Thanks for joining me here.
Read some thoughts on issues affecting daily life and life around our world. Read and join in the conversation. What moves you? How do you respond to the issues we face today?

informal survey, please respond

my husband has challenged me with the following mission: take an informal survey to determine which is more violent: dracula or fundraising. please leave a comment with your response and in a follow up blog, i'll share why i'm taking this informal survey. i don't want to share that story just yet so as to maintain the integrity of your answers.
PS: my husband's response doesn't count (but Kelly's does :) ).

a picture and a treat

Ahh, this picture was just too good not to share and the story of how John ended up with a tiger on his head is pretty good, too. This will give you a small taste of what St. Louis life is like. Random is the word that comes immediately to mind.
We were sitting in a coffee house called Meshuggah with an old friend (well, a friend of a friend with whom I'd once gone on a tour of a new Mormon temple in the OC but that's an entirely separate story) and his wife and in walks a man who eventually introduced himself to our little crew as Michael Corleone. Michael's the kind of guy who wears ear buds without an iPod, the kind of guy who creates his own tunes and sings them aloud for the coffee house crowd to enjoy. Michael's also the kind of guy who wears tiger hats and likes to share his tiger hat love with others. Enter John. John's the kind of guy who graciously indulges guys like Michael. And that's how John ended up with a tiger hat on his head in Meshuggah's with old new friends.
As if that wasn't treat enough, there's more! We got our photos this weekend and there's an online link. Go to Click on "client login" then click on "client access." Our password is - columbus.

journey to Bethlehem

hats off to Harvester Christian Church for an amazing effort

two camels + 800 volunteers + 40,000 home-made cookies = Journey to Bethlehem

sure, it felt like i was at an amusement park with the zig-zagging lines leading us to the beginning of our journey and, yes, our friend, Ryan, wondered if the hot cocoa and cookies at the end would instill in young, impressionable minds an association between Jesus and cookies but this was still an impressive re-enactment of the Christmas story. first, we received our "traveling papers" that Roman centurions with impressive spears and helmets examined before we could pass to the next stop. my traveling paper gave me the name "Rebecca" or "Rivkah" in Hebrew. Our rather large "family" (28 kids and adults from our house church) quickly learned to say we were, "from the family of Asher" when quizzed by the imposing centurions. along the way, we met wise men with their gold, frankincense, myrrh, and two camels. we met the shepherds and witnessed the angels greet them to announce the birth of Jesus. while seeking a place to stay in Bethlehem, we came across the stable housing the holy family where we heard the gospel message. we got a rude awakening as we passed by the tax collector's table who attempted to swindle extra taxes from our large family and our next stop, the marketplace, was awash with Israelis trying to sell their wares to cold, weary travelers. after our 45 minute journey, we were greeted (rewarded?) with cocoa and cookies. with 40,000 home-made cookies, we had a very good selection.

a story plus more

in an effort to overcome a three week long cold, i google mapped "drug store." globe drugs popped up in my neighborhood so i decided to give it a try. as i pulled up, the handwritten signs advertising cheap booze seemed a little out of place. actually, back-up. the little girl rolling on the ground in front for the store seemed a little out of place. the handwritten signs just added to the overall effect.
i entered and it was like entering another world. like entering an emerging market, to be exact. globe drugs is st. louis' answer to the village shop where you can buy everything from cough suppressant to Christmas tree stands, from ground coffee to extension cords. boobs on a stick were a personal fav (that would be the top half of a woman, made of solid chocolate, on a stick -- who comes up with these things?). i've since returned twice for our every Christmas need and the diversity of patrons never ceases to amaze me.
check this out for our Wednesday adventure this week. our house church/small group is headed on a group outing to experience the journey to Bethlehem. i'm sure i'll have stories to share of what our friend assures us is "the real deal."
and here's a trailer for a documentary featuring, Justin, a Congolese refugee at our church who has big dreams of reconciliation.

weekend happenings

we visited Forest Park this holiday weekend which houses the fantastic St. Louis Art Museum. we'll be back for their Monet exhibit this Friday evening. we also ventured into the alternative reality that is Vintage Vinyl -- the Lou's answer to LA's Amoeba. imagine jazz aficionados rubbing elbows with hard core punks, corduroy jackets coexisting with mohawks. we dined @ Blueberry Hill, a St. Louis institution that still hosts a monthly Chuck Berry concert.
on saturday, the arch was calling our name and we made it as far as the subterranean Imax theater housed in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial that includes the arch. the Lewis & Clark Imax film was a great intro to the other Lewis famed in these parts. for example, i didn't know that their journey lasted 28 months or that Lewis committed suicide three years later. we wrapped up saturday on a happy note by watching Florida State beat their arch rival, Florida.

simple things

Love won a small victory in my life today and I just had to share. You know those people you're convinced dislike you? No? Well, then, consider yourself blessed with some mixture of irresistible charm, confidence, and obliviousness because the rest of us struggle through these relational discomforts from time to time. This friction unnerves those of us who would otherwise be self-possessed individuals.
Well, today I actually had a conversation with "that person" in my life. Heck, she even asked me to help her zip up her dress after CrossFit. I could either pretend like it was all in my head and she really hadn't been avoiding me week after week OR I could claim a victory for Love breaking through the walls we humans absurdly erect around ourselves (me included!).
And thus ends my brief account of Love, oh, except for one more anecdote. John and I have embarked on adventures in cooking. We tried meat sauce with spaghetti squash last week and today I'm enjoying leftover pumpkin shrimp curry over quinoa (thanks to a recipe in Jess' Bon Appetit that was accidentally forwarded to me). Because one of the cafes John and I enjoyed on Kauai had a chef who said she cooked all her dishes with love from the heart, we now refer to these adventures as "cooking with love."

strength and weakness

Look closely at this picture and you'll recognize the (inverted) inspiration for this blog. I opened my Yogi tea sachet and read, "Live in your strength." Sometimes these little ditties attached to my tea are inspiring but today it was yet another reminder of the world's (non)wisdom.
The theme of living in my weakness so that God's strength can manifest in my life has woven its way through church services, our small group, and daily readings. It's my pride (& disillusionment) that I am all-sufficient and capable of achieving any- and everything that stands in the way of God's strength. Perhaps my pride has waned today because I'm sick and amidst illness my weakness becomes oh, so apparent. A mere cold, albeit unwelcome, thankfully cracked or maybe even shattered the myth that living in my strength will lead to good, God-glorifying ends. So join me in rejoicing in our weaknesses that enable us to live in God's strength.

October, how thou flew by!

An entire month without a post! How could this be? I'm leaving tight editing aside in favor of getting word out there since Facebook informs me people "want st. louis updates!"

But let me back up just a bit. Here were some of the ramblings I recall from the month of October . . .
-just resting with Dad on our way out, less than a mile from the trail head, was such a peaceful moment. we often forget to savor these moments and was so needed less than a week from wedding day.
-our wedding weekend was magical, from our pre-wedding photo session to the rehearsal dinner and then the wedding day itself. just magical. my sis, Jess, captured much of the day on her blog.

-our wedding night retreat, Winvian, was amazing -- just like you'd picture such a secluded, special place.
-Hawaii lived up to its reputation as a place of spectacular heights and enchanting depths. For shots from a volcano's peak to the ocean's floor, check out my picasa album.
-packing up my life and moving halfway across the country in three days was an amazing feat made possible only through my husband's perseverance and Mom's packing and wrapping expertise.

Now, for St. Louis. I'll post more house pictures once we fully move in (there are a few pictures that still need to be hung into a brick wall and a certain curtain rod to be wrestled with). The photo above is shot from our dining room, across the porch. The leaves are still brilliantly colored out here. I'm excited to go backpacking this weekend and enjoy the foliage. We're also going to check out South Missouri wineries post-backpacking.

Days here have consisted of admiring Japanese wrapping and packing efficiency, finding creative ways to stuff paper into the slots of the recycling bin in the alley behind our house, finding new homes for gently used goods, scoping out job prospects, waiting for handymen to fix the porch light or set up internet access, and checking out various ministries associated with our church, New City Fellowship. We've explored a couple of St. Louis' fine dining establishments and appreciated the eclecticism from Vietnamese pho to traditional BBQ.
Arriving just in time for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series was also pretty sweet. This is a city that LOVES its Cards. For example, walking to Bed, Bath, & Beyond on Saturday I saw a woman in a Cards t-shirt with a bright red cast on her presumably broken arm. We watched Game 7 at a "stoop party" on a screen rigged up on the side of a neighbor's house.
This transition has been an interesting one full of shifting identifiers, new cultures, saying hello to so much and goodbye to much, as well. I was thankful for one friend's comments to not be alarmed if things feel a bit odd at first. It's fun to have a buddy with whom to approach life. It's a blessing to partner with John who loves the LORD so dearly and me so nearly. It's tough to be without a job and to spend much time on domestic concerns. It's tough to go about setting up a life all over again. It's a blessing to have family and friends who check in on me. Life is progressing as it has wont to do and I'm so blessed and enjoying it.

inspired by the Economist, once again

1. "[School Blues] (a novel) reminds readers how ignorant it is to have forgotten what it felt like to have but little knowledge."

2. A heart rending obituary of Vann Nath, witness to the Khmer Rouge's genocide.

going through Love146 files

I came across this quote that had to be shared:
"I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world."
-Mary Oliver

fresh off the press

Here's an email I just received for our Director of Aftercare. If you receive this same story later in a more "produced" format, consider yourself one of the insiders.


I am very happy to inform you that A. has finished her caregiver's course and yesterday it was announced that she passed the government qualifyng exams. She is now a professional caregiver and can be employed in care facilities for children, adults and elderly, as well as hspitals and schools locally and abroad.

She is our first graduate into an employable profession. This is a momentuous event for us after so many hurdles with her, including her giving up several times, her suicide attempts in the beginning, her wanting to go home to work again in the bar to help her starving family, her so many disciplne issues as a result of her past life, our dramas to remold her, our constant processing with her that would last until the wee hours of the morning, etc. But now, all this is behind because a new door is opened for her.

This is no mean feat for her considering a past of exploitation that started at 8 and hard core experiences of exploitation on the streets, different provinces, on the internet, name it. When she was rescued, she was transferred from institution to institution and she gave up hope of ever going back to school again so she went home to work in the bar and on the street again, another of [our rescue partner's] statistic of re-trafficking.

Eventually [our rescue partner] referred her to [us]. We lost no time in putting her in school, a home study program that allowed her to have her own pace. She started in grade 4, age 17. In one year, she finished the 6th grade and at the same time passed the Alternative Learning System that qualified her to pursue college without going to high school.

Initially, she took a 4-year nursing course, but the hurdles were proving the course too long, so many things were happening in her life that could prevent her from finishing. So she opted to shift to a much shorter caregiving course. It still proved to be a Herculean task for her and for us. She stopped a few times at the call of her family and went home against all advice. But our process with her was not over."

Never Forget 9/11? If Only It Were That Easy

Found on the WSJ site . . .

The best days are when I don't think about 9/11 at all. I don't remember where I was. I don't think about how my life changed, how deeply affected my wife was. It doesn't come up in conversation. Those are the good days. Of course, I feel guilty about that.

We're told to "never forget," as if anyone living in New York could avoid the reminders: endless construction at Ground Zero, changes on Wall Street, armed security guards in our buildings and police in the subways.

9/11 swallows the life of anyone who was here before and after. Still, we're told that forgetting it would somehow be emotional treason to the memories of people we knew or didn't know.

It's also inappropriate to feel grateful for the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But I am. 9/11 changed us. It made New Yorkers come together. My wife and I made a commitment to New York. Displaced from our home at Ground Zero, we bought a home in Manhattan a few blocks north. We had our first child in 2002. We named her Grace.

On the day after she was born, I made a video from my wife's hospital room at St. Vincent's Hospital. I panned from our newborn to her mother to the window where there was a clear view of where the World Trade Center stood and of our old apartment. I suppose it's evidence of how 9/11 had become a prime mover in our relationship.

Everyone has a 9/11 story. When the subject comes up with friends or family, sometimes my mind immediately goes somewhere else: baseball, my next deadline and the to-do list around the house. Sometimes, I blurt out my story as if my subconscious has blown a pressure-relief valve. It's stupid, really, because my story is just one of inconvenience.

As a journalist covering Wall Street, I have to acknowledge the anniversary every year. Usually, I call someone whose company was based in the WTC. That's the easiest way to do it. People like Jimmy Dunne, head of Sandler O'Neill + Co., have been talking about their experience for 10 years. My experience is a footnote in my mind. They have more important things to say anyway, and they've had a lot of practice.

My story occupied the middle of the spectrum of experience. We lived close. We were home when the planes hit. I was putting on my tie when I heard the explosion, then the screaming. Outside my north-facing window, a crowd already had gathered at Chambers and Church streets. They were looking up at the towers.

We went up to the roof of our building. The north tower was burning. My wife, a photographer, started taking pictures. It was a reflex, I suppose. When people began jumping she put the camera away and walked down the stairs in tears.

Stunned and uncertain, I went to work. I took the 4 train from City Hall, where zombie-like refugees from the towers were wandering aimlessly.

The phones weren't working. So after the first tower fell, I took a cab from work to Canal Street, where the police barricades were. I tried to cross and was ordered back. I walked to the next block, took advantage of the confusion and just ran through.

At Chambers and West Broadway I was covered in white dust. It was raining paper: memos, analyst reports and charts. I got to my block. Our building was empty. Firemen and police were running everywhere. They didn't seem to know if they should evacuate or rush in.

A fireman handed me a dust mask. I asked him for a cigarette, and we smoked watching helpless rescuers try to figure out what the hell to do. In that moment, I remember thinking: What a beautiful fall day.

There is one wonderful memory I don't mind thinking about. I managed to get back to work. My wife, who had trudged two miles through the streets, arrived at the office, and we hugged in a white, dusty embrace.

In the nomadic weeks that followed, we slept on couches at friends' homes, in a hotel and finally in a tony apartment owned by my father's company. We bought entirely new wardrobes and stood in line at the Red Cross. My wife tried to rebuild her photography business, but all of her equipment was in our Ground Zero apartment.

PBS offered her an office. Occasionally, I took a cab to Canal Street and walked with a National Guard escort to my building. I loaded my wife's computers, cameras and a few belongings onto a luggage cart and pulled it back to the perimeter.

On one of those trips, a city policeman asked me if I had been to the site. I hadn't, I said. He offered to take me there. This was weeks after the attack, but the ruins were still burning. It was night, but remains of the buildings were illuminated from huge floodlights. Rescuers were doing their gruesome work. I had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to leave.

We moved back home in early November 2001. A hazardous-materials cleaning crew went through the apartment, sucking mountains of dust in high-powered vacuums. Air filters were a fashionable appliance; we had three, which had to be cleaned daily.

Sometimes during dinner or the middle of the night, we were awakened by sirens. Whenever the body of a firefighter or police officer was recovered, there was a motorcade.

In those early weeks, I spent most of my time attending memorial services and trying to write about the impact on Wall Street. I was numb through it all. If I worried about anything, it was my brother in the army, stationed in Korea.

He made it through the first Gulf War. I worried if he would make it through a second one.

Ten years later, I'm happy to report that he survived. My wife restarted her business, and it flourished until we had a second daughter—and then a third. We sold our place in the city and moved to the suburbs. It was economics, not bad memories, though living farther away does make it a little easier to forget.

I think less and less about 9/11 with every passing year. I'm grateful to be more consumed about the issues I cover on the job, my kids' first day of school and whether we'll have water in the basement after all this rain.

Yet I still hate to throw out any of those clothes I bought in the days after 9/11. And there are six contacts in my address book belonging to people who died that day. They were regular or semiregular sources. I just can't delete them.

Courtesy Michael Quackenbush

Chris Quackenbush, a victim of 9/11, is pictured in an undated photo with his children.

One of those names is Chris Quackenbush. He was an investment banker for Sandler and one of the handful of bankers with whom I had built a friendship. I remember that Mr. Quackenbush talked about his family a lot.

"Do you have kids?" he asked me back then.

"No," I said.

"Oh, you're missing all the fun," he laughed.

I think about that conversation every time I scroll through my address book and hit the "Qs." Chris is the only "Q" that I have.

It's not hard to understand why 9/11 has become an industry or why people from across the globe come to visit Ground Zero. 9/11 was a turning point in this corner of the world for a way of life that seemed innocent.

But I'd be lying if I suggested that this 10th anniversary of the attack and the planned memorials are meaningful to me. I've spent the last decade trying to move on.

If it makes any difference to Chris, you'd be happy to know that I'm not missing the fun anymore.

Write to David Weidner at

(future) home sweet home

Here's the listing for our future home in St. Louis (& a good reason you should come visit us):

Finally! You can go ahead and skip all those other obviously haunted places you were thinking about renting. This badboy is guaranteed free of any ghosts, leprechauns (too often overlooked) and infamously prank-hungry angels. Plus it has a balcony. AND a deck. You can pretty much sit outside in whatever direction you want. No directional constraints!

So you're a fan of stained glass and all wood floors? Good, we have those too. Also, a fenced backyard, full basement and enough space to have a small 90's rave (please note that the lease strongly prohibits all 90's related activity).

Do your clothes complain of being thrashed around in the washing machine or suffer public humiliation at the local laundromat? Well, save all your Sacagaweas and your long underwear's pride - there's a front loading high efficiency washer and dryer residing in the basement along with other useful items like a hot water heater and furnace.

Warning: Do NOT run the central air while blazing up the fire place. They're complete opposites and literally hate each other. If you do accidentally have them going at the same time, please use the awesome vintage kitchen to clean up the resulting created weather system. And by the way, when I say "vintage" I don't mean "vintagely out of date and crappy". I mean, awesome original metal cabinetry along with modern amenities like disposal, dishwasher and the like.

Feel free to brag to your friends about your new neighborhood too. Not only does Tower Grove South make it easy to get to places you want to be (South Grand restaurants, THE Tower Grove Park, Morganford strip, etc...), but it makes other neighborhoods look like the bad parts of Canada. Never been to Canada? Good. Lots of bad parts.

If you aren't asking yourself why you wouldn't want to live in this place, you obviously aren't looking for a beautiful three bedroom home to share with your family, roommates or political allies. If you are, you'd probably want some deets.... Ok then:

Type: 3 Bedroom / 1 bath single family home.

Rent: $1,500/month (conveniently divisible by 3. wink.)

Security Deposit: $1,000

Availability: Sept 1st

Underrated Saved By The Bell Character: Tori

Please email with any questions or to schedule a formal tour (that's where we show you the house in evening wear). We do regular tours too.

Also will consider Rent to Own or straight up sell if you feel like receiving high fives.

A Victorian High Tea

Allow me to brag about the amazing talent of one of my bridesmaids. Check out some of Lauren's latests that she captured at my bridal shower. Mom, Lisa, et al honored me in the perfect way with this special day. Lauren's pictures capture the memories beautifully!

sufi words

Dance when you’re broken open. Dance if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free. ~Rumi

original poem by oli higham

Real people are never fake
And fake people are never real.
The zoning regulations of monochrome,
Split like pre Mandela apartheid.
Painted with the same brush
But from different pots.
Some daubed with the brilliance of perfection.
As for us, the bristling feel of discolouration
Covered with the gloopy residue of failurehood

We walk with heads drawn low by markers
That signed our certificates of not being part of them,
The bright toothed, the smiling brigades of togetherness.
Avoidance of contact with their sneering eyes
And their reflective sheen, eyeballing our exclusion.

And it’s all so black and white.

They stand on a different canyonside,
Elevated above our levels of stature.
The gulf between, a sea of air to bridge.
No foothold to start a stage of grappling,
The distance too impenetrable.
For we are us and they are

And we dare not speak of drifts of consciousness,
Of night time stories and wisps of fleeting thoughts,
Where we find ourselves leaving these shores
In boats of crudely stapled refuse.
Blowing into sails filled with storm cloud breath
In the panicked knowledge that if the wind should cease
We could be dashed upon these rocks once again.
We choose not to gift words to these dreams.
Standing on these rocks hurts less than crashing afresh
After we make foolishness from valiance
And display that
Escape is not ours

It’s just so black and white



We hear those whispers of a bastard child,
Wrapped in perfection and shed of graveclothes,
Who can straddle ravines that dwarf the grandest canyons.
A foot in both camps, enthroned to crowns and rightful places
And betrothed to lowliness and broken faces.
Hands, adorned with royal riches, wipe tears
From eyes transfixed on points of earth,
On dirt and rust, eyes predisposed to down.

And spills truths out of lips carved from beauty itself.
That strain necks as eyes are thrust skywards.
The rumblings that the complete feel as broken as we,
That their masks are tied with stronger cords,
Their shields slip less and hide more
But their muscles bleed like ours.
Their hearts beat in time with our sorrow.

Cupped hands, scarred like our souls, magnify promises
Shouted out like words that need to be shared faster than legs can run.
Promises, sweet like ripe mangos on summer days
That the division of we and they is void.
Nullified in honesty, made to dust in raw hearts.
That our ship may sail, that ports of tomorrow are ours.
That today is done, and bloodied skies may set.
That second chances are served like feasts,
That overflow from wineglasses and silver plates,
Spread on tables buckled under under graceful weight.

found here


"wildflowers don’t move to find the sun’s rays" ~Christian in Of Gods and Men

the lives of the engaged

a couple disclaimers: 1) it's been awhile. i know and i apologize. 2) this post may be a bit "gushy." when Mom commented that i looked so adoringly at John in some photos posted on Facebook, Dad commented, "that's the way it should be."
you probably know John and i are engaged unless, like Charles, you thought John had hurt his leg & i'd reached out for his hand to help him out. yes, Charles was joking. if you didn't hear the retelling of this perfect proposal, you might not realize John and i had thought of getting married atop Mt. Washington. given the logistics involved in planning a wedding atop a mountain known for the world's worst weather, we thought better of it BUT John had an idea. he emailed me that something had come up with work so he wouldn't be able to video skype the Thursday before the July 4th weekend. when i returned home from ballet class that Thursday evening, John was standing in our kitchen! Mom captured the reunion on John's camera (John would be happy to show you if you asked him). simply put, i was completely surprised and overjoyed. he'd flown halfway around the world just to spend the weekend together! John mentioned hiking Mt. Washington that weekend so we headed north Friday. we took a quick route to the top Saturday morning and awaited our turn in line for a photo at the summit sign. we hiked away from the Fourth of July crowd to eat lunch and, as the fog rolled in, we began to pack up for the descent. John positioned the camera for one final shot and then knelt down for that amazing shot. yes, that photo is the actual proposal, caught on camera by my amazing fiance! John's proposal at that moment surprised me -- i thought the moment in which he would have proposed had passed. in my excitement, John had to remind me that i hadn't actually said, "yes," which i quickly corrected.
this gorgeous ring is worth closer inspection (just ask me and I'll be glad to show it off). as Lauren commented, i've found my match in a man that knows proposing atop a mountain with
a ring that symbolizes the ocean and the mountains makes my heart sing. John custom designed this beauty of a ring that incorporates, along the sides, a design that the jeweler calls Burning-Water and, on the top, a diamond surrounded by sapphires to symbolize a mountain. four accent diamonds make it sparkle even more. the setting is raised off my finger to help me avoid snagging the stones and the base is squared off to help the ring remain in place on my finger. even as i type, it's hard to keep my eyes off it, shining in the light. it's a symbol of John's love i will treasure always.
to round out my 200th post, i'll list some of the amazing and astounding things John and i experienced over the past 10 days when i visited him in Japan to see his home of the past two
1. 5.3 magnitude earthquake the evening i arrived in Tokyo, lasting about 15 seconds
2. human-drawn rickshaw ride around Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest temple
3. dinner atop the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel with one-of-a-kind views of Tokyo
4. crossing arguably the world's busiest intersection in Shibuya in search of a statue of Hachiko (which we found)
5. the animated subway ticket teller who bows to patrons
6. the widest assortment of beverage vending machines i've ever seen
7. staying in the same mountainside hut in which John previously stayed during a nighttime
rescue of a fallen hiker on Mt. Fuji
8. being blown off Mt. Fuji by a typhoon (& maintaining very good spirits as our shoes sloshed water and the rain pelted our faces)
9. relaxing in the Fujiyama Onsen and wondering what America would be like if American women were as comfortable with their bodies as Japanese women are (at least in front of members of the same sex)
10. tasting sashimi fresh off the boats next to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo
11. enjoying God's grace and the efficiency of the Japanese when we made our flight though we arrived at the airport 20 minutes prior to departure
12. seeing where John works everyday, though his computer had been unplugged and meticulously wrapped in a plastic bag while he was away, in preparation for a typhoon
13. eating horse sashimi
14. scuba diving sans 7mm suit and realizing it's a lot of fun plus seeing eels, lobster, sea fans, coral, nudibranchs, and sea turtles in their natural habitats is simply magnificent15. sunset over the China Sea
16. spending 10 days with the most wonderful man I know whom i so look forward to marrying

Happy Birthday, Rob

Love146's fearless President, Rob Morris, blogs on his birthday. Have a read.

one of the girls

Since becoming slightly obsessed with Crossfit, I've been initiated into a world with a new lexicon, dress code, menu, and the list goes on. When a Facebook post informed us we'd be doing "one of the girls" for our Workout of the Day (aka WOD), I knew to expect some kind of Crossfit benchmark workout that pops up every now and again to serve as a good measurement of improvement over time. Yesterday's WOD happened to be Helen. During the third 400m run, I was feeling it and tried remembering what I'd done the day before. Why were my legs feeling a little like lead?
And then I remembered the girls -- the ones that we work for every single day. The Helens and Graces and Frans out there being purchased and abused every minute. And then I got mad. And then I forgot about my lead-like legs. And then I asked God, "why?" And then I teared up. And then I prayed, "Lord, I don't want to hate and yet I hate what men do to these girls. And for me, one of the girls is 146. And I'll run and kettle bell swing and pull up for her today. And even though 146 will never know, I pray that in some way dedicating this WOD to her will make a difference." And maybe we make sense of the craziness surrounding us by imbuing everyday actions with some sense of greatness and eternal meaning. We recognize that the small internal steps of determination overflow from lives that are staid against injustice and devoted to redemption. When that determination overflows, it changes the world.

As a completely unrelated addendum to this blog, I have to add a bright note about a recent accomplishment. My office staff just watched a friend's band perform on New Haven Green. While our staff sat on bleachers set to the side, one old man in boldly colored pants and shirt danced directly in front of the stage. Matthew dared me to go dance with the man. Matthew doesn't know me. I went and danced. And the BEST part is that the man liked to dance like me, arms flailing, in his own little world.

weekend ramblings

my scuba instructor, lil' john, took particular joy in informing me that i've been a diver for 9 hours now. he also taught me how "the bends" acquired its name. when one undergoes decompression sickness, bubbles may form in the joints causing skeletal pain (i.e.; pain when bending joints). lil' john also shared that the project chief engineer of the brooklyn bridge suffered the after- affects of decompression sickness for the rest of his life following construction of the bridge.

r.c. sproul's lessons are always entertaining. i watched a session tonight where sproul highlighted the human tongue's propensity to inflict wounds on others. for instance, when face-to-face with constructive criticism, it's unlikely that we would say, "ahh, thanks. that's really going to help with my sanctification." why is it that when faced with a knife-wielding maniac, we'd run but when faced with a constructive criticizer who is "speaking the truth in love," we graciously receive those bitter words? on the flip side, our tongues have great potential to build up, encourage, and edify. wield your tongue wisely.

quote of the day

"Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." ~John Wooden


anyone who knows my family or, more specifically, knows the individuals within my family will appreciate how this tableaux oozes satire. lisa and i were sitting on either side of the kitchen table with a dessert plate between us. forks in hand, we painstakingly shaved away at the treats, consuming, bite by tiny bite, chocolate cheesecake and key lime pie. dad came up to us and held up one of the books i'd intended to read. "Good Calories, Bad Calories," he chided, pointing to the cover of the book. We laughed and continued shaving away.

Memorial Day Weekend Favorites

1. Uncle Kevin's hamburger (yes, that's TOPPING the list!)
2. Memorial Day Trevor Win'E WOD with Mom and Lisa
3. Gini's beautiful bouquet straight from her garden
4. NYCB with Lauren
5. Jozeph's fried tomatoes
6. Mcgolrick Park reverie
7. Van Leeuwen's cinnamon ice cream

Mother Theresa's wisdom

In the developed countries there is a poverty of intimacy, a poverty of spirit, of loneliness, of lack of love. There is no greater sickness in the world today than that one.

it's a brand new day

first off, if you like to meld music with word, play Joshua Radin's "Brand New Day" as you read. we all live in a fallen world where tragedy invades the solace and perfection we endeavor to create -- a perfection that seems so fleeting, shall never exist in this fallen world, and will forever be beyond our abilities to create. we long for that Garden of Eden experience and never quite manage to get there. but we have moments, don't we? moments when the sun is shining and yes, it IS a brand new day.
i've recently taken up Crossfit with vigor and enjoy my Crossfit affiliate's daily repartees that inspire me to run faster, lift more, and complain less, pearls of wisdom often coming via our fearless leader, Lisbeth. the most recent inspiration is to eat the wolf. stop complaining, stop letting the world "eat you" and go out and hunt the wolf rather than being the boy who cried wolf. re-framing is a useful exercise, keeping in mind that this world is seen through 7B eyes everyday from 7B perspectives. you and i can change our perspectives and, wow, it's suddenly a brand new day!

horrendous reading

here @ Love146, we take care in how we communicate prostitution in our own backyards. it's a messy, awful, horrendous business and it surprises even me to read about its realities. here are a couple excerpts from a recent article about a prostitution ring in CT:

"a common theme with every victim is that they came from a dysfunctional home with no positive male role model."

"if you get weepy-eyed about a young girl in Cambodia, why not feel the same way about the girl trafficked from Iowa?"

"His attitude was ‘I was their Jesus and their savior, their knight in shining armor. I gave them food and shelter.’ And he believes it." (comment regarding a pimp's attitude towards the girls he trafficked)

"I went to a psychiatrist and told her my whole story, and she said, ‘Don’t you think you did anything wrong? I can’t help you—you have too many problems.’" (shared by a survivor)

"As of 1999, johns [in Sweden] are punished by up to six months’ imprisonment, traffickers are locked up for 2-to-10-year hits, and prostitutes are offered medical care, education, and housing. As a result, prostitution has been reduced by 50 percent in Sweden, and the purchase of sex, which is understood to be a human-rights abuse, has decreased by 75 percent." (regarding Sweden's Sex Purchase Law)

Motivation to Tread on Trafficking

Today, I read from survivors of sexual exploitation responses to this question: "If you were face to face with God right now and He was listening to you, what would you tell or ask Him?"

May their answers break your heart as they did mine...then cause you to remember that a broken heart is worth celebrating when it changes the world. ~Broken Heart Club

"God, was I a bad child and that is why this happened to me? I know I have done many wrongs against you and I did not obey your commandments, but God, I have suffered so much and I don’t know what to tell you anymore."

"You know, Lord, I am happy because you chose me in this world to provide with trials, but also with hope. Lord...Lord I am both happy and sad I do not know why but I know that you know all."

"God, I really want to change and I ask why is it so hard for me and why does my heart seem so callous and why do I feel so far away from you...I know it’s hard to understand my prayers to you. My heart suffered too much…..I don’t understand myself….something is wrong with me that I can’t accept …….oh God help me….My prayer is all about developing my relationship with you. God, you have done many things in my life. But why, God, do I feel this feeling of loneliness in my heart. I don’t understand. Forgive me Lord please. May you guide my thoughts, heart and lips."


Thanks, Stephanie (VP of Programs @ Love146) for this reminder. "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." II Chronicles 16:9

Flying thoughts

Here's a thought I just read somewhere around 30,000 feet (&, no, I'm nowhere near Everest, just on a plane):
"I believe that God is closer to suffering than to happiness, and that finding God in this way brings peace and repose and a strong, courageous heart." ~Bonhoeffer

Other random thoughts on this flight include memories from a blissful 10-day holiday. Here are a few glimpses...huddling (cuddling) on Mt. Snow to preserve body warmth after plunging ourselves into 45 degree water...reminding ourselves how AWESOME we Tough Mudders were as our teeth chattered and our lips matched the blue war paint streaking our faces...discovering how delicious Cara Cara oranges are at the Torrance Farmers' Mkt...searching for some way to encourage a troubled woman on the streets of Pedro...discovering that there are actually "correct" answers when playing Apples to Apples AND that penguins *may* be more graceful than Grace Kelly :) ...plunging into a cold Pacific Ocean after hiking Sandstone Peak...the best date ever in Palos Verdes at sunset...finally, a trip to the Magic Kingdom as a big kid...deciding hiking sand dunes in Manhattan Beach is good for me (I'll skip the push-ups, though, thank you very much)...seeing old friends ranging from rockstar to pilot...dressing up in fairy wings as my fellow spies donned princess and Superman disguises...honoring the marriage of friends and being reminded of the symbolism of rings :) ...dancing the night away with some fabulous people...clear views of Catalina following rains in LA...precious moments with special people.

self indulgence or not?

sometimes i think blogs are merely self indulgent dribble. i mean, really, seriously, do you care what i'm going to tell you? don't answer that -- i'm actually not fishing for compliments. just reflecting on yet another social media outlet that allows us to peer into another's life without necessarily engaging in that life.

ok, that rant aside, i'm playing Saturday morning catch-up which consists of:
  1. reading David Wilkerson's last blog
  2. catching up on friends' blogs. here's my pick of the morning.
  3. Greg Mortenson's Outside interview
  4. two back issues of the Economist, including Mike Campbell's obit (I have a morbid appreciation for the Economist's obits) which illustrates continued racial struggles in Zimbabwe
  5. if you click nothing else in this list, click this, a link to a summary of a new book on the reversal of globalization -- FASCINATING reading and glad to hear of someone challenging Tom Friedman. The world's NOT flat!

Rtn to land of blogging

I took a bit of a sabbatical from blogging so here's a random list of stuff that's stuck in my head from the past couple days:
  • "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." ~Bishop of London, in his sermon at the royal wedding, quoting St. Catherine of Siena whose festival day is April 29
  • Gaddafi's regime supposedly gave Libyan troops Viagra
  • I really like my "gym"
  • I really like my boyfriend, too (a lot more than my gym, actually)
  • A royal wedding is a good reason to wear a tiara ALL DAY LONG! (Thanks to my sis for outfitting this princess.)


yet another example of why i love where i work . . . in honor of administrative professional's day (april 27), steve broke out the champagne during our weekly staff lunch and we celebrated those people in our midst who labor tirelessly to support this work.

Tugging on Heart Strings

Rob Morris, our fearless President, spoke about Love146 at Gateway Church this weekend. A couple vignettes from his trip left their impressions on me. I'll spare you my commentary.
  1. After Rob's talk, a high school junior and her parents approached Rob. The girl shared that she's been saving money for college but felt called to give all the money to Love146. Rob looked at the parents, wondering if this was for real. The mother started crying and confirmed that, yes, this was for real. The girl gave Love146 $1,600, emptying her bank account.
  2. International Justice Mission (IJM) tweeted Rob on his way up to the pulpit to share that IJM just raided a karaoke bar in the Philippines, rescuing 146 (hmm, interesting number) women and girls held there. This is the kind of partnership we LOVE and the successes for which we praise God.

Tread on Trafficking

Friends, Romans (ok, maybe not Romans but you get the idea), Countrymen, lend me your ears (read: eyes and minds). It's springtime which means it's time to get outside and run, bike, hike, walk, climb, squeeze in a little more skiing, swim, dive, pogo stick, or pick your poison. Love146 has a unique way of focusing our post-cabin fever energy called Tread on Trafficking. You've heard me raving for about a month now about Love146. I'm Love146's brand new VP of Communications. It's been fun, it's been tough, I've shed tears over commercial sexual exploitation and even a few tears over the challenges of my role itself. But at the end of the day, what Love146 does well is awaken the inner abolitionist in each of us.
For me, the inner abolitionist woke up when I realized some of the Nepali street kids with whom I worked so many years ago were victims of sexual exploitation. I pray that dear Minu avoided that fate and survived the hardship of the streets to create a story of hope. Minu was the original owner of the six silver bangles I've worn on my left wrist for nearly eight years. On my last day in Kathmandu, Minu pulled half of her bangles set off her arm and gave them to me. She gave all she had to give; wearing Minu's bangles is an honor, each clink reminds me there are vulnerable ones on whose behalf we are called to stand and fight.
Part of that fight for me involves my journey here at Love146. Does hearing about commercial sexual exploitation make you really mad? Good! It should! Want to do something about it? Become a Treader yourself and commit to a financial or exercise goal for the months of May and June. If exercise isn't your thing, support me as I tread. I'll be ramping up fundraising efforts over this month but I wanted to get this out there ASAP because it just seems like we need to start doing something, anything to abolish child sex slavery and exploitation.

on a happier note

My dear auntie commented on the darkness of my recent posts. Fear not, life in Sarah-land is actually quite blissful. Today was a lovely example of that . . .

Gasping for air and willing my body to do things it doesn't seem to want to do -- this is Crossfit and I'm thankful my mind triumphs over my body.

Gratitude for a couple amazing young men that managed to renovate a forgotten garden.

Glimpses of a mentor who has poured such prayer, time, love, and care into my life, who has poured forth wisdom into a vessel that doesn't always contain that wisdom but always craves more.

Precious moments with a precious Love.

Family who recognizes that my definition of "cooking" is directing others to cook; they love me, though they may chide me unmercifully.

Philosophical discussions with friend and family on subjects as varied as reincarnation, sexual abuse at the hands of authority figures, Judaism, and lemon cake.

Willing spring to come by camping out in front of the fire pit, withstanding smoke-induced tears and chilled temps in an effort to usher in warmer days.

Gazing up at stars on a brilliantly clear night.

Life is so good!

Marilyn's Wisdom

The way out of being a victim is to become a perpetrator.
~Marilyn on how boys in India's masseur industry find a "way out"

things i'm liking lately

1. soan papdi (but not the sugar headache that hits in 10 seconds flat)
2. red meat (I have no idea how this happened)
3. my iPhone that lets me video skype from anywhere
4. catching up on This American Life episodes on said phone
5. running (once I actually get outside, getting out there sometimes takes awhile)
6. Crossfit (yep, I'm a glutton for punishment)
7. being home
8. daffodils from Trader Joe's (part of my Sunday ritual)

arrested heart

Your sufferings have been the theme that has arrested and engages my heart - your sufferings no tongue can express; no language impart.
~William Wilberforce, 1792 Motion for Abolition of Slavery
See what we are insisting upon; that the deeds of men are only discerned by the root of charity. For many things may be done that have a good appearance, and yet proceed not from the root of charity. For thorns also have flowers: some actions truly seem rough, seem savage; howbeit they are done for discipline at the bidding of charity. Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.
~St. Augustine

boxing metaphor

Sometimes we need to be forced up against the ropes because when we're up against the ropes, we have a reason to fight. ~Andrew, Love146's Events Guy Extraordinaire from Liverpool

new job honeymoon

I'm very much in the honeymoon stage with my new job so I'll take you on the journey with me. Following is a smattering of the conversations had in and around the office this week which gives you a sense of how unique and quirky our crew is.

You're doing Tough Mudder? No way! My husband and I are doing a Mud Run; you should all join us! ~Nicole, excited to have another adventurer in-house

The uterus is the center of all that is feminine. ~Steve, explaining a women's lib series his wife is listening to

Rob to Group: If you ordered Girl Scout cookies, they will be in Monday.
Steve: Yes!
Sarah to Steve: But Girl Scout cookies aren't vegan.
Steve: Oh, bugger! I'll have to wait until my 30 day vegan cleanse is over.

Steve to Group: My lunch is vegan chocolate cake.

Sarah to Marilyn: What's wine doing on the table?
Marilyn to Sarah: Oh, on Fridays someone usually makes a run to get wine for the office.

New Haven is a key location in the abolition movement. The people on the Amistad exercised right there on the Green and their fate was determined right there in the court house. ~Steve explaining why Love146 loves New Haven

And here are a few key Love146 phrases:
It's not about the role, it's about the goal.
Watching abolitionists wake up.

And, yes, we talk about the BIG problem of child sex slavery and exploitation that we're abolishing. It's a weighty subject so we interject levity when possible which enables us to press onward.


I began a new job yesterday at Love146. It reminded me of so many other first days of school, of work, of ballet camp. Usually, as my family can attest, those first days were filled with tears and technicolor yawns. I remember a specific first day of ballet camp in Carlisle, PA where I was poised over a drainage grate, sick to my stomach. Thankfully, we can all laugh about that miserable moment now.
Yesterday was graciously different. From the moment an elderly man yanked the front door open for me (I had already called our front desk, claiming I was locked out), I was welcomed and felt at home. We dove straight into scheduling projects on the communications calendar, reviewing the budget, and creating a media strategy. This kind of hands-on, immediately gratifying work is such an answer to prayer. And how cool to be working towards abolishing child sex slavery and exploitation? Perhaps the best part is the determination and laser focus my peers maintain on that mission. They inspire me.

What Does Love Look Like?

I blogged about this song weeks ago but decided to write about it one more time because it's such a good song and it was part of my Patagonia experience. When I hike, I find songs repeating in my head so I try to fixate on the best songs that run across my mind. This song, "Arms Wide Open," was the song that stuck in my head the most (in a good way). On a particularly steep hike up to Campamento Britanico, in the rain, with a pack that was digging into my hips, thinking about all the recent and upcoming changes in my life, the refrain "What does love look like?" echoed around my mind followed by "then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me" and I began to cry. The love of such a God that died for me is profound. I can't accurately describe what transpired on that hike, suffice to say I encountered God and emerged changed. His command that, "You shall love me with arms wide open, a heart exposed" hit me square in the chest, leveling me and reminding me that He calls us to live with complete abandon to Him.

How I Got My Stove to Work


Patagonia y Buenos Aires

Random Travelnesses

"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us." ~Ann Lamont, Traveling Mercies, 143

Leaving Buenos Aires for Santiago, I witnessed a man in purple pants, white polo with popped collar, white boating shoes, and purple ascot. This is where fashion is created!

Entering Buenos Aires after Patagonia, I am convinced I saw a car bearing the following three decals: Rumi, Tommy Hilfiger, and Nouwen. I also learned where all our American cars are imported, witnessing the roads flooded with Chevys and Fords.

Driving through Buenos Aires reminded me of driving through Mumbai with the European architecture, highways high above the streets, and tall, flowering trees.

In my ongoing attempt to awaken the innocent Sarah within, I reasoned that the woman at the Subte (Argentinean metro) station who stiffed me ~$25 probably thought I'd given her a 10 pesos note rather than the 100 pesos note I really gave her. That was the worst it got on the entire trip -- not bad at'all!

Walking around Buenos Aires in the morning reminded me of Valencia, Spain during Las Fallas festival where we stayed up til dawn, awoke at 8am to daily cannon blasts, and wandered out to sidewalk cafes to sip our bon bons and churros con chocolate before beginning a new day of celebrating. The Buenos Aires sidewalks overflowed with little, old men of fantastic character, their trousers pulled high above their waists as they animatedly debated the news of the day.

At the grave of Eva Peron, one tourist remarked, "we all know she wasn't the nicest person and yet, here we are."

"Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."

Patagonia, There I Was!

And, Buenos Aires, here I am where blogging is a much safer option than wandering the streets. Don´t worry, I´ll wander beyond the walls of my hostel eventually but I needed to recover after 29 hours of travel from my camping site in Patagonia to my hostel in Buenos Aires. And after seven days of solo trekking, the idea of being in a mega-city, 15MM people strong, is a little overwhelming. I´ll post pictures soon but here´s a snippet to whet your appetite.
After three days of rain out of a total six days, I endured my tent until noon and then made a break for it, heading up towards La Mirador Britannica in the French Valley of Torres del Paine Parque Nacional. There was a steady drizzle, nay rain, coming down and I passed some folks a little too soon to be La Mirador so I continued the steep uphill slog, slipping, sliding, and crawling my way to some unknown, unmarked top. I set my sights on a saddle at the base of the backside of Torres Grande at the top of the French Valley. I sort of followed some trail that maybe existed, as much as a trail exists in an avalanche field of boulders. When the wind sent me wobbling sideways, I gave up the morraine scramble (oh, how I loathe morraine) and sat to enjoy the view. It´s fair to say God blessed me with one of the most spectacular views of my lifetime. There was a break in the rain and even some rays of sun -- THIS was the Patagonia of my dreams. Oh, yeah, and on the descent, I noticed ¨MIRADOR¨spray painted across the rock where I had passed those folks hours earlier. I´m glad I didn´t stop there!

Patagonia, Here I Come!

In celebration of so many things (like a new job and turning 30 and ridiculously good looking mountains), I'm taking off tomorrow to the southern hemisphere (surprisingly, my first time there) for 1-1/2 weeks. My plan is to enjoy the W trek in Torres del Paine National Park and snag 1-1/2 days in Buenos Aires on my way out. I'm charging my camera in preparation for some amazing photo ops. I'm psyched and maybe a little scared but this is gonna be good!

thought-provoking reading

In fact, all those who know me, or think they know me from my words and silences, wonder about the same thing: about solitude erected as a screen, a wall, and also as a mirror...Is madness contagious?...If they're free to choose reason and happiness, I'm free to want neither one. My obsession: one minute before sinking into madness entirely, to shout the truth to men's faces, even if it makes them go mad. (Wiesel, A Mad Desire to Dance, 18)

As [God] more fully equips your ship to sail in storms, He will send you on longer voyages to more boisterous seas...You cannot sit down and put the victory wreath on your head. You do not have a crown. (Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters, 2)

21 Day Countdown

Don't worry, I'm not beginning another blog marathon but you might not hear much from me for the next 21 days because I'll be enjoying a final few weeks of play before work world at Love146.

Need a Valentine's Day Card?

Check this out. You can let someone know you love them AND help to end child sex slavery and exploitation, all at the same time! Once you fill out the fields, there's an option to donate as much or as little as you'd like to Love146, an awesome organization of people dedicated to abolishing child sex slavery, nothing less.