Six (!) years ago, I spent a summer abroad in Greece with some of the most amazing people I've ever known.

I got to see magical places that exist for some in only books. I got to sit on the stone steps of the Areopagus where Paul preached to the Athenians two thousand years ago. I could almost hear his words as though he were still speaking. I swam in the Aegean Sea. I stood in a quiet forest and listened to the words of Shakespeare get carried through the air to the very tip-top steps of the Theater of Epidavros. I marveled at this creation God made for me to enjoy. I watched Greek orthodox monks play on their cell phones and eat at McDonald's and laughed at how small this world really is, if we think about it. And how big. And how wonderful.

Today, I heard "Hello" by Evanescence, a song that got me through some of the lonely times in Greece, and I just thought I would share a bit of my wonderful journey with you.

Thanks for coming along! I'll go back anytime you want to go on an adventure.

getting lost

Do you ever get lost in a good book?

It happens to me at least once a week. Last week it was Kisses from Katie. Today it's The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen. Total opposites (except they both happen to be by Christian authors) in that one is an autobiographical tale of serving Christ in Uganda and the other is historical fiction set in rural 19th century England.

I've read The Apothecary's Daughter three times already, but I never get tired of it. I read so much it's not uncommon for me to sometimes forget exactly what happens in a book, even when it's one I love, so when I go back to read it a second (or third! or fourth!) time, I always find something new.

Thankfully for me, Julie Klassen has just released a new novel titled the Maid of Fairbourne Hall, which I'll be  purchasing just as soon as I get paid again.

I've read lots of historical fiction found in the Christian section of the bookstore, and not all of it is very good. This can be said of any genre, but I find that much of what is available, particularly for Christian women, always seems to be written from the perspective of a 19th century Amish woman, or a plucky, independent bride fresh off the boat (or the Oregon Trail...your choice). Rarely do I find contemporary novels with Christian themes in them, and if they exist they're hard to find. I'll keep searching. Until then, Julie Klassen's books are amazing, not the least bit campy, and simply wonderful for a rainy afternoon. Sunny days, too. Just bring a cup of tea.


Hi friends!

I hope you all had a fantabulous weekend. I know I did!

I got to spend Friday night helping my small group girls from InsideOut head out for MyLife '12. It's one of our biggest events of the year, where all the high school students from each of the Northpoint Ministries campuses get together for the weekend to celebrate Jesus and connect on real issues. This weekend the theme was "Ladies and Gentlemen" and the speakers touched on everything from love and sex to dating and relationships. 

Powerful stuff, people. I wish you could have been there.

I had finals and homework this weekend, so unfortunately I had to miss most of Saturday, but I did get to attend the Saturday night session on "Let's Get Physical" (i.e. the sex talk) and WOW. So good. I love that our church doesn't shy away from the tough stuff and they know how to make the message relevant to teenagers. Because it is...it's what these students are dealing with and what they're trying to understand. I'm glad I'm a part of a ministry that cares enough about these students to invest in mentoring and preparing them to deal with these issues.

{This sign, which goes almost to the ceiling and covers the entire stage,
was laid out flat for all the students and leaders to write, in big, bold
letters what kind of person they want to be in their relationships,
what kind of change they're praying for in their lives, and what
they hope to become for their future spouses. Let's just say there were
a few tears. Such an incredible moment when this banner
was raised.}

All in all, the weekend was AWESOME. I wish I could tell you about some of the conversations we had together as a group, but I've got to keep those memories in my heart. 

Last night, Pierce and I went on a little date with our small group to the Atlanta Fish Market, where I got to taste a little filet mignon and and cheesecake. And then I had to loosen my cute little belt. 

It was a good time, as always.

{MyLife Photo Credit: Shannon White}

Kisses From Katie

Hi friends!

I probably won't be around for a couple of days (finals, new client at work, MyLife weekend with the high school ministry at church), so, in the meantime, I'd like to share an amazing story with you: Kisses from Katie

Read it. Seriously. And until you can get to your Kindle or nearest bookstore, check out this amazing woman's testimony on her blog here

Love you guys.

A Valentine's Day Surprise

My husband comes from a very silly family. As do I. 

This is why we love each other. And why we fit together so well.

For my Valentine's Day surprise, Husband sent me on a scavenger hunt around the apartment. He got this from his father, who is the king of composing the most poetic clues and hiding them in the most ridiculous places. On our first Christmas as a married couple, it took Pierce almost two hours to locate the gift his father had sent him on a wild goose chase to find. And it's probably one of my favorite memories.

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of trying to locate one clue after another, some of which were hidden in the dishwasher, the closet, and even Pierce's pants (hey, not like that). 

I literally jumped three feet in the air and squealed from pure delight when I found the pink fish-eye camera (with b/w Holga film) Pierce had bought me hidden in his trunk. He knows the way to my heart, that one.

Chasing China: A Review

Hi friends!

Today I'll be reviewing Kay Bratt's brand new release Chasing China, a story about a young girl who returns to her native China to search for information about her birth parents. It's a journey that pulls from Bratt's own experiences working in a Chinese orphanage, which she details in her memoir Silent Tears, and details the incredible complexities of the human experience.

So here we go...

Chasing China: A Summary

After an episode of prejudice rocks her usually secure world, Mia hops a plane back to the country of her birth to search for details about her birth parents and confront the feelings of abandonment she has kept buried throughout her life. What begins as a simple tour of the Chinese orphanage where she spent her first few years quickly becomes complicated as Mia fights to untangle a web of lies. As she follows the red thread back through her motherland, she is enamored by the history and culture of her heritage, strengthening her resolve to find the truth even as Chinese officials struggle to keep it buried. With her unwavering spirit of determination, Mia battles the forces stacked against her and faces mystery, danger, a dash of romance, and finally a conclusion that will change her life. 

Chasing China: What I Think

Chasing China was meticulously detailed, and it's clear that the author is not only familiar with the bureaucracy that is the Chinese government, she is fully acquainted with it. Mia's search to discover the truth about her birth parents could have been cathartic and revealing. Her journey into self-awareness and the intimate descriptions of Chinese culture, not to mention the landscapes, could have served as a catalyst for readers to do some digging of their own. It's an interesting story, to say the least.

Unfortunately, it was not well-written or fully contained. From the very first page, I found myself correcting the author's grammatical and syntactic errors. Personally, I feel I shouldn't have to stumble through a story to get to the good parts. Pushing through a rather slow beginning is one thing; having to wade through a mess of inconsistent points of view and grammar issues is a completely different story. In addition, Bratt's exposition came across as pretentious rather than sincere and I can't help but be curious as to why she felt the need to overindulge in phrases that sounded far removed from contemporary language.

 I have to wonder if Chasing China was prematurely released and why the editor allowed such glaring errors to be printed. It's really unfortunate because Chasing China touches on deeply rooted cultural misunderstandings and really makes an effort to provide insight into how our perception of the world impacts our choices. I really wanted to like this book, but considering how many times I had to stop reading, I can't really be sure if my own perception of this novel is relevant. Your guess is as good as mine. 

If you want to read more about Kay Bratt and her other works, please visit her official website here!

As always, thank you, Samantha, for including me on this blog tour!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Google has impressed me yet again. You should go check out the adorable animated short they've created to celebrate Valentine's Day! I want to steal it, but those darn copyright issues get in the way.

Instead, here's a little Valentine's video from PostSecret (one of my favorite sites ever!).

I hope your day is filled with love, and maybe even some kisses, too.

Valentine's Day DIY Gift Ideas

Hi friends,

I hope your Saturday has been smashing so far! Hubby is gone for the weekend on a retreat with the middle school ministry of our church, where he leads a small group of 6th grade boys, so I went early this morning to help our friends Nate and Maria pack up their apartment. You may remember from previous posts that they're moving to Miami. I tried not to cry when I left, but didn't have any luck with that. At least we'll get to visit them this summer at the beach! 

Later on this afternoon, I had lunch and did some shopping with my sweet mother-in-law, Wanda, and sister-in-law, Cassi, and got to go for a ride in Cassi's new Mini Cooper! I was hoping it would have a roadrunner-type horn, but, to my chagrin, it sounded no different than the horn on my Grand Am. But Cassi has officially named her Mini "Lady Guinevere", so that makes up for it. 

Tonight I decided to get a little crafty! I bought the most adorable frames from my friend Mary Beth's yard sale a few months back, and I finally figured out how I wanted to re-purpose them. I think these frames would make a sweet Valentine's Day gift for a friend, so take a look and let me know what you think:

Step 1: Take your thrifted frames (these are about the size of an index card)
and select various colors of nail polish (preferably colors you don't wear anymore)
to use as paint.

Step 2: Paint your frame one solid color (go back and touch up, if needed).
Step 3: Select color for the background and paint (you will probably need
to use more than one coat, just like your nails!).

Step 4: Once the background color dries,
paint the design of your choice on top.
If you want to give your frame as a Valentine's Day
gift, hearts or even something non-traditional
like vintage keys, are always a good choice!
Step 6: Display your frame or wrap it up to give to a loved one!

To help with the presentation of your gift, you can use this tutorial for stamps to create a simple, sweet Valentine's Day card:

Step 1: Gather old wine bottle corks, cardstock or index cards, an ink pad,
and a letter opener to get started.
Step 2: Carve the design of your choice on one end of the cork with the
sharp end of the letter opener (I find out later that a nail
file works a little better). If you want, you can carve one design
on each end of the cork to get the most use out of it.

Step 3: Press the carved end of the cork into the ink pad.
Twist as you press to make sure the entire face of the
stamp is covered with ink.

Step 4: Stamp your cardstock or index card where desired.

Step 5: You might want to do a few test stamps before attempting
to create the final version of your card or gift tag.

Step 6: Attach your card or gift tag to your Valentine's Day
present and admire your lovely handiwork!

I'd love to see your own creations, so feel free to shoot me an email with pictures once you've completed your own DIY project! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

fun friday

Hi friends!

Yesterday, during my lunch break, I went on an excursion with my friend, Chelsea, to the Fresh Market. Surprise, surprise! I loved it. And I also got myself a chocolate-covered strawberry and a mini cannoli. YUM!

And, because I was excited what Chelsea called my "fascinator" (although I don't think I'll be giving Princess Beatrice a run for her money just yet), I thought I'd run into the office bathroom to snap a photo of it. Don't judge! I have the worst luck and if I'd tried to do it in my office, someone would have caught me taking pictures of myself and most assuredly laughed at me.

(although I did manage to get one photo of me at my desk when most people were out to lunch.)

And, just because I love you, here's a little something I made today.

the best day

If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you've probably seen these photos, among many others.

But I really wanted to share them with y'all because they're very special to me. They are the memories of a most perfect day (even in its imperfections), the very best day, of my life.

I hope they bring some joy to you, as they do me.