Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Courage Under Fire

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrifed; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This verse, one I’ve read a hundred times, popped out at me a couple of nights ago as I was flipping through my Bible. At first, I was sad when I read it; I haven’t felt strong or courageous in a while.

I’m leaving in two days to serve the people of the Dominican Republic with twenty-five college students. I’ve seen everyone’s excitement for the trip swell as our departure date has slowly creeped up on us, wishing I felt the same way. Instead, I’ve felt so inadequate as a leader, unsure of myself as a communicator, uneasy being an example, and hoping for more time to feel “ready” to go, even though we’ve been training for this trip, praying for this trip, and hoping and dreaming for this trip for the last six months.

But God has been reminding me this week that I have a role to play. I might never even realize what that role is. He also reminded me to just be Lisa. As a “leader,” I think that I need to be a certain way, communicate like this person, or lead like that person, when God wants to use me, exactly where I am and who I am—strengths, weaknesses, and all.

This week as I’ve been receiving God’s truth, prayer, and encouragement, the excitement has finally started to sink in. I’m going to the Dominican Republic! How awesome! And God’s going to use me…to communicate clearly, to lead well, to be a friend, to reflect Jesus, to be. What a privilege...and definitely something to be excited about!

I’m ready for this adventure, Lord. Help me to be strong and courageous.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This Chair...

...will occupy a prime space in my hypothetical future library. Oh yes, it will...

It's from Restoration Hardware, in case you want to buy it for me now though.

Friday, July 10, 2009

...and the living is easy...

I’ve really enjoyed these things this summer:

Gray jeans. Gray is so comfortable, cool, and an easy color to wear. I love gray jeans. Love. Them.

Reading a book, falling asleep, waking up, reading a book, falling asleep, waking up…

My Michael Jackson Pandora station. Just type his name in and you’ll get the best mix of songs. Ever.

Iced tuxedo mochas from Starbucks. Could I drink one every day for the rest of my life? Only one way to find out…

Navy—my new favorite neutral. It’s softer than black and flatters every skin tone/eye color/hair color. Navy…it’s the new black, people.

Being pale. The beautiful sun-kissed 20-somethings that make up the office I work in remind me daily of how German-Irish I am. But I’m embracing the white skin look this summer, and hoping that aristocratic pallor will be making a comeback.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Seattle is one of my favorite cities…it was even the subject of my very first blog post back in 2007 on my old xanga account. I’ve probably been to Seattle 20 times; my grandpa lives in Federal Way, a suburb just south of the city. But after our cruise, Hayley and I decided to stay in Seattle for the weekend, and it was the first time I’d ever been there without my family. It was my turn to take charge and show her all that the Emerald City has to offer!

So, after returning from the wilds of Alaska (there were NO Starbucks to be found!), we did what had to be done first—manicures, lunch at Nordstrom (the world’s first, by the way—and dang, it’s huge), and then some lovely lattes. Here’s some other stuff we did in Seattle; "the essentials," if you will:

Hop on the monorail and take an obligatory visit to the Space Needle. It’s not a tourist trap…you must go here if you visit Seattle. I sincerely love the Space Needle. Its distinct shape—it looks like a UFO—and super-fast golden elevators (Willy Wonka would approve) are so fun. The view of the city and the Cascades from the top (on a clear day…which can be tricky in Seattle, but which we got!!) is gorgeous.

Pike Place Market. This is one of my favorite places ever. It’s lively and eclectic, the soul of Seattle. The market flowers are so fresh and beautiful, the fish are stinky and flying all over the place, colorful produce shines in neat rows, and there are tons of ramps and alleys and nooks to shops that are waiting to be discovered. Everything’s here. If I lived in Seattle, I would come to the market every week and buy fresh fruit and flowers.

Bookstores. You already read about them though. Did you know that Seattle is the most-literate city in America? You can see kids reading books at bus stops in the summer (mass paperback + summertime = reading not required for school). I love it.

SAM—The Seattle Art Museum. After trying to regain some dignity after I was gently yelled at for taking a couple of harmless flash-free pictures, (I’m telling you…the more minor the museum, the weirder the security, regulations, and rules. You can freaking lick paintings in Europe and no one bats an eyelash, but one little photo in Seattle, and they think your next move is throwing acid on the walls), I let myself enjoy the day here. I was surprised by how many different categories of art were well-represented, including ancient Greek and Roman antiquities. I was most impressed with the contemporary and modern art though. Sea Change by Jackson Pollock is one of my favorite Pollocks, and there are also some incredible Warhols. Overall, it’s worth the $15 “suggested fee” for admission. Here are the heretical snaps...

The Seattle Underground Tour. You’d never know that the ruins of the modern city of Seattle lay underneath the streets you walk on today! Not only will you get a nice walk and a healthy dose of history from this tour, but the guides that do these tours are hilarious! I wish I had written down some of their jokes; I don’t remember any now but Hayley and I were laughing so hard. This is the tour to take to learn all about the history of Seattle (i.e. the many ridiculously stupid decisions that its first settlers made) and glimpse an entirely new view of the city.

Seattle doesn’t have the hardness or pretension that many cities have. It’s accessible, clean, and the birthplace of Starbucks...I don’t know what else you could ask for!


To celebrate the 50th birthday of the state of Alaska, Hayley and I did some partying by:

White water rafting. In Juneau, we rafted down the Mendenhall River. Yes, bald eagles were flying overhead. Yes, the weather was perfect. Yes, we saw beautiful views of the Mendenhall Glacier. Yes, the rapids were class 3+, which made us feel like rugged mountain women (I know that class 3 rapids are no big deal…but don’t ruin this for me.). But, clearly, the coolest part was the fancy rafting outfit! Can you say “legit”?!

This cutie pie (below) is Dylan, a college student originally from Boise. Dylan was our fearless raft leader and entertained us with his storytelling…we learned all about his summer adventures rafting, hiking (in old mines! With homeless people!), and kayaking in Alaska; he also warned us about people from Juneau ("When people tell you they're from Juneau, then you know they're kind of weird. But when you meet people who are here from out of town, that's fine. But yeah, people from Juneau are weird."), which was insight that we were grateful for later in the day as we were eyed on the streets of the city by grown men wearing feather headbands and fur vests—clearly natives to Juneau.
Dog sledding. In Skagway, we went to a mushers' camp, where dogs are trained for competitive dog sled races; there were even some Iditarod champs on our hands. We were surprised to learn that these dogs are not purebreds. They're actually mutts that have had all physical weaknesses bred out of them.

Did I mention that I'm terrified of dogs? I stared down my fear in the face in Alaska though…it was more like 200 faces, actually…with lots of teeth and slobber. May I just say that stepping off a bus to the chorus of 200 dogs frantically barking in the not-to-distant woods ahead of you is extremely scary for non-dog people.
AND...I even held a puppy! You won’t understand the significance of this moment, because you’re staring at his cute “Help you think I’ll make it if I jump?” face. But trust me…I was more scared than this little guy…
Taking a train through White Pass. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad was built during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898 and is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark (along with the Panama Canal and Eiffel Tower). We saw a black bear and mountain goats and were blown away by the beautiful scenery on this little day trip through the mountain pass, which took us into Canada.

As we crossed the border back into Alaska, we learned about a movie that was filmed here starring Robin Williams called The Big White, a dark comedy about a down-and-out travel agent who finds a dead body and tries passing it off as his missing brother, whose life insurance is worth millions. (Sounds like a solid plan…)
Panning for gold. Sure, you’ve done it at Knott’s Berry Farm…whatever. This is Alaska! This is the Klondike! In Liarsville, (a super cheesed-out reconstructed gold miners’ camp, complete with costumed characters), we had the opportunity to strike it rich. I made the mistake of getting my nails done before my trip—I’m talking prom princess nails here, not a simple manicure—and I must say, they’re not the most functional for panning for gold. But I did find a few flakes!
Stopping at Tracy Arm Fjord. The glaciers were stunning and pictures and words won’t describe being there. The misty clouds hanging over the mountains, icebergs surrounding us, and deep blue color of the glaciers really made this place seem other-worldly...or at least Middle-Earthy.
This was my third trip with Hayley, and we want to travel together until we can replace each other with some great husbands. But we're not sitting around waiting for that to happen; we have dreams to go to Italy and Greece, Spain and Portugal, Morocco…I love traveling with this friend by my side!

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” --Tim Cahill

On a Boat

As soon as I booked my cruise to Alaska I was informed by a co-worker that women disappear on cruise ships...regularly. Naturally, this news concerned me, so I did the only thing I could think to reassurance from my dad. He said not to worry because they’re all women who married disconcerted homicidal husbands, and also that Greta Van Susteren was “on top of the investigations.” (Thanks, Dad.)

Here’s my biggest concern about cruises: They kind of take the element of adventure out of a trip; everything's taken care of for you...which is exactly what some people (people who don’t know how to travel) are looking for. It’s also a good thing if you want to relax and kind of mentally check-out, which is what Hayley and I needed. Our trips have traditionally followed a more vigorous schedule...“get up at 6:30, walk ten miles a day sight-seeing and going to museums, go to bed at 1, repeat for 9 days..."

Here’s what we loved about our cruise:

Whispering the name of our ship at awkward times of the day, or in an otherwise-normal conversation. Try it...“Rhapsody...”

We also enjoyed singing excerpts from “I’m On A Boat,” talking about our captain, Rick Sullivan, like we knew him; and, while at the bow of the ship, quoting Titanic. (You just read that and thought you’re above that sort of behavior...but you’re not.)
The formal nights. Yep, that’s right...we’re girls who love dressing up. And we make no apologies for it! Cruise ships are crawling with professional photographers and Hayley and I made sure we hit every cheesy backdrop that was set up. And we took a few snaps ourselves, feeling very much like jet-setters in the process.

Eating. Every calorie consumed on cruises is included in the price of the trip; food is pretty much why people go on cruises. We had a lovely three-course meal every night, with a lot of dessert! Our waiter, Daniel (below), made us laugh every day. (It’s that Romanian charm.) I’m not an adventurous eater, but I had fun trying new things like venison and escargot (above) and eating a couple desserts every night. I mean, yeah, I probably gained a few pounds by the end of the trip and felt akin to the whales I saw earlier in the day as I got into bed each night. But...two words: worth it.
Doing nothing! What a novelty it was to sleep in until 11am. One morning we even had breakfast delivered to our room and watched Gossip Girl for two and a half hours. We’d take two-hour naps, sit in the sun on the top deck sipping cherry Cokes, read for hours at a time. What a luxury to be able to do completely nothing!

More posts to come on what we did in Alaska and Seattle...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

i have thumb thing for you...

A couple of weeks ago I was in Seattle...and whenever I'm there, I go to two of my favorite book stores.

First, there's BLMF Books (figure it out), or as they call it up there, a "literary saloon." The owner is always there and always reading! I'm pretty sure he's read every book in the store, which has shelves and shelves of used books, and even some haphazard stacks that look like they're ready to topple over. I usually am able to find classics in good paperback editions here.

Then I head down to Pioneer Square, usually with a bag of fresh-roasted cinnamon almonds from the market, to Elliott Bay Books. I love this store and it always surprises me with a book or two I never knew I wanted. They sell new and used books, always have authors scheduled to visit, and even have an underground (literally) cafe.

When I was there a couple of weeks ago paying for my books, I noticed these "Thumb Things" on the counter. "How totally useless and stupid and unnecessary," I immediately thought. I mean, I have never in my life thought, "Dang, this book is so tough to hold...I wish there was another way!" But then I tried one on...stupid inventions are usually intriguing, after all. And it actually does make holding a book easier. So...although I am sure I could have gotten along for the rest of my life without a Thumb Thing, I did purchase one. I think they're lamely cool. Check out their (rather pitiful) website here.

Alright...time to go read...