Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
- 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!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
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!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
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.)
- Most likely to make me hurl or drive off a cliff: "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg
- 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?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
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.
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.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
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.
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!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
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.
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
The majesty and glory of your name!
~Linda Lee Johnson (based on Psalm 8)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
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.
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.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
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 :-)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
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!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
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!
Monday, November 10, 2008
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!
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?)
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
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.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
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!
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!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
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!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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.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.
Thanks for giving it a chance, though.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A few weeks later, I got an email from Martt, inviting me to meet with him and his wife if I was interested in continuing to write for them. I had every intention of doing just that, but it slipped through the cracks, and I never did have any more contact with him. Now, I wonder how my life would be different if I had followed through . . .
About a month ago, I wrote my second book review. This was part of a special promotion Thomas Nelson Publishers was running: review Lynne Spears' new book in exchange for a free copy. I couldn't pass it up.
Today, I got an email from Thomas Nelson. Evidently, the response to the free book offer was overwhelming, so they decided to set up Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers. Anyone who has a blog can sign up to be a reviewer. It's very simple: you pick from a list of titles they want reviewed (currently there are nine titles available), they send you a free copy, you read it and post a 200-word review on your blog and on Amazon.com, and then you can pick a new book. They also link to your blog on the Book Review Bloggers site . . . so it could increase traffic to your blog!
I, of course, signed up right away. My next book is Field of Blood by Eric Wilson. It's a vampire book--perhaps published to capitalize on the success of the Twilight series. I have never had any interest in anything vampire-related, but after reading Wilson's introduction, I'm curious.
So I'm still not being paid to write, but this is a step in the right direction!
If you're interested in becoming a Book Review Blogger, you can find out more here.
Monday, October 27, 2008
- 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!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
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.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
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 . . .
Sunday, October 12, 2008
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.
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.
I received a complimentary copy of Through the Storm from Thomas Nelson (the publisher) to review.
Through the Storm is a compelling read. Lynne Spears isn’t interested in spilling all the scandalous details of Britney’s recent past; rather, she’s telling her own story. This is the story of a wife dealing with an alcoholic husband and crumbling marriage; the story of a sister facing the loss of the sibling she’d looked up to her whole life; the story of a mother who simply wanted the best for her children.
Yes, Spears was naïve, which she freely admits. At times, I wanted to yell, “What were you THINKING?” But the fact that she reveals her naiveté adds credence to her words. Especially powerful is her description of the day Jamie Lynn revealed her pregnancy. I could feel Spears’ fear, anger, and heartbreak, and I found myself empathizing with her.
The one thing that detracts from the book is its lack of organization. It’s not strictly chronological, which causes some confusion. In most cases, each chapter picks up where the previous left off, but then chapters like “Friends,” in which Spears discusses her best friends, break into the continuity. When I started the next chapter, I wondered where Spears was in the timeline of her life.
However, the lack of organization is a minor detail; Spears is a good storyteller, and it’s easy to get swept up in each story and not worry too much about where it fits in chronologically.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
- 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.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
- 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
- go to bed before midnight
Monday, September 29, 2008
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!!!
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!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
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!
Monday, September 22, 2008
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."
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 :-)
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
- 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!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
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 :-)
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
- 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.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
- 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!
- 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
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
This morning, it suggested Phil Wickham's blog. I'm not overly familiar with him, but I know some of his music. ("After Your Heart" plays quite a bit on K-Love and KROA.) For some reason, his voice reminds me of Phillip LaRue (and if you're wondering whatever happened to LaRue, I just found Phillip's MySpace page--he's signed with Tooth & Nail, and he has curls again :-) ). But back to Phil Wickham . . . I went to his blog and discovered he's giving away his newest album! All you have to do is sign up to receive his newsletter. Sounds like a pretty good trade off to me!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
singlenessLast 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.