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

cancer schmancer, issue six.

lumpectomy? check. unexpected double mastectomy? check. four rounds of chemotherapy? check. six weeks of radiation? in progress.

my mom is thirty days away from being done with this cancer business. she is bald and beautiful, and she is truly is the same as she’s always been – just with a much shorter morning routine now. :)

in mid-march, we discovered dad has prostate cancer. can you say holy crap three times fast? i learned this news while in line for a rollercoaster at disneyland with my sweet friend jordan, who was also non-coincidentally with me when i learned of mom’s cancer last november. He certainly knows who to place in our presence when life happens. i was livid. i was terrified. and i was so forgetful of what God could do. daddy has one of the tiniest tumors one can imagine, and is being treated with daily oral meds for the time being.

just like mama, he’s gonna be fine.

now surely cancer will take a break from our family for awhile, won’t it?


Filed under cancer schmancer

comeback kid.

four months ago, i dropped off the face of the blogging planet.

it’s good to be back, y’all.

what’s happened since february, you ask? so much. my mom began and finished chemotherapy like a champ. i spent my spring break in california with one of my closest girlfriends. while standing in line at disneyland, i learned my dad has prostate cancer. my junior year of college wrapped up before i knew it, and my youngest niece ari jade turned one year old. i’ve traveled this state hitting every red dirt concert known to man with my sweet friend jen. i began a summer job at oklahoma state university, and i’ve successfully dodged two tornadoes so far this season. are you worn out yet?

i’m praying this summer will see a faithful return to writing and preserving on paper (or computer screen?) what He is using to catch my attention, the things that make me cock my head to the side in wonder, and the moments which give me the deepest belly laughs imaginable. with a new job and a five week assignment as a student missionary in quebec, this should surely be attainable, right? :)

besides these things, i want to dive headfirst into issues and topics that matter to you, and that matter to Him. got an idea for a blog post or series to be featured at wild hope? share it with me – and check back throughout this summer to join the conversation.


Filed under random

sarah’s laughter.

and sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. all who hear about this will laugh with me. who would have said to abraham that sarah would nurse a baby? yet i have given abraham a son in his old age! // genesis 21: 6-7, NLT

laughter typified both sarah and abraham‘s first responses upon learning of God’s promise to finally bless them with a son. likewise, in the days following isaac’s birth, sarah laughed over these long expected and unusual events in her later years.

have you ever wondered why she laughed?

perhaps she was reflecting on the incomprehensibility and irony of her situation, an event that could only be a product of God making good on His sweet promise. maybe it was sparked by a secret fear that they wouldn’t be capable of raising a child at an elderly age, or at the very least would pass on before he was old enough to himself become a father. what if it was a bittersweet amusement, a chuckle at the fact that it seemed His promise was seemingly being completed too late? did she have an inkling of the rivalry that would result between her future heir and the child abraham had already fathered with hagar? she could have just been filled with joy like any soon-to-be mother, who no one ever envisioned actually giving birth. or maybe she simply anticipated the gossip and doubt among those who would soon hear that she was to carry and bear a child at an elderly age.

how many times do we share in this facetious laughter at the unimaginable things God has at work? so often, our joy at His promises or plans for us is robbed – when we pause to think how others will react at something that sounds and looks proposterous, when we’re embittered that it took Him so long to fulfill our desires, when we allow fear to overshadow possibility.

let’s work on laughing out of pure delight and expectation at the things He’s appointed for us, shall we?


Filed under hope, scripture, writings

these three remain.

on the days when it looks and feels as if everything else has abandoned us – reason, success, security-, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. they’re pretty words, these capstones of a passage of scripture that is read at almost every wedding and quoted on valentine’s day. but they’re messy words too, especially if one is genuinely attempting to put them into action in our generation. faith, hope, and love in this century has got to take on a radically different connotation if we are to ever work as the true hands and feet of Christ on Earth. i don’t pretend to know all of the solutions to achieving this, but i want to at least offer up some of what He’s revealed on this subject to me.

faith as a complete trust – not contingent upon circumstances or emotions on any given day, but in truth. faith, for this day and time we’ve been placed in, that He will make all things work together for good. faith that He is unchanging, that He hasn’t forgotten us even when He seems silent. what mountains we can move with just a speck of this!

hope is, to me, one of the greatest needs of the nations today. it is a deep desire or expectation that things will change or improve, and being confident in the fulfillment of that prayer. give hope. be hope for someone. i firmly believe that He calls us to bring hope to others, to show the oppressed and hungry what the kingdom of God is. we can never begin to fulfill this task if our eyes are forced shut to needs around us and our hearts are hardened toward being generous without want of reward. hope changes things. offer His hope to someone, and i can assure you that you’ll be given hope of your own tenfold.

the greatest of these, paul said, is love. love is an embrace, a passion for something or someone, an overwhelming need to care for the most unlovely creatures. the kind of love i believe God desires us to have for Him and one another isn’t always pretty or easy or without hurt. but it is worth it, and it does change things. in this century, let’s love dangerously. read the gospels and learn to love in action as Jesus did; hunger for justice; do something without bothering to consider how it benefits you; and show love to the unlovable. i can think of no greater gift.

what are others saying about faith, hope, and love in the 21st century?

jeff goins — Faith, Hope, and Love in the 21st Century: a Manifesto?

matt snyder — Faith, Hope, and Love: Expressed in Simplicity

jesse medina – Faith, Hope, and Love in the 21st Century

kiel spelts – Faith, Hope and Live in the 21st Century

john sylvest – I’ve Already Got Truth, Beauty, & Goodness! Why Bother with Faith, Hope & Love?

what do you think?


Filed under authentic faith, hope, love,, writings