Music Recommendations

I love music. Seriously, I don't know what I'd do without it. I always appreciate getting music recommendations from others, so I thought I'd share a few of my recommendations for any of you maybe searching for something new to listen to.

About a year ago, Emily introduced me to JJ Heller's music and I fell in love with a few of her songs from her newer album, "Painted Red". I just downloaded one of her other albums, "Only Love Remains" and man, has it be ministering to me! If you like acoustic, coffee shop kind of music with lyrics that minister, check her out!

Although an oldie, Shane Barnard's album, "Rocks Won't Cry" is one of my all-time favorites. It is a sweet worship album that also has that coffee-shop feel. The rest of his music is also good, but I think this album will always be my favorite from him.

I recently discovered Meredith Andrews and have had a few of her songs from "The Invitation" on repeat lately, particularly "You're Not Alone" and "Draw Me Nearer". Amazing, amazing songs.

I also recommend Hillsong's "Faith+Hope+Love" album, Aaron Ivey's "Between the Beauty and Chaos", Andy Melvin's "The Human Engine Waits"... and for a fun time, I always recommend a little Glee music. :)

Happy listening!

"Ice, Ice Baby"

One of the last Fire by Nite youth services we had was a talent show where the kids could show off their singing and dancing skills. To kick the night off, Matt, Kelly, and I had a surprise talent of our own to show off. Decked out in our best wannabe gangster attire, we rocked the house with our amazing rendition of "Ice, Ice Baby" with Kelly and I on vocals and Matt showing off his mad dance moves. Oh how I wish you could have seen us in action! (Ok, not really...)
Regardless of our actual talent, we had a blast!

Made my day

I love that one of my students made this and emailed it to me. Gosh, I love those kids!

This helps

The last couple of days have been emotional ones for me for some reason. I just find that I am really, really missing all of my kids in Botswana. It might have been printing off a bunch of pictures from my camera this week and looking through them all that did it, but whatever it is, I just find myself aching lately to hug those kids or even just to hear their voices. Since I can't really do that, I find that it helps for me to pray for them and to talk about them to others.

So, if you see an increase in blog posts over the next couple of days, know that it is really helping me in this emotional transition. And if you have still been keeping up with this blog, thank you for your interest. It warms my heart that others are interested in Botswana and want to hear about the precious kids there. Of course I ALWAYS love to talk about them! :)

Milkshake dates

One of my absolute favorite things to do with the teenagers in Botswana was to go to a nearby outdoor restaurant, Audi Camp, and have milkshakes (cafe mocha for me) and muffins. We would sit on comfy couches and just enjoy each other's company for about an hour or so. There were also some really great conversations, some competitive domino games, and lots of laughter.

Since I could only fit four people in my car at a time, our groups were kept fairly small. (Although there were a couple of times that we squeezed in an extra kid or two...crazy.) As the end of the year drew to a close, I found myself on one of these milkshake dates 2-3 times a week so that I was able to take as many of the kids as possible. I'd already taken most of the girls out, so the last few weeks were mostly hang-out times with the guys. We had such fun!

Here are some pictures from a few of those final milkshake dates:

A beautiful God-story

I love when God shows Himself in miraculous ways. I love how He makes the impossible possible and how He can bring such beauty out of a very dark situation. I am praising Him today on behalf of a couple from my church who I've been watching from afar go through the hardest waiting period imaginable, waiting for their children from Haiti to come home. Apparently the adoption process is a long, grueling one and Aaron and Jamie Ivey have been waiting 2 1/2 years for their sweet son, Amos, to come home and waited almost as long for their daughter, Story.

I've been following Jamie's blog for about a year and a half and my heart has hurt with them as they've had to wait. Story was able to come home in October but the wait has continued for Amos. The devastating earthquake hit Haiti and amidst the destruction and despair, God has worked a beautiful miracle by providing a way for many Haitian orphans to come home, including Amos. Many were glued to their phones and computers last night, reading one Twitter update at a time as Aaron and Jamie got closer to their son. What a joyous occasion it must have been when they were finally reunited this morning at the Orlando airport!

To follow this beautiful story as it continues to unfold: or
Other links:
Aaron's AmosStory music video
KXAN's news story on the Ivey family

"But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" Matthew 19:26

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

One word

I heard on the radio today (KLOVE, I think) a challenge to choose one word to be a defining word for you in 2010. Maybe something you aspire to, or just a word that encompasses who you hope to be this year. Some examples I heard were "healed" "patience" and "love". I thought about it for a while and I think mine is "joy". I really want this year to be a year of joy for me. Not just because of tangible blessings, but because I remember to be joyful in all circumstances, at all times, no matter what's going on because I serve a God of joy. Just being His should cause me to live a life of joy.

So what about you? What will your one word be for 2010?

You know you lived in Africa too long when....

  • you get spooked by every crooked skinny thing on the ground, thinking it's a snake
  • you get excited when you see a little bug in the car with you while driving because you haven't seen any in so long
  • you have to frequently remind yourself which side of the street to drive on, especially when pulling out of a parking lot
  • you stop and just stare in awe at all the granola bar choices at the grocery store
  • you greet every sales person, whether in person or on the phone, with "Hello, how are you?" and are surprised when a long greeting process does not follow
  • you are slow moving at the gas pump because you haven't had to pump your own gas in two years
  • you keep waiting for your phone to tell you that it is out of airtime, forgetting that it's on a month-to-month contract
  • you see a big wooden giraffe outside of an apartment complex and have to take a triple take, forgetting which continent you are on and that there is no way that it is real
Just a few of my transition challenges. :) All in all, things are going very well and I'm enjoying catching up with friends and family and getting reacquainted with America. More pictures and updates soon!

I love my church

I am a little behind in watching this video, but I'm so glad that I sat down and finally did watch it. I encourage you to watch it, too, when you have about 25 minutes free. Even if you aren't a part of The Austin Stone, it will inspire you to pray for and be more involved with your city, wherever you live.

I love Austin and I love my church. I'm so excited to be a part of a church that not only loves Jesus, but is passionate about the people of Austin.

For The City-Revisited from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

The Blindside

Last night my family and I went together to see the movie, "The Blindside" and I just want to encourage you if you have not seen it yet, to make a plan to go and see it soon. It is an amazing movie and such an inspiring story. I loved it!

Leadership Team

One of the things I'm most excited at having been involved with is the youth leadership team I helped lead with Matt and Kelly. This was a group of eleven young men and women, both boarders and non-boarders, who we saw incredible leadership potential in. During the last three months of the year, we met with this group every other Saturday for two hours. During that time we ate lunch, shared testimonies, and took turns teaching and discipling this young group. We always left the meetings feeling encouraged and challenged by these amazing teenagers.

Probably the greatest experience with this leadership group was the Friday we let them run Fire by Nite, the weekly youth service. They literally ran the whole night, from music selection and leading in worship, to games planning, sharing testimonies, and even preaching! The whole night Kelly, Matt, and I stood at the back, watching the night unfold with huge smiles on our faces and such love in our hearts. As Kelly states in her blog about the night, we felt like proud parents. And the Lord moved in a powerful way that night, as many of the teenagers ended the night in tears of repentance and some of them making their first decision to follow Christ.

I will miss those kids so much. I am extremely proud of them and know that God will continue growing them and using them in powerful ways with their peers. There are plans this year to continue the group and even add to it, which is very exciting!

Here are some pictures from our last leadership team meeting:

the leadership circle

sweet girls

camera shy :)

more sweet girls

such a character!

fearless leaders

our sweet picture

the true personalities come out!
I praise God for this group and look forward to hearing many more testimonies of all they are doing and their amazing leadership in Christ.