O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Christmas can get kooky. Sometimes the happiest time of the year can just go plain wrong. Remember, it's about adoring the baby. It's about the greatest gift from God--not about what your got that didn't fit or was the wrong color. It's about letting the love of Christ fill your heart--not about the treats that will fill your belly. It's not about focusing on who is or isn't with you this year. He is always with you.

Enjoy Christmas. But the only way to truly enjoy it, is by letting Jesus be your joy. You can't package, manufacture, buy, or hand make joy. It's the overflow from the gift from God.

I'm preaching this to myself today, too. Read. Pray. Repeat.

Be blessed.


I have been begging God to take summer away from Houston, and I believe we are finally past 90 degree days for awhile! Now, I have a problem getting my wardrobe and internal body temperature to morph into cold mode.

I am so sick of my summer clothes. Some people prefer summer dresses and shorts, but due to my inability to bake myself a nice tan color (my skin color options are "lily white" and "I'm-Not-Really-A-Waitress Red"), I like to cover myself with as much clothing as possible. My dream of putting aside my summer duds is now here! But I don't quite know what to wear...

One thing I've been doing is the old "add some leggings to your summer dress" trick. But honestly, it's boring me. And sometimes when I'm not sitting completely lady-like in my dress, I want to say, "It's okay! I have on leggings!"

I also had to dig out my sweaters from my guest room closet. When you're memory is bad, the process of digging out winter clothes almost feels like you are opening a Christmas present. "Oh! I didn't know I had this! Thank you, self!"

The other issue I have with the weather transition is figuring out when to break out an official coat. I have a few coats, but not all of them match my outfits. When I lived in states with temperate climates, I purchased a new coat every year. I had coats for everyday, formal, and outdoor occassions. Now, I have a hodge-podge of coats and jackets--basically leftovers from ten years ago. It seems like a bit of a waste buying a coat if I'm only going to wear it for the week that I'm in Kentucky for Christmas. The rest of the year, it takes up space in my closet and just sits gathering dust mites.

Maybe I've just invented a business as I comb through my clothing dilemma...

Perhaps, there could be an online "clothing/coat rental service" for those of us in the South that are traveling to colder climates. Can I tell you how tired I am of wearing the same wool lime-green J.Crew sweater circa 1998 to holiday events? I'm sure there are others out there like me.

Anyway, until my online rent-a-coat is up and running, I'll either pack on the layers or see what Target can offer me for a good deal on something warm.

I'm on a no-sugar kick right now. That means, cupcakes, cookies, and candy (the Evil Three C's)--are not entering my belly right now. By avoiding these, I'm hoping my sugar-free belly develops a shrinking feature.

I eat a lot of sugar. I know sugar is not so great for the bod, but it tastes so good!

I usually start off my day with some oatmeal--pre-sugared. Then, I take in some coffee with creamer--and flavored syrup. At the office, I have to just have a bite of that candy my co-worker has at her desk (why do co-workers torture us like this?!). Then, I go home and fantasize about going to get some gelato. Hopefully, I do not have any previously purchased ice cream in my freezer, because if I do, at this point it's gone (why is it so much fun to watch the Biggest Loser while eating ice cream?!).

It can be hard to live life with no sugar. Thank goodness I am doing this by choice, and not by a medical mandate. I can't imagine what it would be like to do birthday parties and holidays and weddings (and probably even funerals) without the ability to partake in the sugar fest.

There is a great verse about sugar-overload I think of often from the bible:

Proverbs 25:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.

How many of us have been there? Some of you were probably there about 3 days ago.

Sugar consumption will probably always be a struggle. It puts me on a high, then it puts me on a low. I'm avoiding it for this minute. So stop parading around in my dreams with cookies and cupcakes!

One day, maybe I'll be able to have a better relationship with this powdery, white, wonderful substance. I hope. I pray.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

If you ever doubt that God speaks to people, you could be crazy. Some people may feel crazy or sound crazy when they mention God speaking. You will know when you've had God speak to you because it won't be crazy. It will make sense, and the wisdom will flood your mind and bones and bring a peace or understanding that you didn't have before. It's an amazing blessing to hear from God.

Throughout the summer, I had been feeling more and more stressed as I seemed to absorb everyone else's stress. And the hard part, was that this was stress that wouldn't just disappear. Some of these situations had grabbed my heart and demanded attention.

I like being a refresher to people. I like being an encouragement. But I can only be those things if Jesus Christ is refreshing me through the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, I might be able to still perform parts of an old pep rally fight song from high school, but for any other boost, I am toast.

I also had my cousin's illness on my brain. She was struggling with cancer for the fourth time in six years, and the last news I had heard was that she was in a hospice care situation. My father's side of the family seems plagued with cancer. Cancer--or even the possibility of cancer--is not a light burden to carry.

I've been fascinated with some videos called on a website called IamSecond.org. The realness of the people in the videos about their struggles and their faith hits my heart.

I've been following the life of Brian "Head" Welch since he gave his life to Christ several years ago. The story of how he hit the bottom of bottoms in what might seem to some the top of the world was fascinating. He doesn't look like your traditional Jesus-lover. I watched Brian Welch's video, and really listened to the verse, Matthew 11:28, that he shared as a verse he heard from a friend that caused him to really stop and examine the meaning. He realized that he was weary and burdened and needed rest. He needed Christ in his life to take those burdens and give him freedom.

Immediately after watching the Brian's video, I noticed a piece of folded paper that had slipped out of my bible from a church bulletin. The only sentence on the paper was Matthew 11:28. It was a bit bizarre since I just heard that verse as the theme of the video. I felt like God was calling me to pray for rest for my cousin with cancer. She loved Jesus and needed rest.

The next morning I got a call with the news that my cousin had passed away. You never want to hear news that a loved one has left this life, but I felt peace knowing her body was at complete rest with Jesus. Her burden was finally gone.

I was hurrying to work and on the drive I was half-listening to a message from Tony Evans. My ears perked up when I heard his southern-gospel-style voice emphatical preach out, "Come to ME--all you who are WEARY and HEAVY LADEN--and I will give you REST!"

He told the story about a time when he was struggling as he carried a load of luggage. Someone stopped him and said, "Sir, do you realize those bags have wheels?"

Dr. Evans pointed out that Jesus has to be our wheels. We have heavy loads, but with Jesus as the wheels, they can move!

Then, that verse hit home to my own life. My burdens might not go away--if fact, they might even increase as I prepare for being part of a new church location and re-enter volunteer ministry with Young Life. But Jesus is my wheels. He is the burden carrier. Not me. He asks for my load.

I have been a Christ-follower for years, and for that relationship to be fruitful and have meaning and impact on others around me, I can't just put it on auto-pilot. It's a daily act of recognizing Jesus Christ is my Lord. My life is directed by Christ.

Hearing Matthew 11:28 caused me to hear God's voice. Burdens aren't for me to carry. He asks to carry the burdens. He gives me rest. When I realize, that God has it all, I get the honor and blessing of being arms of compassion and encouragement of Christ. I love it!

Bring it on, and I'll give it over. Jesus, be my wheels.

Yesterday, I checked the Target website before going to shop at the store. I was looking for an alarm/iPod dock. The site was down. Then, when I checked Twitter, I noticed that there were many posts about Missoni previewing at Target. Apparently, the site was crashed over abundant Missoni lovers logging in. Who knew the world was so Missoni loving?

My biggest fear is that the masses are going to be wearing all this Missoni in unrestricted ways. I found a complete list of the offerings on the blog Fashionista.

I admit I would like to have a scarf. But I have the good fashion sense to know that a body-hugging sweater dress in brown, orange, and puce horizontal zigzags would not flatter me--no matter what designer label is represented.

American Missoni consumers: be careful out there.

Clinton and Stacy could have a field day with this.

My life has been what I would call "crazy-busy." Busy-ness annoys me. The activities don't annoy me, but my inability to put more activities into the mix frustrates me because sometimes I wish I could do it all!

A big problem I have with my busy-ness is feeling that I can't be all things to all people. I love people. I am blessed with lots of friends. My family lives away from me, so that allows me to put more time into the lives of friends, but the older I get, the more my friends multiply--either by me gaining friends or by my friends physically multiplying with children.

My friends' lives have become more complicated, so then everyone's time is squeezed into little slots balanced around a careful network of schedules. That's what I really hate. Because when we compare schedules and times of events, we are having to see what we place most importance on. "Let's see--a 50th birthday is weighted more heavily than a 1st, because the kid might not remember if you were there or not--and the 50th will have better food..." Sad, but sometimes those are my thought processes (better food always is the trump card).

I truly believe that we all make time for what we want to do. At any time, God can come in and shake our life where we realize that He is in control. Life circumstances can change instantly--and suddenly, those "so-important" events no longer are so important. God never tells anybody, "Wait a minute. Ugh! I am so busy! My schedule is crazy! Have you been watching the news? I've been trying to answer all these prayers, and it's just too much!"

I have to model my life after Jesus--especially where he pulls away. I know it's a major characteristic of my overly sanguine personality to be energized by people, but to also need to recharge fully when alone--so I'm not sure if everyone has to do this.

I am a single woman--and sometimes feel guilty if I am not giving my time serving other people, but then some time has to be alloted to taking care of my family of one--I am the bread-winner, garbage taker-outer, dishwasher, laundry-doer, finance fixer, grocery-buyer, and then I squeeze in phone-time with long-distance family and friends, exercising, etc.--and I have to check myself to make sure I am truly laying my burdens down. I will get overloaded with others issues and a desire to be all things to all people, and pretty much save the world. I can't be that. It's exhausting. I have to be me--the me God created me to be. And you have to be you--the God created you to be!

Anyway. Last weekend, I spent some time with friends, but was blessed with time alone at the same time. We drove up to Lake Belton and only spent time looking at the lake on our drive out. I had time to be alone with God in the newly added room to my friend's parents' garage. It had a comfy bed, an a/c, and a nice bathroom--all I needed. I rested. I slept longer than necessary. I took some time and pet a cat. I floated in a pool. It was a very blessed time.

So, I'm going through my season of activity with the peace and calmness that ultimately, God is in control. I am just given the blessing to attend. But it's not necessary for me to attend everything I am honored to be invited to. But it is necessary for me to have time alone with God.

Note: My only other mental solution was to clone myself and then have meetings to debrief with all my selves. I'm so glad God prompted me for a different solution.

2nd Note: I need to reread this post often because this is a repeated life struggle of being me.

I went to Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday and fell in love. When something gets the coveted National Park title, it's usually pretty spectacular. This land was amazing. Thank you, Theodore Roosevelt, for your vision of protecting our beautiful land! (Aud- Please correct my history here, if needed)

click on the link above to view a webcam on the park

I finally got myself to a legal status of driving again. I am not a speeder, nor a light-racer, but I was not quite sure if I was following all the laws of the state of Texas or not. I had lost my license with the correct address on it, and was using an older (unexpired) license--that happened to have a former address. In Texas, there is a great online service for address changes, renewals, and such, but if you happen to have lost your entire wallet and you don't have the secret numbers needed to order a new one, you're up the creek and have to go visit the actual Department of Transportation. No one likes this option.

At first I started to think, "What could be so bad about the Department of Transportation?"

I also have wondered many times why my past license picture is so atrocious. Why was my hair the size of Texas, and why was my face all shiny? I had forgotten. Sometimes with unpleasant events, specific details are omitted. Our brains are kind to us like that. But sometimes when placed into a similar situation again, the memories flood over with the force of a broken dam.

I got there early with my hair neat and my makeup a little darker than normal to look more flattering in the photo. When I drove up, my heart sank as I spotted a wrap-around line of people baking on the concrete and in the morning Houston sun. I stayed in my car a bit for signs that the line would move--trying to avoid the inevitable. Must this be the way to stay legal?

Luckily, I had an umbrella in my car to serve as a shield for the sun. I've seen many Asian women walk around town like this and it makes me always think they look bizarre. So, there I stood in line, looking bizarre holding my umbrella like a shield. I tried to think of another day I could do this. I pondered on the consequences of driving illegally. I would pay money not to stand in this line. To make it even a sweeter experience, the two men in front of me used the time to decide if the women ahead of them in line fit their weight preference and the guy behind me started smoking. I realized that I should have been specific with my prayers for the day.

My attempts at a better picture were going to be ruined. My straightened hair would not make it with the humidity levels. I knew that my makeup was guaranteed to be running off my face by the time I made it to the picture. No wonder my last picture looked like I had spent the afternoon hiking through the Amazon. Perhaps this is a secret way the government keeps us all looking our worst.

After what seemed like eternity, I finally snaked around the building and squeezed into the air conditioned portion of the wait. After going through a few more wrap arounds of the line, I realized that the next step was to get a number and wait for it to appear on screen. The room felt very claustrophobic as what looked like the United Nations was squeezed into a room. Children cried. Women waved documents like a fan. To some, it was purgatory; to others, hell.

As I've learned at the post office, always use your best manners and do NOT step up to the counter until the representative has given your permission. I'm surprised I didn't do a bow before preceding forward.

Then, perhaps the silent prayer I prayed was heard. As my number was handed to me, it appeared on the screen! I made it to the last step! I heard a series of "what??" from the peanut gallery around me. Just like in the Old Testament temple, you go to the back (kind of symbolic of the Holy of Holies). I rushed through my paperwork as I interacted with the woman behind the desk. I hadn't had lag time to fill out the questions.

All I could think of while we were exchanging documents was that I didn't know where my lip gloss and powder were. I didn't have time.

"Step in front of the blue curtain," she stated flatly.

I did a bewildered move that was a bit like chasing my tail.

She said a bit louder and flatter, "The blue curtain."

I stood and tried to pose with a smile. She said, "Not a bad picture."

"Grrrrrreat," I thought. "Not a bad picture, but not a good one either."

I look a bit crazy in it. Perhaps my bewilderment is showing. But whatever the case, horrible hair day picture is gone.

Before. And after.

Stop laughing. Thank you.

Summer is here! And so is the Houston heat. OUCH! It's hot!

At home, we love to quote an old Don Moore Chevrolet commercial. It goes like this:

Someone says,"IT"S HOT, DON!"
And then Don (either Jr. or Sr.) replies, "You can say that again!"
So the person says, "IT'S HOT,DON!"

Classic local commercial.

I still love to say, "It's hot, Don." I might sound crazy saying it away from the source, but it makes me laugh.

A friend of mine from North Carolina had to prove to me that the temperature there was just as hot. But after pondering for this for a few minutes (in the heat, the brain processes slower), I realized it's not just about the number on the thermometer. It's also about the consistency of the heat.

The heat doesn't give a reprieve in nighttime hours. Nor does it stop like clockwork with the change of what temperate climates call a "season." It keeps burning. But I wouldn't change it. I love Texas.

In my younger years, I would ponder moving some place like Atlanta, and almost have my stomach turn from thinking about the heat. I'm a redhead and my coloring is not conducive to summertime. But here I am. God has given me a big heart for the state of Texas.

God has also blessed with me this summer with some beautiful days in Seattle and soon I will be attending a conference in Colorado for some renewal time. Blessings! Cool, cool, blessings!

I have learned that when you are deprived of something like room-temperature outdoor weather, when you are in it, you relish it!

Enjoy your summer--whether the weather be hot or cold, soak it up!

I've got a visitor this week. His name is Moses and he likes slow walks in the evening. And his favorite meal is all of them.

I like to describe Moses as being Tommy Boy in a dog's body. He makes me laugh because he is a huge dog, and runs really funny. He's lost 25 pounds since my friend rescued him from the SPCA, but he's still got a bit to go. I sympathize with him. It can be hard to run with extra weight bouncing on your belly. He and I might try to do some fartlek training at the park. We probably are at about the same fitness level right now.

So far, he's been a great houseguest. He does like to bark at the air sometimes. Those barks do shake the house, but besides his dog-like outburst, he's a good guy.

Two lovely ladies who were once college roomies together at the Crack House (the house has a crack--what were you thinking?!) needed to get away to cooler weather and to catch up on life. So, they got on planes and took two separate routes.

They passed over the Rocky Mountains.

They finally landed, and quickly started absorbing Seattle.
They found Seattle to be a place with lots of cool art, so they took lots of pics.

They journeyed along the pier and spotted sailboats.

They located the first Starbucks and bought some souvenirs.

The next day, they spotted a line at the REAL first Starbucks...apparently there is a decoy first Starbucks.

The ladies made sure that they got caffeinated here as well.

They viewed cups from around the world which had been gifts from customers.

Throughout the long weekend, the ladies debated the colors of seagulls. They are waiting to hear back answers from a certified seagull expert.

The ladies also spent some time as explorers of the shore searching for starfish, shells, rocks, and urchins.

The views from their hotel rooftop were amazing.

The sunrise was even worth an early morning wake-up.

One of the coolest blessings was scoring free U2 tickets. After donating to Soles4Souls and a 1.5 hour wait at Hard Rock Cafe, a pair of free tickets were bestowed upon the deserving ladies. They will remember this concert forever and perhaps change the details so in their memories Bono would have mentioned them by name from the stage.

The ladies would like to thank the follow for making their trip so special:
Jimmy and Jen Bradbury (why didn't I get your picture???)
Indian food
Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Lenny Kravitz
Family airport pick-ups/drop-offs -- especially the 3 a.m. team
Continental and Southwest Airlines
Starbucks (the 1st and 2nd)
The fish market throwers
The Museum dude that gave us free tickets to SAM
1st Ave.
Sardines & tuna
Ritz crackers
The Seattle Aquarium
Nick Cave
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
Hard Rock Cafe
Qwest Field
The kind strangers waiting with us in line
The street sweepers who didn't know U2
...and finally, all the puppies of Seattle

This weekend, I have no plans. Well, I do have plans, but they aren't super exciting.

Here's my amazing Memorial Day Weekend To-Do List:

1) Get an oil change.
2) Clean up the leaves in my back "yard."
3) Borrow a friend's husband to help me connect the gas dryer.
4) Finally drop off the baby gift I bought for a friend before the baby grows anymore and can't wear the outfit.
7) Spend some time praying for all the people I tell, "I'll be praying for you..."
8) Watch a movie.
9) Start selecting clothes which will go to Seattle with me.
10) Read some books.

I am most excited about Monday, because then I will finally realized that I have a longer weekend, and instead of squeezing all my activities in on a couple of days, I get an extra! I love that long-weekend wiggle room!

One of the major selling points of the Kindle for me was the "read-to-me" feature. The voice is kind of robotic, but can be adjusted to be fast/slow and male/female.

After listening to Mrs. Kindle read to me for awhile, I realized her voice was familiar. She's either a distant relative of or the actual iPhone voice command lady. It was kind of comforting that I might already know her.

I'm also starting to be able to imitate Mrs. Kindle very well. It's one of my new favorite electronic voices to mimic. In case your wondering, my favorite is the voice from War Games.

Groupons frequently get sent to my e-mail inbox, but I usually just wave them on by. My co-worker spotted a Groupon for Spanish lessons, and she asked me if I had seen it as well. I had and was trying to decide if I should finally attempt to take Spanish classes. Together, we decided to take a bite out of the tortilla and go for it!

Our first lesson was Monday. I'm supplementing my learning with listening to some cheesy Latin music from Pandora. I catch a word every now and then like amigo or aqui. That's about the extent of my knowledge so far.

I think the biggest barrier with learning a language is the fear of something foreign escaping your mouth, and the uncertainty of knowing if what you said made sense or isn't offensive. I'm hoping to gain more confidence and keep practicing by first talking to myself--of which I am an expert.

I might need a more Spanish sounding name. My name is Hebrew, but maybe I could latinize it somehow. Any suggestions? From listening to the Latino music, I kind of like the name Shakira.

I bit the bullet. I bought a Kindle. When the $114 version appeared on the market, it seemed like too good of a deal to let pass. I will be on a long plane ride to Seattle soon, and I wanted a buddy to travel with me. Since no tall, dark, and handsome man is in my life to be my travel companion, I decide to instead rekindle my relationship with books.

Right now, my Kindle is waiting at my door (per alerts from package tracking). I can't wait until we meet. I have such great hopes and dreams for our new relationship...

Stay tuned for updates on my new flame.

Two weeks ago, I pulled out of Whole Foods after lunch and was leisurely driving to a stoplight when I was abruptly cut off by another car. While still in a bit of shock but being thankful I wasn't injured, the same car rolled the window down and showed me a special finger waving it around. (It wasn't the special finger that sings the song "This Little Light of Mine"--it was the one next door.)

I don't know what I did to the driver, but apparently he/she was very upset with me. As I pulled into my work driveway, the driver then laid on the horn--I guess to display another sign of dissatisfaction. I wish I would have known what I did. It must have been pretty earth-shattering.

This week, I pulled out of Whole Foods after lunch and continued, as many times before, on my leisurely drive to the stoplight. My car was in the same position as before when I met Mr. Tallman in front of me two weeks prior. I felt someone's eyes on me, so I looked two rows of stopped traffic over, and a young gentlemen had rolled down his window. He was driving a gleaming white new BMW with fancy wheels and shining silver accents. At first glance, I thought he was Usher. When my eyes found his gaze, he started waving and motioning for me to roll down my window. I didn't oblige, but smiled and stared forward.

I waited a minute pretending to be very interested in the status of the light and looked over again. He was still staring--this time, leaning out the window a bit. He became animated again when I looked at him. After an eternity, the light changed, and Usher drove away putting a kiss onto his hand and waving it as the BMW quickly took off down the road. At the same time, I turned to the left and started down the road to work realizing that on that same spot of the road I had received both a curse and a blessing (of sorts).

Life is funny that way. In possible a stretch of theological meaning, it also made me think about Jesus and how one minute the crowd loved him and the next they were yelling at him to be crucified.

I might find a new way to drive back from Whole Foods.

Oh, people! We are fickle.

I listen to Christian radio on the way to work in the mornings. I've been learning about the history of the compilation of the English bible. People were burned at the stake and everything else torturous you can imagine in efforts to publish the first Bible for the people to read.

All I can say is...thank you! That sacrifice is something I take for granted. I have an amazing tool to read everyday. Those pages should be more threadbare and worn than they are. I love the Bible. I've never thought afterwards, "I wish I hadn't read that..."

Here's a sample.

2 Samuel 22:31 (New International Version, ©2011)

31 “As for God, his way is perfect:
The LORD’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.

You may read it and weep, but that softened heart will feel much better than a hard heart.

I am pretending I am a reader. I joined a book club and everything. I own books, but then, I wind up watching t.v.

I used to be a reader. As a child, I had my nose in a book all the time. I loved reading. I loved going to the card catalog and finding a book on my favorite topics. In middle school, I focused on realistic fiction on the topics of divorce and eating disorders, then in my early high school years, I switched to Stephen King novels. I would read during the day, on the bus, during school, before bed, or whenever.
editor's note: please no psychological evaluations on author's reading selections

At the age of 15, I fulfilled my dream, like my aunt before me, of becoming a high school cheerleader. I also started adding more and more afterschool activities to my schedule. My life became smashed full of appointments. And the books were left on the shelf gathering dust.

I've tried many times since to pick back up reading, but it hasn't been natural. I have to commit to it. I miss being in the Book It program like in elementary school. For every book I read, I earned a star that got me closer to a personal-size pepperoni pan pizza! Oh dear, I just realized that food is my best motivator!

My bookclub is meeting on Thursday, and so far, I have zero pages read. I had this brilliant idea last night to go to the gym and be one of those people that reads during a workout. I wound up assembling my new mini-trampoline and bouncing for 30 minutes while I finished a mindless movie from 10 years ago.

Maybe I need to reinvent Book It. For every book I read, I can earn a star, and after five stars, I can order a pepperoni pizza. Sounds like a plan! Not a Weight Watchers plan, but a plan, nonetheless.

My friend, Robin, and I are taking a mini-vaca to Seattle. We are both really excited to see things like the market and the first Starbucks (that might be me more than Robin). We had both wished we could travel to Europe, but traveling to Europe can get really pricey, so we settled on Seattle for the first week of June, and our excited to enjoy cooler weather and the city which was the invention of grunge.

My seventeen year old nephew, David, as a former Northwest resident, gave me some tips, but the only one I remember is: "Watch Sleepless in Seattle, while in Seattle."

I'd kind of like to do this, but I'm scared airport security might confiscate my cheesiness. Until then, I'm going to be listening carefully on the airwaves for any lonely, non-creepy men who might want to meet in Seattle--or at the top of the Empire State Building.

By being a naturally pale person, I qualify to be a spokesperson for the Unofficial Fake Tan Society.

I have been fake-tanning for several years. I was first exposed to fake tanning at about 7 years of age when my sister purchased a bottle of QT by Coppertone (Quick Tanning). I quickly learned through her example that the misapplication of the liquid or failure to thoroughly wash hands afterwards can lead to a fake tan disaster characterized by the classic "orange palm" syndrome. Orange knees, orange elbows and ankles, and also strange streaks can also be attributed as side effects of misapplication.

The hard part about fake tanning is waiting for the after effect. You can follow all the directions perfectly, and still have weird things happen.

A few mistakes I've made through the years:

1) Not applying the "lotion blocker" to my feet in a spray tanning booth. My philosophy was that my feet weren't being sprayed...why did I need to put it on the bottom of my feet? I neglected to think about all the spray that had collected onto the floor of the booth. And I wound up with my co-worker deemed "Kroger-feet"--how a child's feet look after walking barefoot through a grocery store.

2) Post airbrush tan, I got splattered with water drops from the sink. Also, please note, avoid rain like the plague. Every drop will equal another mess-up to your tan.

3) Don't exercise post-spray tanning until after you've showered. I went to a spin class and discovered that I was sweating off my tan onto a white gym towel. I tried to keep folding the towel so no one would notice. Not sure I pulled it off.

My most preferred way to fake-tan is the airbrush tan. It does require a time period of inactivity and water avoidance (if you follow the rules of Gremlin care you should be okay). And it's a bit expensive to do on a regular basis. It's the perfect bridesmaid dress solution, but don't ever forget the rules--or your expensive fake tan will be ruined!

I have fake tanned at home by using a Loreal aeresol spray, which is much less expensive than other spray brands (such as Fake Bake), but the other spray brands do a better job and the color looks like the fancy airbrush tan.

The most simple and full proof way to get some color (when you are the lighter shade of pale anything helps) is Jergens lotion that has a bit of self-tanner. You're less likely to have a mistake that will last for a week in spite of scrubbing and praying.

So, please heed the words of tanning wisdom I have offered--it could make your dark days less embarrassing and much more attractive.

Happy fake tanning!

Who would have ever imagined that the stars would align and the year that UK went to the Final Four tournament, it would be in Houston, and I would get to go?!

I was very nervous on Friday debating if I should/should not go to the tournament. Friday night, I navigated my way through what I hoped was a reputable website, and I got some nosebleed tickets. It was hard finding a Texas friend that would tag along with me, but my sweet friend, Wendy, was up for the adventure.

Saturday felt like it was going to be prom night or something. Wendy and I went to a sports store to buy binoculars and blue shirts. She kept showing me blue shirts to which I would reply, "No, not the right color. It's not Kentucky blue."

I found that finding Kentucky blue in Texas is a difficult task.

One of the coolest things was getting to sit with my old high school classmate, Paul, at the game. He and his cousin had driven all night from Kentucky to see the game. Through the wonders of text messaging from my brother in Kentucky to Paul (who attends my brother's church), we found each other in the sea of 75,000 and were able to join our parties. Their seats had a much better view of the court than the ones Wendy and I had.

It was good to have Paul's commentary for the game, which I highly respect since he was the high school star for us back in the day and currently serves as our alma mater's head coach. He was busy text messaging his family, his team from home, and teachers, whom I'm sure also wanted his commentary. I bet he felt like an ambassador from our home county for the game. I kind of felt like that, too, for my family. It was an honor.

All in all, the Cats played hard, but shot too many bricks in the beginning. It reminded me when I would play games of Horse with my cousins, and be stuck on the "H" for what seemed like eternity. I thought that the refs made some not so great calls, but that's basketball.

I directed Wendy's attention to the UK cheerleaders. They are, and will always be, awesome. They are classic, and perform to perfection--syncronized backflips, a rotating pyramid, flawless handstands--they are the untouchables of the cheerleading world.

I'm sad to say that next year, the Final Four will be in New Orleans. It was so great having my home state and my new home state meet together. Good times. Good times.

As a tweenager and beyond, I have been known to be a name-brand snob to my family. My family didn't see the purpose in sporting brands, but they have let me basque in my addiction throughout the years.

The other day I discovered some shoes that are very similar to some shoes I have been eyeing. I've wanted these shoes for quite awhile--and partially due to the brand. The thought swept over me that if I was still a teenager, I could see my mom bringing me the similar shoes home and not the namebrand.

While in DSW, I noticed that Skechers has come out with some fabric loafers called "Bobs." If you buy a pair of BOBS, a pair of shoes is donated to a needy child. I have my doubts that Skechers came up with this idea completely out of the goodness of their corporate hearts--it might have something to do with a profit margin.

Whatever the case, I eventually would like to buy the original TOMS. Even if in addition to the goodness of my own heart, I want to buy them because the business creator is very cute.

Tweenagers, if you mother happens to buy you BOBS, and not TOMS, show her some grace. She will buy you BOBS and/or TOMS, because she loves you. And right now, she's probably also paying your BILLS.

My birthday has come and gone. My mascara only got a bit smudged once, and it was from thinking about the many blessings I have received from God. It's hard to believe that I have lived so many years on Earth, but this is all I've ever known, so it seems long and short at the same time.

As you age, you do start to ponder the afterlife. I believe in heaven, and it seems strange having what seems like a dream drawing closer to my reality. Maybe it's morbid that as I celebrate my birth, I am pondering my death, but the two are definitely more linked than peanut butter and jelly.

My sister has said that she thinks we're in a womb of sorts now. And just like those little babies cooking in a womb have no idea what is outside of their reality, heaven is waiting for us.

I heard a sermon once about how in the US we don't preach on heaven much because our current living situation isn't always so bad. In third world countries, heaven is basically the center of most sermons--because the current situation is not good. As I age, I do long for heaven more.

I remember as my granny aged one reason she longed for heaven was because the scorecard of who she knew and loved was getting higher in heaven than in the earth below. Not to say that Granny wanted to go to heaven a day too soon. Granny sucked the marrow of life out of life. I am so grateful for all her days because she taught me to love life every day that God provides air to breathe and the heart to pump.

Please note that some of the above stories have already been told on this blog, but due to being an older age, I am more likely to repeat stories--and not always accurately or in the same manner.

I'm walking for babies! My company is doing a March for Babies Walk on May 1st.

I remember very clearly when my family was praying around the clock for my sweet niece, Marissa, who was born at 3lb 9oz as an early birdy baby. She was so fragile. Now she's all grown up at 14 and has grown taller than her "small grown-up" auntie! Babies are miracles.

Click here to help me reach my goal!

My brain has been working some Apple product figures.

If I buy an iPad 2, my desire to upgrade my iPhone 3GS wouldn't be as great. But, if I got the iPad 2, and then my phone decided to break, I would be phoneless...and I really love having an iPhone, so I would foot the bill for a new one.

Here are the numbers:

-cost of iPad 2 - $399
-cost of iPhone upgrade - $199

The real reason I want an iPad 2 is so I can play with Garage Band and iMovie, so my techie work friends said I should just get a MacBook.

Here are the numbers:

-cost of MacBook - $999

I could get all of the Mac stuff and spend $1597. That's a lot of money. Mac stuff is fun, but I'd rather go to Europe or pay off loans. All that Mac stuff will be outdated in a year. In ten years, it will be in a drawer.

Everyone that has a Mac says, "Ohhhh...you have to get one..." It's a spell. A Mac spell. Take one bite of the apple, and your eyes will see differently. *HELP!*

Over the weekend, a few friends and I came to the conclusion that the iPad could possibly be making our society more like the humans portrayed on the movie Wall-E. I believe the characters even had a version of facetime.

The more I become focused on a screen, the less I am aware of my surroundings...just like in the movie.

Now I am scared.

But I still would like the iPad one day.


I ran a mile yesterday. It's a bit of a non-event when you have run much longer distances. It was also a bit disheartening that the time it took to complete the mile was two and a half minutes slower than my past times. In summary, I'm running slower and shorter distances--which isn't a gain. On the otherhand, there was a gain since I didn't have any IT band pain before or after the run. That is a huge blessing.

I'm still trying to determine if I will be fit enough to compete in the AidSudan 5K on April 9th. The first year that the 5K was held, I won a 1st place award for my age group. Since that time, I haven't been able to regain my title. Of course, the number of participants have increased, but it would be kind of cool to win again instead of having to keep dusting off my old award.

During half-marathon training, I bought some Saucony shoes that seemed to have the characteristcs I needed, but when I started running with them, I felt like my shins were hurting. That meant, I had to try to buy some Asics that closely matched the discontinued pair that had been my old-faithfuls. Now, I wonder if the Asics attributed to my IT band pain. Oh, the drama of running! Who is the culprit of pain?!

I follow a gentleman on Twitter that ran 31 miles on his 31st birthday. Perhaps on my birthday, I will do something similar, even though running 25 miles will be difficult. (hee hee!)

Starbucks is turning 40. Like most 40 year olds, they have had a crisis about how they look, so they revamped their label. I like the old one better. There is a lot of chatter about the old vs. the new. I think the old one looks cozier--the new one looks a bit sterile.

I'm going to pretend like they are having a mid-life crisis, wake-up, and realize that they really don't need a corvette, gold chains, or convince us of their physical fitness. We like them just the way they are...or were.

To celebrate their birthday, they have also introduced little petite treats. I could be a fan of these. The cake pop idea that I've seen on their website looks de-vine. And, because these treats are small, that means the cost should be small, as well as the calorie content--or compared to the larger selection. For today through Saturday, a petite treat is free with the purchase of a drink from 2 - 5 pm. I may have to follow up with them on this offer.

My own birthday is this month. I will be turning...well, not 40. I have not yet decided to have a mid-life crisis. I hope to live until...I dunno. My great aunt is turning 90, and now 90 is seeming very young.

I am glad that God is in charge of expirations.

Something happens when I drink a Starbucks. It's a rush. A burst of energy! A new lease on life...

I was tempted to share thoughts that were coming in my head within a three-minute time span, as I was experiencing the height of the Starbucks effect, but I held back. Instead, I jotted them on a post-it to share at a later date.

Without further ado, I present to you, my crazy Starbucks thoughts:

-It's cool when I sing outloud.
-Look! My apple charger looks like a tail!
-I need to watch Avatar again.
-OMG, I have on the same outfit as that stranger--and I wore it better!

Then, post-Starbucks reality hits, and I realize, life probably is much smoother when I keep my lips sealed.

My mom sent me a snapshot of some trees iced over in Kentucky. It brings shivers down my spine to look at it. But it is beautiful, too.

Kentucky really does have four distinct seasons. They're the four seasons you learn about in school. They do exist--but not very much of the world has such a temperate climate.

In Houston, we've had a really cold winter. Temperatures went down to the 20s, and didn't bounce back as fast as we had hoped. We're now back to enjoying amazing sunny days.

I laugh when I see some Houstonians dressed for the cold. We all start to resemble ragamuffins. Fashionable winter wear is not a necessary part of our wardrobes. We layer up in creative ways. I get a bit too creative at times trying to turn my summer dress into a winter layer--but whatever keeps the chill off will do in times of cold crisis.

I was about to scrape some savings together to buy a fancy North Face jacket, but the sun has started beaming again, and my toes are begging for sandals! Of course, the toe that went to the market is not sandal-worthy right now, due to some trauma from a foot race, but that is a story that doesn't need a picture.

In conclusion, I think this tropical climate thing has settled into my bones well. Ahhhh, the peace of the gentle swaying of the palms!

After the race, I tried to put on one of the aluminum foil-like "blankets" that were being distributed in the convention center, but I was too hot. The purpose of the blanket was to keep me warm, and I did not need that assistance.

I found a spot on the concrete floor, and set up camp to check out my blisters and go through the things from the bag I had checked. I doctored my blister which was disgusting and put on some flip flops and really could have laid there for hours. I got some phone calls and texts that I tried to answer, but I really wanted just to mold with the floor for awhile.

I finally reconnected with my friends. Jen had made a poster for me complete with a color photo of myself on it. She and Will and Baby Georgie and Kelley all took pics with me. Then, I went to go fetch my free breakfast while Kelley waited in the non-participant zone.

In the breakfast line, I noticed a full marathon finisher in front of me. I congratulated her and she apologized for being emotional. I tried to console her since I could imagine being emotional if I had just ran 26.2 miles.

She told me that she thought she had qualified for Boston with her time based off what her watch had recorded. I congratulated her and asked her some questions about her running career--which turns out to have been only a 6 month endeavor. Pretty amazing to qualify for Boston on your first marathon try!

"That's so cool!" I said.

"Well, that's not really the cool part," she explained. "My dad died at the end of 2009, and he had been in a wheelchair. I never felt like he had a healthy body. And today, I realized that he has a healthy body in heaven."

He had been made complete. Wow. Then, I started crying with her.

The 10 year anniversary of my own father's death from pancreatic cancer was the following day, so it was heavily on my mind that day. I totally understood what she meant by healing happening in heaven.

I got her name and did my best to use whatever mnemonic device I could conjure to remember it, because I felt it was divine I met this girl. She had moved to Houston six months before to be closer to family after her father's death.

I took my breakfast back to meet Kelley, and then we both went out to cheer for the rest of the runners. It was addictive cheering for them. Kelley and I both have cheerleader blood in our veins, and we didn't need our skirts on to remember how to encourage people.

It was so much fun getting stories of the fans around us. People cheering for their moms and dads and brothers and sisters and friends. We couldn't tear ourselves away.

I will be back to the Houston marathon--maybe not as a runner since my body still quite isn't right two weeks later, but I will be back in some form.

God had a purpose for me to run that race. And I ran it. And he blessed me with some new & old friends and stories that are forever woven onto my heart. I thought I was just supposed to run a half-marathon, but I got a whole lot more blessings! (okay, and blisters!)

Amazingly, I enjoyed participating in Houston's half-marathon. I felt like it was something God had put on my heart to do--especially raising some money for Living Water International. I feel very blessed that the donation goal for my participation was reached, and also that I completed the race!

I was very nervous that morning. Somehow, I had finagled my friend, Kelley, to ride with me at 5ish to downtown for the start. We parked the car, walked in the dark and finally made it to be under the fluorescent lights of the convention center to join the rest of the million runners.

Finally, it was time. I hadn't ran in two weeks because of straining my IT band. I had watched some YouTube training videos of ways to change my running stride to hopefully correct my gait so I would not keep adding to the injury. I ran slow with the pack for the first few miles. Any time the elevation changed (which in Houston is mainly just roads over roads), I was in pain.

I wore a rain jacket until mile 2, and then decided to let the light rain cool me off. In mile 3, we crossed from downtown to the 5th Ward. I've driven in the 5th Ward at night dropping some teens off from Young Life, so I know it is best to run quickly through that area. On a normal day, it would not be a path that I would take for a leisurely run by myself. On mile 4, I was in the Heights. I kept looking for familiar faces, but didn't see anyone I recognized. I did hear a band playing some Jesus music.

On miles 5-6, I ran down Studemont. I had flashbacks of my first teaching job where I drove that road every day to work. I almost stepped on a deadrat but another runner helped point it out just in time.

During miles 6-7, I realized that my "running" pace was slower than some walkers. My knee was really hurting, so I started to walk some and then add in faster runs so my time wouldn't be too horrible. At this point, my toe sent a message to my brain saying, "I think we have a blister-situation down here!"

On mile 8, I introduced myself to Gary. I thought he was a politican or something becuase everyone in the crowd kept yelling his name. I had my name on my shirt, too, but I probably had three people pick me out from the crowd the whole way. Gary had everybody's attention. He later said it was because he was tall, old, and slow. He was also smiling. And he was enjoying the run.

At mile 8.5, I found a first aid station and decided to do a run-by pick-up for a band-aid. As the hand-off took place, I felt my back leg get tangled with a man's leg that was stepping out from the crowd. I just about ate pavement over trying to get a band-aid to-go, but thank goodness I caught myself. The prayer station was next, so maybe I was in close enough prayer-proximity.

Working my way up to mile 9, I realized I was getting closer to the end and still felt pretty good, except for the knee pain that would kick in, so I decided to try to run a bit faster between walks. I told Gary he was my pacer. Later, he shared with me that he had thought I said I was his patient, and that made him think he must be in pretty bad shape.

I saw a fellow LWI team member and introduced myself to her. She was also run/walking. She joined me and Gary, and we all made a pack to run to the next light.

Gary shared with me the story from the devotion from the morning. The minister had said, "Flee from evil. Run to God." I was doing my best to run that race!

I attempted to sip some gatorade and slurp some goo at mile 11. I felt guilty throwing the empty cup on the ground. It reminded me of when you go to those restaurants that make you toss the peanut shells on the floor. It doesn't seem nice--even if it is socially acceptable during a race.

During mile 12, I ran down Allen Parkway. This is the road that I run the Susan Komen 5K on every year. It's also the road that leads to the 4th Ward where some of my sweet Young Life friends live. At this point, I started running harder. I could see finishers from the marathon sprinting past. I felt more like a spectator at that point than a racer. I was in awe at their speed and form.

At mile 13, Gary was back running with me. I think I teased some men for running slow. At this point, I could have been a bit out of my head. I think I tended to talk too much during the race for serious racers, but I was having fun! My inner-Granny (my sweet grandmother who had difficulty zipping the lips) was coming out in me. Perhaps I was at my most true state of myself at that point being physically drained. So, this could be an indicator that when I am old, prepare for me to talk your legs off even more.

Finally, I finished. Gary was by my side. Praise God! It was a great feeling. A long, road, but manageable with prayer and encouragement.

I met a few more people post race that touched my heart. But I will share that in the next post.

...to be continued...

The half-marathon is coming. I have a few worries about it that I'm praying through:

1) My IT band is playing a bad song.
2) I've rested my IT band, so then I worry I didn't put in enough miles in training.
3) I swam to make up for the lack of running, but what if I injured something else by swimming?
4) What if it storms?
5) What if it rains and I get blisters?
6) What if? What if? What if???

Anyway. Bleh.

It's a race. You start. You finish. The in-between is the tough part. And perhaps walking after it's over.

But after I lay down all my worry, I'm excited. I've had several friends tell me that they are going to be cheering for me. The bummer part I found out is that doing the half-marathon leaves out some major streets where a lot of my friends live, so I hope they can find easy ways with not much traffic to see me.

And I'm super-excited to meet the rest of my team at the Living Water spaghetti dinner. For some reason, I felt called to do this crazy thing. It's a commitment. And it takes work and sacrifice and determination. And prayer. And dependence on others for help.

I watched Chariots of Fire last night for inspiration. Eric Liddell's life is such a testimony even years later. My favorite quote is where he says that, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure." He used his running as a platform to share Christ.

He didn't compete in the race he was scheduled to run in the Paris Olympics, because the heat was on a Sunday--the Sabbath. I felt a bit guilty after realizing that I will be running on the Sabbath. And then I really wished I was running a 400 meter race in place of a half-marathon. I hope to feel God's pleasure when I run 13.1 miles--it would be nice to feel that instead of pain.

In the movie, several verses are quoted, included one of my favorites.

Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

God, thank you for my legs. Thank you for this challenge. Thank you for the Living Water International organization that let me join the race late. Thank you to a group of kind and generous people that donated to the cause. Thank you for my friend, Todd, who ran some loops with me. Thank you for all the running advice from marathon veterans. Thank you for the City of Houston. Above all, thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins and give me everlasting life. Thank you in advance for the great race of life and the half-marathon experience.

Since returning to Texas after being in Kentucky for the holidays, I am rejoicing in the temperatures. Kentucky was cold. Texas--not so much.

The temperatures have dropped to the thirties this week, but I don't even really notice it. It's nothing a small thermostat change or a hat can't fix. In Kentucky, the cold had invaded everything. Old Man Winter doesn't just pop in and out, he sits a spell--a long spell.

The contrasts are almost overwhelming. Going back home and seeing everything frozen almost felt like I had taken a trip to the Arctic. I couldn't get over the appearance of the cars. Every car had an icicle hanging from it--like it was an extension of the body of the car. And where there weren't icicles, there were ice chunks and dirt and grim from salt and snow and mud. It was ugly. (The picture above is an actual icicle family hanging from my mom's car.)

All the trees had a nice dead appearance. When the ground wasn't covered with snow, it looked like it had just given up.


When I came back to Texas, it felt like I had gone back a season in time to Fall or Spring (you can never really tell what season it is unless it's summer). My spirit was immediately lifted.

Growing up with seasons, there is so much allegory with life and change and regrowth, but I'm not going to lie, it's nice to visit, but living here is much easier at this time of the year.

Is it sad that my #1 goal of the new year is to buy an effective paper shredder? I think if I can start managing my mail better, everything else will fall into place.

If I was rich, I would definitely hire my own personal mail assistant (PMA). That way, all those letters that needed stamps would make their journey instead of living inside my purse or some paper pile. The PMA's main job would be to make sure I didn't have to be bothered with junk mail. The ideal candidate would make sure I got my J.Crew catalog, and would sift through circulars and mail that looks unimportant just in case something of worth was there.

A girl can dream...