{Why I said "Yes" to Food for the Hungry}

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Most of you know that Tim and I got to speak at a leadership conference in Uganda back in March. It was an amazing experience. So why go back to Africa just four months & no vacation time later? Easy.

There simply isn't an organization I trust more than Food for The Hungry. They've been around for over 40 years, work in 26 different countries, and have almost 50,000 kids in their child sponsorship program.

They also operate under a 12 year exit strategy, which means you won't find $20K worth of rusty tractors sitting in empty fields because communities are uninformed on how to use or repair them.


Steve Corbett, co-author of one of my favorite books is also a former Food for The Hungry director. {If you haven't read When Helping Hurts, be sure and add it to your list! It's an AMAZING book}.


I'll be traveling to Ethiopia July 9th-16th with bloggers Daniel White, Alece Ronzino, Alli Worthington, Alysa Bajenaru, Kristen Howerton, Lindsey Nobels, and photographer David Molnar. {Holy shiz, these people are amazing. Like for real}.

We'll be visiting different schools, libraries, water wells, and child-headed households currently
receiving relief, rehabilitation, and restoration from Food for the Hungry, as well as blogging about our trip each day. We'll also be hosting a LIVE Twitter chat on July 12th so be sure and mark your calendars!



A sweet friend recently asked what I'm most looking forward to about being in Ethiopia. Without hesitation I said meeting our sponsored kiddo. Moti is 9 years old, in the 2nd grade, and his favorite subject is science. Can't wait to wrap my arms around this dude and tell him how brave he is. It truly is amazing the life change that can happen between two people while exchanging letters over oceans. Those kids look forward to letters from their adoptive families more than anything else, including the food, clothing, and education they receive. A great reminder that there are many things that can change a life ...

I remember Katie Davis once saying that caring for the poor can often feel like "emptying the ocean with an eyedropper... just when you have about half a cup full of water, it rains." I know it may not seem significant to sponsor just one child in a village of many, but I can tell you firsthand that it's worth it. If you're at all interested in learning more about child sponsorship feel free to click on the FH banner on our sidebar. May we not grow weary in doing good as we seek to be faithful to provide for those in need!

Much love,
Em

{Cloud 9 by Ben Howard}

Saturday, June 30, 2012



Yep. Definitely the 4th Ben Howard vid I've posted on a Saturday morning. #noshame

Every Kingdom - Ben Howard

{Fist Pump Friday!}

Friday, June 29, 2012

To kick off this week's photos we have Jonathan, his wife Kari, and sister Lizzy who threw fist pumps at Old Faithful in Wyoming. Thanks for helping us cross another challenge photo off our list! 

Next, meet Tim and his friends Jamil, Meredith, Karena, and John Michael who threw fist pumps and leg kicks after graduating from Auburn University last month. Way to go, Homies!

Lastly, meet 2 week old Brady. He's the first offspring of my sweet friends Mike & Jess. Here's to good milk, naps, and having two of the best parents a kid could ever ask for.

Thanks to Jonathan, Kari, and Lizzy we've now completed one more of our FPF challenges. Take a photo of you and your Homies 1) while riding an elephant 2) with your mailman 3) in front of Antique Archaeology in Nashville 4) with Twinner at Local123 5) at your favorite BBQ joint 6) at the Pyramids in Egypt 7) at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo 8) after running a marathon 9) in front of the Sistine Chapel in Rome 10) in front of your sorority / fraternity house 11) at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC 12) with your grandma or grandpa 13) with your favorite professor or teacher 14) at Caine's Arcade 15) by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco 16) with Katie Davis in Uganda or at Catalyst Dallas 17) on a sailboat 18) while cheering on your favorite team at the ballpark 19) in front of the Sydney Opera House in Australia 20) at Old Faithful in WY 21) with Naomi, Josh, Eleanor or Samson Davis of Rockstar Diaries (bonus points if it includes Kingsly at the dog park) 22) at the World's Largest Peanut in Ashburn, GA 23) at the Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox Statue in Bemidji, MN 24) camping with friends or 25) at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. To participate email photos to em@todaysletters.com. And most importantly, Happy freaking Friday, Homies!

PS, Each week we receive several FPF photos that can't be posted on the blog due to photo quality. We'd love to encourage you to 1) take your FPF photo horizontally (when possible) 2) use an SLR camera (no blurry cell phone pictures) and 3) take your photos in the daylight. Thanks!

{Today's Letters}

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dear Mr. Loerke, currently experiencing your fifth night shift in the ER. I crawl in bed at 2am. You're up at 5am for a run. Sometimes we're like two ships passing in the night but always Morse code to keep us centered. Dear Moti, still can't believe I get to meet you in two weeks. I wonder about you all the time; how big your muscles are getting and if someone has told you today how brave you are. Dear WB, congrats on writing me a letter that made it into my top 5 favorites of all time. The end. Dear Timothy James, speaking with you about marriage and intentionality does all sorts of crazy thing to my heartbox. So blessed to call you Beloved.

When was the last time you wrote someone a hand written or typed letter? This weekend I spent time tapping away on my 1941 Royal Deluxe (a gift from these friends). It was gooooood.

{Bowsprit by Balmorhea}

Monday, June 25, 2012



Bowsprit n : a pole (or spar) of a sailing vessel extended forward from the prow. Providing an anchor point for the forestays. Guaranteed to be hooked after your sophomore listen. {Inspiration found at 3:18).

Constellations - Balmorhea

{Today's Letters}

Monday, June 25, 2012


Dear Mr. Loerke, drawing me rainbow trout shaded in colored pencil? Reason #273 why boy roommates are awesome. Dear Triple Digits, here's to swamp ass and organ failure. Good thing we have snow cones. Dear Eight Unfinished Books On My Desk, is it wrong to wish that adults still had required reading before recess? You make me crave evenings at home. Dear Timothy James, after 3 weeks our AC is finally fixed. {Clothing is of course, still optional}.

Happy freaking Monday, Homies! Summer is officially here! What are you most looking forward to to? {Insert 8pm sunsets, late night bici rides, and homemade pickles being the perfect wingman to our BLT's}.

{Wash. by Bon Iver} iTunes Session

Saturday, June 23, 2012



This week iTunes released seven remastered tracks by Mr. Vernon and the boys. Most of you know I've had a longtime weakness for Re:Stacks, but Wash. is what I listen to almost most every night before falling asleep. Yep. It's. just. that. good.

{Bon Iver Denver :: Bon Iver San Francisco :: Bon Iver Dallas}

iTunes Session - Bon Iver

{Fist Pump Friday!}

Friday, June 22, 2012



To kick off this week's photos we have Campus Crusade staff Lauren, Kari, Jason & Jennifer who threw fist pumps and leg kicks in Hawassa, Ethiopia. Only 17 more days and I'll be in your stomping grounds!



Next, meet Donna, Rachel & Isabelle who threw fist pumps at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Thanks for helping us cross another challenge photo off our list. So much love for our Aussie readers!


Next, meet Paige and her bridesmaids who threw fist pumps and leg kicks with her at her wedding last weekend in Opelika, AL. Bonus points for rockin Chacos with your wedding dress, girl! #shexxxxy


Our next photo is of Patty, Emily, Rob Jonathan, Sarah Beth, Lindsey, and Meg who threw fist pumps and leg kicks while serving in Belize. Pretty sure I spy 5 more pairs of Chacos. Be still my heart!


Next, meet Jenny and 45 of her students who attended Middle Georgia College's SKYCAMP this week. These kids learned the fundamentals of flight, toured air traffic control, and launched rockets.



Our next photo is of Abi, Grayson, Brandon and Kristi who threw fist pumps and leg kicks at the Zhongshan Bike Park in Zhonghsan, China. That Grayson isn't at all a cutie. Nope. Not. At. All.



Lastly, meet Chloe and Catherine who threw fist pumps and leg kicks on the beach in La Jolla, CA. Chole's spent this year living in Uganda working with LRA victims. So encouraged by your heart for Africa!

Thanks to Donna, Rachel and Isabelle we've now completed one more of our FPF challenges. Take a photo of you and your Homies 1) while riding an elephant 2) with your mailman 3) in front of Antique Archaeology in Nashville 4) with Twinner at Local123 5) at your favorite BBQ joint 6) at the Pyramids in Egypt 7) at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo 8) after running a marathon 9) in front of the Sistine Chapel in Rome 10) in front of your sorority / fraternity house 11) at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC 12) with your grandma or grandpa 13) with your favorite professor or teacher 14) at Caine's Arcade 15) by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco 16) with Katie Davis in Uganda or at Catalyst Dallas 17) on a sailboat 18) while cheering on your favorite team at the ballpark 19) in front of the Sydney Opera House in Australia 20) at Old Faithful in WY 21) with Naomi, Josh, Eleanor or Samson Davis of Rockstar Diaries (bonus points if it includes Kingsly at the dog park) 22) at the World's Largest Peanut in Ashburn, GA 23) at the Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox Statue in Bemidji, MN 24) camping with friends or 25) at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. To participate email photos to em@todaysletters.com. And most importantly, Happy freaking Friday, Homies!

PS, Each week we receive several FPF photos that can't be posted on the blog due to photo quality. We'd love to encourage you to 1) take your FPF photo horizontally (when possible) 2) use an SLR camera (no blurry cell phone pictures) and 3) take your photos in the daylight. Thanks!

{Gratitude} Lately

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Been thankful for a healthier relationship with food and the opportunity to grow in discipline. #Whole30



For this album which sounds best when listened to on the floor.



For the view from Twinner's Airstream that greets her each morning. 



For coffee that flows like wild horses. #thxmelnichter


For moo-staches at the Farmer's Market.


For friends who return from vacationing here.



For eating this for breakfast.



For sunburned shoulders and Vitamin D.



For Airstream dreams in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 



And for good conversation and a late night of painting with an old friend. Life is still good. What have you been thankful for lately? Confession: Already looking forward to taking lots of these this weekend. Happy {almost} Friday, Homies.

{Further Away by Ben Howard}

Wednesday, June 20, 2012



In honor of seeing Ben Howard in San Francisco this October. #110days

Every Kingdom - Ben Howard

{Now Accepting Sponsors for July & August}

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Today's Letters receives over 450,000 page views per month (receiving over 67,000 page views on our highest day). We'd love to have your blog, Etsy shop, or website listed as one of our sponsors, so just email us for a rate sheet!


In the meantime be sure and check out Patrick Laurent's Etsy shop, Quiet Boy Studio. His hand painted lyrics on vinyl will make you wanna kiss your computer screen.

{Husband's Letters}

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Dear Mrs. Loerke, I've always admired how you love others. We have some friends moving to Dallas and your first concern is that they should have cold milk in their fridge. Love your heart! Dear Hail Storm, thanks to you the Rickshaw now looks like a tank from Afghanistan. Thankful for good insurance and the reminder that things are just things. Dear Asheville, lately you've been on our radar as potential places to live. Pretty sure this means a camping trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in September. Dear Emma, just when I thought you couldn't look any cuter you go and get new glasses. Seriously. Kiss me, woman!

Over and out,
Tim

If you could live anywhere in the US, where would it be? Over the last 10 years Em and I have grown to love Dallas, but we're happiest in the mountains!

{Today's Letters}

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dear Mr. Loerke, before we met I had never done a lac repair, kayaked by the Mendenhall Glacier, or waited 2 hours in line for the best BBQ I've ever tasted. Love experiencing these things with you. Dear C.S. Lewis, thanks for the reminder to never put my happiness in something I may lose. Change can happen so fast. Dear Ruibal's Nursery, you'll always be one of my favorite places to get lost in. That and hardware stores. Dear Husband, you fixing the washing machine this weekend? Freaking SEXY.

Happy freaking Monday, Homies! What's one of your favorite places to get lost in? I bet Tim would say REI and Central Market. #justahunch

{Happy Father's Day} Papa!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dear Papa, remember this photo? It was the day you drove me around to all of my race checkpoints making sure that I could safely portage my kayak at night. You made me feel so safe, supported, and loved. Know that I love it when you send me blurry cell phone photos of sunsets while you're driving, when you email me recipes for homemade limeades, and when Mr. McFeely delivers me newspaper clippings of the the largest catfish caught on the Missouri River. I love that you remind me to make time for watching meteor showers at midnight, to be kind to everyone I meet (esp toll booth workers), and to buy thrifted kitchen gadgets so my homemade pickles can have ridges. I love that you call to tell me when the Cowboy's are playing, if you burn your coconut cream pie, and when to put new line on my spinning reel. You also write me the greatest letters. Oh, the goodness of your letters ...

So thankful for our lunch at The Peanut 5 years ago that changed everything. Love you more than Boulevard Brewery tours, Moon & Stars watermelon at Alligator Cove, and pumpkins grown in your community garden for Tim.

Happy Father's Day, Papa.
I love you!

{You Don't Know How Lucky You Are by Keaton Henson}

Saturday, June 16, 2012



Saturday morning sleepy song by Keaton Henson.

Dear - Keaton Henson

{Fist Pump Friday!}

Friday, June 15, 2012

This first photo makes my heart swell up with all kinds of goodness. Meet 4 of my favorites people from Louisville, KY: Mols, Mel, Morg & Bek. Pipes, chickens, Chacos, and beer? What more could a girl ask for in dear friends?

Next, meet Katie and Liz who threw fist pumps and leg kicks on top of Mt. Croagh near Westport, County Mayo, Ireland. So proud of you chickies for studying abroad!



Our next photo is of Andrea's 2 month old little girl, Lexi. Pretty sure this babe was born for good things.

Next, meet Taylor (Central Bible College), Megan (Ole Miss), Kyle (Taylor University), Meghan (Ole Miss), and Andrew (College of the Ozarks) who threw fist pumps and leg kicks on K-Kountry's opening day. Hope you jokers are getting your fill of koffee kake & thunder muffins from Earnie's!


Our next photo is of my buddy Wes and his three rovers Selah, Malachi, and Josiah. They threw fist pumps before dropping Josiah off at his first week of camp at Pine Cove. So brave, little man!



Next, meet Katherine, Julianna, Kelsey, Hannah, Jana, Hannah, and Jess who threw fist pumps & leg kicks near Tybee Island during Laura's bachelorette weekend. Bonus points for being twinners K&L!

Lastly, meet Annie who found Twinner on opening day of Local123's big Airstream coffee debut. So grateful you got to hug my wombmate and drink her amazing coffee! Sheesh. Not at all jealous. Not at all.

FPF Challenge Photos: Take a photo of you and your Homies 1) while riding an elephant 2) with your mailman 3) in front of Antique Archaeology in Nashville 4) with Twinner at Local123 5) at your favorite BBQ joint 6) at the Pyramids in Egypt 7) at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo 8) after running a marathon 9) in front of the Sistine Chapel in Rome 10) in front of your sorority / fraternity house 11) at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC 12) with your grandma or grandpa 13) with your favorite professor or teacher 14) at Caine's Arcade 15) by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco 16) with Katie Davis in Uganda or at Catalyst Dallas 17) on a sailboat 18) while cheering on your favorite team at the ballpark 19) at Old Faithful in WY 20) with Naomi, Josh or Eleanor Davis of Rockstar Diaries (bonus points if it includes Kingsly at the dog park) 21) at the World's Largest Peanut in Ashburn, GA 22) in front of the Sydney Opera House in Australia 23) at the Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox Statue in Bemidji, MN or 24) camping with friends. To participate email photos to em@todaysletters.com. And most importantly, Happy freaking Friday, Homies!

PS, Each week we receive several FPF photos that can't be posted on the blog due to photo quality. We'd love to encourage you to 1) take your FPF photo horizontally (when possible) 2) use an SLR camera (no blurry cell phone pictures) and 3) take your photos in the daylight. Thanks!

{Today's Letters}

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dear Mr. Loerke, last night you crawled in the biscuit super late after your shift. You squeezed my hand 3 times to ask, "Are you awake?" I responded with one squeeze followed by 3 more. "Yes, I love you." So grateful for Morse code with you at 4am. Dear Semester Abroad Negatives, after 12 years I finally had you transferred to jpg's. You make me wish I was hitch hiking all over Israel again and gaining 20 lbs from eating Magnum Bars out the yang. Dear A&J, only 4 more days until you and your rovers officially move to Dallas. Can't wait for crawfish boils, fly fishing in Austin, and road trips to pick up your canoe at the Land Between the Lakes. Dear Husband, listening to you practice your harmonica early in the mornings? Pretty much the greatest thing ever.

Did you ever study abroad? I'm always telling students it's one of the best things you can do in college. {Here are 10 other things I also tell them}.

{Today's Letters}

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Dear Mr. Loerke, for the next 6 months you'll be spending Wednesday mornings in class learning how to provide the best care for your patients. I love that you'll do this all in exchange for a free medical book and improved bedside manor. You care so much! Dear Birthday Gifts, it's amazing how simple things can make a person feel so known. My friends? The best a girl could ever ask for. Dear Perspective, you shifted yesterday as I visited the CVICU and prayed with a mom who's 3 year old is fighting for his life. Don't let me forget this today. Dear Timothy James, wanna go pick blueberries this weekend? Rumor is you don't have to work.

What are you most looking forward to today?

{Rivers & Roads by The Head and The Heart}

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



Perfect ending to an incredible Tuesday. #getyourfeetdirty {Inspiration found at 1:58}

The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart

{Husband's Letters}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Mrs. Loerke, after briefly mentioning that I'd like to learn how to play the harmonica I found a Hohner Special underneath our Giving Tree. Your attention to detail humbles me. Dear Richmond Family, I want you to know how blessed I am by the way you love my wife. I see little snippets of you all in her and I know she wouldn't be the woman she is today without your influence. Dear Video Interviews, this week we get to sit in front of a camera and tell the story of our marriage. Here's to being strong, brave, and courageous. Dear Emma, you leave for Ethiopia in 29 days. I already miss you. Fact.

Over and out,
Tim

Who are you most like in your family? Em is a lot like her dad and siblings.

{Arkansas} Adventure

Monday, June 11, 2012

When Tim asked me what I wanted for my birthday I wasn't actually sure if he'd be up for a road trip to Arkansas. Turns out this ended up being one of our most favorite adventures yet!


One of the best parts was listening to lots of Van Morrison, James Taylor, Ben Howard & Bon Iver.



Our first stop was the Beaver Dam Store where I grew up buying Cedar Creek jerky with my dad.



It was so good to walk on it's creaky floors again and to see Charlotte still working the register. Crazy.



After buying our fishing licenses we drove to my old lake house. {Insert favorite & safest place here}



It had been 18 years since I had seen it last, but it still looked and smelled the same. #perfect


I used to spend summers here on the back deck with my grandparents looking at the lake, watching deer, feeding the hummingbirds, and eating vanilla bean ice cream with Skittles. {Yep. Skittles}


I also used to gash my knees on these steps while running down to the waterfront to fish.



We used to mark our biggest catches with nails hammered into this tree. Seeing these again was overwhelming good.


Beaver Lake is where I learned how to top-water bass fish, drive a boat, waterski, set trotlines, build bonfires, and skinny dip. {Thanks Vic}



It's also where I'd scour the shore for shells, broken lures, fossils, and fun pieces of driftwood.



Tim and I found the chain from our old dock which totally made my heart ache, but it was still soooo good.



Such wonderful memories with my here. So grateful.



Next we drove into downtown Eureka Springs.



And ate at one of my favorite places, Bubba's BBQ. We ordered ribs for two. {Big surprise}



We also stayed at this amazing little cottage right off of Pine & Spring Street.



We walked everywhere and stuffed our bocas at Mud Street Cafe (be sure and order their coconut cream pie for breakfast).



We also had dinner at Ermilio's which we highly recommend. Amazing service. Amazing food.


One of my birthday wishes was to spend a day fly fishing with Tim on the White River.



So we did. We fished with olive wooly buggers, midges, scuds, and pheasant tails ...



We fished our hearts out.



And didn't catch a damn thing. It was perfect.



We were content to just enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Saw lots of white-tailed deer, blue herons, and wood ducks.



Loved breaking in my new fly rod. An amazing birthday gift from Tim.



Really, I'm so grateful to be married to this dude. He embraces all parts of me and doesn't give up on our marriage when things get hard.



On our way back to Dallas we picked some of these alongside the road. {My grandma Anne's favorite}



We also stopped here. {Like finding a needle in a haystack but Tim was relentless}



After taking one last look at the Arkansas hills we headed home. It was such an incredible trip. Emotional, but so good. How was your weekend? Packed with things and people that fill your heartbox? Would love to know your safest place growing up. Do you ever go back and visit it?

Xoxo,
Em
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