Monday, December 28, 2009


Recently I was with a friend and her toddler, and noticed that he was barefoot and had the cutest little toes. She mentioned that some people disagree with letting their children go barefoot, but in her opinion, if he’s somewhere that it doesn’t really matter, then why not let him go without shoes? She said he is so comfortable and at ease when he is barefoot. That he sort of lets his guard down. That shoes constrict him and he likes to feel free and uninhibited. So it got me thinking – why shouldn’t we all go barefoot? Not barefoot, literally, but why not try to find those places, or things, or moments in our lives in which we feel completely unrestricted, comfortable and at ease, and try to get there more regularly? I started thinking of these places, and wondered how many I could come up with. How many places or moments or events in my life do I feel like I can go totally barefoot?
  • At home karaoke – most people know how much I love to sing. And I’ll sing just about anywhere – in the kitchen, in the shower, in the car, at work, in a store, at a pub, walking down the street, anywhere in my house, anywhere in someone else’s house, anywhere really. And I don’t even need music. If there is no music playing, I’ll make up my own.

    Today, as I was picking up stuff around my living room, tidying up a bit from the holidays, I had music playing and one of my recent favorite songs came on (Hey, Soul Sister by Train – – check it out). And it is SUCH a happy song. As I started singing it, I couldn’t help but begin to dance around my house, and then the thumb microphone came out. The one that my friends & family know comes out when I get excited about a song. And I found myself happily performing my own little karaoke show. I didn’t have an audience, but I didn’t need one. Kenna the fat cat wasn’t even at home to watch her mom act ridiculously. But I loved every minute of it. I realized I was totally barefoot – literally AND figuratively. I had no walls up, no inhibitions, I was completely comfortable and enjoying the heck out of myself.

  • My parent's house at the holidays – I don’t spend as much time at my parent’s house as I probably should. They live just under an hour away from me, but I have this conceptual problem with just going up there and sitting, doing nothing, when I know that I’m only 45 minutes away from home and could or should be doing something productive. But I have absolutely no issues with spending time up there during the holidays. It’s like I have a reprieve from my real life, I have no “to-do” list, and I can spend as much time as I want up there without feeling guilty about not getting anything in my “normal” life accomplished.

    We are only a family of four, so my sister and I enjoy just hanging out, going shopping, cooking a meal, going to the movies, drinking wine, and reliving all of our family holiday traditions with mom & dad that we’ve been carrying out ever since I can remember. So, when I’m up at my parents, I’m totally barefoot. It’s a comfortable place for me. It’s home, and I didn’t even grow up there. I know that no matter how silly I act, how unattractive I look, or how often I gorge myself on holiday leftovers, nobody there will judge me. They will love me despite the fact that I may not have showered yet that day, that I’ve gone back for another helping of pie, and even when I’m grumpy. It’s a comfort zone for me. I get to go barefoot.

  • Catching up with old friends – there’s just something about hanging out with people that you’ve known for a while, but haven’t seen for a while. It’s a certain comfort level that is not achieved anywhere else. They may not know what’s going on in your life at that exact moment like your “current” friends do, but they know you differently. They knew you during the time that you only talk about as memories with your newer friends. They were there to experience those events that molded you into the person you are today. I was lucky enough to catch up with one of these people over the holidays, and it was such a cherished couple of hours.

    We may have been at a Starbucks, on a Sunday afternoon with people coming in and out the entire time, with distractions all around us, but I was barefoot and enjoying every minute of it. I didn’t care what else was going on around me. I didn’t care that we were taking up the only leather sofa in the place for two hours, when we probably should not have been so selfish to sit there so long. All I cared about is that I was catching up with an old friend, that we were sharing the stories of our lives with each other, and that I was happy and barefoot. No walls, no inhibitions, just me and my friend. Ahhhhh.

So, I challenge each of you to get in touch with your childish roots and find the place, or the people, or the moments in each of your lives in which you feel like you can go totally barefoot. It’s such a liberating place to be. And if you’re lucky enough to find that place, you can likely take your shoes off too :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009's Besties List - Part II

For those of you who tuned into my 2009's Besties List - Part I, here is the second half for you. I had a lot of fun answering these questions, mainly because it was a challenge to remember things from the beginning of the year! But, it also gave me the opportunity to relive those moments again and appreciate all of the great memories that I have made this year.

Part II...

Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. "2009 was _____."

2009 was inspiring. And I LOVE to be inspired!!!

Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

Banana Republic ( – hands down. But I’ve gotten better this year. I have a bit more self control. You know, the economy and all ;-)

Car ride. What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?

First of all, I must say that I love road trips. I think it stems from driving everywhere with my family as a child. I love pulling into random small towns, going to random small town convenience stores and checking out the people, and counting down the miles to my destination. My best car ride of 2009 was to Shreveport, Louisiana with my then-boyfriend and his parents, for a wedding. Most road trips this past year have been alone, so it was nice to have some company along the way. I had never been to Shreveport, nor the highway that gets me there from Houston, so it was all a bit of an adventure. Throw in two parents who didn’t know me very well, and it was entertaining! Lots of driving through small towns, sharing family stories, some occasional snoozes, stops for ice cream, and some serious jam sessions singing to great worship songs and Broadway musicals.

New person. She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

JDH – he came into my life early in 2009 and gave it a good whirl for sure. The timing could not have been more perfect. Although he really isn’t in my life anymore, he truly made me want to be a better person, he made me more passionate about God, he inspired me to reevaluate choices that I have made in my life, he taught me more about myself and reminded me of things that I had forgotten, and he is the example of a truly Godly man. He is my favorite new person of 2009 and reconfirms the notion that God puts everyone in our lives for a reason, even if it is just for a short while.

Project. What did you start this year that you're proud of?

I had wanted to do a photo wall in my house for a while. So, I had my fav photos of places I’d been cropped and printed, then dragged my BFF to Hobby Lobby with me and picked out all of the framing; some custom, some off-the-shelf, and my photos are now complete and quite perfect actually. (Side note: I haven’t actually hung them yet, but at least the hard part is over!)

Startup. What's a business that you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

Pinot & Picasso – a truly enjoyable experience complete with wine, nibbles & real painting to unleash an accountant’s creative side buried deep within ( And I love that you get to hang out with your friends and heckle each other throughout the process. Now what to actually do with my paintings???

Web tool. It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn't live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

I don’t know if I just haven’t noticed this in the past, or it’s just more prevalent, but I love “one-click shopping” on the sites that I frequent. What’s better than just logging in, selecting your items, and pressing one button? Bam! They know where to send your purchase, what credit card to charge, and it is an online shopper’s paradise.

Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed you?

Sleep on it. I know I’ve heard it for countless years, but I’ve noticed the importance of it a lot throughout 2009. I’m an emotional person. I get super excited by some things, can feel immensely hurt by others, and tend to react passionately in both situations. What I’ve learned, is that my initial reaction is the most intense and will cause me to want to do something, be it sending an email, making a phone call, blogging about it, whatever it may be. BUT, it’s usually an emotional reaction that deserves a few hours, or a night of sleep, to be tamed down a bit. So, I’ve learned that when I feel so passionately that I need to react to something that happens, I make myself sleep on it. Sometimes for a several days. And if I still feel passionately about it, then off I go. If I don’t, I’ve just saved myself, and possibly some others, from some sort of drama that wasn’t necessary. Try it!

Gift. What's a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

Two things: First, my grind-and-brew coffee maker. It is my best friend in the morning. And I love when I buy whole beans from the coffee shop and the clerk asks me if I would like them ground, and I proudly say “No thanks, my grind-and-brew coffee maker takes care of that for me”. Second, my oh-so-comfy-yet-trendy-and-casual jacket from Nordstrom’s. I bought it kind of on a whim on my way out of the store, and it has surprisingly become a staple in my wardrobe. And I forced myself to not buy it in black or grey, so it actually gives a splash of color to my wardrobe (btw – I’m wearing it in my “Night Out” photo in my Part I post!)

Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?

An epiphany is defined as a “sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence”. So this is where we’re supposed to be living out our normal daily lives, doing our normal routine, and something hits us like a bolt of lightning and we go “AHA! I’ve lived my whole life not knowing this. How could I have survived all these years! Now life makes perfect sense.” Ummm, nope. None of those this year. It’s not that I haven’t learned anything this year (I’ve actually learned a TON), but nothing really that I would categorize as an epiphany. I’m still waiting for everything in life to make sense. I think I’ll be waiting a while :-)

Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

I became a blogger!

Stationery. When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

I love Papyrus cards ( - for birthdays, babies, weddings, just because occasions, anything at all really. I dig them. They make me so happy and I want to give them to everyone all the time.

Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

Ok, so I know there have been A LOT of good belly laughs this year, but I can’t remember them all. So, I’ll stick with the most recent. This involved a photo of one of my friends making out (I think she used the term “mouth rape”) with her husband at a table at a work Christmas party, completely oblivious to the fact that the picture was being taken. AND, the best part is that the other person at the table was smiling and posing for the picture, not realizing that my friend & her husband were not actually LOOKING at the camera, but making out instead. There were several big belly laughs happening for a while amongst the group that saw the photo. And I know that it’s a guaranteed belly laugh at any point in the future. I’m protecting the guilty on this one :-)

Ad. What advertisement made you think this year?

I can tell you what advertisements made me want to pull my hair out and scream: “Every kiss begins with K” for Kay Jewelers just around the holidays, and any of the Geico caveman or “stack of money with eyes” commercials (and I STILL do not insure with Geico, by the way). I honestly don’t remember that many ads, but I do love this one from Traveler’s Insurance (I don’t know what’s into me with the insurance companies…):

"In this spot from Travelers, featuring music by Ray LaMontagne, we follow along as a worried dog searches for, and ultimately finds, the smartest way to protect his most prized possession." – click the link to see the commercial on YouTube

Resolution you wish you'd stuck with. (You know, there's always next year...)

I make it a habit not to make resolutions. They’re too easy and too fun to break :-)

Thanks for taking part in my 2009's Besties List. I look forward to what 2010 will bring and wish everyone many blessings and the best memories to come in the New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009's Besties List - Part I

I know what you’re wondering – what is this blog about and how did Lisa pick her “Besties” list? Well, a fellow blogger informed me that another very well-known blogger started a daily blog challenge for the month of December where she listed a “Best of” topic for each day and you were supposed to blog about it. I didn’t feel like doing this every day (mainly because I don’t normally blog every day and it goes against the general flow of my blog), so instead, I decided I’d list all of my “Besties” in one long email towards the end of the month. After realizing how long this was, I have broken it up into Part I and Part II. So here is Part I. Enjoy!

Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

Alberta, Canada – Banff, Lake Louise, Calgary. Lake Louise is the most beautiful place that I have been in my life. And I’ve been a lot of places. I loved being outdoors, I loved the mountains, and I loved the peace. If I were rich enough and could persuade somebody, I’d buy the lake so that I didn’t have to share it with the other bigillion tourists that were there.

Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?

Hard to choose – my fav restaurant at the moment is Benjy’s ( but I might have to say that my favorite restaurant experience this year (at least one that I can remember lately) was Rudi Lechner’s ( for Oktoberfest. It was my first time there, and we had a ball, eating all of the authentic German food, dancing and singing along with the live music, and partaking in the lovely variety of beers and schnitzels that they had. Here are the men enjoying their liters of beer and more meat then even they could tackle…

Article. What's an article that you read that blew you away? That you shared with all your friends. That you Delicious'd and reference throughout the year.

Ok, I’ll be honest here. I don’t read a lot of articles that blow me away or that I go back to throughout the year. I’m a loyal fan of People magazine (I know, how shallow of me), so most of the articles that I read are really not that inspiring. I promise you that I mainly just like to look at the pictures in People and do the entertainment crossword puzzle in the back (because I certainly could never do a real crossword puzzle). So, I’m choosing an “article” that is actually a blog post by one of my good friends. It’s called “Let’s Be Honest With Each Other” – check it out:

Book. What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

I love reading and have read so many amazing books this year, from the Twilight Saga, to The Shack, to my Bible study book Lord, Only You Can Change Me by Kay Arthur. But, I have to say that the one that had the most impact on me was Crazy Love by Francis Chan ( which I have blogged about at least a couple of times. I had to read it in small doses since it was so intense. I have not given away copies, but I have referred many of my friends to it and I know that some have asked for it for Christmas. A life-changing book!

Night out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

I must say that my birthday party in February at Kenneally’s pub this year was pretty special as it had so many of my closest friends all in one place and we had Kenneally’s yummy pizza and Crave’s yummy cupcakes. However, a night that rocked my world…..hmmm… recent night listening to Reckless Kelly in Katy with Leigh & Julie was pretty awesome. We were out way later than old ladies should be, but we enjoyed it immensely and loved the people watching at Mo’s Place. It was classic!

Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

I was supposed to have gone to Deeper Still led by Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Priscilla Shirer, but my flight got cancelled due to the snow in Houston. Yes, you read right. Snow in Houston. What are the odds? I’ve now rescheduled to go in June 2010 in Denver. I’m pretty sure it will be the hit of 2010!

Blog find of the year. That gem of a blog you can't believe you didn't know about until this year.

I have not really caught up with blogging until the latter part of this year, but I love Cupcakes, Sprinkles, and Other Happy Things by Jenny Simmons (singer of Addison Road) ( There are some very thought-provoking discussions on there and I really enjoy her writing style. Every time I read her blog, I have some sort of mini-epiphany it seems. That has to be a good blog find, right?

Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

I tend to find these moments when I least expect them. I don’t really plan for them, and they kind of sneak up on me. I don’t have a particular moment in mind, but I will say that none of my moments of peace are days or weeks – more like minutes or perhaps an hour or two. Is it even possible to have a moment of peace for a week? Perhaps if I went off to an ashram in India…

Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?
My biggest challenge this year was training for and participating in the MS150 ( I have never been a cyclist, and never really had any desire to be. But, I took this on as a personal challenge, kind of just to say that I could do it, and that I DID it! This is an approximately 180 mile, 2-day bike ride from Houston to Austin to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It was a lot of effort, mainly in the preparation, and took every ounce of willpower that I have in my body. The training rides were loooooong and painful, but I had a good buddy doing them with me, which made them a lot easier. Not enjoyable, but easier. I can’t say that I’ll never do one again, but it won’t be any time soon. It seriously cramped my social life! :-)

Album of the year. What's rocking your world?

Jason Mraz’s We Sing We Dance We Steal Things ( I know this is not a new album, but I could seriously listen to it continuously and not get sick of it. I've seen Jason live several times, most recently at the Pavilion in The Woodlands on the lawn, and it was a fantastic concert experience shared with a dear friend. Third Day also has a gem of a Christmas album that is currently rocking my world, as do Casting Crowns and MercyMe.

The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

The best place for what? :-) I’m struggling with this one. I guess I don’t have a “best place”, but here are a few of my favs, depending upon my mood and the happenings of my day: my yoga studio (; my oversized chair beneath the window in my living room; the “porch” of Porch Swing Pub, exactly two blocks from my house; the massaging spa chair at my fav little nail place while I’m getting a pedi; the patio of Empire CafĂ©; anywhere I can get comfy with a good book that I’m reading.

New food. You're now in love with Lebanese food and you didn't even know what it was in January of this year.

I’m really not a stranger to any type of food. And I can’t say that I tried a new kind this year, so I’m struggling a bit with this one! But I continue to love ethnic foods - Thai, Indian, Lebanese, you name it! Unfortunately, my eating buddies tend to not be so adventurous :-) I am getting more adventurous with sushi though – does that count?

What's the best change you made to the place you live?

Sadly, I have not made any noticeable changes to my townhome this year, other than hiring a maid who comes every 2 weeks and has been a life saver. So maybe that my house is regularly clean? That's certainly a change!

Rush. When did you get your best rush of the year?

Zip lining in Costa Rica – definitely a rush flying over several waterfalls while hanging from a steel cable!

Best packaging. Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

The box that the ornament for my ornament exchange came in was just too cute. That’s the main reason that I bought that ornament! A deliciously decorated & ornamental metallic green & gold box that will be perfect to hold someone’s little treasures.

Tea of the year. I can taste my favorite tea right now. What's yours?

I’ll admit that I don’t drink a lot of tea, but I am quite a fan of Tazo’s Wild Sweet Orange. I have it as my mid-morning snack in the office to hold me over until lunch time.

2009 was an amazing year. Stay tuned in the coming days for 2009's Besties - Part II...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breaking the Mold

My weekend plans were drastically changed when my flight to OKC was cancelled due to the “winter storm” conditions in Houston. I was headed to a conference called Deeper Still, led by Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Priscilla Shirer. I was so truly excited to be spending some time with some good Godly women, including my BFF and one of my Bible study gals. BUT, it turns out that God still had something else, possibly equally exciting, in store for me.

I woke up on Saturday morning, delighted to have the opportunity to leisurely sip my coffee, and decided to finish the Crazy Love book that I’ve been reading (refer back to Lukewarm People post). I only had one chapter and some author Q&A to go, and I had no idea what I was in store for. I’ll summarize by saying that the following three concepts captured my attention like a crazy person running down the street yelling “FIRE!” I had to see what the fuss was all about…

Concept #1: Be careful not to turn others’ lives into the mold for your own. – Francis Chan

As I am constantly striving to be a better Christian, and consider myself still rather young in my relationship with God, I tend to find myself looking to “older” more “experienced” Christians for an example of what I should strive for and who I should become. I always thought that’s what we were supposed to do; we find people who set a good example, who we truly respect, and who inspire us, and then we try to make ourselves more like them, at least from a spiritual perspective.

But I often struggled with this because I’m different than many of the people whom I look up to. I have a different personality, different skills, different talents, and a different way that I approach my relationship with God. What I’m learning is that it’s okay to be different. We are all different because God intends to use us in different ways. So I should have no fear!

I’ve been judging myself on things such as why I can’t comfortably share the gospel with people in conversation, or why I don’t feel convicted right now to be involved in missions, or why I am not comfortable praying in front of people. But, I think that’s okay! I’m being used in other ways, and the exciting part is that I may not know what they are, but I get to learn along the way and see that I can make a difference. We are not all meant to do the same works for God, and we are not all supposed to live the same lives. How boring would that be?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Action item #1: Break the mold. Be the puzzle piece that doesn’t fit. Find my own purpose and way to do God’s works through my life.

Concept #2: Sermons have become Christian entertainment.
– Francis Chan

Really? Aren’t we supposed to enjoy the sermon?

Francis goes on to say, “We go to church to hear a well-developed sermon and a convicting thought”. Oh. My. Gosh. That is SO true for me! It’s almost like I think the church owes me an entertaining sermon. When in all actuality, it’s not about me at all.

When I enjoy the sermon at a church, isn’t that enough? I’ve come to realize that it is not. Those of you who know me well know that I have been struggling to find a church home. Granted, I haven’t been actively looking with every ounce of effort in me, but I’ve tried a few times, and something just hasn’t clicked. But what I haven’t ever thought of before is that I may be looking too much at the surface of a church and not getting into the bowels of the church.

I was attending a church for a while where I didn’t feel like I truly fit in with the people, and I didn’t particularly like the sermon. I didn’t leave feeling convicted about anything. But, I loved the music, and the person I was going with was deeply committed to that church because of what the church stood for and how it focused on helping those in its surrounding community. I didn’t get that at the time. Granted, I didn’t know the church well enough, but I also didn’t give it a real chance. That church may still not be for me, BUT, that was a perfect situation of where I wrote a church off because it didn’t “entertain” me. It didn’t give me what I thought I needed.

I then started going to another church, where I felt I fit in a bit more with the people, and where I was thoroughly “entertained” by the sermon. I walked out feeling so convicted and full of excitement every time I left the church! But something just didn’t click there. On the surface, it was what I needed. I felt like the good Christian going to church and leaving with a mission to do something for God and for this world. This was proof that even the best entertainment sometimes is not enough for me. I didn’t really know that church well enough either, and maybe didn’t give it a fair chance, but it was what I thought that I needed, and something was still missing for me.

This is when I sit back and realize just how lucky I am to live in this country with the religious freedom that is afforded to me. Ultimately, I could go to any church that I wanted and worship any God that I chose without anybody giving me a hard time about it. I have my God, now I just need to find my church!

Action item #2: Break the mold by finding a church and diving below its surface. Don’t value it for its entertainment factor, but determine what qualities of a church are important to me and seek those instead.

Concept #3: “I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life”.
– Francis Chan

WOW! Isn’t this what I say to myself all the time? I need to search for God’s will for my life and follow it? Why should I forget about that? Who is this crazy man?

He’s not saying that we need to forget about God’s will for our lives. He’s saying that we need to not live our lives using that as a crutch. “We are scared to make mistakes, so we fret over figuring out God’s will”. We still need to make our own minds up and not wait for the ultimate plan to play itself out way into the future. We still need to live day to day, and we should be making decisions that glorify Him on a daily basis.

I am totally guilty of this. I sometimes find myself thinking, “I’ll wait to make a decision about xyz until I feel totally convicted about it, or until I’ve had time to pray about it and have my answer”. But, this concept opened my eyes to the reality that this is my own fear stopping me from making a decision for fear that I will screw up.

Well, we all know that nobody is perfect. We all have made countless mistakes in our lives and we are still alive and the blood is still pumping. And we all know that God loves us despite our many imperfections. He made us that way. And He knows that we are going to screw up, and when we’re going to do it. But screwing up is part of life. So if I sit back and wait to feel super-convicted about something, or wait for a flash of lightning to tell me what to do, I may never do anything! I think God works His will for our lives through us in different ways.

I don’t want to discount the power of prayer and careful consideration of consequences, and I’m not suggesting that we forget about those and make decisions on a whim. But I also don’t think that we are supposed to receive our plan for life in advance. I think it’s trial and error. And we just need to learn to listen better to God along the way.

Action item #3: Break free from the idea that I should wait for God’s will in my life to make daily decisions. Live my life for now, for today, and not for what I’m waiting for in the future, all the while glorifying Him, listening to Him, and continuing to learn from my mistakes.

My weekend did not go as planned. But I think realizing these three things was a pretty good backup plan on God’s part. I’ve never been one to swim with the current, so why should I do it now? Why should I be molded into what I think I should be rather than what God intends for me to be? I’m not going to. I’m breaking the mold.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Any Given Sunday

Any given Sunday, there is a battle. A battle between good and evil; between my Lord and Satan; between my laziness and my determination.

The battle is usually between church, hot yoga, or nothing. I usually know before I go to bed on Saturday night whether or not I’m going to church in the morning. Unfortunately, I don’t have a permanent church home right now, so it’s easy to find an excuse not to go. I do much better when I have people to go with, and when I have someone to hold me accountable. But on occasion, and more often than not lately, that doesn’t happen. But the battle is still there in my head.

I have no problem getting up in the mornings, but I seem to have a problem getting motivated to do something. And with me being the queen of justification, I can talk myself into, or out of, just about anything. For example, this was the battle going on inside of my head this morning as I lay in bed awake at 7:00 am (keeping in mind that I already knew I wasn’t going to church this morning):

Lisa “A” – (yawns, stretches, turns to look at the clock). Oh, it’s 7:00 am. I should get up and have some coffee then head to hot yoga for the 8:15 am class. It will make me feel so good about myself! And then I won’t feel so guilty about not going to church. I mean, exercise is important right? And I can burn off some of those extra Thanksgiving calories. Win/win situation!

Lisa “B” – Yes, you should. But, on the other hand, it wouldn’t be so bad if you stayed home to finish putting up the Christmas decorations in the house. That way you will feel so much better and organized, and the house won’t be a disaster, and you can start the work week off on Monday morning feeling great about what you’ve accomplished!

Lisa “A” – But, if I was really efficient, I could go to hot yoga AND finish putting up decorations, and squeeze in everything else in between the other plans I have for the day. Just throw on your yoga clothes and go.

Lisa “B” – Ok, deal. Let me just look up something on the internet quickly while I’m waiting for the coffee to brew and I have a few extra minutes, then I’ll get ready.

30 minutes later….

Lisa ”B” – (as I’m sitting at the computer sipping my coffee). I mean, I really don’t think I have time to do hot yoga AND finishing my decorating for Christmas after all. It just won’t fit into my day and I don’t want to be stressed about organizing the house later in the day. I want to be able to relax tonight to get mentally prepared for work since I’ve been off for a few days.

Lisa “A” – (huffing and puffing). Fine. Just sit on your fat bum at home, and when you finally getting around to putting up Christmas decorations, I hope you’re happy. Just remember that those pieces of pumpkin pie aren’t going to walk away from your hips on their own.

Ok, so the reenactment above may not give you the most accurate picture, but you get the gist. It really truly happens any given Sunday. Not kidding. My first struggle is always whether or not to go to church. I’ll be open and honest here (as long as you promise not to judge). I know that I should be going to church. But without having a church home, I don’t feel drawn to any one place, which makes it hard to commit. I have good intentions, I really do, but sometimes that’s just not enough. I know that’s no excuse, but that’s all I’ve got right now.

Then, the next struggle has to do with something else that I know is good for me: hot yoga. I LOVE hot yoga. It’s actually a love/hate relationship. I hate it when I’m in the midst of it, but love how I feel afterwards. And I just KNOW that I’m doing my body good. Lots of good.

But, the temptation to sit at home, or go run errands, or catch up with a friend, or whatever else is there to distract me, sometimes is just too strong. And I don’t necessarily think that it’s God vs Satan each time. Sometimes I think it’s a good thing to catch up on life. Sometimes I think that’s what God needs for us to do. It’s certainly better than physically sitting in church, worshipping and hearing the message, but being distracted by the million different things that are going through your mind and not listening to the message. Satan’s gotta love that!

I have other ways that I connect with God and have good Christian fellowship. I have a fantastic small group of ladies whom I do a Bible study with on a weekly basis. And meeting with them is sometimes the glue that keeps me together that particular week. And I jam at the top of my lungs to Christian music most of the time that I’m in my car, which gets me thinking and praying a lot while I’m driving. Living in Houston, that’s probably a good thing!

So, as I wind down another Sunday evening, am I disappointed with myself and what I accomplished today? No. Do I wish that maybe my day would’ve gone differently? Sure. But decisions were made early this morning that I can’t take back. I didn’t go to church. I didn’t go to hot yoga. I did finish putting up my Christmas decorations. And luckily I had Bible study with my girls tonight to top off my day. So all in all, the day wasn’t so bad after all. It was any given Sunday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Lazy Friend

I remember the exact moment that I joined. I had heard all of the buzz about this “Facebook” thing, and decided that I should cave in and give it a whirl. It was sometime around July 2007 when I jumped on the bandwagon. And I’ve been going full steam ahead ever since.

Conceptually, I don’t have a problem with Facebook and actually quite like it. I love that I’ve been able to reconnect with some people after many, many years. It’s particularly interesting to see what high school friends are up to these days. And I love that I can keep up with all of my friends from Australia without much effort. Facebook is a lazy way to be a friend. And in today’s crazy and hectic world, who doesn’t appreciate a shortcut every once in a while?

I remember thinking to myself, “I’ll never be one of those people”. You know, the people constantly looking at their Blackberry to see what’s going on in the world of Facebook? And I’m constantly being distracted by the glow from an iPhone that I see in a movie theater or in other cars while driving at night. On occasion, I morph into one of those people. And I hate it. And I consciously (and sometimes out loud) tell myself “Don’t do it Lisa! Put the Blackberry down!” But it’s an addiction. I can’t help it. At least it won’t kill me right? :-)

There are other drawbacks to Facebook as well. It isn’t just the fact that people waste away hours upon hours searching and navigating through all of their friends; or playing a variety of games from Bejeweled Blitz, to Farkle, to Farmville, to Mafia Wars (I’m proud to say none of which I’ve ever played). But there are more serious drawbacks. Here are my thoughts, for what they’re worth:

· Facebook makes you think that the world really cares. Have you noticed that people use Facebook to vent about their lives? It’s like they are bitter about something and want to get it out there in hopes that whoever they are bitter at will see it and read between the lines. Or they want people to feel sorry for them. According to Facebook, it “helps to connect and share with the people in your life”. Unless I’ve misunderstood, I don’t believe Facebook is an online counselor.

· Facebook takes away from personal interaction. Do you ever notice how people will have entire conversations through Facebook via a status update or wall post? What happened to text messaging, or email, or heaven forbid, a phone call? Do you really think that all of your other friends will care where you’ll meet someone and when? Or that you’ll call them tomorrow? Now, I admit that there are times that I’ve fallen into this trap. Sometimes we are selfish enough to think that the world cares (see above) and kind of want everyone to know what’s going on. And sometimes, messaging someone on Facebook is the only way to get through to them. But that’s what an Inbox is for people. Some things are better kept private.

· Facebook is not Twitter. If I want to know what you’re doing every second of every day, and if you feel the need to update your status 10 times in one day, we’re both using the wrong application. I believe that’s what Twitter is for. Go tweet. Don’t clog up my homepage with your endless status updates. By the time I check my homepage, I’ve missed half of them anyway.

· Facebook makes me a stalker. I admit it; I can be a Facebook stalker. I hate that about myself too. I really shouldn’t be that interested in any one person that much. Now, I do tend to return to a handful of pages on a regular basis because they usually have hilarious status updates or they are close friends whom I like to keep tabs on. But in general, I care about some people way too much. And I’m not telling you who you are!

· Facebook can cause me to feel like a loser. Before Facebook came along, I may not have had plans for an evening or a weekend, and I was totally fine with that. But now, I pull up Facebook on a Sunday evening or Monday morning, and all I see are people’s photos of their fun and amazing weekend plastered everywhere. And I think “Geez, I’m a loser.” I should’ve been out doing something. Generally I’m ok with that, but on occasion, it bothers me for some reason. What has happened to this world that a website should dictate how I feel about myself? Yikes!

Now, after all of this, I’m still an avid Facebook user. I think that it provides an opportunity for people to reconnect over what has become a totally acceptable form of communication. But I also want to focus on not falling into the Facebook traps. I want to NOT be a lazy friend to those people who matter the most to me, and I don’t want Facebook to take the place of building and maintaining relationships with people.

Having said all of that, I do get a warm fuzzy feeling when someone posts something nice about me on my wall, or “likes” a status update or a photo, and I appreciate people doing that, so all is not lost on those gestures. I do love Facebook. But I don’t want it to run my life.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

As we head into the holiday season, this is when I really think and feel with every ounce in my body, that “this is the most wonderful time of the year”. I love the dreary, cold, overcast skies of Houston (welcome to our winter), the opportunity to wear a jacket (at least in the mornings and evenings), the holiday decorations and Christmas music playing in all of the stores (and the gift shopping that goes along with it), the gobs of family time, the extra spiritual tug at my heart, and the feeling that every day is just kinda special in its own way. Each day after Thanksgiving, and until I go back to work after Christmas and the New Year, is like a holiday to me. There’s just a certain feel about it. And sometimes I have to remind myself that I do actually have to work!

Everyone is anticipating the celebration of Christmas in their own individual way. Some spend it at church, at every opportunity, to remember and celebrate the birth of their Savior. Some travel countless miles to spend it with family and others that they love. Some stay close at home, because that’s the most important place to them. Some travel the world to immerse themselves in Christmas traditions in another country. But regardless, people just seem to be more friendly, less impatient, more gracious, and it just seems wrong to be in a foul mood or get upset with someone during this time of the year.

I truly feel that Christmas has become far too commercialized and secular, but if it brings the world together, even for a split second – if it makes us all one big happy family, then for that split second, it might just be ok. I mean, at what other time of the year is it ok to drive around Houston with a wreath attached to the front grill of your truck? Or antlers hanging off of your antenna? :-)

This is why I had such a hard time celebrating the holidays in Australia. First of all, there was no Thanksgiving to kick off the season. But the larger problem for me, was that it was smack dab in the middle of summer. How wrong is that? Why is it ok for Santa Claus to ride a jet ski instead of a sleigh? Why is it ok to have a barbecue on the beach Christmas Day in your bathing suit instead of sitting in front of a fireplace sipping hot chocolate and bundled up in a cozy blanket? Well, I’m not knocking the Southern Hemisphere at all, it was just hard to get into the spirit of Christmas down there. My body was programmed for things to happen a certain way, and that certainly wasn’t it!

This is also the time of year that I sit back and reflect, and become more aware and thankful for the many blessings that I have in my life. Small ones, big ones, ones that I’ll never realize are actually blessings, and ones that I’ve been thankful for my entire life.

Talking about this reminds me of the one year in Australia that another American and I made a Thanksgiving feast for our Aussie friends. We raided the USA Foods Store in Melbourne to get the key ingredients, and then improvised with whole chickens instead of turkey (it’s super expensive to get a whole turkey down there). Everyone played along and was very much looking forward to the feast ahead of them. And then I told them that it was tradition in some families in America to go around the table at Thanksgiving and tell everyone what you were thankful for. I envisioned the Aussies making this a game, or humorous in some way, because that’s what they are so good at. But, I was pleasantly surprised when they actually took it seriously. You see, people are always open to the opportunity to tell others what’s important to them.

So, as we sat around that table in Melbourne, in late November, in the middle of summer, and celebrated our American Thanksgiving, they got to listen to me tell them how thankful I was for them, my great friends who had become my family down in Oz, for my opportunity to even be living down there, and for the health and safety of my American family back home. And I got to listen to them talk about how thankful they were for all of the special people in their lives, and for the opportunity to engage themselves in this touching American tradition.

So, as another holiday season is just around the corner, it’s that time again – time to give thanks. I’m not going to list out everything that I am thankful for in this blog. That would be far too long a list and take up a lot of space. But, I will certainly spend extra time to remember all of my blessings and say some extra prayers for all of the special people in my life. And I encourage you at some point this week and throughout the holiday season, as we gear up for hours upon hours of family time, food, football, and shopping, to sit back and reflect on the many blessings in your life. Because this truly is “the most wonderful time of the year”. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eight Ounces

So, play along with me for a minute. Imagine that each morning we are given an empty glass. We can fill it with eight ounces of whatever we choose. I'm not thinking about orange juice, or coffee, or milk. Rather, I'm thinking about eight ounces of anger, hurt, love, compassion, joy, envy, bitterness, forgiveness, rage...whatever feelings we want. Whatever makes us tick at that particular moment. But whatever we choose to put in that glass, whatever makes up those eight ounces, we're stuck with it for the day. Anything else we try to fit in our glass just spills over the edge.

And this is where our choice comes in. Our choice of how we are going to start our day. You see, I've always been a morning person. I function much better early in the morning when I'm refreshed. And I love starting something new. Even if it is just a day, and even if I get to do it 365 times a year.

For several weeks now, I've been doing this fantastic Bible study with three equally fantastic ladies. It's a weekly study with five days of "assignments" to complete. I've found that I enjoy doing my assignments the most in the mornings while I'm having my coffee and breakfast. It's certainly more productive than doing a Sudoku puzzle! I've also found that when I start my mornings with my Bible study, my eight ounce glass gets filled early in the day with love, peace, hope, gratitude, joy - it is filled with God. What a perfect way to start each day! Everything else that comes along during the day and tries to cram itself into my glass just spills over the edge. God keeps my glass full! Yay!

Now, I refer you to my blog post from this past Sunday. You know, the one about my "funk"? Because of various reasons, we have not had Bible study for three weeks. Hmmm. This means that I have not been waking up every morning looking forward to my daily assignment. Hmmm. So, what that means (and this is a completely uneducated guess here), is that my eight ounce glass in the morning gets filled with other things. Like the stress that I feel thinking about my to-do list at work. Or the frustration that I sometimes feel driving to the office. Along with my impatience waiting for the elevator in the lobby of my building. And the jealousy that I may have for the woman next to me who is dressed so much cuter than me that day.

You see, I think that when we don't put God first, when we cram Him in at the end of the day, or at the bottom of the list, we let everything else consume our lives. And I'm no expert, but I don't think that's how we are supposed to live our lives. I don't think that's what God intended for us.

So my challenge to you (and I'll certainly do this as well), is to try your absolute hardest to fill your eight ounce glass every day, with God and the things that He represents. Let Him consume you and fill your glass. It has to be better than dealing with all of the other stuff. That's just logical right? Let's all try to be "morning people" for His sake, and for ours. I'm rather confident that doing this will deliver me out of my "funk". And that's a place, a destination, that I certainly would like to be.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Crooked Smile

Lately I’ve been walking around with a crooked smile. What’s that you ask? A crooked smile is the one that you give when someone or anyone asks you how you are, and you don’t really want to tell them the truth, so instead, you give them a smile that hopefully satisfies their need to hear “I’m doing great!”, when inside you’re just really not doing that great. Now, I’ll follow that up by saying that I’m not severely depressed, I don’t need mass intervention – I’m just in a funk. And it sucks.

It’s the kind of funk that if you’re the right person, and you catch me at the right moment, I may just burst into tears, followed up by a twenty minute rant about how I hate being in a funk. That’s not normally how I am. I pride myself on being emotionally stable. But when the storm clouds rolls in, and instead of pushing through, they hang over my head, you get my crooked smile. On the bright side, at least I realize that I’m in a funk. At least I’m not in denial!

The thing is, I know some of the reasons that I’m in a funk. And that makes it so much more frustrating, because normally I can deal with these things and move on. But there’s other stuff out there, bigger stuff that I don’t have a grasp of yet. I don’t mean to sound all philosophical and cheesy, but it’s true. It’s like I have been on a sugar high in my life lately, and now I’ve crashed. And I’m trying so hard to stabilize.

Little things can have such an impact on me. For example, a morning that starts out great can become cloudy as soon as someone cuts me off in traffic on the way to work (which is only a 3 mile commute, by the way). Or something as small as the fact that someone left something on my desk at work in the particular spot where I always put my computer bag when I arrive to work in the mornings. And now I can’t put it there. Who really cares? I know, I know. But it sets me off. Not on a rant and rave. I’m not going to go screaming at anybody. But inside, the storm has started brewing. It’s ridiculous. And I’ll say it again, it sucks.

So what is causing this funk? Well, in a nutshell, I’ve woken up to the reality that a relationship really is over. I have been holding on for weeks. And it wasn’t really supposed to be cold turkey, but it kind of ended up that way. Being friends never really works anyway does it? Maybe it’s better, but it was an important relationship to me, and it’s a hard reality. And then there are the few times lately that plans have changed or been cancelled, and I haven’t been able to let that roll off of my back as quickly as usual. For a planner like me, it’s sometimes a little harder to understand. And it’s the ten thousand people who are getting married and having babies, whom I love dearly and am extremely supportive and proud of, but all of these events of joy for everyone else bring up the feelings of “Why not me?”. I know, you’re saying, “Get over yourself Lisa”. And that’s fair enough. But that’s easier said than done when you’re deep down in a funk.

And what about these other larger things that I don’t have a grasp of yet, that I know are part of my funk? When do I find out what those are and how to deal with them? It’s like I’m at a crossroads in my life and I need to pick a direction, and I have too many choices and not enough information to make a decision. And I don’t want to go with my gut (because let’s be honest, I’m an auditor and I analyze way too much). But then again, maybe I should go with my gut? Maybe that’s my whole problem. Maybe God is in my gut. Maybe I need to follow Him instead of my analytical mind. But He gave me that too right? Uggh! You see what I deal with all of the time? No wonder I’m in a funk!

I’m not going to act like I’m special here. I know everyone goes through this at some point in their lives, or probably several times actually. Maybe our lives are supposed to be like this so that we are forced to step back and reevaluate every now and then. Maybe we should regularly do an inventory of our lives and decide what we should keep and what we need to throw away; what’s a necessity versus what’s a luxury; what’s a positive force in our lives, and what brings us down. I think I need to go do that inventory. Maybe that will help me get out of my funk. Maybe the crooked smile can again become a beaming smile – the one that makes my eyes twinkle.

Until then, I’m trying to do little things that will help keep me positive and not get bogged down in my funk. Like this morning, I made vanilla pumpkin coffee and put on my new Third Day Christmas CD. Christmas music always cheers me up. I know that it’s only mid-November, but if I know it makes me happy, then why the heck not? And I booked a trip to Scotland for the end of this year/beginning of next year, to see two of my favorite ladies in the world and their adorable kiddos. And what’s even better, is that I got to use miles so that I don’t feel guilty about spending the money. And I’ve started going back to hot yoga regularly, which always seems to brighten my spirits and is a treat for this accountant’s body that sits in an office at a computer all day. And I’m trying to spend more quality time with the people who are most important to me, rather than trying to spend my time with everyone. Don’t we all find that we can busy ourselves with other things and other people? And by doing this we feel like we are busy, happy and important? And we think that's a good thing? But when it boils down to it, all of that ends up being more of a burden than anything else because we’re taking away time from being with the people who can get us out of a funk. And those people are the keepers.

So, I will make a toast now with my vanilla pumpkin coffee, to brighter days ahead, friends who snap us back into reality and help us get out of a funk, Christmas music, traveling the world, cuddly fat cats, and whatever happens to make your smile straight! :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lukewarm People

(Disclaimer: There is a high likelihood that by the end of this post, you will think that I am a super cheesy person. Well, I've got news for you.....I am. And I'm surprisingly ok with that. Enjoy!)

So I'm not sure if this is plagiarizing or copyright infringement, or something far worse, but I'm reading a book right now called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Francis, if you're reading this, please don't think of this as plagiarism. I'm giving you credit where credit is due. And honestly, you should think that it's flattering that I'm posting about you and your book on my blog. That's how impactful it's been on me!

Crazy Love is an intense, in-depth look at the "crazy love" that we are supposed to have for our God. And I'll tell you, it's an eye opener! I know I'm inadequate as a human being. I accept that fact. What this book has taught me though, is that I'm not doing what I need to do in response to that. There is one particular chapter in this book that really got to me. It was a chapter entitled "Profile of the Lukewarm". The context around this chapter is summed up here: "Would you describe yourself as totally in love.....or do the words halfhearted, lukewarm, or partially committed fit better?"

And there were several concepts that the author shared as his view of these types of people. I've selected a few of his concepts and put them below. When you read them, ask yourself if you are lukewarm. I think that most of us are. And then ask yourself what you can do to build more passion, enthusiasm, and pure, undying, uninhibited devotion to God. If you aren't a Christian or aren't really sure what you believe, than apply it to your life in general. Apply it to how you live your life on a daily basis, and see what you think.

Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe "Good Christians" do.

Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church .... as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living.

Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of the church.

Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin.

Lukewarm people gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world.

Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.

Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation.

Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum to be "good enough" without requiring too much of them.

Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever.

And possibly my favorite:

Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. The don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens - they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them - they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live - they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis - their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health.

Do you want to be lukewarm? I don't think so!
Do you want to be fiery hot? That's more like it!

I want the passion that I have for the things that I love to ooze out of every one of my pores. And I love love LOVE it when people around me are passionate about something. Even if it's a sports team, or an exercise class, or their dog. Or God. Passionate people make life worth living. They put my faith back in humans as caring and compassionate people. And passionate people aren't lukewarm. Go out and find your passion today!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


For those of you who know me at all, you know that I L-O-V-E to travel, particularly international travel. There is just something about foreign places, exotic accents, different cultures, and getting away from the "norm" that I have come to know as America, that draws me to board a plane for a long haul over the water.

I haven't always been this way. Prior to the start of my international rotation to Australia back in mid-2003, I had not really traveled internationally. For a Texan, Mexico doesn't count; I don't care what you say, it doesn't. It's connected. Canada doesn't count either. Sorry to disappoint you folks. Once I got to Australia, I discovered that the Aussies travel all over the world. They have to though, as there is really nothing else close by. I quickly developed a fierce passion for traveling and haven't really been able to stop yet. But that's ok, because I don't want to.

I often ask myself why I'm like this. Why, after all those years of being happily domestic, did I all of a sudden have this passion to travel? Here's what it boils down to:

  • the thrill: there is an almost tangible thrill that I experience planning for a big trip. It's something about knowing that I'm going to be doing something different and out of the ordinary. I love packing, I love shopping for travel necessities, I love booking things online, and I love getting the passport ready for its next stamp. I get away from my normal life. And although I'm ok traveling alone, it's an even bigger thrill when I know that I've got some of my fav people going with me. And I also love hopping on a big plane and settling in for movies, dinner, and the whole experience!

  • the culture: I know this will sound very cliche, but I love learning about different cultures. When I travel, I like to limit my trips to a couple of destinations so that I have time to truly experience the culture of where I am and almost feel like a local by the time I leave. I'll admit, it's quite daunting for me to arrive in a new country and have to get through the first meal without complete embarrassment. It's not really embarrassment, but each country has it's own quirks and rhythms, and until I know what those are, I feel a bit silly. But as long as I remain an open-minded smiling lady, I usually don't have too many problems!

  • the example: Ok, I'll admit this too. Part of the reason that I love to travel internationally is because a lot of Americans don't. The travel bug is slowly making it's way to the west, but in general, Americans are quite country-centric and tend to feel that they don't need to see the rest of the world. Why would we? We have everything that we need here. But people....there is an entire great big ole world out there that is just begging to be discovered!! I travel because I hope that it will inspire other people to travel.

  • accomplishment: I'm not kidding when I say this: when I can make it from one side of London to the other, making three tube switches, riding a bus, AND get to my destination on time and without a hitch, I feel like I can conquer the world! That's just one example, but the bottom line is, being half-way across the world and being able to accomplish what you've set out to accomplish is a very rewarding feeling! Especially for an independent and "in control" girl like me :-)

  • adventure: some trips are more adventurous than others, but they all provide me with the opportunity to step outside of the "bounds" of my life. There are so many sacred places in this world, so many historical sites, that I just can't pass up the opportunity to go see them. I crave adventure! For this accountant, the prospect of my next trip keeps me going in my everyday life.

Maybe as I get older I'll be interested in other aspects of travel. Perhaps I'll want to go on a mission trip at some point. And I'm sure that once I settle down and have a family of my own, domestic travel will have a lot more appeal. That's part of the thrill of it all! And just for the record, it's very difficult for me to return to a place that I've already been. I feel like I'm wasting time. Like I'm playing favorites and not giving the rest of the world a chance to share itself with me. But, I find myself doing this on occasion, and I'm ok with that.

Here is a summary of some of my favorite places that I've traveled and why I loved them so much:

Thailand: the genuineness of the people, the cheap & amazing food, the raw beauty, the diverse landscape, and, I won't lie, the amazing Thai massages that were like $10 for an hour. I wish I could've brought one of those ladies home with me for good.

Egypt: the history, the innocence of some children and the awe that others were so conniving, being exposed to a completely different yet bold culture and religion, waking up in my sleeping bag under the stars in the Western Desert and being in awe of the vastness of it, traveling down the Nile in a sailboat and for the first and only time in my life, being completely serene and at peace with myself.

Peru: the delicious food, the variety of terrain, the challenge that the Inca Trail and high altitudes brought me, the welcoming nature of the people.

Greece: absolute stunning beauty, those famous 2 Euro gyros that us girls ate all day long, cheap & delicious wine, sunsets, the adorable Greek shop owners who kept thinking I was Greek because I could sort of carry on a conversation with them in Greek, spending quality time with the girls.

London: hands down one of my favorite places in the world. Such rich art & culture, fresh fish & chips, the tube, the Queen (I love the concept of royalty), the history, the accents, the sometime hideous fashion that they wear so confidently, the Indian food, etc etc etc. Yay for London!

I've only included a few tidbits of my travels above. And I've left out any thoughts or memories of Oz since to me that was life for almost three years. I'm very fortunate to have people across the world whom I can go visit and stay with, which makes traveling even better! I have been to six continents so far, and at this point, I don't really have the desire to hit up Antarctica. Who knows though, maybe that will change some day. Here is the current short list of my next desired destinations:

  • India

  • Tanzania (to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro)

  • Spain

  • Scandinavia (I really want to stay at an ice hotel in Sweden!)

So if anyone is up for the challenge, let's go!

I often wonder if by traveling I'm getting away from my life. Is there a reason that I like to leave my world and travel half way across the rest of it? Am I trying to avoid reality? Do I have these unknown issues in my life that I'm trying to run away from? I don't think so. I think I just really love it. And why shouldn't we all do the things that we truly love? Why shouldn't we all step outside the bounds of our lives every now and then and experience something new and different? I guarantee that if you step outside the bounds of your life, it will change you forever.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I’m going out on a limb here with a long first “real” blog post. But, I’ve been inspired lately and felt compelled to share these inspirations. I hope this gets YOU thinking about the things that inspire you. It’s healthy to be inspired by something – it’s good for the soul.

I know what you’re thinking: tall, dark, handsome Italian men meandering through the streets of Rome saying “Ciao bella” and making you giddy with an innocent desire to be their gal. That’s certainly a nice thought, but that is not exactly where I was going with this ;-) I’m talking about the Bible. The Book of Romans inspires me.

Martin Luther puts it perfectly: “Romans is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

So why does Romans inspire me? It talks a lot about atonement by God, peace with God, and dedication to God – and it’s intense. It teaches me how I should live my daily life, as I embark on the journeys to my destinations (you knew I would work that in here somehow didn’t you?), and it gives me a constant pep talk. Whenever I hit an obstacle or a detour (there I go again…), I know that I can turn to Romans to inspire me. My current favorite verse is Romans 12:2:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

How awesome is that verse? Talk about a pep talk! My constant struggle these days is trying to find God’s will for my life. I’m an independent, successful woman who prefers to plan out my life as I think it should play out. And, not surprisingly, I can also justify what I think God’s will is for my life at any point in time. But, God seems to have different plans for me. So until I figure it all out, I’ll enjoy the ride, and continue to let Romans teach me about my dedication to God. I’ll continue to use it as a guide for how God wants me to live my life. How inspiring is that!

An “empty” day
How many days in our lives do we have absolutely nothing planned? Those days when for some reason, social activity has come to a halt, all commitments have somehow skipped that day, your mind is not racing with a long list of tasks that you’ve been putting off forever, and you find yourself with a completely “empty” day. In my experience, they come along once in a blue moon. Empty days inspire me. Why? Because those are the days that I feel like I get to do what is truly important to me. Nobody else decides what I should be doing. No “to-dos” dictate what I need to be doing. It’s all up to me.

I’ve had one of those days recently, and it was exactly what I needed. I didn’t even leave the house. I needed the time in the morning to curl up with my cat, my coffee, and my People magazine. I needed the time in the middle of the day where I got to leisurely make my lunch, then clean out and reorganize my entire closet. I needed the time in the afternoon where I put the down comforter on my bed with clean sheets to prepare for “cooler weather” in Houston, and watched a movie with not one iota of guilt on my conscience. I needed the late afternoon to tuck into a good book that kept me occupied for longer than usual, because I had nothing more important to do at the moment. And I needed the sense of accomplishment that I felt when the day was over and my once empty day became full with things that I love. It was my day. Empty days are inspiring and I encourage you to find one of your own sometime soon. What will you do with your empty day?

One online dictionary defines vulnerability as “open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.” So now you’re probably thinking that I’m weird. Fair enough, call me crazy, but vulnerability inspires me.

It inspires me because I think that people who expose their vulnerability are strong. I’m not necessarily saying that the opposite is true, but there is something to be said about living your life with a guard up. Some would argue that it’s weak. When people expose their vulnerable side, it means that they are human, and that they are trusting, and that purest form of trust and humanity is always inspiring to me. I’m not talking about the basic form of trust, like that of a friend who tells another friend a secret and makes them promise not to tell anyone else (although that’s still important). I’m talking about when someone acknowledges that they are vulnerable – susceptible to moral attack, criticism, and temptation – and they trust enough in themselves and in those around them to expose those parts of them. That’s truly inspiring, and it’s oh so hard to do. But in my opinion, that’s how the relationships that matter are built.

Those people inspire me to be vulnerable. I want that ability to trust and lay it all out there. And I want people to trust me enough to be vulnerable with me. Nobody likes to admit that they have weaknesses, or faults, or insecurities, or a belief system that may be criticized by others, but as Madeleine L’Engle says:

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

Vulnerability inspires me because it means that you are alive! I am thankful knowing, that in those moments when I trust enough to be vulnerable, I have people around me who will support me and love me :-) I hope you do, too! And when you are vulnerable, just know that you are probably inspiring others to be the same way.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Detours and Destinations: The Beginning

So here it is; my first blog post. When I was thinking of names for my blog, I considered everything. I even did a Google search for, “How to name a blog”. I know; it’s ridiculous. I wanted something that encompassed everything that I wanted to talk about on this blog, and leave it wide open for everything else as well. But I also wanted it to have a purpose.

So I came up with Detours and Destinations. Why you ask? Well, isn’t that really what life is all about? Don’t we all have these grand plans for our lives, and these destinations that we want to reach? Then we discover that we can’t get there because of construction, or a road block, or a temporary obstacle – a detour. Maybe we will eventually get there, just not on our own time. Maybe we will reach that destination. Or maybe we won’t. Maybe we're not supposed to. This is the journey that we call life.

I can’t promise that this blog will ever be interesting, or will ever have an impact on anyone else but me. And I certainly can’t promise that it will always be grammatically correct. I’m an accountant, not an English teacher. You likely won’t find any spelling errors though! What I can promise, is that this blog will be 100% me.

So, if you like (and as cheesy as it sounds!), hop aboard this journey of my Detours and Destinations, and you might just learn a little something about me along the way.

P.S. What has kept me from blogging up until now is the thought that it was selfish. Why should I assume that anything that I have to say is interesting to anybody else? But then I realized how much I LOVE reading the blogs of my friends, and I don’t think that they are selfish at all! Nobody is forced to read this. If I’m the only one who ever does, I’ll be ok with that :-)