Monday, December 24, 2007

When your baby brother gets hitched, you should visit a mansion in your time of mourning.

This past Friday, my baby brother gots himself hitched to the now Rachael Baker.

There was much revelry and celebratory-type activities throughout the city (village) streets of Montreat and Black Mountain, North Carolina. For several days, I shared a cabin with Mom, Dad, Clay, 4 Grandparents, and My Aunt. Woo-wee! For several days, we all had to wait in line to pee.

After the revelry was waning, we all said, "Enough of mourning Sean and Rachael's departure into the sweet land of matrimony! We're going to take 8500 of our closest friends to party at the Biltmore Estate!" So that's what we did...visit the Vanderbilt mansion.




I have to say, the Biltmore Estate was pretty rad. 250 rooms, an indoor swimming pool and bowling alley, a 35-foot-tall Christmas tree, 30 some bedrooms and 40 some bathrooms. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Vanderbilts were worth 96 Billion Dollars in today's money, which was before there was income tax. A double Woo-wee to that!



It reminded me how vast the discrepency is between the rich and the poor. And you know what the crazy part is? To most of the world, we are closer to the Vanderbilts than we are to them. The fact that we're reading this on our computers is proof of that.


It's Christmas eve, and since there are now a few days to rest in between my brother's wedding and Clay's sister's wedding, I'd like to try my best to celebrate Christ-mas today and tomorrow. And I'd like to ask the Lord what he wants me to do with my wealth? Should I build a mansion? Should I give to the poor? Should I build a mansion for the poor to live in?


What does He have for us this week?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sweet Coffee Shop Respite on a Busy, Dreary Day

If you ever come to Black Mountain, North Carolina, you should have coffee at The Dripolator Coffee House. It's really great. In fact, even though I'm using free wi-fi in North Carolina, it feels like I'm using free wi-fi in Seattle somewhere. The skies are gray, I'm drinking an Americano...it feels like a very abnormally normal day.

...oh, except my one and only baby brother is getting married today! And I'm in a city I've never been to before staying in a cabin with my entire extended family.

The Americano is making my day pretty great. Why is it that coffee and coffee shops are so therapeutic? I mean, I guess craving some nice tasting stimulants on a gray day is well not so thrilling, but why is it that I crave a spot like this when I need some alone time or some rest? I'm not exactly alone--there are 30 other people in the coffee shop. And I'm not exactly unplugged, since I'm sitting here on Clay's computer...

What is is about a coffee shop on a dreary day that feels so good?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let's Ditch Christmas and Make a Christ-Month

Since Saturday, I have visited all of the following shops:

Kohl's * Best Buy * Sally Beauty Supply * Adara Hair Salon * Macy's * JC Penney's * Foot Locker * Cascade Mall Movie Theater * Quick Lube * Sunny Teriyaki * Knot Just Yarn * USPS * PWG Design * Padgett and Padgett CPA's * NAPA * Red Robin * Skagit State Bank

In that time, I've also gone to church twice. Once was for the choir's Christmas program on Friday, and once was for Sunday morning church. Something's out of balance there, right? If there is sin to be confessed about falling prey to the consumerism of Christmas, let me first confess that my heart is not where it should be.

Christmas is really what we've made it...shopping, running errands, and preparing for cross-country plane flights. Let's just be honest...it's not really about Christ. This year it feels especially not about Christ because on top of the shopping, errands, and plane flights, are two weddings in two different states. Christmas just feels like it's getting in the way of all the other stuff I need to get done. That doesn't mean Christmas is about bad things; it's about family, loved ones, bringing them joy by giving them fantastic gifts we've worked so hard to find.... But it's not about Christ.

You know what would be really great...if we moved Christ's birthday to a month like February. People mostly stay indoors in February, and they're in the process of paying off the credit card, so there are no outings to be had. What if we changed February to Christ-month. We could easily move Black History Month to January, so it could culminate with Martin Luther King's Birthday. We could move President's Day to July 5th, since everybody usually takes an extra day off then anyways. And February could just be about Christ. We could still have Christmas in December, only, we could rename it per my friend Stuart's suggestion: MeMas.

What would Christ-month look like? Lots of worship services and corporate prayer. Maybe a morning and evening vesper service everyday. Maybe some fasting. (Woah--this brainstorm is starting to sound like Ramadan!) So--we wouldn't want it to be crazy legalistic, but we would want it to be holy.

And we could title it what it would be about:"Christ-month: Getting Back on Track." It would be a chance to reunite from the way we've strayed away from Christ throughout our pagan holiday celebrations, when we erect a golden Christmas tree in our living room and lay our gift offerings at its feet. Instead, during Christ-month, we would kneel humbly beside a tattered wooden cross and lay our lives down at Christ's feet.

I know I'm supposed to sacrifice daily, but would it be so bad to have one time a year to really get back on track? A realignment towards North? Maybe that's what Lent is supposed to be...that time of preparing ourselves to bring our own sacrifice to Christ in honor of the sacrifice he's made for us at Easter. Maybe I'm already thinking past Me-Mas and looking forward to Lent, knowing it will lead me back to Him.

Would you join me in celebrating Christ month?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

Are you familiar with the idea of green living?

A few months ago, I bought a book called The Virtuous Consumer because I desire to live as a good steward, but I wasn't exactly sure how to get started. Since I live 30 miles from my church and boyfriend, riding my bicycle everywhere is highly unlikely. (Also, I haven't had a bicycle since the days of my Bahama Mama 10-speed.) I chose this particular book because it didn't recommend I make a hut out of banana leaves and throw away all of my electronics--but it did recommend small changes, like buying local foods, buying low-impact makeup...stuff like this. So--if you're interested in knowing more about green living but aren't ready to go Vegan, read this book.

On the green scene, my brother and sister-in-law-to-be have started a green living blog. I'm excited that they're partners in the green scene...excited that they're hoping to buy a hybrid...well, and excited that they're getting married next week. Please read their blog if you're interested in the green scene....

And on that green note, a video for you:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pursuing your passions

I'm confident that we're better servants of Christ when we out of passion rather than obligation.

Take, for instance, my service with my local church. I think that for the last three years I've been volunteering more out of obligation than out of passion. What's the difference? If I'm serving out of passion, I'd be excited to serve; if I'm serving out of obligation, I'm excited when my schedule conflicts with my volunteer commitment. If I'm serving out of passion, I dream up new projects to drum up support and involvement; if I'm serving out of obligation, I refuse involvement in anything other than the bare minimum. If I'm serving out of passion, I go to as many of the events as I can and talk to others about it freely; if I'm serving out of obligation, I contribute enough to get by and talk about it with grimaces and groans.

Last night Clay and I were talking with Pastor Greg about our Spiritual Gifts, and my gifts are predominently in Discernment, Wisdom, Artistic Craftmanship (especially handicrafts), Leadership, Administration. They are not in Teaching, Pastoring, Mercy (as they are with Clay). It suddenly makes so much sense why I jump at the chance (oftentimes dropping my responsibility of the moment) to help Clay prepare a sermon or edit his parent newsletter or run a volunteer meeting while at the same time, I'll throw a fit when he asks me to teach Sunday School or fill in for a missing small group leader. The Discernment, Wisdom, Leadership, Craftsmanship, Administration is a natural part of who I am and the Teaching, Merciful, Pastoring side is painfully stressful.

The conversation with Greg and thinking about these gifts and thinking about my passions has renewed a desire to pursue these passions in the context of helping my local church become a church that I would love to be a part of. The exciting part is that there are two opportunities to do so:

  1. Yesterday, I was offered the opportunity to speak at Women's Retreat in February. I've been desiring speaking opportunities, but have not pursued them. I'm excited to invest the time, energy, and prayers into encouraging and challenging the women of our church...and I'm excited to introduce them to a Heather that they do not know...because the one that they know is "the youth girl."

  2. This morning, I talked to Pastor Greg about doing a showing of Amazing Grace at the church coupled with a presentation on modern-day Human Trafficking. He was excited about it, fully behind it, and told me to pick a day and time when we could schedule it. The purpose of it would be to educate our church body on the human trafficking that's going on around us (and worldwide) and compel some members of our congregation to join me in action. He pointed out this is particularly fitting with the Free Methodist church, which has its foundation rooted in abolitionist movements.

The point of sharing all of this is not just to tell you about my passions. Yes, I'm going to make a concerted effort in 2008 to be living out my passions in my daily actions...but I also want to invite you to join me.

New Year's is coming up...you can make your resolution more than a self-centered, "fit into my old jeans" goal! What is the dream you totally desire to live out? What is it that you're passionate about that you can actually do something about in 2008?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Boycott the Golden Compass? Yes or No

So, there's a lot of hubbub going around in Christendom saying that I should actively boycott a movie I know very little about. In fact, the only reason I now know anything about The Golden Compass is because I receive emails saying I should boycott it...and there seem to be about 500 groups on Facebook dedicated to not supporting it.

I really hate jumping on an "anti-this or anti-that" bandwagon before I know anything other than something's "anti-God." It certainly is wise to check into things before tromping off with the whole family to see a film like Narnia only to discover you're closer to Dimension X. At the same time, it's also wise to know something about something before you start boycotting it.

I've never read the books...the trailer looks interesting enough...and I certainly am not worried I'll lose my Christianity by going to see it. I'm guessing I'll probably see it on DVD and I'll probably read the first books--if not the whole trilogy--at some point, because I like epic fantasy good vs. evil flicks...and it's a bit fascinating to think about watching a side of the story where good doesn't win...and think about what that would look like.

My question is why is it so many Christians' response to boycott something the minute they hear it may be anti-God? Is our God so small that He cannot overcome an anti-Him movie? And why is it okay to forward hate-mail about a movie you're never going to see based on a book you've never read? What's going on here?

Are you going to go see the movie? Why or why not.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm a Role Model!

In working with teens, you definitely invest a lot more in them than you receive back in encouragement.

Here's an encouragement for me, though. One of my students, Montana Cox, just participated in the Seattle Marathon and raised $2200 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I'm so proud of her! And guess who she says her role model is? Heather Baker!

You can read the article here: Super Kid: Montana Cox

Willow Creek Apologizes

So Willow Creek Church is definitely one of the most influential churches in America. In October, Bill Hybels, their pastor, comes out and says, "We made a mistake."

Apparently Willow Creek has built their ministry on making programs and measuring people's participation in programs. The assumption they operated under was that if people are active in Bible studies, weekly meetings, and other programs, then they're growing spiritually. A recent survey indicated this is not actually the case, and Willow Creek is now going to completely start over.

You can read about Bill Hybel's interview here.

My response to this is two-fold:

  1. I am so thankful that a Christian leader is able to confess to the church, "We made a mistake." It's so refreshing to have that kind of raw honesty and humility from an "influential church leader."

  2. I am glad to hear someone acknowledge that program attendance does not equal spiritual growth. There are so many churches out there running to keep up with the big guys and develop cool and attractive programs, that the church spends more time trying to keep people entertained involved than actually helping them develop a deeper relationship with Christ.
It challenges me to openly acknowledge my own weaknesses, because my confessions have the ability to minister to others. It also challenges me to be in immense prayer about the decisions I make in leadership--knowing that we can be boldly leading others down a less-than-ideal path.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Irresistible Revolution

A Recommended Read: The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.

I picked this read up at SPU's bookstore a few weeks ago while visiting Lizzy, one of my graduated YD students. I found purchasing it--well--irresistible.

Shane spoke at the YS National Youth Worker's Conventions last fall, and I got to see this akward, earthly, passionate man share with us the simple way that he lives his life in order to bring glory to God and be Christ to people. This means he hangs out with homeless people, lives with few possessions, and is immersed in trying to minister to the "least of these."

Clay and I have taken to reading the book aloud on Thursday nights, and last night, in Chapter Three, something spoke so directly to me. (I've left the book at home, so it's missing the exact page reference and citation. I'll correct this as soon as I have my copy of the book.) Something on the order of, "We made a decision to stop complaining about the church as it was and started trying to become the church we'd all dreamed of."

The church I dream of is definitely active, moving in ministry, not just talking about it...and the church I dream of is honest and vulnerable, openly confessing the screw ups. I guess if I want to become that church, I have to do one of two things--actually take actions to serve others, and be confessional and humble about my weaknesses and screw ups.

What's the church you dream of? How can you live it out?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is Being Honest Being Brave?

Last night, as Clay and I sat in my car and talked after youth group, I made an honest and surprising confession: "I don't like coming to youth group."

That's a pretty revolutionary statement, considering that I've spent most Wednesdays for the last three years volunteering with youth group...

We don't really know what that means yet--if I should step down, if I should wait it out or what. Right now I'm just going to take some time to think and pray about it.

What I do know is that I'm excited to be a change agent in our church and community, and having Wednesday nights to really pursue my heart's desires could be a better thing for me, the church, and the community. For instance, I'm interested in doing a public showing of Amazing Grace at our church and then having a dialogue about modern-day slavery afterwards...perhaps working towards some points of action with people in the church.

So right now--I don't know what this honest confession means. There's part of it that feels like it's violating something--maybe just violating this idea that I'm the 'youth' girl. But there's another part of me that thinks that being honest about it is being brave--brave enough to step into a ministry more uncertain, more undeveloped...

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not For Sale

27 million people are enslaved today worldwide. Did you know this?

A few weeks ago, Clay and I went to David Batstone speak at Seattle Pacific University. David is the author of a book called Not for Sale and the founder of a non-profit of the same name.

To say that I was moved by the presentation is a bit of an understatement. I was convicted to act. Clay teaches his teens that your Christian walk is the way you serve others. If this is true--it means that faith is more than belief and accepting Jesus as your savior--it's how you serve your brothers and sisters, particularly how you serve widows, orphans, and any oppressed peoples. And here--in the USA in 2007 are people living in bondage...racking up debts they can never pay off...enduring forced labor...enslaved...

I'm looking for ways to get involved in this, and I don't have a lot of clarity yet. I hope to start by reading David's book and other similar books produced by the International Justice Movement. I'm trying to figure out how I can best be a part of this abolitionist movement.

For now--I'd recommend you watch this video and visit the website and check out the book yourself. In a sermon series from last summer, Rob Bell said that "God always hears the cry of the oppressed." And he responds to it...so if we're not being oppressed--whose side are we on??


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jesus Video #3

A few winters ago, a visiting pastor shared these videos during a Sunday morning sermon. They had the congregation, as Renee would say, "in stitches."

For whatever reason this morning, I remembered how this video delighted me so much--to hear modern-day Christians' words come out of Jesus' mouth.

Mine favorite quote from the clip definitely, "I'd repeat it, but I can't, because I'm Jesus."

Watch it, be inspired, and then tell me--what's your favorite not really Jesus saying?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rob Bell...I heart you...

Last night Clay and I went to Seattle to see Rob Bell on his The Gods Aren't Angry tour. I've been listening to Rob, reading his books, and watching his Nooma videos for the past year...and I just love this guy. His presence while communicating is stellar, and his content is fascinating. He asks real questions in an understandable way...and he teaches me so much about the context of our faith.

I was really challenged by him to let go of the things I'm trying to earn--mostly other people's favor... He reminded me that I've already been saved and there is nothing more to do but celebrate what God has done for me.

If you haven't read or listened to Rob, do it. Now. Click on the video below.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Halloweeny: Photojournalistic Highlights

Saturday was my friends' annual Halloween costume party, and this was the first year since living in Washington that I've been able to go. Hurrah!

Because we love Wicked, Erin, Jenny and myself were the witches of the west, east, and north respectively...and Clay enjoyed playing, "The Boy Who Lived." The best part of the whole night was displaying our well-crafted and award-winning pirate ship pumpkin for all to enjoy. Arrrrgh. Happy day of candy and dressing up to all who enjoy these photos!

Bethany and I rock out to Monster Mash! Woo! It was a graveyard smash!










Me and The Boy Who Lived! It's pretty incredible to be in the presence of the one who has lived to tell about facing you-know-who!







Harry Potter is angry or angsty or something. Puberty is a difficult time, I suppose.









Erin, me, and Jenny as the witches of the west, north and east. Jenny had fantastic ruby slippers, and I managed to hide my Uggs well under th elayers of pink crinoline...






A close-up of my stunning eyelashes. Yes, they're real!







The award-winning pirate pumpkin...with a jolly roger and all...arrrrrrrrrgh.





Clay proves that he looks so much better in pink than I do!

Can't wait until next year when I introduce everyone to flapper Heather, who can do an amazing Charleston...

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Political Experiment

A few years ago, I went to a workshop by Tono Campolo at the National Youth Worker's Convention. One of the recommendations he made during that workshop was to expose yourself to a diverse variety of news media, so that you were filtering through a more balanced perspective.

I've always liked this idea, but I've never pursued it...until now.

Presidential elections always peak my interest around this topic of "what's good and right" in our voting, because as American citizens and participants in democracy, we hold a vote to elect the most influential person in the entire world. We ought to take that rather seriously, because it not only impacts American lives, it impacts the lives of men, women and children around the entire world.

Last week, I bought and read a book living green...you know living without creating a lot of waste and being carbon neutral and things like this...because I've been thinking about how the things I buy and what I throw away affects other people.

And now...I'm going to pursue a politically balanced reading list--so that I can understand more about how my votes, my activism, and my non-activism is honoring Christ and impacting people that are being oppressed.

For starters, I have trial subscriptions to 4 magazines in 4 categories:
Sojourners Magazine, representing the religious left
World Magazine, representing the religious right
The National Review, representing the political right
The Nation, representing the political left

I plan to update you on my learnings via the blog...and...if you have any recommendations for better resources in these categories, please share. If you want to join in the dialogue about these particular periodicals, please do.

I'm excited to embark on researching and bettering my understand of present in order to better understand how to apply our learnings from Scripture into this world. I'm excited to see where this journey will take me.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Huge Step of Faith

She turned down a good job in order to pursue her passions. What does God think of that?

Last night, I talked with a friend who turned down a 9-5 job with great benefits because it's not going to allow her to pursue her passions for student ministry. She's going to turn down the "guaranteed" paycheck and choose the more difficult path. For the next six months, she'll work 20 hours a week at a menial job and raise money so she can move into full-time student ministry. What a challenge!

I was struck by her faith--to look "security" in the eye and choose to value something else. This does not follow the cultural trend, where corporations' guarantees seem more reliable than following the still small voice of God. Even Christians I know would certainly choose a "secure" paycheck and position over a job that seems more uncertain but where they can radically live out their passions everyday. How incredible is it that it's easier to place our trust in Starbucks or Costco or Charles Schwab than in Lord God Almighty?

According to most Americans, my friend should grab the secure paycheck without looking back. Instead, she has chosen the road less traveled. She's chosen it because she loves the Lord so much and because she cares for people so much that she wants her day-to-day life to be filled with teaching young people about Him.

As I spoke with her, I thought, "What a woman of faith! What a bold step!" and I was humbled. And then I remembered...I remembered that four years ago, I stood where she was and took the step she did and chose passion over security. How quickly I've forgotten that God called my name and asked me to move to Washington to minister to teenagers. How quickly she reminded me that faith is terrifying and bold and sometimes counter-cultural.

God is watching you...He is watching me...He is watching how we prioritize our lives. What does he think of it?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Too Funny!

This morning Dad sent me an email to let me know that Danielle Peck, rising Country star from my hometown of Coshocton, is singing the national anthem tonight in Cleveland.

What he did not tell me, that I found out later from my boss, is that Danielle also used to date Josh Beckett, the starting pitcher for the Red Sox! No way!

So, the Indians apparently didn't know that Danielle and Josh had dated, but the end result of having the starting pitcher for the Red Sox having to hold his hand over his heart while his ex-girlfriends sings our beloved National Anthem in what could be an ALCS Championship Game for the Indians is...well...dang funny.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Uh-oh

I'm a little concerned that I might have placed a jinx on the Cleveland Indians already...

I'm referring to this post where I claim, "If the Indians could lose the World Series and the Browns could lose the Super Bowl, it would be a very well-rounded year, I think." I was referring to Ohio's string of Championship losses this year... OSU Football, OSU Basketball, Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Destroyers, and now...

But there's no bone in my body that wants this to be true, so I'm retracting my formerly stated coy and sarcastic comment. Because seriously, I think this streak needs to break, and I think the Indians are the team to do it. Two nights in a row they have shut down Ortiz and Ramirez from doing what they're capable of doing. They can do it. This is the team...not easily shaken, young and exuberant...and they have Kenny Lofton, who makes it all seem right and good.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Go Tribe!

So it's official! The Indians are back in the Playoffs and ready to kick some booty. Woo woo!

Last week, Clay and I were able to soak in a final regular season game when the Indians took on the Mariners at Safeco field in Seattle. Fortunately, even though there were only like 2500 people at the game, we were not the only Indians fans. Someone had to be there to remind Kenny Lofton of how sweet a pennant victory for Cleveland in '97 and '95 tasted!

Actually I was pretty embarrassed that I didn't even know that Kenny Lofton was back in Cleveland until he came up to bat. Clay was shouting, "That's Kenny Lofton! That's Kenny Lofton!" and I was like, "No way! He's too old! We used to watch him play ten years ago!" And then his face appeared on the jumbotron, and we said, "Oh! It IS Kenny Lofton." (This is on par with the same obliviousness I experienced last November while sharing an elevator ride with first-round-draft-pick-to-be James Laurinaitis at the Charlotte Westin while he was on his way to the Bronco Nagorski Awards Ceremony.)

So far, it hasn't been too difficult to keep Clay rooting for the Indians, since he actually was a fan of the Indians back in the day. In fact, on one of our first dates, we had an extended conversation about Cleveland's last glory days with Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Sandy Alomar Jr., Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle. It's also made easier by the fact that the Texas Rangers rarely give him anything to root for.

So from the West Coast, we give a big shout out to the Indians. We are with you, friends. Do well, make Ohio proud, and please break this 2nd place streak that the Buckeyes and Cavs have set the precedent for this year.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Tale of God's Goodness

Here's the scenario:

1. Boy and girl meet at concert in Texas.
2. Boy and girl exchange numbers and fly back to home states (Arizona and Washington).
3. Boy and girl talk and develop relationship. Start dating long-distance.
4. Youth pastor at girl's church leaves.
5. Boy and girl fly back and forth across country for weekend visits several times.
6. Boy says he'd like to move to Washington to "take the next step."
7. Boy and girl pray and make plans for boy to move. Think about pertinent details like job, place to live, etc.
8. Five months after youth pastor at girl's church left, spot is still open.
9. Boy and girl start praying about this job. Think (maybe) this is the right fit.
10. Boy talks to church.
11. Church offers boy an interview.
12. Interview goes really well.
13. Boy and girl wait to hear what's up.
14. Boy continues making plans to move, regardless of whether or not job pans out.
15. Church offers job to boy. Job conveniently located at church girl has been attending and volunteering with for three years. Church blesses boy and girl with generous offer.
16. Boy and girl praise God that he knit together details of move, job, youth pastor search, relationship into one tidy action.
17. Boy moves. New life begins.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don't Cry for Them

The Coshocton Camels suffered a tough 89.70 to 87.41 loss to the Masked Men (team manager, Clay's dad) in Game One of Fantasy Football 2007.

The starting lineup is certainly pretty:

QB - Matt Hasselback (Sea)
WR - Hines Ward (Pit)
WR - Joey Galloway (TB)
WR - Marty Booker (Mia)
RB - Tatum Bell (Det)
RB - Brandon Jackson (GB)
TE - Marcus Pollard (Sea)
K - Josh Brown (Sea)
D - Seattle

but neither of these teams are any match for the cunning plays of Sean's fiancee Rachael's Hei Bao's, who beat her nearest league opponent by 24 points. It certainly helps to have the #1 draft pick Peyton Manning along with the Chicago Bears defense. Not too shabby.

Zombie! Zombie!

It's not everyday that you get to see real live zombies attack a city bus.

But, that dream became flesh and bloody-blood reality for brother Sean, sister-in-law-to-be Rachael, and I as we traversed down a perfectly normal looking street in Vancouver, BC (a breezy 2 hour drive from my home...2.5 hours if customs is slow-going).

The trip was destined for interesting things from the start. First, we headed up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which promised the following:

"Your pulse quickens as you step onto the swaying planks of Vancouver's first visitor attraction. Breathe in the cedar-scented rainforest air as you make your way across Vancouver's famous landmark. Only minutes away from downtown Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge takes you to the natural splendor of rainforest trails through magnificent evergreens and the unique perspective of Treetops Adventure, a walk high in the trees."

Who wouldn't want to go there?

But we were soon doomed...on the drive to Vancouver's north side, Sean goes, "Too bad this places is going to be cool...otherwise we could call it the 'Suck-spension' Bridge." He spoke too soon.

Five minutes later we arrived, we parked, and we fed the meter. But upon nearing the entrance, we were informed that the fee to this glorious bridge was $26.95. Are you freaking kidding me? To walk across a bridge?

It was too painful for Sean and Rachael to consider, especially having so recently been ripped off by the Royal Gorge bridge in Colorado.

So we thumbed our nose at the 26.95 sucks-pension bridge and made our way back into Vancouver to pursue something exciting and free.

As we drove back into town, we passed some teenagers covered in blood and wearing ripped up shirts. Sean and I had a minor freak out--thinking that Vancouver was home to some people with a freaky zombie fetish. Gross. I've known of people dressing up like Star Trek or Anime characters, but zombies?

Once again, Sean was prophetic: "Wouldn't it be awesome if we get to the art museum, and there are zombies all sprawled out and bloody on the front steps?" As we neared the art museum, we began to spot more and more zombies, until we finally passed the art museum, where we observed no less than 300 zombies partying in the front lawn. WHAT?!

We parked the car as quickly as possible and ran up the stairs to the art museum to soak it all in. Zombies were everywhere! We were so, so happy! This was amazing, AND we didn't even have to pay $26.95 for it!

About an hour later, as we were strolling down the main drag, looking at shops and having a good time, Sean cries out, "Loook! They're marching!" It was true! The zombies were marching towards us on the sidewalk...and they spilled out into the city street and attacked a bus. Us--and thousands of other passersby--just stood there shocked, watching it all transpire while a mother comforted a small child in the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

It's not everyday that you get to see zombies attack a city bus...no...but it should be.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The best link on the whole wide web!

It's new. It's improved. It's easier to navigate. It has fun and relevant information. It's re-creation consumed 42.7 million hours of my summer. If you love me, you will follow this link and tell me how much you love it. If you really love me, you'll make it your new home page.

www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org
www.yd.org

Monday, August 20, 2007

Baby's First Blog Entry!

Here's Lily's very first blog entry, with running commentary. Enjoy!

To ensure the utmost safety for Baby DeLong, 48 hours after birth, Beth and Noah commence rigorous training in baby first aid. Here, Lily demonstrates that she effectively understands the Universal Sign for Choking. If you think this is impressive, you should have seen her later when she correctly used "Baby's First Defibrillator" to resuscitate a security guard at the mall.




Beth proves that she can, in fact, look amazing all the time. This fall she will be teaching a class at the community center called, "Overcoming the frazzled mommy look: how to look amazing all the time, including the moments immediately proceeding a 36-hour labor and giving birth to your first child."

Noah demonstrates what it might have looked like if Lily had a siamese twin unfortunately adhered to her forehead. (Actually, he's sweetly whispering, "Just so you know, I'm the only man who's allowed to give you a kiss for the next 20 years.")


Lily demonstrates her agility with infant yoga by mastering the deep relaxation pose: "Sleeping Baby."





Yay! Welcome to the world baby Lily! Angie Heather cannot wait to meet you!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Welcome to the World Lily!

Welcome to the world Lily Elizabeth DeLong! Lily commenced her life at 9:11am on Tuesday, August 14th. She is the beautiful daughter of Noah and Beth (Byers) DeLong. Weighing in at 7lbs, 6oz, and stretching 20 1/2 inches, she's healthy and beautiful (with a full head of dark hair).

A brief moment of confusion occurred in Lily's young life yesterday. I sent her some flowers that were supposed to read: "Congratulations from Auntie Heather. I can't wait to meet you Lily!" The flower lady apparently misheard me, however, because the card, upon arrival read, "Congratulations from Angie and Heather." Beth and Noah wracked their brains wondering who "Angie and Heather" could be...wondering if Lily already had a fan club...wondering if Noah had a secret set of stalkers. But no--it was just me...a misrepresented me, but me nonetheless.

So I hope that Lily can embrace her "Angie Heather" all the same when we meet next month.

I'm waiting for Beth and Noah to send pictures so I can post "Baby's First Blog Entry." To tide you over until then, here's a picture of some other famous Lilys:

  • Lily Potter, mother of Harry Potter.












  • Easter Lily













  • Eli Lilly, founder of the pharmaceutical company











Thursday, August 02, 2007

Goodbye George.

For the past fifteen years, he's always called me Missionary Heather.

He gave me and Havaleh the title "Missionary" after our first youth Mission Trip to Henderson Settlement in Frakes, Kentucky. Fifteen years later, when we're both in full-time ministry--me to Northwest youth, her to North Carolina college students--it's still so fitting.

This morning, when I read Havaleh's email that said he had passed, I immediately wanted to go tell someone about George Stalter. No one in Washington knows George. It's so weird to have someone significant leave your life and realize there's no one to share that with. So I ran upstairs and told my coworker Teci a little bit about him. I told her that he had an incredible heart for outreach and missions...I told her that he loved people unconditionally...I told her he's been an incredible support and encouragement to me being on the mission field in Washington. I called Clay and told him about the tool belt George gave me for high school graduation. I told him that George is the heart of Grace United Methodist Church.

It struck me as slightly funny that the minute I heard that George is no longer with us, I wanted to share him with others. I wanted them to know that the kingdom of God here on earth lost someone significant today--but that we now have an incredible man on our side in the great cloud of witnesses. As I talk about him, it's like he's alive, and I'm so joy-filled to have known this great man.

Clay said, "George must have been so proud of you." He was. He was one of the first people to sign up to be a supporter of my ministry work, and whenever I'm home, he can't wait to give me a hug and a kiss and encourage me forward in my work for Christ. I have a twinge of regret that I didn't call George up to tell him I loved him during these past few months. Yet I'm so hope-filled and confident that I will see him again soon.

In honor of George, a stalwart of Grace UMC, I dedicate Sandra McCracken's tune Goodbye George. She wrote it for the passing of George Harrison, but it so well captures the mood saying goodbye to another George, one of my heroes. I would love it if you listen to this song today in memory of a saint, George Stalter of Coshocton, OH and remember his wife Pauline and his children and grandchildren, and Grace UMC, who will miss him so much.

Monday, July 30, 2007

People I've Googled, Volume 1

Have you ever Googled your loved ones? It's an interesting game...like...you can discover that your boyfriend is listed on the National Swine Registry and your dad is a Nascar driver! Here are some of my favorite Google finds for Volume 1 of a series titled, "People I've Googled."

Please take the time to vote for Volume 1 Person with the best imposter Identity...I vote for Sean Baker, co-creator of "Greg the Bunny." Volume 1 Person with the best real identity is Rachael Glassford, hands down...a rather impressive Google resume.

Clay Utley.
Status: Boyfriend.

Real Clay Utley:
Guys and Dolls Cast List -- ACU
Palo Verde Church
Vonnie's Blog
The Tucson Weekly -- Review

Imposter Clay Utleys:
Henry Clay Utley, born April 16, 1878
National Swine Registry, Paul Clay Utley II

Gary and Terrie Baker
Status: Parents

Real Gary and Terrie Baker:
IGA Retailer of the Year-IGA
IGA Retailer of the Year - Times Reporter
Bakers IGA Homepage
Gary Baker, Famous Rock Photographer

Imposter Gary Bakers:
Singer, Songwriter Gary Baker
Gary Baker, Nascar Driver
Gary Baker, Native American
Gary Baker, Sports Hypnotherapist

Imposter Terrie Bakers:
Terrie Baker, Tulsa Real Estate Agent
Terrie Baker, Elementary School Teacher

Adria Lambert
Status: Friend

Real Adria Lambert:
Live Interview with Famous Barista
Finalist for Bible Quizzing, 1998
Lead Team, Mosaic Nashville

Imposter Adria Lambert:
Jalessa De'adria Lambert , Class of 2006, Westside HS, Augusta Georgia
(Sorry, Adria. There are no interesting Adria Lambert imposters. You are one of a kind.)

Sean Baker
Status: Brother

Real Sean Baker:
Cast of Laughterhouse 5. And he really did ballet.
Coshocton High School swim team
Calvin Swim Team

Imposter Sean Bakers:
Sean Baker, soldier at Guantanamo Bay and star of "the Baker incident."
The Sean Baker Orchestra, heavy metal at its finest
Sean Baker, co-creator of Greg the Bunny

Rachael Glassford
Status: Brother's Girlfriend

Real Rachael Glassford:
Presenter on "Mycobacterium Chlorophenolicum and its Ability to Survive in the Presence of Pentachlorophenol"
Fellowship Award Winner (name mispelled)
Trainer of Seeing Eye Dogs (name mispelled)

Imposter Rachael Glassfords:
Apparently, there's a Rachel Glassford that plays volleyball in Salt Lake City, but none of the links would work.



Um...you can vote now...and place your bids to be a part of "People I've Googled, Volume 2."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Blogs I Refuse to Write

I'm convinced my life is not nearly as blog-worthy as it used to be. I don't know why this is. So, in an effort to convince myself I'm not dead, here is a list of blogs I would write if I wasn't convinced they would bore the snot out of you:

  1. Epic Choices--rent tonight's movie from Safeway or Blockbuster.
  2. Internal justifications for eating takeout for the fifth time this week.
  3. Interesting creases on my bedroom wall that I only notice during extended phone conversations.
  4. Playing with your roommate's dog in five minutes a day or less.
  5. A night's work: transferring the dirty clothes from the bedroom to the laundry room.
  6. Reorganizing the dirty dishes strewn across the counter into a neat stack in the sink.
  7. Another night's work: separating the loads of dirty clothes and leaving them in piles on the floor.
  8. Friends I've Googled.
  9. Another night's work. Moving one load of laundry into the washer.
  10. Fun times with Orbitz: how to watch your money disappear into thin air...literally.
  11. The Retiree and You: Yoga class at the Riverside Health Club.
  12. Skagit County's best wi-fi spot(s).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Yet Another Ohio Championship?

Dad just informed me that Ohio is in yet another sports championship this year. This time: ArenaBowl XXI starring the Columbus Destroyers vs. the San Jose SaberCats. This is rather impressive considering the Destroyers had a losing record going into the post-season and won four games on the road. If you've never heard of Arena Football or have never considered its immense value, then you've probably never seen this commercial, in which Bon Jovi and John Elway attempt to lend a much-needed suave/cool/celebrity hype aura to Arena Football:



Anyways, Ohio has the opportunity to lose another Championship game in 2007...let's see if we can continue our streak of shut outs...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Brief Jaunt

I'd like to give a shout out to Chris and Janelle, who paused in Washington for about thirty seconds on the morning of June 26. The context? During a 4-hour Hawaii to Denver layover, I took Janelle and Chris (good friends from Taylor) on a mini Tour o' Seattle. These are the photojournalistic highlights of the world's briefest tourist stop to Washington the State:

Chris and Janelle and I start our morning together by visiting Pike Place Market at 7 am on a Tuesday. It's not exactly a hot spot that time of day, but if you can only have time to make one stop in Seattle, it's a great one.



Please imagine Janelle running through the Seattle streets in the wee hours of the morning crying out, "It's a port-a-potty! It's a port-a-potty!" While Chris and I are saying, "What is the big deal?" Janelle points us upwards...and we see a dangling port-a-potty several stories above our heads, glistening above the skyline in the morning Seattle sun...how picturesque!




On a normal afternoon at Pike Place Market, there are thousands of people milling around on the street...do you see them? No! Are we crazy to be there at 7am? Yes!










Chris and Janelle say, "Oh Heather! Thank you for making our dream of someday spending thirty seconds in Seattle a reality! Thank you for taking us to breakfast at the restaurant where Rob Reiner and Tom Hanks talk about tiramisu in Sleepless in Seattle!"



I say, "You're very welcome friends! This was merely a teaser to entice you to return very very soon!"





Before Chris and Janelle go back to the airport, we pay homage to the world's first Starbucks...it's pretty much like the regular Starbucks, only with boobs.




And I specially arranged for Mt. Rainier to bid them a fond adieu as we headed back to the airport! How nice of me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Always Look On the Bright Side

So I've definitely been a little down lately.

One reason? This the first summer since I've lived in Washington that I haven't done extensive whitewater rafting. Specifically, I have done any extended trips... These trips have been one of my favorite things about being in Washington, and I haven't really done any this season. (Read about the Owyhee here: 2004, 2005, 2006. Read about the Deschutes here: 2006.)

I guess these trips have always taken up a good amount of space in my summer, but in having my roommate and Clay out-of-touch so often the last month, the space has become very noticeable.

Renee challenged me the other day to soak up summer. Without the river trips, I'm confused as to how to go about really soaking up the summer.

So...here's some attempts I'm making:

  1. A one-day conference at Regent College in Vancouver, BC: The Truth of Beauty & The Beauty of Truth, featuring Luci Shaw.

  2. Finishing my application to Gonzaga University's Masters of Communications and Leadership Studies.

  3. Checking off creation of the 50 Best Cheesecakes in the World.

  4. Giving a plug to Blood:Water Mission.

  5. Creating a countdown clock to estimate the number of days left until Clay lives in Washington:

  6. Planning a self-driving trip to Ireland for Summer 2008.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Existential Week!

It's existential week here in hmb-land. This morning I woke up in bed, panicked because I'm subsisting on the American status quo. I have a down comforter, a nice house to live in, an array of strip malls within driving distance, a fossil fuel-mobile, and 50-60 more years of life to figure out how to fill.

Life is this really unique blend of good and stressful right now. Clay is moving to Washington in about 61 days (he'll arrive approximately September 8th, job and residence are pending). I'm applying to an online graduate program. I'm editing an essay I wrote for an anthology about girls growing up in the church. I made a cheesecake.

But as Clay and I look at our lives together in Washington over the next few years, I'm tormented with complete Wanderlust...wanting to get out and go and have excitement and adventure. It's odd when the place of adventure (Washington) becomes the normal...and for this moment, at 12:17pm on Monday morning, I just want to get out and be on a beach in Fiji or snorkeling in Australia or on a peak in the Himalayas...and I want to know more about what I'm passionate about. I want to know how to fill my weekends in a way that doesn't involve hitting play on the DVD player so much.

This weekend I made a cheesecake...and some seafood linguine...and a chicken dijon panini...maybe I'll explore my love for cooking this week--create some dishes that would appeal to the well-traveled...and maybe my existential crisis will subsist for the time being.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Re: Transformers Rock My World

I'm sorry to disappoint. The Optimus Prime & HMB Photo (Circa 1985) is lost in a box in the remodel. It will be made available as soon as it becomes available.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Transformers Rocks My World

When they take pieces of your childhood and make them completely wicked amazing, what is there to do in order to share the joy?

Step One: spend Independence Day waiting in line with Drew and Clay to see it on opening day.

Step Two: Love every minute of it.

Step Three: After the movie, melt in the 116 degree Phoenix Sun in the movie theater parking lot. (Okay. That's not necessarily necessary...unless you want to see the movie with Drew and Clay, which thereby makes it necessary.)

Step Four: Write a blog about it, including a youtube video with the new Mutemath cover of the theme song. (Thanks Isaac!)

Step Five: Ask mom or dad to email the photo of me and Optimus Prime from Christmas 1985 so I can post it on the blog and say, "I knew him from way back when." (The picture is in an album on the bottom shelf in my bedroom in Ohio...or at least...it used to be before the remodelers took over the house.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How My Day is Like One of Jack Bauer's Days:

1. In the first five minutes of my day, everything appeared normal. (True.)
2. Upon arriving at YDAU (Youth Dynamics Administrative Unit) I received disturbing news while in the situation room. (Modified version of the truth: since I was in my office when I learned of the situation, I could call my office the "Situation Room." and we don't really call it YDAU...but if we could make it catch on...we certainly could.)
3. Made a phone call--asked the call recipient of he/she was "on a secure line." (True.)
4. Met with the President to discuss how to best communicate sensitive information. (Definitely true.)
5. Received urgent phone call that someone needed access to the restricted program on the server. (True.) I don't have level three clearance. (Metaphor.) Tell person to contact our resident "Chloe," who could grant me provisional access to the restricted program. (Definitely true.)
6. Receive phone call from "Chloe," who guides me through the login remotely. (True.)
7. Diffuse a can of nerve gas. (Metaphor: I actually opened a can of Diet Coke to ease my nerves.)

Although all of the above information is true, phrasing this as such is evidently what happens as a direct result of watching all of Season Five of 24 in a 5-day period of time.

Clay's out of town for two weeks. I'm apparently filling his absence with televised drama. Next on the agenda: Firefly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Pain in My Neck...

So I went to the chiropractor this morning, and he said, "Yup. Your neck is messed up!" And he did my favorite analogy in reference to neck stress--only this time it was about a bowling ball on an ink pen, not a bowling ball on a toothpick.

Here is what a normal neck looks like:


Do you see how the cranium hovers so sweetly on the gently curling base of the cervical vertebrae? It's very pretty I know. This lucky person can move his/her head forward, and the happy cranium still has a base of support below it! Nice!


Now, look at my neck:


Oh no! The poor little ink pen/toothpick of a neck! It's trying to hold that big bowling ball of a cranium up all by itself! Every time I lean my cranium forward an inch it puts ten pounds of pressure on the muscles on the back of my neck to hold that bowling ball up! Egads!


And the solution? Well, the nice man in the polo shirt clamps my head into a very uncomfortable position, and I think, "Hey! Didn't Jack Bauer just do this exact move on that Russian terrorist moments before the nerve gas was released on unsuspecting Los Angelonians?" (tangent: I'm into hour twenty of Season Five of 24. I think I started watching it on Saturday. TV on DVD is an evil thing to have at one's disposal.)

Anyways, the nice man in the polo shirt cranks my head around a few times and suddenly my range of motion has increased and he promises my hands shouldn't go numb anymore. Nice.

So I'll go a few more times, and he says it might just be how my neck has developed over the last 12 years because of my scoliosis and whiplash. And I think, "Hey. I would rather pay a co-pay and get a Jack Bauer hold once or twice a month for the rest of my life than have some arthritic neck condition that forces me into a Derek Zoolander lifestyle of never being able to turn left."

That's my story. And the best part of it? When I say to the nice man in the polo shirt (AKA, the Chiropractor), "Hey, do you think I should go to the massage therapist." He says, "I don't know if you should go or not, but it's definitely always nice to go to the massage therapist."

Amen to that Dr. Jack Bauer. You are a true American hero.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Joys/Pains of Chiropractic Care

Toothpaste For Dinner
toothpastefordinner.com

The imminent time has arrived: it's time to go back to the chiropractor.

There seem to be a lot of opinions out there on chiropractors...I was raised by a mom and a dad and grandparents who always went to the chiropractor...and it seemed to be the thing to do.

Then--somewhere in health class they told us that chiropractors weren't really perceived as medical professionals...which is pretty confusing because they have the title "Dr." And when I was in high school, I had scoliosis, but going to the chiropractor only made things hurt worse most of the time, so I didn't like going. So I stopped going and signed off on chiropractic care (circa 1996).

Then, circa 2004, I was in this car accident and a few months later, I got really severe pain in my back, and I cried out, "Chiropractor, save me!" And he did. He pointed at an x-ray of my head and compared it to levitating a bowling bowl on a toothpick. (And I was like, man...4 years of school, and they couldn't teach you a more applicable metaphor?) But after 3x a week for like, a long time, and I got waaaaay better, and I was like, "Chiropractors are amazing!" Until my claim ended and they started charging me $50 per appointment, and I was like, "for $200 a month I could fly to Vegas and visit my favorite man-made things." (n.b. not that I WOULD do this, only to say I could party in Vegas or go to the chiropractor...not a hard choice.) I was like, "Chiropractic care is dumb again."

Until now. I spent most of yesterday lying on a couch, popping ibuprofen and rubbing my neck because two years post-chiropractor, it hurts really bad again. I lost range of motion, and my arms and legs started losing feeling. So...I know I need to go back and get continuing care on my neck.

This is annoying, because health insurance considers chiropractic care to fall under the deductible, and I want to go, "Stupid health care! I can't nod my head! I give you hundreds of dollars every month! Pay for something!"

So why do I pay hundreds of dollars for the just-in-case I get my arm mangled in a freak landscaping accident but not in case my chronic neck pain reemerges? How can health insurance compartmentalize my body like that?

And it's annoying because every time I move, I have to find new doctors...which requires waiting lots of days to get an appointment. And lots of small talk get-to-know-you doctor chatter.

But--there is the hidden bonus of going to the chiropractor: referrals to the massage therapist! Yes! Somehow this makes the whole thing worth it!

Anyways, on Wednesday morning, I'm headed to the chiropractor, when they'll tell me my neck is screwed up and I need a bazillion dollars in care, and I'll say, "Yes please." Mostly so I can feel my arms again.

This is all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Championship Woes

This year, Ohio is begging the question, "Is it better to noticeably come in 2nd place? Or is it better to not make it to championship games at all."

The evidence being as follows:
NBA: Spurs vs. Cavs
NCAAB: Florida vs. OSU
NCAAF: Florida vs. OSU

If the Indians could lose the World Series and the Browns could lose the Super Bowl, it would be a very well-rounded year, I think.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ode to Portland

Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to visit friend Sonja in Portland. She recently moved there to start a new life/job, and I was excited to spend the weekend exploring an under explored town.

There were lots of good times to be had:

  • visiting Imogo Dei Community. This church is the home church of Donald Miller, and Sonja has begun attending there. There's a strong sense of artistry and active community service.
  • eating dinner at Andina (Johnny P and Drew, this should be on your list of mileage runs--eating at this restaurant). The food was Peruvian, our waiter was beyond impressive, and the atmosphere was killer.
  • catching 300 at McMenamin's Kennedy School. It's not everyday you can see a movie while sitting on a couch in a restored school auditorium with a pub in the next room.
  • visiting Powell's Books, one of America's premier independent bookstores, which seriously, is like, the size of a shopping mall.
  • going to the Japanese gardens and discovering a new potential hobby! This was an amazing Japanese garden, too, as far as Japanese gardens go...5.5 acres of greenery. (P.S. Did you know that the Druids of Stonehenge influenced the Japanese gardeners? It's true! Look below!)
So, in retrospect, I've definitely decided that I desire a Japanese garden in my future. Preferably with a coy pond, a waterfall, and little stones with original haiku scattered across the backyard. I will do Tai Chi there. It will be a good time.

Now, the only thing I have to do is buy a house, hire a landscaper, hire a part-time gardener, and learn Japanese and Tai Chi.

Because that is a lot of work, for the time being I'm very glad to share a house with Heidi, who's taking it upon herself to landscape our entire yard while I smile and watch from the window. There's even a mini-Japanese garden by the back door. For now, this will have to suffice for satisfying my Japanese Gardening needs, until I manage to grow a green thumb myself. Someday in the near future, I will take a photo of the landscaping because it will make last month's trip to the dump all the more exciting!

(P.P.S. Did you know that Japanese Gardeners patented putt-putt? It's true! Look!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"I'm Fixin' To": An introductory Guide to Texas

From May 9th-14th, I visited the Lone Star State. The intent of this trip was to meet Clay's family and attend Clay's sister's college graduation from Abilene Christian University. This was only my second trip to Texas ever. (The first trip was last October for the Youth Specialties' Convention in Austin, when I met Clay.) So--this was my first real immersion into Texas culture.

To capture an entire state in one blog based on a 6-day visit seems rather ridiculous...so I'll merely give you the Texas Top 5...which is definitely the Top 5 conclusions I deduced about Texans based on my observations of the state.

  1. Texans love their state flag.

    Seriously...I'm telling you...the state flag is everywhere and on everything. My absolute favorite Texas- flag- themed item I saw for sale was this snazzy desk chair in Abilene. Who would not want to sing Deep in the Heart of Texas everyday at work when sitting in one of these?!

    While eating lunch in Fredericksburg, TX, I swear to you I saw no less than a hundred Texan flags hanging from businesses on the main drag. I suppose this would not seem so odd if any of the other three states I've lived in loved their flag this much. But Texas is the only state I know of that has a Pledge of Allegiance to its state flag, so at least there is consistency to the passion.

    So, FYI, Texans love their state flag.


  2. Texans love their state history.

    They love it so much, that there are markers posted approximately every fifty feet that recount important historical events which may have happened on this exact spot. Here, Clay shows off the very marker that commemorates the first railroad across West Texas. It would certainly be an impressive collector's item to visit all of the significant railroad-related Texas State history markers. In fact, I have just added this to my to-do list!




  3. Texans love tortilla soup.

    I had never before in my life eaten tortilla soup, but I think I ate it once per day on my visit to Texas. When I heard "tortilla soup" I was thinking it would look like a can of tomato soup poured over top of a tortilla. This was not true. It actually looked like this. Tortilla soup is the best-dressed soup I've ever seen. It gets an A+++ for presentation and an A+++ for taste. My newest favorite food!


  4. Texans believe their state to be really, really important.

    I hesitate to be so brash as to generalize to say that Texans have a warped view of geography...but this photo from a children's book that I've loosely titled, Indoctrination to the Superiority of All Things Texan should speak for itself:

    The state is really large, this is true. I mean, in the time I can be in California, you can drive from east Texas to central Texas. But seriously, this map is OUT OF CONTROL! Look! Texas basically goes from Mexico to North Dakota and from San Bernadino to Alabama. What is going on?! This is not an accurate depiction of reality!

    Our trainer on our new database who is from Dallas claims that this is evidence of Texans poking fun at themselves. I call it infantile brainwashing! Beware!

  5. Texans are people too.

    So while in general I'm confused about the Texans' love for Texas, I enjoyed my time spent meeting and interacting with Texans. Every Texan I met was friendly and more than excited that I was visiting their state. And, they have nice accents. Also, I ate some fantastic food while I was there (ribs, BBQ, tortilla soup, enchiladas, horchata) meaning that Texans are good cooks, which speaks to my soul's core.

    It's definitely true that with all the crazy indoctrination, Texans grow up to be real people (i.e. Clay and family...although maybe I'm biased). It's also true that every state has its own quirks (i.e. Ohio's passionate love for a poisonous nut or North Webster, Indiana's Mermaid Festival or eco-friendly Seattle's aversion to mass transit).

    So I'm probably willing to let Texas off the hook if they are willing to put actual maps into their children's books and occasionally imply that there are other states besides Texas.
One thing that is not true about Texas--all of my exes do not live there. But the sage in bloom is like perfume...

Monday, May 07, 2007

To the dump...becoming an empowered woman through the transportation of trash.

My dad has this joke he used to like to tell that went like this:

Q: Where does the lone ranger go to take out his trash?

A: "To the dump...to the dump...to the dump, dump, dump!" (To the melody of the ever-popular tune...of course...)

Nice, dad...anyways...so yesterday Heidi and I cleaned out the backyard, a project she's been wanting to do since we moved in. We borrowed a truck from a local teenager and took it upon ourselves to load up the bed and haul off the garbage. (By took it upon ourselves, I mean, Heidi really wanted to do it, and I've been working hard to be more astute at "helping" people in need of assistance...so I helped. As much as scrawny-armed girls with no basic knack for manual labor are able to help in such scenarios.)

My basic job was as "The Compactor." Heidi says this gets to be my professional wrestling name...and with that name, I already have my patented move...it looks like this: {{ jump up and down on your opponent repeatedly, as hard as you can, crushing them into submission. }} This was my job description as "The Compactor," when I crushed an entire truckbed full of yard waste (tree branches, etc) into submission. This was all so that we could load up as many tree branches and as much junk as possible into the truck bed to take a huge load to the dump.

Then Heidi and I broke out the bungee cords and ratchet straps and nailed the whole thing down under the tarp, praying that tailgaters weren't taking their lives in their hands as we drove 40mph down the state highway with 4-ways flashing.

But the entire process of prepping and unloading the junk at the dump was extremely cathartic. as we pulled the junk and the tree branches (and in some cases--actual trees) into the dumpster, there was a lot of joy and singing from Heidi and I...and as we looked down into the dumpster to see our day's work successfully thrown away, we giggled and celebrated. We--two adult single women, had loaded (with the help of guy friend Mark) an entire truckbed full of junk, strapped it down ourselves, driven it to the dump, and disposed of it. How wonderful!

And the best part was that we didn't even have to do such a task on our own crying, "I'm alone!" We got to do it together and rejoice in the delights of cleaning up the backyard.

I was so motivated by our productiveness that I came home and hemmed two pairs of pants. Just call me industrious, because it was true.

And then to celebrate, we treated ourselves to Chinese Takeout and a movie. Not to mention, the already better joy of a cleaner, friendlier yard.

So...if you have never been to the dump, you deserve to go. It's cathartic, and it's useful as a metaphor for oh-so-many things... Plus, when you go to the dump, you can walk into your office on a Monday Morning singing a friendly little tune: "To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump!"

Friday, April 27, 2007

Brandi Carlile Sings The Beatles!

This makes me happier than most things in the world...Brandi Carlile singing Paul McCartney... (The Beatles' "I've Just Seen A Face.")

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ode to Kettle Chips


oh dear kettle chips
how i love your crunchy bod(y)
how you make me smile!

lovely kettle chips
staring at me from my desk
beck'ning me to eat

precious kettle chips
perfect every afternoon
world's best snacky food

darling kettle chips
all your flavors overwhelm
my picky palate

glo'rious kettle chips
how i love ingesting you
without aftertaste

healthy kettle chips
made of all things natural
you're my waistline's friend

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Come Visit Me!

Do you live within driving distance of any of the following cities:

Columbus, OH
Greensboro, NC
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Boston, MA
Richmond, VA
Kansas City, KS

If so, you can get way cheapo flights to come to visit me sometime in the next six months on SkyBus!

It's a new startup airline that's offering flights for $20 one-way to and in and out of Columbus...so, if you're in one of those cities, you can fly through Columbus and come to visit for uber-cheap...if you're in Columbus, it could be as cheap as $40 round-trip, and in one of the other cities, $80 round-trip.

This might be one of those offers that doesn't really pan out because the airline tanks, but if it doesn't, I say "Woohoo!" because I have a $40 ticket to Ohio.

So...come to visit. The flights from Columbus come into the Bellingham, WA airport, which is about 30 minutes from my house. Sweet deal!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Congratulations!

I'd like to give two shout-outs to three of the most important people in my life: Mom, Dad, and Renee!

First, congratulations to Mom and Dad. In February, they were honored by the International Grocer's Alliance (IGA) as International Retailer's of the Year. They got these spiffy jackets and accepted their award at a ceremony in Miami. You can read the press release here. Sean and I weren't able to be there with them to celebrate (bummer), but if we would have been, we would have smiled like this and said, "We are so proud of mom and dad for so many fantastic years in the Grocery Business!"

So Congratulations to Baker's Foods for being the best of East Central Ohio's--and the world's--independent grocery stores!


Congratulations also to Renee, one of my best friends over the past eight years, who was recently accepted to University of Pittsburgh to pursue an MFA in Writing (Creative Non-Fiction). For those of you who know and love Renee, you know that this is something Renee has been building towards over her entire life. And--she just called me this morning to let me know she's secured funding for the fall! So! Congratulations to Renee, who will soon be on a Barnes and Noble bookshelf near you!

Anyone who gets a public shout-out of congrats on backroads-midwest-coast also wins one of these, hand-made from the world's best balsa wood...(you know...balsa wood...the kind of wood they use to make those never- work- right- when- you- get- them- home boomarang airplanes they try to sell kids from the mall kiosk?)