August 21, 2011

after these messages, we'll be right back!

Original content on this blog has been lacking lately. My goal is to post three times each week, and I'm not doing a very good job of meeting that goal. My book reviews are important, and I know that the majority of the traffic coming to my blog is due to the reviews, but I'm not ready to make this a "book review only" kinda place, so I'm working on several other posts right now – about my 30th birthday, country music, and 35 things I want to do before I turn 35. Nothing is close to being ready, though. (Why? One word: School.) So, while I continue working on those other posts (and while I keep reading and reviewing – I should have at least three reviews go up in the next two weeks), here are a few "internet" things I want you to know about:
  • Remember when I told you about Perfect Romance? No? It's the movie where Desmond from LOST falls in love with a woman he meets online, and it's so cute! For the next 10 days, you can catch it on Hulu. Watch it. You'll thank me later! (Unless you're a guy who hates chick flicks. Dearest brother, I'm pretty sure this is too sappy for you. However, someone from Stargate does make an appearance, so at least something in the movie might interest you.)

  • One of my most popular posts (it's #3 this month and #2 since Blogger started keeping track) is the one about My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. I still love introducing people to this movie – I even watched it last night with two of the dorm girls at NC. Seriously, I feel like the film's biggest cheerleader! Now it's free on Hulu, so you have no excuse for not watching it. Just do it!

  • If you want other movie recommendations, check out my "Movies to Watch" tab – especially if you like chick flicks.

  • If you saw the movie Something Borrowed – which is not on my recommended list – you might be interested in this post by author Jenny B. Jones. (She wrote Save the Date, which I loved.) She makes a valid point, one that Blendy and I discussed at length (SPOILER ALERT!): why on earth would you cast John Krasinski in the role of the guy who doesn't get the girl? 

  • Have you heard of Spotify? Not only is is super cool – you can listen to just about any music you want, and you don't have to listen to a bunch of things you don't want in order to get to that one song you do want (à la Pandora) – but it also can save you money! How, you ask? Well, say Amazon is running a sale on an album you're interested in. You listen to the samples, but how much can you really tell from 30 seconds of a song? So instead of taking your chances on an album you may or may not really want, you can listen to the whole thing on Spotify before deciding! I've saved at least $3.99 – I'm looking at you, Matthew Morrison! – and I'll be checking out all future purchases here, first. If only I'd had Spotify when looking for "Forever," I would have known the version Amazon was offering wasn't the John Stamos version and saved 99¢ ...

  • Since I brought it up:

Thanks for sticking with me, and I'll try to do a better job of posting regularly!

    August 16, 2011

    women of faith: initial thoughts

    I had the privilege of attending the Women of Faith: Over the Top conference in Omaha last weekend. As I said prior to going, the 1998 conference I attended was one of the greatest experiences of my first 16 years of life. So I had fairly high expectations going in—and I was not disappointed! Following are some of the points that hit home to me.

    Andy Andrews spoke about the butterfly effect on Friday night. He has a book of the same name, which I reviewed last year. I really enjoyed his message, which basically served as a reminder that everything I do matters. He used history to drive home his point, and he is a masterful storyteller. I (along with the rest of the audience) was captivated while he spoke.

    Mandisa's concert was amazing! My mom especially noticed how she just praised the Lord with abandon. Mom wants to learn to dance like Mandisa!

    Amy Grant just about broke my heart in her response to Katharine Everett's drama about laying down all your bags at the foot of the cross. The girl in the drama was struggling with her parents' divorce, and Amy said that her daughters were young when she left their father, and she prays every day that God finds her children like He found her. I have done my share of judging Amy in the past, and her humility and brokenness reminded me that I shouldn't, in the words of my sister, be a "Judger McJudger-pants."

    Amy Grant
    For me, the biggest take-away of the weekend came from Lisa Whelchel. I need to get my hands on her book, Friendship for Grown-Ups. Lisa was very candid about the fact that she has struggled to make good, close friends, and she shared some of the things she's learned as she's sought out great friendships. While I had two very close friends in high school, a best friend and a few other close friends in college, and a great friend and roommate right after college, I've struggled to make "heart friends" in recent years. (I don't know who I'm stealing that term from, but I love it!) I'm sure it has something to do with opening up and being vulnerable, which has always been hard for me. Anyway, Lisa encouraged us to let that desire for friendship bubble up inside and then act on it—I'm more used to burying those kinds of desires, so we'll see how this goes! But God knows I've been longing for a close friend, and I believe He sent me to Women of Faith just to hear Lisa speak.

    My mom (right) and me before the Saturday session.
    So glad I could experience Women of Faith with her!
    I also connected with some people on Twitter after the event (first time I've communicated with strangers over Twitter—so yes, I know that I'm not really using it right!)—I met two women who were in my section…one was even sitting next to my mom! Maybe in the future there will be some sort of blogger meet-up at events like this. It would have been nice to have a way to connect with other bloggers while I was there. (Some of the BookSneeze bloggers did find each other—but I, with no smartphone to check Twitter, had to be content with tweeting by text, and I didn't see the tweet about the blogger picture until I got home.)

    I even had one of my tweets referenced on stage: Looking forward to @womenoffaith tomorrow and Saturday. Great way to spend my 30th birthday! #wofott Then Sandi Patty and Mandisa sang to all of the birthday girls in the audience!

    A big thanks to BookSneeze for giving me two tickets in exchange for blogging about the event.  It was much appreciated!

    August 11, 2011

    almost thirty

    A few things I'm thinking about the night before my big birthday (perhaps my thoughts should be more introspective, but this is me we're talking about, after all!):

    • I'm several months late on this, but you should definitely check out Donald Miller's review of Love Wins. It's awesome! (The Stuff Christians Like post that led me to the review is pretty good, too.)

    • Thomas Nelson (the company behind BookSneeze) is conducting a fiction survey, and if you complete it, you'll get a free ebook. You'll also be entered in a $10,000 sweepstakes. Go here to fill out the survey.

    • While I often thought about it, I never got around to making a "30 Things Before I'm 30" list--so maybe I should do "35 Things Before I'm 35"?

    • I wish my kitties would come home. They've only been missing for about two hours, so my fears are a bit premature ... but as far as I can tell, they'd never ventured out of the yard before tonight. (I know, it's been proven that cats wander all over the place, but I'm still nervous--they're little cats!) 

    • Looking forward to Women of Faith in Omaha with my mom tomorrow night and Saturday. We splurged on a nicer hotel really close to the Qwest Center, and I can't wait to relax there after the evening session.

    • Blue Skies Tomorrow is a fantastic book (seriously fantastic), and I can't stop thinking about it--I was even thinking about it during the sermon on Sunday. And at work. And I'm still thinking about it even though I've finished it. I'll review it later this month, so keep an eye out. If you like WWII era fiction, you'll love this one!

    August 7, 2011

    introducing rocky and cortez

    You know how there are dog people and there are cat people? Well, I'm definitely the latter. I've loved cats for as long as I can remember ... and I've disliked dogs with just about the same amount of passion! I grew up with cats--outdoor ones, of course--but for the last six years, I've been living in apartments or houses that weren't pet friendly. My new landlords are quite happy to let me have pets, though, provided I don't let them in the house. So today, Blendy and our friend Jamie went cat shopping for me! Through our local newspaper, they found a woman who had three 9-week-old kittens to give away. Blendy arrived at my house with two of them--a small black one for her (though it will live here) and a larger black and white one for me. They are so cute! Though a bit traumatized from the car ride (and from all the new noises--the train whistle was especially scary), they soon settled in and began exploring. I just hope they don't explore too much tonight--I'd like for them to stay around!

    Cortez--Blendy decided to name him after an explorer because he was initially the more adventuresome of the two. She settled on Cortez pretty quickly, while I struggled to come up with a name for the other cat. Cortez greatly enjoyed the cat house my brother made in high school, and he soon settled in to sleep.

    Rocky--I am terrible at naming things. My first cat was named "Fluff." My car? "The Green Car." So I knew naming this cat would be difficult. At first, I tried to go with something relating to his timid, skittish nature. I was pretty proud of "Leif"--because he dove into the plants every time he got scared, and he enjoyed batting the leaves when he wasn't scared ... but the look my mom gave me when I pronounced him "Leif" told me everything I needed to know! It took me another 30 minutes to finally come up with "Rocky." Why Rocky? Well, those rocks in the picture above quickly became his favorite place to play, and he also may have a career as a boxer--he certainly enjoyed batting my necklace around!

    I also took a video of the cats playing with my necklace. (See, Val, I do appreciate the necklace!) I promise that I won't be one of those crazy cat ladies who constantly posts videos and talks about her cats ad nauseam, but I wanted Val to be able to see the cats, and uploading the video to YouTube seemed the simplest way. So, enjoy it if you're so inclined!

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