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.