Friday, December 9, 2011

You are Not Alone--Reposted from "I Take Joy"

This is taken from the blog I Take Joy.  I was struck by the truth in her words, and struck by how many people I've heard from this year who've shared that this is a particularly hard, lonely season.  Read on to see what Sally Clarkson has to share on the subject...

"We were made for friendship. Our hearts are prewired to be loved, to belong, to celebrate and share life together, in community–to bear each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

And so where would the evil one attack?

He would separate us to be alone, vulnerable, weak as one by ourselves in the battle for souls, so that we cannot be strong, joining arm in arm, heart to heart.

He would isolate us in neighborhoods where we live alone, with no knowledge or shared life with those nearest to us in proximity. With values and faith and ideals, that separate us from the world, but impossible to uphold alone.

He would break the close bonds of fellowship that church was made to uphold, the body knit together,  and let us go to large buildings filled with noises of music, people all around with nary an intimate friendship.

Loneliness, an epidemic. Here is the battleground.

That feeling in the dark of night that your life is invisible–Does anyone care? Does it matter that I keep dragging on day by day? Does anyone know the weariness of my soul? Do others swell with anger? Or wish for relief? or feel a lack of worth? Or want to quit and don’t even know what that means?

And so we gather, with food, drink, a little reprieve from real life, and touch someone else who shares our world. We gather to listen to His words. We gather to understand that our sacrifice is precious to the One who sacrificed all.

We gather to know we are not alone.

Our hearts are cherished and held by the one who counts our tears and sees our faith and knows our exhaustion.

We ponder Mary, alone on her journey through countries, through years of questions, through people seeking the life of her son, but because of her heart, her boldness to believe, Mary, finding favor with God, being chosen by him to bring His life into her home, so that the son of God would find comfort, beauty, love for the years he would live on earth.

A simple mother, whose heart gave all that He might have a safe haven to find rest for his baby soul.

And so, we meet to find strength, love, laughter, understanding and hope-the hope that keeps our feet on the path, our minds steadfast on our beliefs, our hearts willing to take another step of faith one more day, one more month, one more year, because once again, we know our life of giving and our love poured out is changing the world.

And so this is the message of Christmas–making time to love, giving time to talk, to share hearts to show compassion.

The gift of our time to listen and to share–it is what the baby did when he came for our sake and what we need and what will keep us worshipping a little longer.

and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

You are not invisible to Him, the one who came because He loved saw you and loved you.

Someone else in your life also needs to know this truth.

Today, invite a friend, call a loved one, take initiative to make room for encouragement so that your own soul needs will be met.

Buying one more thing will not satisfy. Investing love and heart time will restore, redeem, fill bring life and hope. Who needs you today? Who do you need to celebrate life with today?

Life happens when you open your door, invite and welcome, look into eyes and share life–

Wherever two or three are gathered, there I am in their midst…….

May God bless you with a new friend this season of celebrating the one who himself  took initiative in our lives, so that we would not be alone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Food Adventures - Photo Documentation

I think I need not tell you that these girls are oodles of fun.  They were there on day 1 of the food adventures and experienced part 1 of bread making.

 Exhibit A: bread making.  Note that you should remove jewelry from your weird pruny old lady hands before kneading bread.
Then let the bread hang out under a towel to rise, butternut squash looking on.
This is the bread making work station.  A tidy little mess.

 This turned out to be a FAIL.  Apparently leaving beans out for multiple hours, though required, must happen in the fridge, which sweet Alice Waters didn't tell me.  So these suckers got nasty and had to be tossed.  Back to square 1 on the navy beans, which prolonged this cooking process by 2 hours.  Read ahead in the directions, folks.  Read ahead...

Alice Waters, though she failed to mention the bean thing, is pretty awesome.  Bread and fall minestrone soup recipes came from her book, pictured above.
 This is the only picture of finished herb focaccia bread.  Because I eated it all real fast after it came out of the oven.  Actually I think I was far too sleepy to take the final bread pictures.

 But whoa nelly, did that sucker rise!  I love the science behind that.

 Ya smoosh the dough out on that there pan, and ya let it sit AGAIN for 2 hours.  Again, read ahead folks... read ahead...
And here we have the soup and round 2 of navy beans chugging right along (smelled amazing, ps).
 Boom.  Soup.  For days.  Freeze lefty, and enjoy righty.  Later, defrost lefty and enjoy him too.

 Different day, same cookbook.  Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary.  YUM.
The slicing, dicing, pinching area.  Where the magic starts.
 Toaster oven, where some of the magic happens...
Big oven, where the rest of the magic happens!  That's right.  Two ovens going at once.  One significantly smaller than the other.
It all turned out to be scrumptious!  Broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and butternut squash.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Home

I'm in Mississippi. With Jared. We only got in this evening and already I love it. I love his reaction to my high school bedroom (hilarious, yall), his deep appreciation for my mom's decorative style, seeing him interact with my parents in an environment that everybody is more comfortable in... It's great. Tomorrow for Greenwood and a visit with BG! Thanksgiving Thursday (have a delightful one), along with visiting family and the cabin, and we get hang out time with Mollie on Friday! Boy oh boy oh boy this is a needed lovely break :)

I also love that despite my low blog activity, my dedicated Russian reader continues to check in with me. Cheers, friend. Or computer.

I'm thankful for you, reader :)
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Food Adventures - The Implementation

Hi.

How ya doin?  Ya good?

Good.  Me too.

So about this food adventure that I've embarked on--it's awesome.  Challenging, for sure, but really really good.

I made focaccia bread (super tasty) and minestrone soup (took forever, but it's so stinkin good), and I've enjoyed salads, yogurt with granola and banana slices for breakfast, and fresh veggies--my bank account thinks I died.  Or maybe it thinks I'm back in Mississippi (food is plentiful in Mississippi homes.  It's amazing).  I'll update with recipes and pictures soon, but I just wanted to pop in and let you know that this 2 week food adventure is really a great thing.  I'm excited to learn from this and not be so darn scared to plan ahead for some good food in the future.

Ain't no sense in eating junk food when we live in this land of plenty.  And when it's REALLY NOT THAT EXPENSIVE to eat healthy (what an awful lie).  In fact, I am spending SIGNIFICANTLY less on food than I was when I'd just get food for that meal, right then.  Planning ahead requires thought (oh boo hoo) but it doesn't require as much money.  PLUS it's healthier, more fulfilling, and honestly tastier.  Give "instant gratification" the boot that it deserves.  It never turns out well anyway.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Food Adventures - The Plan

Hello, good and faithful reader.

I have a plan.

A food plan.

A two week, eating well on a budget plan--just to see how well it will work.

And I'm super excited.

In my [somewhat limited] cooking experience, it's incredibly challenging to have something fresh, healthy, tasty, and fast.  You must sacrifice one of the 4 (at least).  I've historically sacrificed one of the first 3 far more than the speedy element, and I've been a bit convicted by that lately.  I mean, I KNOW that I'm going to be hungry later.  I KNOW that I'm going to want something fresh, healthy, tasty, and fast.  It shouldn't come as a surprise to me when, three times a day (at least), I become hungry, and yet it does!  I find myself so often unprepared for that moment!

So now that I have the space, the will, and the foresight, I'm trying out a meal plan that will stretch my culinary skills and fuel my body with fresh, delicious food.

Back story: one of the things that I was (am) most excited about concerning the move into a single apartment is the full dominance of a kitchen all my own.  I enjoy cooking.  Stems back to living with Sarah, who, upon hearing that I'd had a rough day, would don an apron, miraculously throw dinner on the stove AND some chocolate baked good in the oven within 15 minutes, and play with my hair while waiting on food magic to finish.  She's so maternal that it's contagious.  I was inspired to be domestic!  I wanted to learn to cook fun things--I knew what I liked to eat at other places, and that was the first kitchen I'd had to play in since I lived at home (and everybody knows that home kitchen is Mama's Domain--unless your dad's the cooking one in the fam fam).  And so commenced cooking lessons with Sarah: salmon and orzo, whole wheat pancakes, butternut squash bundt cake, double chocolate rum cake (be still, my beating heart) and much much more.

Sarah and I had one difference: style of cleanliness.  She was not a dirty roommate.  I just happen to be a little neurotic about hygiene.  See, I've historically been stupidly terrified of throwing up.  Vom-vom is not my thing, ok?  So I know nearly every cleanliness, hygiene, bacteria clean-up rule in the book.  And precisely how violating that rule will KILL YOU, and if not kill you, make you vom-vom, which is worse.

So, basically, only my mother is sufficiently clean for me.  She knows all the cleanliness rules, too.  And my dad rolls his eyes at her as she lysols the kitchen counter just like Sarah rolled her eyes at me.  Just like Jared does even today.

But today, I can lovingly say, "Jared, if you don't like the cleanliness standards of this kitchen, you can sit in the living room, cuz this is MY KITCHEN, SIR!"

And it's the first time I've been able to say something like that!

But back to the food adventures.

So I went to India, right?  Camebackmovedjumpedbackintoworkhitthegroundrunning.  Haven't really had time to think about cooking anything, except some lemon rosemary garlic chicken last Sunday, which was an epic success, if I do say so myself.  Cooking that very meal inspired me.  It was time to go grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping... with a plan.

I went to Sprouts, a sort of commercial farmers market (isn't that contradictory?...), and left with a backseat FULL of food to last me for at least a week (maybe 2), and for only $35.  I got navy beans, pine nuts, yogurt, dry yeast, olive oil, pasta, bay leaves, broccoli, squash, celery, salad (curly endive lettuce), garlic, parsley, kale, carrots, onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, and bananas.  ALL FOR $35, YALL.  Now, argue with me that you can't be healthy and frugal all at once.

You can't be healthy, frugal, and impatient all at once.  But if you plan ahead, just a little bit, and are willing to experiment, just a little bit, you'd be crazy surprised.

On the menu for this week (all food this week will be consumed within my $50 limit, which means after grocery shopping, I still have $15 if I need to do a little more shopping):

-Herb bread
-Curly endive salad with homemade vinaigrette
-Aioli, also homemade
-Fall minestrone soup with kale and butternut squash
-Pasta with oil, garlic, and herbs
-Roasted vegetables (carrots, onions, new potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, mushrooms)

On the menu NEXT week (with a $30 limit because many of these ingredients will already be here!):

-More herb bread
-More salad (I want to learn to really enjoy a good salad)
-Polenta torta
-Homemade pesto sauce
-Pizza using said sauce
-Pasta using said sauce
-Edamame
-Quiche
-1,2,3,4 Cake (kinda my "reward")

Basically, the plan is to make one BIG challenging thing a week using fresh seasonal veggies (week 1 is the minestrone soup, week 2 is the polenta torta).  The game plan is to freeze half of the soup and half of the torta to whip out later (like, in a few weeks) when I'm in need of a quick tasty meal, and use the others as take-along lunches or "oh look!  Leftovers!" for dinner this week.  The other things on the menu are either things I've made before, so I'm comfortable with whipping them out, or they're so easy to make it should be illegal.

I'm not the most adventurous cooker ever, so I'll be blogging about all this, complete with pictures (if I can figure out how to grow another arm to take pictures while cooking...), and, yall, if I can do it, you can too.  I'll let you know what's easy, what works, and what doesn't.  And if you're in town, come cook with me :)  it's always more fun to cook with company.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pictures are here! From India! Via facebook.

Rather than waiting on ALL the good pictures to load on here (takes years, folks), I'm giving you the link to the facebook album, viewable whether you have facebook or not!

This is the Women's Conference part of the trip.

And...  This is the "oops, Cole lost her passport so we're stuck in London first" part of the trip.

The "Bangalore, running around, visiting with awesome people" part is coming soon.  Even facebook doesn't have that yet, so you're now caught up :)

I have been rather anticlimactic about this September India trip.  Too much happened around it to give it the blog space that it deserves.  Moving and adding 10 more hours of work, while nesting, visiting with family, and starting to lead a small group is--turns out--a little time consuming.  Thus I find myself blogging at midnight-30 on a work night.  All because I love you dearly and I want you to feel that you're not some creepy outsider looking in, but rather that you're invited in to enjoy life with me.  Even if that life is a little strange and filled with more than its fair share of mini-crises.

Not that there's anything mini about losing a passport.

That was a big crisis.

Definitely the biggest yet.

It got its share of blog space, though, so enough about that.



Confession.  Another reason for the fewer number of posts is that Meg Shideler has introduced me to pinterest.com.  Be still, my beating heart.  It's just what I needed and didn't need all at once.  A visual, aesthetically pleasing way to organize bookmarks, favorites, or otherwise neat things that somehow improve life just a little.

You can find my pins and boards here.

It's amazing and addictive.

Join us.  There are pumpkin cheesecake recipes...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ok. Now I Have No Excuse

Oh, sweet lonely reader.

You sit for hours at a time, constantly refreshing your browser in the hope that I've updated my blog. You count the long, unkind days between posts, worrying that I've died (no one ever comments on this blog, so how would you know if something tragic happened?? Who would think to inform her lost and lonely blog world audience??). You lament the lost moments, the topics untouched, the treasure trove of posts that never were...

And it's not like I don't have internet now.

Yep. I've had internet for almost a week, and still no update. No collage of India pictures. No collection of short stories about auto rides and accidentally eating whole curry-spiced chilies (Happened. Hurt.).

I'm a terrible blogger when you judge by faithfulness.

Please don't remove me from your Google Reader list.

I'll get better, I promise.

I love you.

*remorse*

*flowers*?

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Oh hi!

I admit it.

I've been neglecting you.

It's not you.  It's me.

See, I came back from India, encountered jet lag and packing, and jumped back into work.

Then I moved.

And now I don't have Internet at my new house.

Not yet, anyway.

So I don't have the ability to just perch in the comfort of my own [really cute new] home and upload pictures and tell you guys stories, even though that's EXACTLY what I want to do.

Because I have about 6000 pictures.

Ok.  Maybe not quite that many.  But kinda close.

But about that many stories.

Game plan:  I'm going to have a housewarming party sometime soon.  Like, within the next 2 weeks.  If you're in FtW or have the ability to be, all I ask is that you come and bring a black frame (preferably one for a 4x6 photo, but I'm flexible)--you choose the style as long as it's black, and at the housewarming party you can pick the India/UK picture to put in the frame!  I want a full wall of black frames with India trip pictures, so that fun day will come soon.  Just get your thinking caps on.

Anyway, lots going on this month--I moved already, so now I'm unpacking, Jared and I are leading a small group (2 days to get the house in working order!), my daddy's coming to town!, 4 friends are getting married (2 to each other, so that's convenient), I'm babysitting a little (I'd like to do more if you know of anybody in the area who needs a babysitter with a weird schedule), there's a prayer retreat, and halloween is coming.  FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN stuff filling my calendar.

But now I need to go work.

And think about ordering a sofa.

I'm such a grownup!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

proVISION ASIA

 
Isnt' he precious?

 This is Veera.  He's a riot.  I mean, I assume.  I can't understand a word he says, but he's cracking everybody up.
Veera is one of the children that proVISION ASIA works with.  They provide physical therapy for him.  He told the main physical therapist, Esther, on his first day that he would give her 100,000,000 rupees if she could make him walk.  His progress is significant.  Esther is getting excited.  Veera is considering occupational choices.

In a video we shot of him and Esther, he told her he wants to be a teacher.  In a country where there is little sympathy for anyone with ability challenges, physical therapy is providing an entire life for Veera, not just physical mobility.  Jared and I got to work alongside proVISION ASIA in several of their ventures this weekend, including a walk for physiotherapy (in which I proudly wore heels), a visit to a school for children with mental and physical challenges, and a trip to the government boys home, where proVISION ASIA staff members trained the government workers in how to appropriately care for the boys AND played with the boys, helping them with their mobility through activities like playing toss and "jump rope" (where they jump over the non-swinging rope).

Needless to say, after spending a week alongside this group, I am amazed and in full support of them.
http://provisionasia.com/

Monday, September 12, 2011

All is great!!

Hi folks!

Blogging from a coffee shop in Bangalore.

That's crazy.

All is going well, we are well provided for, we're busy, meeting folks, shaking hands, kissing babies, washing hands after both.  This city is a lot of fun.  First shopping excursion today!  Got a super cute white top for 200 rupees.  That's about $5.  This shirt would easily be $25-35 in the states.  I'm excited about it.

Ok, gotta go for now.  Journaling a lot, so sequenced blog posts to come :)  Don't know what I mean?  Check out my "India" tag.

Love you.  Christ is amazing.  He's here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How To Lose Your Passport, part 2

Still in London. This is day 3 here. Still no passport. I'm realizing now that my ONLY chance to get to India lies in my passport coming into my hands within the next 40 hours. If not, back to TX I go. With a heavy, but peaceful heart. I know that God has a genius plan. I shouldn't question Him--just trust Him. He is the perfect navigation system. No mistakes, and always with a clear goal of His Glory. Let this detour sing of how great He is, somehow!

Making the most of our time here. Going to the British Museum, seeing a show at the National Theatre tonight, and really enjoying using PHENOMENAL public transportation. There's something magical about London. The history, the brilliant architecture, the complex but smoothly-run transport systems, the efficiency, the civility. It's quite wonderful.

Such a blessing to have had to pause here, but I'm praying that this isn't a U turn, but rather a pit stop on my way to India.
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Friday, September 2, 2011

How to Lose Your Passport, part 1

I typed up a long and awesome big post, complete with a reference to Tangled, only for it to be deleted before posting. Quite bummed because it may have been one of the better ones I've ever written.

Today's adventures have included, but have not been limited to:

1. Cole losing her passport.
2. Amanda flying alone to Hyderabad to meet the group, with Cole and Jared staying behind. See #1 for the reason.
3. Being totally snubbed by the American Embassy, while being warmly welcomed by British Airlines. What?
4. Snagging a sweet, safe, not too crazy expensive little room in a German YMCA right near Paddington (2 twin beds, folks. Nothing sketchy).
5. Narrowly avoiding being kicked out of a Hilton for using their swanky concierge (sp?) to help us get info.
6. The actual purchase of boingo WiFi on my phone which turns out to be the best idea all day (oh, hai, blog post and emails).
7. We have our bags. If that ain't God, I don't know what is.
8. I'm stranded in another country, but that country speaks English and is really hip. Again with the blessings.
9. DO YOU KNOW WHAT WEATHER IN LONDON IN THE SUMMER IS LIKE?? WHAT IS THIS GLORIOUS GOOD WEATHER-NESS?? UM--SHARE THE GOODNESS, ENGLAND!
10. If I'm going to be stranded in another country, I'm really glad to be stuck with someone I like a lot. Who has traveled a lot. Who is used to my mode of dealing with stressful situations (this is where the Tangled reference comes in. Manic joy and thankfulness at being in London, followed by self-loathing depression about misplacing passport, worrying my parents, potentially missing the conference, etc).

But we're safe. And we have several game plans. All of which involve us making it home eventually. Some just sooner than others. :/

So PRAY. Pray that BA finds my passport. Pray that if they don't, the processes involved in getting a new one and getting an Indian visa will be easy and smooth. Pray for continued good travel for the other women at the conference. They're amazing, and they're doing amazing things for Christ this week. I hope I get to go join them!

Love ya :) I'll update as things happen.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Wow. What's today??

I leave for India on Thursday. Today is Monday. Pretty much Tuesday by now. Gracious.

Prescriptions, shoes, SD card, hand sanitizer

Car, cat, craft supplies, contacts, can I get this all together in time?

Once there I'll be journaling like crazy, certainly of things to share when I return. Expect a full report, complete with pictures. Because birthday camera is traveling to the other side of the world with me. So is Jared.

India: where big things happen, and God's hand is clear.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Today is a GREAT day!

Today is........


my......


......


...........


BIRTHDAY!!!

I'm [exactly the age that I should be]!  Yay!

What, you may be thinking, does a gal like Cole do to celebrate her birthday?

Well, I like to do a little work, ya know, to prove I'm not the self-absorbed birthday-type.  Head to the office, if only for a few hours.  Maybe do a load of laundry or something, just to remind myself that life goes on, even on birthdays.  Then I'll pack a few things for India, to get excited about the fact that I'll be on a plane flying east this time next week.  I'll pack a box or 2, to get excited about the fact that exactly one week after I get back from India I'll be moving into a swanky new apartment.  I'll write a lesson or 3 to prepare for the childrens ministry while we're in India, because I've procrastinated plenty long on that--something I picked up in college.

I may even play a little ditty on my keyboard that I ordered on ebay 3 weeks ago that only just arrived today because it's been sitting in a warehouse in Fort Worth since the 13th because the sellers made a mistake and did nothing to fix it so I fixed it myself and...


...because of the delay I got a birthday present from me to me :)  What cute timing, God.  Way to humble me in my ebay frustrations!  I needed that.  God's pretty amazing, folks.  In case that was something that you were questioning.

But back to my day.  Because it's my birthday.  And God ordained it to be as such.

Then, my friends... THEN things get fun.  After all that office work, emailing, laundering, packing, boxing, writing, preparing...  I get to get all spruced up.

WHY?  WHY?  you ask.

Because sweet Jared, boyfriend to end all boyfriends, is taking me out for my birthday tonight.  Taverna in downtown Fort Worth (homeboy made reservations ALL ON HIS OWN, PEOPLE), and The Usual, one of our favorite spots.  And, folks, despite the fact that he's the kind of kid who carefully unwrapped the presents under the tree and rewrapped them once he knew what they all were, he's kept his present for me a secret.  Honestly, the fact that he's honored my ridiculous love of surprises AND SIMULTANEOUSLY let me choose the place to have dinner (a tricky combo, friends) is the sweetest gift of all.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Domestic Things

Hi friends :)

Just daydreaming about new one-bedroom house to come--list-style!  Let's get domesticated...

1.  I'll be living alone with my cat.  That does not mean I am a cat lady, understood?  And that cat's litter box will no longer be in my bedroom.  It will be in the bathroom where poo belongs.  HOORAY!!!
2.  I'm already pretty furnished!  I don't think I'll need any large furniture pieces (until Jared finally convinces me that I need a couch...  Which will be several paychecks in the future).  In the meanwhile I'll have 2 (3?) fairly comfortable chairs and floor pillows for the living room.
3.  Which means I get to spend the most time and effort on decorating with what I already have--MY FAVORITE!!  And I get to decorate an entire house, all by myself :D
4.  With Martha Stewart.  I've already browsed through a few of her articles on super cute and super inexpensive DIY projects and moving tips.
5.  This is going to be the smoothest move you've ever heard of.  I'm talking, numbered boxes with a master list of items inside said boxes.  I'm talking, gaff tape marking off where the movers shall place big furniture pieces.  I'm talking, color coded boxes by room and importance.
6.  Jared becomes afraid of me when I start talking about moving.
7.  I'm excited to cook in my new home.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the most important meal of the day--dessert.
8.  I'm excited to invite people over to my new home.  Small group gatherings (how awesome will THAT be!?)... girls nights... jam sessions... Star Wars nights with popcorn, beer, and a crew of nerdy men...
9.  I'm excited to flex my green thumb again--hopefully with more success (see: 5 pots of dirt in my house currently) since I have my own little balcony.  Herbs, blooms, and veggies, oh my!
10.  I'm delighted that I'll get to ride my bike to work!  Yoshi's gotten so little use since I graduated.  She needs a good cleaning, some air in her tires, and the weather to cool down so her pansy-of-an-owner will be willing to go for bike rides again.

While I'll be super sad to leave the sweet girls of ACES (the original 4's initials--soon to be changed to JEWS. Hehe), living alone is something that I've toyed with trying for a few years, and the time and place couldn't have been better!  I feel like a more well-rounded person for the living experiences that I've had (good and bad, and there have been plenty of both).

Brief re-cap there:
1. At home I had my own room and sink.  Everything else was shared with 1 or 3.
2. Dorm life, year 1.  Nothing was just for me.  Shared everything.  Including sanity.
3. Dorm life, year 2.  I had my own bedroom!  Shared bathroom and living space with 1.
4. Apartment, part 1.  I had my own bedroom AND bathroom, shared living and kitchen with 1 (2).
5. Apartment, part 2.  Shared bathroom, living, and kitchen with 1.  And then with Freds.  Which I didn't blog about.  Because it was gross and caused us to immediately move into...
6. Apartment, part 3.  My own bedroom, shared bathroom with 2, kitchen and living with 3.  Which is surprisingly not crowded most of the time.

So now I'm moving into Apartment, part 4.  My own everything.  Weird.  Granted, I won't be splitting rent with anyone (womp womp...) but that's ok.  I have a big girl job.  Plus, I'll be paying less in gas since I'll be BICYCLING TO WORK EVERY DAY! :D 

I'm seriously really pumped about that.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Do

Oh heavens.  My list of things to do is going to eat me.

To do tomorrow:

-Babysit (woo!)
-Write about 25 thank you notes to preschool teachers (no woo.)
-Address those notes
-Write a script for a preschool teacher training video
-Find people to play in said video

To do within a week:

-Plan and successfully execute said training video
-Crank out 8 lesson plans for Indian kiddos
-Find oodles of people who want to be preschool teachers this fall
-Find even more people who wanna be preschool teachers this fall
-Officially slap my name on a cute 1-bedroom apartment (woo!)

To do before India:

-Round up substitute teachers out the wa-zoo for while I'm gone
-Edit training video
-Train the oodles of preschool teachers
-Make sure the oodles of preschool teachers are screened, etc
-Begin to pack to move
-Definitely pack for India

Thanks for walking me through that.

I know, I know... Keep calm and carry on.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

India Trip Part Deux Update!

Confession time.  I haven't been updating about India Trip - The Return to Hyderabad because A) I've been quite busy.  For reals.  AND B) because I'm a little conflicted about how to approach this trip when talking to people.  Let me explain.

The first part of the trip is a knock-down-drag-out MISSION trip, loving on little kids in the name of the Lord for a week while their mamas are at a Women's Conference.  It's going to be hard and absolutely amazing.  I might even see some kids I know from the villages from January!!  This plan started before I even left Hyderabad in January.  Edgar was telling us about the conference coming up in September, and he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Some of these women aren't able to leave their children at home because of their unbelieving husbands who resent their devotion to the Lord.  So we will need people to care for the children." Boom.  I was in.  Aaaand I need funding for this part.  Only about $255 more and I'll be totally funded!  Praise the Lord!  But I have less than a month to round up those funds, so I'm excited to see how He provides just in the nick of time :) 

The second part of the trip is also God-inspired, just in a different form.  Jared and I will be traveling to Bangalore to meet and hang out with folks that he lived and worked with when he lived in India.  We will visit non-profit organizations run by Christ-centered people who are focused on meeting the needs of Indians day in and day out.  Jared will be talking with the folks he's worked with for several years about what kind of a future may be in store for him.

Jared has very deliberately (and ridiculously charmingly) invited me along for that part of the journey because we fancy each other quite a lot, so our futures may bump into each other in a more permanent fashion at some point, which means I need to know what we'd be in for!  We have no idea if, whoa, living in India is part of our future.  All I know is that we both have a heart for that country, so we're going to check it out.  And I have a new camera, so I want to take some gosh darn pictures in India.

We'll also be taking some day trips to palaces and tea plantations around the area (yes, tea plantations.  Be still, my beating heart.  Have I told you all how much I love tea?  It's a thing).  I'm excited that I'll have time to explore the beauties of India this trip!  In January we were on a tight schedule (wake up, buses, medical camp/kids camp, motel, sleep) so we didn't get to do much exploring, and now that I'm pretty much in love with and committed to India, I'm excited to get to know her :)  There will be more pictures from this 19-day adventure than I will know what to do with.  There's your warning.

So, since this is a multi-purpose trip, I'm very deliberately only raising funds for the ground costs for the week of the Conference.  I've been saving and penny-pinching as much as I can for the rest of the trip, and my parents have CRAZY generously paid for a significant chunk of the plane tickets.  I've been encouraged by my mission-minded loved ones that I do not need to deprive any called person of the opportunity to support Christian missions, so with that beautiful mindset, I extend that invitation on to you.  If you want to join me on this journey, email me at colemortimer@gmail.com. 

I am, however, asking for PRAYERS for the ENTIRE trip.  If you'd like a detailed list of things to pray for, you've come to the right blog post:

- That GOD would be glorified through the conference and children's ministry
- Travel safety
- Unity of the entire group at the conference
- Funds
- Spiritual preparedness for the team (India can be a spiritually oppressive place)
- For the Christians in India - they are persecuted, especially in the northern states, but also in the southern states (where we'll be).  Pray that their trials only strengthen their faith, and that the Christian community there will grow despite the hardships
- For Edgar and his team as they plan and execute the details of this conference
- For Jared, praise that he is faithful, and prayers for his next steps
- For Amanda, my children's ministry co-leader from Ft. Worth, that she would be strengthened and encouraged, that God would reveal what's next for her
- For Cathy, my children's ministry co-leader from Memphis, that she would be prepared and at peace, that we three work beautifully together with the kiddos

Thank you for reading, being even remotely interested, for praying, and for supporting me in this.  I'm so excited about this trip.  It means missing almost 3 weeks of work and again facing my fear of throwing up (don't drink the water, be careful of the food), but all that and so much more is worth it for the experience to come!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beautiful repost from Sally at www.itakejoy.com

I love this post from I Take Joy.  I love her honesty and how crazy close to home she hits here.  I encourage you to follow her blog!  She's a lovely lady.

"   And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?
Luke 9:23-25

My birthday was truly a blessing this year. So many years in August my children are on trips with friends or relatives or camps or anywhere but home. Since I am so connected at the hip and heart to my children, I sometimes get sad when we are away from each other on birthdays since they are such a big deal and such a time of blessing in our home.

This year, however, my cup was filled to the brim with such wonderful well-wishers (thank you very much!) and moments of reflection on my life and just how much the Lord has blessed me in my journey with Him.

Before I went to bed, I opened my little devotional to read one last verse to end my day in worship of Him. I have this commitment to think of my birthday as a marking of what I have lived and what I will commit to live for Him in the next year. My heart was soft and I told Him I wanted to hear His voice, His will, to please Him in every way. Then I read:

“Take up your cross and follow me,”
 
These words and the following seemed to burn into my heart.

I am somewhat of a Pollyanna at heart and love for everyone to be happy and all people living in harmony with each other. However, God has not allowed that to be my story. I have many conflicts that it seems will never resolve, challenges, issues, stresses that come from being in a fallen world. Most I will never write about or speak of because I so believe in loyalty and discretion when it comes to people in my personal life.

Many of these anguishing difficulties,  I have had to bear for years in waiting for God’s answer to my prayers.

But this moment , in the darkness of  night, with only Him and me talking, I realized that these “crosses to bear” are just what my heavenly Father wants me to take up to bear. My cross of the pain of my heart is just the place that He wants me to trust, to worship, to accept the limitations, as a part of the story of my life that can glorify Him if I am willing to bear it joyfully right where I am.

If I carry these, bear them up, accept them, I will be pleasing in my heart to my only Love–accepting His will for me with grace and resolve to live there. “Not my will, but yours be done.” Total submission to what is.

My Christian life cannot be, “I am yours, but I know you will let me whine and complain about this particular issue or person because it is hard for me.” Yet, a new realization came across me that evening that these crosses are what He wants me to pick up and carry–they are a part of my purpose in this world–that somehow when I carry them as a gift, as His will, I can better reflect His glory, His supernatural peace, His love and His grace to sustain me.

So, what cross is He asking you to bear by faith, and as a point of worship to Him? Is it a child? A difficult marriage? Irrational or angry or passive family members? An illness? A death? A disappointment? It is only as we pick up our crosses and carry them to the place of dying to ourselves and living for Him, in every circumstance, that we will live in freedom, grace, love and worship.

What cross will you carry, for His glory, today?

I am committing to accept my cross, to take the load with a grateful heart, that He who sees me each day and has goodwill towards me, knows that this cross, my cross is just what I need to suit my soul and heart for His kingdom.   "

Friday, August 5, 2011

POSTING!

Baggy is in my spot on the bed.

It's midnight.

I'm really quite tired.

Got freaked out while dog-sitting tonight--thought someone was trying to break into the house.  Not my house.  Dog-sitting house.  Sweet sweet Jared came to my rescue.

It appeared to be nothing--though if it was, the person was scared off by the dog barking furiously at him.  Good girl...

I have about 40 notes to handwrite in the next 2 days.  Hm.

I also have about 40 volunteers to find to be preschool Sunday School teachers.

Do you know how very much I do not enjoy soft selling service for Jesus to people that I don't know?  Everything about my personality is against it.

I'd much rather sit at my desk and make a chart.  Or go around to all the classrooms to make sure there are enough pink crayons.  Or handwrite 40 thank you cards.

I have a swanky new camera :)  I'm so excited about it.  Now I'm having to invent situations where it's ok to take everybody's picture.  Who wants to invite me to a party!?

I think I'll go to sleep now.  Tis time.  Love you :)

(India in 27 days!!!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pictures!

That's right, folks!  A PHOTO POST!  Get excited.

No.  They will not ALL be of my cat.

Meanie.

 Look at those cute boys.  Ooomph.  They have my heart.

My cousin Kent and his oh-so-charming-totally-one-of-us wife Britanny.

 My beloved Wiley.  He's even precious when he's sad!

 Oh but look at him when he's happy :)

Love this picture.  His little face is so content.

 With his Papa Bear :)

Now, let's not forget about this little bundle of joy (and energy!)--Hughes is the cutest toddler on the planet, folks.  Not kidding.

This is Sweet Tee--Mama, Daddy, and Jane's dog.  She's a sweetheart...

 Zack, Alyssa, Jared and I went to the Botanic Gardens [a few months ago].  It was an awesome double date!

 He's keeping an eye on the Killer Koi Fish...

 The original 3259 roomies!  Add Ehleshea!
The fam fam at Lillians in Perdido Key in March with Jared acting as master photographer.  Love this crew.

That's all for now.  I don't take nearly as many pictures as I should.  Mostly because my camera is not my fave.  I'll work on that.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stages of [Body] Grief (edited from wikipedia)

  1. Denial — "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."  Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of [the excess that has accumulated around her legs].
  2. Anger — "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"  Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy.  [She really wanted to still have her high school dancer legs and tush.]
  3. Bargaining — "I'll do anything for [lean, fit legs]."; "I will give my life savings if [I could just feel fit, but not really]."  The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay [flabbiness]. Usually, the negotiation for an extended [fitness] is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will [not be fit if I don't exercise], but if I could just do something to buy more time [with that youthful, overtime-working metabolism]..."
  4. Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to [gain weight]... What's the point?"; "I miss my loved [legs], why go on?"  During the fourth stage, the [unfit] person begins to understand the certainty of [flabbiness]. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the [unfit] person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
  5. Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well [just do] it."
    In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with the fact that she is going to have to start exercising if she wants to look and feel better about her body.
Folks, I've reached the 5th stage.  If you need me, I will be trying out workout regimen #1 this afternoon.  God, help me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A letter to YOU about what GOD's doing in INDIA!


Dear friends and family,

I pray that this letter finds you safe in God's Hands!  I would like to tell you about an exciting opportunity I have coming up in September.  I will be participating in the Grace Sathuluri Conference for Women in Hyderabad, India.  My friend Amanda, who also went with me on the short term trip to Hyderabad in January, will travel with me, and we will be partnering again with N.A.T.I.V.E. Ministries to help host the 10th Anniversary of this women's conference for the persecuted Christian women of India.

I am so excited about the opportunity to serve in this area of the world—again!—where God is clearly raising up new worshipers and leaders in India.  I am also excited about the opportunity to participate in God's faithful work of building up disciples in His Kingdom among the nations!  My role on this trip will be to teach the children who travel to the conference with their mothers and grandmothers.  Though the women are asked not to bring their children, many are forced to.  Non-Christian husbands especially will say that if his wife is going to leave her dutiful place in her home to serve this God, then she shouldn't expect her children to be cared for in her absence.  Naturally, then, we are providing for these blessed children!

I humbly invite you to consider supporting me in this ministry with your constant prayers.  I am asking, as well, for partners who will support me financially, as I sincerely desire to be a blessing to those women and children in India.  I need to raise $1,090 by September 1, 2011 to cover the costs of this trip.  Will you consider contributing to this ministry?  Every little bit is a genuine blessing.  If God leads you to support me, please make your check payable to Christ Chapel Bible Church.  In the memo line, please write: India Women's Conference, Cole Mortimer.

Checks should be mailed to our CCBC Missions Coordinator:

Danella Hitri
3740 Birchman Ave
Ft. Worth, TX 76107

Please include a note designating the gift to my name.

I sincerely ask for prayers that we will be able to serve joyfully together and provide great encouragement to the Indian women and children at this conference.  Thank you for considering this invitation.  I look forward to telling you about everything God has done when I return!

Warmest blessings,

Cole Mortimer

817-201-4613
colemortimer@gmail.com

Pictures from the January trip!


In a village called Kalubavi, saying “Wandanaloo!” (“Blessings!” in Telugu)



With Amanda at Native Ministries, wearing our punjabis (a tunic-style top with pants and a light scarf)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today is Fabulous

So, Jane's here.

I'm sorry.  Let's try that again.

JaNe's HEEEEEERE!

Much better.

We grabbed dinner at Central Market and barely resisted the urge to be fatties.  We've both read a book just since she's been here (she read We'll Always Have Summer and I read A Wrinkle In Time).  She helped me weed out the ridiculousness of my closet (to be taken to Berry Good Buys potentially this afternoon).  We have plans to hang out at the church today (while I do work, she's gonna play in the resource room--what what??) and go to Exalt tonight.  Tomorrow there may be some Six Flag action, and at some point I need her professional opinion on a haircut.  Also, shopping is bound to happen.  Because she's good at it, and I'm just not.  It's not very much fun.  To me.

Also, Jane's gonna help me babysit on Friday and Saturday.  Because she's a rock star.

Have I mentioned how much I love my sister?  A whole lot.  Lots of love.  Oodles of it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Looking Back: A Year Ago Today

I just, for curiosity's sake, looked through my blog archives to see if I made a July 4th post last year.

I did.

I was in a hostel in San Francisco, and it was one of the most memorable, heart-aching, miserable days that I've ever had.

Not that I was willing to admit that--to myself, much less my blog-readers--at the time.  I was determined to be positive (possibly because I knew that I had a solid 5 or 6 days left on the trip with my then-boyfriend, and having a bad attitude was only going to make those days icky).

Journal excerpt from July 5, 2010:

"Things took a southerly turn yesterday.  Like, I had him pull over so I could get out just to get away.  My feelings on the whole ordeal: if something isn't changed/mended, this isn't going to work.  I cannot handle feeling like that.  And especially at the hand of the person I care about the most.  Ignoring it and hoping it fixes itself is not going to happen.  I WANT this to get worked out because I adore this man.  I don't want "forever" to be a painful idea.  I want to trust him to take care of my feelings even when we argue.  Because arguments are only going to get more serious, and I should not be afraid of the man I love, even/especially when we're arguing."

Reading that again is difficult for me.  We continued to date for 5 and a half-ish more months, while still arguing about the same thing, never really making much headway.

What were we arguing about?

I felt that he wasn't hearing me or acknowledging me as one that he cared about.  It's hard to move past that when it's proven frequently, often during the discussion of the topic itself.  Eventually, in an effort to mend the unraveling relationship, I convinced myself that he was right--that I was being plenty heard and acknowledged.  That I deserved nothing more from him.  That it was a problem with myself that I needed to work on.  I later realized that that was not true, and that thinking in that way had legitimately messed with my head. 

He didn't do it intentionally.  He didn't want to be doing it.  He just didn't know how not to.  He's a good man.  He's just not good for me.  And it took me too long to see the difference.

I'm thankful for the situation because it showed me how much I can take (I had no idea that I was so strong before that), and it helps me to recognize the beauty in being treated as a beloved equal.  I will never take that for granted again, I assure you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

How To Spend One's Fourth

1. Find out, albeit kindly, that you need to find somewhere else to live starting August 1.

2.  Mope, whine, throw a general one-man-pity-party.

3.  Get over that mess and go watch about 4 episodes of bad acting (ex: Army Wives).

4.  Get over that, too, and finally take a shower and start a load of laundry.

5.  Laundry X 3

6.  Go to your bf's house and water the plants and feed the cats, love on the cats, and generally suck up to the cats since bf and his sweet mama are out of the country.

7.  Take advantage of being at this bf's house and read a good book in a hammock for an hour and a half.

8.  Again, take advantage of being at said bf's house and continue reading in the "cold tub" (hot tub minus heat).

9.  Try to avoid being completely devoured by mosquitoes (I'm not good at this one).

10.  Come home and enjoy a glass of red wine with strawberries and yogurt while watching Modern Times with Charlie Chaplin.  Proceed directly to sleep, or pause for a moment to blog about the day while listening to Regina Spektor.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Whoa... Moment of Shock at Time

I've had this blog going for over a year.

This is probably something I should be more aware of, since I started it in April of '10 and it's now July of '11, but no...  I had no idea that it had been going on that long!!

I blogged without telling anyone for a month when I got this thing started.  I wanted to be comfortable with it, and I didn't want "readers" to have to go through the baby steps and growth pains with me.  You know, the dorky, "well... I've started a blog... don't really know what to say yet..." bit there at the beginning.

Also, I had to figure out who my audience was.  I didn't quite learn that one in time, as there was a near mishap with a professor finding out about my blog from my big mouth, and I had to run--in heels and a dress--to the nearest computer to delete the posts that I'd written in his class before he could figure out how to spell "idiosyncrasies."  Thankfully, there was a post about poop to get through before hitting the post in question, and what male doesn't pause to read a post about poop?

Let it be known that I was in the middle of finals week when I wrote that post about bodily waste, and I'm going to blame that somewhat poor choice on the known desperate need for stupid body humor to relieve some of the stresses of spring semester finals.  Also, I was still a blogging noob at the time.  I have no excuses for this post, though.  Except that Dooce and Hyperbole and a Half were heavily influencing me at the time--thus the animation.

I'm still just ridiculously floored that it has been OVER a year since I started this blog.

Thank you for reading :)  If you didn't, I would have no reason to have continued!  I've got a journal for that kind of reader-less writing!  This is for you!

Speaking of...  Questions, comments, or suggestions for the future of Brilliant Idiosyncrasies?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Terrific Tuesday!

Ok, so the thing that I've gone to bed thinking about and talked about and giggled about and planned for is finally happening on Tuesday.

JANE IS COMING TO FORT WORTH!

My rock-awesome little sister and I are going to get 6 days of legit, just us, gals on the town, hangout time.  Something we haven't had in years.

And now she's 15, so we can connect a little better than we could than when she was 9 and I was 16.  Amazing how you can actually feel the age gap shrinking as the years pass...  I started journaling when I was 15, so I have tangible records of the [ridiculous] things I was thinking and feeling at the time.  I didn't think much, but I felt A LOT.  She's got a much better head on her shoulders.  I'm very serious about that.

Though I may have a different report after hanging out with her for a week ;)

OK!  So here's where the fun stuff starts.  WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO??

I'm thinking Six Flags.  That's pretty much the big ticket item that I'm pulling for.  I've never been (which is craziness) and what better way to love on a sister than putting her in a machine that will hoist her up in the air and back down again faster than you can say "bonding time!"

Also, there's a modern dance show at The Modern [art museum], and we both did the dance thing in high school, so that could be fun.  Though I doubt they'll be doing jr high dance team numbers...  I'm thinking more Martha Graham.  Which could be even MORE fun.

Needless to say, I'm REALLY READY FOR TUESDAY to roll around.  Jared leaves the country tomorrow, which is a bummer, but then Jane comes, so...  I mean...  Love you... But next week is gonna be stinkin fun :) Thankfully, Jared and Jane overlap by about 36 hours! 

And then Jane and I road trip to MS together, and I will FINALLY get to meet THIS LITTLE GUY!




I'm almost as excited to meet Wiley as I am for Jane to come to TX.  This is huge, obviously.

Later days!  (and hopefully good quality pictures from our adventures! Hint hint, mom!)