Tag Archives: alabama

give. shop. my birthday wishlist for others.

I enjoy a lot of things. Traditionally, my birthday has not been one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m immensely grateful for my parents who brought me into this world (and the amazing parties they have thrown for me), for every day I get to live and breathe, and especially for the abundant and eternal life God has given me.

My dislike of the birthday celebration boils down to two things.

1) I do not like to be the center of attention. This has been true since…well, even before that seemingly traumatic incident at Disney World when I was picked out of a crowd and serenaded. Oddly, I’m perfectly comfortable performing or teaching. Otherwise, please focus your attention elsewhere.

2) I just don’t like getting older. No, I’m not looking for the fountain of youth or hunting for hallows. It’s just that at age 6 I declared I was done growing up, and not much has changed. (I think I just loved life the way it was.) In recent years, I have learned to better cope with this fact of life (permission to hum a theme song granted). Still, I declare my spirit to be younger than I am in years.

Recently, I have decided that perhaps the best way to address these issues is by changing how I celebrate a birthday. With a new perspective, the focus can be shifted away from me and to leaving a legacy. 

I’m starting small. To celebrate this year, I have made a different kind of wish list. There are organizations to give to if you are the donating type and items to buy if you are the support-a-business type. What better way to celebrate life than to give or support these life-giving efforts.

Noonday Collection
My friend Paula is an ambassador for Noonday Collection. This past weekend I had an unexpected opportunity to hear from her about this business and see their products. What began as an adoption fundraiser for one family has grown to a fair trade business supporting artisans and their communities across the globe. If you like accessories of any kind, you can find something in this collection whether for yourself or as a gift.

My current favorites:
Brightly Wound Bracelet
On the Mark Necklace 

Video about Noonday Collection

Free Set
Freeset, another fair trade business, is committed to offering employment to those who have been enslaved by human traffickers and part of the sex trade industry in Calcutta, India. There story is best told on their website. Read their story and about their philosophy full of mercy and justice. 

My current favorites:
Teacup Tee
Farmhouse Bag  

Not Forgotten
Passion lights up a face like nothing else. Tyler, Allison, Kristen and any other who left a piece of their heart in Iquitos, Peru will light up like the sun when they talk about their boys. This began with a couple college kids keeping promises to some previously forgotten little boys and has grown into a non-profit currently building their first family-style bungalow for these kids where they will be loved and nurtured.

These guys periodically put on art and jewelry shows to raise funds (as they happen to be talented and have talented friends), but you can make a donation any time via the website. Don’t you want to be a part of breaking a cycle and building hope?

Video about Not Forgotten

Urban Purpose
Again, a couple people with a heart for sharing the life-changing power of God recognized a need and saw way to meet it. A few people partnered with them, volunteered with them, and ministered alongside them. Then a few more did the same. And a few more. Lives in need in the Birmingham area are being changed by the love and grace of God through faithful relationship building. Here is the idea.

Read more and watch the videos that tell their story. Urban Purpose is a non-profit supported by donations. Consider giving them a one-time gift or supporting them with an on-going monthly commitment.

Video about Urban Purpose

That’s the wish list for this year.
Happy Birthday to all!

P.S. If you decide to gift anything in celebration of my birthday this year, please leave a comment, send me an email, or let me know somehow. I want to be able to say thank you!


eat. urban cookhouse.

The Scouts are once again selling trees a stone’s throw from my front door, and, thanks to my allergies and a Black Friday special, my full size artificial tree is up and decorated. Also, snow is falling on WordPress. These are just a couple of the many signs screaming out how much time has passed since I last shared with you. But instead of bringing attention to the great lapse, I’m just going to ignore my tardiness and pick right back up.

A favorite restaurant of mine has opened a second location, and I should probably seize this opportunity to tell you the many reasons I love Urban Cookhouse.

I’ll start with the obvious. The food is excellent. Rarely do I look at a menu and think, “I’ll have one of everything.” But on reading the UC menu for the first time, I knew I would return to explore it all. I have liked everything I have tried. This is no small feat considering I am a lifelong hater of slaw, and I even trusted them to leave their turkey crunch sandwich recipe intact – slaw and all – and I enjoyed it! (P.S. It is not the slaw you are imagining.)

The portions seem right-sized. I leave full but not overly so. And, I do love to finish my meal off with their perfectly light and sweet orange roll. Unless, of course, I splurge on the mouthwatering dessert that is the Half Baked Cookie.

The service is lightning fast. I dare you to find a shorter wait between order and service with the same caliber menu. I frequently wait longer in a drive thru lane. This makes lunch hours somehow longer and errand-running perfectly possible. Who couldn’t use a little extra time?! In case you don’t want to take my word for it, readers of Birmingham Magazine voted the staff the best in the city (and best kids’ menu). No big deal.

To Do Tips/Notes for your first visit:

  • At both locations take a left at the door. This will put you in line to order your food.
  • You may need to pick up your own utensils depending on the establishment.
  • On most occasions, you will bus your own table.
  • The ingredients are local. The philosophy is green.
  • The Strawberry-Lemonade is a perfect summertime (or maybe anytime) treat.

Tonight is the grand opening event of new Summit location, benefitting Cornerstone Schools of Alabama. It’s the perfect time to sample the menu and determine what you will order on your return visit.

give. shop. not forgotten.

It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned this special organization, so if you remember Not Forgotten, but still haven’t read up, here is yet another chance. I am especially excited that Not Forgotten has undergone some great growth recently and is looking forward to seeing some dreams realized in the near future. This is your opportunity to be part of it.

“Not Forgotten is an organization that is compelled by the love of Christ to provide for the physical, educational, and spiritual needs of impoverished, abandoned, and oppressed people of the world so that they may improve their quality of life, find salvation through Jesus Christ and be empowered to affect change in their communities.”

Visit their spiffed-up website for more. (Or read my past post here.) Better yet, come tomorrow to the Birmingham Art For a Cause event, benefitting Not Forgotten, and hear the story straight from those whose passion and love started this whole thing.

Thursday 11.03.11
7pm – 9:30pm
Historic Cahaba Pumping Station Museum
4012 Sicard Hollow Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242
(click here for a map)

I should also mention that there are a few products available for purchase contributed by yours truly. Don’t miss a great opportunity to get started on your Christmas shopping with the confidence that your making a difference.

learn. who shot rock and roll.

Calling all Birmingham procrastinators, you may now consider it crunch time as Birmingham Museum of Art’s special exhibit “Who Shot Rock and Roll” closes in three days. Thanks to Birmingham Mountain Radio and the Museum, I won free passes and attended a free lecture by Bob Gruen (more on him later), but even the affordable ticket price of $10 is a steal for a leisurely look at iconic images and a greater understanding of the relationship between the individuals in front of and behind the camera.

Don’t expect a chronological walk through the history of rock music. You’ll gather that along the way as you see a tuxedo-clad Jimi Hendrix, a conflicted Kurt Cobain, an animalistic Mick Jagger, and the draw of Madonna. But this exhibit is really a study of intersecting people and their art forms. You are invited into that relationship setting by setting.

So here are a few To Do tips for planning your visit… asap.

  • Spend an hour or more. I walked through in about an hour and forty-five minutes, but I could easily have spent two as I tend to be a slow mover at museums.
  • Take a fully charged mobile phone (and silence it). Several pieces have audio clips that accompany them. To hear the photographer discuss the image adds another layer, but you must call a phone number to hear the clip.
  • Take notes. Whether pen and paper or an app for that, take note some way of your favorite images, your reactions, quotes to remember, and artists to research.
  • A note for families. Proceed at your own risk and ahead of any children. As you may expect, be prepared for the occasional graphic image and some nudity.

Again, for you who have to wait for the absolute last possible moment, the museum is hosting a special event this week, staying open until 10pm on Saturday night. A Last Night/Late Night and a Sunday Encore this weekend. No more excuses.

I’ll leave you with this thought-provoking quote included in the exhibit:

 “A portrait is not a likeness…
The moment an emotion or fact is transformed
into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion.”
Richard Avedon

give. christian service mission.

I mentioned the Christian Service Mission a couple posts ago as one of the organizations working diligently to meet some of the great needs in central Alabama. And on Friday, I finally made it there to give a few hours of my time. Once I got a feel for the work to be done, it was a very productive afternoon.

I know there are some who don’t have the luxury of walking into unfamiliar territory, so here is a little more information on what to do as a volunteer at CSM (based on my own experience).

To Do Tips

When to go: Volunteers are needed whenever the doors are open, and there is always something to do. Most people are more available on the weekends, but if you have the freedom to be flexible or work a non- traditional work schedule, try going on a weekday. Most efforts wrap up by 5 or 6pm on weekdays. Go on your lunch break; stop for an hour or two when passing through town; stay for a day. Just go.

Where to go: Whether following online directions, your GPS, or a traditional map, the address will get you there: 3600 3rd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL. I parked in the lot across the street from the warehouse.  Still in doubt? These pictures should help.


It’s pretty simple really. The main tasks seem to be unload donations, sort through donations and organize, pack items for orders from the community, and load up the orders. Personally, I sorted through some of the donations coming in and eventually found myself sorting food donations and packing “ready to eat” boxes to be sent to the community.

What to wear:  No requirements that I know of, but I do recommend close-toed shoes. And you may want to factor in the fact that the warehouse can be pretty warm.

Kid-friendly: I saw a number of school-age children helping to sort all kinds of items (with parental/adult supervision of course).

*If any of the above information is incorrect, please correct me in the comments! Thanks.

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