Green tea accentuates my happy-activity, I mean, hyper-activity. It’s such a sweet, legal rush. But leaves me with after effects of shakiness from time to time.

I got to be Cinderella at a wedding this weekend. My friend, the bride (who is also my fairy Godmother) dressed me in a Vera Wang black wrap dress. And then I found some gold shoes on sale at DSW. I topped off the night by putting my old intramural football skills to use, and I caught the bouquet.

At my friend Marie’s 50th birthday bash, I got to enjoy some cool gospel tunes and heard this group. I like their song Listen. For you American Bandstand fans, it’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.

My sister sent me a forward today about a company that teaches toddlers to survive a fall into a pool. It's pretty cool and linked here:

Baby Swimming Video

It's frustating to watch to the end, but keep watching or you'll miss the Baby Daddy. And you don't want to miss the Baby Daddy.

I saw someone wearing a herringbone chain today. It brought back a flood of memories in a few seconds. And I know that I heard Airsupply playing as soon as it gleamed back at me.

For those brief moments, I was back in the OCMS gym with the lights all off waiting for the cutest boy in the school with a mullet perm and herringbone chain (seductively draped just inside the collar of his Coca-Cola shirt) to notice me.

I got a haircut on Saturday at 8:45 a.m. I had to go so early because this guy is a haircutting mastermind. He even had a fancy Italian name, because he's from Italy.

His comments (which I was told would be blunt) consisted of some of the following:

1) Gio: There is a new treatment that is much easier on the hair than the Japanese straighening. We call it the Brazilian--but not what you think.

2) Gio: What is with the ponytail?

3) Gio: You have beautiful red hair, which looks red all over, but actually underneath it is a plain mouse brown color. We cannot recreate this haircolor.

He cut my hair, and now I have a real haircut. It has layers and everything. But I have yet to have let it do its thing (which is to go curly wild). I could wind up looking like Little Orphan Annie, or worse, Ronald.

Having curly hair is a dangerous thing. Add red to that, and you could have a nightmare on your hands if it is not handled correctly. Look at Nicole Kidman. She got so freaked out by her hair, that now she's blond and completely straight.

I am attempting to keep it straight right now, but I don't know how much longer I can keep up this beauty charade. And what if I meet the man of my dreams and he likes it better straight? I'll spend the rest of my life straightening my hair! Bring on the Brazilian! (not what you think.)

I watched Dr. Oz this weekend on the Discovery Channel. He visited a lady's house and separated the good food from the bad food that was in her fridge. He reiterated what I've fallen away from during my parade of weddings and birthday parties this month: excess sugar = heart failure; excess fat = heart failure. These are things that I need to take seriously considering both my maternal grandparents died from complications of heart disease.

I'm going to do my best to try to make wiser eating decisions. Sometimes it's hard when you're an on-the-go girl like myself, but I'm going to give it my best college try.

Today’s menu:

Kashi Autumn Wheat
Flax oatmeal with dried cranberries
Amy’s organic chili with vegetables
Baby carrots
Some mixed nuts & raisins trail mix
One clementine
Something else when I finally get home

Today’s Wishlist Menu:

French Toast made with Brioche and blueberries
Nice tall glass of whole milk
Nutella hot chocolate
Alfredo pasta with chicken
Raspberry mousse
Venti cinnamon dolce latte
Salmon with capers and cream sauce
Garlic bread with butter and cheese
Chocolate cake with chocolate icingThe remaining icing in the container
Some fruity marshmallows

It's family day!! [I apologize for family members who are unknowingly being published on this website. I did my best to choose attractive pictures.]

I know I did a special dedication blog to Christan, but I have to include the rest of my family or I might not get any presents ever again.

My family (in order of family membership): Mom, Traci, Troy, Gene, Kim, Christan, Katie, David, Jonathan, Marissa, and Emily. And of course, all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

The Family (I love Emily's smile in this one. She's quite expressive.)

Mom, Auntie Peg, and Auntie Shell

Uncles, Traci & me

Uncle Buster & me

Aunt Mischelle & me



I love my YL Kids

Many moons ago, way back in school year of 1999-2000, I was involved with Young Life in Asheville. Since that time, I had been longing to be a Young Life leader again. When I moved to Texas, I got very involved with serving with my peer group at church, and I never found a way to connect with Young Life.

A year or so ago, I went to the Luis Palau festival in Houston, and went to a Young Life booth. I noticed a pretty unusual looking guy that was handing out Young Life plastic cups and dum-dums. Then, I noticed that smiling beside that guy was my friend from OEC camp days, Kelli! I hadn’t seen her in a few years. We instantly exchanged numbers, and after my duties at church subsided, I started volunteering with Young Life.

My experience with H-town Young Life has been slightly different than my days in NC. In NC, we met in parents’ plush homes that had beautiful views of the mountains. We sang lots of pop and folk songs and played games that usually involved food in a disgusting way.

In H-town, I’m a part of Urban YL. We originally met in a community center in the 4th Ward, and are now meeting in space donated by a church. The kids hate playing games in which they get dirty. We play as many clean versions of hip-hop that we can find and play it loud. So some aspects of the YL experience are different, but teens are teens. They all have struggles with relationships, school, and making decisions about life. And they all need Jesus, just like me.

This year, it’s been really great because we have more adult leaders: Edwin, Brad (the unusually looking guy that became Kelli’s husband), Kelli, Josh, Eric, and me. And I’m finally getting to know the kids. A big phrase is Young Life is “earning the right to be heard.” In other words, a kid isn’t going to listen to you if he/she knows you don’t care about connecting with him/her. They can spot a fake a million miles away.

The kids make me realize how uncool I am, but in a good way, because they point me to coolness. I’m learning new dances, new words, new brands of clothing, and the most fun thing is new ways the kids make me laugh.

I couldn't wait to share these until tomorrow.

Sometimes, God gives you a sign.

And lets you give him a request.

And also lets you tell others you are available.

I love my church peeps at HFBC.

When I moved to Houston, I was in major need of friends. Not just feeling a bit lonely—I was in the pits of despair. I was reading my old journal the other day and one thing I wrote to myself to always remember after that time had passed, was the feeling of desperately needing a friend.

I have been over-blessed with friends in my life, but when I moved to Houston, I felt pretty alone. My father was dying, my mom was in survival mode, and I was in shock. I had moved from Asheville to Kentucky to Houston in a period of a month. Houston’s First Baptist Church and Summit Ministries proved to have a huge role in encouraging me during that time, and giving me the resources and fellowship to help me grow spiritually. It was like I had rediscovered the spiritual spark that God had blessed me with in college—complete with lots of shared giggling and everything!

My first friends are still some of the same friends I have now. My friend, Ann, likes to tell the story about how she invited me over to spend the night, and I talked to her for about 3 hours straight. Apparently, I had a lot to share. (It’s kind of a good thing I’m remembering this today about Ann showing kindness to me, because tonight, I’ll be beginning an extended weekend stay at her home with her two dogs.)

Click for a fun Valentine's Day treat.


I love my cousins.
(sister Traci, brother Troy, me, cousin Melanie, cousin Courtney, cousin Nathan, cousin Lauren, and cousin Jameson)

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my cousins, Melanie, Nathan, and Courtney. I got to hear lots from my older brother and sister about the “good ol’ days” when our parents and cousins' parents lived side by side in the big city of O-boro, and Melanie would lead the group in performing plays.

By the time my memory bank started working, we had moved away from them. My own good ol’ days with my cousins came when they moved 5 miles down the road, and we got to visit them all the time. I loved looking at Melanie’s extensive doll collection (so nice, it was kept in a glass case). Nathan taught me how to be a tomboy, ride a boy bike, play a game of HORSE, and how to get dirty and not really care (he had permanent dirt underneath his nails which drove my sister crazy). And Courtney had an entire Monchhichi collection and a playhouse outside with a kitchen set. She was also younger than me, so it was my first experience at getting to boss someone around.

My cousins, Jameson and Lauren, were the babies. Jameson was born when I was 13 and I spoiled him very badly. I read him books, learned all the ninja turtles names for him, and would help him put on his cowboy boots with his favorite camouflaged pants. I can’t believe he’s 20 now!

And little Lauren was a jumping bean that grew into an amazing flip-flop gymnast, and as a baby had the best laugh and biggest smile. Now that she’s 17, she looks at me like I’m weird a lot of times, but I know that she secretly enjoys my craziness because I learned mine from her mother. She’s an amazing girl and will be journeying off to college-land very soon.

I don't get to see my cousins very often anymore, but I am so thankful I had the honor of sharing growing up with them.

Note to other cousins: I also love my cousins on the Richards' side: Sheila, Leila, Kelly, Jimmy, Greg, Robby, and Tricia. I just didn't get a holiday pic w/ all of them. :)

I declare this Valentine's week, the week of PEOPLE I LOVE.

To start off the week, I love my niece, Christan.

I have four nieces and two nephews. Christan was the first grandchild in my family. She is a senior this year, and I'm so proud of her. She loves God, and has done a great job of surviving as a PK. This past fall, she got her first real job as a hostess at a small restaurant, so she's made some real, cold hard cash to help pay for some of her senior year stuff. She's also at the top of her class and is fighting hard to stay in the top ten. She loves to laugh, loves to tell stories, and she's lots of fun to be around. Even though sometimes Katie, David, and Jonathan may disagree on bad days, from what I've seen, she's a great big sister, too.

What is scary, is that sometimes when I'm around her, it's really bizarre because she talks a lot like me. Especially when I hear her say, "You know?". I think I say that, too.

It's been kind of nice that Christan has only grown to about 5'1", because then I can pretend she's younger than what she is. So, I just pretend she's an advanced 12 year old. It helps me to process it better sometimes. I don't know how I'm going to make it through her high school graduation. Maybe I'll pretend it's just a drill.

My sister was the first one to bring them to my attention. She said that she and my nieces bought some at Wal-Mart and didn't even make it home with them. The Dibs were already dibbed out in the car ride home. Her warning led me to avoid Dibs like the plague in the grocery store.

My co-worker brought some in today. A friend gave him some, so he decided to share them with the rest of us. Somehow, I became the only one who was really attached to these little ice cream snacks. The bites are chocolatey and ice creamy all at once--amazing! Now, I'm left with the empty Dibs container. Everytime I look at it, I can feel a sense of longing on my face like I wish I had more Dibs.

HELP! Remember. You knew me before the 100 pound weight gain.

On a side note, I'm starting my 5K training tonight for a fun run April 5th. I think Hil would have a better chance than me of adding training into her campaign schedule because I am so busy this month (can somebody say weddings?), but I'm still going to persevere.

To Dib, or not to Dib. What ever the question, the answer for me must be:RUN!

I’m working on a new slide-slide-slippity-slide dance. I practiced it at work while going to the fax machine. When I tried to practice some dance moves at Young Life, the kids told me that I looked a bit too much like Napoleon Dynamite.

On my way to lunch from the office, I noticed two women in scrubs coming down the hall. The taller one had a HUGE birthmark on her forehead. So after a very brief glance (I didn’t want to stare) and a closed mouth quick smile of recognition, I politely looked away and darted into the stairwell. The in front of the Starbucks counter, I noticed two more women in scrubs, and both of them had ash marks on their head. It dawned on me that perhaps the birthmark may have been a holy sign.

Happy Ash Wednesday!

Because very sad things much be sandwiched between non-sad things in my world, I am presenting the following blog presentation.

My e-mail inbox at work has over 6,000 e-mails in it. I delete e-mails all the time, but need to spend a whole week deleting e-mails. I’m having a lot of trouble trying to keep the mark of the beast out of my counter. I’m down to 6,650 right now, so I have a little bit of time.

Last night, I found out that a dear person that I had the pleasure of knowing passed away unexpectedly. His name was Toast. Yup, that’s right, Toast. He had a real name, but I can’t even remember it, and I think maybe he even forgot it sometimes…maybe Greg? I loved Toast. Everybody loved Toast. He taught you things even in casual conversation. He cared about people. And he was one of the most unique people in the world.

I met him while I worked at the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) in Trinity, Texas in the fall of 2002. The OEC helps teach inner city kids the wonders of science and nature in a camp setting. Toast was a teacher there. And of course, the kids loved him.

I remember the first time I saw Toast, it was like meeting a legend. My friends, Toby and Audra, had told me lots of stories about him (and Al). Toby said that Toast used to have Blue Friday. And every Friday, he would wear blue. I was really excited to meet a guy named Toast.

I was not disappointed. Toast was a combination of handsome, strange, funny, and compassion all at once. He was someone that others wanted to emulate, but then no one else could quite figure out how to be like Toast. So, like me, you just settled on basking in his uniqueness and learning from him what you could. Toast was diabetic and had several other ailments, but never let it rule his life. He lived life as an adventure, seizing every day.

The last time I saw Toast was at our OEC reunion last April. I posted about the reunion, and I’m reposting my pic with him and Al today. Earlier in the day when I first saw Toast, he had his whole face painted half-orange/half-blue, and he was wearing a Trinity Tigers sweatshirt. Everyone had been playing ultimate Frisbee or Frisbee golf and Toast had gotten way into the spirit, like normal for Toast.

Toast (R), Me, and Al (L)

I’m posting a link to Al’s journal. Al has said some very true things about Toast. Please pray for Toast’s friends and family as they grieve over him. He will be missed. But we are all so glad we received the gift of knowing him. It’s kind of a hard time because it just seems very unreal. And I'm sure it's going to be a very hard week at the OEC. I'm assuming the kids are still at camp this week.

I’ve been drafted by one of my soon-to-be-married friends to go a church down Woodway to check out the singles’ group with one of her single bridesmaids. We were told we have to get all decked out because that church has super-model like women there. So, I guess I better up my 8 minute abs up to 10 minutes.

Sometimes it’s tough being superior to your friends. And sometimes it’s tough having friends that are more superior than you. So what is the answer? Do we all become like the society Harrison Bergenon rebelled and downplay our gifts? Or do we encourage others to take their gifts and develop them further (which could possible create a bigger rift of separation between us)?

In high school, I read a story in a magazine about a girl who was very beautiful, but she was ostracized because of it. I felt really sorry for that character but then realized in real life, I was witnessing a similar situation with one of my friends being treated that way. Sometimes I felt that my friend’s confidence wavered because she was receiving such harsh criticism because other people less beautiful people were intimated by her appearance.

I’ve seen that scenario happen countless times through life. The gifted person might be more intelligent, more athletic, more beautiful, or more whatever-it-is-they-have-more-of-that-is-desirable that we don’t have.

My gift is the Gift of Funny—and I don’t say that lightly or pridefully. There can be a lot of pressure on you when you’re the funny one. I come from a whole family of funny, so I never really thought much about it as being a gift. It’s just something I kind of grew into that caused my conduct grades to go down.

Being funny, sometimes you feel like the court jester and fear that if you can’t make the king (or audience) laugh, you might get sent to the dungeon. Sometimes you just don’t want to be funny or the center of attention. You want to just be. But on the other hand, there is a very sweet benefit of making heavy things in my life light and sometimes having the honor of doing the same for other people as well.

Once I was asked to help host a wedding shower, and my funny skills were requested. I got very carsick on the way there and found myself sitting on the bathroom floor making friends with the toilet when I arrived after riding in the stop-and-go car. But the show had to go on. I was so not funny, it’s not even funny. I think my friends were disappointed, but sometimes my funny powers aren’t just automatic.

The best time to be funny is when I don’t know I’m being funny, because then it can be a joke for me, too! Unless I’m having a serious moment, and it’s being interpreted as funny, then the situation gets very awkward.

So friends, whatever your gift, even if your gift is being normal, be that to the very best of your ability. Let God use your gift for his glory. And don’t get finagled into thinking that you should downgrade your superpower. Remember when Superman tried to be a regular guy? It was disastrous. It would be the same with you.

The scene began with me somehow being drawn to the counter like I was being called by the mothership. I stared up at the menu with a glazed look in my eyes. I had approximately 15 seconds to decide on my order. Frantically my eyes scanned the menu to come up with a total new concoction—one in which I might actually be beating Starbucks at their own game. The plan was to get a cool cup, a coffee high, and a fair price. I wasn’t dealing with my normal baristas who usually are more patient with me (last week they even let me roll dice to come up with an order).

Then, it was my turn. There were about 3 people behind me. One of which the barista made eye contact with before taking my order and said, “The usual?”

I gulped. And said something that sounded like, “Grande espresso with a shot of cinnamon syrup.” My plan was to then add a little milk from around the corner to take off the bitterness of espresso, and then I would have a generic cinnamon coffee drink.

The barista repeated what she heard to confirm, but added something else: “Espresso with cinnamon dolce syrup? We don’t have cinnamon syrup.”

Cinnamon syrup was plainly on the menu. But if they didn’t have it, they didn’t have it.

And then began the befuddlement.

Me: “No cinnamon syrup? Well, I guess cinnamon dolce syrup.”
Her: “So that’s double shot of syrup with a double shot of cinnamon dolce?”
Me: (adding up the 30 cent shots of syrup) “Yes. I mean, NO! I mean, well, what is that? I just want a single espresso. And one shot of syrup.”
Her: “So, that’s an espresso with two shots of syrup.”
Me: “Uh..sure. Yeah.”

By this time, I was confused and holding up the line. And my face was redder than the holiday cups. That was what I get for trying to beat the system. Normally, I just let the words flow and then pay my $4.00 and walk off happy, but poorer.

I waited for my cup. It was sitting on the side counter like an abandoned dog on the highway. For starters, it was tiny despite me ordering a grande. And it was only about ½ way full. I added the milk to it. And I was left with a cold, bitter, mildly sweet coffee that I paid cost $2.30.

Starbucks. You may have won today. But I’ll be back. Oh yes, I’ll be back.