Is it possible to go to the recycling center, prayer time, pharmacy, spray the clothes with mosquito repellant, lift some weights, make some phone calls, shave my legs, take black polish off my nails, eat some dinner, throw away food that will spoil, buy a few more things at Target, send back RSVPs to some weddings, and then squeeze everything in the suitcase—in one evening? And then bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan...

It’s Halloween today. I didn’t buy candy for any kids. I wonder if my mom still has the plastic pumpkins that we used for our candy.

My brother’s had a top hat on, but I think it was another thing we used to all argue over “who’s who’s”--“Beth’s is the little one, because she’s the youngest, and mine is the one with the hat, because I’m a boy.” All of this of course was generated by my brother (who is now a minister with four kids).

Soon after Halloween, we also would spend about an hour figuring out which stocking went with which kid—“I’ve got the star because my middle name is David…and Traci has the candy cane, and Beth has the Christmas tree…” My brother’s comments again. I probably still have it wrong. If my brother reads this, he would still correct me. He loves being right. Eventually, he’d wear us down, so we’d let him be right. And then by the next Christmas, it would start again. It seems like we could have put our names on them, but I guess we enjoyed the tradition or something.

Well, I’m calming down. I talked by e-mail and phone to a few other team members, and our biggest quest so far is figuring out who will pack a waffle iron (please, no questions, top secret mission). We think we have it figured out. I’m excited to get to the airport to see everybody. We really need a before/after pic of us on the trip.

We are not a Mission Impossible Team, we are a Mission Possible. Nothing is impossible with God. Perhaps that was a cheesy statement. If so, get out some nachos to go with the queso. Speaking of nachos and queso, I’m really gonna miss that while I’m gone. Maybe in Kenya there’s an African equivalent of the nacho/queso combo.

I'm going to Kenya tomorrow!! Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Aw, jeez, am I quoting that kid in Annie?

Last night, I gathered more supplies at Target. But then I got stuck in the Target warp, and almost didn't come out. (Target Warp = where you start looking at every new product and making plans for it) I got a neck pillow, some hand sanitizer, and a can of chili-lime almonds. Once again, I ate the almonds as soon as I got in the car. The chili-lime taste is so fabulous that I can't stop eating the almonds. And then the taste absorbs all my saliva and it's almost painful to swallow, but I can't stop eating them. A vicious cycle.

I'll probably blog about twelve times today, so don't let it annoy you.

Well, I made it to some Halloween parties, and I finally thought of a costume. I had a Starbucks apron, and I built the costume around that. I added some accessories from Claire's, but apparently, I did too good of a job, because I got asked the question, "Do you really work at Starbucks?" a few too many times. And the people were serious. The lip ring and piercings also through them off. A few people seemed scared to talk to me.

Here's me and Briggs--after his 7-11 shift.

And then, me and Tex-Elvis.

Belived it or not, I was the only Twisted Barista. I guess I found out that I make a pretty good semi-punk.

Did you know that we had 435 lightning strikes in 15 minutes last night? I was driving home in the storm and it looked like a crazy light show. There was no sound, just frantically dancing flashes of light. It looked kind of like Club God. Man’s imitation of flashing light is minuscule compared to the lightshow from God. It’s fascinating and frightening all at the same time. Maybe that’s how we see God, too.

I absolutely love the analogy of Aslan the Lion and how we view God. The first time it really hit me was when I was visiting my friend, Leslee, in Atlanta and we were in her Sunday school class. One of her friends, John Isaac, quoted the from the Chronicles of Narnia with his great South African accent:

"Is Aslan safe?"
"No, child, Aslan is a lion. He is not safe, but he is good."

I consider myself to be a fairly creative person. I love the theater and have been known to play quite a variety of characters in plays and sketches. But for some reason, I get thrown for a loop every Halloween. The whole idea of a costume haunts me every year. Maybe it’s just too much pressure.

When I was probably eleven, I dressed up like Ed Grimley for the church Halloween party (this was before Halloween got banned from churches). Little did I know that it might not be appropriate for an eleven-year-old to dress up as a character from an SNL sketch. I spent the whole night explaining how I was NOT Pee Wee Herman (which at the time would have been more appropriate).

Then, at Jason Bailey’s last big Halloween bash, I decided to be a woman from India. I sprayed my hair black and didn’t realize until I glanced at myself in the bathroom mirror at the party that I had developed a case of black beard. I tried wrapping a scarf around my head to cover up the beard, but the more I danced, the more the scarf would shift and expose my black beard. I spent the whole night in turmoil—should I dance? Or should I hide my face? I danced.

I’ve been invited to a friend’s party on Saturday. I have no clue what to be. Should I take the cutesy approach (which makes me hurl)? For just one Halloween, I just would like to experience hearing this all night, “Hey! Great costume!”, instead of, “What are you?”.

I am the Charlie Brown of costumes. I’ll guess I’ll just get a sheet and cut Swiss cheese holes in it. And maybe I’ll wear a wig and glitter eyelashes under the costume just for fun.

I’ve heard a famous bible study woman say, “Hang on until you receive the blessing.”
Well, I’m hanging on, and I’ve got some blessings! Like the hymn says, “Count your blessings name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done.”

Here I go for now:

1) ALL funds for Kenya have been supplied! The girl who had no dough is funded by her brothers and sisters and friends. THANK YOU!
2) I had a party Friday that I didn’t even get to go to, and the party carried on. THANK YOU, JIMMY “DJ” RANNIK AND HOSTEST WITH THE MOSTEST, STEVEN MURRAY! And Kelley and Kristin!!
3) I have a great family that is really funny and loves God.
4) I get to hear crazy stories from my family when I call them.
5) I’ve been able to keep in touch with Leslee, Robin, and Brenda through the wonders of cell phone technology. Even though they’re not my roommates anymore, they’re my “cell” mates—so to speak.
6) I have so many friends here that I don’t even have enough time to spend with them all. They make me laugh, hug me when I cry, and make life lots of fun.
7) Today the dogs’ tails wagged in unison as they watched me leave the driveway. (yes, that’s a blessing—a funny one.)
8) My hair is red (Still trying to accept this as a blessing. First time I ever said it.).
9) The YMCA got new gym equipment! And the Y is finally getting to be like Cheers for me; it used to be kind of lonely working out and nobody ever talking to me.
10) Good food in my belly. Thank God for Niko Nikos. I lika da sauce!

Ignore the grammar.

10/21 Went to Midland. Smelled the sweet smell of crude oil. Drove to Big Spring. Went to a funeral for my best friend’s dad. Spent time with her family. Made new friends. Looked at the stars and sighed. Played UNO with the kids. Hugged a lot of people. Ate so much food I gained about 5 pounds. Picked up a strong accent.
10/23 Got up at 3 a.m. Drove back to Midland airport. Got frisked at 4:30 a.m. Caught a plane. Picked up my car. Went to work. Had too many meetings. Came home. Yelled at the dog for barking at my door. Ate too much trail mix for dinner. Worked out on new Y equipment. Went to Whole Foods. Read my bible and then a magazine. Talked on the phone. Went to bed.
10/24 Overslept after hitting snooze five times. Ate trail mix for breakfast in the car. Declared 9:30 p.m. official shut-off time for cell phone. Went to meetings. Ate lunch. Got a hot tea from Starbucks. And time goes on…

Last night I was listening to an old sermon from The Village Church while I was at the Y working out. And in the sermon, the speaker said, “Do you ever feel like you’re on a treadmill? And that you’re trying to distract yourself with everything else to not think about the fact that you’re on a treadmill?” I was on a treadmill. Dude. That’s weird.

“I’d like to cancel my ****card.” (**** to protect the “innocent”)

“Yes, ma’am, but would you like to take advantage of upgrading to our Diamond card offer for 0% for up to $7500 up until October 2007?”

“No, sir. That’s a $7500 deal with the devil. I’d just like to cancel the account.”

“I see you have another ****card? Would you like us to increase your credit limit on the other card?”

“No. I purposefully lowered that credit limit myself. I just want to cancel the account.”

“Are you sure that you wouldn’t want to transfer a balance? What APR are you currently paying on other cards?”

“Actually, my goal is to have as few credit cards as possible. I’d just like to cancel the account.”

“Yes, ma’am. I understand. Is there anything else that I can do for you today?”

Can he hear me the first time? Can he pay off all my other credit cards? And my student loan? Can he stop sending me those offers in the mail? Can he send me a picture because despite him driving me crazy he sounded nice on the phone? Not for me, but for a friend. If yesterday’s blog was about my "wedding", I can’t be getting crushes on the ****card guy. Women are so weird! I know, because I am one. Although, I could marry the ****card guy and we could live debt-fully ever after.

This romance started out hot.

Then, we decided to encourage one another by realizing that we had found the greatest love of all.

What a beautiful portrait of the result of HFBC courtship. Who would’ve thought that this romance was budding?! We’re all surprised—even me!

Perhaps this is the result of an e-mail chain gone crazy. Or a case of the Kwandary Photoshop Team having too much time on their hands. Regardless, you can bet your lifesavers that I just found my Christmas card photo. Hopefully no one will get suspicious that they never saw the engagement photos. We’re registered at Needless Markup, Saks Fourth Avenue, and Train Depot.

Does anybody know how I can renew my vehicle registration after the date has passed? Not that this describes me…but it could describe a friend. I heard you could go to Kroger, but all I could find online were locations in Brazoria County.

Help! My friend could be driving illegally. And she would have done the online thing, but she kept forgetting to bring her car insurance information to work!

Working in the Med Center, sometimes you can feel trapped. I need wide open spaces (like the Dixie Chicks). My longtime friend, Ann, rescued me today. She drove up in her Civic and took me away from the Med Center. I felt like my hour lunch turned into a sweet retreat.

We ate at Houston’s Restaurant. I had the salmon/dill appetizer. She had the chicken fingers. We sat at the bar so we could get food fast. And we drowned our troubles—with lemonade.

I didn’t realize that I was having so much fun until I realized that the bar tender was laughing at me laughing. When I’m with Ann, I think I try to mimic her laugh and it turns into this weird deep, machine gun, “huh-huh-huh-huh!” It was a little embarrassing, but not embarrassing enough to make me stop.

Sometimes you just need to get away. Sometimes you just need to laugh. Work gives you lemons, you go drink lemonade!

If I was a modern day Noah—which sometimes is what it feels like living in Houston, would I have to pack up two of everything?

Two iPods (one video, one nano)
Two burritos (one Freebirds, one Mission Burrito)
Two fajita dinners (one from Pappasitos and one from Lupe’s)
Two small cars (one mini-Cooper; one Wendy Smith edition VW Golf)
Two large SUVs (one Hummer; one Suburban)
Two video game units (one PS2; one X-box)
Two computers (one MacBook; one Dell)
Two Starbucks drinks (one White Chocolate Mocha; one Caramel Frappachino)

I’ve heard that in case of a flood emergency, Lakewood will float. That’s why the construction took so long. –Okay, that’s not true, but it would be pretty cool if it did.

The time has arrived. It’s almost time for the unofficial Beth’s Adventure Club (BAC)* to begin. Membership is free to those who are good travelers and long for adventure –whether that adventure be in an alligator invested area or in a shopping outlet the size of 100 football fields. Consider this, my friend, your Call of the Wild.

Some adventures we will take: 1) the Village Church’s Saturday evening service, 2) Big Bend, 3) Brazos Bend state park, 4) New York City (to tour a salsa factory), and last but not least, 5) the San Marcos mega-outlet (not for the weak).

There will a fitness and endurance test before you’re allowed to officially be in the club. Or you have to supply three references who will testify on your behalf of your fitness and level of endurance.

We'll also get badges after we complete trips. And we'll put them on our backpacks to remember the times.

*The BAC is in no way in competition with the Stan Kwan Adventure group – which I hear is pretty Stantastic.

The days are ticking by. Soon I will be in Africa. I'm almost done with raising support. I have about $600 to go which is amazing when I started out needing $3200. God has humbled me so much by having me ask for money. It's made me really want to give more to other people that I know who need support. Like my friends that work with Crusade and YoungLife. It's not easy.

But I've seen that if God calls you to something, He will provide. Today's Oswald Chamber's My Utmost For His Highest (Oct 13th) was amazing.

Moses knew that he was called to go, but then didn't get to actually do what he was called to do for a long time. God put some things on my heart a few years ago, but it hasn't happened yet. I also remember in college really wishing I could be "called" to Africa. But I didn't feel the call. I can see now that God has taught me things through life that I needed to learn before I was ready. And perhaps (just perhaps), there are some more things to refine in me before he opens the door for the desires of my heart that I feel he's given me.

Sorry my blog is about J.Crew one day and God the next. In the world, not of the world, I suppose. :)

My J.Crew catalog came in my mailbox yesterday. I like to flip through the pages and pretend I can afford the clothes. Or I try to put the styles I like in my memory bank so I can pick up similar ones at Target.

I also like to pick out my boyfriend. Back in the past, he was this tow-headed, blonde guy with scruff, blue eyes, and a dashing smile. He was usually laughing in pictures or carrying a canoe. He wasn’t in my issue this time, so he might have moved on.

Or sometimes I pick out clothes that I would like my one-day real boyfriend to wear. Of course, if my real boyfriend shopped J.Crew, it might weird me out that he paid $33 for a ringer tee.

If you buy something from J.Crew, they usually send you the coveted sale catalog. I found a stretch skirt I really like, so I might buy it, even though I hate the fact I don’t get to try on something before I buy it (which is the whole purpose of the catalog). Hmmm…I just realized something. I’m ready to make a commitment to a boyfriend I find in J.Crew, but I’m not sure if I can commit to the skirt.

Note: Back in my days in NC, Brenda and I made some ornaments out of J.Crew models (guys only). They were really cute. Both models and ornaments.

Trudge. Trudge. Pray. Pray. Feel lighter. Pray more. Float. Sigh. Praise! Thanks.

It’s the time of year, if I lived somewhere besides Houston, I would be slipping into sweaters. I miss sweaters. I miss feeling hugged by my sweater. Sweaters are good friends. They keep you warm. They’re cute. They’re fluffy. They tell the world, “Look at me! I’m cuddly!”

I used to have a ton of sweaters. I had a drawer or two just for sweaters. Now, I have about one real sweater, and the others are thin sweater substitutes made of cotton.

My one green sweater gets worn every time I go home to Kentucky during the winter. We usually take lots of family pictures, and I think my family might get suspicious that in every holiday photo, I’ve got on the same sweater.

Good things about sweaters: soft, cuddly, fuzzy, and warm.

Of course there is a dark side to sweaters: sweater fuzz flying into your mouth, sweating in a sweater, an itchy sweater, a sweater with two large inappropriate red dots (flashback from a very embarrassing sweater labeled “Cherries” from 1st grade—thanks, Mom!), the turtleneck sweater that prohibits neck movement, and the never-attainable-because-it’s-too-dang-expensive cashmere sweater.

I joined a band.
I fell in love (from a distance) with an entire Christian skateboard team. [It's really hard to check for wedding rings when they're moving around so fast!]
I stopped working out.
I got a free haircut (not from myself this time).
I made new friends.
I wrote a couple of songs.
I went to two mega-women’s bible studies.
I organized a mega-party.
I had Starbucks with Laurie.
I went to Target and spent less than $10.
I got a new life plan.
I found an old friend.

All this done with God’s guidance and without watching any t.v. It’s been good to be me this week. :)

When I had braces, I had a guide that said, "When in doubt, leave it out." It was referring to the various foods that you could and could not eat. I need to rephrase it to some lessons I'm learning about myself which would be, "When in doubt, trust God."

Over and over, God asks me, "Do you trust me?" Not being positive in my answer sometimes allows me to get myself in a pickle. And look like a pickle. And act like a pickle. And feel like a pickle. It's not a good thing. Nobody likes pickles that much.

Over and over, I have to realize that God has my life. Every situation. Every minute. Every relationship. Never fear, Jesus is here. And that God loves me. As a pickle. And as a girl/woman named Beth.

With too much time on the internet this weekend, I rediscoved my old favorite website I met Kristen's sister-in-law, Susan, through a Bible study. I only met Susan once, right after Kristen had died, but I am forever thankful for her sharing her family's story. It has been a special joy to pray for them. Kristen Hartland was a young wife and mom who had breast cancer twice. In between her cancers, she had a baby named Sam. Her and her husband's story is precious and sweet. She's someone you'll definitely want to meet in heaven.

I'm going to try to close my blog this week to fast it. Can you fast a blog? Well, I'm going to. I'm such a write-a-holic. I love to write, but I think that God has some things to teach me this week as I prepare for Ken-YA! (You have to say that with a karate chop at the end.)

Special thanks to friends this weekend who let me know that: God loves me, has a plan for me, I'm not psycho (just sometimes experiences tendencies like that), Africa is going to touch my life in a way I cannot imagine, being "Beth" is good, loving people 1 Cor 13-style is not easy for humans (need God), and that I'm beautiful. (and so humble -- hee! hee!).