Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A letter to nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends:

[This is an article that Shane Claiborne was asked to write for Esquire magazine. And I love it. If you are someone who doesn't believe, sort-of believes, or used to believe in Christianity, this is for you. ~Courtney]

November 18, 2009, 9:05 AM

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

This radical Christian's ministry for the poor, The Simple Way, has gotten him in some trouble with his fellow Evangelicals. We asked him to address those who don't believe.

By Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne

The Simple Way

To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it's that you can have great answers and still be mean... and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our "Gospel" is the message that Jesus came "not [for] the healthy... but the sick." And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God's Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven." On earth.

One of Jesus' most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan... you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I'm sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine... but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: "The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you." And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about "dirty theology" — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man's eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, "I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you." If those of us who believe in God do not believe God's grace is big enough to save the whole world... well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Turner's Year-In-Review

I cannot believe that we are approaching Turner's second birthday! He's grown! The progression from 12 to 24 months is such a huge change, so I thought I'd document this past year of Turner's teeny tiny life, month-by-month.

January 2009-Turner's First Birthday Party

February 2009-Barnum & Bailey's Circus

March 2009-Pop-Pop's art show

April 2009-Beach Trip

May 2009-This hair is out of control!

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009-The Big Haircut

September 2009

October 2009-Fireman Turner on Halloween

November 2009

December 2009-New Elmo Slippers for Christmas

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hilarious Outtakes @ I Heart Faces

After a wonderful Christmas, I thought I'd capture one last sweet moment of my boys in their matching Christmas pajamas in front of the tree.

Holden and Turner had different ideas.

Turner had absolutely no interest in standing still in front of a tree for more than a third of a second and Holden wasn't exactly in the sweetest mood after a long day of presents and sugary treats.

Here is Daddy trying to talk them into it:

Then Mimi tried:

Around this point, Holden got annoyed and his inner first-born-boss took over:

And this, I'm sad to say, was the best I was able to get:

P.S. I'd like to thank my husband for the brand new Nikon D5000 that was under the tree Christmas morning!! Woohoo!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009


What could be more exciting than climbing at a pumpkin patch?! This is Turner (he's 20 months now) trying to scale the wall to the huge pile of pumpkins. He is a boy who does not wear expressive emotions on his sleeve--so this is his excited face!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fix-It Friday

So I've taken a little hiatus from IHeartFaces (mostly due to a lack of great pictures to play around with). But I'm back!!
Here was today's Fix-It Before:

And my After:

I just have to add that while I did have the inkling to crop it a little tighter, I just couldn't give up the way his precious little hand is gripping his tissue. I love it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Perfect Tuesday

This week I had a near-perfect day. My husband was off work on Tuesday and it went like this:

6:30am~Ryan slips out of bed when Holden wakes up and together they go to Home Depot to buy some yardwork supplies.

8am~I am still sleeping (woohoo!) when Ryan, upon his return, wakes me to see if I want to go to IHOP for breakfast. Does he even have to ask??

8:30am~Harvest Nut Pancakes with blueberries and bananas with scrambled eggs and coffee.

9:45am~Leave the house (without the children!) to meet up with my long-time best friend of 13 years to go see the Titanic exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium.

2:30pm~Late lunch at Taqueria del Sol. So delicious!

4pm~Arrive back home to a beautiful yard, husband working away, and a dozen red roses waiting inside for me! Clean out Ryan's car (and I mean ArmorAll, Windex, and pulling out the Dyson to vacuum).
Aside: This may not sound like fun, but I really love organizing and the sense of accomplishment that follows!

5pm~So much fun with the family. One of those moments that you consciously try to etch into your brain for safekeeping. Boys laughing and hugging and playing.

6:30pm~Boys to bed, then Ryan and I order Buffalo's (they deliver!) and spend a quiet evening at home together.

Ahhhh....I just needed to document this perfect day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Before & After

There are very few things that I love more than a great Before/After shot!! I have actually been wanting to do a before and after post with some of my makeups, then saw tonight that the theme for IHeartFaces this week is...(you guessed it)...Before & After! Of course so many makeups came to mind, but we had a bit of a milestone at our house this week that deserves it's own post. Turner's haircut. So this is a 2-in-1 Before and After. First you can see the haircut difference, but also a difference in the quality of the shot.
While I truly loved the locks, it is so great to see those expressive eyes all the time now! I can't stop kissing his forehead. So while I will probably grow it back out, I am SO enjoying this phase!

Oh and be watching for my makeup before and after post soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fix It Friday

When I logged on to IHeartFaces this morning, I was a little surprised to see such a beautiful "before" picture! This was pretty close to perfect:

So I decided to give it just a bit of stylization:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Product Reviews

Recently I seem to be very opinionated about some new products I’ve tried. And I wanted to share these opinions in order to help you, the fellow consumer, be better informed.

Bionic Mascara by Smashbox
This was the first of two products I bought at Duty Free in the Miami Airport. I was really excited to try this mascara not only because I have loved Smashbox’s ultra-pigmented eyeshadows in the past, but also because of its claims to be “the first ionic mascara for longer, stronger and more voluminous super-power lashes.” I was also totally drawn in to the fact that this mascara boasts aloe, wheat protein, silk, and olive oil to strengthen and nourish lashes. And a noted point I should add is that Smashbox claims that this mascara is a “revolutionary long-wearing, water-resistant formula.” All sounds great, right? Well while the nourishing points may or may not be true, this mascara will NOT stay on my lashes. After only an hour or two of wear, I find it creeping all over my face. And although the mascara doesn’t stay put when I want it to, I find myself utterly incapable of thorough removal at the end of the day. As an esthetician I know how to properly remove mascara; and after spending a long time in doing so, I still woke up with black raccoon eyes. To add insult to injury, I also found my lashes actually falling out while I was using this product.
In review: don’t buy it.

O-Glow Intuitive Cheek Color by Smashbox
After such a scathing review, I feel compelled to redeem the Smashbox reputation a bit. Because the second product I purchased at Duty Free was their O-Glow Intuitive Cheek Color, and I LOVE it! Whenever I see blush in a tube, I am immediately taken back to being a 6-year-old digging through my Nana’s makeup drawer, applying excessive amounts of a maroon/burgundy “blusher” from a tube. So maybe I love this product because of sweet emotional memories, or maybe it’s because of the gentle, dewy pink that perfectly appears on the apples of my cheeks. O-Glow squeezes out as a clear gel and apparently reacts with your skin’s personal chemistry to become the shade that you naturally blush. I’m not sure if/how this could be true, but I do know that I love the color on my cheeks! Added bonus: O-Glow contains Goji Berry-C Complex, vitamin C, pomegranate seed oil, and marine botanicals.
In review: run to your nearest Sephora now!

Kelly Clarkson’s album, “All I Ever Wanted”
I know that being a makeup artist allows me to speak with a little authority and clout, but music? I’ll review it only on the grounds that I love it. I have to say that I am in love with Kelly Clarkson’s “All I Ever Wanted” album! It is typical Kelly Clarkson: mostly upbeat declarations of independence or getting over a guy (“I Do Not Hook Up,” “Whyyawannabringmedown”) mixed with quite a few beautiful ballads (“Cry,” “Already Gone,” “Save You”). Almost every song on this album is one I want to crank up in the car loud enough to drown out my own (not-so-pretty) belting out.
In review: buy this album in its entirety on iTunes for two bonus tracks!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bubble Attempts

This week's theme at IHeartFaces is "Bubbles." I absolutely love this shot of Holden from Fourth of July, 2008. He tried so hard for so long to blow bubbles, without much success. So I yes, I am aware that there are, in fact, zero bubbles in this picture. But I thought it was Holden's effort to create those oh-so-elusive bubbles that counted for the theme! And the way he is holding his floatie arm out in a concentrated effort is just so cute. I love him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Last Minute...

This is my really last-minute entry into I Heart Faces' weekly contest. The theme this week is "Silly Faces." This was Holden (over two years ago) practicing one of his signiature funny faces.
Come to think of it, this is STILL the face he makes when you ask him to smile for a camera!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fix It Friday, Period Piece

It's another Fix It Friday over at IHeartFaces! This week's challenge was really interesting to me because the photgrapher of this shot wanted it edited "to make it look like it fit into the time period of the little girl's clothing." Here is the original:

After cropping it, the pot in the background was really bothering me because I wasn't sure if it would be realistic in the time period. So I took it out, then went to work on the color and whatnot. Here's what I finished with:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beach Happiness

I'm back at I Heart Faces!!

Our computer has been on the fritz: we lost ALL pictures, then got them back with an added virus bonus! Wahoo! Long story short, it was a long road to having my computer with all my programs back. Anywho, I edited this picture without any actions (since our current photoshop won't keep actions installed between uses).

This was Turner's first trip to the beach, and this is the precious moment I captured of dipping his tootsies into the ocean for the very first time.

Sheer bliss.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's a Good Day, Mom

Most days I wake up dragging because I'm just not a morning person. But Holden is. I get frustrated and irritated at his energy, and just when I think I've had enough, Holden looks at me and says, "It's a good day, Mom." This happens almost every day, and I am reminded that every day is, in fact, a good day.

"This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Cutest Mosquito Bites I've Ever Seen

I am allergic to mosquito bites. Now, this has never been diagnosed by an actual doctor, but I must be. Every time I get one (or six) they swell up to the size of a quarter or larger. So I HATE mosquito bites.
But last night while playing in the backyard, Turner must of had mosquitos bite both of his cheeks, because he woke up looking like this:

Are those not the cutest mosquito bites you've ever seen?!
Although it looks like the bite on his left cheek is barely there, let me assure you it is just the lighting. He has two bright red spots on either cheek. We've been to the park and the grocery store today, and got asked what happened by people at both places. I guess it's time to invest in that Sunscreen/Bug Spray combo I've been researching!

Vitamin Ridiculosity

Per yesterday's post on getting healthy, I went out today and purchased all the supplements that Dr. Oz told me I will need. I also decided I would need a new (bigger) pillbox, since I was already struggling to cram my six Juice Plus pills into my current box.
Please note the current pills and box:

I sat staring at the tiny section of pharmaceutical apparatus, searching for the perfect size pillbox. To no avail. My only other option was a stinkin HUGE one with huge letters that must be for old people who are basically blind.
Now note new pillbox (with old one included for size reference):

But, as it turns out, I needed this huge size, due to the ginormous horse pills I uncovered inside my bottles!
Now here is what I will be attempting to swallow each day.

It includes:
2 Juice Plus Garden Blend
2 Juice Plus Orchard Blend
2 Juice Plus Vineyard Blend
Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc pill
Flaxseed Oil
Fish Oil

Is it just me, or does this seem ridiculous and daunting?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mid-Year Resolution

So Oprah is definitely NOT my fave person in the world, but today I happened to watch what I think was a re-run of Dr. Oz's secrets to living a longer and healthier life. He gave a checklist of the top things you should be doing to stay younger and live longer. In the past I have kept food journals, complete with fat and calorie calculations, as a tool for weight-loss. But instead of just focusing on losing weight temporarily, I thought it would be a great experiment to focus on all-around health. So here is the checklist I will keep track of--I'm excited!

5 Antioxidants
4 cups green/white tea
1 glass red wine
25 grams fiber
Omega 3 fatty acids
1-2tbs olive oil
calcium supplements

HR at 154 (3Xweek)
strength training (30min/week)

Prayer every day
Sleep 7-8 hours/night
Sex (2-3Xweek)

This will be fun! Now excuse me while I go eat chicken wings... :)

Sanjaya and Nick Cannon...One In The Same??

OK, so this is a really super-deep post about something that has been on my mind for the last few days. Is it just me, or do Sanjaya Malakar and Nick Cannon not have the exact same perma-half-smile?!
Exhibit A:

Note the squinted eyes, too. And no matter what they are saying, even if it is something horrible, they always have this same expression. Deep thoughts.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A post for Becca S.

Are you someone who thoroughly enjoys reading other people’s private information? Umm, not that I am or anything… (Aside: my friend Jamie has the FUNNIEST post about eaves-reading on the train.)
Anyways, my dear friend Becca Stanley has been away all summer helping to run Camp Grace, a camp for inner-city kids. I have missed her so much and feel like we are missing so much of each others' lives. I was going to write Becca an email filling her in on my summer happenings thus far, but decided to post for all the world (which includes all 5 people who read this blog) to read. So without further ado:

Hey Becca!!
I really am starting to miss you terribly! I have felt really isolated all summer, just missing community and “doing life” with others! I don’t want to overwhelm you with a 5-page update of life, so I thought I’d jot down some less-intimidating bullet points:

• First, and most importantly, The BACHEORETTE!!! I miss you so much every Monday night! Ryan tries really hard to feign a vested interest, but it really just isn’t the same. Have you watched any episodes online yet? I have saved all the episodes on my DVR and am totally willing to re-watch the entire second half of the season with you when you get home!!

• In related news, this season of So You Think You Can Dance is turning out to be really good. There is this one guy, Phillip, who is a pop-and-locker. Do you know what that is already from working with the kids downtown? defines it as: A style of breakdancing which involves short, rapid movement of the arms and legs (popping), combined with brief pauses between movements. Umm, maybe this will be more helpful—this is Phillip’s audition. Anyways, he tried out last season too, and didn’t make it because he couldn’t pull off the other, more classical, dance styles. So he went home and trained for a year, and now he’s back and in the top 6 couples! Here he is in a hip-hop dance with his partner Jeanine (who is a contemporary dancer who’s never done hip-hop).
Love that!

• In family news, Holden is finishing up his series of 8 swim lessons this morning. He’s not swimming on his own yet, but has made big improvements in putting his face in, learning the swimming motions and whatnot. Oh, (I’m adding this in at the end) I also wanted to tell you that Holden prays for you guys every night, and not because we tell him to. After he says his regular routine prayer, we ask him if there is anyone else he’d like to pray for and normally it goes like this: “Dear Jesus, thank you for Mr. Adam and Jayci and Mrs. Becca and Charlie and Mav. Help them fall asleep quickly. [Because that’s what he prays for himself.] Love you Jesus, Amen.”

• Turner is growing up so quickly (which sounds like it’s been a year since you’ve seen him, as opposed to weeks)! Did I tell you that when we visited you at camp he said his first animal noise? When we were looking at the cow, he kept saying moo. And now he says cat and meow. And pretty clearly says “all done” after meals. Turner is super fearless at the pool. He will repeatedly jump off the edge to me or step off the stairs. His head goes completely under until I pull him up, but it doesn’t seem to faze him in the least! Once I put him back on his feet he waits about a half a second to do it again!

• Finally, let me wrap this up by saying how stoked I am about going to the Dominican Republic with you! Really, the thought of those seven lazy days gets me through many stressful days here! My sister and mom went a couple years ago, and Cam wants to tell us all the things/places we have to try.

So that’s it! I love you and miss you!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

10 Year High School Reunion

My 10 year high school reunion was really something I thought I'd never see. It's not that I thought I wouldn't live that long, I just couldn't fathom that far down the road. Nonetheless, here I am 5-years-married and 2 kids later, showing up to a crowded Buckhead club anxious but excited.
In all honesty, this was my second high school reunion: I went to Walton until half way through my junior year, then transferred to Fellowship Christian High School. The FCHS reunion was a backyard BBQ and was so laid back and chill. Here are some pictures of that evening a few weeks ago:

And two weeks later was the Walton reunion. They were so different, mostly because there were 40-ish people at the first one, and probably 300 alumni at the second! Here are some pictures from Walton's:
These girls were some of my best friends in middle school and high school:

I have to run, but will finish this up soon!!