Tuesday, January 31, 2012

99 Days

It has been 99 days.

Ninety-nine days since that life-changing day in October. Unbelievable.

In some ways it feels like much, much longer. The days slowly going by, living for phone calls or camp visits. In other ways, I can hardly believe it has gone by so fast. I remember thinking, "how will we get through the holidays? How will I get through my birthday?" And yet somehow we did.

Triumphantly, I might add. Krispy Kremes had a lot to do with it.

For those of you who have been following this story the past three months, I am happy to report that my dad continues to do great! He is the definition of resilient. I, on the other hand, am the definition of a big blue cloud of funk, and I am not the one with limited freedom. Geez.

My dad is taking Alamosa by storm, wearing his brighter-than-the-surface-of-the-sun jacket wherever he goes. The Human Highlighter is quite popular. I am almost certain he could run for mayor and win. And I am pretty sure the people at Walmart know him by name at this point.

He also has his own office just off of main street, where he works everyday and occasionally joins us for dinner via Skype. Modern technology is truly a marvelous thing. He continues to lead a Bible study on Wednesday nights and has become the go-to man for tax returns, resumé editing, business planning and your general "I need some advice from the only man known around here as 'Old School.'" It's actually quite a good gig, if you ask me.

And he continues to work his way through the program, excelling much faster than the typical "camper." This whole system is designed to integrate these men and women back into society with the support of their families. Well consider him integrated and supported. It is both ridiculous and rewarding at the same time.

The next big day is March 5, where he has a hearing to discuss his sentencing. This is in response to the appeal that was submitted. Even though the worst has already happened, the thought of going back to a courtroom makes me want to run away to Thailand, which would be a rather expensive way to avoid reality. I kinda wish we could just go from March 4 to March 6. Is that possible? Probably not, and if it did happen, I am sure it would be for a much bigger reason than just a court date!

No, March 5 will come with as much promise as the day before and we will all continue to breathe and trust.

So for now, we just keep plugging along, waiting expectantly on what God will do next and how we might be used in the meantime. My dad sent me an email yesterday telling me about one of the campers who still talks about the impact this Christmas made in his life. Your cards and your prayers are continuing to make a difference, my friends! And week after week, as I visit my dad, I see significant, transformational changes in some of these men. Changes that I am privileged to witness and would have never dreamed of experiencing 100 days ago.

There is a lot of weight in these 99 days. Heart-wrenching, soul-searching, peaceful weight.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day Two of the Excitement

Hello friends.

Here I am again sitting in the back row, with half of my brain engaged in the seminar and the other half scouring Pinterest for my next new recipe. I realize that you have a busy life and you often stop by here to take a small break from your routine, but I feel like I am failing you. Failing you because my only bit of news is to tell you that Santa Claus did not come back today. Apparently he just couldn't handle the party.

And that's it. That's all I've got.

However, I have decided to take this time to tie up a few loose ends for you. I am all about closure and your mental well-being.

1. The flag that I posted yesterday is from Kenya. Big kudos to those who already knew this. You are brilliant. And, in agreement with my friend Sara, it does look like a lady bug.

2. The next country to enjoy my bubbly personality is...Tunisia! Congrats to Cynthia who guessed correctly. A cupcake is headed your way!

So, "Where is Tunisia?" you may ask. Well let me tell you. It is in North Africa, snuggled between Libya and Algeria. Let me show you:

I am really looking forward to this trip! We have some amazing projects and people who live and work there, it should be fascinating. Now I just need to brush up on my French and Arabic, which means I actually need to learn some.

3. I have run five times in the last week. I don't even know who I am anymore.

4. I made these this past weekend:

They are deliciously delectable and perfect for Valentine's Day. Recipe to follow soon...as soon as this stimulating seminar is over.

5. The Human Highlighter is doing great. I am thinking he will be elected the mayor of Alamosa soon. Seriously, I would not be surprised. More on him to come soon as well...you know, as soon as this stimulating seminar is over.

And there you have it, you just experienced some closure.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sitting in the Back Row

Greetings from the back row!

I am currently in a three-day seminar on community development and I am sitting in the back row of a very small, very cold room. I could use some coffee and some leg room, but I can't complain, it's interesting stuff and the seminar is free.

I was thinking of giving you a play-by-play of my day but I don't think you could handle the excitement. However, I will give you a few observations:

~ There is a man sitting in front of me that looks like Santa Claus. He is probably 80 years old and has an iPad. That is one hip Kris Kringle.

~ The walls are covered in flags from around the world. Some of them I have never seen before. Can you tell me which country this flag represents? I totally googled it.

~ Our speaker just said, "a weed is just a plant out of place. There is nothing bad about a weed; the weed is doing exactly what it was created to do." Discuss amongst yourselves.

~ Something is humming. Awesome.

~ I have a love/hate relationship with power point presentations. They are highly overused but they have the potential to greatly enhance a seminar. It is a fine line, my friends, a fine line.

See, I told you the excitement would overwhelm you. What are you doing today?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crunchy or Creamy

I have an announcement:


It's like my birthday all over again.

So go grab a spoon, friends, and dive right in. The crunchier the better.

And you should make these:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Top Ten: What I Came Up With on a Friday

People. What is it about January that leaves you void of all kinds of cool blog material? Seriously, there must be a blogging vortex that leaves you speechless. I am thinking I will call this vortex "I just babysat a cat for 10 days and my social calendar is in desperate need of a boost."

But I did make a list for you. Lists just feel right on a Friday.

1. I am now back at my new place, void of cat hair and security alarms. And I kid you not, I could have sworn the cat was meowing "Sarah" as I left yesterday. It was scary. Or maybe I am scary. Whichever.

2. It took me 15 minutes to figure out how to turn on my oven last night. It is a fancy-schmancy oven that desperately needs an iPhone app. Thankfully I finally figured it out and the baking can officially commence!

3. I am addicted to the TV show Psych. My new place does not have a TV so I am watching past episodes on Hulu. Holy cow, that show if funny. And I kinda have a crush on Shawn. I am a sucker for a great sense of humor.

4. I got up at 5:45 this morning and ran. As in for exercise and not because I was frightened. I know, I am shocked as well. For some reason I just woke up rearing to go and my treadmill seemed like the best place to hang out. I would love for this to become a habit. My other habit of eating my very own pan of brownies every Thursday night is one I really need to break.

5. I am so ready for summer. Aren't you? Now that the holidays are over I just feel like winter should be as well. And I am drooling over these:

6. I am eating tuna for lunch, which is one of my goals for Year 32. Is one serving enough for the whole year? I am thinking so.

7. Another item to cross of the list is that I just got the approval to take a trip for work! Can you guess which country I am headed to next? If you get it right, I'll bake you a cupcake. For reals.

8. This is my favorite necklace. I wear it all the time and it makes me so happy.

9. My friend Lizz is getting married in Las Vegas this June and I am thinking it is going to be spectacular! Las Vegas just happens to be her hometown so the wedding party is headed out for a few days of celebration. And no, it will not be officiated by Elvis. It will be officiated by Donny Osmond.

10. Happy Friday, my friends! Enjoy the sunshine.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Life Well-Lived

I have an uncle who met Jesus face-to-face yesterday.

I cannot even fathom that encounter. I wonder if there was dancing involved or perhaps some singing. Maybe he jumped up and down or fell at His feet. Or maybe he just stood still, soaking Him up.

But I do know that he was whole and healed and welcomed with rejoicing.

My uncle was strong and brave, kind and sincere, humble and gentle, and fought so very hard to leave this earth well. He loved his family with every fiber of his being and he loved His Lord with every breath that he took.

A life well-lived indeed.

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him."

~ 1 Corinthians 2:9

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Beginnings of a Cat Lady

I wish I had more exciting news for you but my last few days have consisted of two things: work and keeping this cat alive.

Seriously, that is all I have been doing. This cat requires four different kinds of vitamins, all administered to her in different ways. Thankfully rubber gloves are not needed. That is where I draw the line. But I have never met a more well cared-for cat in my life. Granted, I have only been around one other (the aforementioned demon) and I am pretty sure he ate chocolate chip pancakes for dinner everyday.

Now that I have been with this cat for over a week, I can tell she has warmed up to me. So much so that she follows me around everywhere I go and is waiting for me when I get home. And even though I revolt against saying this with every fiber of my being, it can be nice to come home to a big house with a live being waiting for you. Granted, I would prefer this be a horse but I can't be too choosy in suburbia.

I have also noticed that I talk to her. A lot. This is beginning to scare me because I am pretty sure I am a muumu away from becoming a cat lady. I may call one of you and leave you on speaker phone just so I have an actual human to talk to; otherwise I am almost certain that by the end of my stay I will be convinced that she is actually talking back to me.

This does NOTHING for my dating life. Nothing.

However, I have decided that I need to draw the line somewhere: not allowing her anywhere near my bed, especially my pillows. I would rather sleep in a hut on the ground in Africa than lay my head in a bed of cat hair. True statement. I came to this realization the other night when I was completely dead to the world and she decided that this was the perfect moment to pounce on my legs and then sniff my face. Of course I sat straight up in bed thinking I had just been the victim of a hairy burglar and started swinging. After my heart rate returned to normal, I picked her up and gently threw her out of my room. It is really hard to go back to sleep after that. And unfortunately 4:00 a.m. is not my favorite time of the day.

So, there you have the play-by-play of my house-sitting existence. Try not to be overwhelmed by the excitement. And thankfully there are only three more days until her parents get home and her life and mine can return to normal.

In the meantime, I am going to the rodeo tonight to supplement my wish that she was a horse.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The World of House Sitting

You guys, I am house sitting right now. Growing up, I was not aware of this concept. This is probably because people in rural America do not "sit" other people's houses, they just tie a pit bull to the front door and go on vacation. But in suburbia, it is all the rage.

The house I am sitting is wonderful. It is comfortable and close to work and it is around the corner from a Pei Wei. I heart Pei Wei. But this house is also home to a cat. I am not a cat person. I once lived with a cat in college who was literally the spawn of satan but thankfully this cat is a bit sweeter. This cat does not crawl into the dryer and pee on my clean clothes.

Yes, that happened.

However, there is a unique tension to house sitting. You long to be comfortable but you are also keenly aware that the couch you are lying on is not your own. You use their kitchen but can't find the paper towels. You park in their garage but you don't know how far to pull in. You sleep in their house but you are unfamiliar with every creak and groan and beep in the night.

Your senses are also heightened to an alarming level. You double check turning off your curling iron. You second guess how to properly turn on the dish washer. You wonder if the cat will eat your socks if you leave them out. It can be quite exhausting. However, sometimes the stress gets the better of me. Thus far, I have managed the following:

Left the garage door open overnight.

Set off the security alarm in the house which I am sure could be heard in a five-block radius.

Wrongly assembled the kitty water fountain/drinking dish and it leaked on the kitchen floor.

Incorrectly turned on the TV/entertainment system and have no idea how to watch cable.

Found a cat hair in my peanut butter.

Now that last one just about sent me over the edge. Nothing, and I mean nothing, should ever touch my peanut butter except for my spoon. And cat hair makes me gag. Oh ugh. Totally gag.

So, all that to say is that I still have one more week at this home away from home. Please pray that I do not burn it down or kill their cat. Seriously, those are my goals. I try to keep my expectations low. And if you have any house sitting tips, I am all ears!

Happy Friday, peeps.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

32 Things

I turned the big 3-2 yesterday! You know, the birthday where you realize you are well into your 30's but you are still in denial that you are not in your 20's? Yep, that's the one.

So in honor of this underwhelming milestone, I have come up with 32 things I would like to do this year! If you have a minute or twenty, this is the post for you. Some are fun, some are serious, and some are life-changing. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Eat more fish. I have never liked seafood but I am learning to like salmon. And perhaps if salmon doesn't taste too bad, then other slimy water-dwelling creatures don't taste half-bad either. Let's hope so.

2. Wear shorts. This was a goal last year that fell short when I rediscovered cream cheese frosting. But I am determined to overcome that current obsession.

3. Travel to a new country. Tunisia, Egypt, New Zealand, Peru and Cyprus all sound exciting right now.

4. Renew my passport so I can travel to a new country.

5. Have regular quiet time in the mornings. This is so hard for me but it makes such a huge difference in my day.

6. Highlight my hair. Granted, this can be difficult with hair as dark as mine but I am thinking it is time to spruce it up a little. Besides, I am tired of plucking out gray hairs with my tweezers.

7. Take a road trip or four. I live for the open highway and a box of Crunch 'n' Munch.

8. Save more money. There is something so rewarding about not spending money.

9. Do yoga regularly.

10. Donate or throw away things that I do not use or do not wear. After moving last week, the last thing I want to do is haul that stuff around again.

11. Fall in love. It's just time, people.

12. Give myself more grace. God pours it out but I often refuse it. I need to embrace it, forgive myself and move on.

13. Play more golf. And that means more than just the driving range.

14. Wear heels more often. They do wonders for your butt.

15. Set better boundaries. I am really working on this but boundaries can quickly become blurred. As my sister says "own your yard," meaning I don't need to take care of your yard and my yard and my neighbor's yard and everyone else's yard. My yard is big enough, thank you.

16. Take better care of my skin. It's a bit parched these days.

17. Be more spontaneous. This is so darn tricky for me because I love to plan! And planned spontaneity does not count. So, give me a holler and ask me to do something. I'll do my best to not bring my planner along with me.

18. Attempt to wear leggings. Oh gosh, this could be disastrous.

19. Listen to Noah. Soak up his stories, his theories on life, his imagination and his advice for my love life (oh, believe me, he has them). He is growing up so fast.

20. Be more bold. And this includes my actions, my words, my stance on what I believe, my fashion choices and lipstick color.

21. Get some muscle definition. Apparently I lost my muscles over the Christmas season.

22. See more of my extended family. And that means you Becky, Matt, Jenny, Charley, Kellie, Nathan, Sherri, Edwin, Tammy, Duwayne, Rick, Kim, Diane, Terry, Lori, Thad, Spencer, Amy, Alan, Carolyn, Bruce, Chelsea, Katie, Vadim, McKenzie, Kristen, Chad, Marge, Larry, Dedra, Dale, Donna, Don, DeLynn, Linda, Mike, Tim, Kathy, Shane, Erica, John, Jenny, Patricia, Tyler, Ryan, Pamela and the two sets of twins. Plus the other 28,480 that I did not mention.

23. Be radical for Jesus. I am not sure what this looks like but I'm game.

24. Sleep more. Yes, please.

25. Laugh more. Yes, please.

26.  Exercise more. My treadmill and I have been estranged, it's time to rekindle the relationship.

27. Bake more. Yes, please.

28. Be less judgemental. Camp Alamosa is really helping with this.

29. Stop obsessing over my appearance. Give it a rest, Sarah. Give it a rest.

30. Bake homemade bread. I am still afraid of yeast but I think this is the year to conquer it. Fingers crossed.

31. Be less fearful of failure, pain, disappointment, embarrassment and vulnerability. Come to terms with the fact that I DO NOT have it all together.

32. Be a guest host on Saturday Night Live.

Oh boy. There you have it, 32 goals for year 32.  Did you make any goals for this new year? Are you 32 and thriving? I surely hope so!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Human Highlighter

I call him the "Human Highlighter." He's quick! He's friendly! He rides around on his new wheels bringing florescent sunshine wherever he goes.

You really can't look directly at him, it will burn your retinas.

He has owned that coat since 1990, when we were fresh on the Colorado ski scene. You could see my dad from a mile away, which was good since none of us were what you would call "coordinated" at that point in our ski careers.

Now it has a new purpose: to serve as a shining beacon to all who drive the streets of Alamosa. It's like a bike reflector/human insulator all in one.

It practically radiates heat, like you are standing on the surface of the sun.

Next time you head south, be sure to look for that two-wheeled bright spot on the horizon. It will be my dad.

The Human Highlighter rides again.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Treehouse Sanctum in Concert

They're back, people! And they are ready to rock...well as rocking as you can get for acoustic/indie music.

But it's going to be epic, I tell you. EPIC. And I think you need to be there. I'm going. Noah is going. What more do you need?

 Here is the latest buzz from this talented duo:

We've been on hiatus since August and are excited to be out playing again after a tumultuous & hectic fall. Recently, we've headed into the studio to record an album with the help of mega music talent Dave Villano...we have a number of new songs to unveil on the 6th day of 2012 and hope to see you there, regardless of road conditions.

So here are the deets:

Who: Treehouse Sanctum (Danya Prado, Sam Rymer)
When: Friday, January 6
Time: 6:45-8:30 pm
Where: D Note - Arvada, Colorado

Check it: http://www.facebook.com/TreehouseSanctum

I'll totally carpool with you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Krispy Kremes, Christmas and Camp

I realize that Christmas was so last week and we have all moved on to 2012, but I have to tell you how God used the mighty donut to make this Christmas one of the best.

To say that I had been dreading this Christmas was a gross understatement. Since the day after Thanksgiving I had been fighting against the season. I felt grumpy because my dad couldn't be home with us. I felt alone because I feel like the dreaded "7th wheel" of my family. I felt vulnerable because all that I have known in my world was changing. And I felt sad that I was in the midst of one of my favorite times of year and I was missing the joy in it. All in all, it was a rough December.

But then something happened. I don't know what it was other than a minor miracle from heaven. But a week before Christmas I awoke to a deep feeling of peace in my soul. I can't describe it, I can't explain it, I can't take credit for it, but all I know is that for the first time in two months, I could see past the next day.

So, on Christmas Eve, my mom and I headed south. Right before we left, my dad called to say that the local prison ministry he is working with had gotten permission to bring donuts to all the campers. And my mom and I were asked to deliver the sweet goods since Alamosa is completely void of everything except a Walmart.

And let me tell you something, my car has never smelled as good as it did with 12 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts wafting through the air. They need to make an air freshener in that scent. It would make bank, I'm telling you.

When we arrived, we brought in the boxes and before I could even set them down for inspection, men were beginning to line up. The main office of Camp Alamosa is surrounded by glass and very quickly it begin to feel like I was on display in a store window. Normally I would love this feeling (I'm an ex-theater major, remember?) but the power of the Krispy Kreme can lead people to do dangerous things. I am pretty sure some were already drooling at this point.

The guys from the ministry set up a table in the common room and all the campers lined up, incredulous that the camp had allowed outside food to come in. A few announcements were made, an applause broke out from the crowd, and men politely waited their turn for their very own fried ring of dough. My mom and I hung back, just watching, sometimes chatting with a few of the guys we have come to know, realizing that we were the only women in a sea of 100 men.

SIDE NOTE: I always feel very safe at Camp Alamosa but where's a wedding ring when you need it?!

As the men began to file through, a reception line of sorts was formed. After grabbing their donut, they began to shake the hands of those in the ministry and then they came right around and shook my hand and my mom's. Some of them made eye contact, some did not. Some said "Feliz Navidad," some did not. And a few gave my mom a hug.

My mom leaned over and asked one of our camper friends if this had been a good idea and he looked at her and said, "I have never seen anything like this. This is amazing. You don't realize how much this means to them."

Apparently there is just something about a donut on Christmas Eve that warms parts of you that have been cold a very long time. I was all-too familiar with this coldness and didn't take lightly the work that was going on in the room that night. I couldn't describe it, I couldn't explain it and I definitely couldn't take credit for it.

As an added bonus, my mom and I, along with a lady from the ministry and one of the camp guards, were allowed to take two dozen donuts to the women. There is a women's facility at this camp but they are completely separated from the men. This was the first time I had been there. We were able to stay for about 20 minutes and talk to the women. They were beautiful and shy and kind and the lady from the ministry offered to come by weekly to meet with them if they wanted. Some of them brightened to the idea.

I was also introduced to a woman who had just arrived. She didn't have any clothes of her own so she had to borrow from others. She didn't even have a coat, which is a death sentence in Alamosa since it is one of the coldest places in Colorado, or really anywhere on the planet for that matter. And if her family doesn't bring her any clothes, she will have to continue to borrow them from other campers. She didn't even have her own undergarments.

You guys, I just sacked up three garbage bags of clothes that I don't wear anymore. I'm pretty sure God was giving me a healthy dose of perspective mixed with a heaping spoon of humility that night. And I am also pretty sure that I am going to take those three bags with me the next time I head to Alamosa. I'll take yours too if you want.

By the end of the night, all 144 donuts had been consumed. The guards even had two dozen of their very own to enjoy. The ministry had made huge inroads to connecting with the campers. And I had just witnessed an entire correctional facility find some common ground on Christmas Eve.

Obviously there is a reason why my dad is there, probably more than one. Everything within me revolts at our current situation. But there is a mighty work going on, so much so that it made all other Christmas Eves pale in comparison.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And I'm Back

Well hello there. I hope you are doing well on this some-what cloudy, almost warm but not quite warm, I wish it were summer January day.

As you may or may not noticed, I took a week off from blogging but I must tell you that I missed you. I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and New Years! My Christmas was different but extremely memorable (more to come) and my New Years found me sitting on my mom's couch watching Storage Wars. Try not to be jealous.

 I spent the entire day after Christmas in my pajamas and watched WAY too many episodes of Kourtney and Kim Take New York (can you tell that I don't have cable?). But there is just something about that family train wreck that captivates your attention. I think it has to do with amount of mascara that they wear or how many times they say "I just can't deal" and then go look at themselves in the mirror. It is television gold, my friends.

The rest of my week off was spent packing boxes and moving to a new place. And let me tell you what I learned: moving is HIGHLY OVERRATED. When in doubt, just don't do it. However, my previous condo sold to new owners (completely amazing in this economy) and I am now one night in to my new place.

A big thank you to all who offered to help me move. Noah came over and did all the heavy lifting. He is a very gifted six year old. Most of my belongings are in storage, the essentials are in my new abode and what I am left with is a pile of stuff that I never wanted to have to deal with and I am not sure where to take it. Ugh. But I think I will just throw it all into a trash sack and just leave it in my car. That seems like a good plan.

So, if you want to come for a visit, I have a spare bedroom for you. Just call ahead. I am already booking 2 months in advance.

Happy 2012, peeps. It's going to be a good year!