Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Process

In May, I wrote this for Prodigal Magazine. I have decided this next season of my life to story. And learning how to live a good one. 


Words wait to jump off my fingers, antsy to unfold little strings of quips, rhymes, images, and observations; all unique yet woven together to create a sentence, a paragraph—a story.
Yet the words that comprise a biographical tale can only be the result of experience.
And experience, living a good story, begins with decisions.
Decisions to eat strange food, to buy a plane ticket, to apologize, to forgive, to commit to another person; decisions that change the course of our life or simply our weekend.

Example: I decided to go camping.

The Cossatot River valley is a secret pocket of unmolested land in the heart of Arkansas. Twenty or so miles of riparian riverbanks woven between slanted rock walls that ominously remind campers flooding is immanent. Despite various hazards of flash floods, ticks, poison Ivy, and rodents of unusual size, five of us drove right into the heart of the state park and set up camp.
Arriving just as the sun began to dip behind pine-cluttered hills, an evening storm sprinkled rain on our heads. We huddled under a rain fly as we scarfed down stir-fry and buttered bread.
The sun punched through the clouds with its last minutes before heading west and painted our corner of river with deep purple and red reflections. Lounging on lichen carpeted rocks, we watched its final descent and chattered about nothing and everything.

“It’s all about the process.”

This was the motto I kept repeating as we waiting an hour for coffee to boil the next morning. And again when my friends eyed me skeptically as I boiled omelets in sandwich bags.
We filled the day with river exploration, fishing, hiking, and an early evening swim in the luke-warm water; an attempt to rid our bodies of nasty little ticks.
Muscle poses of us perched on boulders filled our camera and memory, with a rather cliché backdrop of river and forest that one might find on a bottled water billboard.

Despite the beauty and laughter around me, I found time to imagine myself in an even better landscape.

I am unashamedly obsessed with Colorado; any chance to imagine myself frolicking at the base of the Rockies will be grasped eagerly. I kept pretending Arkansas, home to Tyson Chicken and Wal-mart was actually Colorado, land of microbreweries and rock climbers.
The little state park in my daydream was actually the Rocky Mountain National Park, and the mountains were tucked just beyond the lodge poles, waiting for my eyes to feast on their luminous peaks.
At one point my friend Andrew looked at me and said “Why do you keep imaging yourself away from here, isn’t this enough?”

Nope. Arkansas was not enough.

I thrive in the romance of what could be, and see reality as quite dreary. This is true of camping in Cassatot State Park and working in Fort Worth, Texas.
In many ways, I would rather live in the mystery of the unknown, instead of the present reality of my daily life.

But living a good story requires risk.

Whether that is moving to a new city, getting married, having kids, battling cancer, or committing to the place you are—these are all great risks because they require us to sacrifice our comfort and stability.

I took a risk and quit my job for an internship in Oregon.

I have been ready to move to Oregon since I decided Texas would not provide enough of an adventure—totally unromantic for a mountain loving foodie. Occasionally I will allow myself to pretend I am cycling along the river in Portland, rather than Fort Worth.

However, I am learning that story is not so much about where, but how you live.

I have accepted the tiny biting lies, the whispers that personal validation is found in good story, and good story is only found in exotic travel and adventure. These little lies have burrowed deep, assuring me that satisfaction can only be gained as long as I am running.
But I cannot allow the identity of my life to be defined by a choice to quit my job, or consider it failure when I choose to stay.
Paul, Christ’s poised pen, claims that we must be the story, the letter “written not with ink but the spirit of the living God…on tablets of human hearts.”
The truth is, camping in Arkansas and moving to Portland will not be the cornerstone of my story.

The cornerstone will come from the process.

Living a good story is about allowing the spirit of the living God to weave little strings of quips, rhymes, images, and observations onto this human heart; permitting life to unfold and accepting, even embracing the processes of struggle, pain and joy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


My impatient hands twisted the faux leather steering wheel; helpless anger and pity were souring my mouth as I watched my fathers soft hands grapple for the car door. Each tick of the clock is magnified and expanded as his muscles boot up like a 97 Macintosh. Gripping the door, my dad boosts his thinning body out onto the cement and shuffles towards the neon sign above the body shop to retrieve his car.
I jammed my right foot onto the gas pedal and pounded the dash, garbled yelps and sobs escaped my throat as a shook my fist at God, wanting to know why my Dad had to suffer.
These moments of exhausted self-pity always end in a flashback to a particular conversation a few years ago.
My family was at Texas A&M for my brothers graduation and my dad thought this was a perfect time to take me on a walk and tell me God had spoken to him.

He began our walk with these fourteen words:

“I was sure when I left for India last fall, I would never see you again.”
Read more here

Monday, July 2, 2012


Oh tasty, succulent truth
I cannot hold you on my tongue
yet I cannot remove you from my heart

A blabbering strand of articulation
does nothing to rid you from 
the deepest cavity of my soul. 

I loathe the stain you have left
No rubbing, no washing will remove
your tiresome mark

As my body marches to the left 
truth-imprisoned within me 
screeches and fights to move right


Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Photo

When you hear about a doughnut shop on the travel channel,

you know it's important. 

This was delicious as it was creepy. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Extended Vacation

I love the farmers market, almost as much as french cheese or a hike in the Rocky Mountains. 

Going solo is not quite as bad as sitting alone at a drive-in movie. I approach the market like one might an art museum, each booth is a new display, complete with built in artist eager to explain their masterpiece. 

There is nothing more energizing than for a conversationist (strength finder: woo) like myself to approach each booth with gusto and animately engage the bee keeper/farmer/wino etc in how-they-do-it tête-à-tête.   

But here is the truth, the Farmers Market is a unique situation, its very purpose being to share food, conversation and hopefully a monetary exchange. I feel well loved because I am eating delicious bread, spread with a cream cheese salmon dip, and they feel well loved because of the new green bills on the table. 

So what do you do when reality is not as inviting as the farmers market? 

Last summer I wallowed in self-pity. No friends, no community, just me and my childhood bedroom. 
Enjoying the place I seemed to be planted was not an option, I just did not want to get comfortable... Saginaw. 

And this May, I moved to the city I had dreamed about last year. Starting all over, living in my Aunt and Uncles house, basking in the radiance of a cloudy afternoon in Portland. 

And yet still, I catch my sneaky little thoughts painting a picture of the next adventure. 

So what do I do about it? 

I have decided to start treating my time in Oregon as an extended vacation.

 (Not in the sense of being lazy and sipping Sonic drinks by the pools my rain water in the backyard) But..

...reminding myself to enjoy today.

To eat lots of summer berries.

To praise my uncle for his smoothie making skills.

To take pictures of every delicious meal we eat together, aunt, uncle, cousins, friends, new friends, or maybe just by myself. 

Vacation, much like the farmers market, develops an expectancy that every minute will have a purpose, to rest, to explore, to eat, to laugh. 

Both venues engulf you in new and exciting sounds and experiences. Set up to please and entertain--

It is not the event or the location which draws me in, but the expectation. 

I want my life to be lived with eagerness for every new food, each hour of work, anticipation in the relationships I build on daily.  

How about you? 

Monday, June 25, 2012

What am I doing here?

Recently, I invited over a friend and was introduced to hernew boyfriend who had apparently heard so much about me. I listened to him goon about his Kansas farm, and then interrupt himself with…

 “…of course, I’venever traveled to Europe or anything…”

I was caught off guard by his apologies and humbledownplaying of farm life. But I said nothing,

Because I knew my travels involved more tears and swearwords than photographs.

June 20th, 2011

“@*%$  *&%$,  What am I doing here?”

I think that was the basic sentiment.

I can still picture myself slumped in an orange, plasticbooth at MacDonald’s, fresh off the plane –clutching a damaged pen with inkspilling onto my skin, I had scribbled curses onto pages of my fresh journal.

Six months previously I had decided to buy a plane ticketand travel through Europe after college graduation. This is almost a cliché,but one with which I was proud to be labeled.

Excitement flooded me in the months leading up to my trip.

I filmed myself packing items into the large blue backpack,one month before I left. (Just to practice you know… )

I created a cash envelope budget,

got a fresh hair cut,

informed anyone who would listen and some who wouldn’t,

And even doodled sketches of planes flying over the Atlanticonto my final exams.

I played out the adventure in my head long before I crossedthe ocean, and then suddenly, the day had arrived. I rode the sky tram thoughDFW airport, thinking it’s not to late to go home, to be safe and comfortable.

Swollen butterflies, beating light wings in my stomach as mypassport was stamped, attempted to guide me back to the safety of the terminal,but I grabbed a metaphorical fly swatter and beat them back.

Nothing would keep me from this experience, especiallymyself.

I think the best moments of the whole month were when I knewfood and friends would be denominators and not unknowns.

If the darkest moments could pile up like books, stackedwith spines facing out, each would read:


It’s always easier to recount the good parts of my travels,to talk about French cheese and how friendly the Dutch are, but what I rarelytalk about is the fear,

the insecurity which seemed to be an Eeyore style cloud,hovering wherever I went.  

A fact that made it very difficult to even approach the farmhouse selling hand crafted cheese, or the plague of anxiety which coerced meinto corners with books, rather than introduce myself to others in a bar.

No matter how many years separate me from June 5th,2011—the worst travel day in history—I will never forget the lumpy blob caughtin my throat, ready to send a stream of blubbering tears with any sidewaysglance or missing of train.


of all of the fear and apprehension solo-Europe gifted tome, I would not hand it back.

There is no regret.

The insecurities in my life, the vanity, the masks I wear,would not have been so clear had I traveled with a friend.

Not to say I wouldn’t have learned lessons aboutrelationships etc.

But a month with myself and my thoughts, my decisions atevery corner, brought me to the conclusion that

story has much lessto do with the location than it does with the experience.

People make experience,

when I met up with an old friend in Prague, secret stores ofenergy exploded into my countenance and confidence with something as simple asasking for directions.

Standing on a bus for two hours became a mishap to laughabout, rather than cry.
If I had not traveled alone, I would never have realized howmuch I love to travel with people.

Even if traveling simply means the retelling of a story.

So sitting on a couch in Fort Worth Texas, listening to anew acquaintance recount tales of cow tipping and bad crops, as he gushed warmlyover my old friend is an experience I would never trade.

This is the adventure.

Check out more stories at Prodigal Magazine HERE

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nackt : Naked.

"May your jaded hearts be healed."

A few years ago, I sat in Rosa's Cafe with one of the girls I mentored.
We sat tearing apart tortillas and dipping then in honey.
She passionately told me a story about her step-mom giving away all of her clothes.
She continually repeated the phrase "they were mine, my clothes."
I didn't have much to say.
Why was she so upset?
Is there great injustice in losing our possessions?
To her, the clothes were an identity, a wrapping of self-worth.
She was left with little. Not literally naked.

But it got me thinking...

There is a scene in the movie Babble where the daughter is standing naked on the balcony and her father steps out and wraps his protective, loving arms around her as she sobs.


Becoming naked.

We have to shed everything, all of our selves, our worldview and preexisting reservations if Christ will come and give us something new.

Shed them like rags and run.


into the arms of God.