Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Take back the years.

God woke me up a while ago, and wouldn't let me go back to sleep, reminding me, "I will take back the years the locust have eaten."

So I decided to check it out further:

[Joel 2:25, ESV]
I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.

[vs.25-27, The Message]
"I'll make up for the years of the locust,
the great locust devastation—
Locusts savage, locusts deadly,
fierce locusts, locusts of doom,
That great locust invasion
I sent your way.
You'll eat your fill of good food.
You'll be full of praises to your God,
The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder.
Never again will my people be despised.
You'll know without question
that I'm in the thick of life with Israel,
That I'm your God, yes, your God,
the one and only real God.
Never again will my people be despised."

Sometimes it's hard to believe He will redeem my bad choices and broken dreams and deep wounds for His glory. But He promised the children of Israel that He would do that, so I believe He promises me the same. I don't have to know how or why, I just have to believe and know that He will.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I had someone specifically stop me to tell me tonight that I seem really good. Really happy. In a place where God's peace is just kind of pervading from my being.

I love being able to say, "Yes. You're right. 100%."

I have no doubt that I am smack-dab in the middle of where God wants me. I am surrounded by a community of incredible people at All Souls, I live in a city which has turned out to be a real city (not a fake one!), and I have this incredible new house that just screams "come visit me!" with the sweetest roommates.

There are so many stories to be told, because I've done such a terrible job of telling them via this blog, but hopefully that will all change soon. This past weekend, I bought a MacBook. It won't be here 'til Thursday, but after that I have no excuse not to park myself at Remedy for a few hours in the weeks ahead and share some of them.

I'm not sure who even really keeps up with this, but dear reader, know that I am happy. Happy to the core. Inexplicably and undeniably happy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On A Soapbox: The Curly Girl Gospel

When I was in school at Temple University in Philadelphia, I met a girl who had the most gorgeous curls I had ever seen. Being a curly girl myself, I had to tell her this. If you have curly hair, you understand the never ending struggle to find the perfect cocktail to tame your tresses.

I found an opportunity to gush about how beautiful her
locks were, and what she said next shocked me.

"I don't shampoo my hair. Just use conditioner. Curly Girl - read it."

I was more than a little taken aback. My internal reaction was,
"What? Ew... but, if her curls come out looking like that, then maybe it's worth a try..." Unfortunately, I neither picked up a copy of the book, nor was brave enough to try a shower without shampooing until this year.

Some time ago, I saw a magazine ad for this creepy looking green hand-hair-diffuser-thing that was apparently called a "DevaFuser". I was so intrigued b
y this strange contraption that I got online to find out more - the company's ad completely worked. It led me to, and after some perusing I discovered that this site was linked back to the author of Curly Girl, Lorraine Massey. At this point, I was paying attention. I'd been led to this woman's approach to curl care at least twice - I was finally ready to hear what she had to say.

One of the turning points for me in my hair care regimen was watching this video:

I had never heard that washing your hair with regular shampoo was like dumping detergent on my head. And once she pointed it out, I thought, "Oh my gosh... she's right." I wasn't ready to give up completely on washing my hair, but I wa
s open to an alternative. Sometime soon after, I ordered the Deva Curl Travel Kit to try out a different way of cleansing my hair. It was definitely strange to no longer have suds in my hair, but my scalp was left with a pleasant tingling sensation.

After that, I ordered the full-blown 32 oz bottles of No Poo, One Condition, and AnGEL a few months ago, and I've been using almost nothing but those products ever since. My hair really does feel healthier, much more moisturized, and I have far less "bad curl days." I went back to an old favorite "regular" sha
mpoo just once a few weeks ago, and when my hair had dried it felt like straw!

So I am on a mission to stop curly girls' ignorance to the effects of sulfates. They are ruining their curls without even knowing it. For a long time, I thought Deva made the only sulfate-free line of hair products out there, but I have recently discovered a few more that are more affordable, and I'm continuing my mission to spread the curly girl gospel - there is a better way.

Love, Peace & the Planet - I had my hair cut at Lox Salon today, and the hairstylist used this to shampoo - it smelled so incredible, I asked her what it was, and as we started talking about it, I was super excited to hear it was a natural hair care line, and even more excited to come home and see that it is FREE of sulfates!

Rainwater Botanticals - I finally gave in to this amazing website called Etsy and decided to search for "sulfate-free" and came up with this gem of an independent store.

Burt's Bees and Kiss My Face - These don't explicitly say that there are no sulfates, but they are nowhere to be found on the ingredient labels!

L'Oreal EverPure - I'm a little more wary about this line, since it is a mainstream company, but it says it's sulfate-free.

Spread the word to other curlies... you never know, you may have someone stop you and tell you that you've got the most gorgeous curls they've ever seen!

sulfate-free :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

For the Fans

Ok, fans/followers/friends... I've had multiple people pushing me to write more often lately, as I've been sorely lacking posts honestly since I started this new blog eons ago. Realistically, how often do you want to stop by and see something new? I know I should be writing just to write, but I suppose it's a smidge easier when you know you have an audience ;) Anything you're just dying to read about?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Santa Christ? Jesus Claus?

A friend of mine recently started a blog called "Make a Difference to One," and has asked me to be a contributor. You can find my latest article,"Santa Christ? Jesus Claus?" here. I realize it's way out of season, but when the heart's stirred, you just have to write...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Money Management 101: The Course I Would Have Failed

Growing up, I never thought I would be the kid who gets excited about saving money. I always put the "fun" percentage of my allowance and my birthday money and all that I earned towards whatever goodies I had my eye on at the time. In middle and high school, it was clothes. During the first half of college, while working as a waitress, it was whatever my heart desired.

The second half of my college career, I only worked on a regular basis during the summer, and some occasional gigs once school was back in session. I was forced to put away about half of whatever I made, because once the next semester kicked in, I had to live off of that plus a monthly government annuity until the next break.

In all this time, even though I worked from the time I was 16, I never stopped to think about the fact that someday I'd need to start considering my financial future. That I'd probably need to purchase a new car. And a new computer. And oh yeah, save for emergencies. It wasn't until I began a full-time paid internship after graduating that I realized,
Wow, I'm actually going to be making some real money. What am I supposed to be doing with it?

I sought out the advice of friends who had made good financial decisions and had a "financial dinner" to go over the basics, and this past winter, I made it through about half of a money management course (entitled "Act Your Wage" - there's a knee-slapper) before moving to TN to take on my first "real job."

I can't understand why I was never taught the basics of savings and finance in college. Sure, I was in the school of Communications and Theater, but starving artists need to know how to mangage the little bit of money they'll have!
Every college student should have to go through "Money Management 101," so when they get out of school, they actually have a clue as to where to start, instead of piling even more debt on top of their student loans.

If you're reading this thinking, "But it's so overwhelming! I don't know where to start!" Obviously, you have to figure out a
realistic budget before you can do anything else. (Check out mint - makes money management so much easier!) But once you figure out where you can make the sacrifices to save, you should move your savings that is more long term (you know you won't need it all in the next few months) into a high-yield checking account. What is a high-yield checking account? An account that will help you make money just by saving money.

I have an Orange savings account with ING DIRECT, and even in the midst of a terrible economy, last year from August-December I made over $20 in interest, and from January-present day, I've made almost $40. ING's also runs a promo where if you sign up through a referral and deposit at least $250, they'll add $25 to your account (as well as $10 to the referer's). If you're interested, leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and I'll hook you up.

So, the lesson is: it pays to save!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

lemme upgrade ya.

the blog was in need of a facelift. pictures + words = a whole lot more interesting. i still don't love my title. suggestions, please?

there is so much i should have been/be writing about over the past few months. but blah, blah, blah - i have no good excuse.

the seester was here last week, and we talked about goal-setting (and breaking). if you start small, you're more likely to succeed.

so i'm trying to set some small, realistic goals for myself by way of creating a (flexible) weekly routine. but i've yet to sit down and write it out, because i:
  1. suck at self-discipline
  2. don't deal well with failure
any advice on how to go about this successfully?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Update from "Knoxvegas": Week 1

I would just like to preface this by saying I generally like to blog about the things I'm thinking rather than the things I'm doing, so writing an entry all about my activities of the last week seems a little self-indulgent, but since so many people have been asking for "the update," I suppose this is it. Here are the highlights:

Monday (2.16): I moved almost all of my earthly possessions from my sister's jam-packed minivan into a small house in East Knoxville. My house is less than half a mile from downtown, so I can bike to work when the weather gets to be consistently nice. I'm pumped about that because I can go green, save gas money, and get a little healthier at the same time! I have two roommates who are undergrads at UT - Amanda, and Charli, who owns the casa. Leave a comment/shoot me an email etc. if you'd like my snail mail address!

Tuesday (2.17): ...was my first day as the new Administrative/Communications Assistant at All Souls Church. It was a slow week because there was no staff meeting and besides Doug, the Senior Pastor, Travetta, the Worship & Arts Director, (and the only other person who is in the office on a regular basis) was on vacation. Throughout the week, different people asked me if the task list they gave me was overwhelming, but I reassured them it wasn't too much. Thankfully, they organized my responsibilities into daily, weekly, monthly, and ongoing tasks.

Thursday (2.19):
I met up with an old friend from JBC, my hallmate and practically roommate, Elaine! I hadn't seen her in what felt like forever - my guess is probably 2006? We did coffee at Starbucks, and I got to check out her gorgeous engagement ring, hear about the plans for the upcoming July wedding, and the soon-to-be Emmanuel's plans to live in community in Saint Louis. It was wonderful to catch up with her! Afterwards, I traveled over to another fellow JBC-er's apartment (one whom I had never offically met, but connected with via Craigslist) to pick up a computer chair. I got to play with her adorable kitties and chat for a while - it it so great to move back to this city and have a frame of reference. I'm looking forward to running into and catching up with more JBC friends :)

Friday (2.20):
A friend of CJ's/aquaintence from JBC, Nikki, invited me to have lunch with the Fellows while I was in the office on Friday. It was great to finally meet this group of people who have purposed to learn about, love, and serve the city of Knoxville for a year. I would encourage my graduating senior friends who are interested in doing a service year to check it out! When the Fellows went around the room and introduced themselves, I was reminded again of how small the world really is. Nikki's from Newport News (where my mom's parents lived for a long time), there was a girl who went to Furman (where my Gram JJ went to college), and a girl named Kate from Harrisonburg/JMU grad (H-burg is where my Grammie Vought currently lives, and Kelly goes to school at EMU).

I ended up going out with Friday night to dinner with Nikki and Kate at the Downtown Grill & Brewery, where CJ works. I love that they have happy hour appetizer and drink specials until 8! My dinner ended up costing less than $10 total :) We had planned to see Erin McCarley at The Square Room but didn't have our hearts set on it, so instead we met up with some All Souls people and apparently most of the Dirty Guvnahs (who've made a pretty big name for themselves in Ktown) at Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria. As the few friends that follow my twitter
know, I had forgotten the Knoxville "going out" male dress code consists of button down shirts, jeans & baseball caps. Definitely not what you'd see at a Friday night at Kildare's in Philly!

Sunday (2.22): I attended my first service at All Souls as a resident of Knoxville. Doug began a sermon series entitled, "First Things: Six Truths Every Christian Should Know" (which you can check out and follow along with soon via All Souls Podcasts). I'm excited. I plan to check out other churches, but I think it will be a challenge to find a church that is a better fit in time (6 pm!) and mission ("Seek the Peace of the City"). There is a Vineyard Community a little ways away that I definitely plan to visit, although its gatherings are on Saturday nights (boo).

So overall, it's going well. Nothing too mind-blowingly amazing to share, but hopefully this will suffice for now! Hopefully another update will be on its way soon enough...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

...In and Out the Window.

I haven't blogged in forever... I'm too busy living life, I suppose. It's sad when life becomes too busy to do the thing you love the most.

My Grandaddy Vought (mom's dad) passed away on Christmas Eve. I can't even begin to say what an amazing person he was, but this may give you a small idea. I came home from work today to find Go In and Out the Window: An Illustrated Songbook for Young People on my desk. It was opened to a blank page, on which had been written:

May 28, 1989

Given to Erika on her fourth birthday with the hope that it might provide her some of the same joy and amusement that these songs provided him from the time he was a small boy, right down to the present day.

With deepest love and affection,
Grandaddy Vought

We love you and miss you so much already...