tuesday tunes.

so i'm starting a new weekly special called "tuesday tunes" which will occur on...you guessed it...tuesdays. it will be an artist or band or song that i think you should check out. maybe it's a new release from that day, maybe it's just someone i'm currently obsessed with. but it will be for your weekly listening pleasure.

today's tuesday tune is singer/songwriter caitlin crosby. her new album, "flawz" released on itunes last week, and i can't stop listening to it. born and raised in LA, she brings a whole new meaning to honest songwriting. "flawz" is a diverse album, showcasing caitlin's unique raspy voice that is both raw and delicate.

here's the video for her single, "still have my heart"...

caitlin also happens to be a new sponsor with mocha club...so of course that gives her extra bonus points in my book! oh -- and her beau is "chuck" star zachary levi...not too bad.

and how cute is her side project: loveyourflawz.com?
where imperfect is the new perfect.

how sweet it is.

i've been in what you might call a "sweetener battle" for the past couple of years.
i had fallen in love with splenda. i baked with it. i carried around little packets in my purse for those unexpected coffee encounters. but then i started to get suspicious about the affects of this chemically-enhanced sweetener. (my knows-a-lot-about-organic-and-natural-foods-friend christine compares it to chlorine...yikes!). so i gradually moved onto sugar in the raw. it took a little bit of getting used to (definitely not as sweet), but i was learning to enjoy it, and eventually started carrying around little packets in my purse. but the thing with the raw sugar is...well...it's still sugar. you know...sweet on your lips, forever on your hips kinda sugar. so i began the search for another alternative.

enter: stevia. stevia is a natural sweet leaf from the sunflower family that is a zero-calorie sweetener! done and done.

so over the last few months i've been trying it in some different forms... you may have seen the commercials for truvia, coca-cola's brand of stevia. it comes in easy single-use packets.

i also bought some stevia extract (trader joe's brand), but haven't really perfected the quantity yet.

i think my favorite is liquid form (specifically the vanilla creme flavor) ...just a few drops in your coffee is perfect.

who knows, in 10 years they may discover that stevia causes us to grow a 3rd arm and go blind, but for now -- i'm trusting it as my all-natural-guilt-free sweetener!

side note: another amazing natural sweetener is agave nectar -- use as a substitute for honey in smoothies, on toast, or in your tea!


UP and at 'em.

disney pixar's UP came out in theaters while i was in africa, so by the time i got back, it's all everybody was talking about. there was definitely some hype built-up for it, so i had high expectations (no pun intended!) i even paid the extra bucks to see it in 3D!
but i gotta admit -- it totally lived up to its reputation. it's been awhile since a cartoon pulled at my heart like this sweet film.

the director/writer, pete docter, says this... "we came up with the image of a floating house held aloft by balloons, and it just seemed to capture what we were after in terms of escaping the world. we quickly realized that the world is really about relationships..."

wow. even disney can see into the idea of enjoying the journey versus daydreaming about the destination! (cue my life's theme music) it is amazing how much the theme of this movie fits right in with what God is teaching me right now.

carl fredricksen, the 78-year-old balloon salesman, has a lifelong dream of a great adventure that he thinks will fulfill and satisfy his empty heart. he literally escapes his world as he knows it, headed to "paradise falls: the most beautiful place on earth". his reality is a life of loneliness and empty dreams, and his adventure is all about the destination and a goal. what he learns along the way is to stop. to listen. to embrace the unexpected bumps, turns, and twists along the way. to appreciate the companions that accompany him. to enjoy the journey.

i find myself so caught up in the adventure that is my own life. it's full of good things... great things even... that God has so richly blessed me with. and it is an adventure in which i feel both the Lord's presence and guidance. but there is still an element of unfulfilled dreams and unmet desires. so often i'm consumed with my own thoughts and plans and intentions and daydreams, that i can't see the blessings right in front of me. and i, like carl, so easily forget to stop. to listen. to embrace the unexpected bumps, turns, and twists along my way. to appreciate the companions that accompany me. to enjoy my journey.



as i prepared for my trip to south africa (and dealt with the anxiety of leading it) i kept praying the truth of 2 corinthians 12:9, that God's power is made perfect in our weaknesses.
because, let's face it, weaknesses? i got em.
patient? not so much. controlling? oh yah. prideful? unfortunately, yes.

but the upside of knowing your weaknesses and constantly being aware of them, is the opportunity to invite God into each moment. so, when i felt even the slightest inclination to get impatient, or to jump on the complain train, or to remind everyone that i know everything...i just...prayed. prayed that God would enter in and give me the grace, give me the patience, give me the humility. and He did...every time.

i think one of the sweetest moments of the trip was the time each night where we would go around the dinner table and encourage one member of the team. [side note: i think our culture has drifted too far from this kind of intentional verbal affirmation...it's so good for the soul.]
so, on the last day, it was my turn. the team went around and encouraged me and affirmed me as a leader. and what did they say were my strengths? patience. humility. the ability to "go with the flow". excuse me?

wow. God's power. perfect. in my weaknesses. and that's what people see.
when i let Him lead, through me, i have the power to be strong.

it was a great reminder of how the Lord designed leadership. He calls us to step up and lead...but at the same time He grants us the freedom to ask, to depend, to trust, to follow.


back from africa.

well, i survived the last 2 weeks in africa! it was definitely challenging at times (as it should be) but an incredible trip overall. my team was nothing short of amazing, and what we were able to accomplish and experience was truly life-changing.
i'd attempt to summarize it all for you, but annie did a far better job than i ever could on the mocha club blog. here are all of the posts, in chronological order.
if you only choose one, definitely do #10!

blog #1: packing
blog #2: just the 10 of us
blog #3: jet-lagged
blog #4: first video from capetown
blog #5: learn to earn
blog #6: highs & lows
blog #7: second blog videos
blog #8: this is africa
blog #9: the children
blog #10: lighthouse