America, Celebration, Culture, Family, Farm, Funny, Summer, Travel, Uncategorized

Thoughts from an MOH

My best friend is on her honeymoon right now. I didn’t text her to check in to see if they’d made it safely to their destination but she sent me a message once she arrived. Not a message to necessarily tell me that they’d made it. She sent me her thoughts from a plane. 

I’m not sure who started doing thoughts from a plane. I want to credit her with it because I feel like she was the first one who came up with it. But, it may have been me. I’ll have to confer and get back with you on that one. 

Anyway, thoughts from a plane are literally just that: your thoughts about what is going on around you while on a plane. Maybe we started doing it because it can get terribly boring being cooped up in an airplane for a long time. Or, it could’ve been because you’re in such tight quarters that you can hear and see everything that everyone is doing. Either way, it’s funny to us to share our thoughts from a plane with each other. I wrote about it one time, if you want to read about it here

As I was saying, Jordan got married last weekend and part of my Maid of Honor duties were to write a speech, which I then relayed at her rehearsal dinner. 

I’m not a great public speaker, but I’m generally not terrible. I don’t think I did very well with this speech for two reasons

1. I wasn’t quite sure what emotions were going to be going on, so I was a little apprehensive about being overly emotional. I made it through just fine though.

2. I wasn’t sure what crowd size I’d be speaking to, so I’d made my speech more for a little bit more intimate of a gathering and there were quite a few people there. 

I feel like I’m generally better when I’m conveying thoughts through writing rather than speaking. It just comes more naturally. Even though I tend to write exactly as I would think/speak a thought. 

So, since I’d written the speech anyway, I thought I’d memorialize it in blog form. Because this seems like an official place to memorialize something of magnitude, right? 

Here they are: my thoughts for my best friend on the evening before her wedding: 

When Jordan told me that I would need to make a speech tonight, I wasn’t really sure what a Maid of Honor speech should be like, so I just wrote what came to mind. 

Jordan and I have been friends for a long time. Our families have been friends for over 100 years, so we technically have a long history together. But, I didn’t grow up with her, so I never really officially met her until we were around 14 or 15 years old. 

I remember the first time I heard about Jordan. I had just switched schools and some of my friends were hanging out by my locker, talking about this girl and her shoes. I have never cared too much for fashion and as an 8th grader, I cared even less. But, there was apparently a girl walking around in pink stilettos. And it was Jordan. 

It’s ironic that my first memory of hearing about Jordan has to do with shoes, because I swear, the girl currently owns about 500 pairs. 

I really got to know Jordan in high school. We had a class together and the first day I walked into class, there she was, seated in front of my desk, crocheting. She had her yarn spread out and could care less what anyone thought about it. I thought maybe during the lecture, she would take notes, but she continued to crochet. 

We did our classwork together, probably mostly because I was the one with the notes, and also because we were two of the only girls in that class. I’ll not bore everyone with stories of our youth, that most likely only the two of us would find funny. But, we began a friendship that has personally enriched my life a lot over the years. 

We are pretty much opposites when it comes to most things, so I think we both stretched each other in different directions in a way that causes so much growth as people.

Jordan wouldn’t let me have a slide show, but immediately, when I first started thinking about this speech, there was one picture of us that immediately came to mind. It was a picture of the two of us, on our last day of high school, right before we graduated. 

I had tried like everything to convince her to go to the University of Arkansas with me and she had likewise tried to convince me to go to OSU with her. But, both of us knew that the other place wasn’t where we were meant to be. So, we were going to be parting ways and on the last day of high school, that reality was sinking in a little bit more. 

You can tell in the picture that we had been teary eyed saying bye to all our friends. And, I know it seems a little bit childish now, but it was a big deal to us then. We were, in a tiny way, embarking into the unknown. We weren’t going to be full fledged adults by any means, because what 18 year old can really be considered an adult? But, we were striking it out on our own. 

We had no idea the people we’d meet or the new friends we’d gain, most of whom for Jordan are seated here tonight. We had no idea if we’d still be friends after it was all said and done. And, we had no idea the lives we’d eventually lead. So, the tears were understandable. 

But had we known then what we know now, how even though this step from high school into adulthood was a bit daunting at first, how it lead to so many great things, we may have still been teary eyed, but not because we were sad for moving on, but because we were overwhelmed and happy for the new things to come. 

And, as I’m writing this, I’m expecting that there will be some tears as Jordan and Jade now prepare to enter into a new, exciting phase of their lives together. But now we know that if we get a little teary eyed, it’s not for sadness of what Jade and Jordan are leaving behind, but for joy for the life that they’re about to walk into. Congratulations Jordan and Jade! I am so happy for both of you and can’t wait to see what blessings marriage brings to your lives!

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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! 

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Asia, Beauty, Culture, Fashion, Food, Travel

It Takes Two

I never wear lip color. But, Jake and Jordan were busy buying gold face lotion (yes, it actually has gold flecks in it and is apparently some of the best face lotion on the market in the world right now, as told by the girl selling it) so I used all the store testers to give myself a new look. Jake was less than impressed that I used the store tester lip gloss wand, but it looked pretty clean to me.

Pucker up

In other news, I’ve won Jordan over to the dark side. I was literally having a meltdown. I think I’m borderline hypoglycemic because sometimes it feels like my blood sugar just drops off the map. I was having a moment and all I wanted was street corn. As in cobs of corn that they cook and sell on a street. God heard my request fast because as soon as I said it, we walked right up to a stand.

 

Street corn stand

It’s maybe a little odd to some people, but I love it. And now Jordan does too. You get two street corns for two dollars. They only sell them in sets. You can’t buy one corn for one dollar. You have to buy two. I don’t really know why, except for the fact that everything here is made for couples. Even the street corns. I think it’s a conspiracy, ya’ll.

 

Subway hat shopping and corn eating, no shame in my game

Did I also mention that Jake, Jordan, and I are all currently single and all have no prospects of changing that anytime soon? So, we don’t exactly fit into the couple culture here. And, yes, it is very much a culture. You’re not somebody unless you have a somebody. And they go to extreme measures to let you know they go together.

 

Singles in Seoul

 

Couple clothing. It’s a phenomenon.

They literally buy matching things as a couple then wear them at the same time to let you know they’re taken. Here are a few examples:

Winter coats: to me, this could almost be construed as seasonal, so it wouldn’t be my first choice of couple clothing. I feel like it says, we’re together for the winter, but once spring hits, I’m out! However, the cost amount of a coat may indicate a more serious status in the couple clothing world. Also, it is an essential, so maybe if your guy wants matching coats, you should go for it.

Shoes: this one is the most popular (and the most difficult to get a picture of). We saw a ton of matching shoes. This is also a little more costly purchase, however, I think it indicates a medium amount of commitment. My thoughts are that it says: we’re officially established as a couple and we’re semi-serious, but we’re probably never getting married.


Hats and scarves: totally seasonal, not a costly purchase, not too much thought put into it, you’re definitely not marriage potential. But, you’re cute, so keep doing you.

That pretty much covers the main bases on attire. The options vary some in the summer: matching t-shirts, matching shorts, etc.But, I’m not really concerned about finding someone to share fashion with. What I’m really concerned with is finding someone to share delicious street corns with. Jake is no good because he hates corn, unless it comes in the form of a tortilla. But, me and Jordan make a perfect match.

My true Seoul-mate.

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Asia, Culture, Travel

Coffee Break Beginnings

I’m back where it all began. Well, where this all began. This being my blog. Which I haven’t been keeping up with very well lately (sorry, mom!).
Actually, Korea is where a lot of things began for me. I almost had a Korean roommate in college but she got moved to the international dorm before she moved in with us. But, that spurred a friendship between us, which spurred me leading a Conversation English group, which spurred friendships with a lot of other Koreans, which spurred our first solo travel, which was to Seoul.

 

Heesu (to my left), my Korean (almost) roommate

So, it’s kinda where it all began in a literal sense.

Traveling solo (or duo in our case, since me and Jake almost always travel together) to a new place where you don’t know the language is pretty exhilarating. I should also mention that Jake was 18 and I was 20 when we first came to Korea by ourselves. We were babies! But, we (he) figured out the subway system and how to get ahold of our friends and meet and order and all the other things you have to know to get around. And, once we got the hang of things, the world became quite a bit smaller and traveling got a lot easier.

 

First time to Seoul

So, this is our fourth time to Seoul.

We’d been planning this trip for awhile, since we could conveniently travel during the holiday season. I was trying to see all my friends on winter break before we left, which just happened to include morning coffee breaks with Jordan. Her family lives a few miles away and we’ve been friends since high school. So, morning coffee while she was home became a must.

 

Morning coffee break selfie

Somehow, one of our morning coffee breaks turned into us booking plane tickets, which turned into jet lagging our way to Seoul (with a short sushi break in Tokyo)


And, jet lag means coffee breaks are a must for us on both sides of the world.

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America, Culture, Family, Religion

Ready or Not

I’m packing up for church camp and I feel like I should be calling all my friends and deciding who’s bunking with who and what we’re all wearing and what cute boys will be there. But instead, I’m trying to figure out if I have everyone’s forms and if I called in the right numbers so that all the kids have beds and if anyone has any weird medical conditions that I need to be aware of. And I’m wondering, when did I become an adult in this situation?  My aunt (pictured with me below) took us all to camp for years and it was so much fun. I started going the year I turned 9 and some of my best summer memories have been made there. And, so now I take kids to the same camp I went to, so they can have those same memories. Actually, if we want to get down to the facts, I never stopped going. I turned 9 my first year I went and I’m turning 24 this week. So, I think that’s 15 years (someone might want to check my math). My birthday always falls during camp week too, which is an added bonus. And, I forgot to mention that Sherri and I share a birthday, so this is us on our birthday last year at camp.     Not only am I taking our kids to camp, but I have been appointed as the activities director for our week. I don’t know if I look active, but let me say this now: there is nothing about me that qualifies me for this position. I’m not super athletic or graceful or even that well organized. What happened was that I was supposed to be helping with activities a few years ago and then the lead position fell to me. And they keep asking me to do it again. I don’t know how to ref basketball games or set up brackets, but they have me running the basketball tournaments. I don’t know how to play or score tether ball, but why not appoint me to manage a tetherball tournament? I don’t know anything about horseshoes, but throw in a horseshoe tournament. You get the picture. One thing I am good at: delegating. Which is the only reason why I manage to handle any of this.  Church camp is fun. It’s completely exhausting, running on a little sleep and a lot of coffee, early mornings and afternoon meltdowns. More than that though, it is one time in my life that I can point to that helped me begin to discover who I was. Not only who I was as a person, but who I was in Christ, my spiritual identity. Because of Him, I am loved. I am blameless. I am free from sin and guilt and shame. His mercy and grace make me new. I want to share that experience with these girls. I want them to begin their journey here.

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Food, Mexico

Talkin’ Tacos

I’m cutting up my first melon of the season, which makes me pretty happy. Except that I didn’t grow it. But, I did buy seeds for four different types of cantaloupe. So, come July/August, I hope to have some homegrown. That remains to be seen.

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I drove by this sketchy little Mexican restaurant the other day while passing through a small town in southwest Missouri. Delivering t-shirts takes me in a lot of interesting directions. But, I saw the sign and thought: I have to try it.

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It just so happened that one of my friends was going to be in town and wanted to have lunch. Word to the wise: don’t ever give me the choice of where we’ll eat unless you are feeling adventurous.You know how sometimes you just know when someone gets you? Yeah, that’s Christina for me. I think she might be my oldest friend. We started out in children’s church together and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s like the little sister I never had.

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And, she was happy to go to the Mexican dive with me. I knew it was authentic when we walked in and sat down and one of the other customers whistled loudly to a man, who dashed out from the back to bring us menus and three different types of “salsa”, which I titled hot, hotter, and hottest. Apparently, whistling is the secret signal for new customers.

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We took a while to order, mostly because the entire menu was in Spanish and because we were busy catching up. Finally, we got around to figuring out what we wanted. So, what did Christina order? Tacos de la lengua. And in case you haven’t brushed up on your Spanish lately, that translates to “tongue tacos”, as in beef tongue cut up and wrapped in a tortilla, and topped with a generous portion of cilantro and onions.

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So, three hours (yes, we literally talked for three hours) and three tongue tacos later, we wrapped up lunch. I knew we were best friends for a reason.

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Asia, Missions, Travel

I Can’t Do This.

I have the best friends. I mean, I always think it is kinda dumb when people say that. Of course everyone would think their friends were great. If they didn’t think that, then they wouldn’t be friends with them. Right? But, still, I do have really great friends.

One of my friends decided to do something really thoughtful for me and wrote encouraging messages to be read at any time on this trip when I was feeling in need of a pep talk. How nice is that?

[Side note: Personally, I think encouraging other believers is one of the most under-utilized practices in the church. Or maybe I just rely on encouragement from others more than anyone else. But, I really do think we need to practice this more. If you feel led to say something uplifting to another believer, do not miss that opportunity. Write a note, say it, send a text, whatever you have to do. But, be encouraging, lift each other up! How strong would the church be if each of it’s members felt the support and encouragement of other members? A kind word or note from other believers has helped me hold on to the end of my rope more times than I can count.]

I’m gonna be real for a minute: the mission field in Laos is rough. And, it was especially so for me on this particular trip. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but I never read anywhere about Him sitting in a bunch of business meetings. I think administrative duties are just not my calling. It feels really fruitless to me. It feels devoid of anything having to do with the Gospel. I want to be able to share and love the way Jesus did. But instead, I’m stuck at a desk taking notes about hospital procedures. Jesus is never mentioned, lost souls are not won, and my hands are tied.

I woke up on the morning of our second day of meetings and literally my first thought was: “I can’t do this.” Which I knew was a terrible way to start the day. So, I got my Bible and out fell my little envelope of encouraging messages. I figured if these were for times I needed encouragement, this was the occasion. I randomly selected one and this is what it said: Mark 9:23- “What do you mean ‘If I can?’ asked Jesus. Anything is possible if a person believes.”

You know those moments that God speaks right to you? This was one of those. Sitting in meetings may not be my thing. And, I may think this all feels fruitless. But, newsflash: it’s not about me. I’m not in charge and if this is the path that The Lord has chosen, it’s the best way. Laos won’t be won overnight, the Gospel will not be spread there in only one way, and it will be a long road. Those meetings might feel devoid of the Gospel, but those Lao doctors and nurses sitting across from me, taking notes too, need to know Jesus.

Not all mission work is going to be fireworks and revivals. Sometimes it’s going to be note taking and hand shaking. And that’s okay. Jesus can shine through the darkest (or dullest) of circumstances. So, I’ll claim His promise, stand strong in His Truth, and continue to work in whatever way He leads.

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