Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2.9 ounces of mercy

Something about processed air makes my skin dry. I never think about it until I get on a plane, and then get off and my face is parched. Well, after a week of home office "this air has been breathed before, but don't worry, we put it through a HEPA filter" treatment, I should be about the texture of a gravel driveway. But I'm not!
The genius people at Neutrogena have started making their lotions in 2.9 oz bottles. So my face is still the texture of face.

Thank you, Jesus, for lotion, and that I don't normally work in second-hand air.  All my love.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Dozen Sparks

You know how people from big cities, especially those in the North, have this reputation? It's like you walk around half afraid that someone is going to kick you in the shin with a black Louboutin stilleto, just because they can.  Or they'll jump in front of you to get a signature on a petition and get hostile and fist-wavy if you don't want to? Or when you ask for directions they'll pretend they didn't hear you and walk faster? Or they'll sit next to you on an empty metro and talk really loud into a cell phone about the funny thing Janice did and how she doesn't realize how lame she is?

Well, I can't speak for all cities, but in Chicago, that's just not true. And although I've noticed this before, it continues to surprise me when it happens, for some reason. But today, I made my way from the metro to the hotel in beautiful smiley weather. 
Then when I ran out for a snack, a lady in a vest with a petition form jumped in front of me and said...."I like your purse." 
Now, already, I'm having a good day.
Well, after hours of working, when the quittin' bell rang, I headed down to catch a train to a vegan restaurant (yes, they have those here!)  I asked the concierge where I caught the train and he walked me to it, helped me check my fair card, and sent me on my way. Even if he wasn't hot, this would have been a total "aww" moment.
And as I waited with the masses for the brown line to Kimball, one of them, Dennis, took the leap from stranger to acquaintance. We chatted about friendliness and places we've lived and how one chooses between vegan and carnivore, and even once you've made that choice, what would your options be at Fogo de Chao.  
When I got to Karyn's Cooked, I enjoyed a lovely dinner and not once did I have to ask for ingredients because they've taken care of that for me. Turns out seitan is pretty good even if does sound kind of evil.
Alas, on the train ride home, there weren't masses. At first it was just me. So I got to sight-see along the brown line all the way back, and I didn't even miss The Bachelorette!

Some days are extraordinary for one big event that marks them unique.  Other days are sprinkled with so many sparks of joy that they shine just as brightly. This was one of those days.

Thank you, Jesus, for vegan chefs, for Dennis and the hot concierge and their friendly banter, for company stipends, and for the lovely day.  You give, you give, and you give some more. All my love.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Old at Heart

It's 10:07 and I am ready for bed. It's been that kind of week.
Thank you, Lord, for weekends and that tomorrow is Friday. And for spring water. And toothpaste.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hairy Pillow

I checked into a hotel this afternoon. It was dubbed "acceptable" by a colleague who had stayed here. Well, it's in an old building which can be very cool. Or not.
It started okay in the lobby, but then I got into the pint-sized elevator. If B.O. were a person he would have been breathing down my neck.  I was soo glad I my room was on the second floor.
 Things went downhill when I realized my room branched off the fire staircase, and if I stretched out my arms I could just about touch opposite walls. The bathroom was, well, it was a bathcubby.
All in all, the room looked like the kind of place you get abducted from.
At that point I started actively looking for a good reason to not stay in the room.
And then I found it. Hairs on the pillow case.  I have never been so excited to find evidence of dirty sheets.
Needless to say, I picked up the grubby phone, held it slightly away from my body, and called the front desk. The desk manager instantly agreed to move me to a new room. Who knew  short hall could make such a difference? Mere steps away was a room that looked like, well, a hotel room. It had a real desk, a queen bed, a bathroom that you can stand in and still have room to shut the door, and no hair pillows!
For the first and perhaps only time, I'm grateful for foreign hairs on a pillow, because now instead of blocking the door with a chair to keep the abductors out and trying to sleep without touching anything, I can actually rest.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guatemala ROCKS

Two weeks from today I will board a plane and head for Guatemala with 16 others. We will be leading a VBS, doing a painting project, conducting nightly worship sessions, and speaking at a discipleship training conference for church leaders.
Yes. All of the above.
My part is to teach a group of women in discipleship.  I am so excited. I love seeing God work in the lives of His daughters, to see women doing great and wonderful things only possible by the power of the Most High God.  So, I've been listening to, taking notes on, and editing the material to prepare. I've been preparing to teach ten to twelve women about how to effectively disciple others.
Then last Saturday our leader (shout out to Trey Gardner!) got a call from Guatemala.  Eight women hadn't signed up. Twelve women hadn't signed up.
Eighty women have signed up to learn how to lead and disciple others!
I am so pumped about this. I am under no illusions that I am going to change lives, much less a nation.
But God is.
He is moving sure and strong in the hearts of His daughters and Guatemala will never be the same.
So that is what I've been grateful for all weekend and am still grateful for today.
I would love it if you would join in praying for Guatemala and our trip there. God is already moving, so look out world!

Friday, June 15, 2012


So, I got a 7/77 challenge from one of my writer friends, Jodie Bailey. This means you either write 7 things about yourself, or you post the 77th page of your current work in progress. And you're not allowed to give it a face lift before you post.  So here goes. It's not an easy challenge. It's a bit like sunbathing in the nude on your front porch. On a fat day.
 And, in reading it, I'm grateful the 77th page of my WIP was only a partial, and thus, shorter.

Melvin’s ears turned read. He lifted his cup and mumbled into it.
“Come again?”
Melvin plonked his cup down and yanked his wallet free. He dropped a few bills on the table, then stood.
Jude rose too. “Melvin?”
“A calendar, alright?”
“A calendar?”
Melvin hushed him. “A fireman’s calendar, you know. Wearin’ our helmets…strategically.”
“You mean—”Jude burst out laughing.
“Yes, so either find you a booster lady or get comfortable in your boxers.” Melvin trundled to the door without a backward glance.
Jude swallowed. It looked like he’d be making up with Della after all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Head case

Today I'm grateful for kleenex. And caffeine. And tylenol. Boy, am I grateful.  A couple hundred years ago and I'd be wiping my nose on my sleeve, half asleep, moaning about my head.  I guess I'm also grateful I don't live a couple hundred years ago.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Drop and Give Me...a Break.

You know those really annoying people who are all, "aim high, shoot higher, and PR every time."
I don't know if it's nature or nurture but, well, I confess I'm one of those people. Fortunately, my annoyingness it tempered by the fact that I don't actually succeed all that often, so I've been forced to swallow a good bit of realism over the years.
But, my inner drill sergeant hasn't. She still barks at me, "Faster. More. Better. Thinner." She drives me to live an examined, and at times downright critiqued life. Its good in that I have to own the choices I make and I truly do want to be all I can be. Its bad when I don't measure up and then I get a combat boot in the...brain.
Well, last week I got tired of it. So, I put her on leave. I'm sure she'll be back, but just for now, I'm taking time off of striving.
 I reordered Netflix. I hit pause on some long term goals I've been actively pursuing. I bought a bottle of wine. And a piece of chocolate cake. I started reading two books at once, while I'm still only halfway through the last one.
And it feels....good. A little weird, but good.
In this period of strivelessness, if I can make up a word, no one seems to be shocked or appalled, or even to care that much.
Especially God. We still hang and he has yet to tell me to drop and give him twenty. No, if anything it's like he's said, "Do what you gotta do. We're going to get there on these dreams I've got for us, but on my time, not yours. So, enjoy your cake."
I don't know why I always think God is worried about results. I feel like I need to impress him and like every time he gives me a dream, he wants to achieve it yesterday.
Lately I've been reminded that it's not stuff he wants from me, its just me. This is harder and easier than giving him medals I won on his behalf. It's hard to believe plain ol' me is enough. freeing it is to believe. It's like I can inhale fully and let my shoulders relax for the first time in ages.
And the funny thing? I've actually done a little more, achieved some things a tad better, and enjoyed God in greater ways now that I'm not trying so hard to succeed. I've even cooked some veggies, go figure.
Don't get me wrong, the drill sergeant will be back, and that's a good thing. After all, we can't live all of our lives on wine and chocolate and half-read novels. But, for now, its good to be at ease.

Friday, June 8, 2012


This morning I have the windows open. It's not hot yet, so the slight shift of new air is cool, fresh.  When I first pulled the shades up, unlatched the locks and lifted the windows, my eyes caught on a tree coated in bright light. I still can't stop looking at it.
There's nothing unique about it. It's not blue or seven stories tall or sparkly. Its just brilliant in the simplicity of what a tree is made to be. Lime and kelly leaves froth over a blonde wood trunk that almost glows in the untainted sun.
Birds are singing, adding their vocal beauty to the scene. It is everyday, and it is extraordinary.
I'm afraid I spend so much of my life looking forward, striving, hoping for something unusual, that I miss the grandeur of a Friday with a cornflower sky, and a tree in the morning sun.
Thank you Lord, for beauty and that it is everywhere. That it is not rare or difficult to find or complex, and that is what makes it so stunning. Thank you for this world, for the glories I've seen and those I will see. Please never let me grow callous--no, let me grow uncallous--to all you have made here in this day, in this moment. Give me a soul for your beauty. Breathe on me, cool and fresh. Bless the tree.  All my love.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Are we there yet?

I remember being a kid and sitting in the back seat of a rental car on vacation saying, "are we there yet" at really irritating intervals.
Payback is a...well, it's not nice.
I just got back from Oklahoma City via Fayetteville. This means me and Jellybean and the Buckster were on the road for over seven hours.  In the car, Buckley sleeps. This is great. Jellybean, on the other hand, meows at thirty minute intervals. This is so not great.
After the first four hours we made it to Fayetteville and while I went to a meeting, the boys had to go to a vet to board. They've never been boarded before. In fact, the last time they were at the vet they lost their fuzzy dice. So needless to say, they were not all about the vet when I dropped them off. As much as I explained that it was just for a few hours since they couldn't stay in the car, they didn't seem to get it. I think like most men, they have selective hearing.
Well, I went and did my thing and picked up the boys. They had a chance to stretch their legs, pee, and get some water, but they were not seeing this as a plus.
After I picked them up, we had another three hours to get home. Buckley went back to sleep and nary a peep escaped from Jellybean. I guess he was afraid of getting sent back to the vet.

So, after seven hours in the car, I'm thankful for the vet to board my pets, for the fear of the vet that kept Jellybean quiet for three hours, and for the wonderful feeling of finally getting home intact.  Thank you, Jesus, for the boys, and for quiet, and for parents who didn't take me to the vet when I wouldn't stop saying "are we there yet." All my love.