December 21, 2008

oh, the weather outside is frightful . . .

Stayed in Grand Island with friends last night. Watched a movie, cross-stitched, ate too many Oreo balls, and slept in a comfy bed. This morning, Melissa made chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. It's almost enough to make you forget that it's one degree with a wind chill of negative twenty-two outside!

December 19, 2008

snow day

Last night, I stayed late to work on yearbook. I drove home in one of the craziest snow/ice/lightning storms I've ever seen. I had to stop a quarter of a mile down the road and rescrape my windshield because the windshield wasn't yet warm enough to melt the ice--instead, it froze to the windshield on contact. It took me 25 minutes to drive the two-ish miles to my apartment. By late evening, I knew we had a 10 a.m. start; at 9 a.m., school was cancelled. At 9:30, I learned I'd need to go cover phones in the office for a few hours this morning. So here I am. I could be grading papers, but I don't feel like it. Anyway, here are a few tidbits to catch you up on what's going on with me:
  • My first yearbook deadline is the 24th, which means I have to get everything sent off on Monday. I'm so thankful we had our yearbook final test block yesterday--if it had been scheduled for today, I would have had about 10 pages to finish up on my own!
  • Yes, I'm obsessed with amazon--with good reason! For the first 16 days of December, they offered complete sets of TV series, one per day, at severely discounted prices. My day was Dec. 11, when Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Complete Series Megasetwas on sale for $89.99! Dr. Quinn was one of my favorite shows in junior high and high school, so I said, "Merry Christmas, Becky," and clicked the button to buy it.
  • I'm also obsessed with Straight No Chaser. So here's some more info for you:
    • You can get a free download of "What Child Is This" by signing up for their mailing list at www.sncmusic.com.
    • iTunes has the bonus tracks "White Christmas" and "Africa" for $.99 each. Since "Africa" is adapted for part of "12 Days of Christmas" (and since I've loved "Africa" ever since the commercials for Cool Rockin the 90's), I was very excited to find it.
  • Poor Val is stuck in Indiana . . . or Michigan . . . or Illinois. Her phone died just as she was going to tell me where. I really hope she can make it home tomorrow, although I hear the weather might be bad again.
  • Speaking of bad weather, I hope it doesn't keep me away from the Singing Christmas Tree! We have our final four concerts this weekend, and I'll be sad when it's over.
  • I have this project I've been working on for several months. I started with great gusto, but now it's like a chore to work on it. Val bet me that I wouldn't have it finished before Ritta Christmas (which is Jan. 11), so that should be motivation, as I'd love to prove Val wrong. It's not.
  • I've sucessfully burned about 2 hours, and I'm now leaving. Steph's making homemade pizza for lunch!

December 18, 2008

the "straight" story

First of all, if you haven't seen Straight No Chaser's version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" (have you been living under a rock???), go to YouTube right now and watch it.

You're welcome.

Last winter, someone told Mom about the YouTube video. We both loved it, and I wasted way too much time one evening watching all the videos of them I could find. (They did a sitcom medley that was so fun for a TV junkie like me!) For their anniversary, I ended up buying my parents (well, really Mom, since Dad couldn't care less) a dvd of SNC's farewell concert at Indiana University. The quality isn't great, but I figured it was the best we could get.

In the time between my parents' anniversary in February and early December, I pretty much forgot about Straight No Chaser. That is, until Holly reminded me of them. She said "12 Days of Christmas" was getting radio play, so I immediately looked them up. When I learned they had a Christmas album out, I had to buy it. Minutes later, I'd purchased a copy of "Holiday Spirits"--I'm all about mp3 downloads, but when I really want a cd, I still want the real thing.

Holiday Spirits is even better than I expected. It's also mellower than I expected, but that's good--it's very "office appropriate." Plus, the cd came with a free download of "What Child Is This." It's a beautiful arrangement. "12 Days of Christmas" is on the album; it's still my favorite of their songs, but "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Auld Lang Syne," and "Carol of the Bells" are great. And is it possible they do "Little Saint Nick" better than The Beach Boys? Who am I kidding--I love the whole thing! (And so do plenty of other people--Holiday Spirits is currently the top-selling cd on Amazon and the #3 mp3 album!)

These 10 guys are simply amazing. They have a five album deal with Atlantic Records, and you can bet I'll be buying each and every album they release.

December 16, 2008

in the news

I've been too busy to blog much lately . . . but one of our local TV stations has made it easy to show you what I've been up to!

Singing Christmas Tree
It's the 35th year for the SCT, and a reporter came to one of Saturday's performances. We've done eight shows, and we have four to go! Being in the tree is so much fun--I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to do this. Go here to read the story and watch the video. Look for me at 1:03! I'm the 4th person from the right on the bottom row.

Festival of Lessons and Carols
Last night was the 4th Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols at NC. I've been part of the choir for the past three years. The day is absolutely exhausting, but I really enjoy it! This year, we had a guest organist, Mark Thallander. You can watch Channel 5's video here. And, again, if you look really hard you can see me, sort of: At 0:58, count three people to the right from the conductor's (Eric Dale Knapp) head. That's me! My cousin Nate is two people to the left of me. My mom got to sing a solo, Steph sang in a quartet, and Nate sang in the quartet and played his trumpet for one of the orchestra's songs. I wish I had videos of those things to post, too!

December 8, 2008

another reason to love amazon

I got an email from Amazon yesterday telling me I have a $5 credit on mp3 downloads. Why? There's this promotion going on right now where if you spend $25 in their CD store (or some other places, too--click the link to see all that apply), you'll get a $5 mp3 credit to use in their digital downloads store. Yippee!

December 4, 2008

it's beginning to sound a lot like christmas

The Christmas season is upon us once again, and I've switched into my annual "Christmas music only" mode. With that in mind, I thought I'd repost this, which I wrote last year when I was still blogging over on MySpace . . .

Contrary to what retailers want you to believe, the Christmas season does not begin on Nov. 1. There is a holiday between Halloween and Christmas, and it drives me nuts that Thanksgiving is overlooked. When I go shopping in early November, do I want to hear Christmas music being pumped through the store? NO! But once the day after Thanksgiving rolls around, I believe in no-holds-barred, 24/7 Christmas music!

So, in the spirit of the season, I offer my picks for the best (and worst) in Christmas music:
  • Best album: 3-way tie--Michael W. Smith's Christmastime and It's A Wonderful Christmas and Amy Grant's Home for Christmas
  • Best concert: Jim Brickman. He's amazing, and he introduced me to David Klinkenberg's music. 'Nuff said.
  • Classic song: "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby
  • Best Christmas pageant: Little Christmas Lamb. Just ask my sisters.
  • Happy "I want to be home for Christmas" song: "Christmas In Nebraska" by Mulberry Lane (the link takes you to YouTube--lame video, but you can hear the song.)
  • Song I can't help but sing along to: "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano
  • Song that makes me snicker because of how fitting the title is: "Baby It's Cold Outside" by Nick Lachey & Jessica Simpson
  • Hymn: "Angels We Have Heard On High"
  • Most overplayed: "Carol of the Bells"--and it's sad because I love it. But it's everywhere!
  • Best children's album: Disney's Merry Christmas Carols. My grandma had this on tape, and sadly, it's not on cd.
  • Best Candlelight Service song: "Silent Night"

Am I forgetting anything? What's your favorite Christmas song?

December 3, 2008

cheap and free music

Amazon is currently running a 50 mp3 albums for $5 each promotion. There's something for everyone here, and at $5 per album, it's a great deal! Last night, I downloaded Jack Johnson's Sleep Through The Static and Chris Tomlin's Hello Love. There's also stuff by Coldplay, the High School Musical 3 soundtrack, and lots of albums I've never heard of!

Amazon is all about the free mp3s. They offer several each week. Some are great, and some are terrible. This week, they're offering a couple sampler albums. I just downloaded the Amazon Holiday Sampler--it's got Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, the Beach Boys, and others. Of course, the songs on it aren't their famous Christmas songs, but they're still enjoyable. Amazon is also giving away one Christmas song each day until Christmas with its 25 Days of Free Holiday Music. So far, each song has been a good one. If you're a fan of the Barenaked Ladies (Mom???), you'll want to be sure to check out the free tracks.

is your screen green?

It took me much longer to watch Leverage last night than I'd planned. That's because it was a .mov file. It wouldn't play in Windows Media Player, and when I tried to play in in Real Player and Quicktime, I could hear it, but all I saw was a green screen.

I've known about the green screen problem for a while, but I'd forgotten about it. A few months ago, I downloaded an episode of a tv show from iTunes, and I couldn't get it to play normally on my computer, but it was just fine on Steph's ipod. Brother Andrew tried to help me out by sending me a media player that he thought would play the file. It didn't work, but I didn't worry about it too much.

I couldn't give up that easily for Leverage. I was just too intrigued by the whole TV show on a flash drive thing. So I looked around and found the AVS Media Player. It worked wonderfully! While I can't vouch for the safety of the product--for all I know, there's spyware attached to it--I'd recommend you look into it if you ever find yourself with green screen problems.

December 2, 2008

leverage: starring danny ocean

Leverage, which premieres on TNT at 9 p.m. Sunday, evokes the Ocean's movies. There's the ubersmart criminal mastermind (Timothy Hutton)--although in this case, the pilot episode represents his first foray into criminal activity, the small-time crooks who are each good at one thing but work amazingly as a team, the behind-the-scenes twists that keep the audience in the dark until the setup is revealed to the guy being robbed/tricked (a la Toulour the master thief in Ocean's Twelve), and yes, the music. The music in Leverage could have been ripped from any of the Ocean's scores.

It tries to be cool like the Ocean's movies are cool, and it comes close. I enjoyed the ride, but I'm not sure this would be appointment TV. It strikes me as a show I could watch and enjoy every now and again if I stumbled across it, but it's not going to become my next Lost.

As a side note, Saul Rubinek has a guest starring role in the pilot. He's one of those guys you've seen everywhere but can't quite place--I've seen him in Psych, Stargate: SG-1, and Frasier, among other things, but I had to look him up on imdb to figure out who he was.

patience is a virtue

My Black Friday gift to myself? (Well, besides season two of Psych, which I got for $13.88 at Target!) A new monitor! Three years ago, I needed a new computer monitor, so I went to Best Buy on Black Friday. The crowd was insane, they were out of the monitor I was looking for by the time I got there, so I just gave up. Days later, Lisa gave me her family's used-but-still-in-good-shape monitor, so I quit looking for a new one. That monitor has been dying a slow (and annoying) death for the past four months, so I finally decided to splurge.

Staples had monitors on sale on Friday and Saturday. Because I don't know much about computers, I wanted my bro's opinion before I purchased. He talked me into a more expensive, yet probably more reliable, model . . . which arrived today!

I love assembling things, so putting it together and hooking it up to the computer was no big deal. I turned the computer on and tried to change the resolution like the instruction manual said . . . and found that I couldn't do it. This is a widescreen monitor, and I guess my video card (or something like that) needed to be updated. So I called Andrew. He spent like an hour walking me through various steps to update my drivers and such. Nothing worked--everything on the screen is slightly wider than it should be--but he told me something else to look for (the brand of motherboard, whatever that is), and if I can't figure it out, he'll try to fix it next time he's home.

Never once did he express any frustration with me--even when he had to repeat steps over and over--he just tried to help. Then, to top it off, he apologized to me for not realizing that this might happen when I asked him for advice on monitors. What a catch my brother is . . . Susan's a lucky girl!

creative marketing

I received an envelope in the mail today from TNT. Yes, the cable channel. The outside of the envelope read "ENJOY AN EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK AT TNT'S DARING NEW SERIES." It was lumpy, so I knew it didn't contain a dvd. I opened it up and found . . . a flash drive! I'm not overly familiar with flash drives--I have one that has the beginnings of my novel on it--I didn't know you could put a TV show on one! The show is Leverage. After I watch it, I'll let you know what I think . . . and you can be sure I'll watch it--what a clever marketing ploy!

November 25, 2008

superman!

You know those adolescent crushes--the ones you get on famous people? My first celebrity crush was on Jonathan Brandis (R.I.P.). I had a huge poster of his face on my wall. That crush faded fairly quickly (although the poster remained on my wall for years). It was replaced by a crush that lasted longer than I'd like to admit . . . and evidently isn't quite gone yet. I say it isn't gone because as this page (sent to me by my considerate brother) loaded, and I saw the headline, I squealed. Yes, squealed. I guess Dean Cain still has the ability to make me revert to junior high.

November 24, 2008

really? you want me to buy your product?

Product placement on TV is getting ridiculous. I remember the days when sitcom families wouldn't have real brands of pop or potato chips. I found it distracting and fake. But now, it seems like every show is promoting a particular brand or five . . . which is just as distracting and fake.

Everyone knows the American Idol judges drink Coke. And anyone who watches The Amazing Race would be, well, as stupid as some of this season's teams if they didn't realize Travelocity sponsors the show. While reality shows have the most product placement, sitcoms, dramas, and tv movies aren't exempt.

Sometimes the placement works well, like when Michael gave away an iPod at The Office's Christmas party. I totally believe that's something Michael would do.

Sometimes it's not quite so seamless. On the current season of Psych, Steph and I started playing "who's today's Psych sponsor?" Dunkin' Donuts and Red Robin, for starters. The writers at least attempted to make it fit into the story, sometimes with better results than others.

And sometimes it's so blatant it's ridiculous. I was just watching this cheesy Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel. As they get to the big, climactic moment of the movie, the music swells, and the lead pulls a ring box out of his pocket. The camera zeroes in on the lid, which proclaims "Kay Jewelers." He opens the box, and the inside also screams "Kay Jewelers." I get that "every kiss begins with Kay," but seriously! Not that I have any reason to visit a jewelry store, but that placement made me less likely to consider Kay because it was just plain annoying.

majesty and glory

I love looking at the stars. I always have. When I was in lower elementary, my mom and I checked out this tape about constellations from the library. We took our little portable cassette player outside, played the tape, and looked at the stars. If I remember right, we weren't very successful in identifying the constellations; we may have only found the Big Dipper. In upper elementary, I discovered Orion, which quickly became my favorite constellation. To this day, seeing it fills me with wonder and joy.

Tonight, I looked up at the stars as I was leaving my parents' house. I couldn't see Orion, but I did find Cassiopeia. And as I looked into the sky, this song from high school choir began running through my head:
When I gaze into the night sky
And see the work of Your fingers
The moon and stars suspended in space
Oh what is man that you are mindful of him
You have given man a crown of glory and honor
And have made him a little lower than the angels
You have put him in charge of all creation
The beasts of the field
The birds of the air
The fish of the sea
But what is man, oh what is man that you are mindful of him?
Oh Lord, our God, the majesty and glory of Your name
Transcends the earth and fills the heavens
Oh Lord, our God, little children praise you perfectly
And so should we, and so should we
Alleluia
The majesty and glory of your name!
Alleluia
~Linda Lee Johnson (based on Psalm 8)

November 22, 2008

fireproof, pt. 2

I finally saw Fireproof last weekend. I loved it! Our international students also saw it, and it certainly seemed to make a lasting impression on some of them. One of my students told me that it made him reexamine his view on divorce. Before seeing the movie, he thought divorce was OK as long as no kids were involved, but now he's not so sure. Then in chapel this week, my pastor spoke on real love, which dovetailed quite nicely with the message of Fireproof. I recommend the movie to anyone, and I'll probably get it on dvd. (As far as the acting goes, I thought the scene near the beginning with the wife and her friend at the hospital was kind of forced, but after that, I never thought about it again. It was also much funnier than I was expecting.)

Also, I thought this was very cool. Kirk Cameron, who played the main character, refuses to kiss anyone besides his wife. Check out the story here.

what's your reaction? pt. 2

Well, I only had one suggestion for what to call my reaction labels, so I went with it: insightful, diverting, and ridiculous. I figured those labels were more interesting than mine, so thanks thesisterval!

not dc Talk, but close


Steph and I went to tobyMac's Winter Wonder Slam concert in Lincoln on Thursday. I was way excited--I was never able to see dc Talk live, so I figured seeing tobyMac would be the next best thing. Plus, I really like tobyMac . . .

There were four acts. The first, B.Reith, was quite enjoyable. He sounds remarkably like Jason Mraz. Seriously. At least when he's not rapping. Check out his MySpace page.

Next came Family Force 5. I'm not even going to give you a link--that's how much I hated them. Steph compared their lead singer to a convulsing, dying lizard. The were so loud, and I couldn't understand much of what they were singing. They had this one guy who basically just danced--sometimes, he danced while banging a tambourine, but mainly he just danced. I never actually counted the people on stage, but I wondered if maybe they needed him in order to have five! I went into the concert knowing I probably wouldn't like them, but I had no idea just how much. We sat through their whole set, just like all the "old" people. I texted Melissa, who had seats on the other side of the auditorium, to commiserate. I was pretty sure she was hating them, too. Yup! She was actually standing in the hall, waiting for them to finish!

Relient K was awesome. You know how some bands are great in the studio but terrible live? Relient K is not one of those bands. They sounded exactly like they do on their cds, and they played their biggest hits, which was nice since I don't really know any of their new stuff. My favorite part of their set was when they sang about being on stage after Family Force 5 had to leave--to the tune of Subway's Five Dollar Footlong jingle.

tobyMac. Loud, of course--but I didn't mind so much since I knew all the songs! Have I ever mentioned how much I hate encores? What's their purpose? tobyMac left the stage without singing "Made to Love" . . . so obviously he was going to come back. And he did. Then he did "Jesus Freak," in a nice dc Talk shout out. That was the highlight of the concert for me :-)

I had to smile when the guy right behind us was explaining to his date that tobyMac might do some dc Talk songs because "he used to be in dc Talk." It also made me feel a tad old.

November 16, 2008

what's your reaction?

Blogger has a new feature called "reactions." It's a way for me to gauge what you, my readers, think about my posts. The labels are totally customizable, and I had several to begin with, but for some reason, only three show up on my blog. So I need your help: do you have a better idea for what to call the reactions? Right now, I have funny, interesting, and boring. But if you can think of a better way to say those things, let me know!

Also, for those of you who read but don't comment (yes, I'm talking about you), this is a way for you to give me feedback without having to say anything! I won't know who is telling me I'm being boring, so click away!

To those of you who do comment, please keep commenting--but you can also click on the reaction buttons :-)

family resemblance?

At Singing Christmas Tree practice today, a guy thought Melissa and I were sisters. I've never thought we looked too much alike before, but my sister said she's had people ask her if Melissa and I were related. At least the guy didn't think I was her mother (yes, that's happened to me before . . . with a friend who is older than me!). What do you think? Could we be sisters?

November 13, 2008

discovering treasures

A few months ago, my parents went wild cleaning their basement. The basement was my home for a year after I graduated from college, and when I moved out, I didn't exactly take all my things with me. So, while they were cleaning, my dad took the liberty of packing up two boxes of stuff and depositing the boxes in my car. I lugged them up the stairs to my apartment and promptly shoved them in a closet. About a week ago, I decided I should look through them. About half the stuff in the boxes isn't mine (and, therefore, will be returned to Dad's basement) . . . but the stuff that is mine is pretty interesting!

One box was full of books. Most of the books are rather boring--old grammar books, textbooks, etc. But I also found this book:

I read Shadows Along the Ice in junior high. My siblings mocked me mercilessly . . . and judging by the cover, I can see why! They called it Shadows Along the Joe, though, because Ice looks suspiciously like Joe.

Another box contained some of my college stuff--my honor and Alpha Chi cords, an issue of the Sounding Board (my college newspaper), and some financial aid papers.

And then I saw it--something that made me stop and reminisce. Before I tell you what it is, though, I need to give you a little background info. Jodi and I transferred to Grace at the same time, and we were roommates our first semester. Like any friends, we had our ups and downs, but Jodi got to know me better than anyone, save perhaps my sister. I think it's because we were so different. I've always been very surface-level (I credit it to my personality type, ISTJ--Jodi also introduced me to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator!), and Jodi pushed me to dig deeper. I had deeper conversations with her when we were in college than I've had with anyone else before or since . . . although she probably wouldn't call our conversations deep at all!

In the 4 1/2 years since we graduated, we've drifted apart. She's in Ohio; I'm in Nebraska. Our relationship now amounts to a Facebook message here and there. It's largely my fault, as I haven't made much of an effort to stay in touch. Most of the time, I don't really think about it. But then I go through a box of stuff, and our whole friendship comes flooding back. And I realize that I really do miss her.

This is what I found in the box: During the spring semester of our junior year, Jodi decided we needed to be creative. She had some water colors, and we spent a couple evenings painting. While she was being quite creative, I was painting Simba. I think I stayed in the lines very well! My journal tells me that the night I painted Simba, we stayed up talking until 5:30 a.m. I miss that, although I wouldn't be able to function if I stayed up that late now!

A few weeks later, we painted again. This time, I actually started with a blank paper. (I don't remember, but Jodi probably convinced me that painting Simba didn't count as creativity!) So here is my masterpiece; trust me, it's as artistic as I get!

November 11, 2008

let's sing some hymns!

This afternoon, I found out that Covenant Life Church (Josh Harris' church) released a cd of 10 hymns they're learning as a church this year. I love hymns, so I went to the church's website to check out the cd. I literally began bouncing up and down in my office chair when I saw the familiar NoiseTrade widget. I've written about NoiceTrade before--I love how you can get free music simply by providing five email addresses. My family members have been inundated with NoiseTrade emails . . . because I know they'll still love me, even when I send them emails they don't want!

This time, though, I put more thought into the people I sent the notification email to. So if you got one, know that it's because I really think you'll enjoy the music. Check it out!

November 10, 2008

supporting our president

Kudos to the Wall Street Journal. They ran this opinion piece on the treatment of President Bush. The author makes some good points. It's a shame the way we treat the man we elected to be our president.

I have no trouble supporting President Bush. I've never understood why people seem to hate him so much--but then I've never been one of those "withdraw the troops now!" people, either. However, I may struggle in my support of President-elect Obama. With that in mind, here are a few tips from Justin Taylor on supporting our president.
No matter who you voted for--or whether you voted at all--it's important to remember that, as President, Barack Obama will have God-given authority to govern us, and that we should view him as a servant of God (Rom. 13:1, 4) to whom we should be subject (Rom. 13:1, 5; 1 Pet. 2:13-14).
I have begun praying for our new president; I encourage you to do so, as well!



yes, we were partisan

I came across this piece in the Washington Post. In it, Deborah Howell, the paper's ombudsman (sadly, I had to look it up) acknowledges that yes, the Post favored Obama.

I understand that everyone has his or her own bias to bring to the table, but this year, the media didn't seem to make any effort to conceal that bias. I'm glad that the Post is admitting its bias . . . even if it is after the fact. Hopefully, the media will attempt to be more neutral the next time around. (A girl can dream, can't she?)

November 8, 2008

not laughing with the laugh track

I just got Sports Night from Netflix. Sports Night is another one of those shows that Andrew and I used to watch together in the basement--only Mom wouldn't have hated this one so much. I was about two minutes into the pilot when I heard it: laughter. At first, I thought there was something wrong with the dvd; then I realized it was a laugh track. I so rarely watch sitcoms anymore (and really, how many "traditional" sitcoms are left?)--the only comedy I regularly watch is The Office, which doesn't have a laugh track--that I'd almost forgotten laugh tracks existed. Frankly, I find the laugh track annoying. Can you imagine if a movie had a laugh track? I'd much rather have silence than hear people "coaching" me on when to laugh.

November 6, 2008

the first snow

There's always something magical about the first snow of the season. It was raining when I walked to my car this morning. On my way to work, the rain became snow. As I walked to my classroom, I smiled at the feel of the flakes melting against my face.

One hour later, the wind had begun blowing. Hard. The snow had turned to sleet, and it stung as it whipped into my face. Suddenly, the weather didn't seem so magical anymore. (Especially since I was wearing a light jacket and sandals!)

Now it's windy and cold, but the precipitation has subsided. We've been blessed with amazing weather, even topping 70 degrees a few days ago. But still, I'm not ready for winter.

November 4, 2008

fireproof

I just learned that Fireproof has made its way to our local theater. The theater is only open Friday through Sunday, so I'm thinking about seeing it on Saturday night. I've heard very good things about this movie . . . I'll let you know what I think after I see it!

a momentary distraction

This afternoon, I stumbled across some news that made me forget about the election for a few minutes. Before I tell you the news, it's confession time: I was addicted to the last cycle of The Bachelorette. I have long mocked those "find your soulmate on TV" shows, but I somehow got sucked into the "who will DeAnna pick?" drama. I watched, speechless, as she eliminated Jeremy, the attorney who I'd picked to go all the way. The next week, I was rooting for Jesse, the snowboarder who she did end up with, simply because I decided she wasn't good enough for the other finalist, Jason.

Jason--who looks like the guy who played Danny on TNBC's Hang Time--will be the next Bachelor. No surprise there, as he was by far the most likeable person on The Bachelorette.

So on to the news I learned today. DeAnna and Jesse, who were supposed to get married in May in a ceremony televised by ABC (of course!), broke up. What a SHOCKER! But it gets even better: she broke up with him at the airport baggage claim!

voting

This morning, I voted in my third presidential election. We are seriously so blessed to live in a nation where we can make our voices heard in the voting booth. I cannot understand why people would choose not to vote. It's such a privilege!

My senior year of high school, I was so jealous when several of my classmates got to vote. We weren't electing the president that year--it was 1998--but that didn't matter to me. What mattered was I was only 17, and I couldn't vote.

My first vote was in the 2000 primaries. I honestly don't remember much about it. Nebraska's primary is in May, so it's too late to have much (if any) affect on the presidential primaries. The only person I actually remember voting for is legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne.

The November 2000 election is a different story. It was cold and icy, and I fishtailed while driving to the Community Room to vote. I slid into a parking space, miraculously stopping before hitting the car parked across from me. And I proudly cast my ballot for George W. Bush. I watched the returns late into the night. When the networks declared Bush the winner, I went to bed. That night, I dreamed that it was a mistake and Gore had really won. The next morning, I woke up to the nightmare that was the Florida recount.

That election ended up going "my" way, as did the 2004 election. I can't shake the feeling that this one won't end up as I'd like it to; however, dear friend Jen reminded me recently that we just have to trust that God is in control. And no matter what happens, I'm so grateful to have a voice!

October 31, 2008

football memories

Last Friday, I stumbled across the 4th quarter of the 2001 Nebraska-Oklahoma game on ESPN Classic. I tuned in just in time to see this:

The commentators spent a lot of time talking about Eric Crouch's Heisman bid. My mom and I watched the Heisman presentation from a surgical waiting room in an Omaha hospital. My aunt, a longtime diabetic, was finally getting an much anticipated kidney transplant.

Watching this game reminded me how much I used to love Husker football. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan, but I'm not nearly as passionate about it as I was a few years ago.

We, of course, got trounced by Oklahoma on Saturday.

October 30, 2008

avoiding trick-or-treaters

The light in the stairwell outside my apartment burned out about a week ago. I've been holding off on calling my landlord about it because of this brilliant idea: what parent in their right mind would let their child go up a dark stairwell to trick-or-treat? I'll just enclose a note with my rent check on Saturday--after Halloween!

Of course, there are some crazy people out there . . . this is what happened to me last year on Halloween:
*Halloween--we had Awana, so I figured I wouldn't need to worry about buying any candy. I was wrong. I got home around 8:45, immediately put on my pajamas, and got ready to relax. Pretty soon, I heard a knock at the door. I figured it was cousin Jon, who often will stop by after Awana. I went to the door and opened my mouth to tell him I'd let him in in a minute . . . but as I opened my mouth, I glanced through the peephole and saw a woman standing there. I can only assume a child was at the door--I couldn't see anyone else. Two thoughts ran through my head: 1--I'm not decent; I can't open the door, and 2--I don't have any candy; I can't open the door! So I tiptoed back to my bedroom. Then I heard another knock. A few seconds later, another. The knocking escalated to full-fledged pounding, and it lasted for a good two minutes! It was like the lady knew I was home, and since I was home, I was obligated to give her kid candy! (And as for the whole "if the porch light is on, the person has candy" thing, I live in an apartment building--the hall lights are always on! I had all my shades closed and the lights in the front part of the apartment were off . . . but evidently my hall light being on gave her the right to pound on my door?)
I did buy candy this year, just in case!

October 29, 2008

i stand corrected

Sometimes I forget that in the age of the internet, you can connect with practically anyone. (Thus, I am Facebook friends with my favorite Lost blogger.) I was reminded of this fact when I received a comment on my last post from Eric Wilson. Who is Eric Wilson, you ask? He's the guy whose book I'll soon be reviewing for Thomas Nelson.

Here's what he had to say:
Just to clarify, I started pitching the idea for my series before Twilight even came out. I would never try to capitalize on the success of something else. I despise it when Christians try to imitate the worldly successes. I write what I want to write--usually to my own detriment.

Thanks for giving it a chance, though.
I'm glad he wrote. Although my blog is mainly filled with personal opinions and reflections, I do want to be as accurate as possible. My statement yesterday about Wilson's book capitalizing on Twilight's success was pure conjecture; now that I know it's false, I want to be sure my readers know that, too.

October 27, 2008

thoughts from six hours in parent-teacher conferences

  • We should have scheduled conferences. Then I wouldn't have to sit here for six hours waiting for 10 parents to come through.
  • I really love proofreading. How do I become a freelance proofreader?
  • Smart move turning my phone to vibrate. The chorus of "So Happy Together," for some reason I can't remember, is the ringtone I've set for the school. Since Mom was in the office, and I was in the gym, she called me several times to give people messages, etc. If "I can't see me loving nobody but you . . ." suddenly came blaring from my phone, well, that would be pretty embarrassing and could lead to lots of unwelcome questions!
  • Four hours in, and I've talked with four sets of parents. Six to go . . . I'm betting I'll only see one or two more, though.
  • One minute later, I've seen another set of parents.
  • I just got a big hug from one of my three favorite little boys, and then he "helped" me cross-stitch . . . I've missed seeing him since I switched churches!
  • I am, right now, missing Chuck. I only watch sporadically, but I really enjoyed last week's episode guest starring Cory. Ah, how I loved Boy Meets World!
  • Just chatted with another of my favorite boys in the world. I see him every week at Sparks and every once in a while at school, but I still loved seeing him!
  • 7:38. None of my parents (save ones I've already talked to) are even in the room. Can I go home now?
  • Talked with my Sparks co-director. We need to make some changes regarding our leaders. We meet with them practically every week after club . . . are they at the point where they don't even hear what we're saying?
  • Finally put away my cross-stitch. Gym lighting is not conducive to putting a needle through small holes.
  • Swapped stories with one of the science teachers for a few minutes. Four minutes to go!
  • 8:00 sharp. I'm out of here!

October 22, 2008

more free music

I've been downloading music from NoiseTrade for a while now; if you like free music (and who doesn't!), you should check it out. So far, Derek Webb (of Caedmon's Call) is my favorite NoiseTrade artist, but you can also get stuff from Phil Joel, Sixpence None the Richer, Sandra McCracken, and many others.


October 21, 2008

an addictive timewaster

Have a little time to spare? Try out the Eyeballing Game. I've played probably 15 times in the last two days. My best score was in the 6's. I'm truly terrible at convergence and excellent at bisect angle. Check it out!

rethinking my position

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Obama's response to the "when does life begin" question. At the time, I said that a candidate's stance on abortion was important, but perhaps not the most important issue. Two months later, I've reversed my opinion. How can I, in good conscience, vote for someone who will not defend life? I know this is a touchy issue, and Christians all over are debating it. In fact, I just read something about it on the Boundless Line. While I've never had any intention of voting for Obama, his stance on abortion hasn't bothered me enough. I guess the thing is that I've heard about abortion my whole life. I know it's horrible. I know it's murder. And I'm tired of hearing about it. I've seen so little progress, and I would be flabbergasted if we ever saw the reversal of Roe v. Wade. And so, because I'm so tired of it, I stop thinking about it . . . and I no longer consider it as important of an issue as it really is.

This morning, I came across a blog called The Dawn Patrol. The author is a conservative Catholic, and she reprinted a blog post from a pro-choice med student who spent the day shadowing doctors at an abortion clinic. You can read the post by clicking the link above. You'll have to scroll down a bit; look for the headline "I saw some things I can't get out of my head." Wherever you stand on abortion, please click through to The Dawn Patrol. What you read there will make you think.

October 16, 2008

it's pete!

Last week I mentioned Ryan Reynolds . . . who I still choose to believe I saw in Stratford. I was a big fan of his sitcom Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, and I have fond memories of watching it with Andrew. Especially the Halloween brain-swapping episode.

Berg, as I'll always think of him, is the cast member who has reached the highest level of fame, and after "seeing" him, I started wondering what happened to everyone else. I saw Ashley on Bones a couple of years ago, and apparently she's just done some guest spots on various shows. Johnny starred in Firefly (thanks to Andrew & Susan for introducing me to it!) and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and Sharon is Monk's assistant. (And I've just now remembered, with the help of imdb, that she was Joy on Boston Common before Two Guys and a Girl. That's another show Andrew and I watched that Mom wouldn't have approved of. Really, we watched a lot of shows Mom wouldn't have approved of. I didn't have much discretion when it came to media back then.) But what about Pete? He was my favorite character on the show, and I always hated that he and Sharon never got together. I can't remember seeing him anywhere since the end of the show.

I got my new TV Guide yesterday. On almost every page of the TV listings, there's an ad for a new Lifetime show called Rita Rocks . . . which is probably ridiculously stupid . . . Only the female lead's face is showing in the ads, but I thought the guy playing the husband looked suspiciously familiar, and I was right--IT'S PETE :-) So I'll probably give the show a look see . . .

October 12, 2008

make a joyful noise

Singing Christmas Tree practices started today. I'm so excited about singing again! (I'm also excited about seeing Melissa on a more regular basis . . . we'll have lots of time together with all the rehearsals and performances in the next two months!) We're doing a few songs that we did when I sang three years ago. The music is really good, and I think the drama will be as well--it's the Apostle Paul telling other inmates about Jesus while he's in prison. Be sure to get your tickets!

a road map

I don't know how many times in my life I've said, "I wish God would just drop a map from the sky telling me what to do!"

My pastor is preaching a series on faith. Today he talked about Abraham. I've often struggled with what God wants me to do with my life. Who hasn't? And it's in those times of uncertainty that I've wished for that road map. But Pastor Mike said something today that hit me as one of those "duh" statements--it should have been so clear to me before, but it wasn't. He said, "I'm glad God hasn't dropped a map for my life into my lap. I couldn't handle it!" That's so true! If I knew what would happen to me farther on down the line, I might be less inclined to follow God now. What if I knew that I would die of cancer, or I'd be thrown in jail because of my faith, or I'd never get married, or I'd end up a missionary in ____? (I wanted to say "Africa"--not because I despise the thought of Africa, but because of that old Scott Wesley Brown song!) Sometimes knowing is worse than not knowing. I'm a worrier (well, recovering . . . I don't worry nearly as much as I used to) . . . I'd probably give myself ulcers!

Pastor Mike said something else today that really made me think: "Do what you already know is God's will, and He'll lead you step-by-step." Another "duh"--the Bible is full of things God has commanded us to do. I should concentrate on being obedient to God right now, where I'm at, and trust Him to show me when it's time to take the next step. Every time I've needed to make a big decision about school, or a job, or moving, God has clearly shown me in His time. Waiting: that's the hard part.

indiana, canada, indiana

I started this a week ago and forgot about it . . .

It's 8 p.m. on Sunday night, and I'm sitting in my sister's living room in Kent Hall at Grace. I think this is the 9th time I've been back at Grace since graduation, and each time, it gets a little less surreal. I realized today as I walked around campus that I've now been gone from Grace for longer than I was here. Weird.

Steph and I left school early on Thursday to begin our trek to Indiana. Why? To join 22 others on a trip to Stratford, Ontario, for the Shakespeare Festival. We left Central City shortly after noon, and we arrived at Grace just before 2 a.m. The trip took us 13 hours instead of the normal 11 to 12 because we had a bit of car trouble. Nothing major, but it served to freak me out, nonetheless.

So we arrived at Grace at 2, and we had to load the vans for Canada at 4:50! I normally can't sleep in cars, but I had no trouble when I was running on less than two hours of sleep!

Canada was awesome. We saw The Taming of the Shrew and Hamlet. Hamlet was my favorite. It was set in the 1910's . . . some people with us were unhappy in the change of setting, but I thought it worked wonderfully. Plus, the guy who played Hamlet and the girl who played Ophelia both did an amazing job.

We had great seats for Hamlet--I think we were about 12 rows from the center front. A few minutes into the play, I looked over to the left and saw . . . at least I choose to believe I saw . . . Ryan Reynolds! Admittedly, the chances of Berg being at a play on a Friday night less than a week after his wedding are slim, but this guy looked exactly like him!

It's now one week after our trip, but I feel like it was months ago. I guess that's what happens when you go back to real life! Anyway, back to Canada . . .

We skipped the after play dessert basically because I was exhausted. We stayed at the Stratford Hospital Nurses' Residence Hall . . . it was fine for a night, but I'm oh so thankful for Grace's dorms! I was totally spoiled!

On Saturday, we spent the morning and early afternoon shopping in Stratford. Val and I went on this trip two years ago, and we found this adorable shop that sold cute dishes and had cats roaming the store. I fell in love with a set of dishes but didn't buy them--and I've regretted it ever since. We went back there on Saturday, and while they didn't have any place settings left in that pattern, they did have soup bowls and two serving dishes. So I bought the soup bowls, and Steph bought the serving dishes for my Christmas present. Yay!

We got back to Grace late Saturday night, and Sunday we went to Christ's Covenant. The sermon was good, the worship was great, but my favorite part was slipping into the row next to Sarah, saying "good morning," and seeing the look on her face when she realized it was me :-) I'd intended to tell her we were coming, but I forgot . . . and I think it was more fun this way!

Steph went on a campus tour on Monday, and we drove home. That's our trip in a nutshell! You can see pictures here.



October 8, 2008

update on my goals

So, here's how I did:
  • read 50-100 pages of Lynne Spears' autobiography I actually finished the book last night.
  • begin jotting down thoughts for review of said book No notes, but I did start thinking about the review. I stumbled upon an opportunity to get a free book in exchange for writing a 200-word review and posting it on Amazon and on my blog. So look for that sometime in the next week.
  • work on my novel If typing a page I wrote in Steph's notebook on our trip counts as working on the novel, then I succeeded.
  • wash dishes Who was I kidding???
  • call Val Called, left message.
  • flip between NCIS and Dancing with the Stars Nixed NCIS in favor of Dancing. I made the wrong choice.
  • grade journals Didn't happen.
  • upload pictures from Canada trip Spent over an hour editing pictures in Picasa and uploading them to Facebook. Check out the album here.
  • have dinner with the fam Goulash. Delicious.
  • unpack Took clothes out of suitcase, put clean ones on the floor and dirty ones in the hamper. So I sort of succeeded.
  • go to bed before midnight Lights out at 11:30.

October 7, 2008

evening agenda

Just returned from Canada and Indiana, and I've hit the ground running.  After a crazy day at work (where I spent hours designing a postcard, thanks to a sketchy internet connection), I still have a million things to do.  On the agenda: 
  • read 50-100 pages of Lynne Spears' autobiography
  • begin jotting down thoughts for review of said book
  • work on my novel
  • wash dishes
  • call Val
  • flip between NCIS and Dancing with the Stars
  • grade journals
  • upload pictures from Canada trip
  • have dinner with the fam
  • unpack
  • go to bed before midnight
We'll see how I do.

September 29, 2008

shopping with my mommy

I left work early tonight to go shopping with my mom. We went to Schweser's, a clothing store, because we had 5% off coupons that expire tomorrow. I've never been a big fan of Schweser's--I've always thought of it as an old lady store--but one of my good friends has recently bought lots of cute clothes there, so I thought I'd give it a chance.

We went to Columbus, which is 45 miles northeast of Central City, because we'd heard it was a bigger store than the one in the mall in Grand Island. Yeah, I'll say it's bigger! It has three floors! Mom kept saying it reminded her of an old time department store.

Mom has been looking for a brown jacket to match one of her skirts for about a year, and she found one today, along with several other things. I got two dressy (but not too dressy) shirts for work and a dress for my brother's wedding! And the best part is, nearly everything in the store was 55% off!!!

the decision is made

Thanks to all of you who prayed for me as I agonized over my decision. Yesterday, I finally made it.

For the past year or so, I've been thinking about going back to the church I attended when I lived in Grand Island. This summer, I started praying about it. For the last week, I've been agonizing over the decision.

When I'm faced with a hard decision, I tend to just put it out of my mind . . . which is why I've been thinking about this for a year without acting on it! I don't know why, two weeks ago, it suddenly became important to actually make a decision--the only thing I can figure is that God was pushing me because it's not like there's something at either church that would require me to decide now.

A few things made my decision very difficult, but the biggest factor was that all of my family members who live in this area attend the church I've been attending, the church I grew up in. Family is very important to me, and thinking about leaving the church they all go to, even though I really wanted to be somewhere else, was stressful.

Two Sundays ago, I visited the church in Grand Island. I loved it, and I really felt like that was where I was supposed to be . . . but I still didn't want to rush into a decision. So I decided to keep praying about it and go back last Sunday. About midway through the week, I decided that I really wanted to make the change, so I began praying that if it was the wrong decision, God would make it very apparent. I'm not sure if that was the best way to go about it, but it's what I did.

So, yesterday, I went to church and checked "regular attender" on the attendance card. Now that it's done, I'm so relieved--and very excited!

September 25, 2008

safe haven?

I love my state, but this is absolutely insane.

under the microscope

I had my first classroom observation today. The first. Ever.

I'm in my fourth year of teaching, but I didn't take a normal route to the classroom. I took one education class at my community college; I decided then that I didn't want to be a teacher. In my second year at NC, my then-boss asked me to start a writing class for our international seniors. The next year, I began teaching ESL. I've worked my way up to two ESL classes, yearbook, speech, and a study hall that may as well be biology. (Trust me, I'm not too effective as a biology teacher!)

Since I never had any formal teacher training, I missed out on the whole student teaching experience. I don't know why I was never observed in the past three years, but I wasn't.

This year, my boss decided to be more intentional about getting into the classroom--and today, it was my turn to be observed. While I wasn't overly nervous about it, it had been on my mind all week. We're in the middle of a parts of speech overview in my Intermediate ESL class, and at the end of last week, I realized that today would be the day we'd get to articles. I love teaching articles, as I've taught them for the past four years, and I really feel confident in my lesson.

So yesterday, I gave a pronoun quiz . . . and when I graded the quiz, I realized that my class didn't understand pronouns as well as I thought they did. I thought about spending today's class fully explaining pronouns--but then I would have had to go into subjective and objective case, and they don't have a clue about objects or predicate nouns or anything like that yet. At midnight, I still didn't know what I was going to do today.

I finally decided to go over pronouns a little bit, then introduce articles. Today was also the day for the weekly vocab quiz and journaling, so I figured I'd have enough material for the 50 minutes. I got everything laid out on my desk in the order I'd need it--much more organized than normal!

Then my boss walked into the room. I still didn't have butterflies, but my hands started shaking! The opening, quiz, and pronoun lesson went well. Then I went to start on articles and couldn't find my notes! My heart seriously stopped. Inside, I was totally panicking, although I think I covered pretty well by moving on to the journal assignment. As the students wrote down the assignment, I found my notes . . . exactly where they were supposed to be. The articles lesson went pretty well, but we still had about 10 minutes left, so I gave them study time. I hope that was OK . . .

My boss left with a couple minutes of class time remaining, and I felt like a giant weight had been lifted. After class, I ran into another teacher in the hall, and she asked if the boss had been observing me. When I told her he had, she said she always feels sick when he walks into her classroom--and she's been teaching for 20-some years!

I'm SO glad it's over, though I'm not too excited about reading the evaluation. (He has plenty of material--he brought his laptop in, and he was typing the entire time he was in the room.)

I hope this observation thing doesn't happen very often!

September 22, 2008

tossing and turning

That's all I seemed to do last night. Two hours after I went to bed, I was still awake. Normally when I can't sleep, there's no good reason for it. But last night, I knew the reason: I have a big decision to make--a decision I've been contemplating for about a year. The thing is, it's now time to actually make the decision, rather than just think about making it.

Tonight, Proverbs 3:5-6 came to my attention. I've known these verses at least since Kindergarten, but I haven't stopped to think about their meaning for a long time.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."

crazy? you bet!

Steph wanted pizza last Friday, but I didn't want to take the time to make our normal homemade crust. Searching through Mom's recipes, I found one from my aunt called Crazy Crust Pizza. It looked fairly quick and simple, so I decided to go for it. I knew it would be different, as it called for 4 eggs and only 2 cups of flour . . . but I had no idea just how different! Fortunately, I had my camera:

1. Mix all ingredients until smooth; spread in pan. Add meat, and bake for 25 minutes. I chose to ignore the meat directions--why would I put the meat on before the sauce? Well, perhaps the meat would serve to hold down the crust; when I opened the oven to check on the crust 15 minutes into the baking time, this is what I saw:
2. When I took the crust out after the full 25 minutes, it looked like this:
3. After I beat on it with a spatula, it looked a little more normal:
4. Add the sauce . . .

5. And cheese. And in my case, meat:

6. And here's the final product. It looks like a normal pizza!
The crust was surprisingly good . . . until the next day. I usually love day-old pizza, but not this stuff. The crust took on a funky texture and flavor. So, beware of Crazy Crust Pizza . . . or at least follow the recipe :-)

September 15, 2008

our state fair is a great state fair . . .

OK, so it's not our state fair I was at . . . this weekend, I went to the Kansas State Fair for the 26th time.  It's a bit of a family tradition, you could say.  We had a great time, and here are a few pics from the weekend.  Enjoy!



September 11, 2008

mountain dew, mint brownies, and pandora

I'm up late proofing the Advance. I knew it would be a late night, but I didn't realize just how late. I need to get the edits to Beth tonight so she can finish it tomorrow. Here are a few of the things keeping me awake and sane while I work:
  • Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi
  • Code Red Mountain Dew (caffeine and sugar!)
  • Pillsbury Mint Chocolate Brownies (thanks, Steph!)
  • DayQuil (yes, I have a cold--as do about half the people associated with NC. What's the deal? It's the beginning of September!)
  • Pandora Radio--how could I have forgotten about this website? It's amazing! Earlier, I was listening to movie music--John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Alan Menken. Now, I'm listening to a station I created last time I used Pandora, which was in 2006--my last three songs were "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", "I Swear", and "What's Left of Me." And yes, I'm singing along. Now I've got "Here Without You," which always makes me think of Elvis Stojko. I'm pretty sure I monopolized the binoculars when Holly and I saw him at Champions on Ice ;-)
  • Scramble on Facebook. I'm so addicted. It's like Boggle. I'm pretty bad at it, which is evidenced by the fact that Kate slaughters me each time we play, but it's such fun!

September 9, 2008

responsible teens

My yearbook staff has been selling ads during class for the past week. After they got back today, my mom took a call from one of the businesses some of the boys visited. My first thought when Mom told me about the call was oh no, what did they do now? I trust them, but still, they're teenagers, and I wouldn't put it past them to have a lapse in judgment.

But no. The lady was calling to let us know how professional and respectful the boy who had sold them the ad had been.

I feel like a proud mama bear :-)

September 5, 2008

it's the thought that counts

I had extra time this morning--don't ask me how that happened--so I decided to make some coffee. I got out my travel coffee maker, which brews two 15-oz. travel mugs of coffee. I got it all set up for one mug; then I decided I should take some coffee for my mom, too. So I added water and coffee, made sure the mugs were firmly in their slots, and turned it on. I went back to my room to finish getting ready. Just as I was ready to leave, I went back to the kitchen to grab the coffee . . . and saw a countertop covered in brown liquid! It was everywhere. I couldn't figure out what went wrong. At first, I thought I'd put a little too much water in, and it had run over. . .but judging by the mess on my counter, it was more than a little too much. Then I moved the second mug and realized it was empty. I'd forgotten to turn the switch from one mug to two, so the entire 30 ounces tried to go into one 15-oz. cup! Oops!

September 4, 2008

thursday thoughts

A smattering of the things I've been thinking about today:
  • Why do I always feel compelled to use my nice, 12-cup coffee maker whenever I want coffee? The instructions say not to make fewer than six cups at a time, so I always make that much and then have two or three cups left over to get nasty. I have a coffee maker designed for travel mugs . . . so why don't I just use that? Maybe because the 12-cup lives on the counter, and the travel maker stays in the cupboard. Guess I'm just lazy . . .
  • After my post about Google Reader, The Omaha Critic stopped by to leave a comment. So I should tell you that I did enjoy his blog. If you like food (and who doesn't!), you should check it out . . . but I still can't figure out why Google Reader recommended it!
  • I think my landlord is trying to prevent a lawsuit. I came home tonight and noticed a neon orange line on the sidewalk. At first I thought the phone or electric company was marking something. Then I noticed two similar lines--all in areas where the sidewalk is uneven.
  • How can I become more productive during the day? I feel like I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off--class, office, class, lunch (in the office), class, office--and I'm not accomplishing much amidst all the running.
  • I just learned, thanks to Food Detectives on the Food Network, that the average Thanksgiving dinner has 3,000 calories. Yikes! Also, if you get gum stuck in your hair, you should use corn oil to get it out.
  • I'm no fan of Rudy Giuliani, but his speech at the convention last night sure cracked me up.
  • Gloria Steinem ticks me off. (Some of you are saying, "Duh!" right now.) She wrote an opinion piece for today's L.A. Times, in which she says that Sarah Palin "opposes everything most other women want and need." Um, yeah. Ms. Steinem certainly didn't ask me what I want and need. I think what Steinem means is that Palin is pro-life and pro-abstinence, so she must be anti-woman. Does Steinem really believe that most women are pro-choice? I'll give her that most of the women she knows would be offended by Palin, but most women period? I don't think so. (Off topic, but a fun little tidbit about Steinem: she used to be married to Christian Bale's dad.)
  • Cal Thomas, on the other hand, said, much more eloquently than I could, pretty much what I've been thinking ever since Bristol Palin's pregnancy was announced.
  • I have a great group of kids in yearbook. Granted, we haven't actually started working on pages yet, but we're having fun getting to that point. Yearbook was the most dreaded part of my schedule, but so far, it's one of the best parts of my day!
  • Sam's Choice Decaf Coffee is surprisingly good.

September 3, 2008

highs and lows of the last week

Highs
  • road trip with Val
  • worship at Christ's Covenant (the church I attended in college)
  • visiting Jen in South Bend; meeting up with Sarah in Des Moines as we each crossed Iowa
  • Sarah Palin--you go, girl!
  • the meal Val's roommates had waiting for us when we arrived at Grace
  • finding a shortcut on the way home
  • seeing my Sparkies again!
Lows
  • fast food on the way to Indiana (more to follow!)
  • leaving Val
  • not being able to sleep
  • my schedule--I'm so busy and stressed and unable to accomplish everything I need to in an 8 hour work day

August 27, 2008

gotta love dave barry

Dave Barry used to have a syndicated column that ran in the Sunday edition of the Independent. Nearly every Sunday, my brother would read the column to us while we ate our Sunday dinner. I've developed a fondness for Barry over the years. Today, a blogger I follow had a link to Barry's Democratic National Convention columns. And so, I must also share with you. Enjoy!

August 25, 2008

singleness, part 2

More thoughts on singleness . . . this time from January 2007. (FYI, the links don't work anymore.) Reading this again has been a good exercise for me.

singleness

Last night I rejoiced in my singleness. I wandered through my apartment, grateful that I live alone and wondering how on earth I could adjust to living with a man. I shopped for chick flicks on Amazon, grateful that I don't have to justify my purchases to anyone. I watched Gilmore Girls and The Lake House, grateful to have sole possession of the remote control.

I went to bed happy.

Then, somewhere around 5 a.m., I fell in love. It was wonderful. Until I woke up. Suddenly, my singleness didn't seem like something to rejoice in. It felt more like a curse.

I struggled with this all day, wondering how I could go from being completely content to utterly discontent.

On the way home from Awana, I turned on the radio. These were the first words I heard: "What's worse than being single and wanting to be married and not but having hope and trust and faith is to be lonely in a marriage and have no hope because you married a person based on the accoutrements and not on their character." The sentence construction is horrible, but you get the drift. When I got home, I ran in and found the broadcast on the internet. The whole message is great--exactly what I needed to hear tonight. If you want to listen, you can get it
here.

I also came across an article by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Here's a portion of it:

The Scripture teaches that both marriage and singleness, like children, are gifts from God. To some, He gives the gift of marriage; to others, He gives the gift of singleness. Either way, we are to receive our marital status as a gift. This gift does not come from some distant relative who has no idea what we really need; it comes from a gracious God who loves us and gives the very best gifts to any of His children who leave the choice with Him.

In the will of God, marriage is an incredible gift, to be received with joy and thanksgiving, and to be used for the glory of God. Likewise, in the will of God, singleness is an incredible gift, to be received with gratitude, and to be used equally for the glory of God.

In his classic chapter on marriage, the Apostle Paul cautions against striving for a gift or a calling other than that which God has entrusted to us. He exhorts us not to seek to escape from binding circumstances or to insist on having a gift God has not chosen for us. "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called" (1 Corinthians 7:20). The issue is not our martial status or station in life but rather choosing to live in that state in union with God: "Let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God" (1 Corinthians 7:24, emphasis mine).

Throughout this chapter, Paul sets forth the principle that what matters most is not whether or not we are married but rather the will of God. What state has He called us to? What gift has He given us? "Each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that" (1 Corinthians 7:7 New International Version). Jesus Himself referred to singleness as a special gift from God (Matthew 19:11, 12).

I am not single by accident. I am not single because the "right man" has never asked me to marry him. I am not single because I have made up my mind not to marry. Rather, I am single because God has chosen for me the gift of singleness. I believe that I am single according to the perfect will and purpose of God. I have no way of knowing how long He will give me this gift or whether He will ever choose to give me the gift of marriage. I do not know whether it will be His will for me to be single in five years. But I do know that it has been His will to this point in my life.

I must set my heart to respond to this and every area of my life with the words of the virgin Mary when her world was turned upside down by an angelic messenger: "I am the Lord's servant…. May it be to me as You have said" (Luke 1:38 NIV).

Certainly there are times when I whimper and long for something God has not provided. But over and over again, He brings me back to that wonderful place of trust and surrender that says, "Oh, Lord, if it pleases You, it pleases me." We tend to think that what is really good is the fulfillment of our desires. But, in reality, the highest good in the universe is whatever God chooses for our lives.

The question is not "What do I want for myself?" but "What does God want for me?" What will please Him and bring Him the greatest glory? What will best fulfill His purpose here on this earth?

(You can read the rest at Family Life Today's website.)

And now, I'm again rejoicing in my singleness.

August 24, 2008

life begins when?

Up to this point, this blog hasn't been political, and I plan to keep it that way, for the most part. However, I just came across this article by Peggy Noonan, and I had to share. As you may know, McCain and Obama recently took part in a forum moderated by Rick Warren. Warren asked both candidates at what point a baby should get human rights. McCain's answer: "At conception." Obama's? "Answering that question with specificity is, you know, above my pay grade." What??? At what pay grade could he answer the question? Perhaps if he had the position he's aiming for? 'Cause surely the President of the United States should be able to answer that question! (Even an "I'm not certain" would have been better!)

I haven't done enough research to know if McCain's voting record backs up what he said (I think he's a bit sketchy on abortion), but he gave an answer. Obama dodged the question . . . and I know that he has a pro-choice voting record. While I don't believe a candidate's stance on abortion is the most important issue to consider, it's still very important. And I think Obama's dodging the question may hurt him more than if he'd said, "At birth," even though he was speaking to a largely pro-life audience.

Here's what I love most about Noonan's article--her explanation of when life begins:

"As to the question when human life begins, the answer to which is above Mr. Obama's pay grade, oh, let's go on a little tear. You know why they call it birth control? Because it's meant to stop a birth from happening nine months later. We know when life begins. Everyone who ever bought a pack of condoms knows when life begins.

To put it another way, with conception something begins. What do you think it is? A car? A 1948 Buick?"


Preach it, Sister!

love is in the air

At least it sure seems that way. Three couples I know are getting married in December, and one in January. I'm 3-7 years older than all of them. My brother just announced his engagement. On Friday, another one of my high school classmates "bit the dust"--now at least 27 of the 41 people in my class are or have been married.

I turned 27 two weeks ago. Most of the time, I'm OK with my age and with my marital status, but every once in a while, I'm not. I feel like a little kid who's raising her hand and jumping up and down: "Pick me! Pick me, God! I'm ready! Please pick me!" And then I tell God the obvious: "I'm not getting any younger. I want babies! Everyone else is getting married. Why can't I?" I sound like a petulant child.

Almost exactly a year ago, I was feeling the same way. Here's what I wrote on my MySpace blog:

Love is Everywhere

My mom has a sampler on her wall that my sister cross-stitched several years ago. It's a picture of a bear with the words "Love is Everywhere." (I distinctly remember my sister giving this sampler to me, but no one else seems to remember it, so on my Mom's wall it remains.)

Well, that's how I've felt recently--that everywhere I look, love is there. In the past few weeks, several of my friends who previously were part of the singles club have gotten into--or are on the verge of--relationships. And while I'm genuinely happy for them, I sometimes feel like it's never going to be my turn. Here they are, embarking on this great adventure, and I can't even see a guy on the horizon! The other night, I got so frustrated after talking to a friend about her "special someone" that I wrote in my journal, in giant letters, "GOD, WHY AM I STILL SINGLE???"

Of course, He answered. And then He answered again and again, and it's finally getting through my thick skull. I love Paul, and when I'm not following a specific devotional plan, I gravitate toward his letters. I recently read (and highlighted--it was my first "this is for YOU" moment on this subject) Romans 11:33-34. Last night, I read 1 Corinthians 2:16 and thought, "That sounds really familiar." I saw in my footnotes that both passages were referring to Isaiah 40:13-14.

"Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to be his teacher or counselor? Has the Lord ever needed anyone's advice? Does he need instruction about what is good or what is best?"

I don't know why I have to keep learning this over and over again, but I do. I guess sometimes I'm a slow learner when it comes to the things the Lord is trying to teach me. But as I read this, I felt the Lord nudging my heart, showing me that this is exactly what I've been doing--trying to advise Him. How arrogant is that??? He doesn't need me to tell Him that it's time for me to get married; I'm just a fool. He is the one who knows what's best for me, and I need to stop bemoaning the things that aren't going exactly as I'd like them to and start trusting Him to give me what is best, whatever that may be.

I'm still a slow learner, but it helped to read this again. Sometimes I think of marriage as the be-all and end-all of life, even though I know that's not true. If I were married, I'd be longing for a baby, or for a writing career, or for a thousand other things.

Hebrews 13:5b "And be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"

August 21, 2008

a sure sign i'm under too much stress

I just answered the phone like this: "Nebraska Christian, this is Cheri."

August 14, 2008

things i love about the olympics (so far)

  • Jason Lezak's amazing comeback in the 4x100 free relay.
  • the Opening Ceremony. They used something like 15,000 performers. It was amazing. (Except for the whole lip syncing thing.)
  • Michael Phelps (and the rest of the US swim team).
  • Alexander Artemev's pommel horse routine. Incredible. (Pommel horse begins at 4:17.)
  • Bela Karolyi, the gymnastics coach turned NBC commentator. To quote my brother, he's "totally unintelligible and very funny." And he's not afraid to take the Chinese to task over the ages of their gymnasts. (Apparently with good reason--this report came out today.)
And finally . . .
  • AT&T's Phelps Phan commercial:

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