Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cool Things I've Done in Houston, Part Two

31. James Turrell Skyspace
32. Dynamo games
33. Astros games
34. Miller Outdoor Theater
35. Kemah Boardwalk
36. Lights in Hermann Park (hope it comes back!)
37. Greek Fest
38. International Festival
39. Mad Potter
40. MFA Iranian Film Festival
41. River Oaks Theater
42. Bayou Bend
43. Lawndale Art Center
44. Contemporary Craft Museum
45. Theater District Day
46. Museum District Day
47. 11th Street Park
48. Memorial Park
49. Houston Arboretum
50. Old Town Spring
51. Brazos Bend State Park
52. Chinatown
53. Forbidden Gardens
54. Movies the Store
55. Dickens on the Strand

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Houston List - A Work in Progress

My husband and I started a list tonight of things we still want to do in Houston. We've done so many cool things already, but so much left to do! If you have any suggestions for obscure/eccentric activities, please comment!

* The Orange Show
* Museum of Printing History
* Aeros Game
* Comets Game
* Buffalo Soldiers Museum
* Beer Can House
* Mad Potter (I've been there, he hasn't)
* Wine2Wine (make your own wine place... probably a racket but sounds fun)
* Domy Bookstore (never actually been inside)
* Farmer's market
* Bayou City Art Festival
* Italian, Chinese, and other cultural festivals (only been to Greek Fest and I-Fest)
* Attend a service at Beth Shalom (Messianic Jewish) and the Greek Orthodox church
* Ride paddle boats at Hermann Park
* Ice skate at Discovery Green (no one has done this yet!)
* Canoe down the bayou
* HMNS observatory

Monday, April 28, 2008

Finish This Sentence

(thanks Daniel)

i am: hopeful.
i think: about everything all the time.
i know: that Christ loves me most.
i want: to change the world.
i have: an incredible church community.
i wish: i didn't have chronic health issues.
i hate: racism and sexism and a bunch of other 'isms.
i miss: my sister and my parents.
i fear: losing my independence.
i feel: overwhelmed a lot of the time.
i hear: city noises that make me smile.
i smell: city smells that don't make me smile.
i crave: chocolate, fairly constantly.
i search: for new opportunities and adventures.
i wonder: what my kids will be like.
i regret: regretting anything.
i love: my fiance and everyone in the world.
i ache: for marriage.
i care: about people.
i always: have trouble sleeping.
i am not: a quitter.
i believe: that Love wins.
i dance: because it makes me feel free.
i sing: at church and with my fiance.
i don’t always: give people the benefit of a doubt.
i fight: injustice.
i write: from my soul.
i win: scrabble, a lot of the time.
i lose: risk and trivial pursuit.
i never: smoke.
i confuse: people who put me in a box.
i listen: to my mom.
i can usually be found: trying to solve the world's problems.
i am scared: of never finding complete physical healing.
i need: respect.
i am happy about: Life, Love, and hope.

Okay, your turn!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Three Funerals and a Wedding

In the last two weeks I've been affected by three deaths... one, the son of a woman in my church; two, my mom's first cousin; and three, my mom's first cousin once-removed.

Meanwhile, my wedding is three months from today.

I'm having a hard time taking it all in and making sense of it. It's hard for me to understand why my life is so idyllic--great family and fiance, great opportunities, great support. All three of these people died in tragic circumstances and unmet potential. For the funeral in my church I helped with childcare and watched the kids run around and play with such innocence, and saw their parents pick them up after the service with blurry eyes and hold them really tight. The day after that funeral I attended a baby shower for a child who entered the world the next day.

In my cousin's funeral today I cried and cried because of our utter shock about her death. It was totally unexpected. The pastor prayed that we would remember the good things about her life that would make us a better person. She encouraged us to grieve together. I only saw this cousin once a year or so, but every time I did she spoke of making her life better for herself, and she was trying. I left the family post-gathering to spend the evening with my fiance, whose birthday is today. We went downtown with friends and laughed and walked around and celebrated his life.

I won't be attending the third funeral. I never met this cousin and it will simply be a small graveside service. My mom and a handful of family will be there, mourning his death while I celebrate with my fiance. She said it should be my priority to spend the day with my him and his family, in honor of his birthday.

Hebrews and Native Americans and probably many other cultures conceptualize time in a circle, as opposed to our Western linear ideas. This makes more sense, and seems more Biblical, and feels more like God. Babies are born in our lives the same week 17 year olds are killed. Loved ones celebrate their birthday on days we lose other loved ones. God notices the sparrow that falls and the sparrow that hatches.

Today the pastor said she doesn't believe that God takes us into death, but when we die He is there to receive us. I agree with that. I don't believe that God kills kids or takes people before their time. But I do believe He has this great, incomprehensible balance in the created world. We have to have death and birth, and somehow even the most tragic deaths are beautiful. Life is short enough and long enough all at the same time, and God grieves when people die and rejoices when people are born.

All the things I'm feeling today, He feels them all, in much bigger ways, and that's what I'm clinging to right now.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cool Things I've Done in Houston, Part One

I love the Bayou City. I've lived in or around it the last 10 years and it keeps growing on me. In no particular order, here are some parks, theaters, and museums I highly recommend:

1. Museum of Fine Arts
2. Contemporary Museum
3. Lawndale Art Center
4. Museum of Contemporary Craft
5. Houston Zoo
6. Hermann Park
7. Bell Park
8. Mandell Park
9. Alley Theater
10. Houston Ballet
11. Jones Hall
12. The Hobby Center
13. Menil Collection
14. Rothko Chapel
15. Byzantine Fresco Museum
16. Art Car Museum
17. Market Square (downtown club district)
18. River Oaks Park
19. A. D. Players Theater
20. Barnevelder Arts Complex
21. Blaffer Gallery
22. Memorial Park
23. Holocaust Museum
23. Heritage Society
24. Cherryhurst Park
25. Japanese Gardens
26. Houston Arboretum
27. Houston Garden Society
28. Bayou Bend Gardens
29. Elanor Tinsley park
30. Dunlavy Park

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Benediction (Giving Up Fear)

What Love!
What Love
The Father has lavished on us.
Intoxicating, unfathomable love
That empowers us to be free.
Oh what hope
The everlasting God will give
To those who fear Him.
If you are broken,
Be made whole.
If you are dead,
Be brought to life.
Because Christ's all-consuming
Love is excessive,
And it's yours.
Find your voice,
Brothers and sisters,
And let God tell His story
Through you.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Stir and Slow

My heart is stirred too much sometimes. I fight the impulse to change everything about the world and nothing about me. Why don’t I just take a step back and let it all be?

You are my core, You have to be. Your voice is like a lullaby and I cry into Your chest and let You collect all these tears. You are always on my side, even when I can’t be on my own. Everything changes, but You do not.

Deep is the emotional resistance I might put up when I try to move through any thing new. Not as deep as my soul and all the complexities of my heart. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to know what it is that has me so exhausted. I’m so afraid of things that are less and less of a reality, so I am not so sure why I struggle so much.

I’m a fighter, to be sure. Most of the time that serves me well, but sometimes I fight so hard for everything that I can’t keep sight of what it is. If everything weren’t so desperately important, maybe I could take a break, or get my heart to slow down. It’s all the beating I can’t control, even when I breathe deeply.

How great is Your love, lavished on me? I am daughter of God, daughter of Jerusalem, dreamer of dreams, prophetess of visions, holder of hope. I am all these things, and sometimes it’s too much.

There is just no way to equate household tasks to ending slavery or daily routines to fighting injustice. But I can defy the system in all these mundane things—not bowing to the expectations and oppressions that history set up to continue. My name, my vote, my career, my consumption, my marriage, my church, my entire identity screams against that injustice and sometimes the smallest things are the loudest.

I don’t have to be anything. I don’t.

And maybe one day I’ll be able to see how all my small decisions took some major steps toward overturning the system. You came to redeem, to reconcile. The whole order that denigrates women, discriminates against brothers and sisters of color, privileges the wealthy, and rapes the earth doesn’t have to be the keeper of my destiny. You keep it. You keep it safe.

You know when I sit and when I rise, when I go out and come back, when I sleep and wake up and all the moments in between. Love is worth the pain. It’s worth all the agonizing over small decisions and large heartaches, and moving in and through the uncertainties. Because You never change.

It’s why I fight and why I can’t sleep and why, finally, I can rest.

Friday, February 29, 2008


(Thanks APN)

One book that changed my life: 'Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

One book that I’ve read more than once: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

One book that I’d want on a desert island: can I say the Bible and mean it?

One book that made me laugh: The Happy Hockey Family by Lane Smith

One book that made me cry: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

One book that scared the hell out of me: This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti

One book I wish had been written: Faith, Feminism, and the Future by anyone who will acknowledge feminists in the Church

One book I wish had never been written: Women are from Mars, Men are from Venus

Two books I’m currently reading: Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle and A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Ven Leuwen

One book I've been meaning to read: Offbeat Bride: Taffeta Free Alternatives for Independent Brides by Ariel Meadow Stallings

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Good Samaritan

Thanks to my friend JS for this allegorical reading:

"The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is
paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are
hostile powers. The priest is the Law, the Levite is
the prophets, and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds
are disobedience, the beast is the Lord’s body, the
[inn], which accepts all who wish to enter, is the
Church. … The manager of the [inn] is the head of the
Church, to whom its care has been entrusted. And the
fact that the Samaritan promises he will return
represents the Savior’s second coming."

This interpretation, which might sound new to us, used
to be of common understanding:

"This allegorical reading was taught not only by
ancient followers of Jesus, but it was virtually
universal throughout early Christianity, being
advocated by Irenaeus, Clement, and Origen, and in the
fourth and fifth centuries by Chrysostom in
Constantinople, Ambrose in Milan, and Augustine in
North Africa. This interpretation is found most
completely in two other medieval stained-glass
windows, in the French cathedrals at Bourges and

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dates at Taft

Best of Citysearch 2008 voted Taft Street Coffee #8 for "Budget Date Spot." That's better than a few years ago, when we were voted "Best Place to Have a Last Date"...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Be My (Saint) Valentine

I'll admit I had a phase in college when I dressed in black on Valentine's Day. One year, I even exchanged dead flowers and black paper hearts with a friend. A little morbid, I know, but I often took my resistance to absurd levels. Now I have a partner and participate in some of the rituals at which I balked, but I like to think we temper it.

The history of Valentine's Day is pretty fascinating, as it developed from so many different legends into a holiday that gives us cause to send one billion greeting cards annually. There are, of course, many origins of this fabricated holiday, but the one I attached to most when I learned of it a few years ago was that of the St. Valentine (apparently, there were three) who made his life about sharing Christian love. It made sense to celebrate that, more-so than glorifying the carnal aspects of romantic love with chocolate and flowers. The Roman priest Valentine is the patron of love, young people, and happy marriages. Those are certainly things I can support.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I've been trying to simplify my life. It's an on-going process, and very difficult for someone like me who enjoys and is good at a lot of things.

The American work ethic is a strange one... We are socialized to want the American dream and to work hard for it, which really means we work a lot of hours not doing much at whatever will accrue the most money, so we can have lots of stuff and lots of leisure time. At least this is the message society gave me.

I just keep thinking about whose expectations I'm trying to meet, and to whom I think I'm answering. It's generally a resounding point back at myself--the reverse-people-pleaser. By that, I mean I do things that I think people would want me to do if they ever voiced them. That doesn't even make any sense, I know.

I am sure that the simpler my life is, and the more I recognize its cyclical, seasonal nature, the less stressed out I am. Cutting out the things that don't improve my quality of life allows me to focus on others and take care of myself.

Counter-intuitive, but true.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Save our Astrodome!

The good folks at Greater Houston Preservation Alliance have been fighting for several years now to save the Astrodome. They have an an economically viable, preservation-minded, 100% privately funded redevelopment proposal for our eighth wonder of the world. As you might guess, there are a lot of politics involved...

Anyway, show your support for the redemption of space and the preservation of historical sites by signing the petition on the GHPA website. (Please note that there is a donation request at the end of this petition, but that you DO NOT have to donate to iPetitions in order for your signature to be recorded.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The only radio station I can get clearly on my radio in the mornings is a crappy, top 40 type station. I turn it on for noise and this morning heard a seriously disturbing commercial. It was for HD radio (I think) and it was narrated by the old radio, that complained how the owner didn't "touch his buttons" the same way, and it suspected cheating. As if personifying a radio isn't enough, they had to make a gross sexual innuendo.

I'm usually hyper-aware of the sexually explicit nature of advertisements, particularly when it has nothing to do with the product (which is most of the time). Bikini-clad models have nothing to do with a Ford Focus, and shirtless firemen have nothing to do with selling toothpaste.

Beyond the obvious sexist and denigrating nature of such ads, they just lack creativity. I actually think advertisers resort to sexual innuendos when they are out of ideas. It's so depressing that original ideas and the creative process are so lacking. Ads that do actually say something positive or funny are the ones I appreciate anyway.

(Consumerism is a separate discussion... I'm simply referring to the quality of our commercial intake)

Top 100 Ads

(not surprisingly, few are any good...)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seeds of Peace

from James...

Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Monday, January 07, 2008


One of these days I'm going to learn to follow directions. I am actually better at navigating public transportation than anything else... on foot is the most frustrating b/c re-tracing steps takes so long. The NLM is inside the NIH, which is about as huge at the TMC (now I'm just using acronyms for no good reason). So I got off the Metro and promptly went the longest way possible to the library, and went in the back and had to take a tunnel... it was an ordeal. I also got lost inside the History of Forensics exhibit, when I was trying to take a shortcut (why do I do this to myself?). Creepy!

So I'm getting pretty good at this all day archival digging. It helps when you work with nice people and especially helps when you're really patient, because nothing ever goes as planned. I was in the reading room with about 6 ph.d.'s doing research, and one 13 year old kid with his dad. He (the kid) was researching civil war medicine. Obviously.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Apparently even historians like to shop. Or they like to buy books at half price, because there were a slew of them in the exhibit hall today. I tried to talk one publisher into giving me an advanced copy of this great book, but no dice. I walked away with 6 books and I was happy with that (especially for the price).

The session I attended discussed new paradigms for the global history of medicine and public health, which was quite interesting particularly in light of the global AIDS pandemic. Reconceptualizing the way we study the history of disease could potentially impact the way we seek to cure it.

I spent time with my historian friend at the National Geographic Center and taking pictures at the White House for her kid. Then I got horribly lost trying to make it to the National Cathedral for a Eucharist service. I actually just gave up, and met my friend for Ethiopian cuisine and chocolate cake.

Tomorrow I'm going deep into the archives, so let's hope that goes well...

Saturday, January 05, 2008


It's the weekend?

After a short night's sleep (thanks in part to a false fire alarm in the middle of the night), I made it to a breakfast a few blocks away at 8 AM. Not my ideal hour of the day! It was especially difficult to be alert enough to interact with people. But I persevered. Then I attended a session on the decline of the secular university... arguing that many universities are exclusive because they ignore the Judeo-Christian, Roman, Greek, Hebrew, and other religious influences on western academic thought. It was pretty interesting. Then on to a lunch meeting that lasted several hours.

I had an interesting conversation with a woman today who was raised Southern Baptist, converted to Episcopalian, and now teaches in a Quaker school. Women in ministry came up, and she pointed out that people are quick to explain away the verses that support slavery, or tell us to be poor, but cling to the verses that might seem to suggest that women should not be in public ministry.

I took the afternoon and evening off... Conferences are so great but so exhausting. It's a lot to take in and a lot of energy all at once. So I'm resting up for another big day tomorrow.


De facto/de jure segregation was neither de facto nor de jure. Discuss. I love panels like this, that debate language and deconstruct accepted frameworks. Basically, these panelists argued that there’s too much Southern exceptionalism in the discussions surrounding Jim Crowe and desegregation. It actually got me thinking about re-framing the borders of my own dissertation study. Drat.

One of the benefits of organizational membership is networking with important people. Sometimes no one outside the organization cares, but in this case, you may actually be interested. One of the staff Congressional historians (there’s only four) is a member and arranged a private tour for a few of us to see the Capitol. It was awesome. You haven’t seen a major historical site until you’ve seen it with a group of historians.

Two things were exceptionally cool… First, we got to go on the floor of the House. I sat in the second row! I might actually watch the State of the Union this time… It’s easy to forget about the separation of powers in our government given the intense focus on the executive branch, so it was cool to see all that up so close.

Second, we got to see the new Capitol Visitor Center, which will open in November 2008. It’s still under construction but is primarily finished, so it was really nice to see it before it all gets crazy. We also got to see the new Congressional Auditorium, which won’t be open to tourists. It’s a 450 seat theater type room that the House or Senate can use (and the Library of Congress, actually). Hearing the politics of all that went into creating the visitor center and the museum was fascinating, especially from two historians who were part of the process.

I went to the graduate student reception for the food, but didn’t eat enough, so I went to get French toast. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things in life. I don’t know why. I also met up with a friend from Iowa and some of his colleagues. We discussed the importance of Pietism, the nuances of Anabaptists in England, and the definition of the emergent church. I tried to tell them there wasn’t much of a definition for the latter (that’s kind of the point), but I tried my best. I’m pretty sure they now think that my church worships icons, discards I Corinthians, and has more staff than congregants… none of which are true. Oh well, what can you do?

Friday, January 04, 2008

LK Goes to Washington, Thursday

I'm in our nation's capitol attending the AHA, the largest professional historians conference. I rolled out of bed at 5:45 and left in sweats 15 minutes later to catch a flight... So I arrived to the conference hotel a pretty big mess. I always feel like a little bit a poser at these things, so it was important to make an entrance...

This is by far the biggest conference I've attended. I received the program in the mail a week ago, and it's roughly the size of a phone book. The intellectual exchange is crazy. And it's a funny subculture--a bunch of academics so completed interested in little tiny pieces of history (like myself). On the elevator I told my friend that almost an hour had passed since I heard the name Foucault. Everyone laughed. The father of postmodernism must be mentioned as much as possible! One woman suggested we make a drinking game out of it, take a shot every time someone says Foucault. We abandoned the idea because we would get alcohol poisoning.

I attended a session on African Americans in asylums (uplifting, I know) and finished the evening with dinner at an organic Indian restaurant. I shared a two-hour meal at Taste of India (not to be confused with Little India, right next door) with two colleagues I never see, even though we live in the same city. We had this great conversation deconstructing the Christian faith. It was 27 degrees when we walked home from our after dinner coffee shop... way too cold for my tastes!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year(s)

Time to replicate a dream and
Move forward,
Knowing that I am so undeniably
Not alone.
All this cyclical patterning
Of time and understanding,
And I feel more at peace
With myself.
The Peace You have given.