viva nashvegas.

from the birthday bucket files…

7. Go see Laura & Shawna in Nashville

you know what? when i left last weekend to head to charlotte to meet lisa and ride to nashville with her, it didn’t even cross my mind that i would be able to cross another thing off of my birthday bucket list. it wasn’t until i was thinking about my ‘last friday update’ this week that i realized, ‘omg! i get to cross that off my list!’ what perfect timing, too! just in time for my last friday birthday bucket post!

as i stated, i left my apartment last saturday to go to charlotte where i would meet {in person} lisa whittle. i stayed with her family that night before we embarked on a journey to nashville where we would stay with our mutual friend shawna kirk. lisa and i met virtually through an accidental set of events set into motion by our sweet friend samantha. somewhere in there, shawna got a hold of both of us and said, ‘you must know each other.’ one thing led to another, she called me, i called her…bada-boom, bada-bing…and suddenly i’m on my way to meet this woman i’ve only spoken with over the phone and spend-the-night with her family. that said, i had spoken with lisa enough to know i adored her and, per shawna’s high praise, i knew it was simply meant to be.

i purposefully had not asked lisa any questions about her life, other than what i read on her blog. i had told her pieces of my story, but we agreed she would tell me hers while we were on the road together.

uh, and, by ‘story’…? i mean ‘one of the craziest never-heard-before tales i’ve ever heard in my life’. for reals.

she has a new book (her third) coming out in the fall where you can read all about it; a story of the fallen and how god redeems.

(what – you didn’t think i was going to give it away, did you? tsk, tsk. you’ll have to wait til the fall! it will be worth it, i promise.)

p.s. did i mention she is the first-ever female author barna has published?

my friend lisa is the first-ever female author barna has published.

before we stopped to get lunch, what we thought was a gunshot was actually lisa’s tire blowing out upon making a u-turn. we sat there for a hot minute, unsure of what to do, when jesus dressed in dirty clothes with a long scraggly ponytail pulled up behind us in his pick-up truck. not long after that, jesus from south africa asked if we needed help. when they did all they could to help us to no avail, south africa-jesus went around the corner to get hispanic-jesus who owns a tire shop. as i stood there watching dirty-jesus, south africa-jesus and hispanic-jesus put on the spare, i heard the voice of sweet-jesus in my heart say, ‘mary kathryn, i will always protect and provide for you’ and my eyes were full of tears. we were up and running in 2 minutes flat, ate yummy soup and were on the road again in no time, truly thankful for the kind provision of our god.

when we pulled into nashville, lisa dropped me off at shawna’s house before heading to spend-the-night with her bff in hendersonville. we arrived just in time for me to spend the evening with a group shawna and her husband eli host each week. a handful of their friends gather every sunday night to discuss a book they’ve been reading. they are currently studying chapter seven in none other than my fave, ragamuffin gospel. per shawna’s request, i was able to share with them about my relationship with the author, brennan manning.

[let me just say here that i am not a name-dropper. barf me out. so you know, brennan manning has been a part of my life since the early '80's. he came to our conference center before he ever gained the notoriety he maintains today and continued coming twice a year, even though it became a smaller venue for him, even after he did become so popular. he has been a personal minister to my family for many, many years. i realize i sound like i'm showing off when i mention 'my friend brennan manning' - for me, though, it's not enough to just call him by his name when he is the only man who loved and respected my dad enough to help him get help. (twice.) we've had several long phone calls and eaten lots and lots of ice cream together and he has been a dear, good friend & minister to us for many years.]

anyway, it was awesome to sit among mark & becky, pam, jb, and shawna & eli. we had great fellowship. we had church.

and then we had a huge cheeseburger that made me wish i hadn’t, even until the next morning.

one other kinda cool/kinda weird/kinda sad thing is that shawna and eli live right around the corner from where my dad lived. like, i could have walked there. the last time i was in nashville, we were packing up my dad’s house. the plans for this trip happened so quickly that i didn’t have time to process that it was the first time i had been back since then, but you know…it really was okay. i only have good memories of my dad there and it makes my heart happy that it was where he spent his last days, loving every moment. so, i was fine. plus, i was too busy to even think about it.

on monday, shawna made lunch for us and invited laura and her german/hispanic/dutch/norwegian/british/french fiance. they were so gracious to join us as they had just driven back into town from visiting family. brian crow, a friend of compassion, also came. all stellar folks whom you should know.

when i came downstairs after getting ready i hugged laura and greeted someone named michelle, but it wasn’t until we were praying before lunch that i asked michelle…something?…and realized she was Mi-CHELLE! MY MICHELLE! OMG, IT’S MICHELLE! michelle and shawna have been lifelong friends, so when shawna said to me, ‘she’s one of us’, we became facebook and blog-friends. it was the First Time Ever i had met a blog-friend! and, y’all, can i tell you…? michelle has one of the most contrite spirits and best hearts at which i’ve ever had the privilege of glancing. we sat down, just the two of us, at the kitchen table and just swapped stories. well, she told me her story (she already knew mine – you all do, for that matter). it was so special getting to spend time with her. what a good soul.

by the end of the day, we were all pooped. we had plans but we just couldn’t motivate off the couch until it came time to put our ‘friend pants’ on and hunker down to watch brad and crazy-michelle. who is bonkers. besides that, we knew tuesday would be full of appointments.

first up, we hung out with spence smith at meridee’s in franklin. what a cool guy! you might remember him from the ’90′s band big tent revival. he now also works as both a social media expert and is the artist relations guy for compassion international. for every question we asked him, he was chock-full of great answers. a wealth of knowledge, that guy. we briefly met his compassion partner, randy elrod, as he was on his way out when we walked in.

following our meeting with spence, we met jim chaffee. he represents speakers and writers like palmer chinchen, anne jackson, susan isaacs and donald miller. (in other words, he’s kind of important.) both lisa and i had good visits with him and it looks like i might contract with him to promote some events his company produces.

when we walked in to starbucks, and before jim got there, lisa looked over my shoulder and quietly mumbled something along the lines of, ‘youknowwholoswhitis?’ ‘onlyfromtwitter’, i muttered back. ‘heisrightbehindyou.’ so i tweeted him: i promise i’m not a stalker but how does it feel when people sitting in *bux know who you are but you don’t know them…? then he said something about picking his nose and then we went to meet him. what a great guy! you should definitely know who carlos whittaker is.

and THEN…perhaps the highlight for me…was meeting alece ronzino and lindsey nobles, who were gracious enough to join us for coffee that evening. alece is every bit the beautiful soul you would expect her to be; lindsey, equally beautiful and quirky, too. both smart, both important.

that morning lisa and i packed up the car in the event we would have to head back due to weather. after a full and exhausting day, we sojourned back to charlotte to keep from getting stuck in the nashville (or asheville) snow the following day. after loading up on red bull, pixy stix and blow pops, we were delirious. laughing hysterically and rocking out to ’80′s hair band music, my sugar high lasted most of the night. i did well to stay awake with her until the last two of our 7-hour drive, when we pulled back into her driveway at 3:30 a.m. (for someone who turns into a pumpkin at 10:00, this was quite an achievement.)

lisa and i decompressed our trip when we rolled out of bed the next day and made plans that will unfold in coming months.

meanwhile, we had an awesome trip and i get to cross one more thing off my list.

#29 & winner of made to crave.

the video camera on my mac is, for some reason, disabled, which is why every vlog i’ve done has been by a different camera in different locations (including this one). i’ll get it together one of these days. so this video is honestly a hot mess but it gets the job done. it looks like my bed is unmade. (i didn’t realize i had a sweatshirt sitting up there, or maybe i thought it wouldn’t be seen.) also, the drawer you see is what you think it is: my stockings drawer. i pulled the drawer out to set my sister’s little camera on top of it. the little motion above my head is, that’s right…my zella girl. and, in the middle, my sinuses attack.

also, i need a script.

it’s  pretty awesome.

i am for hire, folks.

congratulations to the winner! i would have been glad for anyone to have won, but i am so, so happy this person did. she knows why. :)

to the rest of you who expressed interest in participating in the study, go on and get a hold of the book. i’ll send you an email this weekend of how it will work. it will come from mktyson(at)hotmail(dot)com, so be on the look-out for it. if you didn’t sign up via comments, then by all means let me know, either by commenting now or shooting me an email at the same address.

love you guys!

have a great weekend!


number five.

#5. finish one creative project a month

‘you don’t carve pumpkins?’ he said. ‘not with a 2 1/2-year old,’ i replied.

we paint them instead!

one sunday afternoon in october, i went to a local pumpkin patch and picked out a few pumpkins to bring home to my sweet girl. (would have taken her with me but it was her naptime and i rue the day i interrupt one of her Very Important Naps.) meanwhile, we had a date to meet each other on the porch that afternoon and had The Best Time making a mess together.

the rules are: there are no rules. just have fun! make a mess!

hannah grace  LOVES to paint. anything creative, she loves. in fact, one of our favorite activities to do together is to play in paint and paper and anything else we can get our hands on that might be used in creating a masterpiece. she even has her own drawer in my little shoebox apartment filled with mardi gras masks and beads and silly sunglasses and party horns. but her favorite thing of all when she comes to kk’s house is to find her crayons and watercolors in that drawer.

many a christmas present was made on my coffee table last year sitting on what would otherwise be a footstool for grown-ups but is the perfect tuffet for a princess. or tinkerbell. or a scary bear. or goliath, which is who she pretended to be last night.

i had more fun watching and encouraging hanners than i did making my own mardi gras-themed pumpkin (which is why it isn’t pictured here. because it lacked a button nose until the day it mysteriously disappeared/was thrown out.) and i realize, while creating for me is mostly a very spiritual experience and something i do privately, there is nothing in the world i would trade to cultivate my precious niece’s creativity.

or to see that smile.

because that is its very own gift.


have you tapped in to your creative side lately?

what would it take for you to be able to let yourself go?

{in the beginning, god created… -genesis 1:1}


this post is a follow-up to the birthday bucket, which i update on the last friday of every month.

or, in this case, the first day of the next month.


la comunidad: breaking bread.

my bff-caroline came over for taco night on the last friday in september. (and, yes, i do know i have 93 bff’s.) i don’t know about you, but by the time friday gets here the only thing i want to do is nothing. or not much, anyway. and so a relaxed evening with friends is a perfect friday night for me.

as i was chopping vegetables and marinating meat awaiting caroline’s arrival, i was glad to be able to cross off #6 for the month: make a meal with all new recipes and share with someone. only, there was a problem. this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo.

as we’re fairly certain that sarah hope is 97% hispanic, mexican food is common fare in our her house. in fact, we eat it at least every day week.  i’ve done ‘taco night’ dozens of times. my bff from high school kel and i had an entire ‘fiesta’ one summer when we came home from college, complete with decor, soundtrack and a menu selected from our new mexican cookbook. more than i love  mexican food, though, i love the mexican culture – food is fresh (nothing is processed) and meals are a celebration of friends and family. if you have never been to san miguel de allende, get there asap (but not before you swing by to get me). it is hands-down my favorite place in the world. the way of life in mexico is so much more relaxed and beautiful there than it is here. and everything is old and colonial and full of life and color. loooove san miguel. love it.

love it.

now then, when caroline came over, we broke bread (or tortilla, as the case may be), and got caught up on our week. then the neighbor and his friends came by and flirted with caroline and ate leftovers and we laughed and had community and i realized what was obviously the more important thing.

see, i love to cook and leafing through cookbooks and look forward to getting the classic red and white betty crocker cookbook like the one my mom has for christmas (as well as emily post’s ‘weddings’ book, not that i have a need for that now or in the near-future). and i do enjoy trying new recipes and look forward to doing that with friends over the course of the next year. but i think the most important thing is simply sharing meals with friends, whether they be new recipes or not. because, even though folks do appreciate hospitality and and a good meal, they’ll remember more that you broke bread at all and smothered it in laughter.

community. that’s what it’s all about.

that’s all. nothing deep or profound. just a story about modifying #6.

how do you build community?

tried any new recipes lately?

bucket list.

With the upcoming celebration of (my) life on the soon-and-coming horizon, I have been recently inspired by HopefulLeigh who was inspired by Michelle My Belle to come up with list of 33 Things to do Before I Turn 34. It’s a really fun idea! I’m so totally a list-maker, so I can’t wait to start crossing things off! I have a few ‘every day’ or ‘once a week’ items, so I’m going to log it all in a journal. Before my birthday I want to decorate and do something fun with my list like Michelle has done. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Effective September 16, this is my Bucket List before my next birthday, September 15, 2011.

33 Things to do Before I Turn 34

  1. Go through dad’s boxes (and mine) and purrrge
  2. Redecorate my walls
  3. Finish all the books sitting next to my bed: Blood Done Sign My Name by my cousin Tim; Silent SaviorMessy Faith by my bff-Amy; The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning; A Grief Observed by CS Lewis; Coaching Third by my mentor Bethany; Along Came Love by my friend Carrie Turansky; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  4. Lose 15 pounds
  5. Finish one creative project a month
  6. Make a meal with all new recipes once a month and share it with someone
  7. Go see Laura & Shawna in Nashville
  8. Go see Lynde & Mike Ross and Jana & Barry in Austin
  9. Purge CD’s
  10. {oo…should probably keep this one private. sorry.}
  11. Write every day
  12. Walk/Run a ½ marathon
  13. Acquire 50 subscribers to my blog & total 2000 FB friends (which really just means ‘meet new people this year’, not ‘make myself famous’)
  14. Memorize a song on the guitar
  15. Sing in a bar with a band
  16. Work through The Artist’s Way
  17. Celebrate something new every day and write it down to remember
  18. Memorize 10 verses in the Bible
  19. Complete Next Steps for P31
  20. Quit fooling around and make a decision about seminary once and for all, for God’s sake
  21. Take Mom to the Antique show in Virginia in February
  22. Write a letter to, skype with or phone 3 long lost friends a week
  23. Save $1000.00
  24. Read Sex God by Rob Bell with Sara
  25. Complete a Beth Moore Bible study
  26. Go to at least one recovery meeting a week
  27. Attend at least one worship service a month
  28. Actually live by my budget
  29. Learn and implement a new word every week
  30. Do something drastic with my hair
  31. Volunteer
  32. Venture down a country road once a month just to get lost
  33. To say ‘YES’. Always.

If you get inspired to create a list of your own, send it to me! Oh, look. Here come some now…

Happy Tuesday Rain: 30 Things to Do Before 31

best life now.

in 15 days i’ll be 33.


ugh. thirty-three.




i know what you’re thinking.

‘you’re so young! a baaaa-byyyy!’

i’m right, aren’t i? some of you are thinking that, aren’t you?

here’s the thing.

perhaps i’m young to some of you; i’m certainly older than many of you. my parents had already been married for ten years and had all three of their babies by the time they were my age (well, and, really, by the time they were 29, but who’s really counting? seriously. stop counting.) bottom line: i’m not getting any younger. i’m young to, say, my 88-year old granddad whose still kicking it. but i’m not young to the 12-year old receptionist with whom i spend my days at work. (seriously, she can’t believe anyone could ever be this old. oh, just you wait, sister…)

my best days are still ahead of me. i believe that. after making a complete mess of my twenties, i threw my arms wide open and gave thirty a big hug and said ‘come on in!’. not sad ONE BIT to turn thirty. or even thirty-one. or even thirty-two, for that matter.

but 33…?

wasn’t that how old jesus was when he died?


there’s still so much left to do!

one thing i’m noticing about myself as i…ahem…grow old gracefully is that my passion for life and my drive for the important have only become more imperative.

i want to live…fearlessly.

with reckless abandon.

i want my relationships…to matter.

i want my time to count.

i want to live so selflessly that it goes completely unnoticed.

i want to give all of myself to everyone i would be of value.

i want to take care of my temple so that i have a long and full life.

i want god to increase my capacity to love

and to make use of all the gifts he’s given me

and see all of his children and creation through his eyes

and with his heart

and to soak up and observe and drink in this world and this LIFE that he has created for us to enjoy.

heart and eyes and arms wide open.

i don’t want to spend the rest of my days worrying about the mundane, being afraid of tomorrow, withholding from others, giving in to tiredness and not sucking up all of my life that i can. because it’s





if all of my days are in his hands…

and he knows the plans that he has for me…

if he will instruct me and teach me in the way i should go…

if he will not leave or forsake me…

and he will guard my heart and mind…

and he will listen when i call on him…

and if he protects me from harm…

and my wealth & prosperity are in him

just like he promises…

then, do tell, what in the WORLD do i have to worry about!?

why wouldn’t i want to commit to living as if i really believed this is all true?

see, the older i get, the more i realize

it’s just not about me.

it is




love god, love others, and enjoy life. that’s my job. my only job.

and the great thing about it is…HE is all about US!

{so don’t be afraid, little flock. for it gives your father great happiness to give you the kingdom. -luke 12:32 (nlt)}

do you get what i’m saying? it’s all for us! and we don’t have to worry about anything! not one thing!

we don’t have any reason or excuse not to enjoy it all!

i don’t want to not get this. and i don’t want to miss it.

and i don’t want you to miss it, either.

will you be brave enough to do life this way with me?

(please? it’s way more fun to do it together.)

{haven’t i commanded you? strength! courage! don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. god, your god, is with you every step you take. -joshua 1:8 (msg)}


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