Where Do We Go From Here?

This is the last day of Fashion for Freedom. So now what?

I sincerely hope you’ve been inspired to take action this month. Change starts with educating yourself about human trafficking and ethical fashion, and I believe lasting change comes as the result of small steps with big impact. Here’s a few steps that we’ve discussed this month:

1. Look inside your closet, finding out where your clothes are made. 
2. Discover your slavery footprint.
3. Choose fair trade items when shopping.
4. Download the Free2Work app to find the most ethical companies by industry. 
5. Shop with companies who put your money to good use. Here’s lists for casual clothing, special occasion clothing, cosmetics, and jewelry, and shoes, children’s, underwear, and more
You can go a step further by keeping up with news about human trafficking and ethical fashion. Sign up for newsletters from local or national organizations, or follow their Facebook pages. I recommend: 
As for me, here is my plan going forward:
  • I’ll look for fair trade products first. 
  • If a fair trade option isn’t available, I’ll look for a used item from thrift stores or eBay. 
  • If I can’t find it there, I’ll buy it from a company that has a higher Free2Work grade or is made in the USA/Canada/Europe. 
  • I’ll buy less so that I can buy better. 
  • I will invest in multi-tasking pieces and high quality ethically made products that will stand the test of time.
  • I’ll continue to go through all of my clothes every season and objectively pare it down. 
  • My goal is to shrink my closet down to 100 items. I’ll continue to sell off and donate my clothing, anytime I buy or receive clothing as a gift, something else has to go. That’s going to be really hard. 
  • I will be a conscious consumer, thinking about the people behind the barcode who are affected by my purchasing decisions. 
And, I’ll keep the Fair Trade Pledge. 

“I pledge to consume responsibly. I recognize that as a consumer, my buying power matters. I understand that each product I purchase plays a role in a larger narrative, affecting the life of an individual. Because of this, I will do my best to purchase products that have been made by hands that are treated fairly. I will seek to support supply chains that treat farmers and workers fairly and demand the assurance that items I buy have been made responsibly from start to finish. This means no tolerance for child or slave labor, dangerous working conditions or substandard pay. I will no longer support systems of oppression and will insist that companies I trust operate with a conscience.”

Will you join me? Sign the pledge here. 

In conclusion, there are several people I’d like to thank. 
First, the people who believed in this series enough to sponsor it:
Thank you all so much!
And secondly, those who have gone above and beyond to encourage me and get involved with this series: 
  • Tara, for letting me bounce ideas off of you, telling everyone about the series, and your real life support, encouragement, enthusiasm, and friendship. 
  • Natalie,  Viviene, and Matilda Joyce, for faithfully reading, leaving encouraging comments, and sharing the series with others. 
  • My sister Elissa, for your enthusiastic texts, emails, phone calls, comments, Facebooking, and help this month. And Evi, I love you too!
  • Bailey, for your sweet email that brought me to tears more than once.
  • Natalie A., for all your tweets, favorites, and retweets. Thank you for your support!
Thank you, all of you, for your words and presence this month. It means everything to me! 

God is good! See you next month!

One Month and 10 Items Later

Well friends, tomorrow is the last day of this series! I started this month with 354 items in my closet and drawers and a burning desire to change. It hasn’t always been easy to write, or live, this series, but it has been worth it.

Source

Wearing ten things for a month taught me a great deal about myself. For instance, I learned that I derive a large part of my confidence and sense of acceptance from my appearance. I shared my fears and insecurities going into the ladies retreat several weeks ago, insecurities that resurfaced each Sunday when I donned the same dress I wore the week before, or when I wore a plain tee and jeans to a birthday party. Would people like me without my cute coordinated outfits? Will I fit in? Will people think I’m weird, radical, or self-righteous? 

Yes and no. I definitely alienated some people, just by being myself, and by talking about human trafficking and why I was wearing only 10 things. I’m sure some people do think I’m radical and self-righteous. I know some people don’t understand why this matters, or why it matters to me.

But I found out that I can deal with that. For each blank stare, polite nod, or change of subject, I had heart-felt comments, beautiful emails waiting in my inbox, and encouraging tweets to spur me onward from you, my faithful readers, and scripture passages that put it all into perspective at just the right time.

And I also learned that I am weird, and I am radical. I am standing for something. I’m putting my stake in the ground and owning it. I’m not here to get by, have a good time, or be happy. I am here to change the world. 

I’ve thought a lot about how I want people to think of me. At the beginning of the month, other’s opinions of me were a major source of anxiety. Do I really want people to think of me as someone whose outfits were always well put together, who looked like they had life together, and always looked cute? Is that what I want to be known for?

I realized that the people I most respect are people who don’t care about their appearance, but care deeply about loving others. They spend their days loving their kids, lending a listening ear for those who need it, supporting their husbands, sharing a home-cooked meal, and serving their church. Tara and Tammy, you are truly the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.

This quote attributed to Majorie Hinckley sums up the legacy I want to leave:

 “I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.

31 Days of Fashion for Freedom. Who knows how God has used this series to bring freedom to those trapped in human trafficking? I know He has. 
He’s also used it to bring freedom to me. 
102. 
That’s how many items I’ve purged from my closet, or are waiting in line for the eBay auction.
I still have 252 items left, but it’s progress. I think a lot of the things I’ve learned about myself this month are going to take time to sift through and sort out, and while I’m working on myself, I’ll still be sorting through my closet too. 
Tomorrow is the last post of this series. It’s a little bittersweet. I’m looking forward to being able to wear other clothes, but I’ll also miss knowing exactly what I’d wear every day. 
I’ve been asked what I’ll wear November 1st, and I really don’t know. If I wear what I’ve most missed this month, it would be pajamas. 🙂 
Before this post ends, I want to remind you to enter the ethical fashion giveaway! There will be four winners, so your chances are pretty good. I hope you win!
Also, I found out that eBay will only allow new sellers to list a certain number of items in each category, and I maxed out Women’s Clothing yesterday. They should really tell you these things beforehand, because I would have listed all the best stuff first! Anyway, I won’t be able to add the rest until I make some sales and receive positive feedback. I’ll let you know when I put up new items, but check out what’s up for auction right now. 
I’ll see you tomorrow! 

I Am Easily Pleased

I scratched yesterday’s post. I just wasn’t feeling it. I was feeling like cuddling on the couch and watching Top Gear with my husband. We have a busy and stressful weekend ahead of us, and it was needed. Also, because we have a busy and stressful weekend, I am postponing the charity auction to Monday morning. Yesterday I spend hours writing up the descriptions of 17 of the auction items, and there’s about 30 more to do. So, I need to get through this weekend first and then I can fully devote my attention to the auction.

I also feel like telling you a story from earlier this week. We ran over to Target for a quick coffee creamer and eggs run after dinner a few days ago. From across the store, I saw the cutest trench coat. Instantly, a battle began in my head.

Source: target.com via Emily on Pinterest

Oooh, let’s go look at that trench coat! 
NO. Let’s not. We can’t buy anything this month, remember?
But we could just look at it!
What’s the point in that? I bet it’s not fair trade or made in the usa. 
But it’s CUTE. And trench coats are IN this fall. Plus, trench coats are classics, they never go out of style. It’d be worth it! 

Luckily for me, Brian distracted me with the ice cream section. I gave in to the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup ice cream bars and said no to looking at the trench coat.

Later, I thought about what had happened. The first thing I noticed since this month started is how often  I think about clothes. What’s in style, what’s my ideal style, what’s on Pinterest, what’s on sale, what’s at Target, what tee shirt I’m going to wear today…. to name a few. Even when shopping in the grocery section, my thoughts are on the clothes a few aisles away. When heading to a birthday party last week, I still wrestled with what I would wear, even with only four shirts to choose from!

Add to that all the thoughts I have about buying decor, or buying the stuff to DIY the decor. That equals a lot of thinking about buying, actually, almost constant.

Pinterest doesn’t help. Neither does having a Target within walking distance, and two thrift stores a short drive away. Or Christmas coming up. Really, I can find a lot of reasons to excuse the “I want” refrain running in the background of my mind.

It’s not all bad. I don’t think it’s wrong to want to buy curtains for the living room and a throw pillow for the couch. It’s probably not wrong to want a trench coat either (I’ll probably look for one at Goodwill or eBay). It’s the fact that wherever I go, I’m noticing what other people have or what they’re wearing, and my automatic, unconscious response is “I like that. I want that!”

One of the biggest insights I’ve had this month is just how materialistic and discontented I truly am. Either C.S. Lewis or John Calvin is quoted saying our hearts are idol factories. In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis wrote:

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

If how we spend our days is how we spend our life, why do I waste my time thinking about what I’m going to wear?!

The time spent thinking about myself is so disproportionate to the amount I spend thinking about others.  I am far too easily pleased by playing around with the perfect accessories and outfits or dreaming about new additions to my wardrobe.

Maybe clothes aren’t as big of a deal to you. In your life, what you find yourself pleased with instead of God?

Read the rest of the series here.

Packing Light

There’s a perk to only wearing ten items of clothing: packing is super easy.

This weekend I’m heading up to a cabin by the lake for my church’s annual ladies’ retreat. I’m excited to  relax, take deep breaths of clean mountain air, make new friends, and just be still for a few days.

In years past, I made sure to pack my cutest clothes, accessories, and shoes for every conceivable occasion. I brought a bulging suitcase to a weekend in a mountain cabin. Looking at my puny bag for this year, I have to wonder, who did I think I needed to impress?

Well…everyone.

When I began wrestling with the idea of this challenge, the first thought that came to me was, “What will people think?” I worried that people would write me off as weird, radical, over-reacting, or self-righteous.

I thought about just not telling anybody I knew in real life what I was doing and just keeping it as a blog thing, but that seemed to defeat the purpose of raising awareness of human trafficking and mobilizing people to fight it.

A week before this series started, I had a moment of panic and thought about emailing all of my sponsors back, saying, “I can’t do this! People might think I’m weird!” I realized how ridiculous it sounded. But honestly, I’m still a little worried about what people will think of me when I show up to church wearing the same dress I wore the week before.

My need to impress runs deep. Packing for this weekend at the ladies retreat feels like ripping off a bandaid.

There’s going to be ladies there that I don’t know, and others that I don’t know well. I won’t be able to rely on an array of adorable outfits to make a good impression. Stripped of the option of people like me because of my cute clothes, I’m going to just have to be myself.

Honestly, that’s scary for me. I didn’t realize until this moment just how scary that is.

Technically with a 31 Day series, I’m supposed to blog every day, but I’m choosing to not post on Saturday and Sunday, to allow for some quiet and rest. So, that means I’ll let you know how it goes next Monday.

Pray for me?

Consumerism, It’s Time to Break Up

It started with a tension, a feeling that God was going to do something, soon. Then I read the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, which tore me up. Then two weeks in a row I heard sermons on James 1:27, which I talked about some in my post, the inconvenience of true religion. Then last night at youth group, what was the lesson about?

Money. The love of money, in fact. Talk about a gut check. We read and discussed these convicting passages:

Matthew 6:19-21
Luke 6:20
Acts 5:1-6
James 1:9-11

Matthew 6:19-21 really stood out to me:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Maybe you’re like me, thinking “I don’t love money that much.” Well, our lesson had a handy little quiz that shattered that illusion pretty fast.

  • If you had to give up all your stuff today, could you do it? 
  • If you lost or gave up all your stuff, how would it make you feel? 
And then the real kickers. On a scale from 1-6,
  • If you lost a twenty dollar bill, how upset would you be? 
  • When something newer and better comes out, how much do you want it?
  • How much do you feel success is determined by money?
  • How much do you depend on money?
  • How much do you like or enjoy having money?
My honest answers were not pretty. I couldn’t give up everything I had…I’d really want to keep my make up at least.  How much do I depend on money? I’d give it a 5. Let’s flip that question around, how much do I depend on God’s provision for me, verses depending on money? Probably a 2, if the amount I stress out over money is any evidence. How much do I like or enjoy having money? I enjoy seeing the numbers for my bank account go up. Shopping and buying stuff makes me happy, even if it is brief. So I honestly derive quite a bit of enjoyment from money, and that’s just sad. There are lasting, worthwhile, beneficial, and just plain better things to find joy in. 
This morning, I watched this video as the Bloom Book Club discussed chapter 3 of Seven. I thought it was crazy when Jen and her family were going to give away 7 things a day for a month for a total of 210 things, it sounded like a lot. But they ended up giving away more than one thousand, and not even missing them. 

Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

Something’s gotta change. I’ve got to change. Not just for simplicity’s sake. Not just for my peace of mind or to relieve my conscience. Not just because we’re moving to a smaller place.

We had a great discussion at youth group, and it’s interesting how much the teens, even as young as twelve, honestly admitted to loving money, even though most of them don’t have jobs or a steady income. I don’t want to see them getting sucked into the “I want it” and “I deserve it” consumerism mentality. If I’m going to be a good example to them, I’ve got to change.

I’ve got to break up with my stuff.

And I’ve got an idea. What if I fasted? For one month. Deprived myself to drive me to my only true satisfaction in life, my loving heavenly Father. Weaned away from false promises of joy, how would my life change? How would I change?

So I want to fast, not from food, or even from TV, like I have in the past. A clothing fast, in which I’ll wear ten items of clothing, and only ten, for one month. (Underwear doesn’t count though. There must be unlimited underwear!).

So that means something like three bottoms, four tops, a dress, a jacket, and a pair of shoes. No accessories. No scarves (gasp!). And no shopping.

And what will I gain? I hope that I’d gain insight into why I buy as many clothes as I do. What do I hope to get from them? Confidence? Happiness? Self-esteem? All of the above.

Deprived of the shopping crutch, I want to learn to lean on my Savior. 

I haven’t worked through the specifics yet, like what exactly I’ll wear, but I think October will be the perfect month for it. It will also be a great segway into sharing what I’ve learned about fair trade and ethically made clothing. 

I challenge you to ask yourself the quiz questions above. If the Holy Spirit convicts you in an area, I pray that you won’t try to drown out His voice. 

Last Minute Vacay, the Calm Before the Storm

At last minute, Brian and I decided to spend Labor Day weekend in California with my sister-in-law. We were feeling the pressure of all we needed to do before moving, plus the stress of finding a place to move to, so we took our last opportunity for a quick get-away.

Saturday we went to Seal Beach and had Mexican food twice.

I looked like a snowflake!

We also watched Harry Potter 6, since I just finished the books.

Sunday, Andrea painted my nails.

We watched Harry Potter 7 Part 1, and we tried to go to the Getty, but they ran out of parking. So instead, we went to Santa Monica, and drove for at least half an hour before we found parking there. It was worth it!

 The pier!
Man with a tiny dog in his murse.

Then we went to church. I wish I’d taken pictures, it was breathtakingly beautiful inside, but I felt like it would be sacrilegious. The music was beautiful, and the sermon just happened to be on the same passage as last week’s at my church: James 1:27. Then we went out to dinner with Andrea’s newlywed friends at BJ’s.

After incredibly delicious pizza, we ordered the Pizzooki Party Sampler, with triple chocolate, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter, and red velvet cookies with chocolate and vanilla ice cream on top. Heavenly!

Then we watched Harry Potter 7 Part 2, and went to bed.

Monday, we went to our favorite restaurant in Cali, Schooner or Later, for brunch. Looked at all of Andrea’s pictures from her Europe trip, packed up, and hit the road.

For the first time ever, we didn’t hit traffic leaving LA or coming into Phoenix! 
As always, the time went by too fast, but it was perfectly relaxing and wonderful. 
Now the storm has hit us, a storm of stuff to do before we can move, stuff to do on the house and cars for our landlord, furniture to fix up before we move, a desk to sell, packing, programs for my other SIL’s wedding, packing, stuff to do for church, cleaning, cars and hotels to reserve for the wedding, packing, a dress to find for the wedding, downsizing, lease to sign, laundry, projects, and so much more. Not to mention blogging, and all the things I want to plan for the coming months.
I mentioned to Brian that while we were in Cali, I fell asleep right away and stayed asleep every night, but here, I toss and turn for hours. His theory: I didn’t worry or stress while in Cali. I think he’s right, all I thought about were the one or two fun things we were going to do the next day. Here, my mind is in a constant swirl of to-do lists. 

It will pass. We’ll get through it somehow, and I will survive!

Moving: Hate it or Love it?

Newsflash: I really, really hate moving. In the last four years, I’ve moved four times: into the dorms, into an apartment, across the country to our first apartment in Arizona, then to a rental house, and now, back to an apartment at the end of September, an apartment that we haven’t found yet.

Whenever we look at an apartment and my first thought is “No way,” Brian loves it. And whenever I think, “This is the one!” Brian hates it. There’s been one exception, a beautiful apartment that was designed to be a condo, right across the street from Brian’s job. We’ve looked at 8-12 apartments in person already, and we have a list of five or six more for this weekend, but this one apartment stands far above the rest in beauty, square footage, location, and value. Unfortunately, they don’t have any openings for the end of September…yet. We found out yesterday that they have four renters who’s terms are up, but they fully expect them to renew their leases.

You know it’s bad when you’ve already started arranging your furniture and decorating the apartment inside your head. Sigh.

My mom helping decorate our old apartment. See the finished room here.

So to keep me from succumbing to discouragement, I’m trying to dwell on the positives of moving, and not the negatives.

Here’s the cons that fill me with the most dread:

1. Trying to find an apartment in the city we want, at a price we can afford. Since the last time we lived in an apartment, the prices have skyrocketed. We rented a large two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with a fireplace for the same price that tiny one bedrooms are going for now. Yikes.

2. Packing. I hate trying to keep it all organized and cushioned, and I’m just not good at fitting things into boxes. I’ve never been good at puzzles!

3. Saying good-bye to Kopek. Yesterday, Kopek started his usual whining dance for attention while I was at my desk, so I set down what I was doing and sat on the floor. He curled up on my lap with a look of profound happiness. His owners are going to come get him while Brian and I are in Florida for his sister’s wedding in a couple weeks. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. “You’re going to love California,” I told him. I pictured him riding in the moving van, head out the window.  Then running along the beach, playing frisbee and jumping in the waves. My tears dripped down onto his black velvet ears while he went to sleep on my lap.

That’s by far the biggest con for me.

On the pro side:

1. Less to clean! We’ll be going from a three bedroom, two bathroom house to a one bedroom, one bathroom house. I’m SO excited to only have one bathroom to clean!!!

2. The opportunity to purge. Call me crazy (Brian does) but I love to get rid of stuff. We were looking through a cupboard yesterday, and found some things that I we moved to this house over a year ago, and never touched once since unpacking. And some stuff we haven’t used since we got married over two years ago. Now’s the time to mercilessly cut out the unnecessary clutter and “stuff.”

We had to purge Brian’s tee-shirts before we moved last time.  

3. White walls. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE this house. It’s beautiful. It’s just not us…we wouldn’t pick the elegant, rich, dark color scheme in the main rooms. That’s why the rooms we did paint are yellow and sky blue. I’m usually not a fan of plain white walls, but I’m looking forward to living in light and bright rooms!

4. A new place to decorate. I do love decorating, and while we have been able to add our own style to this house, because the landlords left all their furniture, curtains, and wall decor, just like with the colors, it’s not really us. So I’m excited to hone my personal style some more and bring life to a new place.

5. Saving money. We’d like to buy a house someday, and that’s a big part of the reason we’re moving. God knew exactly when Brian was going to get laid off, and he prompted us to save up for a house downpayment so that we had enough to live off of for several months while Brian looked for work. Because He’s in control, we know that He will provide us with an apartment that will enable us to save money again.

How do you feel about moving? Hate it, or love it? 

Lessons From Loneliness on Unveiled Wife

Yesterday I had the privilege of guest posting on one of my favorite marriage blogs, Unveiled Wife. Here’s just a snippet: 

“I’m so alone.”
Tears stung my eyes, and two drops escaped. I wiped them away, but they fell even faster.
Did that thought ever cross your mind after your marriage?
Did you ever feel alone, abandoned? 

I went from full classes, hallways, lecture halls, football games, Bible studies twice a week, bustling cafeterias, one on one discipling, college ministry, weekly activities, coffee dates, and hanging out with friends, all in addition to weekly church services… to online classes, knowing one family in the entire city, and once a week church services. I went from being immersed in community to near isolation.

Read the rest at Unveiled Wife! Happy Friday!

Loneliness and Vulnerability

Ever felt alone in a crowd? Ever felt alone in a crowd at church?

One of our biggest struggles since moving to Arizona for both Brian and me has been loneliness. Although we got plugged into an amazing church right away, and we made some great friends, we missed having friends around our age. We also realized it’s a lot harder to hang out when everyone has full-time jobs. Eventually, we adjusted, for the most part. I especially have had a hard time, because I was home doing school alone, and now that I’m graduated, I’m home doing work alone.

So when Brian suggested I listen to a sermon series by Chip Ingram from Living on the Edge about loneliness, I listened to it the very next day. I had bathrooms to clean anyway, since we have a house guest this weekend. Well, not really a guest. He owns the house, and he’s our landlord. Anyway, he’s here for the weekend working on putting the house on the market.

You would think that being a believer and having a relationship with Jesus should be enough to take away any loneliness, right? While that’s true in a way, Chip explained that we were created to desire relationships with others. In the Garden of Eden, Adam had perfect fellowship with God. And yet God said it was not good for man to be alone, and made a companion for him.

I don’t want to give it all away, but in part 2, Chip says there are two keys to curing loneliness:

  • Have a right perspective of church
  • Have a right perspective of relationships
Whoa. Hold up. I’m the one who has to change? The problem is with me
Sound familiar? It’s so easy to think that the problem is with everyone else. If only we lived closer to our friends. If only people at church were nicer to me. If only… etc. 
But if the problem is in my perspective, that means I’m the one who has to change. I’m the one who has to make the first move, and it might mean I have to be vulnerable. 
I’m not good at that. I like listening to other people’s problems. I like emphasizing with them. I like giving advice (aren’t we all?). But I’m not good at sharing what I’m going through, my internal struggles, or even good things, like what I’m learning spiritually. 
I highly recommend listening the two-part series, each segment lasts about half an hour. The perfect length to get some laundry folded or bathrooms cleaned! It’s called “Breaking Through Life’s Biggest Barriers: Overcoming Loneliness.” 
Let me know what you think!

Attack of the Monster Bugs

This week, I’ve been very grateful for my brave husband!
Apparently, black widow spiders enjoy a little pampering now and then. They like hanging out around our hot tub.  
This is a little scary for me, because our hot tub isn’t too far from the doggie door. I worry about Kopek, and also, the doggie door doesn’t close all the way. There’s a gap around the edges, a gap that a spider could definitely fit through if they decided to pay a visit to my cozy little office. 
That particular spider above took two days to kill. God really protected us, because we’d been wanting to use the hot tub for several days, but never got around to it. Then one night, I flipped on the porch light, and there she was. Brian tried to get it with this metal ended tool first, but it crawled up inside the side of the hot tub. 

The next night, we got her with a shovel. 

For a couple months, we didn’t have any problems. In May, the webs were back. I washed them away almost every day when I watered my plants, but they always came right back. I tried to catch them out at night, but they seemed to know I was watching for them, and stayed away. 
So Monday night, Brian was working on the car, and I decided to hang out in the garage with him. Cool night breezes wafted through the open garage door. I brought my laptop and got comfortable on the carpeted area of the floor, and worked on some research, occasionally reading out loud to Brian. The dog curled up contentedly next to me. 
BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Thunk! 
I saw it crash into the garage light and fall to the ground for a split second. “It” was the the largest bug I’d ever seen. In a flash, I knew “It’s coming for me!” But before I had time to react, it flew STRAIGHT AT ME. I shrieked and almost threw my computer, but instead I set it down, and in that split second, it landed on me! I smacked it off, screaming at the top of my lungs “BUG! BUG!” 
I ran to the door into the kitchen, but before I could get inside, IT ATTACKED AGAIN. It flew at my legs, at which I shrieked even louder and shook it off, and slammed the door shut behind me. This whole time, instead of defending me, Kopek was every bit as terrified as I was. He squeezed into the kitchen right behind me. 
“Babe?” 
I heard Brian’s voice on the other side of the door. 
“BUG!” I sobbed uncontrollably, hyperventilating.  
“OH. Yeah…that’s a BIG bug!” 
“IT GOT ON ME…” I lost the ability to form words, and trailed off in a whine. 
Brian came inside and hugged me. “I thought you got stung by a scorpion and we needed to go to the emergency room,”he started laughing, and I started laughing through my tears, realizing how utterly pathetic I must sound. 
The bug had crawled under a pile of furniture, bikes, and tools. I begged Brian to kill it. But how? He asked. He insisted it was too big to step on, it needed to be killed with a baseball bat. But he didn’t want to get any of his bats messy. And he wanted to finish working on the car first. 
We didn’t know what sort of insect it was. I was sure it was a cockroach, but Brian thought it was too large. I did some research while Brian went back to working on the car, and discovered that Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are the largest roach. Maybe one escaped from a zoo? 
But they don’t fly, and this bug had definitely been flying. I called my friend Tara, who studied animal ecology in college. Her husband answered, and told me Tara was busy putting the kids to bed. I said she could call me back, and I must have still sounded panicky, because he asked, “Is everything ok?” 
“Um, there’s a giant bug in our garage. I wanted to find out from Tara about how to kill it.” I started laughing, imagining how pathetic I sounded.
“Like, how big?”
“Three to four inches long, and an inch wide.” 
“Wow! Sounds like a borer beetle. I killed one of those in our garage with a 2×4. But you could just step on it.” 
So Paul talked to Brian, who told him it was only 2 1/2 to 3 inches long (I disagree), and told Brian to tell me to cut off its head, quarter it, and bury it in four corners of the backyard, or else it would come back to life.  So helpful. 
Tara determined that the bug was indeed a Palo Verde borer beetle. “Although they look super scary and they CAN pinch you, they are not really that dangerous as long as you don’t stick your fingers in their pincers.” 
Not that dangerous. But still dangerous! 
I couldn’t get close enough to take a good picture, but this is what it looks like. And no, I don’t know why this crazy person is holding it:
After Brian finished working on the car, he went after it with a long board. Unfortunately, it scurried away, further underneath the stuff. I started getting ready for bed, resigned to hoping that he had wounded it and it might die of injuries, or run out in front of the car sometime and get run over. 
But Brian backed out the car, and started removing the items one at a time. Twenty minutes later, he marched inside triumphantly. 
“VICTORY IS MINE!!!” 
Sure enough!

The next day, Brian emailed me from work and mentioned all the things he wanted to get done once he got home: “….finish cleaning the car parts and put them back in, workout, kill more monster bugs as needed, maybe we can figure a way to drain the hot tub.”
Darkness had fallen by the time we went outside to drain the hot tub. I’d barely stepped out onto the patio when I saw something moving. 
“There it is! The black widow!” Sure enough, it was crawling around in it’s web, trying to get away from the light. 
“Yeah, I saw that.” Brian had been working on setting up the hose. 
“Well, I’m glad this one’s so much smaller than that last one.” 
“Smaller? What spider are you talking about?” 
Then I saw it. 
“THERE’S ANOTHER ONE.” 
And it was big. 
I showed Brian the one I’d seen first. Without hesitation, he took off his flip flop and smashed it into the patio. I held my breath as he raised the flip flop again, and before I could say anything, he’d smashed the big one!
I should be able to sleep a little easier, knowing that their bodies are smashed on the cement as a warning to any other spiders who might think it was a good idea to hang out at the hot tub. 
But with the borer beetle Monday, two black widow spiders Tuesday, I’m a little apprehensive about what we could find today. 
I’ve still never seen a scorpion. 
Knock on wood.