Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Winter Snow

This is one of the simplest, most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time. I need to hear songs like these more often. I need these words. I need to hear the still, soft voice of the Lord singing through an audible voice like Audrey Assad's. Songs like this stop me in my tracks, force me to forget my distractions, and grab onto my heart until I'm completely consumed with their brilliance.

From each singular piano note to the smooth vocals and soft harmonies, this song makes you feel like you're sitting in your windowsill wrapped up in a blanket, mug of hot chocolate in hand, watching mysterious flakes of white fall into the night. The way that snowflakes fall so simply, quietly, beautifully, gracefully...describes so wonderfully the way Jesus arrived. So, as we wait in this season of Advent, remember Him in this way. Powerful, All-Knowing, Ever-Present, Completely Loving, Righteous, Perfect, Complex...but simple.

I beg you. Listen.



Winter Snow

Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or in an ocean to ravage our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

But You came like a winter snow
(Yes, You did)
You were quiet
You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Oh, no, Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still
It was small
It was hidden

You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Falling
(Oh, yeah)
To the earth below
You came falling
From the sky in the night
To the earth below

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm still alive.

Just a promise of things to come...
I am alive. I will write again. Someday soon...




Tuesday, October 13, 2009

outside these doors

If I've learned anything about myself lately it's that my heart is growing more passionate for the people who might never step inside the doors of the church. I'm quickly and easily frustrated by Christians and churches who simply develop and maintain programming or products that aren't reaching outward. I realize there are organizations and ministries that are needed to encourage and edify those already a part of the church, but I have a hard time ignoring the call to go outside of that to reach those who would otherwise not know Him and know Life and Love. I also realize that my frustration takes me nowhere fast, and I'd like to avoid complacency if at all possible.

When I first moved to Louisville someone started telling me about a ministry I hadn't heard of before that piqued my interest. I found out more about it shortly thereafter, and just a couple weeks ago jumped on board with a ministry here called Scarlet Hope. Some women in the area had a passion to reach out to women in the sex industry who are mostly found stuck in a profession that leaves them less than satisfied and fulfilled. They had a passion to show these women the unconditional, fulfilling love of Christ that is offered to them even when they think they might not deserve it.

(As a sidenote, I encourage you to check out the Scarlet Hope website, especially the blog section, to find out more about what God is doing in a place that might not otherwise see or experience His hope. I can only share with you the details that are on the website, for obvious reasons, but I'd love for you to join in and pray for this and other ministries of the Church (big C) that happen outside of the church (little c).)

Just the other day I was at Catalyst conference in Atlanta, GA (which was awesome, by the way) and had the privilege of listening to so many great speakers inspire church leaders. I might need to share some of the great stuff I heard there another time, but while I was there I did happen to read the first two sentences on the back of Rob Bell's book Jesus Wants to Save Christians and was immediately struck by these words:

There is a church not too far from us that recently added a $25 million addition to their building. Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago about a study revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty.
How can any Church leader read that and not feel like you've been stabbed in the chest? I read that, and as an employee at a church of about 18,000 people that has utilized its resources for countless multimillion dollar buildings, I had to take a second to question "How DO we balance those numbers?" What are we doing to eradicate poverty in our city? What are we doing to build clean water wells around the world? What are we doing to encourage people to simply sponsor Compassion or World Vision children for $38/month? What about the 143 million children around the world who are orphans? Are we doing anything to change these numbers at all?

It's not about the numbers. Or is it? Because there are individual lives represented in those numbers. On both the giving and receiving end. And typically, both the giver and receiver end up being blessed. I watched at Catalyst as one African man had the opportunity to meet his Compassion Int'l. sponsor who had turned his life around just by sending money and letters to him each month for several years. The young man is now a student at Moody Bible Institute preparing to know the Word so he can go back to Kenya and hopefully do the same thing that was done for him. It is a good reminder that there are real people behind the numbers we often see in lists of statistics.

Just yesterday I was listening to a sermon from Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY (about which I've written several times...God is doing some cool things through this church), and I was yet again motivated by stories of regular people--even 8 years olds--who made a difference just by doing things like making cookies for international students on the campus of UK at Christmas. Or what about the little boy who saw his classmate with a tattered coat shivering on the playground at school and decided to go around his neighborhood and ask for loose change, then raising $160 to buy a brand new coat for his classmate? Or the man who left a $1000 tip for his waitress at Waffle House that ended up in the hands of a single mom struggling to make ends meet... All of these stories are just people--real people--reaching out to other people outside the doors of the church. And you know what it led to? Those people eventually walked inside the doors of the church.

But it wasn't that they found hope just inside the doors. They were told about this hope at the Waffle House, at the playground, on the campus of UK. They're told about hope in letters sent halfway across the world. They find out about hope in a strip club. Hope can be shared in places you'd never imagine.

There is a world outside of our clean buildings that is in dire need of this hope we claim to have in Christ. People outside the doors of the church are less likely to find out about it unless we go to them. Will you go with me to take it there?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

currently...

thinking: It has been way too long since I've written anything on here...and that no one probably reads it anymore!

smelling: Germ-X on my hands...the smell of which reminds me of being in Romania...

eating: leftover chicken & noodles, fresh raspberries

drinking: the tropical citrus Vitamin Water, but disappointed in myself for accidentally buying the 10 calorie kind...I hate the aftertaste of the sweetener in it. :( but the yellow kind is pretty good even still...

leaving: in about 3 hours for the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, GA with 3 pretty awesome people

listening: to Rascal Flatts. It's been awhile since I've listened to these guys...I thought it was due time.

hoping: I will actually do some good reading on the 6-7 hour road trip to Atlanta...I'm terrible at reading anything these days. I'd also like to sleep...but that probably won't happen. Also, hoping I don't catch the flu that seems to be everywhere...

NOT promising: that I'll write more soon, because I probably won't. This way if I do, you'll be surprised.






Tuesday, September 01, 2009

mmm...peachy


Well, I've realized that every time I turn on my oven in this apartment, the smoke detectors are going to go off. That doesn't inspire me much to cook or bake at home, but I like baking too much to let that keep me from making things, so I took the batteries out. :) Don't worry, I'll put them back in when the oven is off. Trust me, my dad was a fireman, so I wouldn't leave them out.

Since I'm all about making the pies, I thought I'd share my very simple peach pie recipe. Seriously, if you only knew how easy it was, you wouldn't be impressed. Maybe I should keep it a secret? Just kidding. I'll share.

First of all, the real treasure is this: my grandma Shirlye's pie crust recipe. If you want a good pie, you canNOT use store-bought pie crust. I tried to once, and I couldn't even stand to eat my own pie. I guess that's what I get for being lazy. Here's how you make Grandma's pie crust (makes 2 pie crusts--a top and bottom or two bottoms):
1 3/4 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. to 1 c. shortening
5 T. cold water

Blend the dry ingredients & shortening with a fork or pastry blender. Add the water and mix that in with the pastry blender or fork (or two forks). Chill for at least 30 minutes. (If you want, you can let it chill in the fridge for a day or two until you have time to make the pie. I do this sometimes!)

You can then use that crust for any kind of pie you want, but be sure that when you roll it out you dont use too much flour. It won't stick together well if you do. Also, a tip for putting the pie crust into the pie pan--fold the circle in half and then in half again, and put it in the pan and then unfold into place.

For my peach pie, I sort of combined whatever amount of peaches I had (maybe 2-3 cups, though most recipes say 5 c. of peaches are needed) with about 1 cup of cinnamon/sugar mixture (you can make it as cinnamon-y as you'd like), 1/4 t. nutmeg, a few shakes of salt (no more than 1/4 t. salt), and 1/2 c. flour. I mixed those together in a Ziploc bag and then stirred it in with the peaches.

A few tips: use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust before you put any kind of filling in there. Then put the filling in, and cut up into small pieces about 2 T. butter and put that around the top of the filling. When you put the top crust on, fold the top of the crust under the bottom crust, and push it together with your thumb around the edges. Then poke holes in the top (in a fun design if you want!) with a fork, sprinkle water on top, and then sprinkle cinnamon/sugar on top.

Bake that at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. I found another recipe that says after 10 min. to turn it down to 350 and bake longer, so you can just eye it. If your crust gets too brown, use a pie crust shield on the edges to cover them before they burn, or you can just use foil around the edges.

Voila! That's all!
I use this crust recipe and basically the same inside for apple pie as well. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

the view from here...


It's absolutely gorgeous outside today, so I'm sitting on my back patio in my lonely pink lawnchair looking at my backyard. Just thought you should see it too. :) Unfortunately, my sister took these pics when the pretty flowers were fresh and new in the baskets, but either the sunshine, the flood, or my lack of green thumb kind of destroyed them. Slowly a few of them are coming back, but I'm not very good at taking care of them. Oops :)

I love that I have a little bit of a garden though. I have fresh basil in there that I have yet to make use of more than once, and yesterday at the farmer's market I bought a stevia plant that I look very forward to using. I'm not sure where it's going to go yet, but I'm excited about it! For those of you who don't know, stevia is a natural sweetener. Apparently you can just put the leaves into your coffee or tea, or you can dry them and crush up the dried leaves. If you've seen Truvia in the stores, that's exactly what it is--dried leaves crumbled up. Except it's white and powdery, and I'm curious to see if that's what it will look like when I dry and crumble mine? Doubt it.

Anyway, that's my backyard. I'll post more pics of the apartment sometime soon. I'm still hanging pictures and rearranging a little bit.



Monday, August 17, 2009

I kinda wish I was Julie Powell...

In the midst of scarfing down buttery, salty popcorn, which is all that is opposite of gourmet cooking, I just watched Julie & Julia with one of my best friends. And I am thoroughly inspired to cook and bake from all those cookbooks still sitting in a box in my apartment yet to be unpacked. I just need to find a place for them...

It's been awhile since I've actually tried a new recipe or even enjoyed cooking. For some time in Lincoln it was really something that I experimented with and truly enjoyed--probably somewhat to occupy my time in a small town with nothing else to do. Now that I'm inspired and living in a city that could occupy plenty of time, I'm not sure how I'm going to accomplish any real cooking. Baking, however, I'm sure I'll find time for. First on the list? A pie. Because I've found that the famous Louisville Homemade Pie & Ice Cream Kitchen's peach pie is way too sweet for my liking and much too rich in comparison with my own. I'll stick to baking my own.

It's taking everything in me to not want to try and write like Julie Powell did on her experimental blog that turned out to be a box-office hit movie years later. However, I'm not that talented, driven, or gifted in the kitchen or at writing, so I'll just stick to my once-in-a-while meals and blogs and just try to kick it up a notch. Sound good?

I'd like to make it a goal to cook one new thing a week, but that might even be a little too lofty for me at this point. I might be lucky to make one thing each month with all of these great restaurants beckoning me from less than a mile away. But if anyone has any great recipe ideas, please do share! I'd love to try something new!


Saturday, August 08, 2009

so much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say...

I have a whole lot I really want/need to write about, but my couch is calling my name tonight. I took a killer hard hip hop class today that's going to make me sore for days. And I barely even did anything in the class, because it was mostly a bunch of flips, slides, and jumps I'm not quite daring enough to risk. Next time I'm sticking with the beginner/intermediate class for sure.

I've been extremely late on posting a review for Mark Driscoll's new upcoming book, Religion Saves (+ Nine Other Misconceptions). I was supposed to post one on August 4th, but I haven't had much time to read the book, let alone process it and write about it. Finally this weekend I'm catching up a bit and I've read about 5 of the 9 chapters, but tonight I got caught up on the Predestination chapter. I think I actually got kind of tense reading it, mostly because I don't understand Calvinism and I don't agree with it, but I suppose there is room for second thoughts. I'm just not having any anytime soon about it. However, more on the book to come. Once I get a chance to process a little more I'll review. Right now, the predestination part is too fresh on my mind for me to give a fair assessment of the book in its entirety.

On another note I still need to post pictures of my apartment. I promise I'll get around to that. However, if you want to see it that badly, you can just come visit me instead. :)

I'm still loving Louisville. I didn't get swept away by the Flood of 2009 that hit us this past week, but it did take out the basement of the house I live in, and thus our water heater. So, that means I'm stuck with cold showers until the landlord gets it fixed...and the timing of this is yet to be determined.

I'm meeting some people, slowly but surely, but hopefully will soon get to know some more friends I can really live life with, go to dinner with, go see a movie with, etc. Love that I get to see my BFF Amanda on a daily basis. And really looking forward to having visitors soon--Shannon next weekend, Chels the weekend after!

And that's all...I feel like I'm always pushing off writing. I'll get around to it someday. Probably once it's cold outside and I won't want to wander around anymore. :) It could be awhile.

Now? On to my couch and my DVR...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

all things new

In the past 2-3 months I've been overwhelmed with new things. Beginning with a new car on Memorial Day, the ball of newness just keeps on rolling. New car. Then a new cell phone, which may seem like a small thing, but when it's something you use every day, it's kind of a big change. Then the big ones...

New job.
New city.
New apartment (with which came many other new things inside of it that were needed: washer, dryer, TV, creative ways to store what my former 2 bedroom apartment held, etc.).

My life seems like an entirely new one these days. Even in a message from a friend in Lincoln, I read the comment "Have fun in your new life!" I was a little caught off guard by it, because it makes me feel so removed from the past. Yet is new life such a bad thing?

I lived in Lincoln for 9 years, if you count my college years, and it was a little too long for me. Don't get me wrong, my time there was filled with incredible experiences that I wouldn't have had elsewhere. But it was time for a change, even as scary as change seemed to be.

This is certainly not the end times, but it is the end of a chapter of my life and the beginning of a new one. The words God spoke in Revelation 21 keep resounding in my mind: "I am making everything new!" My life wasn't a life completely of tears and pain before, and my "new" life in Louisville certainly isn't going to be without them. But I do know that God is making all things new for me, and He isn't just doing so with material possessions like a phone, a TV, or a washer and dryer. It's not even with a new city or apartment or job.

I hope that He is renewing my spirit entirely. With new things come a door that is wide open to possibility. I have no idea what the future holds here in Louisville, but I know that God is opening my eyes and my heart to see and experience hope and joy in possibility itself. Already I have found a peace with where I'm at that I longed for in Lincoln for about 3 years.

Just last night I went to Iroquois Park, in the southern part of the city, where 3 local churches (Southeast Christian, Sojourn Community, and Northside Christian) gathered together some of their young adults for worship and prayer for the city of Louisville. It was such a gorgeous night to begin with, but to spend it in praying for my new community was humbling and wonderful. They had planned the event to bring unity among the churches and to reach out to the community together and to clean up the park today, and the slide on the screen was themed "Re:Create."

Re:Create reminded me that I have the opportunity to recreate a life here. I can let go of the frustrations, hurts, and fears I had before, and I'm now looking forward to a life of joy, hope, and hopefully pouring myself into the people here in Louisville and southern Indiana that don't know Jesus. I'm pretty stoked to find out how God wants to use me here.


In a different light, I have to make note that the music I'm listening to right now is completely aligning with everything I'm writing. It's really quite strange how the words keep trailing along with my thoughts. I just downloaded the album "Before The Throne" by Sojourn. (Sojourn Community Church is a church here in Louisville...one that I love, actually...) Check it out. If you like music like Caedmon's Call, Derek Webb, or Sandra McCracken, or similar styles, you'll love it. They have incredibly talented people there making music.

Also, I have to make note that I'm sitting in a local coffee shop (Heine Bros.) that is less than 2 blocks from my apartment. That it is so close to my home and open late hours and filled with people at all times is, in and of itself, a wonderful thing. I'm loving that I will have this place so close to home. The location of my apartment is even better than I thought before I got here...I cannot overstate how much I love where I live. :)

I heart Louisville.
And that's all for now.

I'm loving this new life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

an Inconvenient Truth, indeed...

Oh, Al Gore, I hate to say it, but you were right. It is an inconvenient truth what this world is coming to. I'm not all "green" per se, but I try to be whenever it's possible. I've been trying to recycle my plastic and paper boxes whenever I can. And as I'm moving out of my apartment, I'm sure I could be recycling things a lot more. Some I'm taking downstairs to the thrift store which is below my apartment (very convenient), but other things are going in the trash.

One thing I've avoided throwing in the trash is a collection of empty wine bottles from my wine rack. I've tried to figure out a place to take them to, but I've had no luck. Just now I called the Logan County Solid Waste department, and I found that Lincoln only accepts glass to be recycled the 2nd Saturday of the month at a station in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Huh? So you're telling me you'll allow us to recycle one day out of the month, but there is nowhere to take them the rest of the time? It's the truth.

I'm unsure now what to do with about 17 empty wine bottles that really shouldn't go into the trash.

Any ideas? And no, I'm not breaking them up to make some cool collage or anything, though that would be a fun project any other time. In the midst of a move, I'm ready to just get rid of these things.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy International Justice Day!

Today is International Justice Day. Bet you've never heard of that holiday, right?

Join me today in the knowledge that no one should stand alone in this world--not one person, not one family, not one village, not one entire country. Life is meant to be lived in community, and where there are both joys and suffering, they are meant to be shared and carried together. There is so much suffering in the world that goes unnoticed, or once it is noticed is quickly forgotten. I'm guilty of that forgetfulness.
Just for today, let's not forget.

Stand up for what's right. Stand up for love.
Stand up for justice.

Check out the Mocha Club's new website and watch the International Justice Day video.
You can check out the video by clicking on the picture above.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Preston James Clark

So remember how 2 days ago I updated and said that I was sad to be moving on the date one of my best friends was due to have her baby boy? Well, little baby Clark heard his aunt Mandy and his aunt Chelsea too, and God heard our prayers, and he arrived yesterday morning! :)

Preston James was born to Matt & Lindsey Clark yesterday morning. He was 6 lbs. 10 oz. and 20 inches long. He and momma are doing well, and they're both healthy. I'll leave it up to mommy & daddy to show pictures. :) But he is precious!

I'm a proud "aunt" to little Preston!

Monday, July 06, 2009

update

Goo, I am bad at updating and writing lately! And because I've given myself exactly 5 more minutes before I'm forcing myself to close the laptop and go to bed, this will have to be short. I've had too many late nights and early mornings lately, and too many of those leave me pretty much worthless throughout the day. I need my sleep. On top of that, I ran for the first time in weeks yesterday and my body is feeling it today...

Now, onto my big update: For those who don't know, I AM MOVING! In 20 days, I'm moving to Louisville, KY to be the Discipleship/Student Ministries Secretary at Southeast Christian Church's southern IN campus in Jeffersonville, IN. (quite a mouthful, really, to explain...) Yep, some of you are probably thinking "FINALLY! It's about time she gets out of Lincoln!" and others are thinking "Why? Kentucky? Really?"

The truth is, I've been in Lincoln working for 5 years now, and including my college years here, I've been in this town for 9 years of my life. That's a big chunk of time. I'm 26 and single, and I've got a little bit of the city life in me that I have yet to get out. I'm certainly not getting it out living in downtown Lincoln. I'm excited to move to another city, and I'm excited about the opportunities that come along with this job.

Let me clearly say this: I never imagined myself working at a church, much less Southeast Christian Church (the mega of megachurches...). Let me also clear this up: I, in no way, am in love with Southeast Christian Church or even the idea that it is such a large church that may bring along some idea of "Christian celebrity." Some have that idea, but I'm honestly not phased by it at all. I'm just excited to begin feeling like I'm a regular, real, serving, participating member of a church body again.

Also, I get to work with one of the best teams of people, including one of my best friends since Junior High. :) I get to go from working with one best friend, Lindsey, to working with another, Amanda. (I just wish I wasn't leaving on the day that Lindsey's baby is due...) The rest of the team consists of people I'd totally hang out with outside of work, which is always a sign of a great team! So far, it appears to be a really healthy staff of 8 people who communicate well with each other, and I'm pretty sure they're ready to pass off some of the details and stuff to their new secretary, yours truly.

I have a new apartment already as well. I found one last week and it somewhat reminds me of mine in Lincoln, which is a great thing since this apartment is one I'll miss like crazy! However, it's past my time limit, and I am going to practice discipline and make myself go to sleep. So, I'll write about it another time.

For now, pray for me as I begin this transition in my life...by myself...5 hours from family and friends, but minutes away from many other friends in Louisville...

And if anyone wants to help me move...I'm taking names! :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

guilty as charged

I'm sad for the Gosselin family. And I'm just as guilty as the next person for being interested in their personal lives, which is possibly one of the contributing factors to their failed marriage. It breaks my heart that with them, you see the effects of the media on family relationships and marriages. The media can be a good thing, but obviously in some cases it highlights the worst of people's lives and forces them to relive it a thousand times over, making it become even more painful than necessary.

Jon & Kate's marriage isn't only caused from the media, as Kate said; the same thing may have happened without the show. Whether or not the media contributed to their separation, it's heartbreaking, and I'm guilty as charged for talking about the lives of people I don't know personally. And so instead of writing on and on about it, I'm just going to pray for their family. They are real people. As are all others in the spotlight of the media who also need our prayers.

Thanks to Jon Weece's encouragement to Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY to write letters of encouragement to Britney Spears a few years back, I've recently recognized the problem with "celebrity." Though their lives are lived in front of a camera, they are real people with real problems, just like you and me. And I'll pray for them just like I'll pray for my own friends and family. I'd love to place my opinions on this situation, and to throw blanket statements over marriage and the media and whatever else, but instead I'm just going to pray for some peace and love to reign, even in the midst of tragedy, for the Gosselin family. Would you join me?

Who knows...maybe the fact that they have the TV show could be a blessing in disguise. It's creating a way for millions of prayers to be said for them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the Enneagram

So after reading Shauna Niequist's blog recently about the Enneagram test, I was immediately intrigued and paid my $10 to take the online test tonight. I absolutely love personality tests and continuing to figure out more about who God made me to be, so I'm encouraging you to do the same!

I'll tell you now that I'm a 4...most certainly. Then I'm a 9, 6, and 2.

Go here and take the test for yourself and then let's chat! I'm very curious and am looking forward to learning more about it! So far, my description has been RIGHT ON in terms of accuracy...moreso than any other test I've ever taken. I promise you, this could be one of the most helpful tools in understanding who you are and then who others are and how to interrelate with one another.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

music finds

I have a love for music that just might teeter on the border of crazy and obsessive. I can do just about anything I might otherwise hate if I have music in my ears. I used to hate running (in fact, I still do), but I will do it if and only if I'm listening to music. Tonight i ironed about half of my wardrobe for about 2.5 hours (which was very monotonous and annoying) only accomplished with the help of good music in the background. Cleaning? You got it. I need tunes.

I particularly love finding artists that are lesser known, or at least ones that I have never heard of. I'm also partial to songs I can sing along with, especially if there is a harmony part that I can find. If a song doesn't have good vocals, I probably won't listen. Also, the lyrics are usually a make or break for me. I love lyrics that I can relate with.

Lately I've discovered a few artists/songs that I can't stop listening to. It's likely that many other people already have heard them, but if you haven't before now, I'd recommend taking a listen. (I will link their myspace sites where you can listen to several of their songs in full for free. If you like them, you can find them on iTunes I'm sure.) Here's my list:

  • Jordan Anderson - www.myspace.com/jandersonmusic (He and his wife, Jessa, play together but write separately. They performed at a work conference I attended at Cedarville University last week, and I can't stop listening to his songs Popular Tree, Silly Masquerade, and Black and White.)
  • Jessa Anderson - www.myspace.com/jessaanderson (Again, wife of Jordan Anderson. Her voice was flawless and smooth in person. Melodies are a little cornier to some songs, but I really like Fundamentally Broken, None But You, and What Are You Looking For)
  • Eric Hutchinson - www.myspace.com/erichutchinson (He's been around, but somehow I missed the boat on this one. I looked up the lyrics to his song Breakdown More after hearing it on the auditions for So You Think You Can Dance and that's how I found him, and the rest is history. I'm going to see him tomorrow night in Madison, WI. I'm telling you, when I like what I hear, I'm an instant fan.)
  • Kings of Leon - www.myspace.com/kingsofleon (Again, not new at all, but suddenly they're everywhere. I'm in love with the song Use Somebody. Beautiful music.)
  • Matt White - www.myspace.com/mattwhitemusic (Not sure where I first heard it, but I think just, you know, around... ??? His song Love was on the movie Because I Said So, which I love, so I think I may have heard him first on there. That song and Best Days are the 2 I keep listening to.)
  • Meiko - www.myspace.com/meiko (I just looked her up solely because she's opening for Eric Hutchinson tomorrow night in Madison. Piano Song, Under My Bed, and Boys with Girlfriends are my faves of her songs.)
  • Nathan Angelo - www.myspace.com/nathanangelo (Actually I've been a fan of his for about 2 years now I think? The odd thing is, only one person I know, Mike Sheagren, also owns his CD, and when I found that out, I was overly happy. I think Mike thought I was weird, but I was just shocked and glad someone else appreciated Nathan's goodness. All of his songs are great, but the 2 not on his album that I just found are Born to Love You and I Need a Woman. If you like Gavin Degraw, you will LOVE him. And sidenote: Andy Davis is helping produce some of his new stuff, so in case you like Andy...there you go.)
  • Rosi Golan - www.myspace.com/rosigolan (I actually blogged about her song Been a Long Day awhile back, but she writes and sings beautifully. I go through spurts where I listen to Been a Long Day and Come Around repeatedly. Gorgeous.)
  • Steve Means - www.myspace.com/stevemeans (I think I linked to him from Nathan Angelo's page, which is how I find tons of great music. LOVE his song You & Me. Makes me feel like summer.)
  • Anuhea - www.myspace.com/anuheajams (Thanks to the iTunes weekly free songs, I downloaded her song Right Love, Wrong Time and went on an instant mental vacation. Since she's Hawaiian, she has a similar beachy sound to Colbie Caillat, but I'm thinking a few songs sound redundant in melody. But I do love Right Love, Wrong Time.)

I think that's enough for now...I just like sharing good music that I find. If you know of anything else I should be listening to, pass it along! Finding music that I really like is probably my favorite thing in the world.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

on hope and painting

It's been awhile...so I'll try to capture a bit of what's been on my mind these days. I haven't been in the writing rhythm lately, so it may be a little muddled and incoherent. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get better at sitting down to write one of these days...

Do you ever just get to that point where there's so much going on that you're just overwhelmed and don't know where to begin? That's a little bit of where I'm at, so I'm choosing to just focus in on one thing I've been thinking about lately: hope.

I've found suddenly that I have an obsession with hope. (That's not such a bad thing, right?) It may have all started with a greeting card. About 2 years ago, a friend lost his grandpa, and I went to buy a sympathy card to send. I'm one of those people who can spend hours in the Hallmark store or in the greeting card aisles at the store, laughing out loud or tearing up at the "perfect" cards. I was trying to choose just the right sympathy card, because if you don't already know this--those are the type of cards where the words really do matter. You know, birthday cards or wedding cards can simply say "Happy birthday" or "Congratulations" and be sufficient, but a sympathy card has to be chosen specifically for each situation. Having lost my dad about 6 months prior, I was still a little sensitive to finding a card with just the right words. And then I found one that has stuck in my mind ever since. Based on I Thessalonians 4, it said on the inside:

"Thankful that we do not grieve as those who have no hope."

For some reason, it took that greeting card to remind me of that verse, and even more, the idea that we have hope. Grieving is a much different process when you know the one you loved and lost is in heaven. I've said it before that I'm not sure how others grieve those who did not know Jesus in their lives on earth. Hope is what brings forth joy even in times of tragedy.

Since then, the word 'hope' has been one of my favorite words.

And recently, I found this painting on Etsy.com that I just loved immediately. I've been on a streak of painting some canvases to hang in my living room based on cute things or other pictures I find on Etsy, so I've become fairly decent at re-creating them myself. I wouldn't ever claim the artwork as my own, since I basically copied the ideas from someone else's creativity. So thank you, artists who have contributed on Etsy, for inspiring me to be more creative. (The best part? I enjoy it, and if I mess up, I get to keep on trying. And if I don't like it in a month, I'll just paint over it again!)

So, I re-created the 'hope' painting twice--in 2 color schemes: one is blue and red, and the other is yellow, orange, and green with letters in white. I'm not crazy about the colors as of now, so I may be changing it. It's sitting on a shelf in my living room until I decide how I feel about it. (I may try to post pics soon...)

Anyhow, 'hope' has been one of the things on my mind, so I spent some time the other night going through scripture and was reminded of this verse in Lamentations that I just love:

"I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail."

The Lord's great love? His unfailing compassion? His Son? We have no better reason to have hope than this.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

lately...

I'll be honest. Somehow simultaneously I've got very little to say and yet so much to say. I'm processing a lot these days, but nothing is at the surface. I've logged into blogger several times, started to create a post, and have just sat and stared at a blank screen.

I'm not sure where to begin.

My heart is heavy these days, and it's burdened and weighed down by more things than I can even count or begin to write about.

But tonight I read my blogger friend Kate's words, and I'm reminded of so much more than my own burdens. So instead of me writing, I'll just direct you there so you can read her beautifully crafted words for all they're worth. And to me, tonight, they're worth a lot. So, thanks for sharing, Kate.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Observations

One of my favorite things in the world is to watch people. It seems I write about it here often; whenever I seem to sit in a coffee shop or Panera (my current location) or the like, I end up documenting my interesting observations. Tonight for some reason, my senses are just heightened by the scenes around me and I'm enamored by the beautiful, tangled, delicate world around me.

Here are some of the things I've witnessed tonight:
  • "The Catbed Crew" - I'm naming the group of ladies sitting to my right "The Catbed Crew." I still have no idea what kind of organization or business they represented, but these middle-aged women were planning some sort of big event. I overheard them saying they needed to get home to feed the animals. And on the table next to the 6-8 of them, there sat 3 of those fuzzy beds that cats can lay in. No cats, just the catbeds. One leopard print, one tiger print, and one cheetah print. I wanted to ask, but I thought the mystery of it all would be more entertaining.
  • I'm also witnessing something that I think is absolutely beautiful: an entire familiy or group of people in conversation with each other, engaged in community with one another...in silence. They're speaking in sign language. They have two small children who don't appear to be deaf (because I can hear them), and I find it beautiful. I love thinking about their lives, wondering how their family functions and operates at home on a dailiy basis. It's a beautiful thing to witness other languages, including sign language.
  • To my left, a mother sat eating with her two daughters who were also doing homework and taking turns on the phone speaking to their father. It was almost obvious from the conversations I overheard that the girls' parents were divorced, and this weekend they were going to spend with their dad. Mom seemed hurried, rushed, and a little frustrated. She thought it was time to get going and even said "You're going to see him tomorrow" to quickly end their conversation. I felt sad for the girls, the mom, the dad. I wondered what kind of situation occurred, how the girls' lives were affected, and if the mom was unhappy. Thankfully, I never came from a home of split or divorced parents, and I can't imagine the difficulty and stress it incurs on the parties involved.
  • In front of me, a mother sat with her teenage daughter and elementary-school-aged son who was practicing his spelling. They were having a really good time giving him words to spell, and the teenage daughter was making him spell a funny sentence. I loved their laughter, but even more, I loved how it reminded me of my own childhood and how I used to make everyone give me words to spell. FYI: I was quite a spelling champ. I placed 6th in our county in 6th grade. Unfortunately I got out on the word "mandatory" (yes, a word partially based on my own name...I replaced the second 'a' with an 'i'). I distinctly remember sitting in my Grandma Mary & Grandpa Don's little kitchen asking for difficult words to spell. My favorite word to spell was antidisestablishmentarianism. I still like spelling it out. :)
  • My other observation has nothing to do with people, but yet everything: the weather. All day today, it was beautiful outside in Lincoln-80 degrees and sunny, and I was in the office all day. (Insert your pity here...) Upon leaving work, I decided to drive to Springfield to drop some clothes off at a consignment shop and get out of Lincoln for the evening. I knew the weatherman was predicting severe thunderstorms for tonight, but I'm fearless and continued on. So what happened? Not twenty minutes down the road, I had to pull off of the interstate due to crazy hail. (I laughed; I always end up driving in a snowstorm, thunderstorm, etc.) About ten minutes later, it passed and was suddenly sunny and I was wearing my sunglasses again.

Whether it be the weather's temperamental nature from sunny to storming or witnessing a family in stressful circumstances next to a family laughing about spelling words, I've observed the world at two extremes in a matter of hours. A family who may have once struggled with the inability to speak and hear audibly overcame with a genuine, warmhearted sense of conversation and community. Even the women planning an event for their animals and cats in beds all brought different personalities and characteristics to the table.

There is such an art in the intricacies of humanity. People's lives are colorful, creating such a beautiful painting that might sometimes appear to be like cans of paint splattered carelessly onto a canvas. This world really is a colorful world. I love that my observations help me see the bigger picture.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Invisible Children

I know that after time, some things or people or ideas can become a bit redundant or superfluous. For example, the song "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga is quickly becoming one of these things. Another example? The swine flu. I'm tired of hearing about it. Maybe redundant or superfluous aren't the right words. Maybe just plain overkill is what I should say.

It's because our society is so accustomed to things being overdone, and we'll avoid overkill at all costs, that we become slightly desensitized to hearing something that's true over and over again. For example, the Gospel. That's more important than what I'm writing this about, but that's not what I'm writing about right now.

You may have already heard about Invisible Children. You've seen them on Oprah in the past, you may have been to a film screening from their first film, or you may have attended a conference at which the organization and purpose was promoted. Child soldiers and abduction may seem like old news to you. I hadn't thought much about it for awhile until I remembered that their worldwide rescue initiative grabbed the attention of Oprah on Friday, and I just got around to watching this clip (highlight from Oprah) about their recent efforts to stop child abduction and child soldiers in Africa:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAENDkB8FSU

I realize Oprah isn't everyone's favorite person, but I really appreciate her. I think she holds a lot of power, but I think she chooses to use it to make the world better by bringing attention to things that need to be given light. Friday morning, she didn't have to give the people from Invisible Children who were standing in the street and sleeping in the streets for 6 days the time of day, but she chose to give them about five minutes of airtime that day--on a show that is planned out and programmed months in advance, I'm sure. That's pretty awesome.

So, in light of our proneness to become desensitized to all things overdone--including Lady Gaga, the Swine Flu, and Oprah--just give Invisible Children a second, third, or fourth look. They're raising worldwide awareness to something that's actually making a difference. And they're bringing it to the attention of our government in June. Be praying for open ears on Capitol Hill.

Go to www.invisiblechildren.com

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm baaaack!

"I'm baaack!"

Isn't there a little girl saying that in a famous movie? Like Poltergeist? Or was it just that she said "They're heeere..." I'm not sure. Either way, I just thought of her and how my family used to say that I looked like her when I was little. I really did.

Here's her picture:

Now if I had a childhood picture of myself nearby, I'd scan and upload it for you, but I don't. So just take my word for it: I looked exactly like the above photo throughout a large portion of my childhood. Spooky? Maybe.

Anyway, the past month of my life has been quite a whirlwind, but it has mostly been a good one. Hopefully you were able to follow up on my travels to Romania through our group blog: http://www.lccinromania.blogspot.com/ and if not, you'll have to go there to read about it. I had absolutely the best group of students I could have ever asked for. They were incredibly servant-hearted, and it was such a joy to work alongside them for a week. As we were there, and even going into it, we realized that none of what we did might benefit us personally nor would it produce direct or immediate Kingdom results that we could see. The work we did there, however, would somehow have a long-term effect as a small part of the greater Body of Christ. It would assist Rachel in her ministry. Though we couldn't be there long-term to see results, we were able to help plant seeds and cultivate parts of Rachel's ministry. By painting fences and apartments and teaching a few small Bible lessons here and there and playing hand-clapping games with kids in the village, we somehow helped her ministry to advance the Kingdom.

Returning was difficult, but it was exciting knowing that just a few days later I'd find myself laying by a pool or on the beach in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. If you know me, you know that I love warm weather and will do just about anything to lay in the sunshine. Again, I'm not sure how I was born in Illinois...

Family vacation to Florida was great, even if not as relaxing as planned. Evan, my 2-year-old nephew, bless his heart, had a double ear infection and enjoyed two trips to the local pediatrician's office in NSB (which was wonderful, by the way, at taking care of families like ours on vacation). His poor little ears were hurting which led to very little sleep for him as well as the rest of us several nights. Despite that small problem, it was still a great time with the family enjoying "Treats on the Beach" bubble gum ice cream daily (sometimes twice a day...) and fresh seafood (especially yummy crab legs...my favorite these days!). And of course, the sunshine was amazing...and I brought home a nice tan as a souvenir. Don't be jealous.

It's taken me awhile to catch up, but I think I'm finally there. At least now my blog is somewhat caught up, and hopefully someday soon I'll have something other than my travels to write about. For now, I'm off to do some other writing of my own...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

back and gone again...

So I didn't have a chance to write since I returned from Romania (3 days ago), and I'm heading out early tomorrow morning for family vacation to Florida. I'm not taking my computer in effort to truly vacate, otherwise I'd promise to recap and write while there.

For things to read about the Romania trip, head over to http://www.lccinromania.blogspot.com

I'll write more when I get back from Florida! :-) I'm looking forward to playing on the beach and by the pool with my almost-6-year-old niece and almost-2-year-old nephew, mom, sis, and bro-in-law. It's definitely my nephew's first time to the beach and only Maddy's second (she was really little the first time, though...) so it should be fun to introduce them to the ocean and sand!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

pause

In the midst of about a billion things going on today and me feeling like I'm in Jesse Spano mode, I'm taking a brief pause to write.

In case I haven't updated everyone, I'm leaving tomorrow on my third adventure to Oradea, Romania. I'm taking a group of 10 students + 2 friends+ me (13 of us total) to a place that has somehow become near and dear to my heart over the past 3-4 years. We leave campus in approximately 19 hours and fly out of Chicago in 25.5 hours. About 9 hours later, we'll land in Zurich, Switzerland, and then several hours later fly out toward Budapest, Hungary, ride in a van for 3 hours and arrive at our final destination: Caminul Felix in Oradea, Romania.

While the place where we stay, Caminul Felix, is a ministry organization itself, we'll be working primarily with Rachel Ross--a friend and alum of Lincoln Christian College as well. Rachel followed the burden God put on her heart for abandoned children in Romania and went there years ago to work with abandoned babies in the hospitals. Since then, she began building relationships and sharing Jesus with gypsy families in the village of Tinca. Out of that grew a ministry she began called Forget Me Not Ministries, and God has been working by providing support and opportunities for this ministry to grow. You can read more about what she's doing at http://www.fmnministries.org/.

Why Romania? Why gypsies?

* Romania has a population of 22,303,052 in an area that is roughly the size of Oregon
* The average income = $100/month
* Poverty is widespread, and umemployment has risen while living standards have fallen.
* There are 5,000 children abandoned every year.
* 31.8% of the babies left at hospitals have no identity papers, so are considered "invisible."
* There are currently 29,000 children currently in institutions.
* 15% of Romania's population is Roma (Gypsies), who are greatly discriminated against.
* 80% of the abandoned children in institutions and hospitals are Roma (Gypsies).
* 1.4 to 2.5 million of the population consists of Roma (Gypsies).

These statistics are just one thing, but when you come face-to-face with the reality that these people (gypsies) are not even considered human by the rest of culture, the statistics come to life. And when you meet some of the children who have beautiful smiles on their faces, despite the fact that they were locked in a cellar or left under a bridge or were not held for the first year of their lives, the statistics don't even mean much anymore. Each little smile and each precious life becomes more important than any number.

The kids have stolen little pieces of my heart every time I have been (this will be my third trip), and I'm sure I'll return in 10 days with a little more of it there.

But somehow, each time a little piece of my heart is stolen by them, my heart becomes more whole.

These words of Bethany Dillon's song "Beggar's Heart" have been resounding in my heart:
Hands reaching through barred windows
Falling asleep on the sidewalk
You say You draw near to the low
Now I'm here, I know I'm not low enough
Because all the things I know
Suddenly seem so small
When You build, it feels like You tear me apart
When you heal, it always leaves a scar
And even when You fill, You leave me with a beggar's heart
I pray that each of us will return with a beggar's heart. I'm excited to see what God is going to do in the next 2 weeks. Please feel free to follow our blog at http://www.lccinromania.blogspot.com/. Each of us will hopefully be posting on there throughout the trip.
Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

decision made.

So, I've made my decision. (As though the world has been waiting and watching to see what I'm going to do...)

I'm gonna stick with blogger. I feel as though switching to Wordpress would be a fun change, but I'd rather simplify my life and stick with blogger. I realized I could customize my header photo on here, so I might as well stay here.

Thanks Christine for your one vote. :) I considered it...hehe.

For now, here I am.

And I created a blog for my Romania group to journal on throughout our trip in 9 days, so I'll introduce you to that in the near future...stay tuned.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

quick update

#1: First things first, I'm writing in orange for my BFF Bruce Weber and the Illini. Let's hope they can pull off a win tonight... (By the way, did I mention I flew with Brucey a few weeks ago when I went to Florida with my mom and friends Lindsey and Chelsea? Yep. Hung out w/ him in the airport. OK, sat by him as we waited to board. OK, just sat right behind where he was and snuck cell phone pics of him and let him have his space...there you have it. But we flew w/ him from Bloomington to Atlanta.)

#2: I'm a sucker for March Madness. I don't pay any attention to basketball the rest of the year (except for Illinois) because there's too many teams to follow and keep up with. But March Madness? I'm all in.

#3: I'm strongly considering moving my blog to Wordpress. You can check out http://www.mandarin21.wordpress.com/ and see what you think. I just think it's better, and I like being able to create my own header. I'm bored with blogger. Any opinions?

#4: The other day I saw Abe Lincoln. On a bicycle. Looking at something in the dumpster behind my apartment. For real. He looked just like Abe. I said hi, but I didn't know if he was a nice Abe or not, so I sorta hurried up the stairs. It made my day though.

#5: I've been thinking about customer service lately, because I've had some really rude people make my burritos or take my clothes at the consignment shop or check me out at stores. I take that back. Not all were rude, but some were just plain ignorant of the fact that I was the customer and they were the worker. I hope I never treat people like that. I'm glad I'm aware. I suppose partially because it's a huge part of my job, and partially because I was educated in Business well enough to know that it's vital. And it's just common sense, isn't it?

#6: I really need to start writing more. I have all of these things in my head that need to get out, so this is an attempt to get my fingers writing again. I promise, more substance in the future... For now, you get my crazy thoughts.

#7: I'm hungry, so I'm done. Just letting the 3 of you who read this know that I'm still alive, and saving you from having to read my thoughts on The Bachelor at the top of the page yet again.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Bachelor, revisited...

Let's just get this out of the way.

Guys like Jason Mesnik are the very reason that girls like me are afraid to trust. We're afraid to be vulnerable.

Oh, love.

The Bachelor is probably going to be the source of a great deal of ridicule for quite some time. What happened this week was completely unexpected, though I knew something crazy was going to happen. I hate how TV producers have to do things just for ratings.

Here's what's happening in case you haven't watched. (Though if you haven't watched, you probably don't care to continue reading. And if you missed tonight's episode but DVR'ed it...stop reading now.) Jason picked a girl named Melissa. He told the other girl, Mollie, that he thought she was amazing...fantastic and amazing...but he loved someone else more than he had "fallen" for her. So Jason proposed to Melissa. And they lived happily ever after.

...or not...

On tonight's After the Rose Ceremony episode, Jason came on and announced that in the past 6 weeks since the proposal, their relationship had not been working and they were not right for each other. He admitted to still having feelings for Mollie and that he couldn't get her out of his heart or head.

As I watched, the words coming out of his mouth didn't even make sense. He said he hates himself for what he's doing, yet he's doing it anyway. I really think these conversations should have been held off the air without cameras for the world to see. Heartbreak is hard enough, and this was like a therapy session with the world as their therapist.

Jason wasn't willing to fight for his relationship with Melissa. And while not all relationships are worth fighting for, I think he just gave up. He was in love with Mollie at the same time, but how could he not be with the foundation of their relationships? I think the show, in and of itself, is setting all of these relationships up for failure by making it a competition.

When you allow someone (i.e. Jason) to love two people at the same time and then suddenly, for competition purposes, break the ties with one person, you're bound to still have feelings for said person. Feelings aren't cut off or severed as quickly as roses are or are not handed out in a ceremony. So when you allow multiple relationships to escalate to the level they did, you're bound to begin one relationship with feelings still in existence for someone else.

How is it, then, that I get sucked into this false reality of The Bachelor every time? I do not know.

Alas, I am certain that I'll never expect love to happen the way it does on one of these shows, and I'll never submit myself to be the next Bachelorette. I'm indecisive enough as it is!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day, He's Just Not That Into You, The Bachelor, and Thoughts on Love...

I'm a sucker for love stories. I love romantic comedies like the next girl, and I get caught up in shows like The Bachelor even though I try (sort of...) not to every season. And probably like most viewers, I overanalyze every relationship "the bach" has. From my observations I can clearly tell who is the best match and who is real and who is superficial...surely I am omnipotent when it comes to The Bachelor's life, right? Probably not. (especially because I didn't see tonight coming, but that's another story...)

But there is something that has always bothered me about the way love is pitched in the movies and on television: the phrase "falling in love."

Does one really fall into love? You fall into holes, you fall on a banana peel, or you fall down the stairs. Those things are accidental. I don't know anyone who goes throwing themselves down a flight of stairs or off a cliff on purpose (except for maybe the guy on Jackass). I don't think that love is accidental, and I'm fairly sure that most people in love would agree that it didn't happen by accident. Most would probably agree with me that love is, in fact, a choice you make (or choose not to make).

As one who has never actually been in love, maybe I shouldn't write from my inexperience. But I've observed, I've listened, and I've witnessed countless relationships from beginning to end, and from beginning to growth...and those that continue to grow only grow because two parties choose love. The relationships that end typically end because two parties choose to end it.

What saddens me most is that there are so many girls out there who buy into this "falling in love" idea and end up hurt. There is such a misunderstanding of what love really is. And I can honestly tell you that I can in no way understand it fully until I share it with someone else. I realize that. But tonight when Jason Mesnick, the Bachelor, claimed as he broke up with Jillian that he "had fallen for her but was not in love with her," I realized what lies we've told ourselves. Can you say that you've fallen for someone but you're not in love with them? I'm confused... But I would imagine that anything you "fall" into, you might "fall" right back out of in just as much time.

On a related note, in the way that we all buy into this "falling" idea, we also fall prey to the "signs" and "sparks" we think may exist. The movie He's Just Not That Into You addresses this well for those of us girls (we all do this, or have done it, or will do it) who read into every little word, action, touch, text, email, facial expression, hand gesture, etc. that guys express. Did he say "It was nice meeting you" at the end of the date or just the beginning? Did he say "I'll call you later" or "I'll call you next week"? Did he just touch my hand? He hugged me...what does that mean? His friend told me "I've heard great things about you." He must like me...

I'll be transparent in saying that I have read into things one too many times. (how can you not?) When watching HJNTIY I had to laugh at a few parts (to which my single friends also admitted) that reminded me of things I've done or read into in the past. I've been on the side of "he's just not that into me..."

But I've also been on the side of "I'm just not that into you..." and I know I've handled it all wrong. I avoid the truth and any confrontation that might hurt someone's feelings, so often when I am not into someone, I've come up with other excuses. (if somehow you're one of those people now reading this...i'm sorry...i'll just be honest now: i was, or am not, that into you...) Though it may be harsh, isn't honesty always the best policy? It's going to hurt either way...so why not rip off the Band-Aid instead of making the pain and foolishness last longer? Right?

However we are dealt the truth or a lie is bound to play a role in any future relationship. It may build up a lack of trust that could take years to rebuild. We build up walls that take years to tear down. Vulnerability feels like moving a mountain that sometimes crashes right back down on top of you once you've moved it.

But I imagine, and I trust, and I hope that love will change all of these things. As hard as it is to get to that point, I have seen that it is worth getting through past hurts and the vulnerability of making mistakes and the lesson of forgiveness and the difficulty of tearing down walls. And I hope it is worth it. I believe it will be, even though not all love stories have happy endings.

I imagine that love, in the process of building it, is healing. I imagine that love, in the daily choice that it is, is difficult. I imagine that love, in the unfolding of all of its deep dark corners, uncovers beautiful things.

I look forward to love. Real love. Chosen love.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

:)

So I just found out today that the Jonas Brothers have a song called "Mandy" (and it just so happened to be their first released single).

That kinda made my day.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

miscellaneous

Here's a smattering of things:
  1. I'm considering switching over to Wordpress. I'm not 100% sure. But I might. Any suggestions? Opinions?

  2. I'm in Springfield (IL) right now and it just so happens to be the night of Obama's speech in honor of Lincoln's birthday. Whoops. So of course major roads get blocked off, but I ended up pulling into the parking lot of the mall just in time to sit amongst many other cars waiting for the presidential fleet...and I saw it! Kinda cool. Maybe the only time in my life I can say I saw the president drive by. Then again, who knows?
  3. I am really hooked on this lately:...particularly the Blood Orange flavor. I've been going to every natural foods store nearby to try and find it. It's amazing. Next flavor I'm going to try: Blackberry Cabernet. mmm...sounds yummy.

  4. I'm excited that one of my best friends is pregnant, and I just found out that another one is!!! YAY!!! (I'm not telling you who it is yet...just in case.)

  5. Related to #4: Gosh, I'm getting old. When certain friends are on kid #2, and I'm still just trying to find a date to various weddings, I have a feeling their kids are going to be babysitting mine someday...

  6. Related to #5: I really dislike Valentine's Day, and before you go judging me, it's NOT just because I'm single. Even if I were dating or married, I would still much rather be surprised by flowers, a card, dinner, or whatever else on a random day of the year when not everyone else in the world is getting the same thing. I'd be fine w/ just a silly Barbie valentine like back in the day...or maybe a Jonas Bros. valentine ;)

  7. I'm going to Florida again in one week. In fact, I'll be there in one week. And then again in April. Don't hate me.

Monday, February 09, 2009

the Grammys

Did anyone besides me watch the Grammy’s last night? This may be a bold statement, but I think last night was possibly the BEST night of Grammy performances I’ve ever seen.

For starters, the collaborations were INCREDIBLE!!!

  • Justin Timberlake & Al Green? Come on, can it get any better? and then JT again with T.I. - any double dose of JT performances I can get, I'll take...
  • Miley Cyrus & Taylor Sparks were absolutely adorable...and they sounded incredible together!
  • And I realize for being 26 years old, I may have an unhealthy fascination with the Jonas Brothers, but their performance with Stevie Wonder was completely unexpected and great!
  • Sugarland and Adele were amazing as well...what a surprising combo!
  • Kanye West & Estelle...so good.
  • the tribute to Bo Diddly (not gonna lie, I really don't know who that is but I should) with John Mayer, BB King, Buddy Guy, and Keith Urban. WOW. Fascinating combination.
  • Lil' Wayne & Robin Thicke - Robin's soul is so unexpected coming from his voice. You'd think he'd be black.
  • OK, not a collaboration, but Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" made me so happy. I just love that song.
  • the tribute to the Four Tops with Smokey Robinson, "Duke" Fakir, Ne-Yo, and Jamie Foxx - loved the old songs...loved it.
  • Radiohead performance with the USC marching band? WOW. I flipped back to the show (while also watching Brothers & Sisters) and only caught the 2nd half of this one, but AMAZING! Loved the drumline.
  • Not sure how to comment on the "Swagger Like Us" combo with very preggo M.I.A. and Kanye, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Jay-Z, other than to say that little mama can hold her own w/ those guys. Though I do think she was slightly dressed like a preggers ladybug...
  • Coldplay with Jay-Z in the beginning of "Lost" was awesome. But you all knew that was coming...of course they were awesome.
  • Do I really even need to comment on U2 and Paul McCartney? I'm pretty sure Paul got plenty of recognition throughout the night...

I just can’t get over how music can get me so excited! Yet everyone I texted about the great performances had something else going on last night, so was anyone else watching? There is something about a great musical performance that gets me excited about creative artistry. There is some incredible talent out there in this world.

And then, of course, celebrities with absolutely no talent do exist, but that’s another story...

It’s overwhelming sometimes just how talented so many people are. In fact, that’s a large part of why the music and entertainment industry overall is so cutthroat-competitive. As many artists out there that are known, there are probably twice as many great talents who have yet to be discovered or who are just on their way to climbing the ladder of success.

Music is so powerful. For some a song is just a song...instruments combined together, sometimes with lyrics, maybe even some vocal harmonies tossed in. But to those of us with an artist’s heart, music carries the weight of emotion, power, passion, and story. Even in rap and hip-hop music, though some would argue it to be pointless, there is a great deal of power.

Most of the time, it’s the lyrics that get me. But there’s something about great instrumentalists jamming together as well. I love seeing the heart of the artist playing or singing coming out in their music.

I’ve always loved music. Ever since I was little, I’ve always been known to sing along to whatever is on the radio, on a commercial, on the soundtrack of a TV show or movie, or in the background at a restaurant or store. Wherever I may be, I’m always listening for the music. I guess it’s just a part of me. I'm still a human jukebox or my own walking version of the Shazam application people have on their phones. Because no matter where I am--speaking both literally or metaphorically--I’m always looking for the music.

So thanks Grammy’s...I’m sure glad you decided to make this year a great one. You revived my heart for music, and I hope you’ll help music to revive our generation for things that are good.

And for a pretty good list of the "best" and "worst" comments of last night, check out MSN's compilation.

Did anyone else see them? What did you think???

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"winter me"

It's winter, and I'm officially lazy.

Most nights I come home from work, put together some thrown-together meal (usually consisting of a salad, sandwich, or vegetable of choice & pan-seared salmon). I then proceed to my wonderful couch (on which I could pretty much live all day, minus going to the bathroom and getting up to get something to eat), to watch TV or reach the ends of the internet via facebook, various blogs, or editing photos for fun.

That's usually about it. Sometimes throw in many consecutively addicting games of spider solitaire, and I'd call it a night.

I know I've been lazy. It's easy to do in the winter. I don't work out, because I only like running outside when it's nice and warm, and I don't like going to the gym on campus because it's too busy most of the time. I have been lazy about reading my Bible and reading books in general. I just don't make the time. I haven't been writing, which is usually how I process my "deep thoughts" or things I've been reading.

(Sidenote: I have been fairly creative in painting and creating some other things, however...pics to come in future posts...)

But I need to start practicing discipline again. I'm not exactly sure how yet, but I need to put it into practice. Tonight I actually went to the gym to work out for the first time in months (thanks to Lindsey's encouragement!) and then sat down and ate my meal in silence...no music, no TV, no internet in front of me. And then I just read my Bible and a chapter from our SFG book, and it felt good. It felt like the normal me. Not the lazy me. And though the normal me likes to be lazy sometimes, I can't let that part take over.

But I don't like routine, and I don't like rigid schedules. I like to be flexible and play things by ear. How does one practice discipline and do this? And how does one practice this without inflicting self-guilt? Any words of advice?

It's always an endless cycle for me of going in and out of phases of discipline and laziness. I'm hoping to stay on the disciplined track for awhile...