huge disconnect between believing it in our hearts and believing it enough to do it.  The other night with the teens we talked about how a disciple isn’t just someone who believes their teacher, it is someone who follows the teacher’s example and does as the teacher does.

So a logical question is, “Where in my life are my actions not lining up with my beliefs, and am I going to change my beliefs to fit my actions or change my actions to fit my beliefs?”

An Open Letter to Glee

Dear Glee,

I’m writing this letter because, well, I don’t know how to say this, but I’m breaking up with you.  Before you get upset and stop reading this letter, I want you to know how much I treasure the good times we had and how much I have loved you.  I have never fallen for a TV show as fast as I did with you.  It was love at first pilot.  (You remember the love letter I wrote you?  Here it is.)  From the minute I saw you, with your Ohio-based show choir (harkening me back to my days in CHS Essence), your myriad of misfit characters I’d love to befriend, and the voracious wit exuding from Sue Sylvester, I was taken.  How can I ever forget the way I teared up the first time the New Directions burst into “Don’t Stop Believing” in simple red tees and blue jeans.  Husband and I said to ourselves that we’d never seen a show capture adolescence quite like this, and we loved it. Continue reading

Running as Catharsis: Running as Worship

I hate running.  Absolutely hate it.  I have friends that run, and they tell me it’s awesome.  Friends and family who run marathons, half-marathons and 5ks and get addicted to it.  Sometimes my friends even write blogs about how awesome running is.  (i.e. Awesome Bonnie, fitness guru, who writes about winter running here.)  All of these romantic notions convince me I like the idea of running.

So one morning (er, like, yesterday) I get tricked into running.  Continue reading

Reading the Bible with the Teens

Husband and I are meeting weekly with a group of ten teen gals and one of our adult volunteers to read the Bible together.  We’re studying through the Bible for the whole school year, Genesis to Revelation.  It’s a pretty big job to tackle, and requires several hours of reading on our own each week, but I’m already impressed with the girls’ dedication to the task.  (Last week, out of the 7 girls who were there, all of them had done all of the week’s reading.)

This week, it’s 35 chapters of Genesis, covering Abraham through Joseph.  There’s some crazy stuff that happens in there.  So excited to see what peaks their interest…

Some of my favorite questions so far:

Why was the temple so flashy when Jesus’ was so humble?
Who are the Nephilim?  (Genesis 6:4) Seriously.  I’d never noticed them before.
How did the animals on the ark not kill each other?
Why don’t we observe the Sabbath anymore?

 

Fall Creative Cooking

Lately, since husband and I have actually been home more often, and because we’ve tightened the belt on our food budget a bit, it’s been an opportunity for some creative recipes in the kitchen.   I’ve been working to figure out interesting ways to work through our weekly box of veggies from Garden Treasures before everything goes bad, using only the things in our cabinets and buying as little new stuff as possible.

Here are some of the creative options that popped up this week:

1)  Chocolate Cake…with beets! No, really!  I got the recipe from Simply in Season, and it gives the cake a nice rich fruity flavor…we paired it with a white chocolate raspberry buttercream frosting, and amazing things resulted!  I even fed them to a bunch of people who had no idea they were made with beets (except now they know…if they’re reading this.)  Way to go beets!  I don’t always love you beets, but you definitely transformed yourself into a rad cake this week.

2)  Mashed Potato Stuffed Chili Peppers! I collected about 75 peppers from my final end-of-summer harvest from the backyard bucket garden, and husband requested stuffed peppers.  Turns out you can roast peppers, whip up some mashed potatoes (avec cream cheese), pipe them into the roasted peppers, sprinkle them with cheese, and amazing things result!  (via Simply Organic.)  Way to go peppers!  (These are so amazing, I keep sneaking back to the kitchen for more!)

I also made some not-so-creative spaghetti sauce with the last of my tomatoes…it resulted in about 6 cups of sauce.  What a crummy year for tomatoes…not the harvest I was hoping for.

Can’t wait to see what’s in the box this Thursday!  I’m hoping for pumpkins!

Takeaways from Catalyst One Day

Yesterday I had the privilege to go to the Catalyst One Day conference, a leadership development day for pastors and ministry leaders…featuring Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, pastors of mega-huge churches in Atlanta and Oklahoma City.

To summarize the content for yesterday’s conference, I’ll quote a tweeter during the event, “When Pastor Craig speaks, pastors get saved.”  It was incredible to have such a conference in Seattle, the usually forgotten city on major ministry conference tours.  I was soaking in the conversations about leadership, am energized for a new season of ministry, and am excited to spend time reflecting on the challenges about my heart for the lost, my avoidance of conflicts, and how I can create momentum in my areas of leadership. Continue reading