Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Africa Story: A Photograph

She would watch us many times as we walked down the hill to the sanctuary and then back up again to the administrative offices.
Her eyes, always so intent, ever-observant.

On this day I asked if I could take her picture.
She said yes.

Outside the gate to her home she stood so still and waited for me to indicate that I was done.
Only when I showed her the image on the small screen did a corner of her mouth turn slightly upward in what I think may have been a smile.

This was just a snapshot. Something captured so quickly in my comings and goings of that week.
At the time, I did not notice the shoes on her feet... if you can call them that.
It was not until I came home and uploaded the photos to my computer that I realized.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Random Outfit Post

I think I actually wore this a couple of weeks ago.
It was Monday. I didn't want to do my hair. Hence the hat.
Funny thing, the friend I was going to meet had the same philosophy.
We enjoyed a lovely breakfast in our hats, cleverly disguising our Monday hair.
We are sneaky, sneaky. Muah-ha-ha-haaaaaa....
(That's a clever, sneaky laugh. Just in case you couldn't tell. As opposed to an evil laugh, which sounds similar.)

Do you ever look in your closet and think, "I don't even wear half these clothes! What the heck?"
Every 6 to 9 months or so I make this resolution to start wearing the clothes that have fallen out of rotation or have been forgotten under piles.
Like this sweater. I love it for the unique factor (open sides), but have only worn it once since i uncovered it at my favorite thrift store last year.
So sad!
I have all these clothes that are loved, but I fall into habits and throw on the easy stuff that's in plain site.
Some items I need to get rid of (working on it), but other things I just need to give some attention to.
This outfit came from that resolution.

pulling it all together...
Skinnies: H&M
Denim shirt: Elizabeth & James, via Goodwill... I KNOW!!! Amazing find. (And, NOT the E&J for Target, fyi.)
Sweater: Vintage Avon, via my fav thrift store... Hee-hee!
Hat: Charlotte Russe years ago
Simple gold hoops & Grams's ring
Boots: Vintage Frye, from God. Seriously. 

See? Love. (Thanks, Amber, for being an amazing delivery woman... and dear friend... whom I miss... who has mad photography and trash-to-treasure skills.)

Hey! Look at how gorgeous our backyard is getting!
These flowers smell so lovely, and I wanted to share them with you.
Except that you can't smell them. Sorry.
But, you can still agree with me on their beauty!

The boys came out while I was shooting pictures.
They were egging me on, so I gave in.
After all, I'm probably a secret super hero... or body builder... or *insert title for someone who would pose like this.*

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Friday, May 27, 2011

On Honor and Aroma and More

When someone invites you to dinner, don't take the place of honor. 
Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he'll come and call out in front of everybody, "You're in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man."
Red-faced, you'll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.

When you're invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, "Friend, come up to the front." That will give the dinner guests something to talk about.

What I'm saying is this, if you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face.
But if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.


Ummmm... wow.
Let that sink in for a bit.
I would bet some people are coming to mind.
I would even bet some of your past actions are coming to mind.
Wow. Gee. Eeek.

Those are Jesus's words in Luke 14:8-11 in the Message.
The New American Standard may sound a little more familiar, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

When Jesus tells this story, He's at a dinner party where He's just watched everyone try to elbow their way into the seats of honor.
Can you imagine being Jesus and watching this? I bet he was a little exasperated.
"Come on guys. Seriously? Aren't there more important things to be thinking about than if you get to sit by the host or not?
Just find a place and put your rear in the seat. If the host wants you to sit by him, he'll come and get you himself!"

I was around someone recently who was frustrated because they weren't getting the accolades they thought they deserved.
They were a bit whiney, a bit "But, look at what I've done... look at what I've sacrificed..."
And I just thought, man, if anyone wanted to honor you before, they sure don't now.
I'm not saying it's wrong to simply desire a thank you...
but I'm also saying it can be wrong... if we have the wrong attitude... if we feel entitled... if we try to coax it out of people.
Isn't it so much better to not think, "They should honor me for this." Or, "Someone should really thank me for..."
Because then when the honor or the thanks comes, it's so humbling and overwhelming... because you weren't looking for it!

If we're vying for a position of honor, thinking how much we deserve it, telling those around us, "I really should be sitting there. I mean, they have to notice all that I've..."
It isn't sweet and humbling when we've muscled ourselves in.
And if people get wind of that attitude, they don't so much want to honor you anymore.
That can just be awkward all the way around.

I love that Jesus says, "If you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself."

Ahhhhhh... just be yourself.
Just be the you He made you to be.
And He'll turn that into so much more than you can become on your own.
You don't have to worry about position or honor or thanks.
If those things come, well, then they come! But, that's not what we're after.
We're just after being ourselves, and watching Jesus take it and do amazing things with it.

We're not trying to do amazing things so others can go, "Oooohhhh... have the position of honor."
We're not trying to do amazing things so we can be offended when someone doesn't offer us the position of honor.
We're not trying to muscle ourselves into the position of honor so others can see us and say, "Gee, they must be amazing."
We're just trying our best to be who God created us to be and walk in what He's calling us to walk in...
and He'll do the amazing things.

Watching this person in my life recently have an icky stench surrounding their attitude because they weren't getting the "position of honor" they thought they deserved...
well, it's made me realize I've been them.
I'm probably still them.
And I bet I'll be them down the road again, too.
That's our human nature.
But, I think God allowed my eyes to be open to their currently not-pleasing personality aroma to keep me wary of my own.

Oh, LORD!!! Help us. Help me.
Help me simply be myself... who You've created me to be... so You can do the "more" part.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I know...

I don't claim to know a whole lot.
Like, KNOW know.
Usually, I just claim to have thoughts that have sprung from experiences.
Those thoughts somehow come to makeup what I know.
Not KNOW know.
As in, genius people that actually KNOW things.
But, just what I know.
(In Angela Land this totally makes sense.)

What I know...

*Big fluffy comforters are much more snuggly to sleep under than thin comforters.

*Fake mustaches are an excellent investment for any family.

*Fashion tape (ie the stuff that keeps low cut dresses in place and bra straps from showing at the Oscars) is great for applying fake mustaches to upper lips.

*You feel better about life if you have a clean house.

*A clean house doesn't solve your life's problems.
It solves some of them, but you're still gong to have to deal with the others.
A clean house doesn't mean you can ignore the others.

*Sometimes you feel better about things if you use the word "issues" to describe your troubles instead of "problems."

*It's okay to distance yourself from someone if you feel like you're supposed to distance yourself from someone.
And you don't need to feel guilty about it.
There are other people that are supposed to be moving closer to that someone as you are supposed to be distancing.
Hopefully they'll do what they're supposed to do, as you do what you're supposed to do.

*You can't take on someone else's role.
You just can't.
It doesn't work that way.

*Only you know what God is leading you to do. And only you know if you're being obedient or disobedient. Other people have wisdom and discernment, but it's up to you to listen to and obey the tug of the Holy Spirit. 

*You know. You DO know. You really do know. You may think you don't, but you actually do.
Deep down.
So stop thinking you're not sure.
Just listen... and realize you are sure.

*Rest is good. It helps us re-prioritize. Especially for new seasons.

*Obedience is better.

*I'm not a detailed person... as in, I don't seem to often notice details.
Unless it's in fashion or noticing the editing errors in written pieces other than my own (How could they not see that before they sent it to print?) or noticing the editing errors in movies. (Really? They thought no one would notice that her hair was tucked behind her ear, but after they cut to a side-shot it mysteriously isn't?)

*A life spent doing right is much more fulfilling than a life spent compromising on some things and telling yourself you're doing right.
(Because, you really do know. You just pretend you don't so you don't have to be accountable.)

*It's never too late to stop... and start doing what you already know is right.

*So often it's not about what is right and wrong, but what is wise and unwise.

*King David really got it right. Like, really.
He got it wrong, too... and then he stopped... and got it right.

*Some eye creams make your eyes burn. But it doesn't mean you should stop using eye creams altogether.

*Worship always brings fresh perspective.

*A good husband is hard to find. But once you find him, hold onto him.
Invest in your relationship.
Sometimes agree to disagree, because it's not always about being right... but about being wise.

*Relish the moments life brings you.
Because it goes by fast, and it would be awful to wake up one day and realize you'd missed the moments.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

H&M Coming to Denver

It has been confirmed that the big-impact/low-price retailer will open in Denver!!!
Evidently, H&M has been scouting retail spaces in the Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall for quite some time, and have chosen to occupy what is now Niketown.
The sports retailer will vacate mid-May, and fashion will move in.

(What it could look like when it opens in the former Niketown space. Photo from Gart Properties.)

This will be a HUGE boost to the downtown space, albeit it major competition for Forever 21, located practically next door.

And, I would just like to say that I'm taking partial credit in this!  =^)
I have sent H&M emails pleading with them to open in Denver, a perfect central location... not just for Colorado, but for the United States.
As they continue their expansion inward from the East and West Coasts, it just made sense.
I spoke with many people (both friends and strangers), asking them to also email and facebook the awesome retailer...
(Well, some of us have been heard... the ones who wrote. Others of you looked at me like I was an alien.)

If you've read this blog for any length of time you know I adore this store.
They truly make fashion accessible at reasonable prices for the masses.
And, while Stacy & Clinton label the clothes as "throw-away" (meaning wear a few times and toss), I say you just need to be aware of what will last and what won't.
Both pairs of my H&M Sqin jeans have lasted for years and are *obviously* go-to's in my wardrobe.
(The gray skinnies that I wear constantly? Yeah. Those.)
I have probably ten layering tanks that I bought six or so years ago that are still on outfit rotation.

Also, where Forever 21 (will always love) usually pertains to a younger crowd, H&M is for all ages and has attire ranging from work to casual to dressy.
The Denver store will be 21,000 square feet of retail glory and will boast women's, men's and children's sections.
Yes, massive.

I've even posted H&M Shopping Tips, which come in handy when attempting to tackle the entire interior of awesomeness.

In light of H&M AND Ikea opening in Denver in the fall... I don't know that my shopper's heart will be able to take it.

H&M. Thank you.
For hearing our call.
For responding.
We await your arrival with great anticipation!
(And, if you could open before September 30th, I would really appreciate it. I'll be up there with more than 75 women for a conference, and I'd love to bring them through your doors. *wink*)

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Rest - Revisited

Today begins my week of rest.
Well, my Monday through Friday of rest... the kids' last few days in school.
And, really, it's during-the-day rest, because our evenings are still full of activities.
But, it is rest, nonetheless!!!

After much prayer and thought, it was pretty clear Someone was giving very specific instructions about this week.
No appointments. No coffee dates. No lunch dates. No meetings.
Just me-time.

To rest.

To get some things done around the house if I want... or not.
To lay on the couch and blog hop if I want... or not.
To climb back in bed after the kids leave for school... or not.
To tackle the pile of laundry in the laundry room... or not.
To wade through my overloaded inbox if I feel so inclined... or not.

I'm not sure if it will involve any thrifting. It may.
Or it may not.
I know it will involve a wardrobe of sweatpants and sweatshirts and hairbands.
Or maybe it will involve a summery dress and new sandals. (If I can find any I stinking approve of! Ugh. What IS it with expensive but cheaply made summer footwear? Absolutely not acceptable. If you're going to be cheaply made, you better be on darn good sale. And if you follow me on twitter, you already know I'm frustrated about this.)
Or it may not.

What I know is, this week I'm resting. And each moment it will look like whatever it's going to look like in that moment.
(How very existential of me.)

Right now it looks like me snuggled up on the couch under my favorite blankie with my favorite ferret asleep on my tummy.
In a few minutes it may still look like that.
Or it may not.
That's the beauty of this week of rest.

 Obedience is always the very best place to live.
Not always the easiest, but always the best.
Because He's the one who knows what we need... so much more that we do.
I'm so thankful He's a caring God who has my very best at the heart of everything He leads me into.


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Friday, May 20, 2011

Hey Na Na

This song makes me happy. 
And the video? Even more.
Like, happy plus giddy.
Or, happy plus silly.
Or, maybe happy plus a banana split with sprinkles and a cherry and a yellow balloon tied to the dish that has a big smiley face on it.

Like that.

Katie Herzig has a new album coming out September 20th called The Waking Sleep.
So excited!
Because hers is some of the only music that has, over the years, still stayed in the cd player in the car and still gets danced to in our kitchen and still gets quoted by our family.
And she's still, hands down, one of the most fun people I've ever, EVER harmonized with.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sassy Shoe Thursday: Heel Condoms???

I know.
Some of you just clicked into this post wondering what in the heck you were even going to be seeing.
And some of you just clicked into this post ready to yell at me via email for being inappropriate.
(Yes, you know who you are. *wink*)

I stumbled across these on The Shoe Girl's Blog the other day and was both mesmerized and horrified at the same time.

GREAT product idea.


Heel Condoms can instantly transform any pair of heels, it seems to be.
So fun! But, it just sounds so... so... repulsive!
I know they're naming it that so people will remember the product. But, seriously? I don't want to remember the name.
(I thought they would be more like rain covers for your designer stilettos, you know?)

But, they're really onto something.
I haven't actually tried them, so I don't know how the quality factor is. It seems that other "transform your heels" type products can look/feel quite cheap.
However, the price is decent, and the pictures look good.
(The black feathers and the leopard print are my favs.)

(All photos taken from www.theheelcondoms.com.)

They have a lot more styles on their site. None are really simple, but they do get pretty wild!
If anyone actually winds up ordering these, drop me a line and let me know how they are... and then I'll report back to everyone else.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On Rest

I'm not sure I've ever been good at resting.
I know I'm good at taking breaks, at stealing away short little snippets of time to do something brainless.
But, I'm talking about a deeper rest.
The kind where you let the world fade away not just for a moment, but purposefully for an extended period of time.

I'm good at filling my calendar with appointments and meetings and getting together and running around and planning.
Because those are all good things that I should be doing.
But, I'm also good at keeping my head held high, barreling into everything with prayer and perseverance and always, always hoping for the best and the positive.
And if I start to get frustrated at the things I see going in the "wrong direction," then I just hold my head higher and pray harder and persevere more, because if I do that, things will come together like they should.
...honoring of people.
...honoring of God.
...in the best way every circumstance can.

Lately, I've found myself frustrated.
There are things going on around me in the planning realm, in the "involved" realm, that aren't changing no matter how high I hold my head or how much I keep moving in the right direction.
There are hearts breaking and people hurting and directions that, if continued in, are going to be devastating to futures and faiths.

When we get good at resting, we get good at pulling back and resting in Him,
in the one who sees all of these things and holds them in His hands.
I may be skilled in trusting Him, but I'm not always skilled in forcing my thoughts to let go of the issues that swirl.
I determine to take a little break from everything and dive into something that requires very few brain cells, and that's when I start thinking, "But I should be doing... but I need to stay on top of... but if I don't do *fill in the blank*..."

And it's not always bad to live in that place.
It's a productive place, an involved place, a caring place, a place where friends know they can count on me, a place where I yearn for people and truth and God to invade circumstances.
And there are things that need to be done... tended to... cultivated frequently.
But, it needs to be balanced with rest... or I wind up frustrated... or, even worse, willing to accept mediocrity.
The kind of rest where I can let the world go, where those thoughts are not allowed to swallow me in captivating ways.
The kind of rest where I can just be with God and I don't feel like I need to always be coming back to prayer about a specific circumstance.
The kind of rest where I can be fully renewed, so I can take a stand and fight because it's the right thing to do, not because I'm frustrated.

Just, rest.

Lord, help me.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Son Has A Mullet

There are probably other things I could title this post, but I'm still reeling from the fact that it's actually true...
so, I'm going with the obvious.

Sunday was hair cut night.
Nate: "Hey, anyone want a mullet?"
Ian: "What's a mullet?"
Nate googles "Mullet" and clicks on "images."

Ian falls in love.

So, when Nate grabs the shears I'm thinking it will be kind of a "faux-mullet"
...much like a "faux-hawk."
I turn my back for five seconds and turn back around to find the guard off the shears and the side of Ian's head shaved clean nearly to the top.
I won't lie, I did start to panic.
There may have been some raised voices. (Alright, just mine.)
I may have said some unkind things to my husband...
and then noticed how big Ian was smiling.
"It'll be COOL, Mom!"

I have to settle for the silver lining that my youngest son will indeed laugh in the face of human opinion, and he will most likely live an adventurous and full life, free from the confines of what society deems presentable.
Because he does, truly, love his mullet.

(For the record, his shirt says "You're not that bad, I'm just that awesome.")

Ian went to school Monday with a huge grin on his face, leaving one bewildered mother at home.
Over and over he kept saying, "Business up front, party in the back."

I'm now left trying to shush his older brothers as they're encouraging him to grow the back even longer and keep the front short.

God gives grace.
And I think He has on reserve an extra large portion for mothers, specifically for times like this.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Random Outfit Post

Gee, haven't done one of these in a while!
Wore this a few Sundays ago, and then transitioned to something else for a meeting that night.
Here's the scoop:

pulling it all together...
Trench: Diane Von Furstenberg, via Goodwill, also seen here.
Silvery scarf: Kenya *giddy laughter*
Black satin skinny pants: BCBG, a few years old and a great buy. So versatile.
Black tank: William Rast for Target, via Goodwill. It's hard to see on here, but there's a black-on-black American flag on the front. Love!
Sequin cap-sleeve navy shrug: Nanette Lepore, but NOT for Target. The real thing, via Goodwill. *more giddy laughter*
Gunmetal satin heels: Nine West, via Goodwill
Rhinestone earrings: Boutique in Oregon
Bracelets: Forever 21 and Grandmother's crystals, restrung

Now, that evening we had a meeting-ish thingy to go to, but I loved how comfy the tank was, especially with the shimmery scarf.
So, here's what I did.

H&M gray skinnies, BCBG/Frank Azria cardi, pink Converse (via Goodwill).
All jewelry from Kenya. (Except Grams' silver ring.)
My hair was driving me nuts, so I teased the roots a bit and pulled it into a pony.

Now, if you really want to know a secret, this was the second time in just a couple of days that I wore these same outfits.
I had an event Friday night I wore the top outfit to, but with different shoes.
And after the event I pulled on the cardi and pink converse (albeit, still with the satin pants).
It worked, and I wasn't feeling very creative the following Sunday morning, and I had liked the outfit anyway...
so, I just wore it again!
There. Now you know.
(Oh, I'm so sneaky.)

An odd fact: This was the first of two high ponies I wore that same week. Both times I was asked if I was losing weight.
Thought: Do high ponies have a slimming effect on your face?

And, yes. I'm aware the bathroom mirror is dirty again. Oh, well.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

On Conversations and Ian and Healing

Yesterday I went with Ian's second grade class on a field trip... in the rain/sleet/hail/snow/wind.
It was outdoors.
In Denver.
I'm not kidding.

It made for a memorable adventure (My top strength, via StrengthsFinder 2.0, is Positivity.) and an hour bus ride home has never been so welcome.

There were a couple of interesting conversations on the bus.
On the way up, I sat by a little girl from Ian's class who also happened to be in his class last year.
(Ian wanted to sit with his friends.)
So, we knew each other quite well.
Well enough that she snuggled up with her head on my side and slept most of the trip.
When she awoke she looked at me and said, "So, Ian has Diabetes."
Not really a question, but a statement.
"Yes, he does." I said.
"Is there a cure for that?"
I thought for a moment. "Not on this earth," I responded. "But I know that someday he'll be healed."
She paused, and then asked, "Are you Jewish?"
"Nope. I'm a Christian."

Then there was the wet/cold/outdoors field trip, that was followed up by our big yellow bus making a stop at Starbucks on the way home to reward the adults that had braved the trip.
(A stroke of genius on the part of Ian's teacher. But, she has many of those.)

Ian decided he wanted to sit by me on the ride home, and opposite the same little girl, who was now across the aisle.
"Ian, is there a cure for your Diabetes?" she said out of the blue... thankfully after Starbucks.
I'm always able to tune out conversations, whether intentionally or unintentionally, with the greatest of ease.
I think it's a developed motherhood skill.
But I heard this one loud and clear. 
I stopped reading my book, but stared at the pages as I listened for what he would say.
"Yes." Ian said confidently.
Another little girl joins in, "I thought you'll have Diabetes forever."
The first girl responds to that, "Oh, Ian's family is Christian. So God will heal him."
"Yep," Ian said. "God's gonna heal me. Probably when I'm nine." Then he turns and smiles at me.
Girl #1 says to Girl #2, "Are you Jewish?"
Girl #2, "No, we're Christian, too." She turns to Ian, "That's great that you're going to be healed, Ian."
Girl #1, "Well, I'm Jewish."

And we just keep walking it out.
"Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."  ~Luke 1:45
We just keep walking it out.
We do what we need to do for Ian's health in this moment, which right now means we're pursuing putting him on an insulin pump.
But we do it with the faith that it won't be this way forever.
I'm so thankful for medical technology, and that Ian can live a healthy life.
And I'm so thankful for a healing God.

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Thanks, Mom, for being my hero.
For loving and serving others, so that I would see... and learn how to do the same.
For always making life fun... dancing in the kitchen, having picnics in the backyard.
For putting your dreams on hold so you would be there every day when we got home from school,
just to hear how our day was.
For all the swim meets you drove us to... 
soccer games you sat at in the rain... 
track meets you brought me gatorade to because I forgot...
 really bad school plays and choir concerts you smiled through...
 times you hunted through the house for my favorite shirt I swore was missing...
hours you sat helping me with the homework I wanted to give up on...
 times you helped me go through your jewelry so I'd feel pretty...
 all the hours spent on the phone, sharing my joy, comforting my grief...
for reminding me amidst my breakdowns that motherhood isn't an exact science, that you do what you can with what you have from right where you're at...

Thank you.
I am the mom I am because you are the mom you are.
I love you.

Happy Mother's Day.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Africa Story: Driving in Kenya

Driving in Kenya was quite an adventure!
Especially sitting in the front seat.

I kept forgetting that the driver sits on the right side of the vehicle, but you drive on the left side of the road.
The complete opposite of American
It's not that it scared me... I just kept forgetting.
(Probably something to do with a lifetime of doing the opposite.)

I knew the kiddos would want to see how it was to drive in the different places we visited.
Then it occurred to me that maybe everyone wanted to see!
So, I video'd.

Driving in the Kenyan countryside. So gorgeous. So lush. So paradise!!!
There are people everywhere, always walking... which is maybe why so few of them are overweight (at least from what I saw). Should we take note? *wink*
I loved the donkeys on the side of the road! Our Kenyan friends laughed at me, because I got such a kick (pun intended) out of seeing them all over.

Driving into Kiambu. Again, people everywhere.
It was amazing to turn the corner from the countryside and all of a sudden be surrounded by billboards and buildings.

Driving out of Kiambu at night. There is such a constant hustle and bustle. Notice how long it takes us to pull from the side street onto the main drag.

Driving in Nairobi. What a stark contrast to the lush countryside!
I know it's shaky, but I was video'ing through the windows of the van we took into the National Park. (Which is another blog post!)
The stars in the video (other than the streets of Nairobi) are Ben and Joan, son and daughter of Patrick, whom you met the other day.

When we first arrived, we were surprised at how our driver (Joseph, that first night) just drove right through the stoplights.
He said you don't really pay attention to those at night. If you stop at them, you may get hit from behind by someone who is not stopping at it.
But then he stopped at one... sensing our wondering thoughts he smiled and said, "Some we do stop at. You just need to know which ones."

I'm glad I wasn't driving.  =^)

There really was such a difference between the countryside, the smaller city, and then the big city atmosphere of Nairobi... which you would find anywhere.
But, so many people. Always, always people everywhere. Even when we drove out to the Children's Home (yet another *awesome* blog post due soon) way out in the "Bush," there were people all over.

The children loved when we would wave from the car. Often I could be seen leaning out the window and saying, "Helllllloooooo" as we passed.
They would giggle and wave. Many would say hello back.
But, out in the country, we heard quite often, "White people!!!"
And they would laugh and wave, and we would do the same.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

My Africa Story - The CliffsNotes Version

(Meet Dillon, an adorable little boy who was at the conference the whole week with his mom. He seemed to turn up everywhere I was. I finally got him to smile on the last day. It seemed fitting to start this post with his introduction.)

It's hard to believe I returned from Kenya a week ago...
or that I left for Kenya two weeks ago.

Thanks so much to everyone who's been *mostly* patient with me in my lack of posting either on here or facebook about my grand adventures.
(I say mostly, because some of you have not been patient. And that's okay, too. *wink*)

I think I'll need to share things in bits and pieces.
It just can't all be told at once, and some things I'm still processing.

And then there are some things I'm not sure I want to share...
because sometimes trying to put experiences into words somehow diminishes the beautiful intimacy of it.
So, I think there are a few experiences I will save just for God and myself.
(God is so cool to give us amazing moments like that.)

People ask if I was shocked by anything... what was the most memorable experience... if I was changed.
Truly, I don't think I was surprised by any of it, just thankful to finally have the experiences myself.
And all of it was so incredible, I don't think I can narrow anything down to just one or two that will stand out.
In the end, everything changes us to some degree.
Like I said, I'm still processing.
God and I are talking through a lot of things.
But isn't that how the whole of life should be?

So, I'll take time to share on here.
I'll post photos and try to put my experiences into words.

My Africa Story - CliffsNotes (and some pictures)

The *extreme* synopsis is that we arrived in Nairobi Monday night, minus three bags.
(Mine was the only one that made it. The other girls didn't get theirs 'til Wednesday night. Which was crazy since Melissa had to leave on Thursday.)
The women's conference was Tuesday through Friday at Word of Faith Church in Kiambu.
They have 500 churches in Kenya, so women came from all over.
(Many spoke English very well, but some only knew Swahili, so we had interpreters during the sessions.)

We each spoke two sessions and led workshops Wednesday and Thursday.
It was... how shall I say... intense
And wonderful!!!
After the conference was over on Friday afternoon we had a tour of the college grounds that is also run by Word of Faith. The college teaches everything from Bible courses to hairstyling to auto-mechanics.
(Awe.Some. opportunities for their students!)
Then we were taken to the Children's Home they operate. The children proudly showed us their rabbits and cows, and were most proud to show us where they each slept.
Then they sang for us in both English and Swahili. It was beautiful.
(There really are no descriptive terms that can accurately describe this. It was beyond words.)
Saturday we were able to visit the National Park in Nairobi and see wildlife!!! Ooooo... how cool that was. Giraffe, rhinos, even a lion!
Afterward we were able to stop at a market in Nairobi so we could *ahem* shop.
Afterward we toured the incredible farm of Bishop Thomas (the head pastor over Word of Faith) and relaxed a bit at his beautiful home before boarding the plane home.


Like I said, intense and wonderful.
(I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!!!)

Me and Kim, enjoying the airplane ride...

Have I ever told you that I love to look out airplane windows?
It's so Bette Middler, "From a Distance."
(Except that song is so theologically wrong it kills me, but still...)

We stayed at a beautiful retreat center, Brackenhurst, about 30 minutes outside of Kiambu.
This was taken standing on our front step. Hear the birds?

The grounds were absolutely gorgeous. So serene and peaceful. Definitely a different experience from downtown Nairobi.
But, it was a very safe and secure facility... which evidently is a good thing for four women traveling internationally.

On our way to the church Tuesday morning...
(Kathy! I didn't get your face in the picture! But, Kim and Melissa seem to be having a blast.)

Me being me...

Meet Patrick, who so graciously drove us each day from Brackenhurst to the church and then back again every day.
Oh, to be in a car for that long with four women.
He's very brave.
(Patrick, you have mad driving skills. I know I already told you this multiple times. I want the world to know, too.)

There was so much wonderful fresh fruit!!!
This is me eating Passion Fruit for the first time. Yum, yum, yum...

Our walk down the hill to the sanctuary was beyond description.
(The Administrative Offices are at the top of the hill, and the sanctuary is about half way down.)
The sound of worshipping Kenyan women permeated the air, and there was such a sense of peace, and yet anticipation for what was going to come.
I tried to capture it on video, and I know it's shaky, but it's a moment I will never forget.
(I was trying very hard to walk on the uneven ground... downhill... in heels... while holding a videoing camera... and not fall over. Cut me some slack, here.)

Coming back up the hill...

Some of the children that hung around the conference. (Boy, did they love having their picture taken! "Show me! Show me!")

Okay, so many stories. So many experiences. So many pictures. So much I want to say.
This is a good start, and I can hardly wait to share the rest...
in pieces...
over the next few days and weeks.

Keep checking back.
I want you to experience this with me. To see. To hear. To know.
And maybe, someday, to go?

I can hardly wait to go back. With my husband... and my children.
I left a large piece of my heart in Kenya with these people.
But, God already knew that would happen, didn't He?
I suspect that's why He sent me.
(Right, Bishop Thomas?)

SO much more to come...

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