Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Baby!

So this morning I called my niece to wish her a happy birthday before school and I got some other news too...My sister is having another baby! Madison turned 9 today and the twins Matthew and Mitchell are 7. Now they are adding a baby to the mix. This will be so fun!

The kids already asked if they could name it. Their suggestion? Magician. They wanna call it Magic for short. I'm sure they got that idea from some Disney movie or cartoon, but the irony of their suggestion makes me laugh. My sister and brother-in-law are in for a fun ride with a new baby and three little helpers! Let's just hope she doesn't take seriously their offers to help name it...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Birthday Weekend

For my birthday this past weekend, my good friends Rebecca, Amy, and Callie organized a Girls’ Weekend in honor of my 30th. Friday began with a great evening of pedicures, movies, girl talk, and baked Brie. Saturday was coffee and brunch (with more girl talk), Tea Time at Tempest in Dallas, and shopping at the Galleria. Could I have asked for a more girly weekend? I don’t think so! I loved every minute.
Love those girls.
Love pedicures.
Love girl talk.
Love shopping.
And Love being 30.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Big 3-0h.

Yeah, that's right people I am turning 30 tomorrow! Lots of people have asked me how I feel about it. Honestly? I feel great! My roommate said yesterday that now I am officially thirty, flirty, and thriving.

I can live with that!

Downtown – things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown – no finer place for sure
Downtown – everything’s waiting for you

So, now I am officially employed Downtown. The lyrics from this Petula Clark song may be a bit ambitious (I’m not sure everything is waiting for me there…), but the tune seemed appropriate to usher in this new chapter of working in downtown Fort Worth.

I just started working for the hospitality management company that manages The Ashton Hotel and The Ashton Depot in Fort Worth. They brought me on board to help coordinate people, events, and general business stuff. I have a lot to learn about the hospitality business, but those of you who know me well know that I love to take care of people. This is a great opportunity to do something professionally that I have always enjoyed doing at home! I am working with a great team including managers, executive chefs, event planners, and more. I can’t wait to watch and learn.

And, for those of you in the Fort Worth area, these are gorgeous venues for weddings, receptions, parties and more. You can expect luxury treatment and a unique Fort Worth flair. Very chic!

Monday, September 11, 2006

On this five year anniversary of 9/11, I’m sure most people are remembering where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with on September 11, 2001.

Me too.

On 9/11, I was living in Turkey. I remember that it was about 3:00 p.m. and I was walking down a busy Istanbul street on my way to a popular shopping area with my friend Elizabeth. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that day, other than the “normal” of everyday life overseas…constantly speaking and thinking in a foreign language, practicing care to not look men in the eyes (important in a Muslim culture), and smiling at the beggar children who always followed us down city streets asking for money.

My cell phone rang and an American friend who also lived in Istanbul said, “Hey there’s something going on in New York. I’m watching CNN and it looks like the whole city is on fire.” “Okay, Clay,” I said. “Thanks for calling.” Then I hung up and was actually annoyed that he would interrupt my path to the mall with news of a fire thousands of miles away in New York. Within fifteen minutes, he called again and said, “Nicole, as soon as you guys get to the mall, you need to find a department store with a television. You won’t believe it. There’s been a terrorist attack in New York and this is big.”

We sped up our pace to the mall and immediately went to the electronics department of the biggest store we could find. Without asking, we switched the channel from a Turkish soap opera to CNN in English. Then we saw the pictures of the towers – both smoking by this point. I stood about a foot from the TV in disbelief and I remember thinking that my mouth simply wouldn’t close. It felt frozen in shock. Within minutes, the Turks standing around us took notice of what was happening on the screen. This was the first they had seen of the news, and a crowd gathered around the television. They began to say in Turkish, “Change it to Turkish! I can’t understand English!” So they switched the channel and the reporting was now by a Turkish reporter, displaying the same images we’d just seen of the towers.

My cell phone rang again and I heard my mom’s voice. I couldn’t help but break down and cry. “Mom, what’s happening?” “Are you okay? Where are you? What are you doing?” She asked a million questions and I remember saying to her, “Mom, you’re in America, not me. Nothing is happening here. It’s happening there!” I remember her saying at the end of our conversation “The day is not over yet.” Then it hit me that it was early morning in the U.S. and she was right. Who knew what the rest of the day held?

The next few days we (me, Elizabeth, and other Americans living in the city) were sort of in a holding pattern. I remember our company issuing plans with all kinds of scenarios and emergency plans to evacuate if that was necessary. We sat glued to CNN all day for three days.
Things I remember most about those days:
1. I felt helpless.
2. I cried a lot.
3. I didn’t want to go back to work when things began to settle down.
4. I wanted my mom.
5. I prayed non-stop for the families who had lost people they loved.

I also remember my Turkish neighbors and friends who expressed so much concern for Americans and sadness at such a cowardly act of terrorism. They really were sympathetic. One neighbor even broke down in tears when she was telling me how sorry she was for our loss. Turkish people (and much of the rest of the world) understand the effects of terrorism. They have lived with it as long as they can remember and stand alongside anyone else who is affected by its devastation. I also remember many of them saying “This is NOT the way of Islam.” They were heartbroken that now Islam had been the basis for such an act of terrorism.

It’s been a long five years. This is not the place to comment on the state of things now. But it is a place to share a story and hope that many others, on this day, will remember that our world is broken. It is in need of redemption. My faith in Jesus Christ tells me the kind of redemption that’s needed can only come through Him. If anyone does, He understands betrayal, pain, surrender, and ultimate victory over evil. In Him, there is goodness, hope, healing, and salvation for all people on earth. May we be reminded of those things today…

Rarely do I use this blog for entries like these because it seems like more of personal journal entry than something to be public. But, in this case, it is part of me seeking to identify with other people’s experiences on that day and offer a word of hope, even on a day that is very solemn for many Americans.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The End of Poverty

Hey, for all of you who are concerned about global issues, I totally recommend Jeffrey Sach's The End of Poverty. This book has completely upset my mind over the past few months and helped me understand more about the issue of extreme poverty in the world. Now, many nay-sayers saw this book when I was reading it and commented "the end of poverty - yeah, right!", or "hmmm. the end of poverty. that sounds like Bono's favorite book", or _____ you fill in the blank on things people might say when they don't understand the issue. Or better yet, when they want to ignore it.

I was introduced to the book when one of my students gave it to me as a gift. He bought it in Delhi and was very thoughtful to bring it back from his study abroad assignment. Until I visited India last year I had never really given much thought to the serious issue of poverty and how it affects global politics, health, education, and culture. Sachs has writen a great book for the average Westerner who doesn't know that much about how we as a developed society either help or hurt the poor of the world.

I won't be so bold to say that now I understand everything about poverty, what causes it, or how to fix it. But this book really made me think. And every once in a while, shouldn't we be reading something that makes us think?? It's a good read. Check it and let me know what you think...