Things I hope to do in 2009:

.drink more water.
.slow down.

.make a lot of pretty things.

.wake up a little earlier.

.send more mail.

.bake bread.

.eat healthily.

.explore new places.

.be a better friend.



I've always thought New Year's resolutions were a little lame, but this year, after a year of a lot of major and wonderful changes and new things, I'm ready to step out of transition-mode and into life-mode. I want to develop habits that are healthy and rich for my heart, my body, and my mind. I want to abide in Peace, and learn to listen again. I want to understand when to strive and when to wait. I need Him.

...What do you want?...


.New York.

Hello friends! I want to tell you all about our Christmas celebrations, but I have to gather up some goodies first. In the meantime, here is a photo recap of our fabulous seven-hour tour of the Big Apple. In typical me fashion, the battery to my camera pooped out within about three shots on the Ferry ride, but luckily my sister's little digital worked just fine.
We took the Staten Island Ferry (Free!) over in the morning. Then worked our way uptown, stopped at Ground Zero and the Chapel right across the street from it, then up to Chinatown, Little Italy and SOHO where we just walked around and stopped into H&M (my favorite store in Salamanca) for old time's sake. Then we walked around Union Square, but it was pretty empty. We did get to stop by ABC Carpet & Home as James recommended. A magical place.
Then it was up to Times Square.
We ate lunch at my Aunt's boyfriend's pizzeria right off of Times Square. The basil tomato pizza was unbelievable.
Love the tiles in the Subway.
Rockefeller Plaza was ridiculously crowded, but we couldn't miss it.
And to top it all off, Central Park was dusted in white. Perfect. More pictures here

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!


.Holiday Happiness.

This weekend we spent some time in Nashville with good friends--taking in the engrossing progression of my favorite medium, sipping delight in a cup (specifically espresso, dark chocolate, irish cream, and whip) next to a city side window sprinkled with glittering drops, warming our bellies with hearty brew and tasty fare, and braving the commercial-crazed throngs to glimpse an enchanted memory.

At Fido's I discovered a new, really cool way to make 3D paper snowflakes. The barrista even stopped what she was doing to give me a little lesson. I haven't made any more yet on my own, but you can be sure that I'll show you when I do. 
Speaking of holiday crafts, Hubs and I wrapped presents last night. I'm not sure I've ever mentioned this, but I am atrocious at wrapping, and therefore I usually throw something half-hearted together at the last minute. This year however, I had a vision and an amazing helper. Brown butcher paper, raffia, bows, and stamps. And THESE adorable, free, downloadable gift tags. (from inside a black apple

Pics from Nashville:

Tomorrow we're off on the Christmas 2008 Family Whirlwind Tour Extravaganza!


Dream a Little Dream for Me.

You have approximately 10 hours in NYC (a day trip), you don't want to spend much money, and anything that involves waiting in a really long line is out of the question. Also, keep in mind that the weather on the particular day that you're going will most likely be cold and cloudy.

What MUST you do?

Cold and Cozy

me, c. 1987
Here in Birmingham we've had a bit of a cold spell, uneventful as far as precipitation is concerned, but fun nonetheless because I really like it when it's cold in the wintertime, warm in the summer, seasons behaving seasonally as they should. Last night though, Keith and I braved the subfreezing temperatures without the aid of our heater, which we couldn't get to light after turning it off in last weeks blazing summer afterthought. No worries, we donned four cozy layers on our bed and snuggled up for a cold winters night. Too bad it will be up to 70 again by Christmas Eve.


Sufjan video and Christmas tree additions.

We made snowflakes last night :) Keith put them in our tree.

The only Christmas album you really need.

Our Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas album finally arrived, and we are JOYOUS! This is an amazing Christmas music extravaganza with over 40 fabulous Christmas songs new and old. There's really nothing better to get you in the Christmas spirit (although the Amy Grant Christmas album, and the Vienna Boys Choir will always have a special place in my heart.) Can I promote Sufjan some more? The songs from Christmas also includes . . . 
• Five individually packaged CD EPs!
• Five Christmas stickers!
• Extensive liner notes and short stories by Sufjan Stevens!
• An original Christmas essay by Rick Moody!
• An animated music video and comic strip by Tom Eaton!
• A Christmas Songbook with lyric sheets and chord charts--so you can sing along too!
• An original Christmas Family Portrait painting of Santa Sufjan (with wife and kids!) by Jacques Bredy
 . . . And you can get it all at Amazon right now for only $14.99! (I promise I'm not getting paid
for this plug, I just love it that much.) And after you pack up your Christmas decor and take down the tree, check out Sufjan's other stuff if you haven't already. It's good.

I wanted to post a music video from the album, but I can't do that at work, so stay tuned!!!


Bedouins International Haiti Film Premier

Keith and I have been doing what we can to help out with a really great non-profit here in Birmingham for almost a year. Honestly, Keith's accounting skills make him way more useful than me, but we really just enjoy getting to be a part of something good and have loved making friends with these guys. The organization is called Bedouins International (to evoke a sense of nomadic wondering . . . not really because it has anything to do with the people group . . .yet). They do photography, videography, web, and graphic design--basically all things media, for missionaries and non-profit groups with really important stories to tell, but no money to tell it well. For these groups, they do the artistic work for free. For other groups that can afford to pay them, they use the money to fund the work the do pro bono. And they are quite talented. Check out their website at bedouinsinternational.org and the founder and photographer, Stephen DeVries' website/blog at stephendevriesphoto.com

We will actually be taking a trip with them in May to do a project for an organization that we have known for a long time now called Hearts for the Children, in Guatemala City, Guatemala. We'll be doing a media presentation with still photography and audio to tell the story of a woman whose life has been redeemed by Christ through a project of Hearts for the Children that walks women through a rehab program to get them out of prostitution and a life on the streets. We're pretty excited. If you'd be interested in helping support this trip or the organization, you'll find ways to do that on the Bedouin's website.

All that to say that they recently finished the documentary, Caribbean Gold, they made for an organization down in Haiti that runs a school for children in a remote jungle village and has implemented a strategy to help these people to self-sufficiency by teaching them how to grow and produce vanilla, a crop that when it's producing is more lucrative than cocaine. On Friday night they had a premier of the documentary and a gallery of the amazing photography and Stephen let me take pictures of the evening. Here are the shots he posted on his blog:


One of my favorite things about the holidays!

. . . Making snowflakes!!! I haven't had much time to do this with real paper yet this year, although, when the opportunity arises, I have been known to occupy several hours at a time with this tantalizing activity. I LOVE making snowflakes, you never know quite how they will turn out, no matter how strategic  your snips are. And no two snowflakes ever turn out the same (just like in nature:) Be sure that I will make lots of these happy flakes the old fashion way before the season has ended, but until then, here is a pretty incredible virtual version (that also shows you how to fold the paper in a really cool way, nobody likes a square snowflake.)
They really are amazing.

Speaking of wintry natural wonders . . . I learned this week that oranges are currently in season! I will promptly go out and buy a load of the tangy, colorful delights, which also make cool christmas decorations! (clementine idea from Real Simple)


.Advent Art.

Inspired by the weekly Collect of the Common Book of Prayer, which Melissa has been posting from in some of her Advent reflections, I decided to make a little crafty painting for each Sunday of Advent. The colors are drawn from the traditional Advent wreath and candles, purple symbolizing royalty, and pink being the traditional color of the third candle because of something having to do with the Pope giving out roses. I'll make the 4th one next week, for the last Sunday of Advent.

and here is a sneak peak of our handmade Christmas cards! . . .

My bad.

 I had been feeling a little blue about the lack of comments on my blog as of late. Until some kind soul (thanks dad) brought it to my attention that the commenting had been disabled. Sorry about that, It's up and running again. Let your voices ring free.


Our Christmas Tree

Our first Christmas tree. Humble, but beautiful. Decked out with 23 angels given to me every year by my grandmother. Strings of cranberries and pop-corn a foreseen addition. This Christmas season I am beginning to understand why adults always complained about the holidays being so busy. Every other year of my life this time of year has been a welcome hiatus from classes and exams. A retreat at home away from all the other demands of the year. It is much, much busier this year. But I am digging my heals in. Resisting the "s" word. I long for opportunities of quiet contemplation of Who we are anticipating in this season. Still examination of my heart and desires in His light. Mornings like this one at my kitchen window. A moment to pause and reflect the beauty of this time in something beautiful made with my own hands. And somehow related, and though so thankful for home, I find myself in this time pining for car-less streets, sidewalk cafes, stacked neighborhoods, evening walks, and 3 hour long meals. 


From the Mailbox:

A thoughtful package from my grandmother, full of vibrant color and fragrance. Beautiful, though explicitly not my Christmas present. I love stuff like this. Thanks Gahgee!


Monday Update

I finally got the "Blogging Friends" tab working, so check it out to view links to my friend's blogs and other blogging inspiration.

Another thing we finally got up is our Christmas tree! Yay! Pictures to come :)


Little Red Notebook: Excerpts

I have a little red notebook. I got it right before I left Spain (so the very first pages are filled with notes and addresses of my friends there). In it I write all manner of things. Lists, quotes, numbers, reminders. It is as good as any detailed diary at shedding light onto the memories of the years the notebook and I have spent together. I love the juxtaposition of deep thoughts and grocery lists, bible verses and phone numbers. 

A telling glimpse:

"Recuerde que eres increible!! Aqui tu eres una amiga . . . FOREVER!! T.Q. (te quiero) Miss U" - Guiomar

Flight Info: BP4REQ
CO 145 T 1:15 p.m. - Madrid - 3:40p.m. - Newark
CO 85 T 6:54 p.m. - Newark- 9:27p.m.- Atlanta

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
-1 John 4:7


"Grow old with me, the best is yet to come!" -Robert Browning

"If it is true that all human love has it's source and meaning in the very love of God, then there must be a reciprocal relationship btw these two forms of love, the infinite and the finite. God's love validates human love, and human love reflects and images God's" - Essay about love in John Donne's sonnets.

7.15.07 [dcf] [Q?] Winn Collier
homosexuality & the church
  • We should have proportional energy in light of the gospel. Not dictated by culture.
  • Why does the church at large want to separate struggle with homosexual sin from any other sin? "we're in here, and they're out there"
  • Not (just) a theological or political conversation. A human conversation about people, love, shame, dignity . . . 
  • [On hearing this Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy not sacrifice {hosea 6:6} For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."]
Harry's Hummus:
2 cups chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water

"Education is cultivating the life of the mind so that it knows how to grow in true understanding" - John Piper

"That God is love compels us to be sure that truth gets to all people, and that God is God compels us to be sure that what gets to all people is truth" - JP


"love is not a victory march, its a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah"

To do:
finish songs
marriage license

To do: (Keith's handwriting now)
Drivers license and license plate
auto insurance elaine
name change
bank account
renter's insurance

Vampire Weekend
White Rabbits

"We have a sense that the world is not right. We have a sense that we are very flawed and yet very great. We have a longing for love and beauty that nothing in this world can fulfill. We have a deep need to know love and purpose."

The Book Thief
Jayber Crow
Wide Sargrasso Sea
3 Cups of Tea
Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"All those things for which we have no words for are lost. The mind--the culture--has two little tools, grammar and lexicons: a decorated bucket and a matching shovel. With these we bluster about the continents and do all the world's work. With these we try to save our very lives." - Annie Dillard, Teaching a Tree to Talk


Great Fall Photo Recap

Lots of great fall photos, and memories that go along with them, have gone unblogged in the holiday/moving maddness. So today, as the weather is feeling oh-so-wintery-grey and I am listening to classical Christmas music as I work, I present to you, the Great Fall Photo Recap.

1. 2nd Annual Day of Fall Fun, with the lovely plaid clad girls. 

2. Redneck Thanksgiving at Amanda Howe's house (now our neighbor!). Our family dinner friends out in fine fashion. I made REALLY good sweetpotato casserole btw, my first time making it. 

3. A weekend with "Big D" at the farm in Brooklet, GA (outside of Statesboro, which is outside of Savannah.) Cotton is so pretty. We all want to live on the farm.



I saw this on another blog, and I liked it. Even though I feel like sometimes it doesn't take too much effort for me to avoid getting caught up in the consumerism side of things--not a big fan of shopping and stuff--my TIME seems to be constantly sucked into this vortex of things to do, places to be, etc. with a nice helping of just plain wastefulness (of time that is, I'm a time-waster) and I don't have time or energy to give much of myself to relationships in a way that really matters and intertwines other lives with my own. Add the complication of allocating the relational time between spouse, family, church, close friends, lost friends, coworkers, people in need, neighbors, and the bottom line is that I really need Jesus to invade my heart and fill in all my shortcomings as friend, wife, family member, neighbor, community member, piece of the body, follower of Jesus, worshipper of the God Most High, with His perfect, invading, abundant, selfless, giving LOVE. This advent I am expectant. Waiting for the invasion of this God-man who gave His life and His glorious heavenly dwelling so that we could be filled in such a way. Come Lord Jesus. Come quickly.

I am at home today, at least for now, because strangely upon waking I found it to be quite excruciating to move my neck. Who knows, moving or sitting in the car for a combined 24 hours this weekend may have something to do with that.


Thankful for this sweet face!

We got to spend Thanksgiving this year praising God for this sweet girl. Catherine is the most precious little miracle. She is sweet and content, happy to have her adoring aunts and uncles around for a few days. It was so good to get to see her and hold her and spend time with her awesome mom and dad, Katie and Donnie. We truly loved ever second. She's doing great, the trach is working out really well, and she will be home before we know it! Driving 14 hours in the rain yesterday was definitely worth it. Especially with such great company in Nikki, Misty, and Kelly. I have some more pictures of Keith holding his her too that I want to show you tomorrow :)