Mi Hermana.  
 
This shirt was a Christmas present from my sister when I was in the sixth grade.  It was my favorite shirt for a long time because I thought Larry Boy and Veggie Tales was real cool.  (I was in the sixth grade, so we’ll use that as an explanation.)  My sister is four years older than me, and honestly we weren’t the best of friends growing up.  I used to do everything I could to annoy her and she always left me out of things.  We were also both interested in very different things.  She played house with Barbie dolls and I launched them with my rocket.  Thankfully in the last couple of years things have changed and I consider her one of my best friends.  Leigh Ann has walked through some really, really hard days the last few years and it has been amazing to see God work in and through her.  I admire her for her courage, patience, and trust in God.  I’m so thankful to have her for a sister!

Mi Hermana.  

 

This shirt was a Christmas present from my sister when I was in the sixth grade.  It was my favorite shirt for a long time because I thought Larry Boy and Veggie Tales was real cool.  (I was in the sixth grade, so we’ll use that as an explanation.)  My sister is four years older than me, and honestly we weren’t the best of friends growing up.  I used to do everything I could to annoy her and she always left me out of things.  We were also both interested in very different things.  She played house with Barbie dolls and I launched them with my rocket.  Thankfully in the last couple of years things have changed and I consider her one of my best friends.  Leigh Ann has walked through some really, really hard days the last few years and it has been amazing to see God work in and through her.  I admire her for her courage, patience, and trust in God.  I’m so thankful to have her for a sister!


Family.
 
Blessed is really the only word I can think of when I think of my parents.  I am blessed to still have them and I am blessed by who they are.  Both of my parents have had cancer.  My mom battled between my junior and senior year of high school and my dad battled my freshman year of college.  I think one reason I have a great relationship with my parents is because at the time of a young person’s life when he or she wants to rebel and go his or her own way, I was helping my parents walk through some of their hardest days.  I’m thankful that God saved me from my rebellious heart.  I’m also thankful for what I learned about suffering.  Chemotherapy is terrible and my parents were really sick.  But Jesus’ suffering on the cross in our place was so much worse.  While thinking about the pain my parents went through brings tears to my eyes, thinking about the beatings and pain that Jesus went through moves my heart with deep gratitude and an emotion I’m not really sure how to describe.  I’m also thankful for the hope and comfort God gave me and my parents in those days.  His presence was sweet.  Second Corinthians 4:16-18 became a footing for us: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  And I’m thankful that both of my parents are alive today.  God blesses us to be a blessing to others and I see that demonstrated in their lives so deeply.  They are two of the most generous and loving people I know and I love them with all of my heart.  

Family.

 

Blessed is really the only word I can think of when I think of my parents.  I am blessed to still have them and I am blessed by who they are.  Both of my parents have had cancer.  My mom battled between my junior and senior year of high school and my dad battled my freshman year of college.  I think one reason I have a great relationship with my parents is because at the time of a young person’s life when he or she wants to rebel and go his or her own way, I was helping my parents walk through some of their hardest days.  I’m thankful that God saved me from my rebellious heart.  I’m also thankful for what I learned about suffering.  Chemotherapy is terrible and my parents were really sick.  But Jesus’ suffering on the cross in our place was so much worse.  While thinking about the pain my parents went through brings tears to my eyes, thinking about the beatings and pain that Jesus went through moves my heart with deep gratitude and an emotion I’m not really sure how to describe.  I’m also thankful for the hope and comfort God gave me and my parents in those days.  His presence was sweet.  Second Corinthians 4:16-18 became a footing for us: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  And I’m thankful that both of my parents are alive today.  God blesses us to be a blessing to others and I see that demonstrated in their lives so deeply.  They are two of the most generous and loving people I know and I love them with all of my heart.  



I.  Had. To.
 
I couldn’t pass this one up.  Canada is one of if not the most beautiful places I have ever been.  I was in Cochrane, Alberta and could see the Canadian Rockies from my window.  Banff National Park is wonderful and I hope to return soon.

I.  Had. To.

 

I couldn’t pass this one up.  Canada is one of if not the most beautiful places I have ever been.  I was in Cochrane, Alberta and could see the Canadian Rockies from my window.  Banff National Park is wonderful and I hope to return soon.


Never.  The.  Same.
 
In 2003 as a 17 year old punk kid I boarded a plane and headed to Mexico City, which at the time was the most populated city in the world.  I was so excited to be there that the first night at dinner I grabbed the pepper off the rice plate and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth.  That same night I met twenty or so other teenagers and adults for the first time who I would be working with for the next several days.  We quickly became close friends as I required the use of their beverages to cool the fire that was blazing in my mouth.  Besides eating peppers, I also had the opportunity to love on some kids by putting on a camp in a neighborhood.  The American kids were quickly schooled when it came to soccer (or futbol).  I remember my favorite phrase to say was “frio frijoles,” or “cool beans.”  The kids thought this was hilarious.  And besides making kids laugh at my ignorance of the Spanish language, I had the chance to visit the Basilica of Guadalupe.  I learned about the Virgin of Guadalupe and encountered a form of Catholicism I had not previously seen in the States.  I remember watching an elderly lady crawling on her hands and knees and laying herself before a picture of the Virgin, putting her hope in the Virgin interceding on her behalf before God.  This was a defining moment for me.  God graciously reminded me that He does not require penance but surrender.  There is nothing I can do to make myself right before God.  Only Jesus can do that.  God requires that I give up the right to my life and be crucified with Jesus. He then raises me from the dead into a new life, a Jesus-life, true life.  That night when I was back in the dorm I wept.  Like snot-flying-everywhere weeping.  My heart was moved with a great desire for people to find forgiveness, hope, and life in Jesus.  I felt compassion for people like I had never experienced before.  And I’ve never been the same.

Never.  The.  Same.

 

In 2003 as a 17 year old punk kid I boarded a plane and headed to Mexico City, which at the time was the most populated city in the world.  I was so excited to be there that the first night at dinner I grabbed the pepper off the rice plate and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth.  That same night I met twenty or so other teenagers and adults for the first time who I would be working with for the next several days.  We quickly became close friends as I required the use of their beverages to cool the fire that was blazing in my mouth.  Besides eating peppers, I also had the opportunity to love on some kids by putting on a camp in a neighborhood.  The American kids were quickly schooled when it came to soccer (or futbol).  I remember my favorite phrase to say was “frio frijoles,” or “cool beans.”  The kids thought this was hilarious.  And besides making kids laugh at my ignorance of the Spanish language, I had the chance to visit the Basilica of Guadalupe.  I learned about the Virgin of Guadalupe and encountered a form of Catholicism I had not previously seen in the States.  I remember watching an elderly lady crawling on her hands and knees and laying herself before a picture of the Virgin, putting her hope in the Virgin interceding on her behalf before God.  This was a defining moment for me.  God graciously reminded me that He does not require penance but surrender.  There is nothing I can do to make myself right before God.  Only Jesus can do that.  God requires that I give up the right to my life and be crucified with Jesus. He then raises me from the dead into a new life, a Jesus-life, true life.  That night when I was back in the dorm I wept.  Like snot-flying-everywhere weeping.  My heart was moved with a great desire for people to find forgiveness, hope, and life in Jesus.  I felt compassion for people like I had never experienced before.  And I’ve never been the same.


Merry.  Christmas.
 
I love Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child!  This shirt came from a trip I made to North Carolina to work in the Samaritan’s Purse warehouse to help pack shoe boxes to go all over the world.  These boxes are full of toys, schools supplies, and hygiene items for boys and girls of all ages from all over the world.  I loved stuffed animals as a kid so one of my favorite things to include in the shoe box is a build-a-bear stuffed animal.  It feels my heart with joy to think about a sweet little girl pulling her new friend out of the box.  You should consider putting a box together.  Here’s the info: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/  My heart beats right with Samaritan’s Purse.  The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) shows us how we are to love the last and the least in the world.  Samaritan’s Purse helps meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.  While I do not know what it is to physically suffer, I do know what it is to be without hope.  Jesus has shown me great love and given me hope and I want to do the same in the lives of others.

Merry.  Christmas.

 

I love Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child!  This shirt came from a trip I made to North Carolina to work in the Samaritan’s Purse warehouse to help pack shoe boxes to go all over the world.  These boxes are full of toys, schools supplies, and hygiene items for boys and girls of all ages from all over the world.  I loved stuffed animals as a kid so one of my favorite things to include in the shoe box is a build-a-bear stuffed animal.  It feels my heart with joy to think about a sweet little girl pulling her new friend out of the box.  You should consider putting a box together.  Here’s the info: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/  My heart beats right with Samaritan’s Purse.  The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) shows us how we are to love the last and the least in the world.  Samaritan’s Purse helps meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.  While I do not know what it is to physically suffer, I do know what it is to be without hope.  Jesus has shown me great love and given me hope and I want to do the same in the lives of others.


Game. Over.
 
This shirt is from my senior year of high school.  At my high school we had a spirit week and the last day all the classes wore their shirts.  I’m really thankful for my high school years, mostly because they were fun.  The main thing that made it fun was the people that I lived life with.  There was a group of ten or so of us that were in band together and had all of our classes together, and we did all kinds of ridiculous things together like camping in our band director’s yard, creating a crime scene at the other band director’s house,  filling rooms with balloons, creating epic film adventures like The Quest for the Communist Manifesto, baking Santa Claus cakes, hiding in podiums and instrument cases, creating morality charts, listening to the Spanish serenade passing through the wall, and laughing until we cry.  Good times.

Game. Over.

 

This shirt is from my senior year of high school.  At my high school we had a spirit week and the last day all the classes wore their shirts.  I’m really thankful for my high school years, mostly because they were fun.  The main thing that made it fun was the people that I lived life with.  There was a group of ten or so of us that were in band together and had all of our classes together, and we did all kinds of ridiculous things together like camping in our band director’s yard, creating a crime scene at the other band director’s house,  filling rooms with balloons, creating epic film adventures like The Quest for the Communist Manifesto, baking Santa Claus cakes, hiding in podiums and instrument cases, creating morality charts, listening to the Spanish serenade passing through the wall, and laughing until we cry.  Good times.


Summitt.
 
I wanted to be a Lady Vol basketball player when I was a kid.  I went to the games, had posters of the players hanging on the wall of my room, and pretended to shoot the game-winning basket in the driveway.  Pat Summitt has coached the Lady Vols for my entire life, 37 years total, winning 1,037 games and 8 NCAA titles (two while I was a student).  I have a tremendous amount of respect for her excellence in coaching.  However, I respect her even more because she truly brings the cliche “it’s not if you win or lose but how you play the game” to life.  Integrity characterizes her life.  While my basketball career ended my freshmen year of high school, I still enjoy shooting hoops in the driveway when I go home.  And maybe every now and again it’s the game-winning shot.

Summitt.

 

I wanted to be a Lady Vol basketball player when I was a kid.  I went to the games, had posters of the players hanging on the wall of my room, and pretended to shoot the game-winning basket in the driveway.  Pat Summitt has coached the Lady Vols for my entire life, 37 years total, winning 1,037 games and 8 NCAA titles (two while I was a student).  I have a tremendous amount of respect for her excellence in coaching.  However, I respect her even more because she truly brings the cliche “it’s not if you win or lose but how you play the game” to life.  Integrity characterizes her life.  While my basketball career ended my freshmen year of high school, I still enjoy shooting hoops in the driveway when I go home.  And maybe every now and again it’s the game-winning shot.


Firecrackers.  Tears.  Laughter.
 
I love this story.  It happened in Benton, TN near the Ocoee River with my college group from church.  Our directions included something about turning past a trailer covered in kudzu; consequently, we knew it was going to be a great weekend.  Friday night and all day Saturday we had a great time studying the Bible, talking about life, swimming in the lake, and playing in the great outdoors.  Saturday night we dug in deep to what the verse at the bottom of this shirt means, specifically the “fellowship of His sufferings” part.  I went to bed considering that night if I would be able to suffer like Jesus, sacrificing my life.  I thought about what it would be like to live in a country in which there was fighting and turmoil.  Little did I know that these thoughts would be tested.  All of the girls were staying in one building with two rooms of bunk-beds and a common area.  The guys were across the camp in another building.  Around two or three in the morning the guys thought it would be a good idea to set off firecrackers in the common area of the girls building.  All I remember was being afraid for my life.  I thought my dreams were a reality.  It was so loud.  I curled up in a ball in my bunk and cried.  My dear friend Alison found me and laughed hysterically.  It took me a long time to calm down and I’m not sure that I slept anymore that night.  Thankfully now I can laugh.  And as it would turn out, Alison is now married to the man, Brandon, who set the firecrackers off.  They love to tell this story and just laugh at me.  I’m still striving to “know Jesus and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Firecrackers.  Tears.  Laughter.

 

I love this story.  It happened in Benton, TN near the Ocoee River with my college group from church.  Our directions included something about turning past a trailer covered in kudzu; consequently, we knew it was going to be a great weekend.  Friday night and all day Saturday we had a great time studying the Bible, talking about life, swimming in the lake, and playing in the great outdoors.  Saturday night we dug in deep to what the verse at the bottom of this shirt means, specifically the “fellowship of His sufferings” part.  I went to bed considering that night if I would be able to suffer like Jesus, sacrificing my life.  I thought about what it would be like to live in a country in which there was fighting and turmoil.  Little did I know that these thoughts would be tested.  All of the girls were staying in one building with two rooms of bunk-beds and a common area.  The guys were across the camp in another building.  Around two or three in the morning the guys thought it would be a good idea to set off firecrackers in the common area of the girls building.  All I remember was being afraid for my life.  I thought my dreams were a reality.  It was so loud.  I curled up in a ball in my bunk and cried.  My dear friend Alison found me and laughed hysterically.  It took me a long time to calm down and I’m not sure that I slept anymore that night.  Thankfully now I can laugh.  And as it would turn out, Alison is now married to the man, Brandon, who set the firecrackers off.  They love to tell this story and just laugh at me.  I’m still striving to “know Jesus and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”


Pierogi.  Poland.
 
This shirt came from Poland in the summer of 2009.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit Poland twice, once in the winter and once in the summer.  Both of these visits were to Krakow, a city in the south of the country, and both were with the Holmes family, some of my favorite people.  The second visit was in the summer and I was there for nine weeks.  During that time I taught English in schools, university classes, and a coffeehouse.  I also worked with an international church, leading in worship and participating in Bible studies.  Most of all, I learned by living.  It was a wonderful opportunity to live life with people from all over the world, gaining new perspectives and having my heart changed.  I think one of the people I learned the most from was Charissa, a medical student from Malaysia.  This kid loves Jesus with her whole heart.  She believed that hope was found in no one else and told everyone she met about Him.    I dearly hope our paths will cross again (maybe in Malaysia!!).  This is also where my relationship with geocaching began (thanks Christian!) and I’ve been hooked ever since.  

Pierogi.  Poland.

 

This shirt came from Poland in the summer of 2009.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit Poland twice, once in the winter and once in the summer.  Both of these visits were to Krakow, a city in the south of the country, and both were with the Holmes family, some of my favorite people.  The second visit was in the summer and I was there for nine weeks.  During that time I taught English in schools, university classes, and a coffeehouse.  I also worked with an international church, leading in worship and participating in Bible studies.  Most of all, I learned by living.  It was a wonderful opportunity to live life with people from all over the world, gaining new perspectives and having my heart changed.  I think one of the people I learned the most from was Charissa, a medical student from Malaysia.  This kid loves Jesus with her whole heart.  She believed that hope was found in no one else and told everyone she met about Him.    I dearly hope our paths will cross again (maybe in Malaysia!!).  This is also where my relationship with geocaching began (thanks Christian!) and I’ve been hooked ever since.  


Thirty Three.  Cathedrals.
 
This is one of my favorite shirts, probably because it’s my favorite color.  My junior (I think) year of college I traveled to Ireland with the University of Tennessee marching band to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.  We also performed in a couple of cathedrals in a couple of different cities.  The Irish don’t employ the “th” sound of English, so the first couple of days our guide kept talking about “catedrals” and I couldn’t figure out what he was saying.  After the mystery was solved my friends and I talked about the “tirty tree catedrals” we had seen in Ireland.  We’ll just say I was easily amused.

Thirty Three.  Cathedrals.

 

This is one of my favorite shirts, probably because it’s my favorite color.  My junior (I think) year of college I traveled to Ireland with the University of Tennessee marching band to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.  We also performed in a couple of cathedrals in a couple of different cities.  The Irish don’t employ the “th” sound of English, so the first couple of days our guide kept talking about “catedrals” and I couldn’t figure out what he was saying.  After the mystery was solved my friends and I talked about the “tirty tree catedrals” we had seen in Ireland.  We’ll just say I was easily amused.