Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Help for Kiddos this Christmas

Dear friends,

Hard to believe that the holidays are so quickly approaching! I know that I think this every year, but this year REALLY does seem to have flown by! I love this season, though, and can't wait for the holidays to come.

I am writing to ask for your help. As some of you know, my dad started a foundation - Christ's Starfish Foundation- several years ago. They work to help meet the needs of hospitalized children and families of children who are facing hardships due to their child's illness. They specifically work with families children with non-cancer related illnesses, as that is an area of great need with limited resources. At Christmastime, though, the foundation works to provide gifts for all of the children that are hospitalized on Christmas day. The foundation is based in Jacksonville, FL, and has been providing gifts for the children there for several years.

This year, the foundation has begun to partner with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston (where I work) and at Scottish Rite. For Christmas, they have been asked to help provide gifts for about 145 children at Egleston on Christmas day.

And that is where you come in. The foundation relies on the help of the community at Christmastime to help provide gifts for the children. I am helping to coordinate gifts for the toddler age group. They have been asked to provide about 3-5 gifts for 30 toddler aged children, which means that we need about 150 gifts for this age group.

I would love for you to consider donating a gift, or perhaps sponsoring a child. If you are not available, perhaps your small group, neighborhood, or church might be interested in donating. We can use all the help we can get!

Please let me know if you are interested, or if you know of a person or group who may be interested. I can tell you firsthand as a nurse who has to work on Christmas, it is so fun to get to see our kids' faces when they realize that "Santa" comes to the hospital, too. Gifts can be brought to me, or I can arrange to have them picked up if you are interested in participating.

Thanks, friends!


Toddler gift ideas: g-rated DVDs, sound books, musical toys, light up toys, Duplo blocks, balls, cars and trucks, pop-up toys, See-N-Say toys, wooden puzzles, bubbles, coloring books, big dolls, stuffed animals

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In the past 24 hours I have...

...eaten ChickFilA chicken for three meals in a row.

...played human Bingo.

...sweated in the HOT Georgia summer sun.

...camped out in a parking lot.

...played quite a few hands of Nertz.

...played some Settlers, too.

...done some quality people-watching.

...wondered why in the world someone would bring a baby goat to a ChickFilA opening??

...tried to untie a frozen, knotted T-shirt.

...sweated a little more.

...had fun with some super great friends.

...become the proud owner of 30 free ChickFilA meals!

Our tent (we set up actual tents later to sleep in)

AJ and Lauren playing the oreo game. The goal was to get the oreo from the forehead into the mouth with no hands.

The morning after sleeping on the asphalt

The line of winners waiting to go get their prize

Lauren won the "alternates" raffle and was the last winner of the 52 free meals!

Our "official" ChickFilA First 100 winners. They split their winnings with us, though, so everyone took home about 30 free ChickFilA meals.

And now I need a nap!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day, Dad! You're the best! Hope you enjoy your day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cinque Terre

Monterosso (the northernmost town)

Vernazza (the town where we stayed)

Boats on the Vernazza harbor

Cornliglia (from the hiking trail between Vernazza and Corniglia)


Riomaggiore (from Manarola)


European Lessons Learned: Part 1

Thing #1) Good customer service is not a priority in Prague. Especially in restaurants. (Note: This does not, however, apply to the Mosaic House. That place is awesome and everyone was quite friendly.)

Thing #2) The paper $50 Czech note is obsolete. Do not try to use it in a restaurant. Even if it is your first day in the country and you didn't know better. Even if it only became obsolete a week ago. If you do, in fact, try to use it, you might find out more about Thing #1.

Thing #3) There are many, many beautiful places to see in Europe.

Thing #4) Milan is not one of them. Especially the part by the train station at night. Or during the day for that matter.

Thing #5) Be sure to arrive in Vienna, Austria with Euro in hand. If not, you will have be able to find your way to the city center to change money, as apparently this is the only location in the entire city to do so.

Thing #6) European banks are never actually open.

Thing #7) If you are female and you would like to fit in, you should bring spandex pants. Lots and lots of them.

Thing #8) You might also want to sport a mullet. Especially in Prague.

Thing #9) When they tell you that a certain Cinque Terre hiking trail is closed to due landslide, they weren't actually kidding. You will, in fact, find a large, impassable landslide along the way. (However, you will also find one stretch of amazingly beautiful trail that is completely open in the process, which will make your efforts worth it anyway.)

Thing #10) They take security very seriously in the Amsterdam airport. Like ridiculously, irritatingly, very slow and inefficiently seriously.

Thing #11) You will have to repeatedly dump out your water bottles as part of the security process on the journey from Prague to Atlanta. Thing #10 will have something to do with this.

(Disclaimer: The "Part 1" title of this post does not actually guarantee that subsequent posts on the subject will actually ever occur.)

Back Home

I am back home in Loganville. Sorry that the blog posts did not continue - our internet opportunities were sparse for the rest of the trip. But, don't worry! I have lots more pictures to share! Approximately 818 in all, but since very few of you would actually be interested in every detail, I will stick to the highlights. Lots more posts to come!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

European Birthday Extravaganza - Days 2 and 3

We are having so much fun! Day 2 started with yummy breakfast at Mosaic House with AJ's friend David. From there, we headed out on a "free" walking tour of Prague. They make sure to tell you often that it is free, but they do appreciate tips in proportion to how good you feel the tour is. We hung in with our eclectic tour guide for about half of the tour before we decided to make a discrete exit in favor of finding some lunch. Lunch was a bit of an adventure…we'll just say that our waitress didn't exactly love us (we think it was because we ordered water and split a pizza). We paid our bill with a paper 50 Czech note, which had been given to us somewhere, but apparently became obsolete about a week ago. This added to her dislike for us. Fortunately, a friendly patron sitting nearby helped us out and we made a quick exit. From there, we continued our own tour up to the Prague Castle. This turned out to actually be a really beautiful old cathedral which looks down over much of the city. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the views were amazing. Prague is really a lovely city - you should come if you have the chance! We spent the evening with David and some of his family and friends at a party at his house. It was really fun to meet some really great people and find that the world really is small. The apartment had its own beautiful views of the city to enjoy from the roof as an added bonus.

This morning, on my 30th birthday, we got up early and ate breakfast before heading to the train station to catch a train to Vienna. After walking very quickly though the city with our packs and all of our things, we made it onto the train with about 3 minutes to spare. The train ride was super fun. It was my first ever train ride and the countryside was really pretty along the way. When we arrived in Vienna, though, we had our first we-are-American-girls-who-don't-know-the-language-and-don't-know-how-things-work-here moments. We got off the train and realized that we would need to find somewhere to exchange dollars into Euro in order to get a subway ticket (Czech Republic has their own currency, so we had only changed money into Czech at this point). We looked around and didn't find anywhere to change money, so we asked a couple of people and found out that there was, in fact, nowhere to do so without taking punblic transportation. Which, of course, we didn't have Euro to buy a ticket for... Luckily, I saw a Visa sign on the ticket machine, and we were able to use a credit card to buy the tickets. We thought that would be the end of our money problems, but we were wrong. Apparently, there is only one area of Vienna (the city center) where you can exchange money. Since we weren't near there and became tired of walking in circles with our heavy packs, we eventually opted for finding an ATM and paying the associated fees to draw money out in Euro. Whew... We checked into our hostel, which is a really cute, lively place called Hostel Ruthensteiner and then headed to the center to see some of the sites and find some food. As we walked around, it seemed as though we were walking in the middle of a bog American city like New York or Chicago. There were lots of big buildings and lots of fancy shopping. The only difference was the occasional castle or cathedral mixed in. I experienced schnitzel (the chicken variety) for lunch. I also had some very yummy Happy Birthday gelato! After my first day here in Vienna, I would say that I enjoyed Prague more, but we still have another day to explore Vienna yet, so we'll see!

overlooking Prague

in front of Prague Castle

on the train

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

European Birthday Extravaganza - Day 1

We're here! This morning my roommate AJ and I landed safely in Prague after an 8-ish hour overnight flight. We flew from Atlanta to NYC and then across the ocean directly to Prague. Our trip did get off to an interesting start though, when we were ready to leave from JFK and the pilot announced that the airport had been shut down to all flights. A little while later, he announced that we should all look to the right out of the plane windows to see why we had been delayed. I looked up to see Air Force One taxi by next to our plane. It seems that President Obama was also headed out of JFK at that time. Eventually, we did get to leave and our flight ended up being quicker than it was supposed to be, so we landed a little earlier than scheduled into Prague. We successfully navigated the public transit system to arrive at the hostel without incident. From there, we had lunch with AJ's friends who run the hostel where we are staying (which is amazing, by the way, and if you are ever in Prague you should check out the Mosaic House). Then we decided to walk down to one of the old cathedrals that has a park around it in a location where you can look down on much of the city. It is beautiful here! The buildings are amazing, and it is a really beautiful city. From there, we walked around a good bit more, found some yummy gelato, walked some more, saw the square, walked some more, and saw the Charles bridge before heading back to the hostel. We accidentally fell asleep for a little while before waking up to go find some dinner at a really cute place where we sat on the rooftop garden. And now we are back here to settle in for the night after a really great first day!

I wanted to share a couple of pictures, but discovered that I left the camera cord at home for the camera that we used today. So, you'll have to settle for a few that I stole from the internet of a couple of the sights from today:

What our room at Mosaic House looks like

Famous clock tower in Old Town Square

The Charles Bridge

Monday, March 28, 2011

T - 9 Days!

9 days from now, I will be standing in the airport in Atlanta with bags packed and ready to head to Europe!!

How did this come about, you ask? Well... I was standing around one day lamenting the fact that I would soon be turning 30. While I have never been one to get worked up about age, for some reason I was feeling bad about the fact that I am turning 30 and things in my life do not exactly look the way I thought that they might at this age. I decided that it would be a good idea to counteract this with a plan to do something fun for my birthday. So, the ideas began rolling out...including the fact that my roommate has friends that run a hostel in Europe. From there, plane tickets were priced on a whim...discovered to be reasonably priced...purchased...plans made...and here we are - leaving for Prague next Wednesday! From there, we will head to Vienna, Austria and then to Cinque Terre in Italy before returning to Prague via Venice. Hopefully, I will have some amazing pictures to share when I return!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Saw a Miracle...

A few weeks ago at work, I watched a miracle happen. I didn't recognize it at first. It was a pretty ordinary day. Well, except for the line of visitors coming in and out of one patient's room. He was supposed to go home that day, and several people came by to celebrate. It isn't uncommon to see a patient get discharged - it happens every day. Some discharges are more exciting than others, though, especially if the patient has been in the hospital for a long time, or they have reached the end of their chemotherapy treatment. This particular discharge was special. It was a miracle. This patient wasn't supposed to have walked out those doors. He had been close to death so many times. And yet, God did a miracle in his body. As I watched him and his family walk out the doors, I realized that I was witnessing a miracle happen right in front of me. Though I may never understand God's ways - why this patient was healed while so many others are not on this Earth - I am thankful for this reminder of God's goodness and power. As I think about another patient tonight who is not doing so well, I can hold fast to my knowledge of God's faithfulness, even when circumstances make it difficult to see.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Prayer Letter

My latest prayer letter is online here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

This week has been a difficult one. I was reading this passage earlier this week, before I learned of the news that a precious lady on staff at my church had unexpectedly died. I have read it several more times since then. If I am honest, I will tell you that I have been having a difficult time with the message of these verses.

No matter what happens, Lord, I will trust You.

I have been asking myself whether I really believe that. I mean, sure...I want to say with an emphatic Yes! that I trust the Lord regardless of the circumstances. But if I am honest, if I look at my life over the past year, I must admit that it has been a struggle. I have struggled to trust the Lord in the face of the "no matter whats". It has been difficult to trust Him with the suffering and deaths of so many precious children that I have taken care of over the past year...Difficult to trust Him in the process of trying to sell my house and the long waiting season with regard to Peru...Difficult to trust in His Goodness in the midst of the deaths of so many around me in the past months.

Becka Mullennix is the name of the precious lady that died this week. She was the Hospitality coordinator at Grace, and I used to serve under her leadership as a volunteer on Sunday mornings. That is where I first met her. Since then, I have seen her week after week running around in the lobby of Grace on Sundays. She always had a smile and would usually greet me with a hug. She often asked me about how Peru plans were coming along. I will miss those smiles and hugs, and if her Facebook wall is any indication, she will be dearly missed by hundreds of people. Her memorial service on Saturday was a testimony to the way that she loved people so well. I am sad that she is gone.

Circumstances like this cause me to long for the Kingdom to come and for the Earth to be restored to the way that God intended it to be. Our pastors at Grace reminded us of that today - that while we can have hope in the knowledge that Becka is in the presence of the Creator, we can also grieve, knowing that death is not from the Lord. Death is not what God intended for us from the beginning. And one day, this Earth will be restored to the way that it was perfectly created to be, and death will be defeated for good.

In the meantime though, I am learning to be honest with myself and with God. I am being reminded that it is OK to cry out to Him as David did in the Psalms, with questions and raw emotion. I am trying to put my hope in the Truths that I know about the character of God and remember the ways that He has been faithful to me, knowing that He is unchanging. I am asking Him to show me Himself, to remind me of His character. I am thankful for the encouragement of His Word:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 21-23

Monday, January 17, 2011


(Thanks to Emily for sharing this link with me. Hilarious. Seriously.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This hasn't left my dining room table since Christmas. We might be a little addicted to the game around here. Maybe...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Blizzard" of 2011

This has been a crazy week here in Atlanta. Last Sunday night, we got more snow than this city has seen in a while. The entire city was shut down for a couple of days. School was cancelled for the entire week. When they finally did leave their homes, people crept down the still partially icy roads, making traffic a nightmare. I was ridiculously excited on Friday evening when I drove home from work on roads that were almost completely free from ice for the first time all week. Even as I type this on Saturday night, my yard outside is still mostly covered with snow and ice. Being a Southerner who hasn't seen all that much snow in my life, I get excited when snow comes. But even I am ready for all of it to be gone after this week. Here are some pictures from Monday afternoon before I headed in to work:

Christmas Pictures

The Christmas tree - before opening gifts


I got Photoshop Elements! I had an old version on my PC, but needed a new one for the Mac.

AJ opening a gift

Sam the dog came for Christmas. When he came through the door with his favorite toy in his mouth, Cali promptly stole it from him. We had to give her some rawhide to keep her occupied while Sam got acclimated to a new place. I found it hilarious that this is how she chose to sit to eat it.

Sam the dog with his Christmas toy.

Cali knew which stocking was hers!

She loved her big rawhide candy cane from Sam!

The beginnings of my first ever white Christmas!

Spinning in the snow, before it was sticking on the ground. I might have worn pajamas all day on Christmas... Good thing I got that rain jacket! It came in handy. Thanks, Dad!

AJ and Cali in the snow on Sunday morning

And we thought this was a decent amount of snow... We didn't know what was coming!

I find very few exceptions to my flip flop-wearing rule.