Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Sojies!

In the spirit of starting a tradition, I now present to you the

2007 Sojies!

1) DRINKING BUDDY OF THE YEAR
My super-Starbucks buddy, Pete. Note-- barista of the year is Kari! :)

2) LIFETIME SERVICE AWARD - LONGEST FRIEND(s)?

Rock on Nina! Since 1st grade in Mrs. Hayes class! (Still true from last year!)

3) NEWCOMER AWARD - NEWEST FRIEND?

I think most recently I've made new friends at work. We are friends, right guys? :)

3) HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR?

Joining Quail Springs church, closely followed by getting the job at OC.

4) LOW POINT OF THE YEAR?

Deciding not to go back to Brazil.

5) BEST HOLIDAY?

Labor Day was one of the funnest days of my life. We graded special-ed papers and then played in the pool for hours. Hilarity ensued. :)

6) SONG FOR 2007?

"Into the Day" by Bebo Norman

7) ANY REGRETS?

Not really...

8) BEST NIGHT OUT?

Hard one... there was this fabulous soiree... also a girl's night out on Yom Kippur... and a lot of great, late-night coffee talks.

9) WORST NIGHT OUT?
There was one night I cried on the McBride's couch for most of the evening because I was sad about job hunting.

10) WHO DID YOU SPEND VALENTINES WITH?
Me, myself and I. (Again, same as last year. Here's hoping for change in 2008!)

11) BEST RELATIONSHIP?

God and some very special friends.

12) WORST RELATIONSHIP?

Myself, I think. I spent a lot of the year really beating myself up.

13) FIRST GIG OF THE YEAR?
Partyin' in Ft. Worth with Meredith and the Martin crew.

14) LAST GIG OF THE YEAR?
Partyin' with my QSYS peeps. :)

15) BEST DECISION MADE THIS YEAR?
I don't really take credit for this, but ending up at Quail Springs church.

16) WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR?
It's in the Lord's hands. :) Nothing monumental... yet.

17) MOST STUPID IDEA WHEN DRUNK?
Homey still don't play 'dat.

18) BUTTHEAD OF THE YEAR?
Uhh... hmm. I don't think I have a butthead of the year.

19) MOST LOYAL FRIEND?
Bailey

20) BIGGEST CHANGE OF THE YEAR?
I haven't left the country or been in the hospital in over a year! Holy moly.

Woo hoo 2008! I have a feeling this will be a fantastic year. I don't "tag" people, but if you choose to fill this out on your blog, let me know.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Emmanuel, an anniversary and reflection

Speaking of perspective...

Today as I made the drive from Oklahoma to Texas, I suddenly remembered that on this day two years ago, December 23, 2005, I also made the trip from OKC to T-town. Circumstances were much different then.

I was weak and fragile, having at that point endured six months of illness, two months in the hospital, and a major surgery. I weighed about eighty five pounds and didn’t have an ounce of fat on me, and could only walk a few steps. But I was alive. That trip home didn’t mark the end of my battle with my health; in many ways, the worst was still ahead.

But in this season to remember Emmanuel, God with us, I found it very poignant to think about how far God has brought me in two short years, in health, maturity, experience, and spirit. I have learned that there is a strength in me I never imagined-- not so much in my own spirit but in the Spirit of God within me.

This is the season to celebrate incarnation—God with us. One Christmas song that’s been on my mind lately repeats this chorus:

For the God who spoke is speaking still
And the God who came still comes
And the miracle that happened still happens in the heart that will believe
And receive the miracle of Christmas

The miracle of Christmas is that we have a God who joins us in life. The God who brought me through my illness two years ago is the same God and same strength that empowers me to live each day guided by His Spirit. God is with us.

May God bless you with fresh eyes to see and experience Him with you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Timely Perspective

Recently as I was talking with a friend, I was bemoaning some of the things I feel like God has put on my heart to do. They shared some good perspective, and since it is the appropriate season, I thought I'd pass it along:

Sojo-- I feel like God's putting too much on my plate right now. I'm feeling overwhelmed.
Friend-- Hmm. Are you expecting?
Sojo-- :::pause::: Expecting what?
Friend-- Are you expecting?
Sojo-- Expecting? Expecting... a baby?!?!
Friend-- Yes.
Sojo-- :::shocked silence and incredulous look::: WHAT?!? NO!
Friend-- Then maybe God's not putting too much in front of you after all. :::smile:::

Yes, perspective is everything. I've never been left so speechless and tickled. :)

In related news, last night I read one of the most comforting single womandom thoughts. The book noted that all of the women in the genealogy of Jesus were single when they acted in the bravery and faith that they are known for. Rock on!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let Your Light Shine Down

The Calmer of the sea
Here in this room with me
So gently welcoming
The weakest things in me
You are the blood over
The door of my heart
What pain You spared me from
How could I know it all?

Oh wonderful love, You died for me
The power of Your life is in me

Father, let Your light shine down on me
Father, let Your light shine down on me
No matter what the day or night may bring
Father, let Your light shine down on me

Oh Jesus, You became what was my deepest shame
That at Your very name
My calloused heart would change
How could You, oh perfect One
Love me, when I have done nothing that's worthy of
My freedom You have won

Open up the heavens
Poor down Your Spirit
Hold me God
Jesus, wherever You lead
I'll sing harmony
Hold me God

Father, let Your light shine down on me
Father, let Your light shine down on me
No matter what the day or night may bring
Father, let Your light shine down on me

--Bethany Dillon

So gently welcoming the weakest things in me... if that's not reason to rejoice in our God, I don't know what is.

Friday, December 14, 2007

ICE APOCALYPSE CONTINUES

In case you're wondering what the going rate is in karma for making fun of an ice storm, for me at least, it has been almost 6 days without electricity in my apartment.

Before you cry, wail, gnash teeth and pity me, I have been very well taken care of while staying with friends. The cat is also okay, although severely attention starved. My house's heat runs on gas, so she has not turned into a cat-cicle. In fact, it has probably been substantially warmer in my house sans electricity than in my office with electricity.

OC was pretty hard hit electrically and in the landscaping. Our administration, faculty, and staff really handled it all like champs, and I'm not just saying that because I work here. It was a really tough situation but they kept everything under control. (FYI-- For details of what happened on campus and the response, click here for a statement from the President).

I went to check on the house/cat yesterday, and it still amazes me how torn up my neighborhood is. I think we have a lot of older trees, and most peoples' yards are filled with limbs that fell or they've had to cut. I'm hopeful that maybe we'll get electricity today, but with the second wave moving in today/tonight/tomorrow, I'm not sure what will happen.

Just wanted to update you all. Stay warm and safe.

12-15 UPDATE

I have electricity in my house as of last night! :) Woo hoo!

Monday, December 10, 2007

ICE APOCALYPSE 2007

Hello all, from the great white north (of Texas, that is).

ICE APOCALYPSE 2007-- A survivor's tale

DAY 1

Yesterday morning I braved midtown's winter fury and make my way to the promised land, Edmond. Driving north on the main trail really wasn't so bad, since I never went above 25 mph.

After arriving, I went to the local oasis, Starbucks. I think that Starbucks loyalists will always go out, no matter rain nor sleet nor snow. And apparently I've become one of them, or at least have made acquaintances who are such folk.

Once refueled with my morning coffee and meeting up with a fellow pilgrim, we set out to find a local house of worship, which was harder than we thought, considering we live in the buckle of the Bible belt. Have these people no loyalty to the weekly meeting time??? :) But we found one that was hosting an "abbreviated" service. Apparently that means five minutes of stark silence (since when do CoCs practice contemplative meditation? heehee...), 2 songs, and communion. It was nice.

Then we found some vittles at a local eatery. I don't feel guilty patronizing a restaurant that is forcing it's workers to come to work in perilous conditions, because if nutheads like me didn't go it, it would be all for naught. We took full advantage of free refills and delayed going back into the ICE APOCALYPSE 2007 for three hours.

After we'd worn out our welcome at Chili's, we decided a movie was in order. So we braved the roads and went to my friend's abode to watch Just Friends; I highly recommend it! Good company, good movie. Great way to spend a "baby, it's cold outside" kind of day.

Just as the sun was setting I braved the trails once more to reach my surrogate parents' house near my work. They let me spend the night. After more wonderful conversation I settled in for a long winter's nap, only to toss and turn as I was wondering about the actual severity of ICE APOCALYPSE 2007.

DAY 2

An early morning email checked revealed work was indeed canceled, due to power outages on campus. Though at first there was rejoicing, it was soon replaced with the common sense knowledge that I would rather be at work then go through an ICE APOCALYPSE.

Thankfully, I'm still with friends and within walking distance of more. We have power, heat, food, TV and internet.

In all seriousness, if you're in this mess be careful. Only go out when necessary, and don't take any unnecessary chances. :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Let's get a little bit Rowdy...

Awwh... if only Penny would be so cooperative.


He likes to wear clothes (so they say).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jehovah Jireh

Ever feel like God is working to teach you a certain lesson? Well for the past few months I’ve been getting schooled in Jehovah Jireh—the God who provides.

Despite my semi-charmed kinda life, lately I’ve been anxious about some of the tasks I see before me, wondering from my puny human vantage point how on earth they will come to pass.

But God reminded me through a friend that my fears are not uncommon to humanity, and that perhaps I am, in fact, in good company.

Gabriel said, You're beautiful with God's beauty, beautiful inside and out! God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.

But the angel assured her, You have nothing to fear...The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you. Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.

And she said, Yes, I see it all now... I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve.

--Adapted from Luke 1

Which then reminded me of one of my favorite songs:

Do you wonder, as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven, hold me together,
Be forever near me, breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy.

Breath of Heaven, Amy Grant
I'm starting to think that the biggest part of a life guided by the Holy Spirit is just showing up and trusting. But I have a feeling this is a lesson I'll be learning the rest of my life.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful

For all you have done, I will thank you,
For all that you're going to do,
For all that you've promised and all that you are
Is all that has carried me through.
Jesus, I thank you.
-Dennis Jernigan

God is so good. I could sing of His love and grace forever. Here is an extremely abbreviated list of things for which I am thankful:

  • Friends and family-- need I say more? God's unending fount of graciousness
  • Quail Springs Church-- a place where I've found healing and freedom I didn't even realize I needed
  • My connections group-- teaching me daily what the body of Christ looks like
  • My new job-- working at a place I love doing what I enjoy with fantastic people
  • Blood donors-- saving lives every day!
  • My cat-- even though she drives me crazy sometimes, she loves me no matter what
  • Learning new depths of God's love, goodness, faithfulness, and indwelling through the Holy Spirit
  • Fellow pilgrims to share the journey on which God sends
  • Lessons learned the hard way
  • The broken road that led me to where I am today, by the grace of God

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Christmas Miracle!

They've brought me such joy to help celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and today, as I perused the aisles of Walgreens, I found that they are now here to help me celebrate the incarnation as well...

Cadbury "Ornament" Creme Eggs!!!!!!!!!

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. :) God bless us every one!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

525,600 Minutes

525,600 minutes
525,000 moments so dear
525,600 minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights? in sunsets? in midnights? in cups of coffee?
In inches? in miles? in laughter? in strife?
In 525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of love.

Yesterday marked a year ago that I left Brazil. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, but at the same time I remember the joy of friends and heartache of leaving like it was yesterday.

Going to Brazil was one of the best decisions I've made, honestly. It brought me back to life after my illness-- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It challenged me and brought me more fun than I could have imagined.

I was worried that yesterday was going to be a bummy day. When I left Brazil, I was fully intending to move back within six months, so in some ways I feel like a lot of my feelings and relationships are unresolved. When I think of my beloved friends there I haven't seen in a year now, my heart still pangs.

But God is good. Yesterday I was able to spend time with some people I love dearly, and soak up the joy of being where I am now.

Every time I think I know where the road is headed, it seems to take a turn that I didn't expect. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. :)

It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends
Let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends.
Remember the love.. Measure in love... Seasons of love!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Secrets and Lies

Secrecy versus honesty seems to be a current theme of my life that God is working on within me.

In telling my story like I did a few weeks ago, I was forced to confront many secrets I'd been keeping about my life-- many of them brought to light for the first time. To say that has been painful is an understatement, but it is also a victory over several weapons Satan has been using to manipulate my thoughts and beliefs.

Also, a mentor of mine recently challenged me to confront a "secret" I was keeping from a friend. I quote secret because that's truly not how I saw it; I would have admitted that I probably wasn't telling the whole truth, but I never considered myself being secretive or manipulative. However, my mentor wrote the following words to explain effect he's seen secrecy have time and again on relationships:
In relationships, unaddressed things gain power over time. Whether it's in relationships between people or the relationship between a person and the Lord, the enemy inhabits shame, guilt, and fear and uses it to erode an individual's usefulness to God and to destroy his or her joy.
I realized that by being afraid to share myself and my feelings, I was keeping the relationship on a superficial level and setting the stage for Satan to foster fear and manipulation later on down the road. In spite of every fearful natural instinct in me, I told my friend the truth. Honestly, initially it was hard on both of us, thanks to some severe miscommunication (which I firmly believe was Satan trying to destroy a relationship that glorified God). But we were committed to working through it, and ultimately it opened a dialogue that ushered in a new level of freedom, openness, and trust that I, honestly, have rarely experienced.

Since then, God has opened the doors and opened my eyes to the importance of honesty in several areas of my life. This isn't to suggest that we should bare our souls to every schmuck that walks by, but how many of us are truly honest with those we love and want to grow closer to? If anyone else is like me, they're afraid that by revealing their true selves and feelings people will respond with disgust or rejection. And at times that might happen. But God has used several people in my life recently to show me that honesty and vulnerability is a beautiful thing, and in holy relationships can reveal the heart and love of God.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Breakable

Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts.
So it's fairly simple to cut right through the mess,
And to stop the muscle that makes us confess.

And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

My office has wonderfully eclectic taste in music, and I was introduced to Ingrid Michaelson earlier this week. "Breakable" (available for listening via myspace) has been on my mind, because I've recently become extremely aware of how true the sentiment is.

For so much of my life I've struggled to maintain perfect appearances, oftentimes sacrificing vulnerability and trust with who I really am. Other times when I've let people into the deeper, weaker parts of me, I've been abandoned or used or hurt.

I've survived a lot and I am pretty good about keeping a happy face, so I feel like I should be tough. But really I am just as breakable as the next person, just looking for friends I can trust with myself, and of whose trust I am worthy. Some days are glorious, and other days dismal, but our vulnerability is what makes us real and human. We're all breakable, even those who appear strong. Maybe it'd serve us all to live more gently and graciously with each other.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween-- A Review

2002-- Cowgirl (pictured with Ben T)


2003-- Ruth... see the wheat? (pictured with Amber F)


2004-- Boo, from Monster's Inc. (pictured with random Japanese child)


2006-- Cat feet (pictured with Havaiana sandals)


2007-- Geisha(ish) (pictured with Amy N)


2007 Redux-- Hermione

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Conversation with a 5 year old

There is a very precious and precocious five year old girl in my life, and for privacy purposes I'll call her Connie*. Connie has an equally precious 10 year old brother named Jonathan*. Last night I was with Connie and Jonathan, and the following conversation ensued.

Connie-- How many babies do you have?
Ann-- I don't have any babies. I don't even have a husband yet!
Connie-- Oh really?!? Why???
Ann-- (flustered and laughing) Well I don't know...
Connie-- Is it because you're waiting to find a handsome, wonderful man?
Ann-- Yes! That's exactly right.
Connie-- Well how about Jonathan?!? He's a nice gentleman!

At that point I was about to fall over laughing. Poor Jonathan was probably embarrassed beyond belief. But hey, she's right. Her big brother is a pretty swell guy. Darn that 15 year age difference. :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Story

For the past month or so, our small group from church has been using Sunday nights to tell our stories. Those denominationalists might call it giving testimonies. :) Anyway, last night was my turn.

It's kind of a strange thing to have a captive audience listen to you tell about your entire life, birth to present. The only way in which it can work is within a supportive group who truly cares about you. All those who've already told their stories have shown incredible vulnerability and openness, and God has really been glorified through their triumphs and struggles.

So last night was my turn! Even if you've just read the blog over the past few years, you know that my life has had some ups and downs. It was difficult to remember and recount many hard memories, but also very healing and therapeutic to see how God has provided and worked throughout my entire life. The best part of all is that I'm so excited to see what lies ahead. :)

In case I haven't mentioned it, I'm so grateful to be surrounded by such an amazing cloud of witnesses who cheer me on and encourage me to follow the vision and paths God's put before me. Many thanks to all of you who have been part of my story.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Race for the Cure

Team Nickerson! Mr. and Mrs. Nickerson, me, Pete, Amy, Jen

Well we did it! Saturday I got up long before dawn and my buddies and I made our way downtown to Race for the Cure, although I called mine "Walk for the Cure", because I sure wasn't racing anybody. :) I was ok with my time, averaging a little over 15 minutes a mile. I was at about 13 or 14 before I got sick, so I'm alright with that. My friends really rocked it; both Pete and Amy beat their goals. We had fun, and I'm glad I went. I'm hoping I can be much more participatory and competitive the next time I'm in a 5k.

Finish line! (that is not any of our times, by the way)

Then last night was quite a treat. My beloved Bible class from church wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate my new job (oh, I haven't mentioned that yet, have I? heehee...). I got to choose the place, so we went to Cracker Barrel. I have been craving southern cooking!!! I am so blessed by such an amazing Christian community. These guys have cheered for me and encouraged me and believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. And now they're so sweet to celebrate with me. :) God is good!

Sherry and Bob, two of the most servant hearted people you'll ever meet

Me, Auvrey, Kris

Tiffany, Amy, Rebecca

Tara and Ryan (in the baby rocking chair)


My cup is truly overflowing right now. God has been so gracious to me throughout my life, but especially now I feel just overwhelming gratitude. I believe I'm in a "daytime" of life-- when things are good and peaceful. I've been through enough storms to know that life was not meant to stay perpetually in times like this, but I've also learned to praise God and relish them.

Hold on love, don’t give up
Don’t close your eyes
The light is breaking through the night

Step out into the day, all the clouds and all the rain are gone
It’s over now
Step out into the sun, for you have only begun to know
What it’s all about
As the hungering dark gives way to the dawn, my love
It’s over now
--Bebo Norman

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sleep In For the Cure

I mentioned a while back that I signed up to be in the Race for the Cure 5k, which has so stealthly snuck up on me and is this weekend. I know that I'm not going to have the performance I desired, mostly because I have had a nasty chest cold for almost two and a half weeks. I feel much better, but my chest is still congestested and I'm wheezy coughy. So I will be walking rather than jogging. But hey, I'll still be out there. And I won't count this on my list of 101 goals, because I do have the goal to jog a 5k.

However, as I perused the Susan G. Komen website, I noticed there is an option for "Sleeping In For the Cure." Why wasn't I aware of this from the beginning? What a fabulous idea to show support and solidarity! :) Heehee... helping a great cause and sleeping in -- all at the same time! I like it. :)

So, since my wonderful friends are running the race while I wheeze along walking, I am looking for someone to walk with me! Send me an email at my first name (dot) my last name at gmail or leave a message in the comments if you'd like to join. Registration is $25 and can be done online here.

Then, on Sunday, a great medical missions organization called Predisan is hosting a "Walk for Honduras" to help build desperately needed medical facilities in Honduras. It will take place at my dear alma mater, Oklahoma Christian University, and registration includes lunch and a t-shirt. After lunch we'll walk around campus, then it's over! This is a great organizaiton that has done amazing work in the name of Christ, and if you feel called to, go on to the website and register or donate.

So, it'll be a busy weekend. :) Let me know if you want to join me for Race for the Cure!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday... hallelujah!

Nothing’s sacred, the days are cheap
Truth is thin on the ground
Still our prophets are crucified
Nobody believes we’re stumbling
It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming

Someone’s saying a prayer tonight
For hungry mouths to be filled
Someone kneels in the dark somewhere
And darkness is already crumbling
It’s Friday, but Sunday comes...

Sunday... Hallelujah!!!
It’s not so far, not so far away

Broken promises, weary hearts
But one promise remains--
Crucified, he will come again
It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming

Sunday... Hallelujah!!!
It’s not so far, not so far away

Tree63



I love Sundays!!! And although this is not my favorite song, it is still the one that runs through my head as I happily think about Sunday. I know that's not exactly the point of the song (not really at all, actually), but I feel like God has brought me from Friday to Sunday in several areas of life, and as cheesey as it sounds, my heart really does sing that... "Sunday, hallelujah!!!!"

Here is an excerpt from an interview with songwriter John Ellis--

This song was originally titled “Friday (But Sunday Is Coming),” from the title of the well-known sermon and book by Tony Campolo. Its verses deal with the dark realities of our world, where the Friday of Jesus’ crucifixion acts as a metaphor for our experiences of those realities. As the Gospel stories clearly show, Friday happens, but Sunday is inevitable. Sunday is the resurrection, the day when all our meager hopes and wildest dreams come true, the day we as believers look forward to despite our present condition. This is a “hang in there” song; Sunday is not so far away!

If nothing else, I pray God fills you with hope for Sunday, and if you're in a Sunday phase of your heart, that you have a song to glorify Him for His faithfulness.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I am accomplished!

In case you haven't yet questioned your productivity and/or value to civilization, here's a website that can help-- Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age.

At age 25:

The future mythologist Joseph Campbell decided to move to Woodstock to read the classics for five years, nine hours a day. Living on very little, he would make himself readily available as a dinner guest.

I do live on very little. So maybe I'm close to achieving this.

Orson Welles coscripted, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane.

Hmm... I've kept a blog for three years. I suppose I could turn it into a screenplay then star in it. I'll start on that.

By this age, Charles Chaplin had appeared in 35 films.

I think I'm going to appear in the background footage of a Dennis Jernigan special OETA filmed at the last praise night.

P. T. Barnum bought a "160-year-old" slave woman and began a career in show business.

I have no slave women, but think I do know enough odd people to start a freak show.

Janis Joplin made her first recording, "Cheap Thrills," which grossed over a million dollars within a few months.

Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly alone across the Atlantic, thus winning a $25,000 prize.

Fayette, N.Y. farmhand Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He claimed he translated the Book of Mormon from some golden tablets revealed to him by the angel Moroni.

Hmm... note to self... keep eye open for gold tablets.

Bavarian painter Aloys Senefelder invented the lithograph.

French engineer Benoit Fourneyron invented the first waterwheel turbine.

Activist Mollie Steimer became the first person to be deported from both the United States and the Soviet Union.

Heehee, I have yet to be deported from any country!

Physician Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile. As he collapsed unconscious into the arms of his trainer, the loudspeaker announced, "The time was three..." The uproar of the fans drowned out the rest of the announcement.

I have a feeling that I've missed the boat on cracking any four minute miles.


But I do think I have accomplished quite a bit!

Ann at 25-

I have lived on 3 continents.

I have studied 5 languages.

I have survived 3 major surgeries.

I have translated 2 books of the Bible from Hebrew to English.

I can juggle.

I have stood up for what I believe in.

I have accumulated the best group of friends in the whole wide world.


I'm proud of myself! Orson Wells doesn't have anything on me. ;) What have you accomplished that you're proud of???

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Chains Are Gone

Lately I have found myself really enamored with Chris Tomlin's music. It's a little strange, because for some reason he doesn't strike me as my "type." But he has some seriously good songs and great praise music. I feel like my theme song these days could very well be "How Can I Keep From Singing", because as I have mentioned, I feel like God has filled my cup to overflowing and I am incredibly grateful. His current single is called "Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone", and is basically Amazing Grace, but with an extra bridge/chorus thrown in:

My chains are gone; I've been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy reigns--
Unending love, amazing grace.

I think it's beautiful. You know those awful shirts marketed to the true and dedicated Christians committed to evangelizing via over-priced clothing? I saw one that was actually kind of poignant, save for the dangling preposition. It simply said, "I am the wretch the song refers to."* It's true, isn't it? We've all been set free from the chains of sin and death through the amazing grace of Christ.

I love the complexity and depth of Derek Webb, (old school) Chris Rice and others, but I also love a simple and beautiful song of praise, too. I highly suggest Chris Tomlin. To hear the songs I mentioned in this post, you can go to Chris Tomlin's myspace page.

*Or, "I am the wretch to which the song refers" :)

Free Burma


Free Burma!


I've been keeping my eye on the protests in Burma for several weeks now, and actually almost blogged about it earlier this week. But then as providence would have it, today is the international blogging for Burma day. It seems like a very small and trivial thing to do, but it is something, I suppose.

One of my all time favorite U2 songs, Walk On, is actually written and dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the democratic movement in Burma who has been under house arrest as a political prisoner for almost 20 years. The song captures the difficulty and power of love and dedication in the face of overwhelming odds. It could speak to many people who press on day to day for the cause of justice. These people inspire me to stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone.
And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you've got they can't deny it
Can’t sell it, can’t buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches, and your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on
Walk On, from All that You Can't Leave Behind, U2


Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:6-10

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Beyond the Noise

About a month ago I was talking with an elder from church about the fact that I was having trouble praying about a certain issue in my life. He suggested that maybe I needed to get away from "noise" and just be quiet with God. I kind of thought that was odd, because really my life is pretty quiet. I don't have cable, so I very rarely watch TV. I watch movies once in a while, but not too often. I did listen to music almost every waking moment possible, but I figured that since I was listening to worship/praise/Jesus music, that certainly didn't qualify as noise.

He specifically suggested that I try keeping the radio off in my car and using that time to meditate, pray, and generally listen for God. I wasn't sure that was a great idea, and if you know my issues with road rage you will understand me when I say that that music is all that keeps me from going nutso in traffic at times. But hey, I thought I should give it a shot.

I took about a week after that to try and live in purposeful silence. I'm not going to lie, it was strange and kind of rough at first. I love music; if you've read the blog long enough, you can probably catch the fact that music ministers to and moves me powerfully. But the silence was very freeing. If God put a song in my heart, then I sang it. I felt like my praise was my own and more personalized because it wasn't just what the radio or iTunes was telling me was next in the queue.

It is also very nice for time to pray and really have "conversations" with God. When I have my prayer time at night, although it is sincere, I usually am praying specific and purposeful intercessory prayers (oftentimes from a list-- what can I say, I like lists). But when I'm in the car or washing dishes and it's just silent, I feel more free to just pour out to God what is on my heart. The things I'm stressed out about, people I love, thanks for the joys of the day, or whatever is on my mind at the moment. For some reason these times are more conducive to dropping any facade and revealing my true self--problems and praises, victories and defeats.

One of my favorite times of the week now is Tuesday nights, which has for some reason become the time I do my nails. Something about the combination of doing something for myself and spending quiet time in prayer is so calming. In fact, I missed it this week and it's been nagging at me ever since (I'm making up for it tonight).

We live in a very noisy world. Even when the "noises" are good things, it is still beneficial to step away and be silent for a while. Who knows what God is trying to say to us, but we can't hear it for the noise.

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. --I Kings 19:11-13

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yom Kippur

My life can be called many things, but it will never be called boring.

Last weekend one of my friends from church called and asked if I'd be interested in an odd job on Friday night and Saturday morning. Odd job was perhaps an understatement. In case you didn't know, Friday at dusk began the Jewish Holy Day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Conservative Jews interpret the Sabbath commands of rest very strictly and literally, and so the most conservative won't even ride in a car. My friend tells me that she has a friend of a friend who is a member of a Temple in town, and she is an older woman who has back problems. So while most conservative Jews are walking to and from the services Friday and Saturday, she is going to need a wheelchair. However, the Sabbath laws also prohibit any Jew from pushing her wheelchair. That's where I come in. :)

To make it easier to keep the Sabbath laws, some of the members of the congregation were staying in a hotel about two miles from the Temple. My job was to push Estie in her wheelchair from the temple to the hotel Friday night and Saturday morning. The trick was that our route was in the middle of the very bustling NW OKC area, including crossing a major road. I don't think I fully understood was I was supposed to do until I actually got to the temple, or I might not have agreed. :)

Let me tell you about Estie. She is probably about 70 years old, Hungarian born, a Holocaust survivor, and then spent most of her life in Israel. I expected to meet a frail old woman, but she has more life and fire and spunk than I do! Half of my job was chasing her with the wheelchair trying to get her to sit in it!!! She is full of joy and laughter and was such a blessing to me.



We walked our route with another conservative family, and it was fun to get to know them as well. I think they were all from Israel. It was kind of wild to hear Hebrew being spoken! I studied it so much, but only as an ancient language. The walk was a little scary at times, but we made it alright. And it was an AMAZING cardio workout. :) God is so good to bless me with these crazy experiences and wonderful people! It was a blessing to be able to serve this woman in this way. I believe it is the beginning of a friendship!

I have a funny story to share as well. My friend who recruited me for this also went with me (she couldn't push herself because of a back injury). As we waited at the Temple for the service to finish on Friday night, we both realized we were wearing our cross necklaces, and had a conversation about whether we should wear them or put them under our shirts or what. I wasn't ashamed of Jesus, so no comments like that, but I also didn't want to affront Judaism on their most Holy Day. So we decided to put them under our shirts.

The next day, my friend said, "Did you even realize what shirt I was wearing last night?!?" I thought about it... then realized it was the Quail Springs VBS shirt from this year. On the front it says "Family of GOD at Quail springs" hugely with a big cross in the middle of God, then the back features a nice big picture of Jesus and Aslom the Lion (Narnia) on the back. I died laughing! We were worried about our little crosses and she was running around with a big picture of Jesus on her back! Hahaha... oh well.

Like I said, my life can be called many things, but never boring.

Friday, September 21, 2007

That Crazy Cat

My cat, Penny, is crazy. I've decided she has some identity issues and really believes she's a dog. She's uber-affectionate, meows like dogs bark, and follows me wherever I go. Only I would end up with a co-dependent cat.

One thing that has been consistently elusive is a cute picture of the two of us together. Not only does she always give goofy looks, but her last minute shifts change my expression as well. It's probably what I deserve for subjecting her to the flash of my camera. Today I tried again, and came out with what I think is the funniest picture of us:



I died laughing when I saw how it turned out! It reminds me of one of the old cliche that pets and their owners start to look alike after a while. But then the goober turned around and produced one of the sweetest pictures of us (even though I look like a dork):


As soon as I started taking it, she turned and started licking my face! So if kitty kisses make you swoon, then eat your heart out. They do not have that effect on me. Animals' tongues should not touch humans, especially their faces. Sorry if you're one of those people who gives open mouth kisses to your dog (or bird, in one friend's case). :) Ha!

Well there you go. I have two posts of substance that I'm working on, so hopefully I'll have those out soon. Have a great weekend! Shalom!*

*gold star if you get it

Monday, September 17, 2007

Funniest. Picture. Ever.

128297011302345000andatswheni.jpg

You have to click on it to get the full effect. Darn you blogger templates that give me grief!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life is Good!

To all those who worried because I left a depressing post up for a week, I'd like to say that I was just having a bad day and really, my life is actually pretty darn good right now. In honor of my charmed life, let's have an impromptu Thursday Thanksgiving, which I generally neglect.

I'm thankful for...
  • Caedmon's Call's new album, "Overdressed"
  • Quail Springs Church/my Connections group
  • Diet Dr. Pepper
  • Richard Foster and John Eldridge's books
  • Stories that make me laugh til I can't breathe
  • Unwaveringly encouraging friends
  • Unexpected joy

As a minutia update on a little bit of my life, a few weeks ago I was smoking crack* and agreed to take part in the Race for the Cure's 5k race. I have no idea what made me think that was a good idea. Anyway, it seems that since I've done that, the gods** are against me as I train. In the past week I've had several unfortunate mishaps. The most embarrassing was last weekend, when I was out jogging. I knew that my workout pants had been becoming more loose, but I didn't realize the extent of the trouble until suddenly my pants were not around my waist anymore. They didn't make it all the way down to my ankles, but it was enough of a show for anyone around. And did I mention that I happened to be running around the state capitol at the time? Oh my.

Other things have happened this past week to thwart my training schedule, but today was a new one. As I set out on my warm up this morning I noticed that my foot hurt, then remembered that a friend of mine accidentally stepped on it last night. I went on and did my walk/jog anyway, but was hobbling some by the time I made it back. I checked it out and I do indeed have a nice bruise on my foot, but believe it will heal quickly. It made me nervous at first because it's the same area where I broke my toe about this time last year. My poor battered feet. :)

I'll keep you updated on that. By the way, it's another 101 in 1001 goal. I'm really enjoying this goal list.

*I wasn't really smoking crack. It's an expression
**Don't worry, I'm monotheistic. It's also an expression.

Friday, September 07, 2007

If I Could Just Sit With You...

The world is a harsh place, and some days you just feel it more than others. Today I'm feeling every grating piece of it. I love this song by Dennis Jernigan (the version I own is performed by Martin Doman via iTunes), because on a day like today I just play it and pray it and let it wash the truth of God's love and tenderness over me.
If I could just sit with You a while, if You could just hold me
Nothing could touch me though I'm wounded, though I die
If I could just sit with You a while, I need You to hold me
Moment by moment, 'till forever passes by

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who has days like this. Are there any songs or scriptures or what not that minister to you on days when you just want to curl up in bed and hide from the world?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What Men Want

CNN brings us confirmation of many women's deepest fears and insecurities:

Men Want Hot Women, Study Confirms

I love how that is the actual title of the article. :)

Does this offend any men out there? Is this an over-generalization? Can women have hope that there are men out there with more depth than this? Ladies, how does this make you feel? Remember, this blog allows anonymous comments.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Jane Austenesque

In the past few days I have watched both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice (5 hour long BBC edition). Before this I don't believe I've ever watched or read a Jane Austen story, although Lord knows I have a million friends who swear by her. I really enjoyed both, especially Pride and Prejudice, and now have a better idea as to why every woman seems to love Mr. Darcy and wants to be Elizabeth Bennett.

Of course, seven hours of 19th century immersion will mess with your head, and I started to think about what my life would be like were I a character in a Jane Austen novel.

If I were a character in a Jane Austen novel, I would--

  • be fairly to mildly pretty but nothing special, except for my amazing wit, impeccable reason and quick thinking skills
  • spend copious amounts of time strolling through the English countryside
  • have a precocious sister or at least be surrounded by over the top outlandish relatives
  • need to marry a well-to-do man to help secure my financial future, but resentful of this fact and hold fast to the romantic notion of marrying for love
  • meet an enigmatic and brooding man who appeared to despise me, and I would then return his feelings of disgust
  • meet a charming and pleasant man after meeting brooding and enigmatic man, begin to believe in love, but then have my heart dashed after realizing he is a scoundrel
  • have the pieces of my shattered heart picked up and reassembled by enigmatic, brooding man once learning that he is actually tenderhearted and kind (and incredibly wealthy)
  • finally realize true love does exist and live happily ever after
Hmm. Let me know if I'm forgetting anything. Do men love Jane Austen like so many women do? Do they fall in love with the heroines like women fall in love with the heroes?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

What book are you?

I don't generally do these types of quizzes, but this one interested me. Here is what book I was determined to be, and an analysis of my personality:





You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can
diplomats."



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.



I didn't quite know what to do with that, so I took it again, slightly changing my answers:




You're The Catcher in the Rye!

by J.D. Salinger

You are surrounded by phonies, and boy are you sick of them! In an
ongoing struggle to search for a land without phonies, you end up running away from
everything, from school to consequences. In this process, you reveal that many people
in your life have suffered torments and all you really want to do is catch them as
they fall. Perhaps using a baseball mitt. Your biggest fans are infamous
psychotics.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.



I love the book, but I don't know what to think about the description. Interesting indeed. You guys go take it, then tell me what book you are.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We Come to You

This song has been floating around in my head for a while, and I love it for its simplicity and honesty.

As you came to us, we come to you,
Fragile as a baby hopeful and new
But learning fast that to walk is to fall
Soon we’ve done it all

We come broken, and we come undone
We come trying hard to love everyone
But we come up short in all that we do
Because we do,
We come to you

As you came to us, so we come to you
Dirty and hurting then dead in the tomb
But raised, redeemed, to show off the scars
‘Cause you’ve brought us this far

We come broken and we come undone
We come trying hard to love everyone
But we come up short in all that we do
Because we do
We come to you

You came to show the way not around, but through,
So through it all, we come to you

--Derek Webb


In related news, Caedmon's Call has come out with a new album, Overdressed, and guess who rejoined the collaboration (both singing and writing)? Derek Webb! Woo hoo! Go out and get it. It sounds great. I will when I have money to support my habit. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Surprised by Joy

Well, in an effort to fulfill yet another of the 101 in 1001 goals, I've been tinkering with the blog. It's going through another name change, because I feel like the season of "Born to Fly" has passed and I'd like something more appropriate. A while back I noticed that one of my friends had this clever quote as his "about me" on Facebook: "Like my friend Clive Staples, I find myself surprised by joy." I thought that was pretty great, and a pretty great summation of how I feel about life right now.

I'm not satisfied with the aesthetics of the blog yet, so bear patiently with me as it might be going through many different variations for a while. If anyone has any great ideas or inspiration feel free to share (i.e., color schemes, photo header, tagline, etc). So there you have it. Surprised by joy. :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Praise Night sans Singles Mixer

Last night our merry band of pilgrims returned to the Dennis Jernigan Praise Night. It was, as always, a wonderful and powerful time of worship. This time I was smart enough to take my camera. I'm not sure this is legal or DJ condoned, but I took some videos.

This first video is epitomizes one of the things I love about DJ. He was telling us that he had a really rough time in the past week, how several frustrating and saddening things were happening in his life and family. Apparently it culminated on Sunday, but when he woke up on Monday morning he was singing this song. Yes, you read that right-- apparently he wrote the song in his sleep. Or the Lord gave him the song through the night, however you prefer to look at it. So here is one of the newest Dennis Jernigan songs:



As we arrived, he was also singing a fairly new song we learned at the last Praise Night, titled Yeshua. It's... interesting. :)



The visual quality is not great on these. The little white dot in the middle is Dennis Jernigan's head. If you get the contrast right you might can see that the lyrics are on the screen above his head.

The good news is that they've decided to continue DJ praise nights through December! Each second Friday of the month. So if you're interested let me know. I'm sure I'll be going back! (and there was no mention of a singles mixer! woo hoo!)

Monday, August 20, 2007

He's Just Not That Into You

I consider myself some what of a Christian dating book connoisseur. I've read a lot of them, ranging the gamut from how to find a man, how to be datable, how to make your dating relationship work, what it should look like, and of course how to be a content single. I think my interest began with a search for information and education on the subject, but has since turned into a more morbid curiosity as to what people are actually suggesting. And besides, as a quarter century single myself, I have some personal interest. :)

A couple of weeks ago I was at Barnes and Noble just hanging out, and I sat at a table that had the book "He's Just Not That Into You" by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. I'd seen the episode of Sex and the City that spawned the movement, and I'd heard a little about the concept of the book, so I was intrigued.

It's a small book with big print, so I was able to breeze through it pretty quickly, and let me tell you, it is now a book that I would recommend first to my single female friends. Essentially, the book's point is that women try to over-examine men and their response to them. As the book's title makes fairly clear, in many cases when a woman tries to explain away men's strange behavior with excuses about "fear of intimacy", career stress, being afraid of their own emotions, family baggage or what not, it's often a simple case of the "he's just not that into you"s. It's kind of the whole principle that a man would cross any mountain, swim any sea, or trek across the desert to be with the woman he wants.

It sounds harsh and unkind the first time you hear it, but the way Behrendt writes and explains it, it is quite empowering! It frees women from wasting time from anguishing over gray or muddled relationships and recognizing that they're worth being with someone who won't put them through emotional warfare by being noncommittal and wishy washy.

The book's not written from a Christian perspective by any means (for example, I would hope that most mature Christians realize that "He's just not that into you if he's having sex with someone else" or "if he only wants to see you when he's drunk"), but the overriding principle is applicable for so many single women I know. And moreover, even being the crazy liberal that I am, I do believe strongly in traditional gender roles within relationships, especially romantic/familial (i.e., the male is the pursuer, the female the pursued), and that is really a strong foundational philosophy of this book.

All in all, I highly recommend this book for any single woman, especially those struggling with iffy relationships or unrequited love. Too bad there isn't a simple equivalent for men. :)

And what do you guys think? Is this a common misconception women have about men, or are men more complex than Behrendt would have us think?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Redhawks Game

Tonight I fulfilled another of the 101 in 1001 goals by attending the Oklahoma Redhawks baseball game. I love baseball games. It was a ton of fun. I'll just post some pictures because there's really not too much to say, except that it was Elvis appreciation night. :)


Lindsey, Amy, Ryan


Pete, me, Tiffany

The King lives


You can take the girl out of Japan, but you can't take Japan out of the girl. :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Priceless Grace

Right now I'm reading an amazing book entitled "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" by Richard Foster. I just want to share a small excerpt from it.

The chapter this is taken from is about the importance of praying for self reflection and introspection, based off one of my favorite "life scriptures", Psalm 139:23-25. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Paul, you may remember, urges us to offer our bodies-- our very selves-- as living sacrifices to God (Rom. 12:1). This offering cannot be made in some abstract way with pious words or religious acts. No, it must be rooted in the acceptance of the concrete details of who we are and the way we live. We come come to accept and even honor our creatureliness. The offering of ourselves can only be the offering of our lived experience, because this alone is who we are. And who we are-- not who we want to be-- is the only offering we have to give. We give God therefore not just our strengths, but also our weaknesses, not just our giftedness, but also our brokenness. Our duplicity, our lust, our narcissism, our sloth-- all are laid on the altar of sacrifice...

There is, therefore, no need to repress, suppress, or sublimate any of God's truth about ourselves. Full, total, unvarnished self-knowledge is the bread by which we are sustained. A yes to life means an honest recognition of our own evil, but it is also a yes to God, who in the midst of our evil sustains us and draws us into his righteousnesses.

Through faith, self-knowledge leads us to self-acceptance and a self-love that draw their life from God's acceptance and love.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

She's a Big Girl Now

I haven't updated on Penny Lane in a while, so I thought I'd post a recent picture. Man, the animal shelter didn't tell me she was going to grow so much, so quickly! I hope I'm not overfeeding her.




Heehee, just kidding! Definitely not Penny, although they do have the same coloring and markings. Here's a real picture of my cat looking especially cute:


In case you can't tell, she is not morbidly obese. She's a good cat, most of the time. :)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sojo's Recommendations

I have a few jumbledy blogs that I was trying to figure out how to consolidate, which led me to the idea of doing a recommendation post. Yes, kind of vain, but hey, it's my blog. :)

Here are a few things that have come into my life lately and I just wanted to pass them along to you all.

MUSIC:
*Bebo Norman, "Between the Dreaming and the Coming True" . I have finally gotten into Bebo Norman after years of hearing how good he is, and since I've started listening to this album I pretty much can't stop. It's quite addictive and wonderful. I highly recommend it for quality Christian music.

EDIFICATION:
*While our preacher is off adopting two Rwandan children, we've had a substitute who has won over our entire church. Yes, Mark will still have a job when he comes back, but Bruce McIntyre has done an amazing job teaching on the subject of Resiliency. I highly recommend it for rejuvenation to face the world.

FOOD:
I've been drinking smoothies every morning for a while now. I hate to brag, but I think they're pretty dang good. Here is my base recipe and my two favorite flavor variants.

Base--
1 cup skim milk
1 scoop whey protein powder
1 sugar free vanilla pudding cup or 1 one cup of natural apple sauce
1 packet splenda

Sunshiny morning flavor--
1 cup mandarin orange slices (I think without the juice is better)
quarter cup of pineapple chunks
quarter cup of peaches
quarter cup of strawberries

Very Berry flavor--
half cup of blueberries
half cup of strawberries

I use all frozen fruit. Go as the spirit moves you.

HYDRATION:
After I walk every morning I like to have my icy water bottle ready to refuel me. Maybe everyone else knows this trick, but I thought it was original and clever. :) I fill my bottle a little less than halfway full the night before, then lay it sideways in the door of my freezer. That way, the next morning when I want it, I unscrew the bottle and can fill the remaining space with water that is instantly cool and icy.
Please see note from Karen in the comments!

If anyone else has a new favorite thing, feel free to share it in the comments.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Blessings

One type of blessing that always touches me is when someone comes to me and says, "God placed this scripture on my heart and I believe He wants me to share it with you." I've had that happen several times in my life, and I still remember them clearly and those passages are some of the dearest to my heart. When I'm down or feeling burdened I still go back to the scriptures given to me by friends along the journey.

Sometimes I think that sometimes we lose the importance and beauty of speaking blessings over each other. Thankfully, I worship with a family that still faithfully believes in the power of praying over and blessing brothers and sisters. Speaking truth to the hearts of brothers and sisters is one of the vital roles we have as a Christian family, especially when the world saturates us with lies. I pray that you will feel moved speak a blessing over someone in your life. It may be what gives them the strength to fight another day.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
--Proverbs 16:24

Friday, August 03, 2007

Making Oatmeal Good

Okay, I need blogland help. I recently switched from eating the yummy instant oatmeal (brown sugar and maple flavor) every morning to going for the all natural rolled oats. Pros- much healthier. Cons- tastes bad. Well, maybe not bad, but it's hard to get a whole bowl down every morning.

So here's the deal. I need some help making it better. I already cook it with milk. I add cinnamon, raisins and natural apple sauce now. That makes it almost good, but I'm looking for more additive ideas. The stipulations are that they can't contain refined sugar. Oh yeah, and I don't like nuts.

Here are the suggestions I've had so far. Help a sister out and tell me what you think.

  • cinnamon
  • apples
  • raisins
  • vanilla extract
  • nutmeg

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Heaven on Earth

A few months ago I wrote on the consequences of good intentions unfulfilled within friendships. When I wrote it, I was feeling particularly hurt by some friends. Today I would like to write the opposite of that post. :)

There is something very heavenly about friendship. When a need is seen, then met, motivated not by guilty or duty, but from compassion and love. Heaven on earth.

I have great friends. :)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If they fall down, they can help each other up. But pity those who fall and have no one to help them up! --Ecc. 4:9-10

Chavez hearts Penn

Is this from the real news or from The Onion? It looks like it's from The Onion; it has all the elements such as a B list celeb with bad hair and and the "wannabe cool and socially conscious" mentality, but it's gone terribly wrong with Crazy Chavez. My favorite part is where Chavez says that he likes Penn's work, especially Mystic River. How bizarre.

Sean Penn Praised by Venezuelan Dictator Chavez

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Writer's Block

This is my 602nd blog post. I've been blogging about 3 years and 3 months. More and more often lately I find myself thinking about shutting the blog down. There are several reasons. The one I think about most is that this is such a crappy medium for relationship building or maintenence. There are people who read my blog to "keep in touch with me", which is a nice idea, but there are several problems. For one, it's entirely one sided. You feel like you know what's up with me and you've connected somehow, whereas in reality there's just nothing. And I don't like it, although I'm guilty of the same thing with my other blogging buddies. Also, the truth is that I generally don't talk about important things going on in my life on the blog. I don't (generally) talk about the things I think most and most deeply about. I tried that and didn't really like it, so I am unlikely to try again anytime soon.

Overall, I just feel very uninspired. I hesitate to go on any kind of official blog sabbatical, because it seems every time I tell someone I'm going to, I end up writing a lot. So if the blog seems kind of stale, that is why. I'm waiting for my muse to return. :)

Praise Night/Singles Mixer Report

I promised a report, so I'd better make good on that.

Dennis Jernigan is one of the most spirit-filled people I've seen (perhaps even more so than Gary Bruce, if you know him). It would almost be over the top, but he is completely sincere and passionate about what Christ has done for him and wants to share that with others. DJ has written a lot of songs. Seriously prolific writer. Some of the ones people would most quickly recognize are "I am a Sheep", "All in All", "Thank You", "We Will Worship the Lamb of Glory", etc etc. You can google him to see some others. It was fun and meaningful and an overall great night of praise. If you have the chance to go see him and have a rather open mind to worship expressions, then definitely go check him out.

The singles mixer was... interesting. :) First things first, they had a great cookie/donut/pastry spread and a lot of coffee. But most of the singles there were I'd say 40s and over. Considering the average age of our group is mid-twenties, it wasn't really our demographic. Honestly, no one in our group was excited about going, so I'm not sure why we did. We did end up playing it a little snotty, probably, because we just stayed in our small circle and chatted amongst ourselves. A couple of the ladies from the hosting church came and introduced themselves to us, and they were very nice. Both asked if we all went to the same church, we said "Yes, Quail Springs CoC", and they were cool with that. But as we said our goodbyes to one lady, we parted ways, and suddenly she spins around and says, "Oh yeah, and by the way you guys, don't worry about the fact that y'all go to a Church of Christ. I grew up there; it's okay." :) Ha, I think I said something mildly snarky like, "Oh don't worry, we've made peace with our identity." Which was then followed by the usual remarks about how Quail really isn't your average CoC. :)

As for the singles mixing, lemmie tell you. Our group was 5 girls and 1 guy, Pete. As we were in our closed circle, one gentleman came by. He carried himself in a manner that made us all immediately suspicious, I think. He stuck his head in our circle and said, "Is this a closed conversation." We reassured him it wasn't and he began to introduce himself to us... well, the girls at least. :) When Pete tried to shake his hand and introduce himself, Cletus* flat ignored him! Ha! We tried to make small talk, but he turned his attention to one young lady in our group. So he was asking her about her profession, which, regrettably at that moment, is a massage therapist. She said that and he eyes took on a new gleam. "Oooooh," Cletus said, "Well where would someone go to be massaged by you?" She explained that she works free lance in peoples' homes, to which he said, "Well do you have a card if someone were interested in being massaged?" We all cringed at that moment. She quickly and curtly explained that she only works off of referrals and quickly whisked herself off, leaving him looking kind of dejected. Sorry, but he totally had it coming. Uh, CREEPY!

We didn't stay much longer after that. It was nice, but really not our scene. No more singles mixers for a while. :) But I'd love to go hear DJ again. All in all, a fun night. No pun intended. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Love Offering

Thursday night Christian singer/songwriter Dennis Jernigan is going to have one of his praise nights here in the metro area, and our small group from church is making an event of it. I was thrilled to hear about it; I love DJ and his praise nights have a long, rich history in my life that deserve a post unto itself (at a later date). :)

So as we talked about it, it came to be revealed that the concert was actually a small part of a larger evening that is an area wide singles mixer!!! If only I could have seen the look that crossed my face when I heard that, but I'm pretty sure I said something to the effect of "No way!!!!" But yes way.

It was already an act of God (quite literally) to get me to go to a singles group at church, and it took finding a group small enough that it didn't feel like a meat market. There are few things that sound less repulsive to me than going and meeting a bunch of new people who are there with an agenda. Don't I have enough self-esteem and rejection issues??? I know that sounds harsh, but I should also say that it's just not my personality not to like to be thrown into meeting a large group of new people I will probably never see again.

As you can see, I was clearly not excited about this. But then I decided that if we were going to go, we should make an impression. I implored our group to fast, pray, and meditate to discern the best Christian (or especially Dennis Jernigan) related pick up lines. I searched the internet and found these to be the cream of the crop:

  • I just don't feel called to celibacy.
  • Did I tell you that my great-uncle was a personal friend of Billy Graham?
  • I don't see it myself, but people tell me I look like Michael W. Smith.
  • What do you think Paul meant when he said, 'Greet everyone with a holy kiss'?
  • You have the body of Amy Grant and the soul of Mother Teresa. (careful not to get that mixed up)
  • I'm pretty flexible--I don't think a woman should be submissive on the first date.
  • Before tonight, I never believed in predestination...
  • Just looking at you makes me feel all ecumenical.
  • I hear there's going to be a love offering tonight.
  • Oh, you're cold? Maybe we should read Ecclesiastes 4:11
  • Are you a religious person? Because I'm the answer to all your prayers!
Then Auvrey busted out this Jernigan perfect line-- "Hey there. You are the treasure that I seek."

So I'm going. And I'm going to have a good attitude. :) As a friend pointed out, this is going to be a great chance to people watch. :) I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

If anyone else has any stellar pick up lines, please leave them in the comments below.