Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem


My India Trip Q&A

India mapSince I announced a few weeks ago that I was headed to India this summer, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the trip and my fundraising efforts. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to answer a few of them here for you now.

Q: When are you going?

A: We’re going in July! We have tentative dates, but may change them based on the cost of airfare. We’ll try to go when it’s most economical during the month. And we’re planning on staying for about two weeks.

Q: Who are you going with?

A: I’m headed there with two friends. This first is Katrell, who founded the organization we’ll primarily be visiting in Darjeeling, which provides education for at-risk girls in India so they may pursue secondary and university learning. The second is Stephanie who is a friend that also works for Katrell.

Q. Where did you meet the women you’re traveling with?

A. I’ve known both of them since 2012. We met when I was volunteering with the Georgia Chapter of Not For Sale.

Q. How are you connected to the organization?

A. Katrell owns a tea shop in Downtown Atlanta, and the proceeds benefit the scholarship program. I loved the shop and the work she was doing, so I have volunteered my time with her by consulting on her marketing and communications for both projects. I have also attended her monthly fundraising dinners several times, and made sure a lot of my friends knew what she was up to—and where they can get a good cup of tea.

Q. How did the India trip come up?

A. Ever since we met and I fell in love with what Katrell was doing, she’s told me I needed to come with her on this trip. She goes usually twice a year for about a month each time, and I have stalked her every time she’s made the journey. She does a great job documenting it! Now the timing has finally worked out for Stephanie and I to accompany her. And I’m so excited to be going with someone who knows their way around!

Q. What will you guys be doing on the trip?

A. The details are still being worked out right now, but we do have a loose itinerary. We’ll stay with the 11 scholars at their center in Darjeeling and spend time with them, helping however we can and learning their individual stories. We’ll also explore the cities of Kolkata and Darjeeling, and possibly Mumbai or wherever we fly into. Additionally, we plan to visit the tea plantation in Darjeeling where Katrell sources her tea. I’m also thrilled that we’ll be connecting with local orgs that are fighting various forms human and labor trafficking in India to learn from their work. And, of course, we plan on having a lot of fun!

Q. Why do you want to go on the trip?

A. This trip is an opportunity for me to better myself, and in turn, the world around me. It is a chance for me to learn more about issues that I’m extremely interested in and passionate about, such as human trafficking, slavery, women’s rights and girls’ education. If you’ve read even just a few posts on this blog, you know those are common threads. They have deeply wrapped themselves around my heart. I read a lot about these issues, watch movies, do some volunteering and attend events, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me to see it up-close on the other side of the world in a place where it is more common and exposed. According to the Global Slavery Index, India has more slaves than any other country. So, I’m extremely curious to witness the climate that facilitates such an atrocity. I’m ready to meet these people and share their stories with you. And I know it will give me renewed vigor in my local work.

Q. Is this a mission trip?

A. This is a question I get from friends and family in the Church. It is a trip with a mission for sure, but not one like most of you are used to seeing. It is not affiliated with a church or religious organization.

Q. Why are you fundraising for this trip?

A. No one has actually asked me this, but I thought I’d address it as it is a natural question. I actually really struggled with the decision to fundraise. But then I reflected on a few past conversations and here’s where I landed. Predominantly, while this is going to be a fun and amazing trip, it is not a sight-seeing tourist vacation. I very much see it as a humanitarian trip. I will primarily be there to learn and bring those lessons back home with me. If you know me personally, you know I am a natural evangelist for things that I care deeply about. So, this trip will live beyond me. I will find ways to use what I learn, and I will share that knowledge with others whether in the other nonprofits with which I volunteer, my church who will be sending missionaries to live in India next year, articles I write, events I attend or ways yet to be discovered. And the second reason is more simple. In talking with friends in the past about this trip, several of them told me that if I was ever able to go, they would help sponsor me.

Q. How will your funding be used?

A. I’m trying to raise $3,000. Approximately two-thirds of that is just for the airfare. The rest will be food, lodging and transportation within the country. And if I’m able to raise any additional funding, I will happily give that to the scholarship program and their great work.

Q. What if you don’t reach your fundraising goal?

A. Anything that I do not raise, I will pay for out-of-pocket. It will be a bigger strain on my finances than I’d like, but again, I believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Q. How can I help?

A. There are three primary ways I’d love your help. The first is, of course, that I’m fundraising for this trip. Any amount you can contribute would be helpful to me. The second way to help is to let me know if you have suggestions and/or contacts for organizations in the areas that we’ll be in. We have a few in mind, but we’re certainly open to ideas! And the third way is to pray for our journey. Though it is not a traditional “mission trip,” prayers for safe travel, making connections, building relationships and more are always appreciated. I’ll never turn down a prayer.

Did I miss any of your questions? If so, just ask! And thanks so much for your time and interest in my trip! To donate or read more about it, you can visit my fundraising page.


**Unfortunately, donations made for this trip are not tax-deductible. I realize that may impact your ability to give, and I still deeply appreciate any consideration. Also, please know that Indiegogo Life, where my fundraiser page is located, charges no fees for its service, therefore all donations will go directly to me outside of your standard credit card fees which are typically around 3%.**



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Fun Facts: Tidbits You May Not Know About Me

ThinkstockPhotos-172588224So, if you’ve just started reading this blog recently, you may not know much about me. But I’d like to rectify that now. Here are a few things that might interest you . . .

  1. Language I most want to learn: Spanish. I’ve forgotten most of what I know, but honestly, I’d love to be multilingual in just about anything.
  2. Show I most enjoy binge-watching: Alias
  3. Place I’d most like to travel: Spain
  4. Food I crave most: Appetizers. I love making meals out of an assortment of appetizers.
  5. Pinterest board I use the most: Hair, BY FAR. I’ll never get around to making all those recipes.
  6. Favorite ice cream: Trader Joe’s Coffee Bean OR Bruster’s Key Lime Pie
  7. Biggest fear: Failure
  8. Thing I’m most thankful for: Salvation, followed by grace
  9. Strength I love the most: Faith (second would be independence)
  10. Place I’d most like to live: Probably California, but I’d also love to live somewhere in Europe for at least a year.
  11. Favorite Atlanta eateries: Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party, di Paolo, Figo, Alon’s, ONE. midtown kitchen, and sooooo many others
  12. Favorite piece of furniture: I have a loveseat made from two movie theater seats. I used to frequent this theater in college so it’s tied to good memories—plus, it has cup holders!
  13. An ability I’m proud of: I’m really good at picking the kind of friends everyone should want and have.
  14. Something I’m not good at and don’t like: Cooking. Despite my best efforts, I’ve yet to rectify this.
  15. A goal I had for this year: Donate hair—just did it!
  16. Biggest pet peeves: Unaware people with strollers and also listening to people eat
  17. A piece of advice I’d give to anyone: You aren’t in control.
  18. A few of my favorite books: Bible, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Experiencing God, Visioneering, Harry Potter series, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and TONS more!
  19. Something I love right now: doTerra essential oils
  20. Most interesting previous job: I reviewed restaurants for a short time in a local, Atlanta publication. The publication is no longer in business, but I’m fairly certain that isn’t my fault.

And here are a few other things I posted previously. Now you know a bit more about me. Tell me something about you!


(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

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I’m Buying HOPE, JOY and PEACE This Holiday Season

This is a repost of a blog I did last year about this time because it’s a message that still resonates strongly with me, and I hope it will with you too. May your holiday shopping be full of hope and happiness for all.




A few months ago I read Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma. I wasn’t expecting the book that it turned out to be, but it was still very good. It sort of turned out to be a Bible study on justice. I would definitely recommend it, and not just for those passionate about the issue like me, but even for the mildly curious. I learned a lot and will be marinating on it for a long time to come.

There were a few things mentioned in the book that stuck with me, but none more than what I wanted to share with you now. Did you know that it costs approximately $21 billion to get clean, safe drinking water to everyone in the world? If you weren’t aware, almost 1 in 7 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to this most basic need. $21 billion. I know, right, it sounds like a lot—like a whole lot! It sounds like scratching our heads and calling summits and raising money and finally reconciling ourselves to the fact that $21 billion is impossible to find in a world drowning in debt. Sometimes it sounds like giving up.

And then I found out…

The National Retail Federation estimates that over $600 BILLION will be spent in November and December this year. I’m sorry, what? That’s just this season. When I think about it, that makes me sick. In fact, the contrast in those two numbers has literally haunted me since I’ve read the book.

I think about people I know that rush around trying to buy gifts, any kind of gifts, for the people on their Christmas list. Mostly those are close family and friends, but usually there’s at least one obligatory gift on there as well. I think of gifts that aren’t bought out of need, but out of courtesy. I think of the stress so many people feel when it comes to the holidays. It seems to be more about putting anything under the tree that caring about what it is, as long as you’ve checked that box.

Something. Has. To. Change.

I love the holidays. I love the chill in the air, and the warm drinks. I love watching Christmas movies. I love decorating my apartment. I love seeing twinkle lights go up everywhere. And I love buying gifts. Gift giving is one of my love languages. It makes me happy to see the look on people’s face when I give them a gift. In fact, the anticipation of seeing their faces when I give them the gift makes me happy! I have always tried very hard, whether it’s a birthday or Christmas, to find the perfect gift that will make the recipient smile. It’s a challenge that I relish.

And, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty good at it. But the last few years, ever since pursing justice myself and learning more about supply chain and slave labor, I’ve tried to challenge myself in a new way. I try very hard to find not only gifts of meaning, but gifts that do good or do not perpetuate slave labor. I’m also an environmentalist, so I try to cut down on packaging and reuse when possible. So, really, I thought I could pat myself on the back from up on my high horse—until I read those statistics.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to do more. I can’t completely give up gift-giving, because I love it so much, but there is more I can do. For one thing, I can help educate you. What if we all started buying differently? What if we started contributing more and consuming less? What if we took a hard look at the real difference between shopping and giving? What if the presents had real meaning, not just for the recipient you know, but those who created it or will benefit from the purchase? What if?

Here is an awesome video by Advent Conspiracy to help illustrate. In fact, they have a lot of great personal and church resources to help you explore this idea. I’m looking forward to reading their book this season.

As I said, I don’t have this all figured out, but I’m trying. I want to contribute, not just consume. I want buy better and think better and live better. And even more, I want that for everyone else. I want it for you, and those you know, and those around the world who don’t have clean water or adequate shelter or who live in fear. We all share this world.

The holidays are a season of hope. Hope, joy, peace—we see those words written on everything this time of year from cards to commercials. What if they weren’t just platitudes? What if we added those to our Christmas list? What if, when we started buying gifts, we kept those three words in mind? Will the things we buy this season promote hope or joy or peace? If not, then let’s not buy them. Find a better alternative. I bet there’s one out there.

Here are a few places to help you get started:

Purchasing on Amazon? Use Amazon Smile

Purchase with Purpose


Not For Sale Store

Better World Shopper

Greater Good

Free to Shop

World Vision Gift Catalog

Fair Trade USA

Ten Thousand Villages

Charity Water


Living Water International

International Justice Mission Gift Catalog

Notes From a Thoughtful Life

The Good Shopping Guide

Ethical Consumer


There are so many more, though, so keep looking! And if you need to go the department store route, you could even institute your own TOMS-esque one for one model. For example, if you give someone a shirt, donate one as well. Challenge each other to be better, think creatively and give more.

Give gifts that tell stories, and write yourself a new one in the process.


And here’s a great article from the TODAY Show about families who try to put more meaning into gifts and the holidays.

Here is another from LearnVest, a money budgeting site if you’re looking for a more frugal point-of-view.

One more from journalist/activist, Nick Kristoff, whom I greatly admire.




(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

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Orange Tour Starts THIS WEEK!


Get ready—Orange Tour hits the road this week! We’ll be gathering with approximately 10,000 church leaders across the country over the next three months to discuss family ministry and partnering with parents to influence the faith of the next generation.



When you say yes to the next generation, it means you…

Say yes to tension.

Say yes to collaboration.

Say yes to debate.


It means you say yes to wrestling with questions like…

Should secular leaders influence your ministry strategy?

Is your ministry really pro-family?

Does your church make kids and teenagers feel like they have a place to belong?

Are you losing or gaining momentum in your community?

Should you teach kids the Bible or help them develop character?

Is the culture of your ministry attracting the right kind of volunteers and leaders?


How you answer these questions matters.

It matters for the momentum of your ministry.

It matters for the effectiveness of your strategy.

It mattters for the faith of the next generation.

But just because the questions matter doesn’t mean the answers are simple. In fact, many of the questions you face in ministry are tricky to navigate. Sometimes there are truths that seem to contradict each other. Sometimes two people with the same goal don’t always agree. Sometimes there’s tension.

So every week you have to decide. You can make a statement or manage an ongoing conversation. You can take a side or fight for the tension.

Join us at this year’s Orange Tour and discover the best way to answer these questions.

We’ll be in 13 cities this fall:

  • Atlanta, GA: September 5
  • Minneapolis, MN: September 12
  • Seattle, WA: September 19
  • Wildomar, CA: September 23
  • Lancaster, PA: October 7
  • Washington, DC: October 10
  • Detroit, MI: October 14
  • Indianapolis, IN: October 17
  • Kansas City, KS: October 21
  • Charlotte, NC: October 28
  • Austin, TX: November 4
  • Dallas, TX: November 7
  • Tampa, FL: November 11

I’ll be at Atlanta, Seattle, Wildomar, Detroit and Indy doing social media, and would love to meet you!

For more information or to register, please visit

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The Orange Conference Live Stream—It’s FREE!

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Over 6,000 of you will be joining us in Atlanta next week! And while we’d love for everyone reading this to be here in person, we realize that’s not always possible. So, we’d like to offer you the next best thing: tune in online! FOR FREE! You’ll be able to see on- and off-stage action, including session streaming, speaker interviews, mayhem and hi-jinx, resource updates and giveaways—and maybe even win a ticket to OC15!

Be sure to RSVP for the Live Stream to receive additional information and special offers. We will not spam you, or sell your info. That’s just rude.

And don’t forget to invite your friends to watch with you!

A full Live Stream schedule will be posted just prior to the conference on this blog.

And if you’re super excited about the Live Stream, but tend to get a little distracted, text “LIVE” to 404-445-2198. We’ll send you text updates about what’s happening, reminders and important info. But we promise not to message you like a sixth grade girl at a One Direction concert.

The Orange Conference, a conference for entire family ministry teams, will be held April 30–May 2, 2014, in Atlanta. Over 5,000 key influencers—senior, next gen, student, children’s and preschool leaders—will gather to experience the power of “Yes,” and learn new insights into influencing the faith and character of the next generation. For more information, please visit