Thursday, July 30, 2009

As a young girl I had four black and white photos framed in my bedroom. They had been torn out of magazines, and were all ads. To my delight, I found one on a blog today- this one, by Lillian Bassman! Finally, credit where credit is due!


In other news. Did you know that if you are a man in Gaza, you can beat your 27-year-old daughter, who has five small children of her own, to death with a metal chain in public, and that's ok if you hear her on the phone with a man who isn't her husband?

Or, much closer to home...
Tanning in sunbeds has been declared to be as cancer-causing as cigarettes and asbestos.
I must confess, I went before prom, and before my wedding.... yikes.
Really guys, I'm done forever.
I swear.

Today's fun activity: shopping for baby clothes, accessories, and other accouterments.
For work.
I swear.

My boss is going to Ethiopia next week, and he's taking several suitcases full of aid (around here we call them "bum bags") to the school in Bantu as well as our baby home (where all the children are adoptable and waiting for forever families!). So guess who gets to shop for, and pack, all that baby aid? Yours truly. An amazing assignment.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The library: So hot right now.

The American public library system has been around since our country was just days old. Libraries in general stretch back to Persian and even Greco-Roman times.

But man, I'm telling you.

Libraries are so hot right now. The library is the The ultimate Recessionista tool.

Did you know, fellow Dallas citizens (far-flung dear friends, I'm sure its not so different where you are either), that you can walk into any branch, get a card for free in about 45 seconds, and instantly start getting every magazine, book, CD, or DVD that strikes your fancy for absolutely free?

Or, that you can go online, type in the phone number associated with your library card, and request that any magazine, book, CD, or DVD you can think of be sent to the branch nearest to your home? They'll call you when it arrives and you just flounce in and pick it up- gratis.

In theory, I knew this happened already. But in practice, this revolutionizes my life.

Remember how I was interested in Crazy Love yesterday? It's retailing for $11 on Amazon. In the grocery store yesterday, I was inches away from buying the August issues of Vogue and Martha Stewart Living, which retail for about $6 or $7 each. I've also been thinking about buying the DVD of Mad Men, Season 2 (in anticipation of the Season 3 premier next week!), which sells for $25.

Instead, I went to the library and all four things were freezy. Can you imagine how much money we spent in a year on things that are available for free?

For example, did you know at you can get hundreds of titles for free, in PDF form? Especially those of you still in school, most classics are online for free- they have 4,690 copies of The Scarlett Letter.

(Incidentally, read this fascinating article from Vogue about 34-year-old fashionista/top Google Executive Marissa Mayer).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The weekend: A Triptych.

Fort Worth Congratulations, Mrs. Lamar!
Chef Ben, at it again.
An interview with Francis Chan, pastor of a church in Simi Valley and author of Crazy Love:

Q: Your church focuses an unusual amount of its resources on giving: to the
poor, to the needy, to the outcast. Is this one of your church’s responses to
God’s “crazy love”?

A: Absolutely. If one hundred people represented the world’s population, fifty-three of
those would live on less than $2 a day. Do you realize that if you make $4000 a
month, you automatically make one hundred times the average person on this

Which is more messed up—that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that
we don’t think we are rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves
“broke” or “poor”? We are neither of those things.

We are rich. Filthy rich.

Happy birthday to me.

A major milestone is upon us.....
Today is my one-year anniversary of employment! One year ago I was a clueless little graduate, frantically writing down notes, wandering the halls looking for someone's desk, never understanding the dozens of acronyms bandied about, unable to even locate a simple postage stamp.
I also spent a lot of time running for the DART train.
I've seen the corporate landscaping turn all four seasons (or, who am I kidding?, two seasons- that's all we have in Texas).
I've seen the angry swarm of protesting carpenters go from a giant line of neon-yellow-wearing-vests to a mere tricky of silent sign-holders.
Truly, they are still protesting one year later. Methinks perhaps it would be more effective to go back to work, but I'm no labor expert...I have yet to master the art of lunch preparation. I still eat crap frozen lunches altogether too often. The extra five minutes it would take to throw together a sandwich have proved elusive....

I still dwell here, among the stacks of enviro-unfriendly printed reports. My happy yellow lamp and happy yellow cup and happy yellow mini legal pad greet me each morning, and I've even managed to kick to five-plus-Jolly Ranchers-per-day-from-the-candy-bowl habit.

Very early in my work life, I made two lists: Things To Do in the Spring, and Things to Do in Life. Accomplished items are in bold.

Things to Do in the Spring:
fruity drinks
Easter eggs

Things to Do in Life:
supper club
book club
Bible study
wine tasting
film club
tea parties (does it count if I drink Honey Lemon Green every morning, but its by myself?)

live green (can't decide. I recycle?)

Mixed success. Still early in the game.


My dear friend Laura sent me two quotes from Crazy Love, a book that is rocking her world.

"Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers."

"Lukewarm people do not live by faith. Their lives are structured so they never have to."

Oooohhhh dear. Looks like this intriguing read had just lept to the top of my next-buy list.

Here's to another year! Thank you, Lord, for my job.

Join along, friends!

Dear friends,
Would you mind doing me a favor? If you've got a sec, would you click the "follow" button over in the margin to the right?
Thanks much,

Friday, July 24, 2009

This weekend.

Aerin Lauder's office
As a fellow morning train rider, I think this is hilarious, and also a good check at our pride in general.
This weekend:

1. Dinner date at my favorite restaurant for feasting

2. Delivering a pool table (donated by a very generous member of my small group) to Buckner's Wynnewood after-school center in South Dallas.

3. Appointment with wedding album designer to edit the proof of our album

4. Wedding in downtown Fort Worth

5. Sabbath

6. Finally, finally, the long-awaited day I have anticipated for one whole year.....

No, no, I can't wait, I will be there at eight, when they unlock the doooooor!


Listen, people, in general I greatly dislike the model of womanhood whose motto is "bigger-flashier-blonder-louder-sparklier-pinker" and usually emphasizes shopping, spa treatments, and gossip magazines as the epitome of female life.


I absolutely adore this musical. Take it for what it is: pure entertainment, show-stopping vocals, and just plain fun. Witty lyrics, excellent choreography- its fantastic. Can't wait.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This is what the inside of my brain feels like: This is what I'd be wearing today if the world were my closet:
"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."

- Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, educator, and activist
Dream house will have lots of black decor.
Tufted chair, library, bliss.
Noir and odd. Very Harry Potter.

Let's get real: July has had the highest monthly death toll of US soldiers in Afghanistan since the war began 8 years ago. I care in a general, abstract way as an American, I guess. But for one very specific reason, this announcement causes chill bumps on my heart:
He's my (not-so-little) baby brother, and he belongs to the United States Marine Corps. He's not in Afghanistan now, but when he's done with his current tour he may well go there.
If the Secretary of the Navy asks me (I'm waiting by the phone for that call any minute), I'll tell him to send Matt to ride a desk in Cleveland.
Faith and trust are tough:)
In other news, let's get girly:
There are few things more princess-y than turning a spare bedroom into a "dressing room"...
Or Grecian, goddess-y flowing gowns....
Or incredible, luxe home design. This home, apparently somewhere in Dallas, belongs to Samantha Reitmayer , via Design Sponge.
Would any self-respecting man allow such a feminine aesthetic in his home? Mine, alas, would probably not go for some of the details, but I think this home is gorgeous. While we're at it, I'm also digging her blog, Style Swoon. It's offic. added to the Reader.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Love that Internet Monk.

From Internet Monk, whose blog I love very much:

“If we believe the Gospel, doesn’t it seem a bit contradictory to….”

1. Adopt a pious and pretty obviously phony kind of overly serious demeanor? As if there were something wrong with smiling and having normal conversation? What is this “we’re acting like the Puritans in The Crucible” routine? No one is getting any points for that kind of act. Quit it.

2. Always point out the sins of your favorite target groups like gays or political liberals or Hollywood? Their sins are no more offensive than yours, and Jesus hasn’t asked you to make sure everyone knows how really offended you are. Plus, it’s not a witness to be offended and angry. It just increases the reputation Christians have as being on emotional egg shells when it comes to someone doing something they think is wrong.

3. Not have your beliefs about church challenged at all? Ever? For any reason? When you put the Gospel all out there on the table, and you consider what it means, how can it not challenge the idea that most of what we are to do is go to church programs or make your pastor into a celebrity? I’m not saying the Gospel deconstructs the church, but if the Gospel hasn’t knocked a few holes in your assumptions about the church, something isn’t tickin’ or kickin’ Check out your Gospel please.

4. Hold on to all of your money and possessions exactly like the non-Christians next door? Money and possessions are a pretty predictable sign of where your real treasure is, according to one well known authority.

5. Not be able to explain the Gospel in any kind of coherent manner, or even to lay out the basics of the Gospel in a talk, lesson, conversation or (God help us) sermon? I don’t get it. Why are we telling people they are saved by “asking Jesus into their heart?” Why are we saying that if we progress towards “goodness,” we will be saved by Christ? How can we be this confused about something this basic? How can we constantly talk to people about morals and behavior, then say we were talking about the Gospel?

6. Be more concerned about the culture war, the environment or politics than about missions in the 10/40 window or resourcing the church in Asia and Africa? After all, they are only Africans. Right? Jesus was an American white guy apparently.

7. Still harbor the idea that most Christians are probably in your denomination, and while they may exist elsewhere, it’s kind of a miracle, because your church is really the only church that God actually uses in a serious way? The church is God’s people seen from God’s perspective. Your camp is part of it, but if you are telling yourself that God sees your church as THE church and other churches as something else, Heaven is going to be a real downer for you.

8. Not really care what’s in the song lyrics you use in worship? Doesn’t it seem odd to sing man-centered songs with almost no mention of the Gospel and not even notice that our affections aren’t being directed toward Christ at all? I like a tune and a fun chorus. I like to see people involved emotionally, but the New Testament has entire hymns explaining the incarnation and none about “the secret place.” I’m just sayin…

9. Be so sure we know exactly how God is applying the Gospel through the Holy Spirit in the lives of other people? Wouldn’t it follow that if God provided everything for our salvation, he isn’t turning over the application of the Gospel to us and our comfort zones, but is applying the Gospel in the world according to a plan that may be just as surprising from our point of view?

10. To not be absolutely staggered with wonder, humility and awe? If you believe it, it’s amazing. If you kinda believe it, you’re a little amazed. If you don’t believe it, you’re bored.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I put the fun in funeral?

Much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared.
- Henri Nouwen

I've been meaning to read some Henri Nouwen for over a year now, ever since I went to a funeral for a friend's father whose life had been changed by Nouwen's writings.

Speaking of funerals, this afternoon I'll attend my third in two weeks.

The circle of life continues... weddings, weddings, everywhere, and not a sec to think.
Three pregnancies and one engagement announced this month in my various worlds of friends, and three funerals. Two of the funerals were for people in their 20's killed by automobiles, the third for a man who served in ministry for many decades.

I felt a moment of shock and realization when I was reflecting upon the fact that several deaths has occurred in the families of people I love this month: this must be a sliver of what its like to live among the communities of the poor, the refugees, the war-torn.

Three families I love are facing death this month, and I am indignant and shocked. Then I realize- in many tribes and towns, three deaths every month or week or even every DAY is the norm, because of attacks, or hunger, or disease.

I think about what's stressing me out today, and it pales in comparison to many others' griefs.

Like my friend Katie P likes to say, I'm the luckiest girl in the whole school.

Friday, July 17, 2009

News roundup.

What's new in the world? Well, 5 minutes watching CNN will give you the latest on Sonia Sotomayor and health care legislation. Lesser known news:

After-school budgets are taking a huge hit as almost every state in the nation racks up huge deficits. States make their 2010 budgets right now, and after-school care is getting decreased. This seems counter-productive and short-sighted to me: for every dollar cut from after-school programs (like the one I visited on Sunday), I can guarantee the state will pay higher costs later in health care, welfare, prisons, courts, etc because of the bad decisions teens and kids make when unsupervised and with nothing productive to do. (Want to give to support private after-school care since the government is slashing budgets?, please.)
A new US immigration policy will grant legal asylum to women from other countries who were suffering serious domestic violence and aren't protected by their own governments. Many countries on this planet do not protect their women from rape, violent beatings, property theft, and other abuse- now, the US is stepping up to become a safe haven for these ladies. Bravo, Immigration Dept! This is the kind of America I want to see.

Michelle Obama's great-great-grandfather was a slave, and geneaologists have now found records as well as the still-standing slave quarters in which he lived on a rice plantation.

Lastly: could this home office be any sassier? What a corporate femme fatale I would feel like in there! That's a West Elm Parsons desk, painted pink, and I love those windows, the peacock lamp, and the monogram. Another West Elm Parsons desk, under my dream dining room painting:
Happy Friday, friends. I'll be off to a getaway in Georgetown if you need me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hope Now

My favorite song this week.

When I was in high school this band, Addison Road, led worship at my church for a few years. I am so proud of them. I love the lead singer Jenny's fantastic blog about new mommyhood, faith, and all other manner of daily life.

Everything rides on hope now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

American Idols

From the Journey email today:

Some people invest all their energy in pursuit of money, success, possessions, or a career. If these idols are taken away, only an empty shell is left.

The only way to protect yourself against such loss is to invest your life in the living God, whom you can never lose. I have found that it is very easy for idols to slip into my life, and I often find myself obsessing on things with no lasting value. Daily time with Jesus is the only solution.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Prayers for Hunter.

Psalm 34:18- "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

My sorority sister Hunter lost her big brother day before yesterday. Driving a motorcycle, going the speed limit, wearing a helmet, but hit a curb and flew into a tree. Died instantly. Family devastated.

Lamentations 3:28-33 "When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: wait for hope to appear. The "worst" is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Everitt camp photos.

Monday night was Howdy night. Here's me with Sydney and Chloe. 5th grade girls are the Ladybugs- please note the headbands:) Below are the 5th and 6th grade girl counselors at the Zip Tower. What a team:) Love them very much.
Here we are after gathering at the church Monday morning. First order of business on Mondays: Learn the chant, and learn their names! Headband-wearing is essential.
Susan, Emily and I at the Zip Tower, wearing our requisite camp uniforms: past years' Children's Ministry tshirts, snap bracelets, headgear, and nametags.
Tuesday night was Fiesta Night. One of these children was diagnosed with Swine Flu this past weekend, let's hope for the best. You'll note the "R card" on the girl in the sombrero- sixth graders' privelege is participating in the raid, and the greatest 6th grade discipline tactic is threatening to "pull your R card", making you unable to do the raid.
5th grade Ladybugs learning their dance for the Big Show to Michael Jackson's "ABC".
All the 5th grade Ladybugs before the Big Show. The hairstyle is a 5th grade tradition. Hoo-ah!
Me, dominating my children on the rec field.
I loooove camp.

This weekend, and songs on my heart.

What a week it has been!

5 days of camp (check out the photos)
1 day it took me to completely lose my voice
16 5th grade girls
1,200 kids at Mt. Lebanon
Dozens of eternal decisions made
7 letters in B-O-N-K-E-R-S
6 years I've been waiting to climb the Alpine Tower (and finally did!)
1 major run-in with camp staff
1 game of Ruckus dominated
3 Theme Nights, 1 Big Show
1 pillow fight
2 raids
Nonstop asthma attacks, scrapes, trips to Lost & Found, requests to ride the golf cart, and overheating
Approx 12,398,572 Freeze Pops consumed

I was home from camp just a few hours when B and I jumped in the car again and headed to Mineola for a leadership retreat with Fellowship Metro. I was exhausted, sunburned and voice-less. We had two great sessions of vision casting the future of Fellowship Metro, the Sunday at 6 pm service for young people at Fellowship.

We spent several hours in the sun playing volleyball and then several more playing a midnight, pitch-black game of Capture the Flag in the woods. I am so sore!

The next morning B jumped up for early-morning fishing on the lake, then we raced back to Dallas to meet the Voice Council at Wynnewood, a Buckner South Dallas ministry at an apartment complex where the average annual income per family is $2,950. We played water balloon games, worshipped, and served pizza and watermelon before having a tour of the ministries there.

Then we raced back north to split up for the evening: I headed to Richardson for the Camp Reflection Service and counselor dinner (and Camp Video unveiling), while Ben went to Fellowship to speak about our trip to Honduras with Buckner last month.

Then we raced home to prepare for work tomorrow after ten days away. Ben's promotion officially goes into effect today, and I am playing intense catch-up as we prepare to plan for the end of the year (here already?!).

My mom doesn't have cancer (bone scan and blood test negative!), my grandmother decided to sell her house, and I miss Sweet a lot. Life never stops.

I've had songs on my mind.

Ingrid Michaelson's "You and I" was the theme song of Katie and Ross' wedding last weekend. Make sure to listen all the way to the end- that's the best part.

One of Ben's best friends made him a hip hop CD, and this song is haunting me. Warning: contains highly objectionable words, including derogatory language toward women. However, if you can get over it, it's the most honest rap song I've ever heard.

It's the cry of our 20's:
I. just. wanna. be. successful.

Sigh. Smile. A good week.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Off to camp

Off to camp I go! A beautiful, amazing wedding weekend for Mr and Mrs Pinson is behind us, and summer continues, hot and humid. I'll be with 17 5th grade girls this week.
Let's live a little.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A lotta life going on.

As my mother said, this week I've got a whole lotta life going on.

One best friend has a heartbreaking breakup to a guy she thought she might marry. Another friend's parents force her to call off her wedding 3 weeks before the big day.

Black mold in my parents' house. A scary result from a medical scan. Another friend at the Mayo Clinic while her mom has brain surgery. Major police incident as my neighbor beat up his wife.

Friend spends the night in jail. Camp, once again, souls are changed for eternity. Iran in shambles, Honduran coup (involving people at whose houses I was eating two weeks ago!).

Husband gets a promotion. We look at houses. Not sure what we want to be when we grow up.

A sorority sister dies in a car accident. Parent up for promotion. More medical tests, looking for cancer. My 5 year anniversary with the man I'll love forever. Two dear friends announce pregnancies. Three other friends buy houses, move in, talk renovations.

A friend's baby diagnosed with heart defect that will take his tiny life. Good results on mom's scan. Grieving loss, celebrating new marriages and new life.It's the time, it's the season. Big life going on, every day, all around.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How much house can you afford?

It's the season of life. Weddings, budgets, babies, and buying houses.
How much mortgage can you afford? I ripped this tip out of Money magazine:

Multiply 25% of your monthly income by 186.28

Then, to find out how much down payment is needed to qualify for that mortgage, multiply the result above by 0.25
Now we're talking.
A recent home-buying friend recommended two sites for house shoppers:

I'm particularly fond of Ebby's polygon mapping system.