Cali's 1st Birthday

Yesterday was Cali's 1st Birthday (or so we think- it is more accurately her estimated birthday since she was abandoned and I really don't know)!

here is a picture of my baby

Above is a picture of the puppies picking me up from the airport...this was the first time I saw her!

But anyway, yesterday was when we celebrated! It has been a lot of fun having a dog. I have wanted a dog for such a long time and now that I finally have one I am so thankful for her all of the time. She has a quirky and hillarious little personality that keeps me laughing and on my toes. She is my little sweetheart. When I got off work my friend (who owns her brother Henry) and I took them to Sonic and got them hamburgers, just the meat and the bun, which they quickly devoured and it was hillarious. Then that evening we made homemade peanut butter dog treats and gave them those and Frosty Paws-which is ice cream for dogs. I didn't even know they made ice cream for dogs, but apparently they do. Needless to say these puppies are spoiled rotten, but they are wonderful and they make all of life better. I have said this before, but I never want to live a day without a dog.

Below is Cali eating her Sonic Hamburger.

Below is Frosty Paws and Cali enjoying it!


heart connections.

Dr. Richard Ross is a professor of student ministry at Southwestern Seminary, where I attended grad school. I had the privilege of taking several classes with him and I enjoyed every minute of instruction under him. He is one of the most brilliant, godly men I have ever met. He is also the "founder" of the True Love Waits program that many people commit to. He came to my church today in Houston and did his Heart Connections seminar that he does with students and parents. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever watched. He spends an hour teaching parents about how to grow godly teenagers. His main thesis is that in order for true faith to get passed down from generation to generation is through a heart connection. The last verse of the Old Testament says that, "He will turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents." God intends for the home to be the primary place for discipleship to occur (not the church, contrary to popular belief). He walks the parents through this amazing conversation about the ways that connection is broken and the ways it remains intact.

After this he brings all the parents and teenagers in one room, sitting the parents and teens knee-to-knee and face-to-face. He walks them through a series of questions he prompts them to answer. For instance; He asks the parents to tell their teen what they remember about the first moment they laid eyes on them. He asks the parents to tell their teen about the worst, most fearful or sad day of their entire life. He asks the teen to tell their parent something about them they appreciate and he asks the teen to pray over their parent. He walks through many prompts like this, always expanding on why he this is important. It is amazing to watch. Some parents and teens seem perfectly at ease with this and you can tell that their relationship is strong, where as others seem to feel awkward about this type of conversation. The thing is, so many families lose connection along the way and most of the time they feel that there is no way to get it back. You watch something like what Dr. Ross does and you realize that it is so simple. All he has done is gotten parents and teens to talk-that's it. They aren't pulling out baggage or hashing out all the hurt and issues...they are just talking. It is so simple and yet by the end almost everyone has shed some tears, hearts have been connected and relationships mended. It is profound to watch. I wish that as a teenager I had gotten to experience something like this with my parents. I wish someone had set us down knee-to-knee and gotten us to talk to each other...what heartache would have been spared and regret been off-set and what a relationship might have been made.


Africa for Christmas.

I am going to Africa for Christmas!!! For the last several months I have been in this very strange place of where to go and what to do. My internship has long been over and I have since been hoping I suppose that a job would just materialize. If I would have known that I would basically have 3 plus months off not working I might have taken better advantage of it. While job searching I have also been wondering where I could go and what I could do at this stage in life. I have no attachments, no commitments, no debt and some money saved up-sounds like a perfect time to make some life-long dreams happen. I want to live a better story-to say yes to things-to take risks and live out dreams. Africa is one of those dreams and it is coming true. When I was in DFW I attended the Village Church and was involved in a home group at the Smith's house. The Smiths have now been in Ethiopia for over a year and before they left I told them I wanted to come one day. They are missionaries through the Village; she is a nurse in a clinic and he runs a sports camp. I had emailed them a while back about coming and they had mentioned they were pretty full until the new year, but just the other day they emailed me with an opportunity. There is a girl going there from Houston and traveling alone. She wanted a travel buddy and they thought I would be interested...and of course I was. The trip is 17 days and it is over Christmas. It will be very strange to not be home for Christmas and to instead be in the bush in Africa...it will mostly be like Christmas came and went and I was unaware. This partly makes me sad because I love the season and I think it will be somewhat strange to miss it, but on the other hand I have had 26 American Christmas' and I will have plenty more, but how many chances will I get to do this. Christmas is about Christ anyway. It is about Him leaving His home to take up residence with us in order to bring us salvation. Going to Africa may even seem more appropriate than what I would normally do during the holiday season. I am very excited-EXCEPT for the nearly dozen vaccines they recommend for entering that continent and country. Who know it cost so much not to die from a deadly disease....i really had no idea.


a weekend in Portland

I LOVE traveling and this past weekend my friend and I went to Portland, Oregon. I went to Portland for the first time when I was in college. I took a last minute trip for fall break with 2 friends and I remember thinking- Why am I going to Oregon? What is in Oregon anyway? Little did I know that it is probably the prettiest place in the U.S. (opinion of course, but my strong opinion). The state has all 4 seasons (including a brilliant color pallete of fall leaves that take your breath away, snow-capped mountains, the beach, the Columbia river, lush plant life, millions of unique businesses and places to eat, Crater Lake (most break taking natural landmark I have ever seen), and many other perks. It is just a great place! The people are laid back and most of them deeply appreciate the outdoors and a more casual atmosphere. I just love it there.
My friend is thinking of moving so we left on Friday and took a red-eye back on Monday morning. The weather wasn't the best, but that is okay because you could spend all of your time in cafes and great eating places-which we did.

This is a place called Pine State Biscuits. It was started by 3 guys who moved from North Carolina to Portland. You cannot get biscuits in the Northwest (even at fast food places) so they opened this place. It is small, with hardly anywhere to sit, but the food is amazing. They are famous for their "Reggie," which is a biscuit with a piece of hand battered, fried chicken, cheddar cheese, bacon, amazing gravy, and if you so desire, a fried egg! DELICIOUS!

Like I said, the leaves in the Fall are amazing. It makes me miss the southeast because leaves don't really change in Texas-they just die. This bush looks like its on fire.
This is the biggest leaf I have ever seen. It is bigger than my head.

On Sunday we went to Imago Dei- the church that Donald Miller attends and Rick Mckinnley pastors. It was fantastic.
After church we went to the popular Bread and Ink cafe. The breakfast and lunch there is amazing and the even have this thing called the Waffle Window in the back on the side of the building, where you walk up and order any number of creative waffles and eat outside. It was also delicious.
It was an amazing time...all except the red-eye back of course. We left Portland at midnight and arrived in Houston at 5:30 a.m. Drove straight to my church to shower super quick then drove to work. And appropriately enough Donald Miller was speaking in Houston that night at a church, so we went and saw that. Thank goodness he is so great, because I would have had a tough time staying awake.


pumpkin carving.

I really enjoy Halloween-have since I was a child. What little kid doesn't enjoy getting loads of candy for free and dressing up, pretending they are something they are not. Now that I am much older I still enjoy it. Maybe it is just the time of year. My favorite time of year has always been October-Christmas. I love the fall and everything about it. I love the leaves changing, the cool weather, college football, the fact that it was cotton picking time and we got to jump in the wagons as kids and all of the holidays that happen.
In honor of this Halloween I carved pumpkins with my roommate. I hadn't carved a pumpkin in a long time, so I had forgotten that it is not as easy as you think (this also might be because when I was a kid my parents did most of the carving for me). I think my pumpkin turned out pretty good! It is the character from The Nightmare Before Christmas.