Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SciAm, and Voice

Please note a new addition to the blog at your right. Help me! Help me to be a Voice for the 145 million orphans in the world. Help me to lift kids from cycles of poverty permanently. Help me to look good in front of my boss! Haha, yes, the success of Voice is related to the success of my career, so please, be a pal and follow the link at right. The button was designed by my talented friend Mason.

Forgive me this week for being a total causehead. Just an occupational hazard of my job.
I've been MIA all week due to extreme volumes of work as we follow up with many new initiatives. Last week we held our biggest event of the year, a seated banquet, reception and program for almost 1,000 people, followed the next morning by an all-day global missions conference. I launched an advocacy group for 20-somethings that's been a dream around my office for almost a year. In the next 4 weeks I'll be in Scottsdale, Guatemala, and Honduras. All joyful occasions.

I love the news. I read news all day. So when I tell you that this is the most interesting article I have read this year, I hope it carries a little weight, or peaks your interest enough to give it 5 minutes of your life. Truly, I am changed.
I put three framed 8x10s up in my bedroom this week.

These were the 5 finalists. Mostly they came from Google image search, but two are from the brilliant Austin Mann. Images are so powerful. I adore this one.

Can you guess which three of these I chose? Here's a hint: one was to represent me, one to represent my husband, and one to represent our new life together.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Soak it in.


Highest 10 (average life span)

Andorra 82.5
Japan 82.1
San Marino 82
Singapore 82
Australia 81.6
Canada 81.2
France 81
Sweden 80.9
Switzerland 80.8
Iceland 80.7

Lowest 10 (average life span)

Central African Republic 44.5
Malawi 43.8
Djibouti 43.4
Liberia 41.8
Mozambique 41.2
Sierra Leone 41.2
Lesotho 40.4
Zambia 38.6
Angola 38.2
Swaziland 31.9

Source: World Health Organization

Why do Andorrans live longer than anyone else? Where in the world is Andorra?

One of B and I's goals for 2009 was to learn more about adoption. We feel called to adopt, but have many, many questions. On Saturday we got much more info while attending an information session ( ). I learned several things I did not know. Did you know that you get a $12,000 tax credit the year your adoption is finalized? Did you know there are 30,000 children in the CPS system in Texas alone? Or that 3,000 of those are waiting to be adopted right now? Or that if you adopt a child from the CPS system, it is virtually free (almost all fees are refunded by the state following placement), or that a child adopted through CPS gets free in-state public college tuition?

I had always, always seen us adopting internationally, but the costs are high. I was delighted to learn about some options that may be more do-able, or may allow us to adopt more than once, or sooner.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Secret, zero waste zone, being held, new budget

“Now - here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart
that I doubt I shall ever achieve again,
so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words.

My secret is that I need God –
that I am sick and can no longer make it alone.

I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving;
to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness;
to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love”

-Life After God, Douglas Coupland
Keeping a good and thrilling secret is sometimes enough to get one through the day.
Of late I have often used YouTube like a radio, starting with a favorite song and letting the "related videos" feature lead me from one favorite to the next. I've camped out in this video for the past hour as I clear my Reader:

We'll be held. That's the promise we get. Not that we will be happy, or rich, or successful. Only held, and held by the only One who matters, in the end, the strongest One, the One who loves the fiercest.
Atlanta, George has made itself into the first Zero Waste Zone in the South. ATL leaders did this not for moral or ethical reasons, but for business ones- they were beginning to lose conferences to other, "greener" cities as environmental friendliness became a high priority for business leaders. For those who think environmentalism is opposed to capitalism, take note- stubbornly remaining wasteful will cost you, now more than ever.

A fascinating article today describes the details of Obama's new budget and what our new budget will mean for poor people. Dave Ramsey says a family budget is a moral document because it puts on paper a family's priorities and clearly shows what they value. I believe our nation's budget is just the same. What do we value? What is MOST important? Guns? Kindergardeners? Farmers? Banks? Small businesses? You can't pay for everything, so what wins? A truly fascinating article.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

(Theodore Roosevelt, Paris, 1910)


Ever felt a call?
I think it's almost time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.- Thich Nhat Hanh

Why is it that I can cry and be filled with compassion over a YouTube video of children I will never meet, but hate and be filled with stubborn judgment/ pride toward people in my very own life? Actual dear friends, or even family?
Today, I increased my contribution to our 403b. This amazing calculator from Yahoo Finance tells me that if I increased my contribution to my retirement savings by just $100 more dollars per month, in 40 years I would have 1 MILLION more dollars than if I left it the same.

Compound interest is the coolest thing around!
I have the most thoughtful mentor in the whole world.
Really. Here's how I know:

1. She went on a week-long vacation to Europe to visit her military sister, and brought me back monogrammed lace from Belgium.

2. She knows Ben and I are trying out a cash budget (due to our recent conversion to worship of Dave Ramsey, personal finance guru), so she tells me that she has prayed for me every single time she's seen a dollar bill this week.

3. She knows I adore salsa, so she emails me the following recipe, via the DMN and the Dean of SMU's Engineering School:

Geoffrey Orsak's King Ranch Salsa

2 cloves garlic2 jalapeƱos, stemmed and halved (seeds included), or to taste1 small (tangerine-sized) white onion, quartered1 (14.5-ounce) can of good-quality whole tomatoes, drained¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil2 to 3 tablespoons of white vinegar2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste (if you substitute table salt, use less)

In a food processor, mince garlic and jalapeƱos. Add onion and process just until roughly chopped. Add tomatoes and process until not quite smooth — you want the salsa to retain some texture.
Mix in olive oil, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and salt. Taste and add more vinegar if necessary. Let sit for a few hours. Salsa will hold nicely in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Have a happy weekend friends. I'll be on Children's Retreat with our church, hanging out with 5th graders in the rain....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Be the change.

Take a moment and dream... Dream front door. Dream living room/library:
We fought injustice wherever we found it, no matter how large, or how small, and we fought injustice to preserve our own humanity.- Nelson Mandela Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove has written this list of 50 Ways to Become the Answer To Our Prayers.
It is provocative. If we lived like this, I believe lots more people would know Jesus.

It includes:

Fast for the 2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day.
Contact your local crisis pregnancy center and invite a pregnant woman to live with your family.
Ask your pastor if someone on your church’s sick list would like a visit.
Join an open AA meeting and befriend someone there.
Adopt a child.
Mow your neighbor’s grass.
Volunteer to tutor a kid at your local elementary school. (Try to get to know the kid’s family.)
Grow your own tomatoes–and share them.
Ask a small group in your community to meet regularly for intercessory prayer.
Build a wheel chair ramp for someone who is homebound.
Read the newspaper to someone at your local nursing home.
Plant a tree.
Look up the closest registered sex offender in your neighborhood and try to befriend him.
Throw a birthday party for a prostitute.
When you pay your water bill, pay your neighbor’s too (they’ll let you… really).
Invest money in a micro-lending bank.
Ask the next person who asks you to spare some change to join you for dinner.
Leave a random tip for someone who’s cleaning the streets or a public restroom.
Write one CEO a month this year. Affirm or critique the ethics of their company (you may need to do a little research first).
Start tithing (giving 10%) of all your income directly to the poor.
Connect with a group of migrant workers or farmers who grow your food and visit their farm. Maybe even pick some veggies with them. Ask what they get paid.
Give your winter coat away to someone who is colder than you and go to a thrift store to get a new one.
Write only paper letters (by hand) for a month. Try writing someone who needs encouragement or who you should say “I’m sorry” to.
Go TV free for a year. Or turn your TV into a pot where flowers grow.
Laugh at advertisements, especially ones that teach you that you can by happiness.
Organize a prayer vigil for peace outside a weapons manufacturer such as Lockheed Martin. Read the Sermon on the Mount out loud. For extra credit, do it every week for a year.
Go down a line of parked cars and pay for the meters that are expired. Leave a little note of niceness.
Write to one social justice organizer or leader each month just to encourage them.
Go through a local thrift store and drop $1 bills in random pockets of the clothing being sold.
Experiment with creation-care by going fuel free for a week–ride a bike, carpool, or walk.
Try only reading books written by females or people of color for a year.
Go to an elderly home and get a list of folks who don´t get any visitors. Visit them each week and tell stories, read the bible together, or play board games.
Track to its source one item of food you eat regularly. Then, each time you eat that food, pray for those folks who helped make it possible for you to eat it.
Create a Jubilee fund in your Church congregation, matching dollar for dollar every dollar you spend internally with a dollar externally. If you have a building fund, create a fund to match it to give away and by mosquito nets or dig wells for folks dying in poverty.
Become a pen-pal with someone in prison.
Give your car away to a stranger.
Convert your car to run off waste vegetable oil.
Try recycling your water from the washer or sink to flush your toilet. Remember the 1.2 billion folks who don´t have clean water.
Wash your clothes by hand, or dry them by hanging to remember those without electricity or running water. Remember the 1.6 billion people who do not have electricity.
Buy only used clothes for a year.
Cover up all brand names, or at least the ones that do not reflect the upside-down economics of God’s Kingdom. Commit to only being branded by the cross.
Learn to sew or start making your own clothes to remember the invisible faces behind what we wear. Take your kids to pick cotton so they can see what that is like (and then read James).
Eat only a bowl of rice a day for a week to remember those who do that for most of their life (take a multivitamin). Remember the 30,000 people who die each day of poverty and malnutrition.
Begin creating a scholarship fund so that for every one of your own children you send to college you can create a scholarship for an at-risk youth. Get to know their family and learn from each other.
Visit a worship service where you will be a minority. Invite someone to dinner at your house or have dinner with someone there if they invite you.
Help your church congregation create a Peacemaker Scholarship and give it away to a young person trying to avoid the economic draft, who would like to go to college but sees no other way than the military.
Eat with someone who does not look like you. Learn from them.
Confess something you have done wrong to someone and ask them to pray for you.
Serve in a homeless shelter. For extra credit, go back and eat or sleep in the shelter and allow yourself to be served.
Join a Yokefellows ministry at a prison close to you. Remember that Jesus said he would meet you there (Matt. 25).
Pick one and do it today.

Monday, April 13, 2009


There are many, many reasons I am grateful for this man, but his chef skillz are near the top of the list. Here he is just whipping up some steak-and-veggie kebabs for my family this weekend as we celebrated Easter and my brother's time home from the Marines.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Making Melodies in My Heart to the King of Kings

These are kids at Kitale, Kenya, one of Buckner's ministries. They are singing a silly little song I have sung since I was a preschooler.

They are so beautiful. I wish I could be with them every day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Don't make me take off my puka shell necklace

In the spirit of the last few posts, a video duet for your viewing pleasure......

I hope you get a huge laugh from these- I think I watched them each about 100 times when they blew up in the summer of '07. I was interning in DC and all the Mid-Atlantic wannabe Ivies (you know I'm talking to you... Vandycough....coughUVAcough) played these on repeat for about six weeks straight. I think they are the most clever viral marketing examples I've ever seen.

Yo, yo here my WASPS at?
MV, Martha's Vineyard, holla back!
Haters like to clown our Ivy League education
But they're just jealous cause our families run the nation

We may be vanilla but our labs are chocolate.

The West Coast response is even funnier!

Lipo, collagen, and implants too
My mom looks 24, but she's really 62
We roll in a hybrid when we wanna be green
Send the dog to the groomer in a Hummer limousine
Designer sunglasses that we never take off
Nothing less than 45 spf lip gloss


Tuesday, April 7, 2009


The most moving scene in the entire five seasons of LOST occurred last Wednesday night. In addition to the compelling human element (watching a mother leave her son behind), the score is outstanding. Up there in the same category as Titanic, Braveheart, Apollo 13, Star Wars, and Gladiator, in my opinion.

The song, Oceanic 6 Theme , has been incorporated into several recent episodes, including this emotion clip of the survivors being reunited with their families.

This song is haunting me! I woke up with it playing in my head this morning.

What are your favorite film scores?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Extreme Life Makeover

Swirling in my life:

Thank you Melanie for reminding me of the beautiful Freecycle is perfectly in step with how I think the world should be, because it combines efficiency, sharing, community, and re-use.

This dapper gent, found via Sartorialist, would fit in perfectly at my dream New England dinner parties. The Sartorialist is a fashion blog that snaps pics of everyday people on the street all around the world.
I straight-up hate MTV. Usually. However, I am absolutely intrigued by two shows right now. The Girls of Hedsor Hall and G's to Gents are basically two versions of the same show. In each, a group of young people are taken to a giant mansion (for the ladies, it is a British boarding school, for the gentlemen, it is a New England manor) to pursue total life transformation. The young people are totally out of control and living self-destructive lives full of run-ins with the law, broken relationships, abuse, sex, drugs, and pain.

Their teachers lead them through lessons and competitions such as cooking class, ballroom dancing, formal dining etiquette, hosting members of the opposite sex, and business skills competitions (such as working with a team to create a marketing presentation). Each week one is voted off based on a combination of peer and judges' reviews.

It's crass. The contestants are ridiculous. Half of them can hardly speak proper English. Plenty of crying, confessions, back-stabbing, and fights ensue. But at the end of the day, it is incredibly compelling. These young people are changing their entire lives, having "aha!" moments, learning skills, committing to be different, to leave their terrible decision-making behind them and seek a new, healthy path, for them and often their young children as well. They are sincere. They are broken. They are repentant. The skeptic in me wants to scoff (this is reality TV, people), but truly, I am moved.

This past week flew. I was out of the office Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, so I hardly had one moment of free computer time. What a fantastic, lucky, blessed life we live around here, is all I have to say.

John speaks the language of my soul.

I could listen to two songs on repeat for the next twelve hours:


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring cleaning (blog edition)

We've undergone a facelift around here. I've spiced up a few things and added some fresh spring colors- hope you enjoy!