ville de maniwaki!

i can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard a sentence ended with ‘eh?’ since i arrived here in québec. no moose on the loose or mountie sightings yet, but plenty of ‘eh?’-s! :)

this area of the province is absolutely picturesque. if i’d had a free moment in the past 24 hours to snap any photos, you can be sure i’d have uploaded them. but let me just tell you that there are very few other places in the world that have ever taken my breath away.

the landscape reminds me of the pacific northwest, and the québecois people are diverse (heck, i rode up here to maniwaki from the airport with french-speaking syrians while listening to christian music in arabic.) and kind. i adore the pastor and his sweet family, and my hosts have been taking incredible care of me. this morning, i traveled to the camp where the church‘s youth have stayed at for the past week and helped pack up their traveling kitchen trailer and other supplies. you can’t imagine how beautiful of a setting it was, nestled in a forest of white birches and in front of a massive lake.

tonight, a huge group from tennessee arrives in town to put on a sports camp at the high school for the area’s kiddos next week, and i’m thrilled to meet them and begin serving by their sides. a few days after they return home, another group from kansas will get here to do service evangelism projects, which i have the joy of also assisting with. please bathe these upcoming projects in prayer.

these are going to be an incredible five weeks.

p.s. here are a few fun things about québec that i’ve discovered in the last day:

  • in the supermarkets, iced tea is sold in cartons – not gallon jugs like our dear old red diamond (a.k.a. liquid GOLD).
  • the name for wal-mart’s semi-equivalent here: tiger geant (in english: giant tiger. ha!).
  • despite the fact that they may drive a pick-up truck and are wearing a camo browning hat, these cowboys aren’t like the ones at home. they speak french, and it’s still just too strange to not hear a deep drawl when they speak instead.
  • gas here is sold by the liter, rather than by a gallon. at $1 per liter, it comes to about $4.50 per gallon. holy crap.


Filed under missions, quebec

cancer schmancer, issue seven.

she’s done.

today marks mom’s very last radiation appointment, and the end of her road of treatment altogether. hallelujah!! in early august, she’ll have a follow-up appointment with her oncologist to do a PET scan and some other tests to confirm what we already know – she’s in remission.

i can’t tell you how proud of her i am, and how brave i believe she is. i wish each of you were lucky enough to know her, but those of you who do will recognize exactly the kind of spirit i’m talking about. :)

if you’ve breathed any sort of prayer on our behalf since november 6th, thank you. if there ever was a day i doubted the power that lies in interceding for another, i’ll never have to wonder again.

please continue to pray for mom as she gets back into the swing of things, especially as a new school year comes around in august. as you can imagine, adjusting to everything that’s been done to her body over the past seven months has been insane. remember her in prayer while we’re still making our way out of the woods. also pray for our dad, that his body would continue to respond to daily meds, and the cancerous cells in his body would disappear.

each of you are a gift that we treasure. We love you.


Filed under cancer schmancer

leadership with longevity.

let me pause and brag on some people today.

i’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about transitions in ministry and in leadership, on legacies and longevity. when the primary founder of a particular ministry steps down or relocates to another facet of service, the switch to new leadership can strengthen or divide those who are left to continue serving. over the last several weeks, i’ve witnessed two such ‘success’ stories in this realm.

one the youth pastors i’ve been volunteering under at switch is transitioning to a new role at our church‘s oklahoma city campus, where he and his wife will have the privilege of focusing more on ministering to students’ parents and families. it’s such an exciting season in tim and nicole‘s lives! for the past three years, i’ve been equipped and encouraged as a student ministry leader by tim’s guidance. in his years at the edmond campus, he’s built up a solid and faithful core of volunteers who i know won’t miss a beat over these next several months of transition because of his effective leadership.

i’m extremely close with my former pastor from my home church and his family. i love going to their house and spending weekends with them, and i count their daughter as one of my closest friends. before coming to pastor at my home church in southwest oklahoma, they pioneered a wildly successful ministry in small town that has benefitted hugely from their work. they organized a food pantry and free clinic that continues to operate out of the church in a community of roughly 250. loaves ‘n fishes serves over 600 low-in come families throughout the county, and functions solely through donations, volunteers, and God’s provision. jeff and cara’s founding vision of justice and servanthood to the least of these is thriving, several years after handing over leadership to its volunteers. just look at how full this section of the pantry is!

how were tim and nicole able to release the reigns of their student ministry to others, without it crumbling? how has the food pantry that jeff and cara created prospered tenfold since they’ve released leadership to others in the church? for each couple, building up leaders to take ownership of the ministry they volunteer in was essential. jeff said it best, that ministry for the moment never lasts. leadership with longevity, i believe, is one of the keys to success in any ministry. the ability to step down from a leadership position and see it continue to soar in the hands of those you equipped must be one of the most incredible feelings this side of heaven.

when have you seen this exemplified in your ministry or personal life?

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Filed under church, leadership, missions, switch

talk about perfect timing.

the night my sister told me that my mom has cancer, my mind raced in a thousand directions. by that next morning in early november, i wondered what 2010 would have in store and where it would take our family. weeks before, i had began seeking an opportunity to serve in canada during the summer that we’re now in. suddenly, though, i was reevaluating if i should commit to go until we knew what our action plan against the disease would be. there was no way in heck i was going to be in another country while my mama was undergoing chemo or radiaton.

i prayed and i sought, and i asked her what she thought i should do. unwaveringly, my mom encouraged me not to put the plans that God and i had for serving in quebec on hold. her reassurance made me brave, and i applied to work with this faithful congregation for five weeks in the summertime. earlier this month, i realized something pretty incredible: my mom will complete her last radiation treatment – and subsequently her last treatment period – the day before my plane takes off for canada. no more surgeries, no more chemo, no more nothin’. the very day before my bags will be checked and my passport will be stamped. 

could God have sent any clearer of a message? i love it.

when has He smacked you in the forehead and let you know that something was His design?


Filed under authentic faith, family, fear, missions, quebec

foodie photography.

one of my oldest and dearest friends, jessica, is one talented gal.

don’t we look like sisters? or cousins, at least?

she recently graduated from oklahoma state university (go pokes!) with a degree in advertising, and her deepest passion in that area is photography. i have the pleasure of getting to live with jess and some other lovely ladies in the affectionately termed bennett house this summer before i jet off to quebec. last month, jessica snapped some photos of me for my prayer cards – she did a phenomenal job!

this month, we’ve been trying out some new recipes with one another. the second best part (besides chowing down, of course) is taking pictures of our creations before we dig in. my little digital camera just wouldn’t do these dishes justice, and i have jessica to thank for capturing them with her canon rebel xs. here are a few of her photographs, along with links to their recipes!

behold, i give you baked lemon pasta. this is one of my favorite pioneer woman recipes yet! lemon, parsley, and pasta – it doesn’t get much better.

we also decided to get swanky and eat our scrumptious dinner on the patio. and what outdoor summer supper would be complete without iced tea?

and these, my friends, are pineapple cupcakes. i can’t lie: we did use a boxed mix for the little cakes themselves, but the glaze on top is an entirely homemade concoction from yours truly. what was intended to be a creamier icing evolved into this sweet and fruity glaze, thanks to a minor error on my part. who knew that messing up would turn out so delightfully? our cupcakes were a big hit at last night’s get-together with some girlfriends, and the leftovers have been picked off at our office.


Filed under photographs, recipes

homemade caramel pie.

according to family legend, my papa used to make homemade caramel similar to this recipe and eat it straight from the can. :O my mouth is watering just thinking about it! besides papa, my brother-in-law is the only other person i know who’s embraced this secret to heaven in a can. he introduced me to making a pie from homemade caramel, and the rest is dessert history.

i uploaded this recipe to the pioneer woman‘s tasty kitchen community, and wanted to also share it with y’all! if you’re also a member of tasty kitchen, add me as a friend and let’s swap recipes. :)

homemade caramel pie

  • two cans sweetened condensed milk (14 oz. each)
  • one graham cracker pie crust
  • one container whipped topping (8 oz.)

submerge the two unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk in a stockpot full of water, several inches above the cans’ tops. place this pot on top of the stove and boil for four hours. from time to time, it may be necessary to carefully add more water to the pot to keep the cans submerged.

after four hours, use tongs to remove the cans and let them cool. once they have cooled to a safe temperature, open the cans. pour the caramel into the graham cracker pie crust. place the pie into the fridge for three to four hours.

when you are ready to serve it, spread whipped topping on top of the pie, slice, and enjoy!


Filed under family, recipes

in spirit and in truth.

i love watching other people worship. there are so many means with which we can creatively express gratitude and surrender.

but let me be honest, y’all: it irks me when worship leaders say, “raise your hands” to those standing or sitting before them.

i’ve served in a phenomenal youth ministry for almost three years, and have heard this spoken from the stage from various worship leaders to our students several times. i’ve observed this, of course, in other ecumenical settings as well, but it seems as if it bothers me more in an atmosphere of youth than elsewhere. each instance, it’s a fight with my flesh to keep from letting out a heavy sigh or rolling my eyes. i guess i’m just uncomfortable with someone instructing young worshippers to express something that the Spirit may not be provoking each one to do. i know it’s a completely innocent and well-intended utterance that seems to chap me so, but it’s also loaded phrase. without explaining in detail to students what worship is, and what raising one’s hands means, are we not failing to show them what an authentically worshipful life is? it is more than music, it is more than song. and lifting our hands is just one of a thousand ways to praise Him from our hearts.

which leads me to my next thought: how do you personally worship? i’ve always swayed and moved during worship music, and i love to close my eyes and hold my hands close to my chest while i chew on the words. i also move my right leg in a weird way to the beat. :) during prayer, be it coorporate or alone, i often turn my hands up and open them to heaven. and when studying scripture, i sometimes read passages aloud to speak truth into a situation.

what are your favorite ways to express worship to Him?


Filed under switch, worship

the thursday thirty, issue seventeen.

i love oklahoma. my state is beautiful, rugged, simple, tranquil, and richly diverse. condensing all it possesses into just 30 places to go/things to do in the sooner state wasn’t easy, y’all – but it gave me a chance to reflect on the people, sites, and activities that make our land grand. [disclaimer: none of these photographs are my own, but have been used from various state tourism sites.]

  • moutain view free fair: okay people – if you’ve known me for two seconds, you’ve likely heard me rant and rave about my hometown’s biggest yearly event. the first weekend of august marks oklahoma’s only running free fair, complete with one of the oldest ferris wheels still operating in the united states. the fair is the pride of our town, and is a time to return home and visit with old classmates who have left the simple life for the big city. this august 5th-7th, you’ll find me chowin’ down on calf fries and homemade ice cream from the junior and senior stands, operating the kiddie cars with my mom, and taking part in a phillips family showdown at the basketball shootout booth. oh man. i’m already getting excited. :O

  • medicine park: if i could choose in advance where i will retire too, this would be it. this tiny town (not far from my own) is nestled in the wichita mountains, with a creek that runs right through town and buildings made from gorgeous native rock. it’s home to two of my favorite restaurants – the old plantation and riverside cafe – and boasts an annual red dirt ball. sitting on the benches and bridges by the creek to people watch is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

  • meers: i guaruntee you that meers, oklahoma, is the only place on earth where you can see an operating seismograph, order a massive burger, and check your mail. it’s a tasty restaurant, a post office, a general store, and a state landmark. i’ve never been there when it wasn’t completely full of hungry patrons. and heck, i even met former governor george pataki of new york there once. it’s just down the highway from medicine park, and is a regular stop of ours on the way to the wichita mountains.

  • wichita mountains: these are the beauties i can easily see from my front porch when at home in mountain view. a wildlife refuge exists within their valleys, and is another popular destination for our family.

  • oklahoma city national memorial & museum: fifteen years ago, our state was changed forever by a senseless act of violence. today, this gorgeous memorial and moving museum serve as a celebration of 168 of our neighbors. visit. sit & be still. soak it in and walk away with an appreciation of their lives.

  • POPS: one of my favorite route 66 landmarks, POPS restaurant and soda ranch boasts over 500 flavors of soda pop – complete in their cute, multi-golored glass bottles –  inside of an iconic gas station. it isn’t just an eaterie, y’all. it’s an experience.

  • wormy dog saloon: since i’ve turned 21, this hotspot for live red dirt music in oklahoma city has become my most frequented concert venue. :)

  • oklahoma city festival of the arts: each april, downtown okc is taken over by vendors and their amazing works, and it’s such an ecclectic and fun atmosphere. and the food rocks.
  • p-bar farms corn maze: i grew up visiting this maize maze (see what i did right there?) in the fall, and even braved it’s haunted version one halloween – for all of about five minutes. in addition to their amazing designs in the corn fields (which change each year), the farm hosts pumpkin picking at the patch, hayrides through their fields, and agricultural education for school groups. in high school, i attended a local leadership camp with the owners’ youngest daughter. they’re a sweet, down-to-earth family who genuinely love what they get to do! 

  • festival of light: each winter, the town of chickasha decorates its park with amazing christmas lights displays. walking through or taking a carriage ride inside the park makes it really feel like christmastime. i can’t even convey to you how beautiful it is, so i’ll just show you!

  • eskimo joe’s: this famous bar & restuarant in stillwater, oklahoma, will celebrate it’s 35th year in july! besides being one of america’s top college sports bars, joe’s has it’s own line of merchandise, ranging from t-shirts (which i’ve grown up wearing in every color imaginable) to their signature tumblers (which are all my family drinks from!). the environment at joe’s is just as good as its food – oh, and some of my favorite local red dirt bands play live there weekly. :)
  • chuck wagon gathering: there are few events that probably make me look more country, but i don’t care: the chuck wagon event at the cowboy hall of fame in oklahoma city is one of the best things since sliced bread. my uncle and his travelling roping troop even performed here once. yeah, it’s a big deal. the best part about this? authentic chuck wagon crews prepare amazing cowboy favorites for the crowd to sample – cobbler, stew, and biscuits, anyone?
  • oklahoma city museum of art: gorgeous exhibits live here. and our permenent collection of dale chihuly’s blown glass is my absolute favorite. visiting the museum makes me feel sophisticated and big-city.
  • uco jazz lab: i’d never heard live blues or jazz music before going to the lab, but found a new appreciation for it very quickly.
  • bricktown: bricktown is the entertainment district of downtown oklahoma city, and is essentially the hub of the city. i love the feel of this area and all of the events and attractions it offers, such as…
  • opening night: opening night is a huge new year’s eve celebration that takes place in bricktown, with live bands, theatrical performances, and fireworks at midnight. several venues downtown host rotating events that opening night attendees can check out – heck, this is even where i saw my first roller derby match. the evening has something for all ages, interests and interests!
  • falls creek: generations of oklahomans have been raised on going to this camp each summer with their church youth groups, and i’m no exception! tucked away in the arbuckle mountains of southeastern oklahoma, falls creek is the world’s largest youth encampment. it honestly feels like its own town, and hosts over 45,000 campers each summer. to get to my grandparents’ farm in dougherty, oklahoma, one must drive through part of the camp. it’s a beautiful setting, where lives have been changed for over 90 years, and it will always have a prized place in my memory.
  • two frogs grill: i clearly have a thing for restaurants that double as concert venues. two frogs grill in ardmore, oklahoma, is good eatin’ and good listenin’.
  • rose hill school: one summer, while attending history camp at a museum in guthrie, our whole group visited this one-room school house (with its original furnishings) for a day. we dressed in period clothing, carried our old-fashioned lunches in syrup buckets, and wrote with a quill and ink. it was wild, y’all.
  • oklahoma history center: this museum, located near our state capitol building, truly brings to live the heritage of our land. it’s truly one of the best museums this side of washington, d.c., that i’ve had the pleasure of walking through.
  • calf fry: oh heavens. how does one begin to describe the annual testicle festival that takes place each summer at the tumbleweed dancehall in stillwater? if you don’t know what a calf fry (in the culinary sense) is, here’s a blunt explaination. it also refers to the cook-out event itself, and this one includes four nights of red dirt concerts. it’s a rough and rowdy event, but it’s also a blast.

  • red earth festival: this is one event on the list that i haven’t been able to attend, but i’ld love to the next summer i’m available. the festival features native american artists and dancers from throughout the nation.
  • jake’s rib: i’m sorry, i love to eat. this is one of the best bbq joints known to man – and i’ve been to quite a few. located in chickasha, it’s the perfect spot to stop for supper before hitting up the festival of light! i mean, just look at those curly fries. and you get to keep the cups!

  • quartz mountain resort: driving through and camping next to the quartz mountains in southwest oklahoma was a regular occurance in my first 18 years of life, and their beauty still take me by surprise. several years ago, this gorgeous lodge and arts and conference center was constructed next to the lake that sits in the mountains’ valley. this just might be on my list of possible places to get married one day – it’s just that purdy.

  • scenic highway 115: this route twists through my hometown to the countryside of southwest oklahoma, and is one of my favorite drives. this’ll get ya to some of the lovely places i mentioned above – medicine park, meers, and the wichitas.
  • hideaway pizza: since 1957, hideaway‘s beein serving up the best pizza (and fried mushrooms) in oklahoma. their location in stillwater is my favorite!
  • illinois river float trips: the lower illinois river that runs through the northeastern portion of our state is the best canoe stream we have. i’ve only taken a 12-mile float trip on the river once, but it was one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities i’ve gotten to do in oklahoma!
  • oklahoma sports teams: we’ve been fortunate to have talented semi-professional sports programs in the state for awhile, and now have our own successful nba team! i love going to redhawks baseball games, yard dawgz arena football matches, and even roller derby throwdowns. i’ve yet to go to a thunder basketball game, but i have high hopes of accomplishing that soon. :D


Filed under country life, photographs, thursday thirty

life has arrived.

this week has been, in one word, wild. monday evening, i set out to get an oil change with my friend and roommate jessica, and never made it. i was rear ended with a vengence at the intersection of boomer and husband here in stillwater by a chick my age, and the days following have been filled with phone calls, faxes, and other fun insurance endeavors. it’s been a fiasco, of sorts, y’all. but i’m reminded of how much worse it could have been, and i’m thankful that a dangling bumper, bent exhaust pipe, and a backache are all that resulted!

yesterday, after coming to terms with the fact that i’m nearing the point of being broke as a joke (okay, that may be a hyperbole, but you get the picture) and scrambling to secure any odd jobs i can over the next several weeks to sumplement my income, i was greeted by this in the office parking lot:

i laughed, cried, sat on the curb, and called my amazing brother – who thankfully lives here, was home at the time, and came to change my tire within minutes. have i mentioned my family’s the best?

all this to say, life has arrived with full force this week. it’s just the way things are, and sometimes it all truly does pile up at one time. life’s messy, it’s unpredictable, and it takes no prisoners. but it’s still a good ride. so after i let out a big sigh and toss some pity party confetti in the air, i’ll smile and shake my head, remembering that this is just one day out of thousands more.

God’s still good. He’s still here. He’s healing my parents of cancer, He’s providing for me with unexpected means, and He isn’t too big to care about these little mishaps of mine. i’ll be alright, and so will you. take heart today, and be brave in Him.


Filed under photographs, random

need more fridge clutter?

living and working in a new city for a portion of this summer sure has its perks: i park my car each day beside my favorite college football stadium; aspen coffee co. has three convenient locations in town for me to get my frozen hot chocolate fix; and i have become an honorary bennett girl with a few lovely ladies, some that i grew up with and some that i’ve gotten to know just recently. one such chick happens not only to be one of my closest friends, but also my co-worker and a superb photographer. after confirming my assignment in quebec this summer, i approached jessica about snapping some photos of me for a personalized prayer card to distribute to friends and family. from the beginning of my committment to ministry through missions, jessica has pledged to support me (and other missionaries she knows) prayerfully, and one day financially when she is equipped to do so. one way she is presently carrying out this ministry with me is by capturing these moments on film, helping me design a cute card, and contributing cheerfully with me to covering their printing costs! i love how  her vision for supporting and encouraging those in missions is so much broader than most others’. she’s using her talents and passions, not just her checkbook. good stuff, y’all!

we ventured downtown yesterday to shoot some samples, and even tried out some areas of our backyard. she delivered, y’all! here are just a few:

we selected three shots to use in a template from tiny prints, and voila! here’s what my prayer cards will look like:

what do y’all think? a shipment of cards should be in by the first weekend of june, and i can’t wait to get them sent out. interested in having one for your fridge, bulletin board, dart board, or shooting target? shoot me an email at with your address, and i’ll make sure one lands your way. :) i leave in 30 days!


Filed under college life, missions, pals, photographs, prayer, quebec