Category Archives: Uncategorized

Red at The Rep

Red, a play at the Arkansas Rep, is based on the life of Mark Rothko. © 2013 . All rights reserved.

The Arkansas Repertory Theater was kind enough to provide me with tickets to Red so that I could write about my experience. Opinions and applause are all mine. You know how sometimes you’re at a party, or dinner, or even … Continue reading

friday faves

sunrise © 2013 . All rights reserved.

Oh internet, you inexhaustible show tune singer, I love you. Let’s see what you had to offer this week! Always shrinking: expectations of women, and men, and the things we unwittingly pass down – beautifully written and performed. “I don’t know … Continue reading

friday faves

IMG_7110 © 2013 . All rights reserved.

Oh internet, you simpering lead actress, I love you. Let’s see what you had to offer this week! Attention fellow old people: Shake your walking-stick in rage along with Oliver Burkeman over how those young people talk about the internets. Words … Continue reading

friday faves

coll2 © 2013 . All rights reserved.

It’s been a crazy week for me – how about you? Here’s a couple of things that are making me smile this week in the middle of it all. First of all, my always-off-kilter family. I was editing some pictures … Continue reading

ashes to ashes

ash wednesday and lent © 2014 . All rights reserved.

I’m not doing anything for Lent, I declare inside my head. Who do I think I’m talking to anyway – stomping my foot, crossing my arms. Some imaginary other, some critic, some watcher? I’m not doing that this year. Lent … Continue reading

Kenya: the water tower

Kenya Relief compound, Migori, Kenya (2) © 2013 . All rights reserved.

Remember that time last year I went to Kenya? On the morning of the very first day we woke up in Migori, at the Kenya Relief school/orphanage/medical clinic compound, I wandered outside and almost immediately ran into Michael (our missionary … Continue reading

friday faves

Beautiful fall colors on a crepe myrtle in North Little Rock, AR © 2013 . All rights reserved.

A day late and a dollar short, as my grandmother would say. So let’s get on with it, shall we? Somebody else had my same EXACT Halloween: what you need to know about 6-foot trick-or-treaters (believe me, I’ve scowled at … Continue reading

photo 3 © 2012 . All rights reserved.

shrimp cocktail and margarita punch

Years ago I was introduced to the 12 guideposts of acting laid out by Michael Shurtleff in Audition. It’s a witty, wise book, and what I love about it is that all these acting guideposts are really about the way real people behave in real life all the time.

I’ve gotten to teach these guideposts while working with other actors, and one of my favorites is the one called opposites. It’s always fun, because you’ve been doing all these exercises to figure out your character, digging into who they really are by looking at all the things they say and do – and then? You come to the guidepost that basically says: given the right motivation, someone will act in exactly the opposite way that you expect them too.

Inevitably, the actors peer at me over the top of their script, shaking their heads. Wait no – that’s not right. She would never do that.

But she would. It holds true in real life, just think about it. People surprise us all the time by doing something we would never expect. We look up in bewilderment and say – that’s so out of character.

Maybe you’ve figured out where I’m headed: today is the day I do something I’ve never done before on this blog. Hold onto your hats – I’m posting recipes.

I actually do like to cook, especially for parties. However, most of the recipes I use either come from on Alison’s wonderful blog, or in our (ahem, gorgeous) church cookbook. So when people ask me about something I’ve made, I usually just point them to one of those places. But, just this week for the very first time, I attempted to recreate a dish that I had eaten and loved – and it came out great. So…I thought I’d share. And, should you find yourself a wee bit thirsty as well, I’ve taken care of that too.

Santo Coyote Shrimp Cocktail

We love our little Santo Coyote here in NLR, and I might have a bit of a obsession with this shrimp cocktail. When my friend Donna told me how wonderful it was, I didn’t believe her at first. Somehow Mexican food and shrimp cocktail didn’t seem like they should be on the same menu. But friends – they should. It is OH SO RIGHT. This recipe is pretty adjustable – this amount made enough for 12 appetizer servings, but if you want your martini glasses full to the brim, I would make more of each sauce to stretch things a little.

12 martini glasses (Dollar Tree. I swear, so cute.)
2 lbs jumbo cooked shrimp (frozen from Sam’s are yummy)
4 avocados
For pico de gallo; (from Pioneer Woman)
6 Roma tomatoes
1 large onion
1 bunch cilantro
1 jalapeno
juice of 1/2 lime
salt to taste
For cocktail sauce: (from Ina Garten)
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco

Place the shrimp in a colander to thaw. Cut avocados into chunks and set aside.

Make the pico: Really, the exact measurements here aren’t too important. You just want an equal amount of tomatoes, onion, and cilantro all chopped up. Once you’ve chopped them all, put them in a bowl, and dice a little of the jalapeno and mix it in. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lime over it, and salt to taste. Stir it up and taste, adjusting the jalepeno or anything else until you like it. Understand that your hands are going to smell like this for 2 days. It’s worth it.

Make the cocktail sauce: Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste.

Mix the 2 sauces together, then layer them in the glasses with avocado and shrimp. Leave a few shrimp to put at the top of every glass because it looks pretty. So yummy!

Bliss’s Margarita Punch

[note: you do not need a beer this big. My husband thought he was being extra funny this day...]Now, this is not a gorgeously handcrafted margarita made with fresh squeezed juices – believe me, I adore those too. This is a whole different thing: fresh and fizzy and fun – oh and EASY. People will love you if you show up with a pitcher. Bryan’s sister Bliss first introduced me to these, and ever since then I’ve called them by her name. She’s probably doesn’t even realize how popular she is in central Arkansas by now…

12 oz. can of frozen limeade, thawed
tequila (enough to refill that limeade can)
1 mexican beer
12 oz. bottle of lime or orange flavored water (this is supposed to be regular water, flavored – not sparkling. However, sometimes I can only find sparkling, so I’ve used that too. Still good!)
1 can of diet 7up

Pour the limeade into a cute pitcher, fill the can up again with tequila and pour it in too. Notice that people are beginning to gather around you. Pour in everything else and stir. Serve in a red Solo cup over ice.


Enjoy your holidays, friends!

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From the orphanage in Kenya: a cross that a child has written on what they are thankful for. © 2013 . All rights reserved.

7: I have some ‘splaining to do

So here’s the thing: I’m about to start a 7-month-long adventure. That’s right. Seven months. And since I’m sure it’s going to affect my life in ways that I’m going to talk about on twitter and facebook and instagram and oh yeah, when I see you in person – I thought I would simplify things. Instead of you wondering what in the world I’m doing, and me fumbling through an explanation, I would just write a post! Easy peasy!

Only now, I’m a little nervous.

I’m worried that you’ll think I’m weird, or holier-than-thou, or not nearly holy enough. That you’ll think I don’t have good enough reasons, or decent answers for your questions. Or that I could just be doing better things with my time.

(None of this is a reflection on you, you precious thing. It’s all my crazy. Promise)

Enough shuffling around; I’m going on a 7-month fast. Or more accurately, 7 1-month long fasts. Each month relates to a different area: food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending, stress. I read this wonderful, funny, touching book about faith and real life last summer – Jen Hatmaker’s 7 – and I thought yes. I want that. I want to do that too.

It’s as simple as that, really. There are a lot of great reasons to fast, but my main one is that I want to gain some clarity in areas of my life where it is far to easy to be thoughtless and lazy. I want to truly enjoy what I have, to let go of what I don’t need, and to hold very lightly to the rest.

So now there’s a whole bunch of us starting this thing February 1st. If you see me talking (or crying or ranting) about 7, or #7FN – well that’s what I’m talking about (the FN is for Fellowship North). Feeling crazy? Jump in and join us too!

Details if you’re interested: first up is food, which means I’ve picked 7 foods I will eat all month long. Other people are doing other things: avoiding 7 foods, eating the same 7 day food plan repeated 4 times, etc. For me, this month means my frozen fruit smoothie, oatmeal, eggs, chicken, rice, apples, and peanut butter. I’m still on the fence about coffee. If you’re looking closely, you can see that this is really 7-ish: there’s usually more than one fruit in my smoothie, and I may be adding spinach to it as well now that I’ve been roundly chastised on FB. :) The point is not so much to follow rules for the sake of following rules (only 7! No more no less!) but to set some boundaries on my eating habits for the sake of getting my attention – and hopefully driving it elsewhere.

PS: I have a feeling my instagram feed is about to get real boring…

PPS: Fasting is an interesting subject, but one that’s not often discussed – so if you have a question, I’d love for you to ask in the comments. I’ll do my best to ‘splain…


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  1. I am so excited to watch this… out of curiosity and amazement.
    This will have a huge impact on your life and I can’t wait to watch that happen.

  2. I LOVE this! I am a freak for life experiments! Yes, weirdo. We just did a small fast here, but the idea of 7 months sound amazing. I ordered the book and can’t wait to read about your progress! And instagram is for more than food! – Jacqueline

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brokenpane © 2011 . All rights reserved.

the help

As I walked into the movie theater, I thought: I shouldn’t have come without a black friend.

I quickly brushed it off – the gathering happened quickly, the white women with me were good friends. Good people, dedicated to the idea of racial unity. It wasn’t that I intentionally excluded anyone black, I just wasn’t intentional about including anyone black.

I glanced around the room. Groups of white women, groups of black women. Not one group had both.

It was the opening night of The Help.

I settled into my seat, ate some popcorn, checked my twitter feed one last time. I noticed a link posted by Sarah Orsborn which led to a movie review titled: The Help: A feel-good movie for white people.

I clicked the link to save it and read it later.


A couple of hours later, after crying through a good fourth of the movie, I thought: I don’t know what that review is talking about. I sure as heck don’t feel good. On the half-hour drive back from the theater, we talked about various parts of the movie. I was quiet. Sad. Irritated. Angry.


Because while many things are different between my world and the world of The Help, so many things are so very much the same.


The next day, I read the review. I finally got what I had been wanting: an African-American woman’s opinion on The Help.

Back when I read the book, I enjoyed it. The characters seemed rich and warm to me, and I got caught up in their stories and relationships. However, the whole time I read it, there was a small uneasiness, tucked away in that corner of my brain that is easily ignored. Maybe it was because so many people loved it, and told me I had to read it. Or maybe it was because every single one of those people were women, and white.

I couldn’t help but wonder – how does this book feel from a black point of view?

I looked around a little for such a review and didn’t find one. I also didn’t know one African-American who had read the book. So, I let it fade, and didn’t much think of it again until I walked into that theater last week, with my group of white friends.

The next day, I did really enjoy reading Valerie Boyd’s thoughts – seeing the film through her eyes. While I didn’t agree with everything she said, this statement stopped me cold:

Even today, it is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for African-Americans to talk honestly with white people about race and racism — because, put simply, most white people can’t handle the truth.

After living my entire life in the South, where race issues are dodged, ignored, justified – it’s a refreshing shock to hear it said that clearly, like a glass of cold water thrown in your face.

I think she’s right.


When I was in Portland earlier this summer I ran into the cleaning crew in the hallway of my hotel. I stood there for a second, my brain trying to make all the connections. Something seemed off.

I realized the people cleaning my room were white.


Several years ago I went to a banquet for a teachers’ group. After sitting my purse under my chair, I went through the buffet line. Returning to my table, I found that a group of black women had settled there. Rather clumsily, I said um, we were sitting there. See, my purse is under that chair. One of the older women in the group said isn’t that always how it is. The white people come along and take whatever they want. They left, angry.


Just this week I listened as a smart, beautiful black woman talked about how she has clearly explained to her children that there are people in the world who will treat them differently, or simply not like them, just because of their skin color. This is a friend of mine – not someone who is trying to spread fear or hatred, but who is trying to help her kids realistically face the world they live in.

I live in that world too, only I’ve never had to have a conversation with my kids like that.


In that world, cleaning people are almost always black or Hispanic. White people still don’t like to talk about race too much. Maybe black people don’t either. We are afraid of people different from us, and we seek friends who look like us and think like us. We like to say we are colorblind, but for the most part, I think we would rather be blind to it all. It seems easier.

In fact, to try and do anything else seems depressingly hard. There are systems in place in our society – in my own life – that keep perpetuating all of this. I have a cleaning lady. She’s Hispanic.  I love my cleaning lady; I feel guilty about her cleaning my house. My son plays on a soccer team that’s all white, and so is almost the entire neighborhood league. I love that he plays on a team with some of our good friends; I wonder about what I am teaching him about where to live and what friends to choose. My own brain still betrays me, revealing negativity and ignorance about people who are not white.


If I understand Valerie Boyd correctly, The Help is a feel-good movie for white people because we will find it all too easy to identify with Skeeter, the white heroine, and to distance ourselves from Hilly, the white villain. We could also conclude that in a time and place far removed from our present lives, white people were awful to black people.

That would be a shame.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved The Help. I loved it for the same reasons I enjoyed the book, but maybe even more so for the gift of the amazing performances given by the actresses involved. So many wonderful women on that screen. I hope you go see it.

But I hope as well, that it won’t make you ‘feel good.’ I hope that as you walk around your world, you will see, and that you will want change.

I do.


If you’re new here, you might want to read the other posts I’ve written about race: here’s one on living in the shadow of Central High, and one on what my church is teaching me about race.


  1. christen byrd

    really enjoyed your post. i haven’t read the book or watched the movie. probably will at some point, just haven’t yet. however, i appreciate you sharing your feelings. having recently moved into an all black neighborhood, ryan going to an all black gym, lucy attending a mostly black school…it is clear as day that racism is still very present and like you said, generally ignored. it breaks my heart that our neighborhood is run-down and poor and it’s about 99% black (and us :). i feel sometimes like all the black people were shunned to this part of town. people judge us for living here. people judge us for sending our kid to school over here. some people are scared to come to our house. it just makes me sad. we just want our kids to learn to love everyone.

  2. Michelle Foster

    Thanks for caring deeply and for sharing honestly. I believe that true reconciliation is possible only when we are willing to open our eyes and hearts and stop being “blind to it all”.

  3. Beautiful post, Sarabeth. I’m reading the book now and plan to see the movie. I’m enjoying it, and my black friends who’ve read the book and/or watched the movie also gave it great reviews. Just as you hope white people don’t feel good about themselves after watching the movie, I, as a black person, hope African-Americans don’t use the movie or the South’s dark past to excuse ourselves from taking any responsibility for racial divides today.

    I, too, am waiting to read a not-so-positive review after I finish the book and watch the movie. It is from the Association of Black Women Historians. Here’s the link if you wanted to read another perspective:

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great post.

  4. Thanks, Sarabeth, for sharing your thoughts and feelings on the movie and book. There were definitely some tough moments for me reading the book. However, I appreciate that someone had the courage to write the book and make the movie. In order to move forward and progress, it often requires a look into ‘where we used to be.’ The truth is that black people were not always treated with dignity and respect by white people. And some places in the world the same still exists today. But, as a black woman, I choose to believe that although people may look, talk and live differently, we as humans have something in common. It is when we connect on the common things and celebrate the differences that we grow individually and make the world a better place.

    I’m glad you’re my friend. *tear*

  5. 80

    Hey Sarabeth,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a year or two, and really have enjoyed it. I saw The Help on Friday night, and also had a pretty strong reaction to it. Then I read your blog post and ended up writing one of my own. I included a reference to your post ’cause I enjoyed reading it and because I used the article you quoted. Hope that’s ok, let me know if it’s not. Hope everything is well with you guys, tell your family hi for me. :)

    • Adria – so great to hear from you! Thanks for letting me know you are reading, and that you’re out there blogging away too. :) I loved reading your take on things.

  6. Excellent, excellent post! Thanks for writing about this and being honest about your convictions. This is a continuous conversation that we need to have is anything is to change. I believe that change does happen one conversation at a time through one relationship at a time.

    Here are my thoughts surrounding ‘The Help’ from the prospective of a Christian who happens to be an African-American woman:

    Thanks for also reading and joining the blog dialog:

    Blessings to you my sister, Natasha

  7. SB, for some reason I decided I had time before work today to start catching up on “the dramatic.” I read this post, then clicked through to the “black and white” post. I had a couple of co-workers talking about the help (one of them read the book, saw the movie, then gave the book to her assistant and said, “you HAVE to read this.” today on my lunch break, I went and found the book on sale and bought it (even though I don’t have 2 nickels to rub together right now). at the store, the book clerk was talking about it to another customer, and i had to chime in with my opinion, then when i was paying for it, a black male employee walked by and said, “That’s a fantastic book.” I went and sat in my car and read as much as I could before I had to go back to work.

    next thursday the local community college is showing the movie for free, and i plan to finish the book before then and see the movie.

    all that to say thanks for inspiring me to get the book. i can’t wait to devour it.

    SB, i miss you and fellowship north. (btw, I forwarded links to both of your posts to our Connect with Scripture blogging group at fellowship batesville. The pastor and his wife are two of the bloggers.)

    (and sorry about switching back and forth between uppercase and lowercase sentences!)

paris2 © 2012 . All rights reserved.

2011 catchup: #vegasbaby

Ok. So I just spent the last hour looking over my blog because I had an idea that I might have missed a few things in 2011 that I meant to post about.

Never do that, people.

Not only did I realize that I have definitely missed more than a few things – in fact, I missed some big ones (and maybe a couple of months ENTIRELY) – I also found things on my blog that I had completely forgotten. So, of course, I Evernoted them.

Did you catch that? I Evernoted my own blog.

I don’t even know what to say about that.

Still – I came away with the need to go back a catch a few things from 2011. Starting with a little trip that I was lucky enough to take at about this time last year.


I’d never been before, but had grown up hearing about it from my grandparents. They used to go every year, and I remember asking them all about it. At one point, my grandmother told me that it wasn’t a city for children. Immediately I got a mental picture of an entire city, surrounded by a wall with a guard at the entrance who would check your age before you were allowed it. I’m really not sure how old I was before I realized that I made that part up.

Needless to say, I’ve always been curious about the place. So when Paul Strack, Amy Bradley-Hole, and Bryan all were headed out to speak at a conference there, I decided to tag along.

You may remember, this happened first. And then we got on a plane and headed west.

Seriously, it was like the sky was even trying to be Vegas. Show-offy. Gorgeous. I took about a million pictures through the tiny window. I’ll spare you those.

And then, whirlwind Vegas. I think we were there about about 48 hours. And of course, there were all the things that I expected there to be that make me cynical about humanity in general – but here’s what I didn’t expect:

Lots of Las Vegas is really beautiful. Like who knew a mall could look like this?

Or that while shopping, you might stumble across an art gallery that would take your breath away? Yes, I was scared to take pictures. Click the link, they’re wonderful.

Or that you could eat dinner underneath the Eiffel Tower?

(Free artsy photography tip here. The more extreme the angle you can get, the more interesting the picture becomes. Also, diagonal lines are your friend. You’re welcome.)

If you are ever in Las Vegas, please eat here. Sit outside. Look across the street at the fountains of the Bellagio. Do it for me.

That meal, and so much of what I quickly learned about that crazy town, I owe to Amy. She lived there (and worked in the hospitality industry) and knows the city inside and out. I met Amy through twitter and her blog, and while I had known for a while that I liked her, this trip cemented it. She’s stuck with me now, largely because of what happened next. We headed to see Cirque du Soleil LOVE.

It was simply astounding. Our tickets were about $100 and worth every penny. I would do it all over again, because there is too much to see – to much to gasp at, too much going on – you can’t possibly catch it all.

Afterwards we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to leave. We hung around the little shop and amazing lobby with all its mirrored surfaces and rainbow floors until everyone else was gone.

It was at the point where Amy and I ended up lying on the floor, giggling and trying to get just one more shot of the fabulous ceiling that I knew I had a friend for life.

Look close. That’s us.

The next day, we headed home to kids and jobs and a broken wrist for Bryan. Ah, everything back to normal at the Jones house.


Last January, Las Vegas. This January, Evernoting myself. Maybe it’s time to book a trip.


















One Comment

  1. Loved this little bit of time travel!

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  1. By 2011 catchup: you down with BOC? | the dramatic 24 Jan ’12 at 10:26 am