Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The one with a manger

Christmas decorating began early for me this year. Early- meaning- 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. And I'm not even mad about it.

A couple months ago I posted about the new Christmas season approaching and how decorating my apartment would look incredibly different.

For the last four years or so, my parents have been gifting me with new pieces to my WillowTree nativity set. This year, I have to start over again. I got an early Christmas present in the mail last week as mom and dad gave me the first starter set again. You know, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. They were feeling lonely all by themselves in the manger until an email appeared courtesy of my blog.

A couple of months ago, JoAnne emailed to introduce herself and let me know she'd been following my blog for over a year now and had commented on a book I posted about. She and I both had so many similar takeaways from the book. A month later after reading my post about Christmas decor, I receive an email from her saying she wanted to contribute to my nativity.

This week a package arrived and Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are no longer lonely in the manger.

Joanne, what an incredibly special gift you have given. Every year I set up my nativity I will think of your generosity and your thoughtfulness.

To my mom and dad for starting me off again with the set:. Thank you! To Joanne, I am so honored. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

One Year Later

Only I can tell my story. And the older I get, I realize more and more how my story is about who God is and what He does in each of us. And part of what He does is provide comfort. "Deep and enduring, powerful beyond all imagination." I've experienced that comfort this year.

One year later, this November feels so different.
I know what it's like when the things that always used to make you happy don't do the trick anymore, because they can't break through the sadness and fear that are covering over everything in your life. I was there, and I'm not there anymore...But you'll get through this, and you'll find yourself in an entirely new place... Shauna Niequist
November 27, 2012 I lost my apartment to a fire. I wouldn't say I was materialistic and lost a ton of high priced things (let's be honest- my two couches combined cost a total of $100) but I did love my stuff. And the things I lost meant a lot to me. In the last 365 days, life has been different. I'm different, I'm in a new city, everything I own is new, and my relationship with God is new. And in the newness of life, I'm learning that our story is all we have. How will I steward my story?

One year out, I'm still trying to process it all. I had hoped that three months would go by and I'd be back to my normal self. But I'm realizing that what I'm living right now is a new normal. And what I do with the new normal will determine my next season. In the good seasons and the bad, we have the opportunity to experience God in a new way. And He's that big. He's big enough, complex enough, to experience Him in a new way in every season. In your next season, may you experience Him in a new way. This year, I've experienced His ability to comfort.
My prayer for you is not that you live a life that's only sweet and never bitter, but that in even the bitterest of moments, you will find the comfort of Christ, deep and enduring, powerful beyond all imagination. -Shauna Niequist

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The one from Lisa

Guest blog post from my older sister, Lisa. 

Today is my baby sister's birthday; her 26th to be exact. Hard to believe that little blonde-haired, blue eyed heartbreaker is now a skilled ER night nurse with the heart of an adventurer. I could spend all day praising her many talents, show you a map of all the places she traveled, speak of her love for all things Portland, or tell you how many half-marathons she's completed. But, today, I'm here as a guest on Minda's blog to talk about how Caralyn was, and perhaps still is, everyone's favorite. 

Growing up as pastor's kids in rural East Texas, the church members become your extended family of sorts. We didn't grow up near any actual extended family, and so we welcomed the idea of so many new aunts, grandmas and cousins to act as our surrogate family. 

However, things didn't turn out for Minda and me quite as well as they did for Caralyn. When we moved to Cunningham, Texas, I was just on the cusp of entering that awkward phase; you know the one where your face hasn't quite caught up with your teeth yet. Minda, bless her heart, had a bowl cut. Enough said. So needless to say, we weren't quite as cute as Caralyn, the sweet and charming toddler with the chubby cheeks. 
One family in particular had a sweet spot for Caralyn. They'd take her shopping, buy her clothes, invite her for sleepovers, and dote on her cute sweet face. The one thing that I recall with the most vivid jealousy, is every Sunday, after church, they would invite Caralyn over for Sunday dinner, a hallowed tradition in our tiny community that to this day is only slightly less celebrated than Christmas morning. Caralyn would go over to their home for gourmet mac 'n cheese and cupcakes and other culinary delights while Minda and I would schlep home with mom and dad for tuna helper. Boooooo. (No offense mom and dad.)

The salt on the wound was the drop off. Caralyn would be chauffeured back to our home, come bounding out of the car, fists full of candy, in a new dress with the smell of cinnamon rolls on her breath, and blissfully settle in for her afternoon nap with visions of sugar plums dancing in her head no doubt. All while Minda and I pouted in our rooms with fish breath. Such injustice. 

Well Caralyn, it's a good thing you're still so cute and we're not bitter. 

(PS I'm forwarding you a counseling bill.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The one with the woman on the balcony.

My friend Darrah is in town this weekend. She arrived yesterday morning and we've had a fantastic time of catching up, eating, and sight seeing so far. Last night after dinner, we called it a night and headed to bed.

Since Jaryn is out of town, I gave Darrah my room and I took Jaryn's room. (surprise, Jaryn! Hope that's ok!) :) ( In OTHER news- I know Jaryn's totally fine with that. If she wasn't- I'd NEVER announce via my blog that I'm using her room! I'm a good roommate, people!) :)

So. We go to bed and around 2am, I hear a pounding outside my apartment. My neighbor evidently had a visitor. But the visitor didn't get the message that she wasn't home. For about 15 minutes- he pounded on her door. At one point I got up out of bed and looked through the peephole to see some dude standing outside and continuing to pound. I went back to bed and about 3 minutes later, he stopped. I am drifting back to sleep when I hear MORE pounding. Except this time, I hear pounding....then "This is the police!" 

More pounding, more pounding. Then MY apartment door has pounding- then "This is the police."

So of course I get out of bed and go to the door. My FIRST thought is "There is a fire and they are trying to get people out."

I open the door (lookin all kinds of rough, I'm sure) and there are 3 police officers. One is on the phone and one says to me "Ma'am. We think someone is on your balcony who needs help."



He then says "Does your balcony connect with your neighbor?

I know for certain it does not and tell him as much. He says "ok- it must be the neighbor on the other side."

So he thanks me and I close the door.

But of course- I have to check. And let's be honest. Can you imagine HOW CREEPY it would be to open up your blinds on your balcony and see someone out there?!?!?

There was no one on my balcony. 

But I went back into Jaryn's room (which is the room closest to the front door) and look out her window to the courtyard area. 

And across the way, I see her. 

A woman standing in her pj's. On the phone. Bawling.

So I go get the police and say "She's not on my balcony, but I can see her."

They ask "Can we come in to your place?"

I let them in. The whole time- I'm hoping Darrah hasn't woken up. 

The police come in to Jaryn's room, open the window, and say "Sarah? This is the police. Are you Sarah" She says "yes." They tell her "it's safe to come back to your place. We're here. Can you get back to your place?" She begins to crawl over several balconies and make her way back to her apartment.

The police officers thank me for my time and help and leave. 

But who can go to bed after that!?

I crawl back into bed and hear my neighbor open her door. She's crying and saying "He wouldn't stop knocking on my door! He said he was going to bust my door down!"

Evidently- the first round of pounding was a guy she'd been out on one date with. The officers asked her if she knew him and she said "We went out once! I don't know how he found me here!"While he was pounding on the door- evidently he'd been telling her if she didn't open it- he would bust in. So she escaped her apartment via her balcony- crawled into a neighboring one, and called 911.  

That's when the police arrived. 

I don't know any more to the story at this point. I'll see what I can find out. 

But. Yeah.

How in the world do stories like this find me?!?!?

Good news is this: Darrah slept through the whole thing and wasn't woken up. 

I'd hate for a guest of mine to wake up to crazy!

So. Now you have....the rest of the story. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The one with the 'comedy' of errors

I left the office last night a little after 5:30pm. The metro was broken and it took over an hour to get home.

I sat on metro underground for an hour. When I finally arrived at my stop, I walked home, and began to dig for my keys. I realize they are still in the office.

My first thought is to call the apartment office and see if they can let me in with a spare key. The on-call people said they don’t do that and that I need to call a locksmith.

So I just decide to head BACK into the city and go get my keys.

I don’t want to get back on the metro as the blue line was CRAP and broken- so I decide to cab it back to the office.  So I pull out my wallet to get cash and realize….No wallet in purse. (I’m not sure WHAT I was thinking when I left the office earlier.)

So I think- no biggie. I’ll just uber back to the office. (uber is a car service and I have an app which I can pay for the service through my phone. No card/cash required.)

And then I remember I’d just gotten a new debit card and Uber and Netflix were the two remaining things I needed to update my card on file for.

So. I have no keys. And no money.

So Kristy Campbell receives a text message from me at 6:40 saying: I need rescuing. What are the chances you can help?

She answers immediately. I explain what’s happening and she says “I’ll just call uber for you.” Huge help. So uber arrives and I am taken back into the city. I arrive at office and obviously can’t get IN to the building since I don’t have my keys and I see the concierge lady who comes to the glass and says “I can’t let you in.”

She opens the door to find out what I need and says “I can’t let you in.”

I explained about my keys and she said “You’ll have to get someone else to let you in.”

Welp. That’s stupid.

So I call Elizabeth, our office manager. Goes straight to voicemail. Try again. Same thing. I text her. Nothing. (I later find out her phone had died.)

So I am standing outside of our office building in the chilly weather when I decide to send a call for help. I email the DC staff and say “I need help. Who can come back to the office and help a girl out?”


I hear nothing.

So instead of standing in the cold- I walk over to Starbucks to sit in their cafĂ© while I wait. And during this time- my phone is dying.

So I have no way to get into my apartment. I have no way to get into my office. I have no wallet. And my phone is dying.

Starbucks CLOSES. Seriously. They were done for the night and said “Miss, we need you to leave.”

So I begin to walk back to the metro.

For what? Who knows. I honestly have NO clue as to what I should do.(Did I mention my roommate is out of the country? Yeah.)

Kristy messaged again and said “I’ve got a plan. Head back to Pentagon City.”

So I’m walking back and get back ON the broken metro. It took me 30 minutes to go TWO stops. (It's normally 11 minutes from my stop to the work stop)

At the 2nd stop- my phone begins ringing. It’s Nathan. He can help!

So I jump OFF the metro- and get on another metro heading BACK to the office.
(anyone else exhausted at this point?) 

I arrive BACK at the office at 8:45pm. Nathan is there. He gets me into the office so I can grab my wallet AND keys. He leaves. I leave. I jump in a cab to get BACK home. I get into my home.

And that’s the end of my insane story.

All day long I’d been thinking about all I needed to do that night. I had a list of plans. One of which was to make homemade soup, clean my apartment, drink some wine. You know. Enjoy my night.

None of those things happened. I arrived home at 9pm and fell into bed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The one where I talk about social media

It seems almost a weekly occurrence that someone is in the news for getting fired over a tweet that shouldn't have been sent. As someone who works in social media, people ask me often if it's a fear of mine. Let me be 100% honest.

I fear tweeting from the wrong account, sure.

But I do not fear getting fired over a mistweet.

Why? Because I'm not concerned with representing my organization or my boss. I'm more concerned about representing MYSELF well. I most likely will not tweet a picture of myself or a status update on my own PERSONAL account that wouldn't be safe for all audiences. Even if that audience is the organization I work for or the Chairman of our organization. Would it be silly and embarrassing? Yes. But not inappropriate and worth getting fired over.

I want to just shake shoulders sometimes of people who carelessly tweet or add Facebook updates that are not representing them or their character well.

I had the opportunity to hire someone not too long ago to work along side me and I specifically opted NOT to hire someone because of a post from 5 years ago. Yes. FIVE years. If you are on record (and twitter is public record, people) saying things that would give our organization or Chairman a bad name- I'm probably not going to risk it with you. I'll move along and look for someone else. There's too much at stake.

Those pictures or updates might not get you fired today, but they sure could prevent you from getting hired next year, or even 5 years from now.

Show some self respect.

Represent yourself well. You're worth it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The one where I pack 7 pairs of shoes

Next month (November 27th to be exact) will mark one year since the fire.  Crazy, right? 

I was in DC at our 2012 National Summit- first day of the summit- when I got word about the fire. 

Well. Our National Summit is next week. I leave Tuesday morning and will head to Boston. 

Last year, the day before the summit, I tweeted this:

Headed to DC in the morning for #EIA12. Packing warm clothes is stressful. And I might have packed 7 pairs of shoes. Just maybe.

And yes. I had packed 7 pairs of shoes. Upon finding out that my apartment had burned down, I was glad I'd packed those 7 pairs of shoes. #SilverLining.

So tomorrow I will begin packing for Boston. And I'm feeling the need to pack....well, everything. Everything I own. Is that weird?  I honestly want to pack up all my clothes, shoes, and my journals. Aside from furniture, I don't have much more than that- so I can't really lose much else. But I want to pack it all. So. Coworkers. If you see me arrive at the airport with 3 suitcases....Just please give me an understanding look and make no comments. :)

In other news, I was in World Market yesterday when I saw Christmas decorations. I had to leave the store as I began to cry thinking about all of mine. The pictures below were the pictures I'd taken right before the fire:

The entire Willow Tree Nativity my parents had given me

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The one where I celebrate 2 years

Two years ago I started a job that would propel me into places I never dreamed I'd be in. I know I've written a lot about my job, how much I love it, yada yada.

But sitting in my office tonight (after hours), I'm incredibly grateful.

Not once in the last two years have I wished for a different job. Not once have I thought to myself "Why am I working here?" The questions have been more along the lines of "how did I get here?!?!"

I was in New York yesterday for an event and will be in Boston next week for our National Summit. 

If I could have written my own life story, I couldn't have dreamed this up for myself. 

I'm reminded today how small I'd dreamed. 

Grateful that God has bigger plans for me that I could have created for myself. 

Even if they are about 1000 miles from anything I would have seen myself doing. 

Here's to the most exciting two years I've ever known.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The one with the football season box

Along with Football comes one of my favorite seasons to decorate for.


I love having pumpkins, fall leaves, and other autumn paraphernalia in my home. The Cowboys will kickoff the 2013-14 season and as I look around my apartment this morning, I realize I have no decorations up. I don't have my gorgeous fall wreath hanging on my door. I don't have my "Give Thanks" plaque hanging in my kitchen. I don't have my ceramic pumpkin bowls and platters on my coffee table. I don't have my fall tablecloth. I don't have a mantle decorated with a stream of (fake) fall leaves....I could go on, and on. 
Talking with a friend last week who said "Wait...it hasn't been a year yet since the fire??"  

Not quite a year. Almost 10 months since the fire. And with each month, I feel as though there is something else that I remember I don't have. (We're not going to talk about my Christmas decoration boxes. Just no. Can't do it.)

This weekend, the boxes I'm missing are the ones that were in my storage closet. The ones I pulled out every September. The boxes I've been adding to for 10 years. Yes, 10 years.

In other news, do you know anyone else that has lost a home? Would really love to chat with someone who has experienced something similar. Mind making a connection for me?  KThanksbye.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

The one with the books I could have written

I've been reading highlighting a couple books lately. Seriously. Someone should have given these books to me completely highlighted. Because that's what I've been doing. Almost every chapter.

With each page I read, I think to myself "I could have written this. This is me."

A few examples of sentences that express exactly how I feel (and have a friend who is working on some art work for statements like this to hang in my kitchen!) 

  • Preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.

  • Feeding people I love is a hands-on way of loving them. When you nourish and sustain someone, you're saying that you want them to thrive, to be happy and healthy, and able to live well.
  • There's something about seeing your house filled with people you love, something about feeding people, especially on days when it seems like you can't make a dent in any of the larger, more theoretical challenges in life.
  • There are a lot of things I don't know....I do know how to make dinner, and to see the people I care about gobble it up makes me feel like something is right, even when it seems like nothing is.
Or how about this one:

When you can invest yourself deeply and unremittingly in the life that surrounds you instead of declaring yourself out of the game once and for all, because what's happened to you is too bad, too deep, too ugly for anyone to expect you to move on from, that's that good, rich place. That's the place where the things that looked, for all intents and purposes, like curses start to stand up and shimmer and dance, and you realize with a gasp that they may have been blessings all along. Or maybe not. Maybe they were curses, in fact, but the force of your belief and your hope and your desperate love for life as it is actually unfolding, has brought a blessing from a curse, like water form a stone, like life from a tomb, like the actual story of God over and over....There is something just past the heartbreak, just past the curse, just past the despair, and that thing is beautiful. You don't want it to be beautiful, at first. You want to stay in the pain and the blackness because it feels familiar, and because you're not done feeling victimized and smashed up. But one day you'll wake up surprised and humbled, staring at something you thought for sure was a curse and has revealed itself to be a blessing- a beautiful, delicate blessing.
I could keep going. Really. I could. Ok, fine, I'll post one more:

I don't know what you've lost this year: a life, a friend, a child, a dream, a job, a home. I don't know what's broken your heart this year.... But I believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over. 

Take my advice. Read the books. 

The One Where I Cry Uncle

*Editor's note....(yes.that would be me, Minda. Seriously? Who else writes on this blog?)  

Anyways. I wrote this post three weeks ago. It was too fresh to post after writing. And too vulnerable. And honestly, I didn't want anyone to call me after reading and utter these three words: "How are you doing?" Because if someone asked that question- I would either have to lie to them and say "I'm good" or I would probably have broken down and fallen apart. And no one wants to fall apart on a phone call. Falling apart should only happen when you're sitting on the couch with a good friend, or sitting at your dining room table with a large bowl of pasta in front of you. Falling apart should only happen when your dear friend can reach out and put an arm around you. 

So. When you read this post, know it was three weeks ago, and if you ask me today "How are you?" I can respond truthfully with this:

I'm better. I'm not ok, but I'm better. And that, in and of itself, is ok.

Written August 15
Three weeks ago, I was on my way to work when I got a phone call. A phone call with news about a tragic car accident. A phone call that stunned me.

Last night was the first night since then that I have slept through the night.

It's been a very weird three weeks. The surge of emotions that come with losing someone so young, so dear. It's just weird.

I have felt understandably sad. 

I have felt uncharacteristically lonely. 

I have felt oddly comforted.

And I have felt completely overwhelmed.

I don't think it's just the death of Matthew and Hailey that has contributed to the feelings of being overwhelmed.

October 2011, I started a new season of life, with a lot of 'new.' Since then, I'd say there have been quite a lot of 'stressors' along the way. 

  • Moved away from Texas for the first time. 
  • Started a new job. 
  • New career field altogether.
  • Stress of moving as my belongings didn't show up for a month.
  • Finding a new church.
  • New friends.
  • Learning a new city.
  • Kidney stones. 
  • Apartment fire. 
  • Let me say that one again. FIRE. 
  • Moved AGAIN to another new city.
  • Again, new church.
  • New surroundings. 
  • Temporary office space.
  • New relationships.
  • And let's be honest....a LACK of relationships.
And then.
  • Death of a close friend. 
Let me also say. I know 100% without a shadow of a doubt that moving to Tallahassee was THE best decision. It was right. It was good. 

But that doesn't mean it wasn't hard. 

And I survived. I not only survived...but I thrived there. (I realize that sounds SO cheezy.)  But I did. 

But it was a LOT of change. 

And then the fire happened. And I held it together. And then I moved to a new city. And I held it together. And then I had to repurchase everything for my home. And I held it together. And then I started looking for a new church. And i held it together. You get the point? I've been holding things together. And with each new thing- more weight was added, but I held it together. Not on my own strength, by any means. There has been grace covering EVERY situation to take place. And my relationship with Jesus has been THE reason I've been able to keep it together. 

But when Hailey died three weeks ago, I have found myself crying 'uncle!' (In other random news, I have NO idea why that phrase exists, but whatever.) But yes. I cried uncle. It was as though her death was the Jenga piece that made everything else topple.  

I've had major 'life stressors' over the last 22 months. And over the last 22 months, I have changed. A lot. The Minda that left Dallas is a VERY different Minda that lives in DC. Not worse, not better. Just VERY different. So on top of all the change, I'm learning who I am. 

Some would say I've been brave, strong, courageous, resilient. 

Part of me worries that my coworkers see me as needy and emotionally unstable. No one would have ever described the Texas Minda as needy or unstable. But my coworkers have seen the last 22 months in which I've been dealing with major stressors. So they have gotten to see a different side of Minda. A side that is even new to me. I haven't even come to grips yet with the woman I am currently. And that involves a LOT of tears these days. Tears over really silly things. Tears over big things. Tears over my belongings that didn't make it through the fire. (After the fire, I didn't cry much. Evidently I was saving them up for now.) Tears for my friend Hailey. Just lots of tears. 

And I'm exhausted. Really. 

Am I happy? Yes. I love my job. I love my coworkers. I love my new city. I love the future I'm facing. I love that my Jesus has been dependable and not for ONE second has he forgotten me or left me to fend for myself. 

But lest you think my life is all glitter/glam/excitement, let me assure you. You see the highlights reel. 

I'm crying uncle. I need some good news to head my way. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The one where they think I have klout

Was at work last week when I received a notification saying I'd won 2 free tickets to the Redskins game. If you know me- you know that's not exciting. NFL Football game? Exciting. Redskins? Ick.

I put the idea on the backburner as one of those "If nothing better comes up on Saturday night, I might go."

On Friday I received an email saying "Actually- You've been selected as one of 50 people to go out on the field as the players run out on the field."

Ok. That sounds fun. Not Cowboys stadium and NOT the Dallas Cowboys players, but still. Sounded fun. 

I've been to two NFL games in my life. Both Cowboys games. With my dad. On Thanksgiving Day.

I know NFL games are a big deal- so once the opportunity came to go on the field, I started making arrangements. (Arrangements being: Find someone to cover my fantasy football draft that was taking place on Saturday afternoon.)

I asked around here the few people I know in DC who might be available to go to the game and had no takers so I opted to go solo. Plan was to show up- go on the field- watch a quarter or two then head home. 

I get to the stadium to pick up my tickets and t-shirt (t-shirt they gave me would be my ticket to get on the field) and the lady at ticket counter says "Well, good news. You've been given an upgraded ticket! Have fun!"

The original ticket would be for the party deck (standing only). 

I look at my ticket and it says "row 3." 


I meet up with the other Women of Washington (@WOWRedskins) who are heading out to the field and come to find out- most of the girls don't like football. And those that do: they aren't Redskins fans. I was in good company. 

We walk out to the field and I think we all had our mouths hanging open. A surreal moment. 

We do our thing on the field then head to find our seats. 

The seats are called Dream Seats. 

Seriously. I went to row 3 and the guy said "oh no- you're closer. You're closer to the field. So there is Row 3....then there is the Row 3 Dreamseat. 

I sit down  (in the padded seat, mind you) and a guy comes up to me and says "What would you like? We have drinks, hotdogs, cookies, peanuts...."

Um. Free food/drink too? Yes. 

So my plan to stay for just a short while was thrown out the window once I got these seats. 

My friend Tim was also at the game with his family and had originally said "If there is an open seat next to us, you can come sit down!" (when we thought I was going to be in the standing room only section.)
I said "um....turns out, you probably want to come sit with ME."

So he did. And we ate free food. And had free drinks. And then he went back to his family and I went home. 

I'd said to Tim "I have NO idea how this all happened!!! I just got an alert from Twitter and Klout!" 

He said "This sort of thing happens to you often, I feel." 

I started to say no...then remembered just 2 weeks ago I was sitting in a box suite at a White Sox game in Chicago with Colorado legislators and a member of the British Parliament. 

So yeah. I guess it does. I don't know how or why....but each time- I'm just as floored. And shocked. And thrilled. 

So if their plan was to give a football fan the chance of a lifetime and knock her socks off- they succeeded. 

Thanks @WOWRedskins.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The one about Hailey

Hailey Morgan Barr.

We were an unlikely match. Everyone knew it. We ourselves knew it. When people heard Hailey and I were going to be roommates, their response was most often "Wait...you and Hailey Morgan?!?" Hailey was all sass. I was boring. Hailey was the life of a party. I just hosted the party. :)

My roommate was getting married (shocker!). I needed a new roommate. Hailey needed a roommate. We made it happen.

We took a couple of days to get moved in, but our first official day as roommates just so happened to be the same night our good friend Laura was getting engaged. We had unloaded boxes all day (in the middle of the Texas summer) and were heading to the engagement party that night. Needless to say- showers were needed. We were rummaging through boxes trying to find clothes, shoes, and other things needed to show up decent to the engagement party when Hailey decided she was hungry and thought she'd have enough time to cook and eat dinner. She had a box of spaghetti and put it on the stove. She quickly realized our time had run out and we HAD to get out the door and over to Dallas. Hailey pours the half cooked spaghetti into a bowl, grabs her keys, and says "Let's go." She proceeds to drive us to Dallas, while eating the spaghetti, AND blasting Beyonce in the car. Singing and dancing were involved. 

That was my first day as Hailey's roommate.

The next 364 days were just as exciting and hilarious. Some good, some crazy, some sweet, and some hard.

Hailey and I had both just come from difficult seasons in life. June '09-June '10 was a tough year for each of us. And while our situations were completely different, this is where we found our common ground. We pledged to each other that we would make the next year a good year. A restful year.

And we did. Hailey and I spent plenty of evenings curled up on that brown couch of mine. I would cook dinner, she would provide the chocolate. And our conversations were rarely ever surface level. Hailey never settled for the 'easy way out' answer. If she asked you how your day was, 'good' would not suffice. She wanted to know why it was good, what had happened that made it good, and what could have made it better. She was always interested in the condition of my heart. And after our converstaion, she would then remind me how much Jesus loved me and how good His plans were for our lives. She reminded me of my worth.

Hailey was quite the encourager. I never left a serious conversation with her in which she had not spoken words of encouragement to me. She would leave notes on the kitchen counter, voicemails, or random gifts. If you were talking to Hailey- you most likely walked away feeling like a million bucks. And maybe walking away with a little more sass than you started with.

Ever heard me use the phrase "Hey gurl hayyy!"? That's because of Hailey. Ever hear me say "I'm off to get my hair did"? That's because of Hailey. I'm not kidding, y'all. This girl inspired sass. Especially in THIS girl (me!) who had none.

One night she was making dinner (a chicken pot pie) and while in the kitchen, she says "It says I have to put the 2nd pie crust on top of the dish...But I don't know how to do that!" In the living room, I said "What do you mean? Just put it on top and seal the edges."  She said "I don't get it. This doesn't look right. Do I put it in the oven like this?" I got up and came into the kitchen to find this:
Hailey's Chicken Pot Pie
Homegirl had bought two premade piecrusts already in the foil pans (rather than the roll out kind.) She read the recipe which said to put the second crust on top of the pie. This is how she did it. It took every ounce of energy to not bust out laughing. I explained how to fix it and she stuck it in the oven. Life with Hailey kept me on my toes and kept me laughing. Oh, and the day she came home and announced to me: I'm going to learn how to play the harmonica! I'm serious. Don't laugh.

Yup. That's Hailey. :-)

When we moved in together, Hailey was not dating anyone. There was no one on her radar. NO ONE. And then. Three months later, she's talking about this guy Matthew. She's coming home from dinner parties with Matthew. She is coming home from rock climbing with Matthew. And she is glowing.

Long story semi-short- Hailey knew he was the one. Matthew pursued her the way any guy in his right mind should pursue a girl he's interested in. And come March, Matthew asked her to be his wife. Two months later? Our lease was ending and Hailey and Matthew were getting married.

The two of them were married and on their way to the Philippines where they would begin their marriage and their ministry.

Hailey and Matthew were better together. They pursued Jesus with more passion than most people I've ever known. They were obedient. If Jesus asked something of them, they said yes. They lived with purpose. They loved. And they loved well.

Hailey and Matthew. Your loss is deeply felt here on earth. We will make sure your life story is not forgotten. While you lived, your impact was large. In your death, it's gone beyond what anyone could have imagined.

Psalm 19:7-11 (paraphrase)
"The laws of the Lord are perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, and they are sure. They revive the soul, they give wisdom, joy, light, and they endure forever. In keeping these laws, there is great reward." 

HE is our great reward. Enjoy your reward, my friends.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The one with the 'street corner'

During my time living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and now my time living in DC, it is not uncommon to hear someone on the street corner yelling at anyone and everyone "Repent! Turn to Jesus. You don't want to burn in hell!"

You are familiar with these sorts of people, yes? In DC, I've even found some people will come out with more than just their voices and a few tracks. They will have a large speaker and mic. They just blast to whomever.

How many people walk by them thinking "Wow! This person really cares for me and wants me to go to heaven- so I will stop and talk to them and accept Jesus right on the spot!"...? Anyone? Do you ever see these people and think to yourself "Man. They've got it. They are doing it right."

I doubt it.

Well, friends.  Facebook has become the new 'street corner.'

Those who blast their religious and political views are spewing. They are spewing at whoever and whomever. They don't care who hears or who doesn't. They feel as though they are standing up for what they believe in- just as the guy on the street corner does.

I am as turned off by people sitting on the street corner telling me I'm going to hell if I don't repent, as I am by people who spew their religious and political thoughts on Facebook.

Granted, I have over 1000+ friends on Facebook and these friends span a MULTITUDE of religious beliefs as well as both party lines.

If I post how I feel about any of these issues, you better believe that I've closed the door on any opportunity to be in relationship with those who oppose. To gain their trust. To show them the love of Jesus.

So friends, please. Let's pack up the mic and speakers and get off the street corner. It's not working. The only thing it's doing is helping people to decide to click "unfriend" or "hide" in the settings option.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The one with the cookbook

While working yesterday, the mailman came. 

Yup. That's the sentence I decided to start this post off with. Exciting, right?  

Well, what's even more exciting is that he had a package for me. 

I opened the package and I immediately became choked up. In my little cubicle, while trying to get a press release out, I just sat at my desk and could barely move. 

Inside was a custom made cookbook that contained recipes not only from one person, but many. 

Recipes from my grandmothers, my aunts, my dear friends....

Recipes from people who have never met each other- but they all know me. 

Recipes from my grandmothers that are family favorites. The ones we have when all our family is together. Seeing my grandmothers handwriting on those recipe cards.  Knowing how difficult it was for my grandma Scheatzle to write those out as she has MS. But seeing the handwriting I know and love. 

Recipes from friends whose kitchens I've been in and had great meals with. And along with a great meal comes great conversation. At least at my table it does!

Recipes from the great Chef LeAnn!

Recipes from a former coworker turned dearest friend. Whose kitchen I've visited on numerous occasions while being with her and her 3 babies. And not only her- but her mom too!

So after the fire, I had several people asking "What do you need? How can we help?" 

And honestly, I didn't know. I didn't know what I needed or how people could help.

And I wouldn't have asked for anything. But while talking to my friend Laura, I did come up with something. I KNEW I could ask for this and not feel bad about asking.  I asked for help rebuilding my recipe collection. 

To think about the cabinet that held my cookbooks and recipes....well. That's just one thing I can't think about. I can't allow myself to think about. So many handwritten recipes I'd kept and stowed away. Some of them so dirty because I've used them so many times that ingredients just happened to be spilled or splashed on them. Yeah. So when people ask me today how I'm doing since the fire, I really am doing fine. I'm good. I really am. But there are still some things I remember I lost and I just have to move on and stop thinking about it. It hurts too much. 

So I asked Laura to help gather recipes for me. 

And help, she did. 

Wayyyyyy beyond what I could have asked for or imagined. 

And it came in the mail yesterday. 

Here are a few pics of the amazing gift:

So I will end this post as Laura ended her letter to my friends when asking for recipes:

Thank you for extending your heart, your hand, and your kitchen. I am so grateful. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The one where it all picked up

I took this photo a year ago.  Even looking at it now, I still can't believe I was able to be in a room where taking such a picture would even be possible. And to think that life would even get more exciting from here. It's crazy.

My first 6 months in Tallahassee at the new job- I wouldn't have called them boring- AT ALL- but it was definitely the learning phase. Learning the Foundation. Learning our mission. Learning how to be their voice on social media.

Then June came along. And life became FUN. Lots of fun. Life picked up. I went from sitting in my little office communicating with people via Twitter to sitting in a room with a presidential candidate, to Disney World, to the RNC (OMG), to DC, back to DC again, apartments burning down, moving to DC, traveling to Arkansas, attending conferences.... I mean really. Life picked up. 20 months in to my job with the Foundation and I wouldn't trade it for anything. And I mean that.

In other news, not much to update as of late. Enjoyed a week of working while at the lake in South Carolina. Was nice to have a change of scenery (aka- my favorite view). But all in all? Still loving DC. It's good. Although I had quite a rough morning today. Not gonna lie. From the time I woke up, things had just not been working out as I would have preferred. I was getting off the metro and finding myself muttering and complaining when I walked passed a man who was digging in the trash. I saw him pull out a container, open it, and take a bite of whatever food was there. He threw it back in and went for another brown bag to see if there were any leftovers in it.

Let's just say my muttering and complaining stopped really quickly. Grateful I was able to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee this morning with my fresh breakfast. In an apartment that had a/c. After having woken up from a restful night of sleep in my amazing bed.

Get the picture? Yeah. I'm grateful.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The one with the cute knees

We have a home video of my older sister and I modeling our new Christmas clothes. From 1987.

I was three years old. Almost four.

I was kinda cute, I must admit.

We each had a handful of dresses and Dad had received a new video camera equaling the perfect combo for a modeling show. He put on some sweet tunes and was more than happy to narrate as though he were a beauty pageant host.

We came out from our room, bashful at first, not sure what we were supposed to do. Dad had to do some encouraging along the way....asking us to twirl, curtsy or asking question like "who gave the dress to you?" Of course, as the modeling progressed, we became more and more comfortable in front of the camera. So much so, we'd hear in the background "Minda, put your dress down!" after I'd get so excited and my twirling would become a bit aggressive.

Also, teaching a three year old to curtsy is quite comical. Each time the curtsy looked different, but most of the time it just involved some sort of bending of my knees.

In this particular video, at one point, dad has zoomed in on the new shoes and socks I'd received and did his bit sounding something like (said in most announcer-ish voice) "And next we have Minda's new black shiny shoes! And LOOK AT THOSE SOCKS, people! What a nice lace ruffle to top the socks off."  (He's very animated, even today) :-)

On that particular commentary segment, he also added "and look at those knees. What cute knees you have, Minda."

Growing up, we really liked watching the home videos. It's fun to see yourself at a younger age. It's fun to have memories- not because you remember them, but because you've been able to experience them again and again via video.

Can I completely honest with you? It wasn't until two years ago that I realized my knees were, in fact, NOT cute. Seriously. I was shocked. One day I was wearing a skirt and thought to myself, knees in general are really unattractive. Why have I always assumed my knees were cute? And I immediately knew the answer to that question. I have cute knees...dad said so.

So here's to you, dad. Thank you for telling a 3 year old girl she had cute knees. It may have seemed silly to you and just something to fill the space of that modeling video. It may have just been one of those things where you were finding things to talk about so you could hear your cool announcer voice. (and yes, your announcer voice is cool.) But thank you. That has always been one body issue I never struggled with :-) There were plenty others, but my knees? Nah, I had cute ones. Dad says so!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The one with the Wall of Frame

In each apartment I've had the past 7 years, I've had a wall in my home with a collage of frames. No frame was the same, and each contained pictures of dear friends. In my first apartment I think I'd had maybe 5 frames, but had 13 in my last apartment. In the picture here taken after the fire, you can see the outline where the frames had been hanging. One of my favorite things about this wall was the fact it was always a conversation starter. People would immediately go to the wall and look at each of the pictures, usually prompting questions about each of the people or places the pictures contained.

The hard part about 'recreating' that wall in this new apartment is the fact that each of the frames were different. It's not like I could just go buy 15 new random unique frames all at once. So. I've begun a new search. I'm buying frames to fit 4x4 pictures.

I bought my first three frames this last week while in Florida (fitting, I guess) and have the pictures ready to put together. I've been recently getting a lot of my Instagrams printed and decided this would be a great way to recreate the wall. So. For any of my old roommates who know exactly what I'm talking about or friends who've seen the "Wall of Frame"- know I'm working to put it back together! Here are just a few of the new frames to begin the project!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The one that is raw

If you follow me on facebook, twitter, or instagram, you know I take a lot of pictures. And post them. For anyone and everyone to see. But today I want to share a picture with you that means a little something different.

A company called Social Print Studio has made it possible to take all instagrams photos and print them on quality photo paper. I had several posters made using this company and decided to have some 4x4 prints made.

One of the photos I selected to have printed was of just myself. Which is kind of weird. Maybe. Well, no. It IS weird. It's a selfie. Taken myself. In my car.

When I was flipping through the prints I'd purchased, I came across this particular photo of and stopped.

It's an interesting photo. I have no makeup on. My hair is not fixed. I'm wearing a sweatshirt. These are usually not descriptions that most girls would say they find great about a photo they find themselves in. But when I came across the photo after having it printed, there was something about it... Something I couldn't put my finger on....Something so raw.

Raw. Yes. Raw.

You see, the picture was taken in my car on January 11, 2013. It was 6:30am. I'd just gotten in my car and was headed north. It was my first time in 46 days that I'd had to myself since the fire. I knew a new beginning was taking place. Something fresh. Something big. I was leaving Florida and the ashes and heading to DC.

When I see this photo I see pain. I see loss. I see exhaustion. But I also see excitement. I see a steady resolve. I see strength. I see hope.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The one where Chandler takes a bath

No, really. That's the name of the episode I'm currently watching. But not the part that I just cackled at. 

Yes. Cackled. And no one is around. I'm at my dining room table working and listening as Friends is on TV and I'm laughing outloud. By myself.

Weird? Maybe.  

Happen often? Yes. 

Phoebe: Hey! Have you started off thinking of names yet?
Rachel: Oh yeah! I’ve come up with a bunch of ideas!
Ross: Really? Me too!
Phoebe: Me too!
Rachel: Really?!
Phoebe: Uh huh! If it’s a girl, Phoebe, and if it’s a boy, Phoebo!
Ross: Maybe. But it wouldn’t hurt to have a backup, you know? Uh, Rach-Rach, what were you thinking? (Gives her a look)
Rachel: Okay! I was thinking if it’s a girl, how about Sandrine? It’s French.
Ross: Huh. That’s a really pretty name for-for an industrial solvent.
Rachel: Okay fine, what do you have?
Ross: Well, OK, it’s for a boy. Well, I know it’s a little out there, but…Darwin.
Rachel: Wow, oh my God, our child will be beaten to death in the schoolyard.
Phoebe: Yeah, by Sandrine.

That's all. Needed to share the laugh. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The one where I give you tips

Washington, DC.

I've been here 3 months. (!!!)

I've learned a couple of things. 

I've seen a couple of things, too. 

Now that I've been here 3 months, let me tell you a few things I've learned- because of what I've seen.

If you go to a new city and visit- it's totally ok to buy paraphernalia. Really. It is. 

But save it for when you get home. Don't buy a purple zebra hoodie that says "Washington, DC" and then wear it in the same city.  We know you're here.  If you're one who needs to wear a screen printed shirt, wear one from YOUR home. Maybe someone will see you and be able to associate with you because of that. 

From Texas and love the Rangers, Cowboys, or Mavs? Wear one of those shirts. I'll for SURE stop you and tell you I love the teams too!  But if you're wearing a Washington, DC screen printed shirt, I'll most likely avoid you at all costs. (And for those of you thinking, "THIS is how to get her to leave us alone!" just stop it now. You know you'd want a Minda to say hi to you!!) But you get the point, right? When you go home- wear the DC shirt. Someone will stop you and say "ohhh my friend Minda is in DC!" :-) 

Ok, moving on. 

Next. This can be applied to girls all across the world. 

There is this phenomenon that takes place in our atmosphere called WIND. 

Yes. Wind. 

There are some days in which it is more windy than others. 

On those particular days....ladies. If you are wearing a dress or skirt, make note. Not saying you CAN'T wear either of those things, but MAKE NOTE. Don't be like the 3...yes THREE girls I saw this week walking to the metro whose skirts were not at their knees, but at their necks. 

I mean, a gust just came and whipped that skirt up. The thing is- it wasn't just one gust. It had been windy all day. Ladies, ladies, ladies. Just be aware. Hold that sucka down. 

Ok, so I only had two tips for you. But they are valuable ones. Take note. :-)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: Woman At War

I met Jan at a Panda Express in Southlake, TX in the spring of 2008.

I'd actually called my friend Elisa and asked if she wanted to grab lunch as I was in her area.

She responded "I just arrived at Panda Express with my friend, Jan. Come join us!"

Elisa had just started a new job at Gateway Church working in the women's ministry department. I should have realized she'd be eating with someone who was ALSO in the women's department. But not realizing Jan was a women's pastor, my mouth got the better of me when she said to me "since Elisa is now working in women's dept, will you be a part?"

I responded with a very emphatic: "Ha! I don't do women's ministry."

THAT is how I met Jan Greenwood.

Jan responded with an ever so kind "oh honey. I believe you do."

As I sit here and even type the above story, I can't help but smile to myself. Ok, scratch that. I'm grinning like a cheshire cat.

Women's ministry in a church.

In 2008- my view of 'women's ministry' meant you were the ministry that threw the baby showers, wedding showers, and were the ones designated to child care.

Women's events at church meant tea parties. It meant skirts and dresses, but modest ones, by golly. It meant lace and pink tulle on the tables. It meant dainty. And friends, I'm anything but dainty.

I will never forget our first meeting as Jan spoke to me that day about my destiny, my calling, and about my future. And she didn't speak casually. She spoke with such strong authority, but covered in kindness. Meeting someone for the first time and having them speak to you about...well, yourself, in such a way might scare some people off, but the words she spoke resonated with me and I was drawn to her immediately. Jan Greenwood was someone I needed to spend more time with.

Here we are 5 years later and my dear friend Jan releases a book this month titled "Women At War." (First of all, does that sound dainty to you? :-) Not so much!)

In this book she shares things learned that have transformed her from "a wounded, isolated woman into a staunch supporter of women becoming everything God has called them to be through the power of healthy female relationships."

The phrase "healthy female relationships"... it's bound to conjure up strong emotions in you. You either know the power of healthy female relationships and your heart is overwhelmed with gratitude just THINKING about the women in your life, or you laugh and say "what a joke."

Have you been hurt by close girl friends? This book is for you. 

When we’ve been hurt, it’s a natural tendency of self-preservation to stay away from anyone who might cause us more pain. As a result, we sometimes forfeit the very relationships that could help us grow strong and whole.

You will not be able to truly overcome your past pain until you dare to be- gin again. In order to grow strong, you have to take back what has been stolen from you. You have to begin cultivating something different in the place of your wounding. If you’re ready to make some real friends, you’re going to have to change your mind about your methods of relating to women and take a risk. You’ll need to step out into some scary territory. Yes, you could get hurt. You might be rejected. Someone may touch an old wound. You’ll probably feel uncomfortable, but the results will be well worth the cost. 
Jan Greenwood, Women at War 

If you think it's impossible to have healthy female relationships, this book is for you. 

Better yet, if you have amazing healthy relationships with other women in your life, this book is for you too.   

Bottom line, if you are a female- this book is for you. Jan Greenwood is a woman who has the ability to speak into difficult areas of my life with such tenderness. She speaks out of experience, out of compassion, and out of love. Pick up this book. Even reading it this last week has made me realize she not only has the ability to speak in this way, but to write in this way as well. 

Women at War. You're one of them. Find out what she has to say.


The one about moving to a new city

Moving to a new city is not for the faint of heart. Moving to a new city as a single adult is for SURE not for the faint of heart. I&#...