Thursday, December 27, 2007

Just a short blog today. Many of you city folk often ask me questions about small town life...well here's one for you:

I just drove 12 miles to a McDonalds in order to have a wireless connection.

I have been blogging in Word so that I could keep up, but have just posted everything I've written. Enjoy the words...posted from McDonalds in small town Missouri.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

a run down memory lane

I went for a run yesterday evening. The sun was on the verge of setting which made the snow ice glisten even more so than usual. I ran in the middle of the road, a perk of a small town, so as to avoid the black ice and a bruised tailbone. The route I took was one that I had walked a million times before. The sounds of Riley’s techno music keeping my feet moving, and the places I passed flashing scenes from my life across the screen in my mind…like I was watching a movie in fast forward.

About two blocks into my run, I came to a beautiful three-story gray house. I remembered when the owner’s built the porch that ran the entire length of two sides of the house and came to a close at a gazebo. I remembered playing with one family that lived there, and baby-sitting for the next. It towered over the tiny white house next door; the house where I spent almost every Saturday afternoon in elementary school. I couldn’t wait to finish my chores so that I could call Amber. We spent hours and hours playing school, house, and Guess Who in her grandma’s basement.

At the next corner was Mrs. Schmidt’s house. She was the most elegant high school teacher I had ever met. Her love of literature was so contagious that it almost forced a desire to understand Shakespeare upon her students. She had an immaculate backyard…with a path that wound through the flowers, past the perfect climbing tree, and along the shoulder-high picket fence.

Later in the run, I came to Coach Palmero’s house. He was one of the greatest coaches in the history of my high school. He retired shortly after I made the transition to high school which limited my time with him. However, one day as I was getting ready for practice, my coach was nowhere to be found and my knee needed to be wrapped. I didn’t want to suffer the consequences of being late so Palmero in his New York accent said, “Hop up on the table. I’ll wrap your knee, dwall (doll).”

Around the corner was what used to be my Great Aunt Joan’s house. She was my grandmother’s sister. There was evidence of some major rehabbing left in the yard; the new owner’s attempts to make it fit their needs. The final leg of my run included the Cooper’s house. Mrs. Cooper was my elementary music teacher, my piano teacher, the woman who cheered me on and helped me along as I sang all through high school. I spent hours at the piano in her living room, and watering the plants in her yard.
Her house sits across from track and football field. I could see the lights on, the crowd yelling as Buddha intercepted and ran for a touchdown. The laughter of my new friends, our athletic “enemies”, as we sat on a blanket by the gym building watching our friends run the 400m echoed in my ears. Whether football, band, or track, I spent many hours with the gates of that field.

As I finished my run, one of Riley’s songs on – ironically. I'm missing a couple of the lyrics and have a request in to my friend who is also Riley's bro and music partner to fill in the blacks. What I know of the lyrics follows:

There once was a runner in days of old
Wasn’t this with words so bold
Set your eyes straight down this road
Leave your past, your friends, your gold

Sankofa – a Swahili word that means looking back to move forward. It was a Sankofa run today.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

a traditional non-traditional christmas

It has been the topic of conversation for several weeks now – “What does your family do for Christmas?” It’s not necessarily a dreaded question, but a question I never have the expected answer for. There are only three things that I can be certain of finding each Christmas with my family

1) There will be lep cookies. A wonderful molasses cookie that comes from the German side of our family. They take 10 days to make and are worth the wait!
2) We always open presents one at a time while everyone watches. As a child it was hard to be patient as I waited for my sisters to open a present so that I could have another turn. In my old age, it has become more meaningful. We get to admire what each person gets, take time to admire what has been given to us, and watch as my nephew tries to open them all! Instead of a five minute free-for-all frenzy, we have two-hours to spend together giving and receiving.
3) That there will be a lot of non-traditional happenings. This year we celebrated on December 23. Today, I played Clue and Pitch with my sisters and father, went to a movie (which I’ve NEVER done on Christmas before) and then went for a run (yes, I did!)

Traditions are fun and are often catalysts of great memories, but even the side of me that loves consistency doesn’t hate the tradition of non-traditions!

Monday, December 24, 2007

christmas in the big woods

I’ve reverted back to the old school days of reading. I have been watching some of my students carry around children’s classics such as “Boxcar Children”, Lois Lowry books, “Little House on the Prairie”, the Narnia books, etc. One of my students tried to hold a conversation with me about “Little House on the Prairie”, but it was very one-sided as I added in my “oh?”, and “what happened next?” when appropriate. Upon pondering that conversation, I made the decision and headed to the library where I have been shopping in the kiddie section ever since. I read a couple of the Narnia series, “Caleb’s Story” – the third in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series, and have moved on to “Little House in the Big Woods”.

I very appropriately came to the chapter on Christmas this evening and was somehow struck by the depiction of them opening their Christmas stockings:

In the morning they all woke up almost at the same moment. They looked at their stockings, and something was in them. Santa Claus had been there. Alice and Ella and Laura in their red flannel nightgowns, and Peter in his red flannel nightshirt, all ran shouting to see what he had brought.

In each stocking there was a pair of bright red mittens, and there was a long, flat stick of red-and-white-striped peppermint candy, all beautifully notched along each side. They were all so happy they could hardly speak at first. They just looked with shining eyes on those lovely Christmas presents. But Laura was happiest of all. Laura had a rag doll.

She was a beautiful doll. She had a face of white cloth with black button eyes. A black pencil had made her eyebrows, and her cheeks and her mouth were red with ink made from pokeberries. Her hair was black yarn that had been knit and raveled so that it was curly.

She had little red flannel stockings and little black cloth gaiters for shoes, and her dress was pretty pink and blue calico. She was so beautiful that Laura could not say a word. She just held her tight and forgot everything else. She did not know that everyone was looking at her…

As I read this, I went back to my own Christmases as a child…my requests for Lincoln Logs and Legos, dolls and electronic gadgets….what would my reaction had been if I had received red mittens and candy canes? Of course that was a different time period in history..a time when imagination still invaded play. Children may have been a little less coordinated, but could milk a cow and grow a garden…vital needs for a family. Even disregarding the difference in culture due to the time; the elation of the children over what they did receive is a rare jewel in our day. How do we go back to helping our children fall in love with the simple things in life? To see them be grateful for the things they get instead of begging for the next step up. To bring the imagination back to play time. It is an art long lost…but on the verge of being rediscovered. Maybe there is hope for my children….

As I leave you to ponder that…I will continue to update you on my journey through children’s books as I plan to continue this for a few months.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

dreaming of a white christmas no longer

Moving from my childhood Northwest Missouri home to St. Louis was not much of a culture shock, until winter rolled around. I discovered that people ate sour cream in their chili (we used ketchup) and that St. Louis rarely saw snow. When it did, it wasn’t enough to have much fun in. This year has been different. Last weekend, St. Louis saw around 6 inches; enough to take a sled down Art Hill. Of course, by Wednesday, it was 50 degrees and by Thursday all of the snow was gone. I left the 60 degree city this morning to join my family for Christmas, but have been weigh laid in Kansas City. A winter storm has hit; I am only seeing the edges of it from my hotel room – sleet and some snow, but my grandparents are stuck in the thick of it – white outs, wind, 7 – 11 inches of snow, a 20 car accident, and 100 miles of closed interstate. Luckily they also stopped for the night before it got worse.

There is something about snow that just helps the Christmas spirit. Something about snow that is magical. Since I’ve lived in St. Louis, I (and my former roommate from South Dakota) have longed for snow; for snow days off of school; for good sledding. This year the dreaming stops for the white has become reality. When I reach my parent’s house, I will be able to gaze out my window into the moonlit night, study the sparkling snow, and dream of a white Christmas no longer.

Elaboration on Two Things I learned...

1) For those of you that don’t know, I do frequent a gym. On the particular evening I blogged about in my last entry I had a limited amount of time, but still wanted to a sweat-worthy workout in. My preferred cardio machine was full. Not knowing how long I would have to wait, I eyed the other options…treadmill, rowing machine, stepper… The clock was ticking as I attempted to make a decision so I hopped on the closest treadmill…in for a good speed walk. After a couple of minutes, I realized that a speed walk was no longer going to work my body very well due to my normal workout routine (this is a good thing). My mind fluttered over the idea of running on the treadmill, but as I have mentioned before, I abhor running. The workout angel on my shoulder yelled louder than the running hater in my mind and before I knew what was happening, my finger was on the increase button and my legs were moving faster. Soon, I had been running for 10 minutes and sweat was dripping down my face. It was beautiful! I continued to run until I thought my muscles would die and my lungs would burst…and then I allowed myself a good walk and stretch. I’m thinking about doing it again…although I’m not certain that I would run outdoors.

2) I consider myself a good cook as does one of my coworkers, Rebekah. It was a rather ironically funny night when the two of us tried to make decorated shortbread cookies for our school’s Christmas celebration. We should have known when the dough wasn’t rolling out as easily as it should have, but we kept going. The fact that the cookies were breaking as we used cookie cutters to cut them out should have been the next clue that we needed to stop. We laughed and continued to mold the pieces into recognizable Christmas shapes. We broke more as we got them off of the pan, making sound effects and giggling as we did. Many of our cookies were broken, but we had managed to save just enough; that is, until the frosting process. The frosting kept suctioning the cookie to the plate as we hand-dipped them. The fragile cookies couldn’t handle the stress of being pulled out, and would snap at the least bit of pressure. In the end, we had bonded over plates full of misfit cookies, hoping our students would think eating the broken pieces was a treat.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

things I learned today

1) I might actually enjoy running, in some form, after all...

2) It takes a very special person to make cut-out cookies successfully...despite my above average cooking skills, I am not one of those....

ponder these things...more details to come.

Monday, December 17, 2007

We got around 7 inches of snow this weekend. For recess today, we bundled the kids up and took them to the park across the street where they could "frolic and play the eskimo way". On our way inside, one of my girls says to me "Did you see Max throw me in the snow?"
Me: "No, I didn't. Are you okay?"
S: "Yes. Do you know why he did that?"
Me: "No. Do you know?"
S: "Sometimes boys like girls a lot and so they throw them in the snow and chase them around and stuff."
Me: "Who told you that?"
S: "Daddy."

It is finished takes on a new meaning

I took on this project in May and finished about a week ago. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures before I stripped it, but I do have a couple of shots cropped out of other photos that can give you somewhat of what it looked like before. As you can see, it was white and had a blue top

The following are pictures after it was stripped, but before it was stained.




Finally, the finished product, with the Christmas tree atop.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

from creepy to cold in less than 24 hours

I've waited in anticipation all week for a real sign of winter...for the Christmas feeling to take hold in my soul as the white fluff floated through the sky. There I was, standing on the balcony of my friend Raina's apartment in the 31 degree midnight air, skillfully manuevering blue rope lights around the poles and belting out "Wonderful Christmastime" (you know the most love to hate song "simply having a wonderful christmastime"), when a small cold wet thing landed on my exposed fingertip. SNOW! Oh, the elation of it!

My day did not start out so wonderfully cold. In fact, it began while on a field trip of sorts. The other class at one of the schools I teach at has been studying the original "Pinocchio". The teacher found this place in town that makes Marionnettes and does shows. What a wonderfully practical and unordinary idea for an outing. At least until we pulled up in front of this three story house. The neighborhood was not creepy, but this house was set back just further then it's neighbors. The front yard bared many dead potted plants, a clue that mother nature had done her winter thing; also a clue that we should turn around? The day was sunny, but this house really looked like it should have clouds...not black ones, but gray ones, looming overhead.

Once inside, the house did little resemble a house. There were beautiful hand-carved puppets and marionnettes in glass cases along a hallway that opened up into a little black box-style theater. We were greeted by one of the two owners, seated, and soon a moose named Marvin was directing us through a winter wonderland where Peppermint babies, very fuzzy caterpillars, donut men, and other such creatures made us even hungrier for snow and Christmas. The kids had a great time, their eyes awe-filled as they waved to something they though real; excited for a chance to touch what was before them. I, on the other hand, found the whole thing a little creepy in the same way that some people find clowns creepy. Clowns have never had that effect on me; in fact, I've been known to think people who find clowns odd, a bit strange themselves. But now I know how they feel...I don't really know how to verbalize why I felt the way I did, I just know that the creepy feelings existed. Maybe it was the big house....maybe it was the life like eyes on the puppets. I will say however, that the men who make the marionnettes do a beautiful job! They were truely art!

Ironically, I ended the day with a much different spirit. The snow came down on Raina and I for an hour and a half as we decorated her balcony for an apartment complex competiton. We sang that "Wonderful Christmastime" song (surprisingly written by Paul McCartney) until we had to force ourselves to sing something else for fear our heads would explode. Raina is one of those friends that you make long-lasting memories with..such as this one. As the clock neared 2am , we stood on the front lawn staring up into the snow streaked sky, taking in the candy-stripped poles on her third story balcony, and feeling the closeness of the memory we had just made...

simply having a wonderful christmastime.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

sprinting uphill for one minute

Often throughout a week, I find myself attempting to do this thing called "working out". One of my friends used to be a trainer and has graciously shown me some ways to make my work out "work" to my advantage. One such way involves a rotation of speeds so to speak while doing a cardio machine of some sort. Interpretation: I get on a machine, choose a program, go at normal speed for 3 minutes, and then go really hard...as in a sprint...for 1 minute. Then back to normal speed for 3 minutes. I often choose a program that consists of intervals which means that at some point during my time on the machine, I'm sprinting uphill.
It was a moment such as this that led to this blog.

Imagine, I'm sprinting...uphill...and feeling as though I could die after about 15 seconds. Sweat dripping down my face (and everywhere else), muscles yelling, lungs about burst! Everything in me wanted to quit, to drop back to normal speed. Instead my hands only gripped the handles tighter and my legs worked faster as I pressed on through the last 45 seconds.

That minute was only a minute portion of my workout, but it felt like an hour. As I returned to normal speed, I was brushed with the thought that struggles in life are similar. I was recently shown a picture of a place in my heart that I've been subconsciously ignoring for a long time. It was not fun to look at - like standing before a long steep hill knowing you will have to sprint to the top. I could tell that there would be aches and pains; that if I continued to look at and conquer what was facing me, my lungs would explode. There would be no more living the usual life.

God didn't design us to do things alone. That's a huge reason why Eve was created for Adam. That's also the reason that God desires relationship with us. I'm about to sprint up a really steep hill. All that I want to do is sit down and watch people run by me, but all that I can get my body to do is hold on tighter to God's hand and put one foot in front of the other.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My five year old student began a story like this: "A long long time ago, when I was four..."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

pain in the corners revisited

I turned another year older this week. For some reason, I feel I should be blogging about the significance of life, contemplations of the past year, and the fun ways that people celebrated with me. Instead my mood fits the entry I wrote on August 14 - pain in the corners. It really says everything that I want to say.

Friday, November 23, 2007

when birthdays no longer matter

The day after Thanksgiving. The day we eat turkey sandwiches and Grandpa’s cranberries. The day we pick at the leftover pie. The day we cheer on our favorite football team (okay..well at least some of us). It’s just another day in the series of holidays, except for one minor tradition: the celebration of life. More specifically, my life. Yes, my birthday is coming up really soon, but it falls on a day when I don’t see my family. For the last seven years, we have been carving a new tradition. This year Mom made my favorite oatmeal cake; a member of our family for over one hundred years. The smell of it baking beckoned me out of slumber and into the kitchen one morning. It disappeared for Thanksgiving Day, but returned this morning. It’s silver pan taunting me…just one smell…just one taste.

6:00pm rolled around, and I could hold off no longer. My need for the oatmeal cake was too great. Grandma gathered all of the family together while Mom dug in the drawer for candles, which ended up being more difficult than you can imagine. Mom doesn’t really keep candles around anymore so in her digging came up with two white candles and six yellow candles, one of which was only one inch long. She laughed a little as she said, “I’m a bad mommy.” Then she reached for the matches. The matches that weren’t there. Apparently, Mom also doesn’t keep any matches around. This is the first time that Dad’s smoking could have been helpful (he quit smoking two years ago). Dad ran upstairs to look for a lighter; Grandpa ran to his car. Meanwhile, Mom found a box that contained exactly two matches. I lit one and it immediately went out. Mom lit the second and started in on the candles. She topped off the last candle and blew it out, taking out half of the candles with it. After two attempts to relit a match, we successfully had all 6 candles lit and the singing commenced. The troubles were over….or not so much. My sister sang in German, my dad sang off key, and Mom made up some random verse about candles. Grandma and Grandpa sang tride and true…at least I think they were singing.

I think this whole thing is a sign that my birthdays will no longer matter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the mourning of a room once had

I’ve returned to the bed that holds me a few times a year. To the house that was once my home…still is my home…becomes my home in this transient life. The walls are yellow, not white. A request I made in honor of my late grandma. I used to sleep on the hide-a-bed in the yellow room back when it was her painting room. She did such lovely art. Except for the yellow walls and the rocker, the room is void of what was her. It’s void of what was me as well. Somehow I like it better…cleaner…less cluttered.

This room was once mine. It was once my home. The place I went for rest and comfort. In my mind, it still is mine. I grew up sleeping in this bed; read thousands of books using only the light from the street, the real reason I now wear glasses. The quilts, handmade by my mother, protected me from the cold-weather and the snakes that used to crawl around on my floorJ In the summer heat, they became my nemesis as I tried to stop the sweat from dripping down my back. I used to sit in my grandma’s rocker and watch the rain pour down the window outside caught in dreams of a world beyond. I would watch as people cruised…from Dave’s to the end of Main Street…from the end of Main Street to Dave’s, a pleasurable waste of a night.

Somehow, as I became transient, my room morphed into my less transient sister’s room. Then it became a guest room. Now it is referred to as “Emily’s sitting room.” Emily is the sister chilling out at home before she becomes transient. Each evening, after work, yoga, and dinner, she sits in her sitting room and knits. Her eyes see different things out the window…the bed is a different character in her story…the room carries a different meaning.

Tonight, the rain is replaced by snow and the rocker is too far from the window, but the bed embraces me as I drift into dreams of a world beyond. For just a few short hours, the yellow walls become my haven, the quilts my protector, and the room… mine.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My friend Chris says that I should blog more (see comment on October 24th post). I blog everyday (dramatic pause) in my head. Between three jobs, friends and family, and sleeping, I don't really have time to get my blogs from head to web. Maybe it's actually just a matter of being more disciplined.

I'm currently hanging out in one of the ritzier hotels in the Lou with some of the coolest people I know...my IV coworkers. One of the things I love about this job is the fact that my coworkers are really my friends. I share the same alma mater with many of them. We didn't all join staff at the same time, but gradually over the past 6 years. It has been really powerful to see how the Lord meshed our experiences together in college into a vocational ministry. For example, this weekend we are doing a manuscript/inductive study of the Gospel of Mark. I learned how to do inductive Bible Study from a man named Jon, who is my coworker. When I learned it from him, we were both students. I remember sitting in Jordan Hall with my Mark manuscript in front me totally in awe of the way Jon (and his coteacher Barat) could pull apart the scripture. And now, almost eight years later, I'm sitting next to him studying the same passage.

I also love this job because it isn't really work to be around these people. We have a lot of fun. There is always a competitive game of basketball during free time, jokes that travel with us from conference to conference, and really creative games (last year we did Project Runway with the five eldest men being our models).

Another thing I like about being in a vocational ministry environment is that individuals are always trying to challenge me to grow. There is one man in particular, Bum, who likes to push people's buttons - in an almost healthy way. Many of you already know that I am a "J" on the Myers-Briggs, or maybe a bit anal....organized, particular, and such. Since living with Tanya, I have lightened up qutie a bit. BUT apparently not enough for Bum. He strategically placed himself beside during our study of Mark this morning which was what caused the following events to unfold:

1) After helping my boss set up some easels, I return to my spot to find Bum eating my half-eaten bagel. Just for the record, that was my breakfast.

2) When manuscripting, one often uses several colored markers. I happen to use the fine tipped Sharpies. Bum proceded to break the little clip-thingy on one of my markers and then when I told him not to do that went for a jump at the rest of my markers....and then attempted to steal the rest of my bagel.

3) As we were breaking into small groups to discuss our observations of the passage, I noticed some pink marker underlining on a page we had yet to do. At first I thought maybe my marker had leaked through the paper, but my investigations proved otherwise. BUM!! marking on my clean paper.

4) At the end of our study, we broke into pairs to discuss what part of our lives we needed to allow the Lord to have authority over. Bum, of course, was my partner. He said, "I can answer for you. You need to give up control of your manuscript."

I think I just shouldn't sit by him anymore:)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a quote from my favorite movie

I always thought of myself as a house. That was always what I lived in. It didn’t need to be big. It didn’t need to be beautiful. It just needed to be mine. I became what I was meant to be. I built myself a life. I built myself a house.

With every crash of every wave, I hear something now. I never listened before. I’m on the edge of a cliff. Listening. Almost finished.

If you were a house, Sam, this is where you would want to be built. On a rock, facing the sea, listening. Listening.

Monday, October 15, 2007

a letter unwritten

You know how sometimes you just get into one of those moods? It’s been a long day, but a whirlwind at the same time. A lot was expected of you. A million conversations were had. Not only is your body fatigued, but you also can’t get your mind to stop working long enough to sleep. That’s how I feel tonight. I left BSF early (before the lecture) because I was fairly certain I would fall asleep while the poor substitute leader was talking. I walked into the night that had once been rainy. The ground was still wet and drops remained on my car. Rain always sends me into a nostalgic, pensive state. Last year, I often found myself thinking of you on those Mondays after deep discussions on Romans. Not much has changed. The discussions now revolve around Matthew, but often the thought of you still exists as I saunter from the church door to my car.

During that short walk tonight, I was especially pensive. Rain often does that to me. Tiredness contributes to that. Tonight I picked up my phone to call, but you were not there. Of course, I didn’t really try to call. That would have been silly as you would not have been, will not be, at the other end.

I’ve got some direction for my life. I want to share it with you. I want to know what you think. If I could get on a place…or just call you. To hear the sound of your voice…I miss your voice.
I’m floating into a dream-filled state now. Maybe I will see you there. Maybe that will satisfy the part of me that longs for you. But it will only be temporary. Monday will come again, and it might even be raining.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My grandparents live in a wonderfully beautiful place. There is a massive lake in their back yard (1800 shoreline miles, 95 water miles) complete with hummingbirds, spiders that actually aren't creepy, bats, fish that jump out of the water just as the pinks of sunset are appearing (or disappearing) behind the trees of the cliff.

A friend and I spent the weekend in this little piece of heaven. We rode the jet skies, took in the beauty, had good conversation with my grandparents, and ate a lot...at Maxine's and Charley's. The one thing about this place is that when you step off of my grandparent's property, you step into a very odd world...that of southern Missouri.

One evening, we went to dinner at Charley's. It takes about a 1/2 hour to get there from my grandparent's house. It is so much in the middle of nowhere that we even took a gravel road. Now you would not think that with it being in the middle of nowhere that it would get any business. Let me tell you we arrived there at 4:25 for the 4:30 opening...and we ended up in line...the part of the line that had curved AROUND the side of the building. After eating at Charley's, one can understand why. His food is a spread of comfort for the "homegrown" soul.

After eating at Charley's we decided to take a drive to the old cabin. Along the way, Grandma was reminded of a new restaurant in the area that she had heard of. The name? Bucknaked. The billboard we passed had a picture of a buck (for those of you city folk, a buck is a male deer), however, when we found the restaurant it was a naked man that graced the sign. We made some observations and had a few giggles, then made our way up from the lakeside restaurant to the main road via a gravel road named "Washed Out Road." Can you imagine the address? Can you deliver that pizza to 223457 Washed Out Road? HA. I was silently pondering this as we crept up the hill when my attention was drawn to something white hanging on the trees. In the forest, white is easy to see amongst the browns and greens. It had caught my too late, but I caught enough of a picture of it to realize it was underwear! As I was saying "Did you see that underwear in the tree?" it came to my attention that there was underwear, particularly women's, hanging ALL OVER! We drove by a green pair that bore the words "Hot Tomato Eve" and a red pair that said "Sizzling Sue." Seriously?!

That is some kind of messed up fairyland...where there is also a restaurant called "The Cow Pattie."

Monday, October 01, 2007

hollywood portrait of a small town

Preface:
In a previous blog entry, I believe I mentioned the fact that I feel as though I'm always blogging in my head...their's a narrator that lives up there...and I can hear her speaking as I go throughout life. I just fail to share this with the general public (which is probably OK). I've been dying to get this blog out, but have been waiting for the roll in my camera to be developed because it is much better with visual aids. But first, let me put on my hat...the one that takes me back into the small town frame of mind...
okay that's much better...
now for the REAL blog entry...






When Hollywood wants to portray a small town, what do they usually show you? They open with THE stoplight ticking...dust blowing across the deserted street. The motel that only has six rooms. Pick-up trucks and cowboy boots...country music....a least one ruggedly hot man with an accent. Being an expert in growing up in small towns, I can vouch that many of these are true (I should specify that my experience is just in rural Midwest). Granted our small town tried to keep buildings up, the cowboy boots were minimal..at least on my feet..and I'm not sure that there were ever an ruggedly hot men...although there were plenty of daydreams about them. The one thing that Hollywood uses to lure your mind to the small town setting that I never thought I'd see, I saw on my last trip home.
Imagine my surprise....
the
sign hanging by one chain,
squeakily swinging in the wind...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just for the record...I won 6 of 14 games of tennis today. That means I only lost eight. I usually lose 14. Just for the record.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

balancing three jobs at 11pm

the numbers blare on the screen
"at least we ended in the black"
the teacher planner stares at me from the floor
"what am I doing for tomorrow"
I switch over to read a blog
check my e-mail again
my eye catches the pictures on my bulletin board
chris, maven, grandparents, sterns, sisters
"what amazing people to have in my life"
the doorbell in the apartment below me rings
"no wonder mine doesn't work...their's is loud enough for both"
the facebook button suddenly jumps off the screen
"could I have a message?"
the upcoming party on evite
"I hope Raina is coming"
a small portion of my computer screen blinks blue
someone wants to chat with me
"who could it be"
my stomach growls
"it's time for ice cream"
dishes from the day begging to be washed
thoughts of baking, cleaning, family
"I just left someone hanging on IM"
the computer beckons me
"oh yeah, the numbers..."
"boss wants those in the morning"

Monday, September 10, 2007

mountain bigger than a chicken

I realize I haven't yet shared my new job adventures with the blog world. I've returned to the classroom part time - as a pre-kindergarten teacher at one school and as a P.E. teacher at another school. It has been quite the adjustment trying to lesson plan for both including multiple classes of P.E. and maintaining my administrative assistant duties. I'm beginning my third week and am feeling more settled.

Now that I am back working with small children, I can tell the tales of the funny things they say. Here's the first one:

One child in my class told me that she went on vacation to the Smoky Mountains. They saw all kinds of rocks and waterfalls, and they climbed a "mountain bigger than a chicken"!

She was also overheard telling her neighbor the following story:

"We're going on vacation to a reservation. And the Indians are going to see us and say 'No, no, no. You cannot steal our land' and I'm going to say 'Don't worry, we're on vacation. We're not going to steal your land'"

Isn't that fabulously hilarious!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Moses takes time out from wrestling the lion to say "cheese"


(he's literally saying "cheese" in this picture...he's not even two yet, but knows how to work it for the camera...do I detect a modeling career ahead?)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

God's proximity during sleepless nights

I hate nights like tonight. The kind where you lay in bed for hours, mind reeling, legs throbbing, but not falling asleep. I'm not sure if I can't sleep tonight because of ideas churning in my brain - leftovers from a fruitful house church early this evening or because of the ache in my legs - the result of teaching flexibility in P.E. today - when I'm really not all that flexible. (oh to be young again).

My friend's brother blogged about proximity to God and sanctification. He mentioned laying in bed, examining the ceiling, and then thinking "God is even in this room." As I read that I realized that often the knowledge that He is in the room is not enough for me. I want to FEEL His presence...know that He is there beside me. I find it funny in an almost ironic way that human nature is to see and touch...knowledge is not enough. Sometimes I ask for ridiculous things...like "Lord, can you hold my hand. I mean, REALLY hold my hand so that I can FEEL it." or "Lord can you massage the area on my shoulder that I can't reach, but desperately needs some help?" In an odd way, He often answers those requests. Many people have those requests because of unbelief - a part of them needs to know that God is real. I ask because I need the affection - the physical touch - and who better to get it from than the one who really knows me best. My shoulder doesn't actually get massaged, but the pain goes away. And sometimes, in my half asleep state, I feel as though someone is touching me.

Why pawn that off on brain trickery, when I can hold on to the idea that the Lord cares for and attends to my physical-emotional needs just as much he does every other part of my life?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

you know your ___________ when...

We have all read them; "You know you grew up in the 80s when...", "You know you came from a small town if...", "You know you're a redneck if...". I pretty sure we've all experienced at least one that resonated deep within our souls. The one that always gets me is "you know you're a child of the 90s if had stirrups on your pants." I actually wore nothing but stirrup pants for a couple of years during the 90s! Sick, I know.

I have a new one today: You know you're important when...

I would love to hear some responses to this.

My response (and what prompted this whole paragraph): You know you're important when your boss's boss has your cellphone programmed into his speed dial as your boss's office.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just a couple of random thoughts for the day:

1) Rather than the usual "Pop Goes the Weasel", our local ice cream truck plays Mozart.

2) My remote key less entry for my car does not work properly in the Wal-Mart/Sam's parking lot.

3) September starts Saturday.

4) I love ice cream.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Chris, Lauren, and Daniel

It's Sunday night, and I'm working. I have a feeling that this could easily become a trend over the next few months as I learn to balance all of the jobs that life has thrown my way, or rather, God has been so kind to give to me. I'm struggling to work tonight. Partially because it's Sunday night, and I'm tired. It's also because the songs on my Pandora "mellow" station keep sending me on a nostalgic journey. Three of my good friends are leaving the country this week; all on trips unrelated to one another. They have all brought some sort of delight to my heart so I thought I would do some small tribute to them as they depart. (I know, a blog isn't much of a tribute, but it's what I've got at this time.) This is probably more for selfish purposes, but if anyone knows these three and wants to add on their own memories or blessings, please do!

Chris leaves tomorrow for Japan where he will be teaching English to middle school girls for two years. I've known Chris for over a year now. I
first knew him as my supervisor at camp, but he quickly became a friend, confidant, and drinking partner (yeah, sometimes after being around 100s of kids at once, you just need a drink :) ) It's so much more than that though. I met Chris at a time in my life when I was revisiting and trying to work through my pain and insecurities brought about during a particular teaching position I once had. Chris, in his no-nonsense kind of way, often "put me in my place"; calling me on ideas I believed about myself that were really just lies. He helped me see myself as a woman with the qualities of a good teacher; someone who really did have something to contribute to the school world. As I walk down the path of memories with Chris, most vivid are the late night conversations over a drink, the grand opening of my day campers' garden (where Chris wore this ridiculous hat and tie and gave a speech that used the word "forefathers"), and showing him around St. Louis after Urbana. CHRIS - I will miss (do miss) seeing you interact with children, your honest advice, and your constant encouragement. You have been an integral part of some big healing in my life! May the Lord cover you as you search for Starbucks and Target in your new home! (hehe)

Lauren leaves for Barcelona on Labor Day. She will spend a semester there as a student and then move to Chile to work with a missionary for several months. Lauren is a relatively new friend, but in the short time I have known her, I have grown to love her humor, her smile, and her over uniqueness. She has a way of laughing about any situation, and she oozes an energy that infects anyone around her. Although I've only know her a short while, I've had the opportunity to laugh at least a million laughs and imprint memories on my heart. One of my favorite Lauren stories: We were playing a rather vigorous game of Sardines in a large, supposedly haunted building. Lauren and I were partners and had won the first round so we were searching for our own hiding spot. Where did we choose? A stall in a non-functioning bathroom on the 3rd (and scariest floor). We both stood on the toilet half bent over to avoid being seen. It doesn't seem that memorable in writing this, but trust me, it was. LAUREN - I am excited for the adventures that are ahead of you, and even more excited that I get to be around to hear about them! I have loved eating ice cream and having "stalking" text messages with you over the past couple of months. My prayer for you is one of protection, adventures, and sweet moments with Jesus in places unknown!

Daniel, like Lauren, is a fairly new friend. He is headed to Nanjing, China on Tuesday where he will be a student for a year. It is hard for me to pick just what to say about Daniel as I feel like he had a profound effect on my life without even trying. I cannot remember learning so much about myself from one person. Perhaps it was just a summer for growing and changing. Perhaps all of the self-knowledge was there, on the verge of being discovered, and he happened to be the catalyst that brought all to the surface. No matter the other factors, he was a large part of who I am becoming as I learn more about who I am (if that makes sense). I will always remember our very late nights working on bookshelves, the way he chops an onion, his love for classical music and Jane Austen, our brief friendship with Joe, and the way his servant's heart was always blessing different people. DANIEL - Thank you for showing me loved things once forgotten, reminding me of my "true" age, and allowing me to be real even when it was hard. May the Lord guide your studies and the decisions that come with your return to the States next spring!

I will miss all three of them very deeply, but will look forward to the e-mails about their adventures...and conversation over ice cream or margaritas or staining furniture when they return!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

naiveties of the small town girl

By now, everyone knows that I am from rural America. I can name all of my classmates and teachers as they were pretty much the same throughout school. We only had two stoplights and they were flashing red. It was 30 miles to a movie theater, Walmart, bowling, and any of that fun stuff. You took people at their word, and if you didn't, it was because they had proved to the whole town they were a dirty bag of scum that couldn't be trusted.

I live in the city now, and I would say I have converted quite nicely. I honk at other drivers (only when they are about to do something stupid and run into my car), don't make eye contact with people I pass on the sidewalk, wait in line for an hour just to mail a letter at the post office, frequent coffee shops, and (at least try to) take advantage of the fun things the city holds for it's residents.

The one thing I haven't mastered: learning not to take everyone at their word. This is a big city and unless you know someone that has had a run-in with a dirty bag of scum, you don't actually know that they are, in fact, a dirty bag of scum. I wouldn't actually assign that title to the business that caused my frustration yesterday, as I know people who have had wonderful experiences with them. I am frustrated because they didn't meet my small town get-it-done when-they-say-they-will expectations.

Two weeks ago, I had my car inspected as I have to do every couple of Augusts. For the first time ever, it didn't pass. Why? Because of a factory malfunction that happens pretty much only on my type of car! So now I'm paying a lot of money to fix what shouldn't be broken anyway. (Beginning of frustration). I got some quotes from car shops and took recommendations from wise men in my life. I picked "Shop A" and gave them a call.

"This is Amanda. We talked last week about replacing those parts on my car. Do you have time to do it on Tuesday?"
"Sure. Bring it in at 8am, and we'll have it done by noon."

And that is just what I did. At 1pm, I still hadn't heard anything. My friend from Wisconsin has been staying with me. We happened to be driving by at about that time and thought we would stop and ask.

"I know you said you would call, but we were driving by so I thought I'd take a chance. Is my car done?"
"Which car is yours?" (Are you kidding me?!)
"The mercury"
"It's the next one in."
"And it will be done by the end of the day?"
"Yes."

4:30 rolled around. I picked up the phone to call them, but as I did, they called me.

"Is it going to be a problem if we keep your car overnight?"
"Yes. I have meetings out in the county tomorrow morning."
"You have no other way to get there?"
"No. I'm a single woman, and I live alone."
"I'll put the bolts back on and you come get it. We close at 5"

So I put on my shoes and started my angry march in the 100 degree weather to the shop. The more I walked, the more the frustration grew and my mind raced. "They had my car for a whole day and only took the bolts off in order to...put them right back on again! This wouldn't happen in small town America. They would have it done!"

When I was close enough to see the building, I realized that I needed to calm down. While it was big inconvenience for me, I really had no idea what had gone on at the shop that day. What had come up, what jobs were supposed to be done but took longer than expected, and so on. "Give them some grace."

So I worked out a time with guy to get it fixed after all of my meetings today. But if it doesn't get done today...

a dirty bag of scum?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

when shopping equals death

For real, all that I wanted to do this afternoon was hit a few stores to look at a few "bigger" office supplies for one of my jobs (we just got a new office, and I'm in charge of some purchasing). I am still considered contagious and have been in my apartment for a few days now with all of my plans to be around people canceled, so I though being in large crowds of people that I didn't know would be safe.

WRONG! One of the stops I made was at Target. I guess I should first explain that our Target parking lot was not well designed. The rows and the parking spots are too close together - even at midnight in the middle of winter when no one goes shopping. But especially on Sunday afternoon when the the closest LARGE university is beginning welcome week. The entrance to the parking lot is on a hill. As I pulled in, the sea of cars and people made me turn up the classical music on my radio in an attempt to remain patient and calm. I turned right to avoid the most dangerous area of the parking lot, but then found myself stuck behind five cars waiting for a sea of college coeds with their new dorm decor. Ten minutes later, I finally made it to where the first car in line had been, and took a left-only to slam on my breaks for a car that thought it was okay to stop in the middle of the chaos and rearrange things in their car! I turned the music up a little louder, dodged a pedestrian and a runaway cart, and found my way into a parking slot. Although the parking was a great feat, as the car to my left had taken some liberties with the yellow lines.

Inside proved just as hairy as outside; aisles busting at the seams with people. I got cut-off, rammed into with a cart, huffed at for taking too long to look at some posters (which really was only 30 seconds), and assaulted by an office chair. I seriously thought I was going to kill or be killed before I could made an escape. Luckily, I long ago learned the back way out of that parking lot - today, it saved my life.

In other news: I now have a sore on my toe and a few new sores on my hands; my sister wants me quarantined, and my nephew said "Huskers!" for the first time yesterday. Now, he knows where it's at! Enjoy the pic of the little man!


Saturday, August 18, 2007

the consequences of kissing



I just found out that I have Hand, Fooot, and Mouth Disease (Not to be confused with Foot and Mouth found in animals). The source of the virus? Probably the cute little guy, Jacob, in the picture. Jacob is almost three, the 5th child in his family, loves trains and playing in the water, and always gets excited when I come around. His family has become my family which equates to my spending quite a bit of time with them. When I appear at their house, one of the children will stand at the door and announce "MISS SALMOND'S HERE!" only to be followed by the sound of small feet on the hard wood floor and a little voice yelling, "Miiissssssss SSSSSSSSSSSSAAAAAAAAAAAALLLMMMMMOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNDDDDDDD!"

Often that is followed by Jacob flinging himself around my legs. If he forgets to hug me or if I make too far into the house before he hugs me, Jacob will say so, "Miss Salmond, I forgot to give you a hug and a kiss." Sometimes, he will go a step farther and threaten to kiss me in the same tone that one would say "I'm gonna get you." Kissing is his new game. And I'm sure it's this game that infected me.

It's fun to be loved in such a way; to have "family" even though I'm so far from my own blood-relatives. It's even great enough to endure a mouth full of canker sores (I'm up to 11 this morning) and sores on your hands (I've only got 5 of those) and three days of pure exhaustion due to a virus smacking your body like a truck hits a squirrel.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

pain in the corners

My relationships and much of my personal life were put on hold this summer as I worked two jobs that kept me rather busy. As my summer finally winds down, I've found more time to connect with those I've been missing. Tonight, a dear friend from college and I had a delightful conversation. By delightful, I mean it was reassuring to hear her voice and, as always, she offered some insight into life's situations. We are both going through some tough stuff right now; in similar ways working through our own hurts and pain; seeing our brokenness and that in the lives of people nearest us. Experiencing the pains of growing older; facing the truth of reality; mourning what we see before us; trying to figure out where the Lord is in the midst of everything and what His sovereignty is really all about.

We are both discovering that pain hides in much deeper holes, divots, and corners in your soul than one would think. Just when I think I'm healed, something unlatches the door and pain that I didn't even know existed comes barreling out leaving me befuddled. What do you do with the unexpected hurt? Can one ever fully experience and heal from the depths of it that are hidden away?

I think I can speak for both my friend and I when I say that God really is sovereign. He knows and allows the pain. He even grieves with us. I wish I could grasp what that really means. I wish I could truly know His sovereignty; to understand the why He allows certain situations and feelings. What I do know is that no matter how hard it is to face those hidden corners in my soul, Jesus wants to reveal them to me and longs to hold me as I face them.

Somewhere in the midst of that simple fact is peace; peace enough to sustain a wounded soul, terrified, yet brave.

Friday, July 27, 2007

a photojournal of my summer thus far

Emily's Graduation


Fun with Maven


Ice Cream on a Hot Day


4th of July with Friends, Phase 10, and Goo Goo Dolls


My Poor Car

New Friends






A wedding and old friends



Sunday, June 24, 2007

swimmin' in the rain, just swimmin' in the rain

As usual, I could feel the laughter. It began as air in my chest and worked its up my throat becoming a little giggle. The giggle was hard to suppress (as many giggles are), and I was quickly laughing out loud. I tried to hide the "haha's, hehehe's, and hoho's"....tried to bury my face into my towel, but the thought of the situation was just too much for me. The laughter couldn't be hidden.

The day was beautiful. A storm came through during church, but by the time it was over, the sun was shining and it was becoming rather muggy. My friend, Raina, and I had started the summer with this great plan of laying by the pool at her apartment complex every Sunday after church. The first two weeks, we were rained out. The third week was father's day. But today, well, it was going to be the day! Raina called and I drove out to her place...just imagining the bliss of the next two hours. We walked across the street, through the clubhouse, and into the....oh wait, the pool...it was a scummy green and had a "Closed for maintenance" sign gloomily hanging above it. We were doomed. A fourth Sunday with no pool.

Raina made a phone call and found a place for us to swim or...er....not swim. An apartment complex nearby. We arrived, staked out our spots, stripped down to our swimsuits, and settled into sun and good conversation. We had been discussing the state of men (which is another topic for another time) when we noticed a rather large, looming, gray cloud headed our direction.

"It's gonna blow over," I said. "Nothing is keeping us from our relaxing by the pool." A few minutes later, small drops of water began to land on us.

"It's just a little sprinkle," I said. "Nothing to worry about. The sun will be back in a minute."

Within a few seconds, people were scurrying to get underneath those tabletop umbrellas; away from the downpour. I merely rolled over on my stomach to keep it from pounding on my face.

"It's just a little sprinkle," Raina said in the same voice I had used. That's when the laughter began.

So there I was, roaring with laughter while lying on a towel by the pool; rain splattering on my back; the irony of the whole situation running through my brain. We decided that we didn't mind being the rain, but wanted our stuff to stay dry so we moved beneath an unoccupied umbrella. And then instead of returning to our towels...we did as the children were doing...we got IN the POOL! It was so fabulous! Swimming in a downpour! (the pool was actually warmer than the rain, too!)

I love rainy days. They make me feel refreshed, renewed; like starting something new. And today....it also made me feel like a kid...swimming in the rain. Raina and I could have run for the car....let the rain ruin the afternoon we had planned. But instead we embraced it and made it part of the fun!

I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Today is a day that needs to be on record so you have the joy of listening and being the time capsule that you are so grand at being.

I started a new weight training program at my local gym. My friend Jon set up my program. After doing my day two routine today, I discovered that my cellphone had been stolen...most likely by one of the teenaged day campers. The only reason I believe this is that when we called it, EVERY time the same voice would answer and it definitely sounded like a kid.

So I trudged home...I say trudged not only in light of the circumstances, but also because I was incredibly sore from this new routine. I parked my car, went inside, and again, called my cellphone. I checked the messages and then called the cellphone company to put a lock on my service for the time being. Then I returned one of the phone calls. I had just hung up the phone when I heard a crash outside. And then I heard on of the male teenagers that live in my neighborhood say "oh dang!" And THEN I realized that the sound had come from the direction of where I had parked my car. So I trudged to the window not wanting to see what I already knew. The guys were playing catch and had nailed (and SHATTERED) my back window with the football. There was glass everywhere - even in my front seat! So I dealt with that.

Then I went to work. And now I'm going to bed because tomorrow I still have to deal with both my cellphone and my window being gone. I'll share some pictures with you as soon as I get them developed.

Dreaming already (of a world where stuff like this doesn't really matter)

Amanda

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West
 

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
 
Boston
 
North Central
 
The South
 
Philadelphia
 
The Northeast
 
The Inland North
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

the coolness of t-bones (the person, not the steak)

It's Wednesday night. Tanya is home early from house church and has settled on my bed with her computer. We just finished sniffing the rotten egg that her dad sent us in the mail (in his defense..it has scientific purposes as it has no shell) and have decided to blog. You may have notice that while I did give my blog a makeover, I have yet to actually post anything. As I contemplated aloud what to blog on Tanya remarked "Blog about how cool I am." So this, my faithful readers, is dedicated to the coolness of Tanya.

Top Ten reasons why Tanya is cool

1) I can call her T-bones
2) Her dad collects weird stuff like road kill and rotten eggs (ask her about it)
3) She likes to do dishes.
4) She is a total "P" on the Myers-Briggs, and we all need some p-ness in our lives.
5) She'll eat anything I cook...even the experimental flops.
6) She plays a mean trumpet. In fact, I think I saw it blow the wig off of the old woman in the front pew last week at church.
7) She likes to sleep on the couch on Friday and Saturday nights.
8) For every picture that Neil takes where I look stoned, there is a picture with her and some alcohol.
9) She has a rabbit and I have a turtle. Get it? The tortoise and the hare!! hehehe
10) She leaves all kinds of nice notes and is very encouraging!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

just your normal, average, run of the mill saturday afternoon

I didn't do a whole lot today...hung out with my friend Jessica who is visiting from Wisconsin, baked and decorated a cake with no pattern, picture, or directions (Grandma, I think I could compete for Miss Betty Crocker 1955), directed a children's choir, and went to a party. Yep, just an average day.









Thursday, January 18, 2007

Brandon's response to the G207 scandal

Honestly, I'm a little insulted. I get blamed for everything! Someones pen goes missing and it must be Brandon's fault. Never mind Yoda sitting there on the desk asking for soda. No, that's completely normal. Does Amanda think that I can hold such sway over a Jedi Master? The roots of my evil empire reach deep but they are not so power as to conquer the Force. That Yoda was there on his own volition and I for one think it's time to lay blame where it belongs. I'm happy that she's found a new pen but you haveto ask yourself this: where are all the good pens dead, in the heart or in the head?

Peace,
Brandon

Monday, January 08, 2007

on working out

I've always been a bigger boned, bigger muscled (or flabbed) girl, but there once was a time that I was in good shape. In college, I was too focused on the busy work required of the education major and my over-committment to this thing I can never get away from, InterVarsity (despite the way that sounds, I actually love IV). After I graduated and moved to this great city, I joined the thousands of locals at the gym, and I worked out pretty consistently. My membership ended when my full time teaching position left my life, or..er..I maybe left it. The last six months, I have battled with my own home remedies for getting fit - walking my neighborhood, wall push-ups, etc. etc. etc. None of which really worked for me...I couldn't get motivated and being at home, I would be distracted by my laundry or rearranging the entire of array of dishes in our kitchen. (Yeah, I like to organize things and make them efficient...my roommate LOVES that side of me...just kidding) . So I finally was able (with the help of some good old birthday money) to secure a membership at the most local gym which has been completely renovated and is quite the gym. I have actually been using that membership, and even have a couple of funny stories of which are the REAL reason I write tonight (that's quite the long intro, huh).

Story One: My FIRST day back in the gym, I was doing a some lifting when I noticed this older (upper 30s-lower 40s) man sitting at the bench press watching me. That just sings Crreeeppppy! I finished my set and was allowing my arms to rest a minute when I heard, "Can I please get a spot."
Yep, he was talking to ME! I took one look at the 200 pounds he had the bar and said, "I can stand behind you, but there is no way I lift that weight off of you should you get stuck."
He convinced me that he wouldn't even need my help, but just wanted it as a precaution. As I reluctantly made my way to my place behind the bench, he inquired as to what sport I played. If only he could have heard the roaring laughter in my head.
"I don't play any sport." I responded.
"You're built for playing sports." He must not have seen me on the treadmill earlier.
"No. Not since high school."
Luckily he started that heavy breathing routine that is done just before benching more than you are actually capable of so the conversation ended. Although then he was breathing out the beer he had consumed prior to coming to the gym. I'm not sure what is worse, ackward conversation or getting intoxicated off of someone's breath.
Anyway, he made it through one rep with all of that weight and decided to go for another during which he got stuck and his face started turning really red. AND I had to help him. It's a good thing that he could push while I pulled up or he may not be living right now!

Goodness. I do have another story, but I'm tired so I will post it tomorrow.

Friday, January 05, 2007

new year, new pen

That's right. You read the title, and many of you who know me will not believe what I am about to say.

"I'm done with the G2 07."

You heard me. I'm done. I have been a loyal fan since the day Tim Sluiter told me to use his. My dedication was so deep that people at the company I used to work for would steal my beloved G2s just to torment me (no names mentioned of course - ehem, Brandon Marshall) In fact one particular time, I left my desk only to find that my G2 had been replaced by a Yoda pez dispenser with a note attached saying "Feed the Force. Buy Yoda a soda." Clever. But I was not happy.

Alas, I never thought it would happen, but I have found a better pen. A pen whose swift strokes make me want to write on every surface like those pesky high school kids do. (we all did it at one point, right...well, I didn't because I never wanted to get in trouble, but that's a different story). My new pen of choice writes brilliantly, dries quickly so that no smears are left, and makes my name shine like a star. I actually feel like a rockstar or a famous artist when I write my name...just because of the amazing way this pen dances with the paper.

Yes folks, my pen loyalty now lies with none other than the G2 05. You should try it. You will never go back.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

It's raining today which means I got to wear my new raincoat, a Christmas present from my grandparents. For the first time in years, I stayed dry in the rain. And I felt New York Stylish while doing it.

It's raining today, and Urbana is over. I'm feeling surprisingly rested, although it took me several hours to shake off the grogginess that the night cold medicine left me.

It's raining today. What would normally be a busy coffee shop is void of college student hub-bub. It was nice to not have to wait for a table or even have to go to a different location for once. I came here to work on a new project that I've taken on, but I can't seem to get beyond staring out the window at the beautifully dreary day and reflecting on pieces of life. There is a guy sitting directly in my line of sight that looks just like Ryan Motola with long hair. Not only are their faces the same, but their mannerisms are the same too! Makes me kinda miss the guy!

It's raining today. I love rainy days; a reflection of the woman I've become or that I am becoming. Contemplative. A little more calm (well, sometimes). More decisive about the future. It feels good. Stable.

It's raining today, and I like it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

from inside the exhibit hall



The "A" team aka my floor proctors.



Meeting of the minds - around the Aisle 1200 trash can - Jonathon, Tim, and Mike



Jonathon, Wendy, and Kim



Bird's eye view of a very busy hall



Marcie, Lauren, and Bum "Bossman"



Justin Timberlake and Brittney Spears wannabes? Just kidding, but the headsets did make us feel like rockstars.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

urbana...from behind the scenes

Thousands of people are probably blogging about urbana, but very few had an experience like mine. I can't tell you about the worship and how incredible it was, I didn't hear but maybe two songs. I can't tell you about the seminars and how they challenged me or opened my eyes for I did not step one foot into any of them. I can't tell you about the speakers (well, I can tell you about a couple of them). What I can tell you is that Wycliffe, Pioneer, and Lutheran Bible Translators had people sign their names next to a language which signifies a commitment to pray that the Bible will be translated to that language. Or that InnerChange, Servant Partners, and Servants to Asia's Urban Poor combined booths to build a shack where many conversations and prayers for the world's urban poor took place. My role in Urbana was one that kept me away from the main programming, and tied me to the exhibit hall or, rather, the Global Connextions Hall. Many people's response is "that's too bad" or "you missed out on a lot of good stuff." I could view it that way and spend the next few days lamenting about how I missed all of the good things, that I didn't get anything out of urbana, but that would be a complete lie.

I got to work with a team of 16 mostly IV staff unlike any other team I have been a part of. My current supervisor and I spent pretty much every waking moment together...it was fun! And good to get to know the man I work for in a different atmosphere. I laughed a lot at him...with him...its been a while since I've laughed like I did this week. Instead of getting to know and care for students, my focus was on exhibitors. As I walked the aisles of the hall, I had the privilege of witness what was being taught in sessions lived out. Missions organizations taking time to listen to the hearts of students. To pray and care for them. To help them process and discern. On New Year's Eve, as we closed the hall, and exhibits were being dimantled, I imagine I felt the same as many of the delegates...exhausted in every way, delighted to have seen the Lord at work, refreshed, and of course, a bit overwhelmed.

I didn't see much outside of the exhibit hall, but the Lord was in booth 601 just as powerfully as he was in the worship sessions. Thank you Lord for the exhibitors, for the team you gave me to work with, for allowing me to see your calling on others lives lived out in one room.

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