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2 Fires + 7 People / 2 Beach Patrol Officers = Friday Night

Originally uploaded by BeanTipton.

Justin and I went out with our Bible study group on Friday night. We were going to roast marshmallows at a beach bonfire. I was so excited. I love bonfires. I love marshmallows. I love my group. What more was there to say? We were totally in!

All-in-all, it was an adventure. Our first camp had to be moved, due to some faulty signage - or was it our inability to read it correctly? Perhaps it was our inability to obey the sign... However, since we saw plenty of people gettin' toasty by their fires, we figured it was our right to be there, too. You can probably see where this is going. Just as we set-up our fire (with an amazing flare technique that I had never seen and figured it must be a Marine-thing) the beach patrol drive-up. Officer One and Officer Two told us where we could move the fire and was actually very nice about it all.

So the guys lugged two very heavy pallets, stacked high with what I'm assuming was enough wood for three bonfires to last five days, back to the cars (not before discarding one of the pallets not far from a guy who was kneeling head-first into a bush).

We found the bonfire-friendly beach, but upon arrival we see Offier Beach Patrol One and Two, again. This time, we were told that pallets were not allowed on the beach. We found this odd, since we used the pallets to get the wood to our first site they busted. However, we are all still very thankful that Angela looked so innocent that the beach patrol told us that we could take it, but not to burn it. The second fire was lovely and hot. Very hot. We sat at least 15 feet away, because the flames felt like they were licking my forehead. Jeff sure knows how to make a fire!

There were some pretty drunk and interesting groups at the beach. There was Interesting, Bizarre Blanket-Moving Couple, Can’t Sing Whitney Housten and Don’t Have a Fire Group, Rude Garbage Burning Group, Loud and Ready to Jump Fires Fraterity Group and there was us – the Quiet, Mad-Libs Reading Group. However, we were the only one of those groups to have a person (who shall remain nameless) get hauled off by the beach patrol for lighting Mexican fireworks at the beach. Luckily, a fine was all that ensued and he got to drive home with all of us at 3:00 AM.

Moral of the story: read signs, don’t bring pallets to the beach, avoid annoying beach patrol, never sing Whitney Housen's The Greatest Love in public and the only thing you should be lighting on fire at the beach (other than wood) should be marshmallows.


There's a leader in you, and you, and you, and you...

Originally uploaded by BeanTipton.
At the beginning of the month I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it. I encourage anyone who has an opportunity next year from August 11-13, to go. This year there were over 40 satellite locations around the US and Canada. Go and find the person you were meant to be.

This Summit is designed to build the leader in every person. In the words of Bill Hybels, “Everyone is a leader.” Those are words I would have never believed before I was a Christian and even in my early walk with Christ. But as a woman growing in my faith, I am learning so much more about ministry, God’s purpose and myself. In a world where we fear the future, I do not fear. In the words of Wynonna Judd, “I know where I’m going.” My greatest growing passion has been to spread the message of Jesus’ love and salvation and share it with as many people as possible. Much, much, much easier said than done.

However, that’s a blog for another time. I digress.

Over the two and half days at this conference, I was challenged and encouraged to take leaps of faith into the leadership realm. I have been actively pushing away roles of leadership, because they frighten me. I always thought I was too insecure to be a leader. But what I really needed to do was realize that I, alone, cannot do it. If I trust that Christ will guide me into a role and grow me as a leader, then he will. If I try to do it alone, I might succeed for a while, but nothing that has substantial impact can be done alone.

For a long time I have been hushing the whisper to step-up and help with the creative communication at our church. We have plenty of volunteers, but we really need someone to organize them all and create a cohesive atmosphere for all of us to thrive in. I was terrified that it would be too time-consuming and that Crossroads would say that I wasn’t ready for a leadership role, but I took that leap of faith and trusted that that whisper was coming straight from my heavenly Father.

Now, I am finding myself writing a vision statement for creative arts team and loving every second of it. This is going to be a challenge, but its going to be worth it. I know I have a calling to be exactly where I’m headed. For the first time in my life, I feel called and that feels wonderful.


Being on the Fashionista Wagon

Originally uploaded by BeanTipton.

Me Being Stupid
Originally uploaded by BeanTipton.
Wagons are not comfortable and anyone who says a hayride is a pleasurable mode of transportation is clearly delusional. Jolting, jostling rides are not the carriage for today's fashionista. We were meant to ride in rock star Bentley-style. However, there are only a few people out there who can actually afford this lifestyle and I am not one of them.

About a month ago, I put myself on the proverbial wagon. No fashion mags, no mall-shopping, no catalog-shopping, no Internet-shopping. I have spent more in my twenty-seven years than most people would consider comprehendible for a lifetime of clothes, shoes and bags. I have seen tens of thousands of dollars down the tube in a wardrobe war-path. And this sickness has put me in debt. This is why I rent. This is why, even though I have a great, well-paying job, I am just now coming out of living paycheck to paycheck. This is why I have a miniscule balance in my savings and retirement accounts. My pathetic shopping illness had taken over my life.

Have you ever hear of closet shopping? Oh yeah, that's me. Since my obsession began in 1997, I have become the master at hiding my growing wardrobe from inquisitive eyes. If my parents were home when I got back from shopping, the bags would stay in my car until they went to sleep. If they noticed something new, I would either tell them it was given to me or it was on sale (however it is safe to say that until recently my clothes are rarely found during sales). In fact, I clean out my closest every 4 months to make my collection look smaller - which spurs the idea to replenish, leading to another spree.

My endless cycle had to stop. Frances told me that maybe I needed to get rid of the source that makes me feel like: I need, I need, I need; or as the fashion mags say: I need it, I want it, I gotta have it. Who would have thunk it? By turning away from my beloved InStyle and W, my desire to shop has not stopped, but it has dwindled, slightly. I still see things that make me yearn to get new shoes with a handbag to match. This is going to be a long, hard ride. I need constant encouragement to spend wisely, and by wisely I do not mean finding a great deal at Kenneth Cole.

Shannon told me once that I would always be a shopper. I believe that is true, but I also believe that I have the power to control it. I need to develop the 12 steps for my own wagon-program. Perhaps I can lead women of today into a realm where we are happy with what we have and desire the unnecessary no more. A place where we can burst in wearing our faux-Manolo's with our knock-off Kate Spade bags and be proud to turn-down even the juiciest sale rack. Maybe we can even start to enjoy the hayride - of course the wagon should, at least, have a Mercedes emblem on it.

I told you it would be a long, hard ride...


Everyone has an online journal

I only created this so that I could post replies to Emmaleigh's exciting, French-mullet-discovering travel journal. So, here I am posting a message that God only knows who will even read. What does one write in these things? I guess you write about your life and stuff.

My life... On a sunny Wednesday evening in May, 1977, Natalie Joan Kruger gave birth to baby girl. Natalie and Kelvin Kruger were excited to have a daughter (one of three, now). They were going to name the baby Wendy or perhaps Cindy. However, Natalie had spoken with her boss' chauffer who said that the most beautiful name in the world is Marla Jean. So, there it was. They named her Marla Jean Kruger, after the chauffer's long, lost girlfriend. And on that day in May the flowers bloomed, the birds sang and the three fairies made a visit to her bassent to bestow gifts upon the young -- <>

Who wants to know this crap? It's kinda lame. I wish I had something really cool to tell you. I'm not on a fabulous trip to France where the next year of my life is going to change the course of my remaining years on Earth. I've done the big trip and that was in 1998.

So, I'm married to a great man, Justin. I have a stepson, Luke. And life is pretty good right now.

Justin and I are planning a trip to the U.K. for next February or March. We so excited. I'm hoping we'll be able to visit Emmaleigh, but we'll see how the funds pan out.

That's all I have to say for now. Cheers!