Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Sojies

The past two years I've written the "Sojie Awards"- how's that for self-aggrandizement? :) While filling it out this year, though, I realized I didn't like several of the questions, so I'm writing my own year end review using some of the old questions but also throwing in some new ones.

2008 Sojies!

The trip to Honduras was such a magnificent and profound blessing. Paris was also perfect. :)

Ooooh my. Some fractured relationships were very painful this year.

You can't control how people act; you can only control how you react to them.

Hmm... I really am not sure. Fourth of July at IHOP was pretty great, although it had nothing to do with the holiday.

SONG FOR 2008?
"Divine Romance" by Phil Wickham

I almost hate to type this because it makes me feel so... unlike me, but "Fireproof." There- I said it!

I didn't read nearly as much this year as I usually do, so this is hard. Honestly, I think the Bible. I read it a lot more and with fresher eyes than I ever have, and it's been life-changing.

Watch me buck the system and say "This American Life", the RADIO show on NPR hosted by Ira Glass. Truly, very few earthly things bring me greater pleasure than this show. Seriously- go to their favorite episodes page and listen to some of them. I suggest "The Legend of Bobby Dunbar" or "24 Hours at the Golden Apple" (the first one I heard) to get a feel for what TAL is all about. Ooh, or "The Break-up"! I could nerd-lovishly babble forever, so I'll stop.

Making old mistakes in new ways. Blargh.

I know this sounds weird and vague, but there was a very specific moment in Honduras when I knew I had to just let go and let God work.

I went to Europe. I've worked at a real job for over a year. I lost 30 pounds. I think I'm growing up. :)

Not much planned yet.

Keep working on my running goals, become more active in my field, re-evaluate ministry involvement and try some new things, become a trophy wife... ;)

Here's to 2009! Health, happiness, and all kinds of good things to you and yours.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from me and mine to you and yours. :)

And because this can never really go well...Feel free to add your own caption to this one.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do not lose heart

I'm sitting here in my office on a Saturday afternoon, eyes swollen and red, tear tracks down my face, nose stuffy, and my heart broken.

I just came from the funeral of Dr. John Thompson, Professor of History at OC and a truly extraordinary man. I think I heard of Dr. Thompson before I even heard of OC. My youth minister adored him and told stories of his big hands and booming laugh and storytelling lectures that would enthrall students. Since I was a student here, and I found out recently for the past 20 years, his health has been pretty bad. His body ravaged by diabetes, kidney failure, and other health problems.

But it seemed as his body withered his spirit flourished. I think there are actually very few great teachers in the world, but Dr. Thompson certainly was one of them. Oh, to sit at his feet for another class or two or twenty. He was such a scholar. And he loved what he did. Stories abound of him padding around campus in house slippers, being rolled in his wheel chair up the big hill to the history building, and even delivering lectures from his hospital beds via speaker phone. He loved what he did, and he was outstanding at what he did.

There are people who love what they do and throw their hearts into it, and people who do enough to get by. Lately I've been having this crisis of conscience about my job. I love what I do, where I work, and the people I work with. And while that is a blessing that I know many people don't have, it puts you in such a vulnerable place. The more you love something, the more susceptible you are to it breaking your heart.

Even at Oklahoma Christian University, some days the faculty can be arrogant, the students can have bad attitudes, the staff can be apathetic and the administration can be distant (I myself have fallen into all those categories). And those days break my heart, because Satan makes me doubt that what I believe and am throwing my heart and career into is all for naught.

But then I am brought back to the truth on days like today, looking around an auditorium of hundreds of people from this dear community mourning the loss of a friend who stood for all the good we work towards. Dr. Thompson could have had a great job at another university with more money and prestige. He could have just retired when his health took a downturn, rather than joyfully and uncomplaining continuing to serve our campus. And I know over the years he must have had his heart broken, because he so freely offered it to all of us who crossed his path.

So although my heart is broken, I'm praying that it will be broken open to this community that I love and I will one day be able to in some small way leave a legacy like Dr. Thompson.

I'll leave you with the verse that Dr. Thompson left for all of us:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -II Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little things

Sometimes it's the little things that can turn around a craptastic week.

Like my boss bringing a chair masseuse into the office as a Christmas surprise.

Or finding a fantastically 80s-rific picture of me and my cousin.

Or eating a Christmas Cadbury creme egg.

Yep, sometimes it's the little things.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kids at Christmas

A few weeks ago I heard this story on NPR about how the USPS lets people come and open letters to Santa they receive at Christmas so people can choose to fulfill children's wishes. The program has been going on for over 20 years apparently, and they interviewed one man who had participated for almost that long.

He noted the change in children's requests over the years. When he first said that, I thought "Oh, kids are probably asking for more and more high dollar, high tech toys now", but instead he commented on how often now children are asking for the necessities of life, such as clothes, shoes, coats, and school supplies.

It really broke my heart. Christmas is a great time to be a kid, and they shouldn't have to ask Santa for the things that they need day to day. The whole world is telling them all the toys they should want and all they're asking for is what they shouldn't have to ask for, anyway.

Some friends at church offered to financially sponsor a child if someone else could shop for them, as they don't have time. So I volunteered, as I am in an opposite situation- little money, plenty of time. :) They let me pick the child out and I chose a six year old kid who only asked for a coat and shoes. And so I will pick out those things, but also something that will hopefully make his eyes light up and let him feel like a kid who can just enjoy this special season.

It's been a tough year economically for our country and has especially hit those with little financial room to spare. If you can, consider finding an angel tree program or something similar and find a kid asking for just what they need to get buy, and give them even more than they're hoping for.

*Image from

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas grab bag

And since I don't know what to write... you get a vlog showing you my super cool Christmas gift from the party I went to Sunday. Don't you love the screen shot there? :)

Christmas grab bag from Ann W on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Reaping what you sow

"Am I sowing to the Spirit or sowing to the flesh,
I'm doing one or the other all the time...

And just like a farmer goes out to his field and sows a seed into the ground
Whatever he sows, that he will reap, whatever he plants, that will spring forth.

In the very same way, whatever seeds I'm sowing into my heart, it's guaranteed that I will reap the fruit of what I sow into the garden of my heart."

-Justin Rizzo, Indwelling Spirit
Lately this verse of this part of this song has been knocking around in my head and I can't seem to get it out. It's like one of those movies where the foreshadowing words literally echo across the walls and haunt the afflicted person. It's even worse when God does it, I assure you.

There is a beautiful tree on the corner at the end of my block. It's big and beautiful, and during the fall it was the most stunning shade of yellow. It truly took my breath away every time I saw it (yes, I am that sentimental). And despite the graciously prolonged fall that we had in Oklahoma this year, it still felt too soon that the leaves blew off and now it stands bare. And it will be that way until probably April. Same tree, different season.

I have felt very spiritually frustrated lately. Spring, summer, fall were such rich seasons for me spiritually, and I felt I could see changes day to day in growth and maturity. Then like that first cold slam of winter wind the season changed. And while I try to encourage myself to remember that winter is the time of unseen growth, I'm still frustrated.

I feel like it's a time of gritty faith. It's cold, and I feel bare and vulnerable and stagnant. My prayers feel hollow, worship feels empty, and community feels shallow. But I'm begrudgingly trusting that whatever spiritual seeds that were sown throughout the year are growing somewhere. White knuckle faith still counts as faith, right?

It's a season. And even winter has its moments of reprieve and beauty. And ya know what... spring will come again, and I am choosing to believe in faith that what has been sown will bloom.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ready for Christmas!

I LOVE THE CHRISTMAS SEASON! I'm one of those who believes Christmas is fair game starting November 1st. Christmas movies are fair game post-Thanksgiving. Since yesterday I have been reveling in Christmas music and decorations, and am so pumped for what I'm sure with be truly the most wonderful time of the year! So in honor of open Christmas season, here's a little blog filler for you.

Yes please! Hot nog! :)

Santa sets presents under the tree, sans wrapping.


I'm very blessed to see a lot of people I love at Christmas. It'd be great to see them all, but I'm thankful already.

This is hard! Probably my aunt Annie's amazing rolls.

Beginning of November is fair game, thankyouverymuch. :)

I can't peg just one memory.

I really have no idea.

The White family has always done things differently since we generally drove at least 6 hours on Christmas to be with family. The immediate family always opens all gifts from each other on Christmas Eve.

Colored lights and family ornaments.

Love it when I don't have to be anywhere and I can just look at it through the window or play in it. Hate hate hate it to drive on.

Not well...

I remember one year I got a Mickey Mouse watch that played music. That was pretty awesome. :)

Good tidings of comfort and joy... Meditating on thankfulness and the incarnation.

So hard! Sweet potato casserole. If it has marshmallows, it's a dessert. :)

Easy! The 24 hour "The Christmas Story" marathon on TV! We have to watch it at least 3 times.

Giving, for sure.

So impossible! "Baby It's Cold Outside" is a current fave for cuteness, "Breath of Heaven" is very powerful, as is "Come, O Come Emmanuel." I absolutely can't choose. I love Christmas music.

Thinking about people who spend the holidays alone

Starbucks caramel apple spice, festive feelings of the holidays, seeing people I love, watching Christmas movies and singing Christmas songs

I love Christmas movies! A Christmas Story, White Christmas, Elf, It's a Wonderful Life... oh the list goes on!!!!

I love me some Christmas!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Your are part of something bigger

If there were one message I could get out lately- at work, at church, among my friends, into my own thick skull- this would be it. Maybe you need it, too.


Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you"? Or, Head telling Foot, "You're fired; your job has been phased out"? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the "lower" the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it's a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn't you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

You are Christ's body—that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything.

-I Corinthians 12:12-27

Friday, November 21, 2008

A few of my favorite things

In the words of my boss, "The past week or two have been a little rough. Lots of projects at work. The sun going down early, and it getting colder. The economy. War. Blah, blah, blah..."

Yes. I agree. So following in Stephen's footsteps and the never-ending quest to try to bring joy into the lives of those around me, I bring you these things that make me happy and maybe they'll make you happy, too. Let's all use the weekend to do at least one thing that makes us happy.
  1. Driving through downtown OKC at night listening to NPR jazz
  2. Skinny lattes from Starbucks
  3. Clear skies
  4. Broccoli and cheese soup
  5. Taking naps while afternoon sun streams in my bedroom windows
  6. Running through my neighborhood in autumn
  7. Giving a running commentary throughout movies (maybe this doesn't make my friends so happy)
  8. Quiet time in the morning and worship music on the way to work
  9. Funny links from my coworkers to keep me laughing during the day
  10. Whole grain bagels with strawberry cream cheese
  11. Sunsets that change the sky into about 7 different colors at once
  12. Postsecret
  13. Old couples in love
  14. Integris hospital commercials
  15. Lighting good smelling candles
  16. Taking pictures of plants up close like the one above (in Marie Antoinette's garden at Versailles)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tired of allegory

I'm tired of this allegorical love business. I realize this is about on par with statements I make such as "I think it's weird that my name is an indefinite article." Yeah, I just say things like that.

But this has been wearing on me. I believe the Bible. I love God and am so blessed to consider my relationship with him genuine and intimate. But still, sometimes I wish there was more.

I read about the intense love between the Schulamite and Solomon in the Song of Songs. It's beautiful and passionate and vivid and I think really represents the kind of relationship God created us for.

And then there's the book of Hosea, where we get this image of God as the "knight in shining armor" (sort of) who rescues us again and again out of the messes we get ourselves in as a demonstration of His faithfulness and redemption and our lacking.

It's beautiful imagery. Perfect as the words of scripture always are. But sometimes I just wish He was here to tell me how much he loves me. Or here to be my defender and rescuer. Stories are great, but lately I've been wishing for something more tangible.

All of these things we experience before the restoration of the world are meant to make us long for something more... and today I'm feeling every ounce of it.

Chris Rice- "Smile"
How far are you, how close am I?
I know your words are true and I don't feel them inside
Still I believe you'll never leave
So where are you now

You're all I have, You're all I know
Your breath is breathing in my soul
Still I am gasping, aching, asking
Where are you now

Cause I just wanna be with You
I just want this waiting to be over
I just want to be with You
And it helps to know the Day is getting closer

Every minute takes an hour
Every inch feels like a mile
Til I won't have to imagine
And I finally get to see You smile

My journey's here, but my heart is There
So I dream and wait, and keep the faith, while You prepare
Our destiny, til You come back for me
Oh, please make it soon!

Cause I just wanna be with You
I just want this waiting to be over
I just want to be with You
And it helps to know the Day is getting closer

Every minute takes an hour
Every inch feels like a mile
Til I won't have to imagine
And I finally get to see You smile

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things that let me know I am getting older

  1. Smile lines
  2. Most Olympians are younger than me
  3. Learning from my mistakes
  4. Putting money in a retirement fund
  5. Grey hair
  6. Being friends for 20+ years
  7. Admiring the idealism of youth
  8. Saying things like "kids these days..."
  9. Going to bed by 11pm
  10. Avoiding foods that upset my stomach
What things remind you that you're "growing up"?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Paris- Delightfully Europe

I remember my first day in Paris (and really every day) we'd walk around the city, and I swear with every corner I turned I'd gasp at the beautiful scenery, architecture, and all things delightfully European. Here are a few of my favorite miscellaneous pictures.

I love this picture. Such a good time.

This is outside Notre Dame. He is apparently the pidgeon man.

This happy child is feeding the birds in front of Notre Dame as well.

It's hard out here for an accordion player.

A mirrored building.

CREPES. Yum. Nutella crepes. I also had a wonderful crepe with egg, cheese, and tomatoes.

My perfect Parisian breakfast. Croissant, cafe au lait, and orange juice. Plus my journal. Perfect.

Cute little cafe in Montmarte.

This was at dinner my last night in Paris. Ross was a wonderful and gracious host and I couldn't have imagined the trip being any more perfect! I am officially one of those Europe-philes now, and I highly recommend Paris to anyone. :)

The rest of my many many Paris pictures can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Paris- The Tours

So, my friend Ross is a tour guide in Paris. He's really great at what he does. He leads walking tours around the city, each with a different theme. I went on three- French Revolution, WWII, and the DaVinci Code (oh yes- I saw where the grail is hidden). :)

It was fantastic because even when we were just running around, he knew what almost everything was and the history behind it. It made the experience so much more rich and great! I highly recommend Fat Tire Tours in Paris, although I hear their best guide is leaving at the end of November. :)

Tour guide Ross in action!

This was the DaVinci Code tour group. Miko on the left was from Finland, and Marina and George on the right were from Canada. We went to lunch with them afterward- they were great! I loved meeting the different people.

This was the most important monument Ross pointed out. When Texas was a republic, this was its embassy in France. ~Texas, our Texas, all hail the might state...~

Like all roads lead to Rome, so all tours go through the Louve. So here are my Louve pictures.

Lovely morning light at the Louve.

A view towards the Tuileries Gardens

Modern classic.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Paris- Churches

Paris has a lot of churches, and I went to a lot of them. :)

Notre Dame behind some pretty leaves. This was one of the first things I saw in Paris. Pretty breathtaking.

Ross had a very good way of describing many gothic churches like Notre Dame- a "minor key" church. Very eerie. I loved the outside, so detailed and intricate, but the inside was so dark. We accidentally went to mass on Sunday there, which was cool.

I thought this was a good picture to show the intricacy of the carvings. This is an archway above one of the doors.

And here you can see you multiply that intricate carving several times over! See the 28 kings up there? They're the "Kings of Judah". The Revolutionaries thought they were kings of France, so they blew all their faces off. Bad revolutionaries! Note to all- if you're conducting some kind of revolution, please do not destroy all the art of that country's history.

Notre Dame is very big. Look how little my head looks next to it!

Everyone loves a flying buttress!

My favorite church- St Etienne du Mont, in honor of St. Genevieve. So full of light and beautiful. This bridge-like structure is called a "rood screen", and symbolizes our need for an intercessor in prayer (hence Jesus in the middle).

This church really took my breath way. I felt overwhelmed by the symbolism and beauty of the place and the story of St. Genevieve and had the chance to spend some special time in prayer here.

This is St. Genevieve. She is the patron saint of Paris, because once when the city was under attack, she gathered a large group of women to pray, and the city was spared. Never underestimate the power of prayer!

St. Denis, the oldest church in Paris and the resting place of many French monarchs (pictures in a later post).

Sacre Coeur, in Montmarte.

And what's a picture of a gorgeous church without our smiling mugs in front of it? :) What a cool place. In a very bohemian part of Paris (think Moulin Rouge), this church is on top of a large hill. We sat for hours talking and looking out over the city lights.

In St. Germain. The Catholics love their candles. :) I love how this picture turned out.

There you have another installment of the Paris extravaganza! Only a few more to go. :)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Paris- Luxembourg Gardens

One of my favorite places in Paris was the Luxembourg Gardens. Wow. Beautiful fall foliage! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

A storm rolling past.

Pretty flowers. I'm a compulsive flower picture-taker.

Pony rides! I did not ride in the pony carriage.

Autumnal colors.

More fall goodness contrasted against a statue.

Me and Ross. Probably one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Luxembourg palace in the background. It's where the French senate meets now.

At the fountain in the center kids pushed around little toy sailboats with big sticks.

Such great landscaping here.

Too cool for school.