Sunday, October 16, 2011

homes. and people. with a touch of whimsy

Night of Musical Whimsy 2010 from Ben Welstead on Vimeo.

my friends ben & rene had this wonderful idea last year. they decided to get their friends together for a 'night of musical whimsy'. if you played an instrument, any instrument, bring it. if you didn't play anything, well. shoot. you could play a tambourine. or rip pages out of a phone book. they printed out lyrics and chords. and played. and sang. when they showed me the video i smiled as tears brimmed my eyelids. so beautiful. and fun.

i thought about this video today as i was sitting alone in my apartment. as a high, high Extrovert, long periods of alone time are hard on my little heart. my heart is most full when homes are FULL of people. my home. other peoples homes. it doesn't matter. just homes. and people. if you ask me to name the 'best.nights.ever' the common theme is easy to spot. lots of people. in a home. possibly around a table. bonus points if twinkle lights are involved.

i think i need to do this. friends. instruments. music. beer. food. twinkle lights. whimsy. you're all invited. i call dibs on the tambourine though. ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


the trail that I run on runs right across the street from Southwest Early College Campus. It's a beautiful building, all limestone and windows...but as most kcmo schools, filled with students who are struggling.

Lately I've seen Southwest kids running on the trail after school. There are two teachers who (I'm assuming here) have started an after school running club. I LOVE running by these kids. Seeing them exploring something I love makes my heart explode. Knowing the purpose and strength and discipline running, heck, any sport can give them makes me smile. Everyday it's the same crew. There's the girl with the cat ear headband who says "hi" every time she sees me. The young guy who is always way ahead, with the most determined face I've ever seen. These kids run in regular shoes. Regular clothes. A far cry from most of the Garmin pacing, dry-fit wearing runners that usually occupy the trail (I'm totally in that latter category-lest I judge).

Earlier this week all the students were running together. There was one guy-he looked more like a lineman than a runner-who was running toward the end of the pack. I loved that he didn't fit the stereotype, yet was still out there doing the work. As I passed by him I heard him saying under his breath "heel-toe. Heel-toe. Heel-toe."

I almost lost it. How many times have I been on the trail doing WHATEVER it took to keep going? How many times have I wanted to quit only to convince myself that I could make it to the next street. The next block.

Sometime life feels like that. Doing anything I can to make it to the next day. Out of breath. Tired. Worn out. Knowing I can make it, but just slightly afraid I can't. it's those times when i most want to give up, that doing the work matters. Staying the course. Taking a new grip with tired hands. How ever you want to say it-it's all the same. Heel-toe. Heel-toe.

And then. I thought I was through. Done. over it. Then, before I even know it. I've changed old habits. Believed new truths. Acted differently. ran more miles than I can count. Not through fancy gps watches and heart monitors and clothes that wick sweat. Nope. Just like linebackerturnedrunner southwest guy. heel-toe.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

pickin' me a boquet of dogwood flowers

the longest i've ever lived in one place was a little stucco duplex at ft. bragg, nc. we moved there when i was 8. 1990. i remember it was like 3 weeks before school ended. and they made me go to the last 3 weeks of 2nd grade. at a totally new school. with the meanest teacher i've ever had. she didn't like my handwriting-and would tell me so, every single day. we lived in that same house until the end of 7th grade. 1995. 5 years.

the housing area (military speak for neighborhood) we lived in was safe, so we were given free reign to pretty much do whatever we wanted. just as long as we were in by the time the street lights turned on. we'd ride our bikes, pretending they were horses galloping through the fields. i can't tell you how many forts i built. or the 'houses' we made out of pine needles. or the number of times i almost fell off the rope swing and into the creek. every year on the last day of school we'd have a shaving cream/pine cone fight. i know. weird. we'd get off the bus, run to our backyards to get the cans of shaving cream our mom's had left out and go at it. when you ran out of shaving cream you just started throwing pine cones. i lived outside. we all did.

a week and a half ago i was back in the land of the pines. i hadn't been back in 16 years. i was there for a wedding. my first friend, jenna's, actually. we met when i was in 5th grade, she in 6th. she liked the boy who liked me. she told me that it was ok, and i could have him, because she wanted to be friends with me more than she wanted to date him. and 16 years later i stood next to her as she married the man of her dreams.

it was the most surreal thing-the whole weekend. most army kids don't have life long friends they keep in touch with. we hadn't seen each other since high school. it didn't matter. it instantly felt familiar. safe. like i had wandered into a dream. her wedding was at the college she went to, where we had gone to camp one summer. montreat college, nestled deep in the mountains. it was literally a dream. those dreams that you're not sure if you're awake or asleep. it seems too perfect for you to be awake...but its so real-you have to be.

her family loves well. really, really well. and it was all sorts of southern culture at its best. i'm sure i blew through all of the southern social cues. and i'm also fairly certain they didn't quite know what to do with a feisty red head from kansas city. but we covered those miscues and awkward moments with lots of wine and lots of food. and laughter. dang. i laughed more than i have laughed in a long, long time.

the last night i was there looked around the room. kids a few years out of college. retired generals who had fought in multiple wars. wives. sisters. mothers. brothers. friends. all playing the craziest game of catch phrase ever. harassing each other like best friends. like family. because we were. in the military your friends ARE your family.

as i drove down the mountain on the way back to the airport i smiled through tears. smiling at the scent of pines as i drove down the highway. smiling as i continued to remember stories about growing up with jenna. smiling as i remembered times with my family there. holidays. and vacations. and daily life. tears fell softly as i drove further and further away from a place that loved me well that weekend. that had always loved me well. they say you can never go home again. and i beg to differ.

granted, i'll be the first to admit that when the longest you've lived in one house is 5 years, your concept of home is gonna be pretty jacked. but when you breathe in deeply, mountain air and feel the most alive you've felt. and then exhale and feel like all the peace in the world is yours, that counts.

so a week and a half later i'm still reconciling it all. trying to figure it all out and trying to not think about it. untangling the strings. untying the knots. and then retying some. letting it be what it is. letting me be who i am.

(and wouldn't you know i didn't take one photo. shoot.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

so, apparently i'm an extrovert

i mean, i've never doubted it before, but i've loved my alone time. just never realized how balanced it was with my talk my face off time.

saturday i had one conversation. one. i chatted with a sweet couple at the farmers market for about 10 min and then didn't talk to anyone else the rest of the day. i didn't realize what a big deal this was until at about 10pm i felt like i had been hit by a truck. completely drained. i sat there baffled. drained? but i did life giving things, like reading, relaxing, cleaning. normal things that don't drain a person. and then i remembered my one measly little ten minute conversation. for me, someone who could easily carry on a conversation for excess of 5 hours, this was a big deal. i never realized that not talking could exhaust me.

About a month ago i moved into an apartment by myself. i love it. its the cutest little place (pictures to come soon. when i remember to take them in the daylight). with the best location. and it just perfect for me. At the same time, my cube mate of two years (which is a long time in my work world to sit next to someone) moved to Australia.

so basically i went from roommate & cube mate. to living & sitting alone. all in one week. for an introvert this would be equatable to being surrounded by people and engaging with them all day. exhausting, right?

so its been an adjustment. and i have to be really intentional about conversations, because they just don't randomly happen anymore due to proximity. like in so many other areas of my life right now, intentionality is key. how long have i just sat around and waited for my life to happen and then got frustrated because nothing was. yup. makes total sense ;) yet i've lived that way for soo long.

so its not every day that i see people, or have really deep, meaningful conversations. but its almost sweeter when those do happen, because there has been almost a pregnant pause, a weight, a set-apartness to us being together. i feel like i've earned that time, internally. the fruit of this has been sweet. the waiting for it to spring up and grow, well, that's been a little more difficult, but good. and really, when you get to spend time with these great girls, the goodness is totally worth the wait.

crystal and i at mumford. the second time we've seen them. i have a few concert buddies, and crystal has been tried and true. some of my favorite concert memories have involved this girl.

amy and i decided to have a totally farmers market dinner. sweet potato fries (with the BEST dipping sauce ever), salad and wine. yeah. there's just something incredible about eating food that was picked the day before, and cooked with aprons on. aprons just make everything more fun, no?

i'll leave you with nothing really related to being an extrovert, or hanging out with people. but it might be the most beautiful bouquet of flowers ever. if i were a bouquet of flowers i'd be this one right here. all wild and free.

Friday, June 10, 2011

LIFE=good stories

preface: i'm a horrible, absolutely awful story teller. just ask my friends. this one time i told "the worst story ever" and i think the teasing has finally stopped, about a year later. i'll start a story and forget names, and places, and more details than were imaginable. and yet, i really, really love good stories. I generally try to live a good story, even if i can't recount the details later. ;)

i have friends who are telling good stories.

last week my friends graham, kyle, abby and chris (well, i don't really know chris, buuuut he runs with this crew, so he's probably stellar. hi chris, nice to meet you.) launched their company, LIFE=. they've been working on it for a good while now, but it officially launched with a what else, but a launch party. because you know its not official until there is a party.

i was excited about this party because i love these guys. and i love their product (for real, its awesome) and i love what they're about. "a better you creates a better world" BUT i get up every morning at 4:30. and work for 8 hours. and then go on a run. so by about 7:30, i'm beat. for sure not gearing up for a party. i knew i didn't have a whole lot of energy left to give people. as i walked in, i felt the strongest sense that i wasn't there to talk, to half tell stories i couldn't remember, but to listen. so that's what i did.

i heard stories about my friends who are living in a church in the middle of a part of town known as the murder factory named for just the culture of violence that is bred there. they're newly weds sharing ONE bathroom with 4 other couples and two single girls. They have a heart for the city. and the people who live there. They're developing relationships with their neighbors. loving up on the kids running the streets. praying for change, redemption, and seeing it happen. being a part of it happening. friends, i don't have an innate bent for the inner city, but after talking with them for 30 minutes, i was so filled with encouragement and excited for what they're doing! the lives they're living. the stories they're writing.

they left and i caught up with another friend, who has just gone through a really hard season. over the last year, he's seen his hopes, his dreams slip through his fingers like sand. now, he knows enough to know that "it was for the best" but its still painful. i was talking to him a few months ago, asking what was new and he shared a new adventure that might be happening. i asked him what it was. he didn't want to tell me, in case it didn't happen. and he was tired of telling people and everything falling through. i totally understood. but last week. i sat next to him and i got to hear dream after dream after dream being fulfilled in his life. more than he could have expected. it was beautiful. where he could have given up, resigned to always getting the short end, he pressed in. and he's doing the dang thing! His joy and peace are palpable. when everything felt stacked against him, he chose to believe a better story.

as i was walking out, an old friend was just coming in. Well, he's not an old friend, we haven't even known each other a year, but i feel like we've been friends forever. see, he started/help start the community i'm a part of. the community that has taught me about identity. and and mission. how to love well. and how to be loved well. he was there long before i was, and laid foundation that i don't think we'll ever know the full scope of. so over this year, he's talked about his heart getting pulled, between his job and his passions. His job that he didn't absolutely, completely love was draining him for the work that he felt really called to. it wasn't working. so he decided to switch it up. change departments. go part time. have more time to invest in the community he's a part of now. a community that knows that change happens through life on life relationships. sharing stories.

i really didn't know what to expect at this party. didn't know who was going to be there. or what it was going to be like. i thought i was going there to support my friends. cheer them on. remind them that the hard work, the hard year has been worth it. life was going to = me encouraging others. how tragic would that have been if that's all that i would have been present for.

i'm so glad i heard that still, small voice telling me to listen. i'm so glad i actually listened. amazing, really incredible things are happening all around us. in our lives, in our friends lives, in strangers lives. There are good stories being written over and over and over. there are stories being redeemed. beautiful stories coming out of the dust. are our lives telling those stories? better yet, are we listening to them?

what does LIFE= for you?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

hope .

my life is a little scattered lately. and by a little, i really mean a whole heck of a lot. there isn't much that feels normal. or stable. or consistent. and the things that are, i'm clinging to them for dear life. like a wood plank in the middle of rapids. or what i assume rapids would feel like. this is what i was surrounded by saturday night.

in the midst of chaos, i'm clinging to hope.

i'm clinging to it with everything i've got right now.

on friday night a few friends and i went to vintage in lawrence for their good friday service. the pastor, seth, challenged us to think of a short phrase of what hope is to us. i lost the little sheet we were handed when we walked in, so i just started writing in my journal.

my hope:
that you don't abandon me. that you're right there leading me-that you've prepared a place for me. that i fit. that i belong. that in your suffering you've created a place for my heart to be me. fully me. quirky. alive. silly. emotional. intense. my hope is that you've gone before me. you know and have brought me to this. you knew what you were doing when you created me and i delight you

everyone who hadn't lost their papers in the 5 min we were supposed to hold onto them, then passed them to the ushers. after a few more songs, they wheel out a cross with everyone's papers tacked to a cross. seth talked about what the original good friday was like to the disciples. everything they had believed in, everything that they had trusted, and hoped in was on the cross. He asked us to think what it would have been like if we didn't know that sunday was coming. if what we had written down was dissolved right in front of us.

i looked back in my journal and fought back tears.

i absolutely can't imagine if i didn't have hope.

and that's the difference between then and now. is that i know the end of the story. i don't need to run and hide on friday because i know that my God is alive! and that my hope is secure in him.

i know all this sounds overly dramatic, and i'm well aware that not everything in my life is shifty. it just feels that way. i'm packing up a home that has been lovely for the last 14 months. putting things in boxes not really knowing where i'm going. closing one chapter, a little unsure of what the next one holds. its a little unsettling, to say the least. living in a half packed home, is just awkward. and annoying. so its really no surprise to me that this week, these verses have brought hope. and stability.

"be strong and courageous! don't be afraid for the lord your God will personally go ahead of you. he will neither fail, nor abandon you..." deut 31:6

"i've picked you. i haven't dropped you. don't panic. i'm with you. there is no need to fear, for i'm your God. i'll give you strength. i'll help you. i'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you" isa 41:9-10"

"and the peace i give is a gift the world cannot give. so don't be troubled or afraid." john 14:27


"so take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees..." heb 12:12


its sunday. and i'm excited! real excited! because i DO have hope. and Christ. and promises that i can believe. and and incredible friends, who are letting me live in guest rooms, and storing my stuff. friends who remind me who i am. what's true about me. what's true about Jesus.

i have no idea whats next.

"...yet i still dare to hope" lamentations 3:21

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

day of awesomeness

so i've got this confession. i really love The OC. like, really love it. i started watching it when i was in china (and actually judged the M's who got me hooked. the first episode we watched was the one where julie is sleeping with marissa's (her daughter) ex-boyfriend, luke. um. we were missionaries why were we watching this trash? ha.

it only took me about a week of being home to burn through the first 2 seasons.

now, i'm not saying it's a wholesome show. or that it has a good message. or anything like that. but i'm ALL about character development, and how characters change over the course of a book, movie, tv show. teen melodrama is full of characters developing. juvie to Berkley. fashionista to activist. see, all sorts of development.

Diane hadn't been enlightened to the wonder that is the oc when she first moved in with me and rachel. So we decided, lets take a saturday and spend it watching the oc. and the "day of awesomeness" was born. Diane came over at 9 with coffee and bagels. and we started watching. at about 2 we would take a break to go walk to the village for more coffee (pumpkin spice latte anyone?). At about 7 we'd pause and Rachel would make her famous homemade pizza. We'd generally quit at about 1am. 15 hours. of watching the oc.

yup. awesome.

we did this every now and then until we had watched all 4 seasons.

and then diane went to chicago and reconnected with a boy who was actually FROM the oc. she came back and i asked "how was it?" i had been praying the whole time that she would fall madly in love with him. She looks at me with this sly grin and says "well. at one point we were sitting on the sofa. and if he would have turned his head 30 degrees, i totally would have made out with him".

diane and jon got married on saturday. it was wonderful. i was that girl who wept through the whole ceremony. it couldn't have been more perfectly them. their lives and friends intersected and meshed beautifully. and i got to meet and become BFF's with people i had previously only heard stories about. steel spine jarret. trader joe's bill. betsy.

the ultimate day of awesomeness.

diane. i love you. i'm so happy you finally listened to all of us and married jon.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

here .

i like to think a quiet blog equates to a really crazy real life, with no time to write about it... or maybe its just laziness. either real life has been crazy lately. breathtakingly beautiful. but crazy busy. things are stirring, and i'm doing my best to see how it all is sorting out. weekend trips to the mountains always help with the sorting out of the stirring.

right now i'm sitting in a delightful (big) kitchen, drinking some french press, eating organic yogurt topped with home made (gluten free) granola. its a little gray and wet outside, finally. the last two days have been sunny and dry. bellingham pulled out all the stops to make me feel at home. but i'm loving the gray. and the rain. and the french press. especially the french press.

i don't have many words yet, about this place. about being here. i feel like i've been simultaneously trying to be present and soak it in, and also be little miss nancy drew, analyzing everything. how did this feel? what does that look like? do you like this? them? its exhausting. a friend called last night. and reminded me just how tiring it was, and challenged me to just be here. just laugh. and enjoy. to listen to stories, and tell them, and just be.

what a concept...

so i'm here. no solid words. and only one photo uploaded.

seattle and i. we look great together, don't ya think?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

it always is


the lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness. psalm 25:10

it's been a long week. one of those weeks, where loving people doesn't overflow and abound (bitterness, anger, and hurt, that's abounding in plenty). love, actually, hasn't been my first response in any situation this week. yikes. and SUCK.

so i've had to force myself. and remind myself. over and over. and then some more. lead with love, anna. lead with love.

so, today's a new day. that i'm sure will be full of opportunities to be hurt, and frustrated, and tired, and angry. but i'm also pretty positive that those will actually be opportunities to let love seep in, to let it overflow.

for it to be the only answer.

Friday, February 25, 2011


i have the best neighbor. his name is george. when it snowed for 3 days straight (ok, maybe just one) a few weeks ago, i came home to this. never fails. the snow has barely stopped falling and george is out shovelling our sidewalk and steps.

this morning at 5:15, i go out to scrape the layers of snow and ice of my car.* i open the door and who do i see? george. digging my car out and scraping it. at 5:15am!! because he knows that i leave at 5:30. are you kidding me?

generous, i tell you. extravagant, even. undeserved like grace, but oh so welcome.

i learned a lot about generosity this week. over and over. and then some more.

*it actually wasn't my car. it was the kautzi's car. which they loaned to me, in the middle of a snowstorm, with a sicky baby in tow. because my car is in the shop, getting detailed, for free. because i spilled chili all over it.

see what i mean about generous? over and over and over.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


amy and i laughing hysterically. which results in my mouth wide open and my eyes disappearing. i can't help it, and really, i actually love it.

photo by becca spears

every january i try to set a word, or intention for the year. generally it comes out of the blue and i just roll with it. last year i don't remember having a word, but i felt like it was going to be a hard, pruning year. note to self. if you set an intention of "pruning" don't be surprised if God does just that. :)

this year my word is joy.

i just decided that this year would be marked with JOY. the laugh so hard you cry, joy. the i can't believe how absolutely incredible God is, joy. the delight in the little things, joy.

sometimes joy comes easy. and sometimes it has to be fought for. sometimes i can see it coming from a mile away, and other times it comes in the least of expected places. and sometimes its just not there.

i was reading "Into the Wild" this morning and was reminded of this, of where joy comes from. i get a little nervous about being inspired by a book where the main character drops everything to wander into the alaskan woods, and then dies. lord knows i don't need any inspiration to drop everything and head west. but what alex wrote struck me.

"you are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. it is in everything and anything we might experience. we just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.

my point is that you do not need me or anyone else to bring this new kind of light into your life. it is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances." -into the wild, jon krakauer

there are those times when joy is just hard. when i'm trying to search frantically for it and it takes everything i have not to cuss, (and usually end up cussing anyway), much less to find joy in anything. probably because i'm pretty consumed with myself in those moments. i think that's what alex is getting at in his letter to ron. That when we're wrapped up with ourselves, its no surprise that joy is hard to find. but when we open our eyes to people around us, when we choose to live life a little differently, when we chose to do the hard, unfamiliar things, joy surprisingly floods in.

its hard work. these new things. this unfamiliar life. holy, is it ever! but to me, its worth it. joy is worth it.

"... ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. go forth and perform awe-inspiring deeds! ... you love justice and hate evil. therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else." psalm 45:4&7

yup. that sounds about right.

Monday, January 31, 2011


last night at church glen was speaking on believing God and told a story from our time in colorado. One night after dinner i was hanging with ben and emri (my favorite little person ever) and he stood her up on the stairwell banister, which was about 4 feet off the ground. At first he was holding onto her and her eyes were wide, and a little frightened. then he started to let go and back away. she started to whimper 'no', eyes wide, shaking, seemingly terrified. but then she locked eyes with her daddy, smiled huge and jumped into his open arms. pure delight. she squealed and protested "again". they did this a few more times.

photo of emri & ben : jewel anderson

i remember standing there when emri was in the midst of deciding if ben was really not going to let her fall. i looked at her with tears in my eyes and wanted to scoop her up, off the banister. and hold her safe. as if i knew better than her DAD. but i just stood there, watching the scene unfold.

There was something in that moment that struck me. i KNEW ben was going to catch her. ironically, once last year i was falling down some stairs and he caught me. so it wasn't that i didn't believe he would catch her. i think i was afraid that she wouldn't believe he'd catch her.

i wanted to save her from that fear.

i wanted to save me from that fear.

see, i don't do anything i'm not sure, absolutely positive, i'll succeed at. thankfully i'm randomly good at a fair number of things, so i can keep this game going for a while, everyone thinking i'm taking huge risks and trusting God.

but the reality is fear has crippled me. i've stood on the banister, eyes wide, shaking a little, whimpering "no".

where did i get the idea that my Daddy wasn't going to catch me? That if i jumped He'd turn his back, ready to catch everyone else, BUT me? friends, those are some pretty JACKED thoughts.

As with most things, it's a choice. A month ago i decided to choose to believe God. to take him at his word. to choose to believe that i am who he says i am, that he can do what he says he can do. that he's generous and a giver. that he gives good gifts. to me.

"the lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. o lord of heaven's armies, what joy for those who trust in you."
psalm 84:11-12

all it took was em looking in her daddy's eyes and she knew he'd catch her. All we, shoot, all i, need to do is look into my Daddy's eyes and know that he's going to catch me.

all i need to do is jump.

Friday, January 28, 2011


i've always been that girl. the one with the crazy memory for pointless details. not only can i remember exactly when we met (3ish years ago), i'll also remember what you were wearing (that maroon sweater) and what we talked about in our first conversation (isaiah 30). believe me, this gets awkward when i remember things and bring them up later. in my head everyone remembers those details, apparently not. obviously this also makes me a GREAT teammate in any sort of trivia game.

but then there are things that i have a really hard time remembering. you know. the important things. like the conversation we had 30 minutes ago. what did you say again? or how faithful the lord has been. wait, wasn't it just yesterday i believed that promise? funny how our minds work like that.

so i'm trying to work on remembering. in the moment. to have the time span between situation-lies-truth decrease significantly. i want something to happen have my first response be truth. remembering promises and His faithfulness.

a few years ago kerri introduced me to the idea of stacking stones. It's found in Joshua 4.
We will use these stones to build a memorial. in the future your children will ask you, 'what do these stones mean?' then you will tell them, 'They remind us that the jordan river stopped flowing when the ark for the Lord's covenant went across' these stones will stand as a memorial among the people of israel forever. josh 4:6-7

their family has a bowl full of stones to remind them of the ways the lord has been faithful. Ker has even started blogging to help them (and us) remember how the Lord has been faithful.

as with most things, i'm following her lead. i don't want to forget what the Lord has done. i want to remember i want to go back and remind myself over and over and over again, if i have to.

so here we are. remembering.

for my birthday kerri had the beautiful idea for everyone to write something that i was on a stone. so i could keep them and remember. photo cred: my awesome roommate bethany