Brunch! – Urban Egg

Saturday, March 11, 2023 – Nerdy 30s Ladies of KC – Brunch, simply enough, is a combination of breakfast and lunch. But of course, words experienced live never strictly follow the dictionary definition.

Last Saturday I almost cancelled my brunch plans due to a long week at work and feeling exhausted from the long week at work. In my mind being too tired was not a good enough reason to cancel plans so I went. I’m glad I did, even with the slight fear that I didn’t fit in with the brunch crowd. I just wanted two hours where I could escape my thoughts.

I love these Nerdy 30s ladies because I am always thoroughly entertained and lightened up when I’m around them. I kid you not. They made my work stress melt away and my tiredness was replaced with incessant laughter. No one in our group had been to Urban Egg before, but everyone was up for trying something new. The place was packed.  They have something on the menu for everyone. It’s one of those jam-packed menus where if you were trying to Microsoft print to PDF, you’d have to select “shrink to fit one page.”

So yes, the menu at first looks a little overwhelming and brings on the indecisive anxiety, but seriously, you really can’t go wrong with anything. Barely any boxes were needed at the end of the meal. For drinks, they have all kinds of coffee and all kinds of alcoholic brunch options. I vaguely remember one of my first ever Nerdy 30s events and someone ordering mimosas and kept them coming. That’s when I realized I may not fit in with the brunch crowd. I went for a café mocha and let me tell you, like you see in the picture, it tasted like what all the American girls would call a guy “dreamy” if café mocha were a guy.

Most of the girls ordered alcoholic brunch drinks and kept them coming. Those drinks tasted like vacation adventure stories to Jamaica, TV shows you didn’t know you shouldn’t be watching, and thrillers you should be reading with the lights on.

It was nice to be able to listen to book recommendations while giving out book recommendations as well. Getting homework in the form of new TV show must-watches was a first for me. There will be follow-up at the next brunch for sure. Because tiredness knows no opponent like a good laugh with all your girls.


Global Missions Project: Guatemala

Waking up every morning knowing that I will get to play the violin all day long brings back memories of summer music camp and honors orchestra rehearsals. Back then I played to make myself look good. On my first Global Missions Project, I played to make God look good.

For nine days straight, 43 of us from all over the country formed the Celebration Orchestra, led by our fearless conductor and music arranger, Camp Kirkland. We travelled to Guatemala together from December 27, 2022 to January 4, 2023 to present the message of the gospel to over 4,000 Guatemalans. Like Camp said, on day one we played together for the first time and on the last day we played together for the last time, never to play together again. For some of us, like myself and my flautist friend Carol Brown from our CPC Orchestra, it was our first trip with GMP. For others, this was trip number 10 or more or so with GMP.

We rehearsed during the day and performed one concert each night, sometimes two. On one of the days we did a little sight-seeing as well and we got to attend the concert of the youth philharmonic orchestra of the Pedro & Manuel Lopez Ministry, named after the men who started it. This part of the project affected me the most. These kids, who are not all kids anymore, have been playing together for five years now on instruments donated from GMP. This year we donated 55 instruments. This is how these Guatemalan kids get the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument outside of school and sometimes the first time they learn about Jesus, which they then bring the Word of God back home to their parents. Their playing moved me to tears when I recognized the sound of “Amazing Grace” and for those GMP players who had been coming back every year to Guatemala, they were able to hear the difference five years makes. We may have a spoken language barrier, but these kids are proof music is a universal language.

After attending their concert, we got the opportunity to participate in workshop sessions with these kids where we could provide tips and tricks on how to play better. Carol shared with me and our group how much she enjoyed teaching the girls she worked with her tips and tricks for playing the flute and how much their eyes would light up when they “got it.” I got the chance to play alongside a full violin section of Guatemalan violin students and was blessed with the chance to have a stand partner who is a violin and English teacher from El Salvador, Carlos Argueta. He and his fellow music teachers from El Salvador were invited to help out with rehearsals and leading sectionals and performing with us on the first night for our first concert of the mission trip.

Some of these Guatemalan musicians are accomplished aspiring professionals and I admire their dedication to their craft as well as school studies. Their spoken English is a lot better than my broken Spanish. Their accomplishments remind me to appreciate my American education. Their gratitude and enthusiasm, something that was especially evident in the audience of our concerts, was something I want to be able to mirror in my life.

There is so much more to this trip than I can put into words, but I learned at least three valuable lessons: Semper Gumby, God is able to use skills you have from the past or the present to bring glory to Him, and serving others blesses them and you will be blessed in return. A trip like this requires a lot of flexibility and reminders that you are in another country. Playing the violin was a skill I originally thought I left in the past until I started playing in the orchestra at my church, leading me to play for GMP. And finally, by committing myself to serve others in Guatemala, I gained career advice, health advice, and new tips to improve my violin-playing that I wouldn’t have otherwise received had I not gone on this trip.

As they love saying in Guatemala, God bless you!


the origin of sighing

Sometimes I really wish broken relationships could be fixed like solving a calculus problem. It might be hard, but there’s always an answer and a path to get to that answer with problem-solving skills. Or like reading a manual. The type may be small, but at least there are step-by-step instructions on what to do to get to the end result.

So broken relationships are a lot harder to fix than anything else, but they kind of are like anything else that needs to be fixed. If I am able to fix something, I keep it. If I am not able to fix something, I throw it away. If I am able to humble myself and go talk to someone I have issues with, we’ll survive as friends/co-workers/family. If I am not able to do that, the relationship ends and most likely we will never speak to each other again.

Broken relationships can take up a lot of space in the mind. You may get busy, even make yourself too busy to deal with it, but it will cross your mind until you deal with it or until it stops crossing your mind. But while a broken thing just sits there until you are able to put it together correctly, a broken relationship involves another person who has their own thoughts and opinions and feelings about the issues causing the brokenness. That’s where it gets complicated and a lot of sighing happens.  


“The It Girl” by Ruth Ware

For the beginner thriller novel reader, The It Girl by Ruth Ware is it.

Hannah Jones meets April Clarke-Cliveden at Oxford and April becomes the roommate who changes her life forever when April’s life ends. She thought it was John Neville, the creepy porter who stalked her around campus the whole time she was there, who committed the crime. It had to be him. But a decade later and he dies in prison, protesting his innocence, causing Hannah to question everything she knew about what happened that night. Did she accuse the wrong person? When an old friend calls, confirming her suspicions, she knew she could not stop at anything to find out the truth, even if the truth may destroy the relationships around her.

I picked this one up from a recommendation from one of my favorite journalists and I do not regret it. The concept is very simple – a murder mystery. Yet, sometimes simple is all the motivation you need to turn the page. Hannah’s memories become divided into two parts: before the murder and after the murder. The chapters are divided accordingly, which at first I wasn’t used to all the back and forth between flashbacks and present day. But you get used to it once you realize Hannah is desperately trying to live a normal life with her husband who also used to be April’s boyfriend, but the news makes it hard for her to do just that so she is constantly dragged back to the past when April was still alive.

You get to feel relieved and torn with Hannah as she battles with the feelings of April’s supposed killer dead, yet the possibility that he didn’t actually do it. It becomes your problem and you want to do all that you can to get to the bottom of this and that is to keep reading. I like that I can do that without feeling like someone is lurking in the shadows ready to jump out at me as soon as I unravel the next clue. All Hannah is doing is replaying memories surrounding the crime and thinking of who she should talk to about what happened that night, but that is all that it takes to captivate your attention. She debates with herself if she should go talk to these suspects because she might open a can of worms she doesn’t want to open.

When Hannah does finally find the answer, I promise you it is not anyone you would expect to commit the murder, yet it all makes sense once you look at all the pieces. I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller, and thrillers are not my go-to novels. It’s not the kind that leaves you terrified to go to sleep at night, but you have to find out who did it. I learned that being friends with the It girl is not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t ever let anyone boss you around if it makes you uncomfortable. It’s your life, so you will face the consequences, no matter how popular your friend is. You will never sleep well at night if you wrongly accuse someone of a crime and you will want to put justice in your hands, but be careful what this means.

Watch out thriller novelists, Ruth Ware’s got it.


beneath the fingernail

the unwanted. the banished. the bleeding leftovers that got missed in the shower. the dirt’s shelter. the forgotten. 20 minutes of anxiety. sitting and waiting for a good idea. getting the hard to reach places. perfectionism at its worst. a boredom distraction. saving money from fidget toys.

anything can turn out to be a good thing.


happy geese

I wonder if geese know they are in the movie, “Titanic.” Well, a part of the soundtrack, anyway. I’ve listened to the soundtrack many times, though not recently, and suddenly today while I was listening to the geese outside my house, they reminded me of one of the tracks at the end after the ship has sunk and it was the music to the floating bodies still out on the water. It’s hard to describe what it sounds like and to this day I can’t identify the instrument that plays that sound, but suddenly it all came together when I heard the geese. That instrument sounds the most like geese clucking. But watching and listening to geese makes me happy though and I don’t want to associate them to “Titanic.”

Today the geese started their “butts up” hunting for grub in the water. Fattening season has only just begun, but for now they still look skinny. These wild ones won’t ever get too fat, but that’s how you know they are healthy out there without our human help. “Butts up” is more like the happy association I’d rather have with geese.  


last minute

The longest one happens at the end of a professional sports game where sometimes all it takes is three seconds to score the game-winning point that seesaws the outcome in favor of the team that looked like was about to lose.

There is nothing like staying up way past your normal bedtime finishing a college paper, knowing you gave it all you’ve got, and running across campus to hand it in just in the nick of time.

You may find yourself brushing your teeth while driving to work hoping you will not be written up for being late.

Pencils down.


“Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart” by Kristen Clark & Bethany Beal

Out of the three books in the “defined” trilogy, I am the most impressed with this one. I’m not sure this can be defined (ha!) as a trilogy, but I just meant the books that first tell you what a girl is, then what love is, and then what sex is. For some people it’s easy to talk about sex like it’s just talking about what’s on the menu at a restaurant or what their favorite color is. For others it’s a taboo topic. I’m somewhere in between, but more leaning towards the taboo side. Perhaps that is something I need to work on, perhaps not. But one thing is clear: Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart by Kristen Clark & Bethany Beal stands not only towards being open about talking about sex, but defines it according to God.

I know, I know. Again, not everyone believes in God and not everyone believes in the same things I do. But for the truly Christian woman, this book brings some clarity on the topic of sex in an approachable and relatable fashion. It covers everything about sex from battling temptation to porn, erotica, and masturbation. At the very end it even covers how to find hope and healing from sexual abuse. And yes, these issues are not just “guy issues.” Girls struggle too.

I admire Kristen and Bethany for telling the true stories of their own sexual struggles and how they overcame some of them. They admit that it is in ongoing battle, but they are now a lot more equipped with how to deal than they were back then at the start of the struggle. I don’t know a lot of people who would be willing to do that in such a public forum. They are an example of healing through sharing. Dark secrets and sinful struggles stop having power once brought into the light. They don’t just point out we are all sexually broken. They point to why we all desire intimacy.

There are a lot of confusing and mixed messages out there about sexuality and our sexual design. But sex didn’t just come from nowhere. Pulling from Bible verses, articles, books, and personal experiences, Clark and Beal answer some of the most hush-hush questions about sex that you may have. No topic is off-limits and no one can take away from your personal experiences. They reveal how to find sexual freedom that lasts.

No matter what you may be going through when it comes to your sexual struggles, you always have a bright future. Clark and Beal offer a step-by-step process to getting from where you are now to where you want to be when it comes to overcoming the grip of sexual temptation. Personally, I find that their take on the process of healing from brokenness is helpful in other areas of life as well—identify the problem, change the way you think, and finally, actively pursue what is right.

You just have one choice to make, really. How do you define what is a problem and what is right? The answer to that question is up to you and will be the compass for the rest of your life.


the tiger kotows to the rabbit

Music is a universal language. Life is fragile. These are the lessons I’ve learned one right after the other since coming home from Guatemala. More on Guatemala later…

It’s Chinese New Year weekend and I’m not doing much, but I’m happy right now. I’m celebrating with my mom and she’s the only family connection I have to this holiday now. I had a cup of Honduran coffee this morning from my mission trip over the summer and then did some grocery shopping before heading over to one of our new favorite restaurants for lunch. While grocery shopping we found great deals on meat that we would like to use to make dumplings and all the Chinese New Year foods we want. Then it happens to be KC Restaurant Week so we went for the lunch deals. My mom got the meatloaf sammie (which made me think of Sammy Watkins) and I got the fish and chips. I also got pretzel bites to start and she got a potato soup to start. These were such simple selections but could not taste any better. Red Door must use fresh ingredients because that makes a huge difference in what you eat tasting good.

My mom also told me when she was little they’d have to stand in long lines to get one food item at a time to make what they wanted for the holiday. Nowadays, she says, they just go out to eat at a nice restaurant and that’s the extent of their celebrating. It made me feel good that that is what we did today. But tomorrow, guys, we will be making lots and drinking beer.


No place like home

Imagine being a tourist in the city you live in. Would you look at it differently? Would you wake up every morning, ready to go to work on the scenic route instead of the fastest route? Would you explore different spots on the weekends to see it from the first time point of view every time? Would you attend all the festivals and shows and seasonal events as if you were visiting just for that part of the season, but you were there for every season to see what the city was like all year round?

If you did all of that and walked into every store and every building you normally walk into like it’s the very first time, would it make you like the city you call home a little more? Or perhaps you already love the city you live in and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Maybe we all work too much. I’ve heard over and over again the phrase that you can go to a city and actually see the city. It comes from working too much that you don’t get to see the city you live in like a tourist would. Then something happens that makes you work less and suddenly you can actually enjoy the city and go do something fun like a tourist would.

Then you could go to Bora Bora and stay inside and read a newspaper or something and see how long you could pretend to work all the time and not have time to get out and about. Does that feel like home?