Best of 2011

I did this last year and had a lot of fun with it, so let’s try it again!

Most Entertaining Book: The Hunger Games – If you haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it!  I seriously couldn’t put it down.  The next two were also good, but nothing beat the first one.  I can’t wait for the movie!

Most Inspiring Book: Kisses from Katie – I wrote about this book here.  It was a total game changer for me.

Best Adventure Book: The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition – Crazy true story.  I wrote about it here.

Best Leadership Book: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – This guy knew what he was doing.  I wrote about it here and here.

Favorite Movie: It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Once again, I’m a sucker for a downer movie.  But this one was also very inspiring.  It’s very real, very raw, and has enough humor in it to make it manageable.  I loved it.  It didn’t make it into many theaters, but I still think it’s worth a watch.

Favorite Movie That Wasn’t A Downer: Footloose – I loved this movie.  It was so much fun to watch and inspired me to buy cowboy boots.  I would love to say it inspired me to dance, but those of you that know me well know that dancing is not my best skill.

Favorite Album: Owl City “All Things Bright and Beautiful” – This is an all around great album.  I don’t skip any songs and I just love it. I wrote about it here.  I do have to add some honorable mentions here though:

  1. Matt Wertz- Weights and Wings
  2. Needtobreathe- The Reckoning
  3. Ben Rector- Something Like This

Favorite TV Show: Once Upon A Time – It’s a super weird show, but I really really like it!

Favorite Concert: Taylor Swift Speak Now Tour – This was a brilliant show.  It was like a theatrical performance and I didn’t even consider leaving early.  That is really big for me considering I always leave early due to my aversion to crowds and the need to beat the traffic.  I saw this show twice and didn’t leave early either time!

Favorite New Tradition: Girls Movie Nights – We do this once a month at my apartment.  We have dinner and watch a movie and I just really love it and those friends!

Favorite New Card Game: Russian Bank – My aunt taught me this game this summer and it’s a blast.  But it has a lot of rules, so if you don’t play it enough you forget how to play.  I got a refresher this week though, so I need to teach someone here how to play it before I forget!

Loved

I am a quality-timer.  Even though I am an introvert and have a tendency to get over-whelmed by large groups of people (by tendency, I mean this always happens and by large groups of people, I mean over six), one on one quality time is a powerful thing for me.  I would take a long meal with a friend where we just sit and talk for a couple of hours over a wrapped gift any day.

So the other day my friend sent me a text that said “lunch?”  Now this friend is super busy and not usually available for lunch, so that text alone meant the world to me.  I of course jumped at the chance and asked where she wanted to go.  Then she suggested the Steamhouse Lounge.  For those of you that don’t know, Steamhouse is one of my very favorite spots in Atlanta.  I dream about their crab dip and lobster bisque.  (If you are considering checking it out based on this post alone, be warned, it’s a total dump.  I love it’s dumpiness, I love it’s deck in nice weather, and I love it’s crab dip and lobster bisque all the time).  This was the best Christmas present ever.  You see, the Steamhouse Lounge is in Midtown.  We live in Alpharetta.  So this busy friend suggested that we drive to Midtown, for lunch, to a total dump that she knows I love.  She was giving me her whole afternoon AND my favorite food.

As I sat reflecting this Christmas day, that lunch the other day was definitely on my mind.  You see, to me, love is spelled t-i-m-e.  That is such a special gift to me.  It has made me realize that I need to be so much better about loving people in the way that means something to them.  We have the tendency to get caught up in something wrapped under the tree, but we may totally miss out on the chance to really love.

Once again, I have failed to come up with a good ending for a post.  So I will just leave you to your thoughts.

Merry Christmas!

Favorite Things

My last post was a little heavy, so I thought I would lighten things up with a few of my favorite things!  These change on a regular basis, but here is the current list:

  1. Cowboy boots.  Possibly the most comfortable shoe ever made, and they look cute with just about anything!  This is the pair that I have and I absolutely love them!
  2. Skinny jeans.  I resisted these for a long time for so many reasons, the number one reason being that I thought they would look horrible on me.  Well, I have embraced them and they have changed my wardrobe!  I love them!  All you need is a shirt that goes at least halfway down your rear and a pair of boots to put on over them and you are all set.  I still think it’s completely unacceptable for guys to wear them…but that’s just me!
  3. Taylor Swift Greeting Cards.  Who knew these existed?  Not me!  But now you can expect one at your birthday! They are sparkly, they are beautiful, and they are super fun!
  4. Croc rain boots.  I have been wearing these a lot lately over my skinny jeans on all of our rainy days.  They are comfy, they are cute and awkward looking at the same time, they fit over my calves (major plus), and they keep my feet try.  Total win.
  5. Christmas Cards.  I love looking at my fridge everyday!  Between the combination of pictures that were already up there and all of my new Christmas cards, it just makes me so happy!  

My Life Is Ruined

Ruined.  That’s how I feel.  But not in the way you might be thinking.  You see over the past two weeks God has been teaching me something that I didn’t even know was there to teach.  It was absolutely surprising to me.  Not just surprising, but heartbreaking as well.  And it has ruined me.  Ruined the way that I look at things.  Ruined my thoughts on what the world needs.  Ruined my thoughts towards missions and how things should be done in the poorest of poor countries.

It all started with Katie Davis and her book Kisses from Katie.  She is a 23 year old missionary turned resident in Uganda who has adopted 14 daughters.  Yes, you read that right.  14.  And she loves the people of Uganda.  The ones no one else would want to touch, or even be near. She hugs them, and cleans them, and feeds them, and tells them they are important.  She loves them.  I don’t even know Katie and she has ruined me.

Then there is Zach.  I actually know him.  He lives in South Africa and loves kids that the world might see as unlovable.  He teaches them, he wrestles with them, he feeds them, he takes them camping.  He shows these boys what it is to be a man and he loves them.  And he has ruined me.

When I think about mission trips and missions in general, I think about the obvious: telling people about God’s love.  But this is the problem.  The kids the Katie and Zach love…most of them don’t know what it is to be loved.  No one has ever loved them before, so how can they ever understand the love of a God who they can’t see?  How can they understand the love of a Heavenly Father, when their own parents, if they are even around, don’t love them?  Love, for a lot of these kids is a concept that they do not understand because they have never been loved by another human being.  So people like Katie and Zach love these kids. They teach them what love is, real love, so that they can explain the extent to which their Heavenly Father loves them.

I had kind of been getting this concept by reading Katie’s book, but then after having dinner with Zach the other night the whole terrible truth came together.  On Thursday afternoon I actually burst into tears.  Not being a crier, this was a little shocking to me.  And ever since then, I feel like I live with a permanent tears brimming my eyes.  I’ve had it wrong this whole time, and the idea of people, especially children living a life without love absolutely breaks my heart.  I have been so privileged to grow up with love all around me.  So privileged in fact that I can’t even imagine that there are those that don’t know what love is.  It’s still so difficult for me to picture.  But the reality is that now I know, and because I know, I am responsible.  This is no longer the world’s problem. This is not Katie’s problem or Zach’s problem.  This is my problem.  This is your problem.

Not all of us are called to live in another country, but if you are not, you need to get involved another way.  You need to find some people to love who don’t know love, or you need to support people who are out there loving.  It’s not a choice.  We are responsible, this is our problem, this is our calling.  We must love so that others can understand the love of our Father.  Pray for them.  Definitely pray for them.  But you have to do more than that.

Here are a few ways you can get involved.

The Super Easy Do It Now and Barely Feel It Steps:

The This is Going to Hurt But It’s Totally Worth It Steps:

  • Become a foster parent.
  • Become a respite parent to give foster parents a little help.
  • Adopt a child.
  • Become an international missionary.

I know what I am going to do.  It’s become very clear to me over the past month or so and this information just made it even clearer.  But, I will tell you after the first of the year!

Here’s to the Birthday Boy!

I’m not sure how I missed it, but Taylor Swift released a Christmas EP a few years ago.  I just discovered it this year and I really love it.  Specifically her version of Silent Night and a song called Christmas Must Be Something More.  In fact, that song is the inspiration behind this post.

We all know that the reason we celebrate Christmas is because of Jesus’ birth, but how well do we really know that?  I mean we talk about trying to look past the advertisements and presents, lights and decorations, Santa or no Santa, but the reality is that we are all still really into all of that stuff.  And that’s ok…to a point.

The chorus of the Taylor Swift song goes like this:

You say that today means something special

Something holy, not superficial

So here’s to the Birthday Boy who saved our lives

Something about those lyrics really got to me.  We can try to get past the glitz of Christmas, but how often do we consider, not just the meaning, but the holiness of Christmas.  God as man.  God here with us.  Heaven come to earth.  A Savior in the form of a baby.  Absolutely holy, and absolutely human all at the same time.

So with all of the enthusiasm that we put into celebrating the birthdays of the ones we love, let’s celebrate the One whose miraculous and holy birth changed the world forever.

Here’s to the Birthday Boy who saved our lives!

2012 Reading List

It’s that time of year again!  Time for a new reading list! (If you are wondering why in the world I even make a reading list, it’s because I am a little bit dorky and also because I believe that reading is good for you!)  I love putting these together and I am especially excited about my 2012 list.  It has a good mix of novels, adventure stories, and history…all good things for me!  I wasn’t a total winner on my list last year, so some of those books are rolling over.  Special thanks to my friend, Zach, for giving me access to his Amazon wish list, from which I stole most of these ideas.

  1. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas
  2. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  3. Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness – Candace Cameron Bure
  4. Kane and Abel – Jeffrey Archer
  5. The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
  6. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand
  7. The Christian Atheist – Craig Groeschel
  8. The Male Factor: The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions, and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace – Shaunti Feldhahn
  9. Unscensored Grace: Stories of Hope from the Streets of Vegas – Jud Wilhite
  10. Shadow Country – Peter Matthiessen
  11. The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
  12. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
  13. No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 – Graham Bowley
  14. Room – Emma Nonoghue
  15. Torn: Trusting God When Life Leaves You in Pieces – Jud Wilhite
  16. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  17. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  18. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith – David Kinnaman
  19. Start Something That Matters – Blake Mycoskie
  20. Kissing Kilimanjaro: Leaving It All on the Top of Africa – Daniel Dorr
  21. We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance – David Howarth
  22. To America – Stephen Ambrose
  23. D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II – Stephen Ambrose
  24. Band of Brothers – Stephen Ambrose
  25. Mawson’s Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written – Lennar Bickel
  26. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  27. No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s Highest Peaks – David Roberts
  28. The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World – Marti Olsen Laney
  29. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  30. Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System- and Themselves – Andrew Ross Sorkin
  31. Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption – Katie Davis

 

My Christmas Playlist

For those of you still not in the Christmas spirit, or those of you needing some fresh music, here are my picks for this year!

  •  O, Come All Ye Faithful – Chris Tomlin
  • Drummer Boy – Justin Bieber & Busta Rhymes
  • Light of the World – Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman
  • Christmas in the City – Matt Wertz
  • Family Tree – Dave Barnes
  • The Christmas Song – She & Him
  • O Holy Night – Kelly Clarkson
  • Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas – Matt Wertz
  • Christmas Tonight – Dave Barnes & Hillary Scott
  • Winter Snow – Chris Tomlin & Audrey Assad
  • Silent Night – Taylor Swift
  • Born That We May Have Life – Chris Tomlin
  • Everything Changed – Eddie Kirkland
  • Snow Globe – Matt Wertz
  • Christmas Must Be Something More – Taylor Swift
  • Wake Up! Wake Up! – Matt Wertz
  • Christmas Love – Justin Bieber