America, Celebration, Family, Food, Travel

Better Together

Today is the birthday of someone really special to me. That’s not exactly what this post is about, but it is Chris’ birthday and he is very special to me and he loves to make goofy faces when I take pictures of him. 

My birthday dinner date

I’m traveling to Lubbock to see him for his birthday, so I’m at the airport. In true fashion, I was running late after making a few t-shirt deliveries in the area, so I was a little all over the place to say the least. I had about thirty minutes to get through security and to my gate before boarding. I was in the security line, stringing all of my carefully packed belongings amongst 4 different bins (liquids, electronics, shoes/jacket, carry on tote) and also trying to put my actual carry on bag on the belt when I quickly apologized to the guy in line behind me for having my stuff all over the place. He replied without skipping a beat: “it’s okay, we’re all in this together”. 

I don’t know why, but that reply struck a chord with me today. After a few busy weeks in my work/personal life, after all the things that are happening in the world that are hard to understand, after all of the inhumanity that seems to be running rampant, after living in a world where everyone seems to only be interested in their needs, in their wants, in what is going on with them, it was a stark, shocking reminder that we are, in fact, all in this together. We need to support each other, to look beyond ourselves, to switch our mindset, to take a new look, and to see how we can do something, anything, the smallest thing, to help someone else out. Encourage someone today. Be the voice that goes against the grain and says, it’s alright, everything is gonna be just fine, we’ll face this together. 

Advertisements
Standard
America, Celebration, Culture, Family, Travel

Hello from the Other Side 

I’m not old. I’m getting older, but I’m not old. My friend, Jesse, told the kids at church that I was 30. Fortunately, none of them believed him. Unfortunately, they countered with the fact that I couldn’t be 30, I was definitely only 17. I don’t know which I’d prefer.

I like the age I am. My birthday falls after all of my friends so they’ve all experienced turning my age by the time I actually get there. Some of them were mildly distraught about being on “the other side of 25”, but I had no problem making that leap. It’s kinda nice to be out of your teenage, early twenty years. You’re a little more stable.

Emotionally (aka you’ve found out who your people are and you’re keeping them.) 

Physically (aka you’re done with the freshman fifteen and you’re maybe eating healthy every once in awhile). 

Mentally (you’re set in a career and you know what you’re doing with your life on most days) 

Financially (aka you’re a little less “downtown homeless” and a little more “chic hobo”) 

Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s just silver linings. But, I like it here. 

Or maybe it’s because birthday celebrations with this guy make me extra happy

I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned in my 25 trips around the sun and I’m not claiming that they’re profound. Mostly they’re anything but. I find myself learning new lessons all the time, things I hadn’t thought about before, discoveries I hadn’t made about myself before. That’s one of the beautiful things about aging. You continue to grow. So here’s my condensed list of learnings.

1. It is okay to not be okay. Embrace it, live in it, dig into it, figure out why you’re not okay and how to fix it. Life isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect. And that’s okay. 

2. Travel. Travel when you can, where you can, near or far. Sometimes going to a birthday party down the road can be as much of a cultural experience as traveling across the world. (Those of you who know what birthday party I’m talking about, that one was for you) You will discover more than you could ever know about yourself any other way when you travel. I promise. It will change who you are and how you view the world. 

3. Mind what you eat. Balance it, not too much or too little of any one thing. And include ice cream every once in awhile. Never completely eliminate the ice cream. 

4. Find people who are different than you and spend time with them. People from different cultures, people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, people from different religions and races, people with different views. You can learn a lot by not being around everyone who is exactly like you. 

5. Butterfingers are the best candy bar. Hands down. There is no comparison. (This was more of a personal understanding, but it’s the truth, so I thought maybe someone could glean from it)

6. Pray. Every day. Thank God for everything He’s given you. Turn your cares over to Him. Quit worrying about it. Just spend time talking to your Creator. 

7. Protect your skin. One word: SPF. Well, it’s not really a word. More like an acronym. But you get the point. Sun screen. Use it. Bathe in it. I hate to sound like a public health announcement, but your skin is the largest organ you have. Take care of it. 

8. Water. Drink lots of it. It’s good for you. Don’t question it. 

9. If you see something good in someone, say it. Recognize people for how great they are, how happy you are to have them in your life, or maybe just how cute their shoes are that day. People you know, people you don’t know. Add some sunshine to the dark world. Be appreciative. Be happy. Love others. We need more of that. 

10. It is okay to ask for the things you need. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned this year. There is nothing shameful about admitting that you are lacking in some way. Maybe you need time, maybe you need a hug, maybe you need space, maybe you need someone by your side, maybe you need support. I have always been the type to want people either to anticipate my needs and magically meet them. Or the type to fight to do things on my own, without the help of anyone else. But, people can’t know what we need, they can’t know our struggles, unless we verbalize that. We need to ask and seek out the things we need. We’re humans. We weren’t made to do it all on our own. Lean on someone. Share your burdens. You’ll feel better when you do. 

Standard
America, Family, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Quarters and Dimes

I’ve heard it said that some people grow older, but never grow up. I think I might be eligible for that life category. 

I try, I really do. But then, there are moments that I think I’m just hopeless. Turning 25 wasn’t a monumental event for me. The most monumental part about it was that I actually got to decide how to spend it. Most years, I’m at church camp, so I don’t really have to make birthday plans. Last year, my birthday plans consisted of waking a bunch of little girls up at 6:30 am, serving breakfast to the 300 other campers, cutting up cantaloupe and dancing on the front porch of our cabin. See No Laughing Matter for the full story. 

My main question was: how is a 25 year old supposed to celebrate a birthday? Is there an age appropriate list of birthday celebrations? I decided to just do all my favorite things. Which consisted of going to a basement burger restaurant with my friends and ordering a salad, going for coffee and ice cream, then making a detour to go see a big lit up ball change colors. Good plans, right? 

We went hiking on a trail a couple weeks ago around the art museum and accidentally got lost. It was close to sunset when we went and because we got lost, we ended up being out after dark. I’m not really proving my case for adulthood here, but it turned out to be a happy accident because when we got back to the car, we had parked by this big sculpture. Which (unbeknownst to us) lights up and changes colors after dark. And, we noticed that they had bench-like loungers that you could recline on to watch the lights. 

I put it on my list of things to do and last minute, changed my birthday plans to include a trip there. We went and got ice cream and drove out there and surprisingly found that one of the loungers was available. We all settled in for the show, but as I was leaning back, I dropped my phone. Again, a pretty regular occurrence for me. Except for this seating arrangement is slatted. The likelihood of your phone falling at just the right angle to slide through one of the slats is minimal though. Unless you’re me. 

My phone disappeared into the abyss underneath us, but I wasn’t concerned. Because surely this whole bench thing could be moved around. Which is what I said. No reason to panic, but my friends insisted that we check. Nope. It’s bolted to the ground. Uh-oh. 

Still no reason to panic though, this can be solved. I announced to them that I’d go find a stick that we could use to push it to the edge. After trying about three different sticks of varying lengths and sizes, I finally found one that I thought would work. My original plan of working from the ground and trying to pull it towards me didn’t pan out. But, with some ingenuity, we decided to go through the top slats where it had fallen and inch it towards the edge from there. Should I mention that between the 4 of us present at this point, we have 5 college degrees? We’re well educated, capable women, as obviously indicated by our ingenuity. We’re also prone to getting lost and being klutzy. 

I should probably also mention that this is a Friday night and there are multiple couples arranged on the other loungers around us, trying to enjoy their dates. All while we’re noisily tromping around finding sticks and trying to Macgyver my phone out from underneath this bench. Romantic, right?  

Jordan held the light while I verbally guided Amy, who was wielding the stick, while Devon documented the whole ordeal. 

We finally, after a lot of excessive effort, retrieved the phone unharmed. Triumph! I hope this isn’t an indication of what my 25th year will be like. But if it is, it shouldn’t be too different from the 24 years that preceded it. 25, looks like we’re gonna have fun! 

Standard
America, Celebration, Dessert, Family, Food, Funny, Summer

Birthdaze 

Since when does setting your alarm for 6:45 am feel indulgent? I don’t know, but there’s something about that extra 45 minutes that feels a little like eating ice cream for dinner. Does this mean I have officially reached adulthood?
Speaking of ice cream for dinner, I decided to cut sugar. Well, I’ve technically been off sugar since I came back from Laos. Actually, that’s not completely true either. What I mean by that is that I have been off of processed sugar. In Laos, there were very few options for anything processed. It was mostly all fruits and vegetables and rice. So, I didn’t eat any processed food for my three weeks there. Then, when I came home, the garden was finally producing, so I just continued. 
Side note: processed sugar is really addictive. I assume everyone already knows this. But, if anyone needs some suggestions of documentaries to watch or books to read on this point, I can definitely suggest some good ones! 
Back to my story though. Last week, on our fishing trip to Canada, my grandma made snacks to send with us, so I broke my no processed sugars contract with myself, promising I would get back on track when I got home. Unfortunately, it’s birthday week, which I forgot. So, now I’m stuck in a perpetual cycle of cake and ice cream events. I’m still trying to limit it, but who can pass up cake and ice cream for a birthday?
My mom’s birthday is July 14 and mine is July 22. I am almost never home on my birthday, due to church camp. See No Laughing Matter for the 2015 festivities. But, this year, it just so happens that it falls in the weekend before we go to camp. So, I don’t really know what to do with myself. 
Anyway, today is my mom’s birthday. The older I get, the more I realize that I am becoming more and more like her. (Which is mostly a good thing, love you, Mom!) Mostly I notice it in the conversations we have. We have a lot of the same patterns of speech, but more than that, we think in the same ways. We are both very detail oriented, so if anyone is telling us a story, we’ll both ask a lot of questions. We also share the same sense of humor. 
Which is why when Jake and I went to pick out her birthday cake, I knew it would be just right. If you know my mom, you know that she is very particular about certain things. This is where she and I part ways. I’m not picky at all. But, a few of the things she likes and will not compromise on: Coke (it cannot be Pepsi, it has to be Coca-Cola. Original. Not diet. Not caffeine free.) Ice (you cannot just have a cold drink, there has to be floating chips of frozen water in it) Whipped icing (buttercream won’t do).
Her favorite is a store bought (trust me, I would do homemade but she likes store bought better) white birthday cake with whipped icing. Jake and I knew this. Because it’s what she always got for us. So, we went in search of this cake. When we got to the store, they have a selection of cakes that you can choose from and then request writing on it. I assume that you can actually think ahead and call and order exactly what you want, but why would we plan to do that? Right. So, we were distressed to find that they didn’t have any with whipped icing. It was all buttercream, except for one lonely chocolate cake with whipped icing. And, you guessed it, chocolate won’t do. 
The bakery lady (Dee, as indicated by her name tag) noticed our distress and asked if she could help us. Jake explained what we were looking for and she said they had one last white cake with whipped icing that someone had just come in to claim. But, they hadn’t come back for it and she didn’t think they were going to. She showed it to us and it proudly stated “Happy Birthday, Zack!” 
Jake and I looked at each other. Then he said: we’ll take it just like that. Dee laughed, like we were joking. I proceeded to explain that it was just for our mom, for a little family birthday party, and that it didn’t really matter what it said, she just liked that kind of cake. Dee laughed again and said she couldn’t do that, she’d feel bad sending a cake with the wrong name on it. Finally, Jake said, just put a red X through it and write Mom out to the side. Well, Dee just thought that was the funniest thing anyone had ever asked her to do. But, we talked her into it, assuring her that it would be funnier than if it had been done right in the first place. 


She did what we asked and it was funny. So funny that she asked the other bakery girl to come take a picture of her handiwork. As we were walking away, with our prize birthday cake in hand, Dee said, thank you kids so much for that! I was having a bad day and I needed something to make me laugh and that just really made my day. And you tell your mom, Happy Birthday from all of us here at the grocery store.

So, Mom: Happy birthday from me and Jake! And also, from Dee and all the other unnamed people at the grocery store. Hope you have a good one!
(Also, Zack, if you happen to be reading this: happy birthday to you too, sorry for stealing your cake.)

Standard
America, Celebration, Dessert, Family, Food, History

Surprise, Surprise

I’m not good at surprises. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. (pun totally intended) There are a lot of different reasons I could list for me not being good at surprising someone, but I’ll summarize it for you: 1) I’m not a good liar (which is typically an endearing quality, right?) and 2) I live in my own little world most of the time (which is fine except for you have to be pretty self aware to surprise someone) I have noticed though, that while these qualities make me terrible at surprising someone, they make me a great candidate to be surprised.                                                                                         

However, my whole family seemed to overlook this list of factors when they chose me and my brother to be in charge of taking my grandma to her surprise birthday party. Really, the best idea would’ve been for them to not tell me what was going on either and we both could’ve been surprised.

                                                                                                                                   

I really did a pretty good job, I think. I went over, in my mind, a list of safe topics to steer the conversation towards that didn’t involve anyone else who was in town for the party. I was cool and casual. I had a story as for why I was dressed up. And, she arrived at the party almost on time. I count that as a roaring success on my part. 

                                                                                                                                   

Today is my Grandma Connie’s birthday. I won’t tell you her age, however I will show you this picture and let you guess. 

                                                                                                                                   

IMG_3028.jpg

                                                                                                                                   

And since today is her birthday, I wanted to tell you about her. Because if you don’t know her, you’re missing out. 

                                                                                                                                   

She’s definitely not your typical grandma type. Let’s just say: she’s very independent. She doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do and she always has an opinion she’s not shy to share. She’s headstrong and free willed. Basically: she’s a force to be reckoned with. 

                                                                                                                                   

She’s one of four kids and she had five daughters, who all had two children. As you can tell, we have a large family. Having raised five daughters, I feel like Grandma has some solid life advice. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite pieces of wisdom. 

                                                                                                                                   

1. Diamonds go with everything.

                                                                                                                                   

If you are questioning whether or not to wear your best jewelry, it is always a yes. This was said to me because I had changed from something dressy into something casual and still had on a necklace I had been wearing. I made a comment about how it clashed and she said “Brittney, I raised five girls and I told every one of them. ‘Girls, always remember: diamonds go with everything'” So, whether you’re going to a gala or just going to sleep, wear your best. Grandma’s orders. 

                                                                                                                                   

IMG_2989.jpg

Four of the five daughters at the party

                                                                                                                                   

2. Don’t waste your time with desserts that aren’t homemade. 

                                                                                                                                   

It’s not worth your time or calories. I feel like this same principle could be applied to a lot of different things in life. It’s about quality and time invested and effort.

                                                                                                                                   

IMG_0224.jpg

Three generations of homemade Rice Krispy makers

                                                                                                                                   

3. “Whether the wedding costs $5 or $5000, it either takes or it doesn’t.”

                                                                                                                                   

This obviously is dated because $5000 won’t buy you a very fancy wedding these days. But, she preaches this one quite a bit. It doesn’t matter what type of wedding you have, if the relationship isn’t solid to begin with, you’ve missed the point. I can attest to this because my parents eloped and they will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Looks like Grandma was right about this one too. 

                                                                                                                                   

4. They can chew me up, but they sure can’t swallow me. 

                                                                                                                                   

This actually comes to us from my great Grandpa Teasley. So, she’ll always say: “Brittney, Dad always said… Then she’ll repeat this same quote to me every time. Thus, my memorization of it. Essentially, people can and will say what they want about you. But, ultimately, you’ve gotta stand up for what you believe in and ignore the haters. Grandma obviously didn’t say anything about ignoring the haters, that is my own personal summary of what she said. You’re welcome. 

                                                                                                                                   

There are so many more that I could talk about, and I know that I’ll think of 100 others after I post this. She’s a lady with a lot of sayings. But, sometimes it’s not the sayings that teach you the lesson, but rather the way the person lives. She instilled in us all the value of hard work, never looking down on someone else because of their status in life, but never thinking that anyone or anything was above you or out of your reach. She taught us to always look for a chance to give and help, to share what we have, and to be nice to people even when we don’t think they deserve it.

                                                                                                                                   

Grandma Connie is not perfect, she’ll be the first to tell you that. In fact, she told a joke the other day that made me blush. She’s that type of grandma. But, her life is a testimony to the lessons she’s taught. And quite a few of those lessons are worth taking note of. Surprise, surprise.

Standard
Food, Missions, Religion, Summer

Popcorn Patience

Have you ever been standing in the shower and thought, I’d love to have some popcorn right now? Yeah, me either. 
Privacy becomes non-existent where kids are involved. I thought taking a shower would be my mini-escape. Not so. As I was taking a shower, one of the little girls was standing right outside my shower curtain, talking to me the whole time. No problem, talk away. She kept getting impatient, though, asking when I’d be done. Finally, she left, then yelled at me to get out because someone had made some very delicious popcorn. I thought this would be a great distraction for her and I’d get a little peace and quiet. Wrong again. Two seconds later, a little hand reaches into the shower, full of popcorn. “You were taking too long, so I brought the popcorn to you.” 
Aside from a few minor babysitting stints when I was a teenager, I’ve never really been around kids for an extended period of time. I do a couple hours at a time and then go back to my own life. Being at camp with them for a week was a test of endurance. 

 

A few of my favorite crazy kids

 
Right before I left, my mom said, why don’t you take some fruit for the girls to eat? They’d like that. And I said they wouldn’t eat it. But, because we have had so many cantaloupes from the garden this summer, I decided to take a couple. Sure enough, as soon as I started cutting them up, the girls flocked like moths to a light. 
Apparently, mom knows best. I called her and the next day she brought over a dozen more. So for my birthday, we had a front porch cantaloupe cutting party. This may have been my best birthday yet. 

  
I asked the Lord to show me how to better serve Him. I didn’t quite expect that shower popcorn and cabin cantaloupe would be His answer. But, for this week, it was and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We don’t get to pick and choose who we serve or how we serve, but every place the Lord calls us to is a mission field all its own. So, get your popcorn ready and get settled in because it’s guaranteed to be quite a show. 

Standard