Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Born to Fly

Has there ever been a song that you hear and think, "that's me! I could have written that! It fits me perfectly!" Well right now my anthem of sorts is "Born to Fly", sung by Sara Evans (aside: past anthem was "Sand in My Shoes" by Dido). If you click on the title you can see the lyrics, if you're really interested. Hence the new blog name.

I am so tired. Today was another day of frantic emailing, last minute Wal-Mart tripping, and visiting. So if this blog is rather incoherent or if they are any grammatical mistakes, just ignore them (ahem, not that anyone would actually critique my blog for grammar or spelling-- BBB).

A million thanks to everyone who commented or sent sweet emails or called me before I jet off. I wish I could have more time to respond like I want to to all of you. Once I get settled in Brazil I'll have some time to do that. I love you all!

I'm excited. I feel like I've been waiting for this for two years, and it hardly seems possible that I'm getting on a plane tomorrow. I didn't really let myself think about it really happening until I had my ticket, my visa, etc. So really I've only "known" about it for a few weeks. And they flew by! I can't imagine how fast 3 months is going to go.

Well I'm nearly dead, and I still have to finish packing. Love you all very very much. I'll blog ya from the flip side. ;)


Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Well if you have tuned into the blog today, you can see that there have been changes on the homestead! New template, new picture, new music (last post). I guess I'm just starting to embrace all this changing that's going on in my life! Oh yeah, you can kind of see in the new picture, but I have short hair now! Since that is a crap quality picture (50 kb?! how can you make a picture that small?!), here is a better shot of short haired-Ann.

Right now I'm worn out. I feel like I've sent 100 emails today trying to get last minute stuff taken care of. Of course the Lord has provided for each need perfectly. Isn't it a great feeling when things fall into place? But I still feel like I need to email and call 100 more people before I leave. Unlikely to happen, but I have good intentions. And we all know how much good intentions are worth.

In case I don't get around to posting tomorrow (another one of those good intentions), I'll fill you in a little on some of the general ideas of my trip. I say general ideas because I am growing increasingly reluctant to give out many details of my life on the internet.

I'm leaving Thursday and arriving Friday morning, then meeting my good friend, Jonathan. We'll be traveling around the state of Sao Paulo visitng mutual friends for a couple of weeks. Then I'm settling into a city called Itu, where I'll be living with a friend and helping her out some, and also trying to learn the language. I think I have said this before on the blog, but this trip is for me to try to get more realistic idea of what living in Brazil would be like and if I can hack it (or want to hack it). Oh yeah, and I'm coming back late August. Trying to max out that tourist visa. :) I'll have plenty of computer access for emailing (so you can write me at: myfirstname dot mylastname at gmail dot com), but I'm not going to make any blog promises. I will definitely post an "I made it here okay" blog, but I'm going to wait and see how I feel about posting as regularly as I currently do.

Oh yeah, one thing I do want to mention is that I am very thankful that I will be at the Guanabara Church in Campinas for the last Sunday the Graves will be there. Some of you know the Graves. They have been missionaries in Brazil for almost 20 years, and have done so much for the church during that time. They kind of adopted me and the other LSTers as another kid during the summers I was doing that. I've really seen the kids grow up over the years. This is what they looked like when I first went:

And this is what they look like now:

Aren't they one of the most beautiful families ever??? :)

We've shared lots of laughs, some sad goodbyes, and some happy reunions. They've fed us and loved on us and always welcomed us with open arms. They even came to see me when I was in the hospital last year. What a wonderful treat that was!!!

I love them so much and appreciate so much the blood, sweat and tears they've invested in missions. It is my prayers, and I hope it will be yours too, that they are able to relocate in a place where their wisdom, knowledge, and experience will be put to great use. Se amo muito, meus amigos queridos.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm Moving On...

There are probably better ways to tell you this, but the blog has documented so much of our relationship that I thought maybe this was the most appropriate.

This is so awkward. For over six years now, if anyone asked me who the special "one" was, I automatically said you. My friends and family know you and how special you were to me. The way I've publicly displayed our relationship makes this even harder.

I know you've seen me flirt with some other men before. I'm sorry, but now I am afraid I'm getting too involved to keep my somewhat exclusive relationship I've had with you. I want to feel free to test the waters and see what else the world holds.

It's terribly cliche to say the old, "it's not you, it's me", thing, so let's just say it's both of us. I think God put you in my life at a certain time for a certain season when you really ministered to me. And, at the risk of sounding crass, you did end up with a good bit of my money. I think we both were blessed by the relationship, but now we've both changed. We're going different directions, and my interests and needs now aren't what they used to be. And you are changing, too.

We've had a good run, haven't we? Memories of our time together will always have a special place in my heart. I know we will always be friends. But I just can't honestly say anymore that you're #1 to me.

Don't take it personally, but I'm changing the name of my blog and removing your link. You never update, anyway.

Who knows, maybe with the next CD you release I'll be ready to re-commit. But for now, when someone asks me who my favorite is, I'm sorry, Chris, but don't be surprised when it's someone new.

Your once biggest fan, now just a fan--


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Remembering Kyle

Maybe I'm getting thoughtful in my old age, I'm not sure, but this year I've been actually thinking about the meaning of Memorial Day.

Whether it's because of my demographic or the generation I was born into, I just don't know that many people from my peer group who have served in the military. And, I only have had one person I knew die in service. I don't know whether to thank God that I only know one or cry because it's still too many.

Kyle Seitsinger. Man, what a crazy guy. :) I met him one of my first days at OC, I guess. He was a freshman, too, even though he was almost 10 years older than me. He had served in the marines for ten years or so before starting college, and he had the most amazing life experiences for a guy only a few years older than me. He had served as an embassy guard in both Russia and Brazil, and so we would share fond rememberances of Brazil sometimes.

We were never in the same circle of friends, so when he left school for deployment in Afghanistan the November of my senior year, I honestly didn't even realize it. But I will never forget the morning the following January when I was in my US history class and I read the email saying that he had been killed the day before. My stomach dropped to the floor, and I remember thoughts of disbelief and the words "no" and "damn it" alternating in my mind.

I went to his memorial service. The only military funeral I've ever attended. I remember it as a celebration of his life, really. They showed pictures of him living and loving his life with his family, friends, and military brothers all around the world.

When remembering Kyle, pretty much everyone describes him as a "people person," and that's exactly who he was. So incredibly charming and friendly. I remember the energy that just radiated off of him and he was always ready to do whatever needed to be done. That's how he lived, and that's how he died. And I don't want to forget.

Memorial Day. This isn't a day for politics or preaching. This is a day to remember. And never forget.


This is the OC writeup of Kyle's memorial service and obituary.

This is footage later found showing some of the time shortly before he was killed.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Good Stuff, Vol. 2

About a month I started what I said was a series of blogs on the best CDs I own. Although it may appear I am very vain concerning my own taste, I really am just trying to spread the happiness. :)

In the last installment featured those artists who I deemed worthy of buying their entire body of work. This time I want to focus on one genre near and dear to my heart-- contemporary Christian music.

So, drum roll please, may I present a few CDs that I think are fabulous and are the staple of my CD collection.

*Caedmon's Call-- 40 Acres
  • This is a great CD that I have listened to innumerable times; in fact, I just got done listening to it for the first time in a while and am awe-struck all over again. I'm generally a fan of any old school Caedmon's Call (when Derek Webb was with them), but to me this is the gem of their work. I could rave about every song on this album!
*Avalon-- Avalon
  • I'm guessing this was Avalon's first CD since it's self-titled. Although KLOVE has kind of beaten Avalon into the ground for me at times, they are truly beautiful singers (I love big voices like that). This CD is full of powerful and beautiful songs.
*DC Talk-- Jesus Freak
  • I think I was just starting high school and just getting into the trepidacious waters of instrumental... dare I say, even rock Christian music when this came out . :) I add this CD to the list because it was groundbreaking and blazed a trail for a new kind of Christian music. The songs are all classics. And you just don't hear a voice like Kevin Max's everyday.
*Rich Mullins-- The Awesome God Tribute Album
  • This is my homage to one of the master songwriters of Christian music and an all around rock awesome guy. A little background if you don't know-- Rich Mullins wrote lots of songs we know and love (Awesome God, Step by Step, Hold Me Jesus) and lived a radically simple and extraordinary generous lifestyle. He's not my favorite singer, but he's an amazing songwriter. Well, he died in a car accident about 1997 I think, and several big name Christian singers sang his songs on this tribute album. And it is amazing!
*Third Day-- Offerings
  • There's actually Offerings Vol. 1 and 2, and I love both. Great, foundational praise music. Max Powell's voice is beautiful, and the songs have powerful messages. Who doesn't love Third Day? :)

And because I can't forget my roots, I give you an a capella album--

*Acappella-- The Collection
  • If you grew up CofC, then you know Acappella (that is, unless you went to one of those churches that thought even Acappella was cutting it a little close. I swear to you, I had a conversation with a friend in college and he said, "Well I don't know about them... you know they do make noises with their mouths." Despite the obvious insanity on many levels, I kid you not-- I heard it with my own ears). I don't know how many hours I've spent on long car trips listening to them. It was hard to choose one album that was my favorite (gotta love "Travelin' Shoes," "Sweet Fellowship", "More than Conquerors", "Rescue" "Hymns for the World" just to think of a few that mean so much to me off the top of my head), so I played it safe and chose their greatest hits album. Lord have mercy, these guys can sing! Beeeeeeautiful.

That's all for this time's installment of CDs you should own. Feel free to share your own faves in the commends! Tune in next time when I cover my other favorite genre-- musicals and soundtracks! :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Broken heart and broken toe

Well it happened. I'm afraid we all knew it was coming. My beloved Elliot was voted off American Idol last night. I would like to say, though, that I did my part. I voted for him repeatedly. In case you don't watch American Idol (what's wrong with you?!-- haha), last night was the semi-finals-- 3 contestants left, Katherine, Taylor, and Elliot. The vote percentage went like this-- first place 33.6%, second place 33.2%, and last place 33.06%. So close! So close but yet so far, to quote my beloved Four Seasons. So Elliot went home. :( I must say that I pulled a Paula Abdul and shed a tear during his highlight video. But I am confident that Elliot has a bright future in the music industry, and I can't wait to buy his CD. I could spend the rest of my day hearing him singing "Home" and be very very happy. :)

I don't know who I'm rooting for now. Maybe Taylor. Soul Patrol! I think Kat's a little too much like Kelly Clarkson, and I'm all for diversity.


In other random news, I think I broke my toe this morning! I stubbed it very hard against a piece of furniture. I broke different toes twice in high school-- my ring toe on my left and right foot. This time it's my pinkie toe on my right foot. Maybe I just bruised it really bad, I don't know. Just hope it's all healed up before June 1st! :)

Anyone else broken toes before? Those are the only bones I've ever broken, although I have suspicions I might have mildly cracked my wrist in a racquetball accident in high school.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Carpe Diem, baby!

Pretty much anyone involved in any kind of language and literature study program has seen "Dead Poets' Society"; I think it must be a written rule somewhere. Who doesn't love Robin Williams ripping up textbooks and dancing around inspiring his students to "carpe diem!" or "seize the day!"

It seems pretty standard for people who have had life-altering trauma to suddenly adopt this "live life to the fullest" attitude. When I had my first round of illness 3 years ago, I didn't really feel like that though. But this past year of illness has really instilled in me that time is precious.

So with that said, I'm pleased to make an announcement that's been in the works for a while now. On June 1st I'll be headed to Brazil! Don't worry, I do have a return ticket and the full support of my doctors. My goals for this time are to study the language, try to get to know the culture in a more realistic sense, and work with the church-- a trial run of sorts to see if a longer term career in Brazil is something I really want or would be able to do effectively.

This shouldn't come as a shock; if you really know me, you know that I've been trying to get back to Brazil since the day I came back the last time. I wanted to live in Brazil pretty much since the first time I went in 2001, and took steps to do so after I graduated. But God closed the door to Brazil and opened the door to Japan, so I went there. But since that chapter has ended and Brazil's still on my heart, I'm going to see what happens. Maybe this is just something I have to get out of my system, but if it is, I have to get it out of my system. If I don't try it, I'll regret it forever.

Some of you know I've been talking about this for months, really. But I wanted to wait til all my chicks hatched before I counted them. :) And yesterday when my visa arrived, I knew everything should be in place. So, Lord willing, June 1st I'm setting out. Two weeks from tomorrow! :) To say I'm excited would be a gross understatement... I'm glowing!!!

Friday, May 12, 2006


I don’t have many hidden talents, but the one I do have is that the skill of juggling. Did you know I can juggle? Well I can!

I learned way back in 2001, quite randomly. It turns out one of my good friends has taught juggling for years and years, and I learned from him. Domo arigato, Ben-sensei!

I’m not a master juggler like Ben, but I have recently been trying to brush up my skills and learn a few new tricks. It’s so fun!

Juggling is always a good skill to know so far as I can figure, because if you ever fall on hard times you can always perform on street corners for loose change. The time it came in most handy was when I was teaching in kindergartens in Japan. Ha, everybody loves a clown, right?! ;) Yes, you always become popular with the 5 and under crowd when you can throw and catch in an orderly fashion.

So I dedicate this blog to the ancient art of juggling and my teacher and friend, Ben.

What's your hidden talent?

Juggling act in our talent show in Brazil
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We had been practicing this trick for hours probably. (It was me, of course, who was impeding the process, not Ben!) But as you can see we still kept a good sense of humor about it. And poor Cherry would watch then run and duck for cover when our practice sessions turned into bean-bag wars. :) Ben and I had a history of throwing things at each other, but that's another blog for another day. :)
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Oprah on Marriage

I'm an admitted Oprah fan. I haven't bought completely into Oprahism, but I do think she has done some significant good through her power.

Today's show was very interesting. The topic was marriage. Specifically, it was warning of the "dangers" of marriage. I'm still kind of trying to process everything that they said, so bear with me...

The dangers they spoke of was the threat of "losing yourself" in the marriage. The whole idea of morphing into person that you think you should be-- ideal mom, wife, etc, and denying "your own truth." Haha, this new age spiritual language cracks me up. But I understand and appreciate the point.

Although Oprah pointed out repeatedly that she isn't "anti-marriage," it sure didn't come off sounding that way! I was a little shocked because I got the general impression that the panelists and professionals honestly believed that you could get married and still retain the same independence and sense of self that you always had.

I'm all for being a strong woman, but you've got to be kidding me! I shouldn't be surprised considering the way that our culture views marriage these days. But isn't marriage the union of two souls? The whole "flesh of my flesh", "leaving and cleaving", and "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" type of thing?

Modern wisdom is now telling us that waiting longer to get married is the best idea. I can certainly see the wisdom in that (because let's face it, when you're young you're stupid... haha, that's kind of a joke :) ). But I also think it can be a hinderance, because you spend all that time developing your life based on you and your dreams and desires. Maybe even more so for women because they feel they must be "strong" to validate their singleness. So when it comes time to unite your life with another, it's probably going to be harder to do so without feeling like you are "giving up" yourself.

It's interesting to think about. Certainly our culture needs to re-think our ideas on love, marriage, and commitment. Independence is great, but we can't let ourselves get into a pattern of thinking, "I am number one. It's all about me and how you can fit into my life, because don't expect me to change for you." Of course this notion comes as the pendulum has swung from the other direction of women being objectified and repressed for so so so soooooo long. I guess I can only speak for myself, but sometimes you can feel like a traitor to your gender if you want to submit in any way to your husband. Which is also sad.

Oh my, why can't the pendulum just stay in the middle for a while. :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Parable of the Monkey and the Fish

I love this little parable.

A typhoon had temporarily stranded a monkey on an island. In a secure, protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed obvious to the monkey that the fish was struggling and in need of assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.

A tree precariously dangled over the spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down and snatched the fish from the threatening waters. Immediately scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments the fish showed excitement, but soon settled into a peaceful rest.

Joy and satisfaction swelled inside the monkey. He had successfully helped another creature.

--Duane Elmer, in "Cross-Cultural Servanthood"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Soap Box Derby

I currently reside in a border town-- a city half in one state and half in the other. This oddity reveals itself in several ways, one being that half the city is wet (sells alcohol) and the other half is dry (doesn't sell alcohol). So when you drive down State Line Road, there are liquor stores lining one side and not the other.

This has been a source of contention for restaurant owners for years. On the dry side, in order to buy alcohol at a restaurant you have to buy a "membership" in order for them to sell it legally.

Well apparently the issue is up for a vote now. And of course, this means there is all kinds of politicking going on. The visible campaign is the one against having my state becoming "wet." There are lots of yard signs and bumper stickers and other propaganda around town.

What I find interesting is that many local churches have taken up the cause. I shouldn't be surprised... American Christianity has historically shunned alcohol. But I also think that's funny; definitely one of those cultural issues that we've made doctrine. Don't misunderstand-- the Bible certainly takes a stance against drunkenness (as well as anything in excess-- money, food...), but I'm not sure where the idea came from that alcohol is inherently evil.

I have heard strange things taught in churches about alcohol. I've heard people attempt to make convincing arguments that Jesus never drank wine, or that the water he transformed at Canaa was just some kind of magic grape juice, but certainly not fermented. :) Several churches I've been involved with "don't allow" any of the leadership to drink, no matter how moderate they may be. Even my dear old alma mater doesn't allow students to drink after they're of legal age.

Where on earth did this come from? Doesn't this smack of legalism to anyone else? I'm reminded of the passage in Colossians 2:

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23

And of course Jesus had something to say on the matter as well:
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions... You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!... Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that... Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside you can defile you by going into you. Rather, it is what comes out of you that defiles you. Mark 7: 8-16

I know alcohol has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people, and that is a shame and I'm sorry for it. But I also believe we've made a "false god" of sorts out of abstinence from alcohol.

The campaign rages on here in T-town, and I'm pretty sure the vote will go to keep my state "dry." But I hope that people aren't fooled into believing this is somekind of holy war-- the majority of the funding for the materials of this campaign is coming from "other state" businesses that hope to keep raking in money from alcohol sales. But, as often happens in politics, if you make people think that your cause is an issue of God and country, then you can win votes. An ingenius-- but horribly evil-- tactic.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Actions Speak Louder

Well, I haven't been offered that full time preaching position yet. :) But tonight I did volunteer to teach a ladies' Bible class in two weeks at my parents' church. This should be interesting! :) As I told my dad, this could be the beginning or the ending of my illustrious preaching ministry. Ha! If you know me, you'll know how to read that...

My assigned topic is "Actions speak louder than words." What a shame, seeing as how I have nothing to say on that subject... ;)

Any great thoughts from you folks as to what I should include in my topic? Any great quotes or passages or songs or movies or what not?