happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Friday, December 30, 2011

resolutions. 2012, here i come!

i can never remember if i love or hate new year's resolutions. regardless, i generally make some. not actually tasks like "exercise 5 days a week" or "stop answering the phone when (insert any ex-boyfriend's name here) calls", but more of a new year's blue print for my life- a new year's plan. i try to evaluate where i am and where i want to go, and develop my plan from there. some years i add things like goals to meditate more often, or read the bible more regularly. some years i give things up, like 9 years ago when i gave up smoking.

this year, i'm struggling.

i have been putting quite a bit of thought into the coming year and my resolutions and i've drawn a big fat blank. well, until today. i've decided that this year's resolutions will be more about discipline and reflection than about set-in-stone goals. they will be more about appreciating what i have than amassing more "stuff". they will be about learning to live as others live instead of living the way society says i should be living. they will be about food. there has to be at least one focused on food. after all, i'm still ME!

my 2012 new year's resolutions, in no particular order:
-designate one night each week as "no lights night" and not use any electric lights in my house- only candlelight
-not turn my thermostat above 66 degrees all winter...with most days keeping it at 64 while i'm home and 60 at night while i sleep (you should know how drafty my house is to fully appreciate THAT resolution! the key is layer, layer, layer!)
-not make a single purchase that isn't a necessity for the entire lenten season (february 22-april 7th)...only food, medication, cleaning supplies, etc.. no "fun" stuff.
-(this last one is my favorite. since i am exploring an opportunity to do full time mission work in nepal, and have a short term trip planned there for sure in the spring, i am going to try, for a short time, to eat as the nepalis do. in the mountain region where i am going, they eat the same thing, twice a day, every day. nothing else. it is called dal-bhat-tarkari, which means lentils, rice, and curried vegetables. that sounds delicious. i am sure i'll love it! for about a day and a half... )my resolution is to cook and eat dal-bhat-tarkari twice a day, every day, for two weeks starting january 3rd.

here is the fun part- i am going to blog it! i will blog the recipe, the results of my first (and subsequent) cooking attempts, how i like it, and my thoughts each day as the monotony either bores me senseless or lifts me to a higher level of spiritual and culinary bliss. let's see what happens! check back on january 3rd for an update.

happy new year! see you in 2012.   :0)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

am i the "right" kind of christian?

i have been exploring the possibility of joining a faith based "sending agency" to help me fulfill my calling to cross-cultural missions. the application process has been really detailed and intense. i am glad that they are selective about who they "send" to share god's love and his word, don't get me wrong. there has to be a process to weed out the scary people, the unbalanced people, the spiritually mis-guided... but during the course of answering countless questions, filling out numerous questionnaires, doing hour long phone interviews, i started to wonder if maybe those "other" people were really ME!

i have never been so insecure in my life. well, that is probably not true- but while i'm in the midst of this, i certainly can't remember a time that i felt more insecure. i have been insecure about situations, but this is more of a spiritual angst...an insecurity about who i am as a person, and if i'm "good enough" for the task at hand. even as i write that, it doesn't feel quite right- not quite what i am afraid of... i think what i am really afraid of is whether or not "THEY" will think i'm good enough. will they believe i'm the "right kind of christian" to join their team? can i prove to them i'm worthy?

after the preliminaries, they sent me a packet of stuff. in it was something called a biblical beliefs questionnaire. i found myself calling my pastor and asking to speak with him about some of the questions. i said to him, "i need to know what i believe. can you tell me?" it sounds funny, but i haven't ever taken a list of topics and really hashed out how and what i believe about them. i didn't become a christian until i was 30- so my religious education has been zip except for church sermons on sunday, and a wonderful bible study once a week with good friends. we mainly talk about cultural and historical context,  philosophy and how scriptures make us feel, and ways they apply to our lives in the here and now- not the nuts and bolts of the bible and what is literal, what is symbolic, what we believe to be true about certain events, and more importantly how to articulate that to others. most of my religious background has been of the heart. it has been god planting himself in the center of my heart and trying to plant himself in the center of my life. it has everything to do with spirit and little to do with "knowledge". it's not that i'm not knowledgeable about scripture and the bible. i actually am- but i sure haven't ever had to articulate it to someone that would then analyze my answers and decide if they are "right" enough to represent this organization to the rest of the world.

yesterday was an hour long phone interview, which was recorded and will be transcribed and put in my file. i was asked 16 questions, ranging from which fruit of the spirit i embody, to who my favorite missionary is and why... with no feedback from the other end. no sense of if my answer was right or wrong. no leading so that i could tweak mid-stream if i was on the wrong track. just a silence to allow me to collect and express my thoughts. i never realized how much guidance i take from the feedback of others in a conversation until i was faced with none. so again...i was left to wonder, was i good enough? did i make sense? did i "pass"?

after that interview, i reviewed what is still to come in this process. there will be a physical exam, a review of my life history that covers everything from my sexual experiences to my childhood and relationship with my family, a 90 minute biblical beliefs phone interview, a 2 day in person consultation, (if i get this far) a week-long orientation, and more. i sat overwhelmed by the struggle between wanting to tell the complete truth and be accepted for who i am, and the desire to tell them what i think they want to hear so that i'll be accepted, period. i realized that my life will never withstand the scrutiny of others if i want to prove myself "worthy"....

...ahhhhhh...and then it hit me. i am not worthy. i am not perfect. i don't have to be. jesus redeemed me and my imperfections, and his grace is what makes me good enough. the point is not to be perfect. in fact, the point is to admit that i am NOT perfect and to ask for god's forgiveness and his guidance in the face of my imperfections. this process has been terrifying, but really good for me. it has helped me examine what i believe, and also examine those things that others might not approve of and start to examine them more closely to see if i really approve of them, or not. maybe there are some things that i am doing, or thinking, that need to be changed. maybe i'll find that all my ways are blameless- but more likely i'll find that i've been kidding myself. either way, it's time to find out.
regardless of how this application process pans out, i will embrace the insecurity as a blessing, and a chance for self examination, and personal and spiritual growth.

i may need a therapist when it's all over! :0)

(Note: a very good friend just emailed about my post, upset that this organization would "judge" me and others. this is what i told her:
"i am actually glad that they are asking the questions they are asking. they want to know for sure that they know me and what i stand for before sending me out to represent them and represent christ in their name. they honestly haven't said anything judgemental- they are just asking what i believe and what i stand for. it is ME that judged me in the process.")

Sunday, December 11, 2011


i am absolutely obsessed with checking the stats from my blog.

a crazy thing has happened. my blog has branched out beyond borders. not just beyond the borders of my mind, but also beyond the borders of the US. to date, it has been viewed in the following countries: USA, Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Uganda, Afghanistan, Canada, United Kingdom, and Belgium. wow! it has a slightly voyeuristic feel- to know people from not only other countries, but other continents, are looking into my mind...into my heart...into my psyche. i love it! haha.... i wonder though- who are you? how did you find me? what keeps you coming back?

i would love to hear from you and hear your story. i can guess who some of you are- i have a friend in Afghanistan, a friend-of-a-friend in the Netherlands, family of folks in my bible study in Germany and Canada, family of my own in Belgium, church acquaintances in Uganda. is that who you are? i have NO idea who the Russian and UK connections would be. please, next time you read this blog, send me a "comment" and let me know who you are and how you are. say hi in my language or in yours. i'll figure it out.

until then, i'll obsessively check daily to see where in the world you're viewing from. LOVE IT!!

** Update 12/17/11. Add JAPAN to the list! woohoooooooo!!!!!! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

joplin- finally!

i finally made it to joplin, missouri.

i had a friend note that i've made a strange transition in my life- one where i want to visit a place only after it's been devastated by some disaster, and not while it's still pretty and pristine. i am not sure if that's completely true or not, but it is true of joplin. when the F5 tornado hit joplin, i had just had spine surgery. i was still 6 months away from being off restriction and there was no way i could go help. it must have been a lesson in patience, because the waiting nearly drove me crazy. once the 6 month mark came i got on the computer and found a trip with the church of the resurrection in leawood, kansas. this is the 4th trip i've done with COR, and one of the things i love about them is that they continue to go help in places long after most other groups have moved on to a new location, or the latest and worst disaster. COR maintains a presence and lets people know that they're not forgotten. i feel like more than anything, they bring hope and the true "love thy neighbor" spirit.

though most of the rubble cleanup has been done, and many of the demolished buildings have been torn down and cleared, driving into joplin was still a shock. the first couple of miles looked like any medium sized town on the map- it could have been my town... and then we turned the corner and a huge swath of town was missing. not just the buildings, but everything. the trees were broken off sticks and stumps, devoid of leaves. even a lot of the grass was gone. it was a barren, brown, mile wide path cutting through the center of everything and stretched as far as the eye could see (my pictures truly don't do it justice).

we got there on a thursday before lunch, and were set to leave on saturday evening, so we jumped right in, heading straight to the job site and getting to work. our project was a lone house on an empty block in the middle of this swath of nothingness. it was the site of a parsonage for the baptist church that used to stand next to it. the pastor, associate pastor, and several congregation members, were all down in the basement of the church when the tornado hit. the associate said that he remembers the sound of all the windows blowing out, and metal wrenching, and deafening noise. when it was over, he took a few steps up from the basement area and was standing outside with nothing but an empty field in front of him. where he was standing used to be the inside the sanctuary of the church. the parsonage (pastor's house) was completely gone. we got the honor of meeting him and working along side some amazing volunteers as well as faithful congregation members to help give him a home again.

how do i always end up doing drywall? my last trip to mississippi, i was the head of a drywall finishing crew. this trip, thank goodness, we were hanging sheetrock instead. i much prefer that to finishing- and it is definitely less of a mess (until i started with the dremel, cutting out doors and windows. stand back- i was on a roll!)

i have to say that we made some serious progress. we all found our niche, and most of us paired up with some of the more experienced volunteers so that we didn't cause more harm than good. my teammate was joe. joe was a good ole' boy with a dry wit and a heart to serve. he was patient beyond measure (he'd have to be, with me as a partner) and worked all day, every day, to help restore this house. before this house, it was another. he is just one of many that we met with the same unwavering character and humility, helping others and asking nothing in return. it was awesome.  he lucked out with us- he got a chik-fil-a sandwich AND fries our last day there, my treat. that was the biggest paycheck he'd gotten so far!.

when we arrived, the house was bare studs and a little insulation, which we helped finish before starting with the drywall. by the time we left, it looked not only like a house, but a little like a home. 

GO girls, GO!

i will admit that i never fully appreciated how sheetrock got on the ceiling until i had to put it there. that is not easy, and my neck wasn't very happy with me by the end of the day, but it was satisfying to do. i played around with it for about and hour and then left that to the younger and stronger guys on the team (thank you, jason and chris!). maddie and i dominated the walls, instead. michelle, the team leader, roamed and helped wherever she was needed. we made a pretty good team!

joe and some of our handywork!

jason and those pesky ceilings

we didn't get every single piece of sheetrock hung before we left, like we'd planned, but there couldn't have been more than a handful left to do. all in all, i am really proud of what we were able to get done in such a short time. i was cursed by a 20ish year old brain in a 43 year old body (haha) and blessed by teammates who were all under the age of 30, so it all worked out. i tried not to limp when they were looking, and i never did admit that the reason my pillow was on the floor in the morning was because it fell off the bed and i was too sore to reach down and get it. i don't have to tell ALL my secrets! the important thing was that we all brought something different to the mix and it came together to bless someone infinitely more than any of us could have done alone.

on my way out of town, i made sure to stop at what some call the "joplin house" and others call the "reflection house". it is a house that was left partially standing in the middle of the destruction. the owner put a couch and some chairs on the front porch, and wrote a note on the wall- a reflection- of what the volunteers that had come had meant to him, and to the community. then others came and added their thoughts. then the volunteers came to write their prayers, and their messages to the people of joplin. it is a place to reflect- on what, is left up to the reflector. i left my thoughts and prayers along with hundreds of others, and as always, a little piece of my heart in the place that i served.
the joplin house

i hope i blessed joplin even a fraction of how it blessed me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

lessons...whether i want them, or not.

this has been a particularly spiritual week, and not because of anything i've sought out or done. maybe that's not true. maybe it is because of things i've done- or maybe even because of some things left undone. i don't know. what i  do know is that god is talking to me. it feels like he is finally rewarding me for those things that i'm practicing, despite not having them come naturally. patience, for instance... and as we examined in an earlier post, balance. i am also really good at picking a goal and pursuing it to the fullest- but less good at waiting to find out god's agenda and pursuing that, instead. the past few weeks, i've been trying to be really good about listening and figuring out which is which. i don't have all the answers, yet (and only god knows how much that drives the control freak in me crazy!) but they are coming to me, slowly but surely.

i remember years ago being frustrated that god never "spoke" to me. i would pray for clarity and guidance ("demand" is probably more accurate than "pray"), and ask him to show me what he wanted me to do, and what direction he wanted me to move. i couldn't understand why, when i was so willing, he wouldn't give me some great epiphany and use me in a big and wondrous way. i couldn't understand why, when all i wanted was to hear his voice, he wouldn't talk to me. one day i was literally having a conversation with him on my way to work (fine- i'll admit it. i was talking AT him). i remember it so well. i was walking from the parking lot into the hospital and i was running a few minutes late. i was in the midst of saying to god that all i needed was to hear him. i needed to know his will for my life. i wanted him to trust me enough to share with me his plan. i was good and buried in the "me me me" topic when i looked down and noticed a pile of trash that somone had dumped out of their car and left by the entrance to the ER. i heard a little voice in my head say that i should stop and pick that up, but as i said, i was running late. someone else would get it. wasn't that housekeeping's job? besides, it looked nasty. i rushed past and didn't look back, as i continued to tell god that i was upset that he never spoke to me, nor gave me direction. that little voice actually cut me off. it interrupted me and said "you need to go back and pick that up." period. and a realization hit me like a bolt of lightening. i was hearing god, and i was ignoring him. who did i think that little voice was? who did i think wanted me to get over myself and start thinking about others? who did i think cared enough to speak up and tell me to do the right thing, even with no one looking? i realized that god talked to me all day, every day, guiding me in what i should say, and how i should act, and more often than not i ignored him. i chalked it up to "the little voice" and not the enormous god. i also realized that he was giving me a real message, and it was this. "if you don't trust me enough to obey me in the little things, why should i trust you with the big ones?" i knew right then and there, without a shadow of a doubt, that i had to prove to god that i would listen to him and obey him, and in time he would learn to trust me enough to give me bigger and bigger tasks until he felt sure he could trust me with something as important as his will in my life. that day, i started obeying the voice- even when i really, really, reaaaaaaaally didn't want to. i picked up trash, i helped people carry things out to their car at the grocery store. i let another car in front of me in traffic, even when i was running late. that was the key- to do it even when it hurt. maybe those were the ones that counted extra! the ones that cost me a little. sure enough, after proving to god that i would listen to the small stuff, he started pointing out bigger things...and even bigger things... until he finally whispered in my ear that i was created for full time mission work.

in my desire to "walk by faith and not by sight", i have been preparing to go even though i have no destination or timeline. the hardest part has been the lack of destination. i want so badly to be able to picture myself there, and pray specifically about where i am going and what i will be doing. maybe because of that, i inserted myself in africa in all my imaginings. i was convinced that god was calling me to africa. i love the continent and the people, and the very second i leave her, i find myself longing to be back. i can't deny that africa has played a huge role in my spiritual formation, and in forming me into a humanitarian and a missionary- but that doesn't mean that africa is where god is calling me to live out my life serving him. don't get me wrong- it might be. i have just come to realize that africa is likely my agenda, but i'm not sure it's gods...and perhaps the reason that there has been a delay in getting there is because god is waiting for me to stop chasing my tail and listen to where "there" really is.

a few weeks ago i made a real effort to try to turn over all my control back to god, and stop trying to make things happen on my own. that's when he started talking to me - loudly, and not in a whisper. he was waiting for me to shut up and stop telling him what i wanted. turns out, he knows what i want more than i do. SO- fun things have been shaping up. i have started an amazing conversation with a missionary from nepal who is the medical director of a hospital in a village in the far west, near the borders of india and tibet.

i will take a "vision trip" there in the spring of 2012, if all goes well! during one of our talks, he let me know that now there is a plan to launch a community health evangelism program in this village, and that is something that is truly close to my heart. it means becoming a member of the community and focusing on wellness, and not just illness. he believes that there is a place for me on their team, and is excited about moving forward to explore this partnership. now i have something specific to pray about! on the same note, the doors to zimbabwe (which was where i "wanted" to go when i first looked into this organization) and chad that seemed to have been openening have, for the time being, remained shut. maybe this is god's voice, too.

prayers that i can discern between His voice and my own. he makes a much better god than i do.

Monday, October 24, 2011

i am warrior- hear me ROAR!!

i saw an ad on facebook several months ago for the warrior dash and decided that was how i wanted to celebrate my new life, after more than 6 years of debilitating pain and a subsequent neck surgery to fix it. the end of october marked the date that i would officially be off of restriction following my spinal fusion, and i wanted to charge into the NEXT 6 years as a warrior. this pain has kept me down. way down. not only did i have pain, but also muscle wasting and weakness, pain in both shoulders, insomnia, and loss of motor function and sensation in both hands. needless to say, i didn't feel much like a warrior. well, my surgery has changed that! this seemed like the perfect way to prove what i can do with no limitations. besides, it looked really fun, and i'm never one to pass up fun!

i didn't want to do this all by myself, so i started recruiting friends. a couple were on board right away, and a few took a little more coaxing...but the clincher was when i mentioned that you get a fuzzy warrior helmet with horns, a medal, a tshirt, AND a beer for running it! we decided to look into superhero costumes and i'll tell you what- THAT is when the girls really started to get excited. time after time, i saw them walk into that costume shop luke warm about doing the dash, and unsure if they wanted to wear a costume, and then i saw them find the perfect one. after that, you couldn't have stopped them with a bulldozer! julie (wonder woman) wanted to wear hers home. who can blame her? she rocked it!

here's the team pre-battle (fatouma as the green lantern, cate was cat woman, paula was gladiatrix, julie was wonder woman, and yours truly was super girl):

we made a real girl's weekend out of this. we stayed at paula's aunt ronna's house in st. louis. there isn't a more amazing hostess in the entire world, and her house is more luxurious than any hotel we could have afforded. she even had a hot tub! (that came in really handy the night of the competition). she had enough food for an army, and enough bed space that none of us had to sleep on the couch. it was perfect. the next day we all headed out to old monroe, mo, for the moment of truth.

okay, i'll admit that on the website the obstacles look a little bit silly. kind of like a big joke. this is a 3.2 mile run with 12 obstacles thrown in. at the KC dash, you could only see the final 2 obstacles- the fire and the mud pit/barbed wire. no problem. if the other 10 were like those 2, we'd have this thing licked! well, guess what? they weren't. when we got there, on the horizon, we could see something. it looked like a giant net with tiny ants crawling up and over it. i heard myself say, "oh my @$), that is one of the obstacles." i kid you not, the blood drained out of every one of our faces when reality set in. it was a rope cargo net over 20 feet high, stretched over a frame, and the competitors had to climb up and over, and down the other side. no net. no pad. no mat. not even sand below. just 20 feet up and 20 feet down, with hard ground below. i was starting to have my doubts...have i mentioned my paralyzing fear of heights? this was gonna' build some character. 

(see that thing in the distance with ants crawling on it? those are people, and that was obstacle # 10!)

there was one saving grace- we were super heros. i mean literally. we were super heroes like the guy dressed up in a fat suit at the mall is santa. you might know, deep down, that he's just a guy...but in that moment, he's santa. well, that is what it was like for us. people were taking our pictures, and calling out our names. they asked if they could take pictures of their kids with us, and their kids were big-eyed and in awe. by the time we started the race, we had forgotten our fear. we were 10 feet tall and bullet proof. 500 of us lined up in the cattle corral, and the gun (and blow torches) sounded. we were off.

oh yike. i trained to be able to run a 5k. slowly, mind you, but i can still run one. well, that was on a flat surface. THIS was a hunting preserve in the woods of missouri, and there wasn't a flat inch in the whole 3 miles. it was hilly and rocky and uneven, and STEEP. that was underestimation #1.

underestimation #2 was the entire rest of the course! the good news is that some of the ones in the middle made the one we could see from the finish line easy to handle. the other good news is that we finished it- all of us!  we didn't finish it fast (except cate, who rocked it!!), but we finished it. paula took a big tumble off of one of the walls, but kept going like the gladiatrix she is. fatouma slid down that same wall hard- but kept going as well...and the 3 of us finished holding hands, and jumping that fire while yelling our warrior yell at the top of our lungs. we all hit the mud pit to chants of "wonder woman!" and "green lantern!", and "super girllllllllll!", etc... and crawled under the barbed wire and over the finish line as champions.

we could barely walk the next day, and by monday i couldn't get out of my office chair in less than 6 tries...and we had bruises on nearly every surface of our bodies...but each and every one of us committed then and there to warrior dash KC 2012.

i'll let pictures tell the rest of the story: 

capes and barbed wire...epic fail!

fatouma and paula tackle "the hangman"

dead man's drop- this one is harder than it looks....

...obviously! nothing injured but my pride, here

8 feet off the ground on 2x4s

who said cats don't like to swim??

i'm not scared of a little 40 degree mud!


...AND the after-party, complete with costume contest and dancing...

bring on warrior dash KC -       May 5th, 2010!             


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

dating...just got WORSE!?!

OH WOW! that's all i have to say. well, of course that's not all i have to say- but it's a start. tonight i was going to post about our awesome superhero team that emerged victorious from the st. louis "warrior dash" this weekend, but that's going to have to wait. don't worry. i will get to it soon...complete with photos. tonight, however, i want to revisit the dating scene.

i promised in an earlier blog post that i was over it. dating, that is. specifically online dating. truth is that i was almost over it. i have to admit that i continued to dabble just a little bit, convinced that there had to be some redeeming quality that i had missed. i started a conversation a few weeks ago with a guy that seemed pretty decent. he had a lot to learn about communication, namely listening , but he made up for it by being intelligent and interesting while he was droning on about himself and his life. he also had a super sexy voice, which didn't hurt (haha). i wasn't convinced that we would make a great match, but he was...and he started to convince me that maybe he was onto something. he is a major in the army, and currently stationed in alaska, but is scheduled to come back to kansas in a few weeks. during our nightly phone conversations, he would ask that i give him a chance. he told me how much he enjoyed my company and how excited he was to meet me face to face. he even offered to fly me to alaska so that i could make the drive back with him when he made the move. every time i would voice a concern about some of our differences, or our values, he would assure me that we were much more the same than different and that we would complement each other beautifully. he became more attentive, and started to ask questions and to listen. he started to work his way under my skin a little bit. i started to believe that he found me beautiful, funny, sexy, intelligent, interesting, sweet, good-hearted, etc... i even let myself begin to hope that maybe, just maybe, i'd finally get to a second date. i should have probably waited until i had the first one under my belt before i got that optimistic. anyway...

this weekend, as i said earlier, i was in st. louis competing in the warrior dash. he sent me a few texts, encouraging me and letting me know he was thinking about me. that was sweet, actually. after the "dash" i cleaned up and decided to pull out my phone and text him an update, letting him know i survived. before i did, i caught sight of an email with a subject line reading "the real heath h." any guesses who it was from?

his fiancee.

the best part was that it was addressed to me and 18 other women, all of whom were having some kind of relationship with him. according to his fiancee, the list wasn't comprehensive- she just stopped reading after the first 19 because she was afraid she'd vomit if she read more. that morning (while i was "dashing"), he was laying in bed with her planning their wedding. he left her house (where he LIVES) and left his email up on her computer. because of a prior online indescretion he'd had with another woman, she didn't fully trust him and she gave in to the urge to snoop his in/outbox. i don't condone that for one second, but thank god she did! she found that he had been emailing naked photos to women, and they had been reciprocating. he had been flying women to alaska to have sex with him when she was out of town for work. he told most of them (i guess i should use "us" since i am not excluded from the list of women dumb enough to get sucked in) that he loved them and couldn't wait to start a life with them. some, like one woman whom he had been involved with for 4 years, already thought they were sharing a life together. these are smart, accomplished, successful women, too. we are a nurse, a microbiologist, a cardiology fellow, and more... and we are all reduced to some guy's sick fantasy. it is truly humbling to realize that no matter how smart and independent you are, you can still be suckered- especially in matters of the heart.

today i went on the dating website where we met to see if he had removed his profile. it is still there, but the pictures are gone. now instead of being 6'3", he says he is 5'2". instead of blonde hair, suddenly it is black. no longer from kansas, his profile says he's from colorado springs. he removed "military" from the profession box, but that may be true once  his fiancee gets done with him. it seems he's still on the hunt. beware ladies! i will protect his privacy (though he certainly didn't protect any of ours) and will only use first names- but check with me before dating anyone named heath, and stay away from Sabot1 on plentyoffish.com. 

it's good that i love a great story, or this kind of thing could get me down...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

more to come!

part of this life journey is about testing my limits. this weekend i am driving to st. louis with a group of friends, and competing in the "warrior dash". if you haven't heard of it, check out http://www.warriordash.com/. it is like a cross between a 5K race, survivor, and fear factor. oh- did i mention we'll be dressed like super heros? wish this "super girl" luck- more to come!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

dating. i am so over it.


well, it's no secret that i had a bout of loneliness recently (check out "time to be authentic" in my blog archives). i have been so focused on preparing for mission work that i neglected my very basic need for male companionship. i decided to take matters into my own hands and get back into the dating scene. lawrence is a pretty small place- at least once you've lived here for 35ish years- so chances are if you're between the ages of 30 and 50, are male, and are single, i've already dated you... or there is a reason i haven't. haha. okay, okay- it's not that bad, but it is true that most of my friends have already tried to fix me up with the men they think would be a good match (and even some they didn't). that pool ran dry awhile back . with the "set up" possibility being slim to none, i turned to the old standby- online dating.

if you have done the online dating scene, you will understand my pain. if not, words will not do it justice. i have profiles on at least two dating sites, but they have been hidden for over a year. now i remember why. a couple of weeks ago, i went back to one of the sites and browsed my "matches". they use that term loosely. it seems that no matter how many criteria i enter, the matches are no better than my friends who only use the criteria "single" to set me up. as usual, that was true- but there was one that had a really nice profile. well thought-out, well written, witty, interesting. there were a couple of things that potentially ruled us out as each others' dream mate, but i thought i would at least honor his effort with a quick email letting him know that i liked his profile and that it didn't go unappreciated. his reply? "no blondes, please."


on to mr. perfect #2. i didn't even have to email that one to realize he was a jerk. he said so in his profile. well, what he actually said was "no short hair. no woman looks good in it. if you are more than 5'0" and 100 pounds and have short hair, you look like a middle aged man." i, of course, replied with a slightly sarcastic but oh-so-helpful dissertation on why that was ridiculous and shallow and how i can grow my hair, but he will always be a jackass. guess what? suddenly (after looking at the pictures automatically attached to my email) he decided that perhaps i was the exception, and that he liked my sass and my fire. i got the satisfaction of telling him that i wasn't kidding about the jackass thing. next!

third time is a charm. i emailed a guy who seemed attractive and interesting, with similar interests. he evidently thought the same about me, and we traded a half a dozen emails before deciding to meet for a cup of coffee. keep in mind that my profile mentions my faith and my mission work, and my dedication to trying to live out god's will in my life. his mentions what good character he has and how he prides himself on leading a good life, and how he is looking for a quality woman to share it with. the morning we were supposed to meet for coffee, i awoke to a definitely suggestive, completely inappropriate text message with a request for pictures showing more skin than even my doctor has seen. sigh....

being an optimist, i gave it one more try. this guy and i emailed once and moved on to phone conversations after that. i thought maybe i would have better luck getting a feel for who he really was if we talked instead of just emailed. problem is, WE never talked. he talked. we had 3 phone calls that lasted about an hour each. the first one, i talked for maybe 5 minutes, and most of that was talking over him since he never stopped. the second one, i didn't even get in a full 5 minutes. the third, i decided to force a little air-time, but all i got was an hour of him arguing with everything i said. here's the kicker- after that 3rd conversation he had decided that i was a fascinating woman (which may be true, but how could he tell??!?) and that he was in love with me. yes, you heard me. love. oh, and that he needed me. we didn't even meet. double yike.

maybe i'll get another dog...  ;0)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

jane goodall (the chimp chick) makes me look like an amateur.

jane goodall is quite possibly the coolest, most amazing, most beautiful woman on the planet. if you don't know who she is, quick! google her and check her out- i'll wait. (humming theme to jeopardy). okay- now you know what i'm talking about.

i loved jane goodall as a kid. i can't tell you how many times i watched the documentary of her time spent in the jungle, studying and analyzing the behavior of chimpanzees. she was a beautiful, largely uneducated young woman (26 at the time) who moved to Gombe, africa on a grant from louis leaky to study chimps. she traveled by boat- which i can't even imagine, considering the flights are brutal enough- and her mom went with her for the first part of her adventure. there was enough money in the beginning to cover 6 months of study. every morning she hiked up into the jungle alone and looked for wild chimps. let me repeat this...every day, she hiked ALONE into the jungles of AFRICA to look for WILD chimps...did i mention ALONE?! her mom waited back at camp. it took her a couple of months before she even found the chimps, much less started interacting with them. then comes the next amazing part- interacting with them. in her accounts, and from what i can tell from the films, she had virtually no fear. she said that she believed she was where she was supposed to be, doing what she was supposed to be doing, and that she would be okay because of that. wow. talk about faith! her only communication with the outside world was a boat captain that brought supplies once a week (that spoke very little english), and handwritten letters that took 3 weeks to get to and from her family and her boss. she journaled by hand. she wrote down every observation- and she was the first person ever to witness an animal make and use a tool. prior to that time, it was thought that tool making and tool use was distinctly human and was what set us apart from the rest of the animals. did i mention wow? she changed our entire view of animals and also perhaps what it is to be human. certainly it brought animals and humans closer together, helping us to understand the depth of their intelligence, and how we are in many ways more similar than different.

skip forward about 50 years. if you notice, my first line says that jane goodall IS quite possibly the most beautiful and amazing woman on the planet- not was. as enthralled as i was with her when i was a child, i am absolutely in love with her today. last night i had the pleasure of seeing a new film out honoring her and her life. it is called "jane's journey" and chronicles her work, her life, and the activism that she took on as a result of her time spent with the chimps. just as she felt that she was where she was meant to be, and doing what she was meant to be doing when she was in africa, there came a time when she became certain that her role had changed. she realized that she needed to take what she knew- what they had taught her- and touch others with it. she had to become an activist and help protect them. that is what we do with those we love...we protect them. she started giving talks, and starting foundations and programs that promote environmentalism and protecting our planet. she founded "roots and shoots" which is a volunteer youth program in over 100 countries. she does seminars and book signings and conferences. she speaks at sporting events and concerts, and anywhere people will listen. she travels back to africa and into our native american reservations, and all sorts of places in between, to help them tackle those issues which are killing our planet and our people. every second that she is not telling her story or inspiring others is, to her, a missed opportunity to do what she knows she was created to do. in the movie i watched last night, someone said that she is like the candle that lights another candle, and then those two light two more, and those four light four more... spreading that light exponetially across the universe...but that SHE lights those candles thousands at a time. she is on the road traveling and spreading her message 360 days a year, every year. she has 5 days "home" each year, and i am guessing feels a little guilty about taking that time off, and wondering whom she could have touched or inspired had she just had the gumption to keep going all 365.

did i mention she's 77?

jane goodall makes me look like an amateur. you go girl!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

a life of balance- and other things that don't come naturally

i once had a friend tell me that i'm not laid back. i was shocked. i really was. if you know me, i bet you're laughing and rolling your eyes right now, because you can't imagine that i'm serious, but i am. i thought i was a laid back, easy-going person. what my friend was quick to point out is that i am friendly, i am adaptable, i am resourceful and flexible, but i am NOT laid back. she started listing other words that describe me which, admittedly, i wouldn't generally use to describe laid back people. intense,"powerful but not overpowering", strong, driven, opinionated. you get the picture. the point is that i was able to deceive myself into believing something that is untrue even when the truth was obvious to everyone else, and was right under my nose. literally... it lived inside me. as i reflected on that, i realized that part of this authentic life quest has to be searching for and examining other areas in my life that i am deceiving myself. i thought there was a pretty good chance i wouldn't find any more (insert sarcastic chuckle here), but unfortunately there is at least one.


i have been selling stuff to try to save money toward my goal of full time mission work. i love books, and have/had hundreds of them. i have sold more than 200, and as i was sorting through the last batch, i ran across a book i always intended to read, but had never gotten around to. it is called "the journey toward relevance- simple steps for transforming your world", by kary oberbrunner. self-help books lost their draw for me once i figured out what god's purpose for my life is, but this book was soooooo easy to justify- it was a book about living a relevant life, and it was on the 50% off table at signs of life bookstore. i love it when that happens.

so, i'm reading along in this book, feeling pretty good about myself and how "relevant" my life is, when it convicts me. it hits me over the head with a truth that i hadn't recognized before. my life is out of balance. again, you may be rolling your eyes and laughing at me right now, but i swear that i didn't know that. yes, i know that my goals and life values are different than most peoples'. yes, i know that my steps and plan for attaining those goals are unconventional and seem a little extreme to most people. what i didn't know is that in my zest and zeal to serve and please god, i have started serving people less. i have started loving them (in the verb sense) less. i have lost the balance between faith and culture. i think that what initially hit me was this: "separatists have thir christian friends, their christian music, and their christian church. they wear their faith all the time, but fail to relate with the world around them. they pride themselves in having a pure faith. separatists fail to see that no one wants to hear about their faith, because they are completely irrelevant to the culture all around..." this hit me hard. i had a friend tell me once that he thought it was really powerful that i was a "normal person" and still had such a strong and visible faith. he felt that my life itself was sharing the message of god because "everyday people" could relate to me and see that not all christians were freaks, nor lived some foreign and boring lifestyle.

i am at a crossroads and the choice of which path i take feels very important. if i continue with the way i've been going, i risk becoming so irrelevant to others that i won't be effective for god, either. i also don't want to take a completely different path because i believe that this is the direction i've been led.  what i need to look at is where my focus is, and how that is affecting my relationships with others. as i said earlier, i am doing all i can to save money for my mission work. here is part of that lack of balance; "all i can". when i say all, i mean all. i am selling belongings. i have stopped purchasing groceries. i have stopped eating out. i have stopped purchasing anything that isn't an absolute necessity. i have stopped going to the movies. i have stopped going for a cup of coffee with a friend. i have stopped nearly all the things that bring me joy, and more importantly, things that bring others joy. this is where i got off kilter. i stopped focusing on loving people. when my eye is strictly on my savings account balance and how much i can accrue, i stop looking for the people that i can bless with what i have. they say you worship where you heart is...and i don't want my heart to be focused on money. my heart needs to look up from its account balance and continue to look for people to bless. i have to believe that god will honor that and the rest will come. as hard as it will be for this "all i can" girl, i need to start picking up the tab again when i go out with friends. i need to buy them a little gift when i sense they need a pick-me-up. i need to be the first in line to cook meals for friends in need instead of worrying how much it will cost. i need to invite a hurting friend out for a drink or a cup of coffe and a long talk, instead of figuring first if it fits into my budget. i need to remember that god values people and relationships, and that is why he put me here on the earth...to build those relationships and to serve people- all people. not just the ones in africa, or nepal, or honduras... i need to love and serve the ones around me, too. those at work, and next door, and in my family.

oh my, god has a sense of humor. as i am writing this, my niece texted to say she will need a dinner break from studying later, and asked me what i'm doing this evening. here's my chance. guess who's picking up the tab?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

how to make a rotisserie chicken last a week, and other freegan tips.

this entry is for all the foodies out there.

if there is one thing i love, it is good food. the decision to try to drastically cut down on my food budget had the potential to wreak havoc on my culinary bliss. as much as i want to save money, i don't want to eat boring, bland, or uninteresting food all the time. that would make a life not worth living. well- maybe that's a little dramatic. you know what i mean, though.

the first step in the plan to save was to limit myself to $50 a week for food. in the beginning, i hadn't decided if that included eating out, or just groceries. i budgeted for one $50 dillons card through my church every sunday (so that they could get a little charitable income, too), and when it was empty, i was done buying for the week. i found out a few things. one, it is really easy to eat for $50 most weeks. two, i must have spent a whole lot more than that before i started paying attention.

i did pretty well. the first week i spent my $50. the next week, i went a tiny bit over due to some purchases that would last me multiple weeks (spices, bulk items) and i totalled about $68. then the competitive side of me kicked in and i aimed to spend less. a lot less. the third week i spent about $30. the fourth and fifth weeks i spent $30 combined. the next week i spent zip. zilch. nada. i had my first dinner out, but it was a date and i was blessed with a guy that refused to let me pay. oh how i love chivalry! the only food money i spent was chipping in for appetizers for a coworker's going away party (miss you, tricia smith!) at encore restaurant- a bittersweet occasion. i would have much preferred to pay for her to stay! in essence, i spent $45 for three weeks' worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. i would love to pretend that i ate like a mouse and lost oodles of weight- but i'd be lying. i ate well, and here's how...

the rotisserie chicken:

do yourself a favor and pick up a rotisserie chicken, especially if it is on sale. i got one for $3.99 one evening at dillons, and in 30 minutues i had prepared 3 dishes that stretched for about 7 meals. the first meal didn't take much imagination- i had rotisserie chicken. period. i cut off one breast and one leg, and ate those with some steamed veggies...

... then i pulled all of the meat off the bone and separated it into dark and white meat. the white meat i chopped and made into chicken salad for chicken salad sandwiches. i added a little onion, a little mayo, and a little curry. you can make lots of other variations, though, depending on what's in your fridge. try grapes and walnuts, or dill and cucumbers, or green peppers, carrots, and scallions. be creative- it is hard to screw up chicken salad. you can even stuff it into a hollowed out cucumber "boat" and serve it like you're fancy. :0) 

i took the dark meat and made a simple chicken noodle soup, using chicken broth (or bouillion) from the cupboard, and veggies from the fridge. i used some baby carrots, celery, onion, and greens that were past their prime in my crisper drawer. swimming in a chicken soup perked them right up! i added some noodles from the cupboard, too, but you can use rice, or beans, or just the chicken and veggies if that's all you have. the soup was enough for 4 large bowls...

...i also bought a large loaf of italian bread for $1.59 and ate it with the chicken, the soup, and used it to make the sandwiches. leftovers made great french toast.

the moral of this story is that you can eat for 3-4 days for under 6 bucks, and not starve. i even had people at work asking for the recipes. maybe that'll be my next entry :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

time to be authentic. read at your own risk- this one's not funny.

sometimes i hide behind my humor. other times, i hide behind my faith...or the busy-ness of life...or my smile...or my generally optimistic attitude. but some days, like the past two, i can't hide. i guess it's more accurate to say i can't hide from myself- because i've been pretty good at hiding the truth from everyone else. if i am going to live an authentic life, though, i need to be careful about hiding- especially from myself.

i've been sitting at home most of the weekend, listening to what's in my head and trying to face it head on, instead of drowning it out. what it's telling me is that i am lonely. super lonely. heartbreakingly lonely. maybe it's the fall weather, with the cold and the storms. i call it "snuggle weather". yeah, you get the picture. it's hard to snuggle solo. i won't deny that i miss the warmth of a real live person next to me sometimes. don't get me wrong- i have wonderful friends and family that i can always turn to, and that would keep me company at a moment's notice, but you know full well that's not what i mean. i know full well that's not what i mean, too. the best friend in the world can't take the place of being in love. or even in "like". i've almost forgotten what that feels like, and that makes me sad.

i can blame it on the weather, but i think it's more than that. the people that know me well won't be that surprised at this, but the ones who don't will probably never understand. i think it's scott. more complicated than i can ever explain- but here is the nutshell. 28 years ago i fell in love with the man i thought would still be by my side today. two years later, he had a car accident that left him in a nursing home with a head injury for the next 25 years. i loved him every minute of those 27 years...and last year, 4 hours before his 49th birthday, he died. his birthday (and for all intents and purposes the anniversary of his death) was yesterday. his 50th birthday. most days i celebrate his life and i am grateful that his suffering is over and that he's finally moved on and has been healed- but not yesterday, and not today.

the past two days have been a reminder that his love is gone from my life, and that not only was he not by my side the past 27 years, but he never will be again. if it ended there, i would be okay with it. love and loss. they go together. i get that. what i am not okay with is the little voice that starts asking if i think he was "the one" and if i think i'll ever find that again? and then i start looking at my life and what i'm trying to do with it, and realize that i have made it harder than ever to find someone that will want to share this journey with me. if i think it's hard now, i should skip forward to when i'm living in a hut in africa somewhere, doing mission work. that's what my brain has been doing this weekend. skipping forward and focusing on how isolated i will be from romance and intimacy and all of those things that seems so desperately important today. and i start to wonder how i will survive. by the grace of god, i guess. that's how. i sure can't do it on my own. even that feels like a load of crap today, in the midst of my loneliness.

how's that for authentic?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

it's not all fun and games (but it's always fun)

i had someone ask me, "why africa?" today. i wasn't sure how to explain it. she asked why i don't set my sights on someplace closer. someplace easier. someplace a little less remote and a little more safe. maybe that's exactly the reason i chose africa- or more specifically, why africa chose me. because there are lots of people who want to go to places that are close, and cheap, and safe, and feel a whole lot like home. there are far fewer that are willing to tent camp instead of sleep in a guesthouse or hotel, and travel by dugout canoe or flatbed truck rather than by bus or by car.

don't get me wrong- there is nothing less admirable or noble about going to the places that are a little easier to get to, and a lot easier to tolerate. need is need, and people are people, and anywhere you are serving people in need is where you should be. i just feel that the reason god blessed me with single life (ie: no one to answer to or be responsible for) is so i could take his love farther than most are able to go- to reach those "unreachables". that, and africa is just cool. when i am there, i feel fully alive. the more covered in sweat and grime i become, the cleaner and more pure my heart feels. in my exhaustion is stillness and the sense that i am exactly where i should be, doing exactly what i should be doing. there is something so powerful about knowing what god's purpose for your life is. there is a sense of peace and stillness, because the restlessness that goes along with uncertainty is gone. when i am doing my work in the "field", i feel i am doing god's work. i am including a couple of links to videos made by team members on my last two trips- so that maybe you can take a few minutes to stand by my side and see through my eyes, and fully understand "why africa".

click here to see a small snapshot of the work i/we do in kenya- this video was made by jeff alejos, who accompanied both the K2K community team and medical team to kenya the summer of 2010. i led the medical team on behalf of mercy and truth medical missions and Kansas to Kenya (K2K). if you watch long enough, you might see someone you know! :0)  (*note- in 4 1/2 clinic days, we saw 1,152 patients)

click here to see video of the trip to malawi- this video was made by christina smaus, one of the amazing KU nursing students that i led to malawi in march of 2011. we partnered with mercy and truth medical missions, and ministry of hope- and assisted both at a crisis nursery (aka AIDS orphanage) as well as with mobile medical clinics to villages who had been cut off from contact with the outside world by the rains for the prior 6 months.

imani-  k

Monday, September 12, 2011

volunteering is good for the stomach...i mean SOUL! good for the SOUL!

volunteering is an excellent way to feed yourself for free. and i'm pretty sure if you do it for that reason, you'll burn in hell. well, maybe that's a bit harsh...perhaps it's better to look at it like this- if you volunteer, god will bless you with lots of snacks. okay, okay, even that theology is a bit sketchy. haha. i'll stick to the facts- the volunteer life that i lead has been a perfect venue for my freegan lifestyle.

here's an example; i am the primary coordinator for "family promise" at my church, which is a program that houses people experiencing homelessness in our church space. this is our host week, and one of my duties is to go every day to "meet and greet" the guests, introduce them to the volunteers for the evening, help set up dinner, and troubleshoot any needs or problems that the guests, volunteers, or facility might have. the bonus is that i just happen to be there at dinnertime! last night i had some of the best chicken enchiladas and beef burritos that i've ever had- and anyone that knows me knows i LOVE mexican food, and that i probably eat more of it than anyone that doesn't actually live in mexico. i'm a bit of a connaisseur! there were tons of leftovers, and i even got to take some home. THANK YOU GOD! :0)

today was a really good volunteer food day, too. every monday evening i volunteer at "just food" which is a local food bank serving low income residents. NO, i didn't eat food bank food. even i wouldn't stoop low enough to eat food donated for needy folks...but the food bank had a fundraiser golf tournament today, and the director brought the left overs back for the volunteers to eat. i had a double fisted pizza and blueberry fritter dinner. yummmmmm. but wait- i'm not done! after that, i ran by a going away party for the current family promise director, which just happened to be a "make your own sundae" party. it would have been a success even if i had only visited with great people and had a delicious sundae, but the bounty didn't stop there. one of my friends told the host about my "freegan-ness", and before i left the host placed a bag full of greens and a small watermelon from her yard in my arms. i think of this as a sort of version of the home shopping club. i come empty handed, i eat food, and i leave with more. GOD PROVIDES!

there are tons of volunteer opportunities that feed you for free. at the van-go fundraiser ("what floats your boat") there was free beer and barbecue. at the humane society auction, the volunteers can eat from the snack buffet. the red cross disaster action team meetings always have food- usually pizza, but sometimes jane b. springs for mexican or barbecue (thanks jane!). the "extreme home makeover" worksite provided sandwich wraps and a really random buffet of burritos, tater tots, and breakfast sausage. are you getting the picture? :0)

of course, all of this is tongue in cheek. i volunteer for very real reasons, most of which do not include free eats. the point is, though, that the volunteer gets something from volunteering. the volunteer often gets more from volunteering than they give. i volunteer for more causes and organizations than i can count sometimes, but instead of draining me, it revitalizes me. it makes me see a side of life and a side of society that i can forget exists if i just stay in my comfy semi-corporate world and keep looking straight ahead. it helps me to realize just how much i have, and how little many others have. it also helps me get some perspective on life and has redefined my definitions of "need" and "want". it has helped me realize that i can give things up to make it possible to give more to others. it has also shown me that god knows my needs and will reward my faithfulness. he is all i need, and will put food on my table if i listen to him and follow him. my thought when i started on this road (both volunteering and doing my "freegan" lifestyle experiment) is that i would probably end up hungry and broke. truth is that i have gained a richness of experience and a richness of life that i didn't have before, and god has provided for the very thing i trusted him enough to give up. food. everywhere i turn. volunteering really is good for the stomach and soul.

i learn something new every day!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

sometimes it's all about the joy

i'll never go the distance if every minute of every day is about others. yes, i believe that my purpose in life is service to others (and god, of course), but i also know that i won't be any good to anyone else if i don't take time to recharge and do something for the other important people in my life- me, myself, and i. that is what the last 30 hours have been about.

earlier in the week i decided that i needed R&R combined with a little adventure. the weather forecast was great, so i settled on camping. i love camping and haven't been able to do it since last summer (before my neck surgery), since sleeping in a tent meant 13 minutes of sleep followed by 13 days of pain. now that i'm minus a cervical disc and have the addition of a shiny new plate and some screws in there, i thought it was high time i gave it another shot. my plan was to head home after work on friday, cram my camping gear in the back of the jeep, throw my bike on the bike rack, and go to perry lake. interestingly, this caused some shock and a little bit of horror in the girls at work, because my plan was to go camping alone. is that weird? well, i know it's weird- they told me. it seems normal to me. maybe that is a sign that i'm way too independent, but i love the idea of sitting in front of the campfire, playing my guitar (i sound way better when no one else can hear it), curling up in a warm sleeping bag on a cold night in my tent, listening to the coyotes and the critters sing to me, and then going for a ride or a hike the next day around the lake.

lucky for me, my friend blair saved me from the stigma of solo camping and the turmoil that might have caused at work. i invited him to go with me, and he invited me to the banff film festival at liberty hall. a new plan was hatched. 1. run out to the lake before the festival to set up camp. 2. head back to the festival. 3. return to the lake for our overnight. his only request was we ride out in an open jeep. lucky for us, i just happen to have a jeep! i took a few minutes before picking him up to take out the doors and all the windows.  

anyone want to guess what happened next? remember that weather forecast? yeah- it never changed. 30% chance of rain for the NEXT day, with showers in the afternoon only. what DID change was the weather. we headed toward the lake and into a black and green horizon. the wind went from 15 miles an hour to about 40 miles an hour with super nasty gusts. debris and dust was flying everywhere. the wind was pummeling the left side of my face so hard that i couldn't keep my eye open, and it was blowing drool out of my mouth and into the passenger seat (don't tell blair. pretty sure he thinks it was rain). then the rain actually started. i am also pretty sure i heard (and felt) hail. remember- i took out the windows and the doors in the jeep. let me suggest that you always have a plan B. we didn't, but made one pretty fast. we got about 2 miles from the lake and turned around. one of the things that i like about blair is that he always puts a positive spin on things. he focused on the fact that it was his very first ride in an "open" jeep, and that we didn't already have our tents set up when the rain hit. well, i have to admit that is a pretty good point. he was also pretty pumped up about "all the adventurey things we got accomplished in the last hour." i swear, he's got a little bit of cheerleader in him. the point is that he kept me smiling (granted, mostly laughing at the cheerleading). one of the most important things in life is to surround yourself with positive people. you know what happened? the night turned into a home run.

we got back to town with time to spare before the festival, since we saved so much time not setting up camp. we got to eat our chicken sandwiches in the park instead of on the fly in the car. it also allowed me time to respond to my niece morgan's text to come see her at work- and enough time to actually GO. i got a kiss and a hug and a free scone (you didn't hear that from me). we were early enough at the festival to get really good seats and the films were spectacular. they were also inspiring and made us really pumped up to do some "outdoorsy" things- so after the show, we headed back out to the lake. want to know the best part? well, i can't pick just one- but the bonus was that the storm chased off pretty much all the tent campers and we had the place to ourselves.

we set up camp like champs and lit a nice fire. the best part was our decision at midnight to put the kayaks in the water and do a full moon paddle. the cool air from the storm, combined with the warm water, made this amazing mist/fog on the surface of the lake and it was like kayaking through clouds. when we were done, we roasted marshmallows the size of our heads (and i have an enormous head!), and drank a beer. we went to bed at 4am, got up at 9a, cooked breakfast over the fire, and headed back out on the water for 5 more miles of exploring. lunch was sardines and crackers while docked at a little deserted beach area, watching the sailboats. looking back, that seems like so much. so much adventure. so much fun. so much activity. but my day wasn't over yet.

we tore down the site in under 20 minutes, and headed back to lawrence. then i rode my bike to campus for "family day" at the KU game. LMH offered 4 tickets to every employee and volunteer, along with a fully catered tailgate tent. on a whim, i invited my sister and her family. i was a little surprised that she said yes- but am so glad she did. my niece met us there with her student ticket, and my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew used the LMH tickets. we started in a huge tent filled with people that i work with, and their families (so cool). then we went to the game and i got to simultaneously spend 4 hours talking to my sister, and watch KU win. my niece leaned back into my lap every now and then, which gave me the perfect chance to stroke her hair, or give her a hug. any aunt knows, that must be what heaven's like. at 10p, i rode my bike back home in the dark, hoping my little helmet light and blinking butt would keep the drunk fans from plowing me over on the way. mission accomplished.

what did i do on friday and saturday that was worthwhile? who did i help? well, i spent quality time with my friends and family, and built relationships with those i care about the most. i helped my racing mind and restless spirit. i hung out with god and honored him by enjoying and appreciating his creation and all he has blessed us with. i pushed the limits of my body and my abilities...

...and now i am completely exhausted, with aching knees, muscle spasms in my back, a headache from lack of sleep and dehydration, and bumps and bruises that will take a week to heal.

totally worth it.