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.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Listening to your Body

I think that a lot of times your body realizes things before your mind does. For example, I have always had dreams about things that are stressing me out. Sometimes I don't realize how much I am stressing about something until I have a dream about it.

Well, for the last month almost I've been getting nightly headaches. They occur almost every day, and it's been driving me crazy. At first I though they were allergy/sinus related, but I was talking with a friend last week who suggested maybe they were tension headaches. At first I was like, "no, no... I don't feel stressed out!" But as I thought about it, I realized that actually I do have a heck of a lot going on in my life right now, and although I might not be feeling the anxiety, I think it is being harbored in my body.

This morning took it to a new level. I had a job interview this morning (which went well, by the way), but when I arrived at the office and was talking to the receptionist, I started to notice that I was having vision problems. There were some kind of bright lights flashing in what seemed like my right eye. I had gone walking this morning, so I brushed it off as maybe some minor dehydration. But then as the interview went along, it kept getting worse.

As I left the office, I started to get a headache, then I remembered what a friend of mine once told me about migraines and "auras" that precede them. So I started worrying. 5 minutes later I knew I had a migraine. I had arrived back at my current job and couldn't focus or keep my eyes open. I was talking to my supervisor and suddenly started crying because it just hurt so much. She was very kind and sent me home, where I came and crashed. I took a lot of advil and tried a cold compress, but that only made it worse.

I had managed to send an email for medicinal help, and one of my wonderful friends very graciously came and brought me excedrin on his lunch break (the same friend who tipped me off they were probably tension headaches). I took a nap and woke up to my head feeling much better (but still achy), but still feeling like I'd been hit by a truck.

I have no idea what brought it on or anything like that, and I'm now hoping this doesn't become a common occurrence. And I'm trying to go through my mind and emotions and figure out what on earth could be the root of this stress. I'm trying to take cues from my body before it starts an all-out rebellion. :)

Not sure why I'm blogging about this, but I guess it can't hurt to petition prayers for healing and that I will be able to identify and heal what is causing me anxiety.


Current favorite song: Divine Romance by Phil Wickham

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Plane Crash in São Paulo

Some of you might have seen the news today about a major airplane accident in São Paulo, Brazil. This hit me a little close to home on several levels. For one, the flight was one from Porto Alegre to São Paulo, a flight which I took when I went on my awesome vineyard vacation. There but by the grace of God go I, huh?

To help illustrate what a dangerous situation this is, the Congonhas airport is in the smack middle of São Paulo, one of the largest and most cram packed metropolis areas in the world. Taking off and landing in that airport is nerve racking because you are literally flying right next to skyscrapers and apartment high rise buildings. The fact that more people weren't injured is a miracle.

So I was saddened and disturbed to hear of the accident, but then by chance today I got to talk to one of my dearest friends in Brazil, Thiago. He is finishing his residency at a hospital in São Paulo, and apparently the survivors, 10 of them, were brought to his hospital where he was working in the ER today. When I talked to him he'd just gotten off work and was still shaken and shocked by the whole thing. He said they were suffering mostly burns and were all in very serious condition.

Every day tragedies are reported on the news, but some days they hit very close to home. Reminds you of how small our world is.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Danger of Making People Think

This was one of the google daily quotes. I thought it was great and just wanted to put it up here.

If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you.
- Don Marquis

Friday, July 13, 2007

Harry Potter Premiere

On Tuesday night I crossed off the first of my 101 in 1001 goals. Actually, it wasn't on the list before I did it, but then I realized it should be. Besides, it's my list and I'll play by my rules. :)

I went to the Harry Potter 5- Order of the Phoenix premiere! Actually, my goal was to go to one of my friend Blake's premiere events. He's big into organizing groups to go and see movies when they come out (i.e., LOTR, Harry Potter, I don't know which others). I've never gone, but always wanted to, so this was my shot.

The truth is that I tried to back out at the last minute. Common sense and prudence threatened to overrule my sense of fun. I wanted to see it, but going to a 12:01am movie and then working the next day sounded like torture. But Blake talked me into going, and in the end I'm very glad I did.

I arrived at 9:30 to get in line (yes, for a midnight showing), and the place was a freak show. :) I don't know how many screens it was playing on, but I'd guess at least 12 and they were all sold out. And by 9:30 the place was pretty full. And, like I said, the crowd was quite colorful. :) I felt like such a muggle. ;) A lot of people dressed up, and there were some hard core geeks there. Of course Blake dressed up. He was going for the older, preppy Gryffindor look. :) Here's a picture of him and Mark:

Overall it was a great night and great movie and I'm glad I went. The audience was involved as the movie played. And I got the chance to catch up with a lot of cool cats I haven't seen in a while. So there ya go. 1 down, 100 to go (if I ever think of 101 goals!).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Here in this Place

Sundays have become my favorite day. Rather than "Sunday Morning Coming Down" I feel like I could sing a (somewhat) comparable "Monday Morning Coming Down." This song has been on my heart as a description of the time I spend with my Christian family.

Here In This Place
Chris Davis

Lay your burden down
Every care you carry,
And come to the table of grace,
For there is mercy.
Come just as you are,
We are all unworthy
To enter the presence of God
For He is holy.

Lift up your heart, lift up your hands,
Fall on your knees and pray;
For the King of kings and the love He brings
Is here in this place.
We raise our voices, raise our song,
We offer Him our praise;
For the King of kings and the joy He brings
Is here, He is here in this place.

Just as a note for future reference, I changed churches since the last time I referenced my congregation. I didn't "blog-nounce" it because I didn't want people to jump to conclusions over why I changed based on circumstantial, peripheral events. I have been attending Quail Springs Church of Christ for several months now, and it has been sheer blessing. I still love Memorial, but I feel like God has led me to Quail at this point in my life. My good friends already knew that I've moved, but I just wanted to clarify here for times in the future when I reference the church I attend.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Plant Rendezvous

I know I just reported on my plants a couple of weeks ago, but the 20 days of rain really sent them into overdrive. And perhaps inspired a little floral rendezvous, too. ;)

You can look at the old pictures to compare, but my coleuses (coleii?) are flourishing!

Then imagine my shock and glee when upon further inspection I found that there is new life in my flower bed! Look what the stork dropped by my house!

It's a baby! I don't really understand the biology of plants, so I have no idea how this happened. :) But it's cool!

This is the proud parent and child. See the little baby plant there to the left? Awwwh. :) Gardening is fun!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Co-dependency is the new black

After a several month sabbatical, I have been giving Christian radio another shot. This time I've found Air1, which is "alternative" K-Love, basically. It has better songs and no Jon and Sherry, which is very important. So anyway, while I like approximately 65% of the music they play, some of the songs they play the most just make me cringe or want to throw myself into traffic. Since when did emo take over Christian music?! Here are some lyrics to the top song on Air1:

You come to me with your scars on your wrist
You tell me this will be the last night feeling like this
I just came to say goodbye
I didn't want you to see me cry,
I'm fine
But I know it's a lie

This is the last night you'll spend alone
Look me in the eyes so I know you know
I'm everywhere you want me to be
The last night you'll spend alone I'll wrap you in my arms and I won't let go
I'm everything you need me to be

--Skillet, "The Last Night"
What on earth?! What are we teaching people here? Granted, Air1 is not an exclusively Christian station, they play more of the broad feel good songs, but this is twisted! Uh, can we say codependency issues?! Ugh, MOREOVER the lyrics in purple are sung by a girl. What is this saying to young girls, who compose this band's target demographic?! Here, use negative drama to make a boy love you and stay by you forever. The damsel in distress freaking cuts herself in the song! Uuuuuuuuuugh. Beyond that, it makes no reference to salvation beyond a friend (and I think the implication here is boyfriend, although I will grant that is not necessarily the case). Principle remains! Christ is going to save us! Friends, community, lovers are all wonderful and important, but aren't where our ultimate value comes from.

So yes, you can see this song has become my soapbox. Then tonight I hear this little diddy:

Tell me where it's hurting
Are you burning?
Running just to catch your breath
And going nowhere
It's getting old when you feel like you got nothing left
Well it ain't over 'til it's over
I told you since the day we met
So let me be the voice through all the noise
Whatever I gotta be
I'll be for you

Whatever you need from me
To see you through
Everyone of us has stumbled
Everybody's humbled
We hit the ground and our lives crumble

Whatever I gotta be
I'll be for you
I'm for you
If you never knew
I'm for you
You know it's true

-- Toby Mac, "I'm For You"

Okay, basically the same story here, without the self mutilation. I'm sure there's some vaguely implied reference to Paul's "all things to all people" line, but really, what is the message of this song? "I'll save you. Hang on to me, I'll be the one to bring you through it." And I'm not trying to read into this where there is nothing, but in the great tradition of Christian music being little more than replacing "baby"s and "lover"s with "God"s and "Lord"s, I think it sounds it has some romantic implication.

Last but not least, a song I am actually quite tempted to like upon a superficial hearing. Let's look.

She loves her mama's lemonade
And hates the sound that goodbyes make
She prays one day she'll find someone to need her

She swears that there's no difference
Between the lies and compliments
It's all the same if everybody leaves her

And every magazine tells her she's not good enough
The pictures that she sees make her cry

She would change everything, everything, just ask her
Caught in the in-between a beautiful disaster
She just needs someone to take her home

She's given boys what they want
And tries to act nonchalant
Afraid they'll see that she's lost her direction

She never stays the same for long
Assuming that she'll get it wrong
Perfect only in her imperfection

She's not a drama queen
She doesn't want to feel this way
Only 17 but tired

She's just the way she is but no one's told her that's okay

She would change everything, for happy ever after
Caught in the in-between a beautiful disaster
She just needs someone to take her home

--John McLaughlin, "Beautiful Disaster"
Now that I actually see the words in writing, I am scowling. Every line is about how this girl is self hating and needs someone "to need her" and "take her home." And she's only stinking 17!!! And hello, the title!? Beautiful disaster? Oh dear.

So these are three of the most played songs on Christian radio right now. What message is this sending? To young women, especially? If you want a boy to love you, or if you want attention of any kind, you need to be be depressant, think little of yourself, and place all your hope and joy on the shoulders of your (boy)friend.

Sorry, this has been a soapbox post. It just reminds me how much we have to fight even Christian pop culture (not to mention doctrine) to remind women young and old of their inherent value and from where it comes.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Things I Like about the US

In honor of Independence Day, here are some things I like about the US.

  • Freedom of speech and the freedom to disagree
  • Plyler vs. Doe and Brown vs. Board of Education
  • Big drinks with lots of ice and free refills
  • My passport that allows me into just about any country I could want to go
  • Separation of church and state
  • Rooting for the underdog
  • Icees (I haven't seen them in any other country, so I assume they're uniquely American)
  • We know how to throw an Independence Day celebration

Happy 4th everybody!

Monday, July 02, 2007

101 in 1001

In an effort to try to focus myself and set some short and long term goals, I have decided to undertake the 101 in 1001 challenge-- setting 101 goals to meet in 1001 days. The first hurdle is to think of 101 goals. I have 89 so far. You guys need to help me think of some more! I plan on posting my progress on the blog as I accomplish them. Honestly, I'm thinking of this as more of a lifetime list rather than just 1001 days. But I will try to accomplish as many as possible. And also consider this an open invitation to my friends to partake in these events with me! :)

101 in 1001
July 2, 2007-March 29, 2010

  1. Take dance lessons
  2. Run a 5K (marathon relay in April '08)
  3. See a professional baseball game (8/16/07-- Redhawks vs. Redbirds)
  4. See a high school football game
  5. See a professional basketball game
  6. Sky dive
  7. Sing in public
  8. Go to a major concert or Broadway show
  9. Learn to juggle 4 balls
  10. Buy a piece of art from a local artist (bought art from both of our interns)
  11. Read something by Jane Austen
  12. Print and bind my blog entries from Japan
  13. Stop drinking cokes
  14. Receive a massage from a professional
  15. Cultivate a flower bed I can be proud of
  16. Reach/maintain ideal weight/BMI (I've lost 25 lbs as of 5/17/08)
  17. Go back to Brazil
  18. Reach conversational fluency in Spanish
  19. Begin studying a new language (German, Latin?)
  20. See the Grand Canyon
  21. Go one month with no fast food
  22. Get to know a neighbor
  23. Write a poem
  24. Scan and document old family photos
  25. Go to the zoo
  26. Go camping and sleep in a tent
  27. Take piano lessons
  28. Tutor someone who can benefit from my experience
  29. Buy a new car (5/12/08)
  30. Visit at least one friend I haven’t seen since I was in Japan (Ian came to OKC, 8/13/07)
  31. Visit Amber in Honduras
  32. Wake up 30 minutes early for prayer every day for a month
  33. Save at least 5% of every paycheck
  34. Volunteer to help with a ministry at church that is outside my comfort zone (Volunteered for once a month two year old worship duty at church)
  35. Submit to (My secret was actually posted in fall of 2007)
  36. Tell a trusted friend the secret I send to Postsecret
  37. Collect recipes from family members
  38. Go ice skating
  39. Make my blog more aesthetically pleasing
  40. Organize reunion with college girlfriends (October 2007)
  41. Have a great New Year’s Eve (2007)
  42. Frame and display photographs I’ve taken that I like
  43. Buy the all seasons of The Office on DVD
  44. Re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit
  45. Watch a sunrise
  46. Watch all AFI Top 100 movies
  47. Memorize “The Love Song of J. Alfred Pruffrock”
  48. Not shop at Wal-Mart for one month
  49. Reconnect with a high school friend I lost touch with (Leighann, Marky)
  50. Go to a rodeo
  51. Perfect my brownie recipe
  52. Vote in 2008 election
  53. Play bingo in a real parlor
  54. Perfect the art of applying eyeliner (maybe not perfect, but much better than I used to be)
  55. Pick fruit from a tree or bush and eat it (7/31/07-- ate blackberries off the Wynn's bush)
  56. Compile a comprehensive friend birthday/anniversary/baby’s birthday calendar
  57. Read Brother Kazmarov
  58. Blog every day for a month
  59. Become a calmer driver :)
  60. Shop at a farmer’s market
  61. Wash my dishes every day (not let them accumulate) for a month
  62. Go on a great date (not really all up to me, but hey, it’s a list of goals, right?) :)
  63. Participate in 26 things photography challenge
  64. Use lotion daily
  65. Wear sunscreen on my arms and hands daily
  66. Volunteer for blood donation organization (gave blood numerous times, now the Blood Drive Coordinator at church)
  67. Invite someone over to my house weekly
  68. Learn how to play chess
  69. Make a pie from scratch
  70. Learn the names of local wildflowers and trees
  71. Take a scenic drive
  72. Become CPR certified
  73. Grow my own tomato plant
  74. Eliminate (or nearly) simple carbohydrates and sugars from diet
  75. Learn how to file my nails well
  76. Train myself to make my numbers more legible
  77. Throw myself a great birthday party
  78. Create a piece of visual art
  79. Read John Steinbeck’s entire body of work
  80. Contribute to a Wikipedia article
  81. Learn to recognize 3 constellations
  82. Take a class in some technical field I want to know more about (accounting, web design, medical terminology)
  83. Become certified to teach Spanish
  84. Find a salad dressing I like (honey mustard)
  85. Visit my World Vision sponsored child
  86. Teach my cat a trick
  87. Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper
  88. Visit 5 new states
  89. Go to a farmer’s market
  90. Have professional photos taken of myself
  91. Watch the Boston Pop's 4th of July celebration
  92. Go to a Blakewell movie premiere event (7/11/07-- Harry Potter 5)
Italics indicates in progress
Bold indicates completed

July 2

July 2nd is a pretty significant date for me. In 2003, July 2nd is the day I left the hospital after a surgery and five week stay. In 2005, I left Japan and came back to America on July 2nd. Both were very bittersweet. In 2003 I was just beginning the recovery process and still had a long way to go. When I left Japan my heart was broken, but I was so happy to be going home to my family. As you can see, they seem to fall every other year, so I was a little nervous as July 2, 2007 approached. :) But, thank God, this year all is well. It's good to have these little milestones to remember how far God's brought me.