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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Thank You Lord

Thank you, Lord for...

  • the ability to run.
  • legs that don't have a thigh gap but can carry me through a marathon.
  • the crease on my forehead that shows my age - and my determination.
  • the beauty of the lake in the middle of a metro area.
  • friends to share the experience with.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Making a Simple Meal Look Elegant

In just 30 minutes (10 minutes hands-on), you can make a really elegant meal that looks like you slaved for hours in the kitchen.

First, pick a really cool rice to cook: Forbidden Rice. This black rice (actually a deep purple, which surprised me) was reportedly only eaten by the Emperors of China. It takes 25 minutes to cook. While it's doing it's thing...

Cook salmon using whatever method you prefer. If we aren't grilling, I like to bake mine just until tender-done, about 15 minutes total. Before cooking, lightly brush with kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce) and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper. While the salmon is cooking...

Heat 1/2 cup coconut milk on the stovetop. Stir in 1 tablespoon kecap manis, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Stir until warmed through. Finally...

Slice and dice a fresh mango.

To serve, simply top rice with a salmon fillet and garnish with mango. Drizzle coconut sauce over everything and serve.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Beauty Flunkie Learns New Tricks

I had yet another silly 101 list goal - to get a professional makeover.

I didn't really want to be made over into someone that I wasn't. I wanted to learn how to put on makeup properly, because outside of theater and clowning, I've never had a makeup lesson. Ever.

That's how I found myself spending the afternoon with a makeup artist (no makeup counter salesperson application for me, thank you) walking through the basics of foundation, contouring, lip lining and the like.

And the result? Still very much like Shannah but slightly more polished.

I did take home some new skills that I can replicate for myself, although I think I'd need my makeup artist, Mandi, to pull off this extremely polished appearance every day.

Was it worth having a silly goal like this? I'd say yes - I feel a little more sure of myself when standing in the aisle at Sephora and I certainly know what to say yes to and what to ignore as a waste of money.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Four Seasons and Always Beautiful

Just a silly little post to update on a silly little 101 list item - take a photo of a place in every season.

As a runner in the Dallas metro area, I spend more than a fair amount of time at White Rock Lake making it fair game for my photo project.

Summer sunrise:

Fall mid-morning:

Winter crisp and cold:

Spring morning glory:

How could you ever pick a favorite?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Getting More Liquid

This is what a normal week's worth of juicing supplies looks like (plus the things that are stored in the refrigerator, like kale, spinach, cucumbers, mint and celery):

Saturday, April 25, 2015

To My 25-Year-Old Self

What would you tell your 25-year-old self if you could?

I celebrated my 25th birthday in the bush at a Kenya Baptist Women's meeting and thought my life couldn't be any more amazing than it was at that moment.

And, in truth, it was amazing at the moment.

I was using a squatty potty, taking a cat bath, sleeping on a plain mattress in a large room shared with women I didn't know but with whom I shared a common faith. For a girly-girl, it was totally outside of my comfort zone. But that the same time, I felt so alive and so aware of the blessing that was that moment.

Now here I am, many years past that moment.

(We won't talk about how many years.)

In the midst of the wonder of that moment, I was worried about what was ahead of me. How could anything possibly compare?

I've learned something valuable since then: Life is as amazing as you let it be. If you're looking - or even if you're just willing to look - you'll see glimpses of it in the every day.

  • A sunrise that takes your breath away as you pull out of the garage in the morning.
  • A nice train operator that takes time to thank you for using public transport instead of merely pulling into the station.
  • New music delivered through new technology that touches old memories.
  • Timely text messages that pull you back from despair and uncertainty.
  • The realization that you know your hair dresser - even though you speak different heart languages, you're bonded and have to hug one another in addition to getting a hair cut.
  • Plus the people that you smile and say hello to and you can see the emotional change that makes in their day, written on their face as clear as can be.

Life is amazing when we're willing to say

I am not afraid.

Kelly and I are working on our fourth time (I think) to read the Bible through in a year. It's shocking how many times the phrase "Be strong and courageous" appears in the Bible (10 times, if you're curious, depending on your translation).

What's the point?

Circling back to my original question regarding what I would tell my 25-year-old-self, I think I would stick with that advice:

Be strong and courageous.

Over the past year, I've given that advice over and over. To my proteges, who are struggling with growing in their career. To my friends, who are facing unexpected career changes. To myself, when I'm facing scary decisions that feel overwhelming.

Fear robs us of joy and stunts our ability to experience the extraordinary that's around us, hiding in the ordinary.

So ...



Friday, April 17, 2015

I Spent Time in Jail and it Gutted Me

Over the course of the past month and a half, I've had the privilege of going on ride-alongs with our local police and fire departments. The opportunity came through my participation in Leadership Plano.

They were also designed to prepare my Leadership Plano class for our April session, focused on public safety in our community.

That session was yesterday.

We spent the morning with our police, fire and emergency services department. They were, as expected, great. I learned a lot about personal property safety (Kelly has a long honey-do list that he's not yet aware of) and had a great lunch with our local firefighters.

Then we went to the county justice facility (read: jail) and the county juvenile detention facility.

That was a different experience altogether. I've never been to jail and am hopeful that I maintain that track record.

I was really impressed with the system of prisoner monitoring in my county - guards are actually in the housing units, actively supervising individuals. This protects prisoners and reduces incidents.

I was also impressed that a jail built 20+ years ago used made an effort to design in daylighting. Fresh daylight permeates all areas of the jail and I think that makes a tremendous difference in feeling.

But. It was still a jail. And there are people there who have made some terrible decisions and, in some cases, simply made some bad mistakes. So many are there as a result of having poor formative experiences that have fundamentally shaped them as adults - not that this is an excuse for terrible decisions and bad mistakes, but it is an influencing factor.

Even more so was the juvenile facility, housing kids from 10-17.

Yes. 10 years old.

10. That's a grade-schooler.

I can't even.

Just typing that makes me cry. Again.

Kids are in the system for a number of reasons - they've been victimized and their actions are a direct result of being abused (and worse: trafficking). They've made bad judgment calls (teenage hormones and all). They're addicted to drugs and alcohol and porn. Yes porn.

And porn, by the way, is a big problem for those 10-year-olds. Watch your cell phones, Watch your laptops. Never let kids be on them alone in their rooms.

I'm not kidding.

I was just overwhelmed by the tragedy of it all. Broken families, broken hearts, broken trust, broken society - it all leads to broken kids.

That broke my heart.

But y'all, the staff of the juvenile facility love kids.


They aren't there to punish them or make them feel like they're bad.

They see their work as providing much-needed discipline and LOVE.

That also broke my heart for other reasons. Like - are we loving on the people that we pay to love on these kids? Are we taking care of them so they stay good and emotionally healthy? Because what they do is a calling. And we need them. And those kids - boy, they really need them.

I spent a lot of time trying not to cry while on our tour. And I failed,

I ate some chocolate. (Just like overcoming the effects of a Dementor, chocolate is pretty good at (temporary) overcoming the effects of heartache.)

But then I went home and told Kelly about the day and cried again.

I feel really challenged by my experience to "love the least of these."

I don't think I'm a person who's called to work in a prison or even do prison ministry, but I do think I need to be more mindful and find the ways that I can see and love on the all-to-often forgotten, marginalized members of our community even if it's just collecting toiletries to donate for those kids whose families won't supply those nicer-than-government-issue supplies.

People and kids in need are out there - in fact, more of them are out there than are in "the system."

It's just a matter of if we choose to see them or not.

The staff told me their job was like catching water one drop at a time in a thimble.
The key was to celebrate every drop you successfully caught.