Sunday, December 28, 2008

Once Upon a Win

Our friends over at LOL world (I Can Has Cheezburger and I Has a Hotdog, two sites that bring me much joy) have created a new branch to their site: Once Upon A Win. This great site is summed up with its tagline: A Visual Collection of Epic Wins from the Past. A contrast to their Fail Blog, which chronicles the failures and mishaps of our current world, Once Upon a Win reminds you of the greater parts of childhood. Take some time to peruse it's relatively short 9 pages (compared to the other lol sites which pages at the bottom reach to infinity and beyond) to experience a wonderful blast into the past. Page three currently includes a YouTube video of an entire game of Oregon Trail. Man, I miss fourth grade.

Happy Anniversary

Today was my and Mark's 5th Anniversary. Five years of marriage! It sure doesn't seem like it's been that long. We usually do anniversary gifts instead of Christmas gifts, our anniversary being 2 days after Christmas. But this year, with moving and a new job, we didn't even make it to the anniversary gifts. Plus, our anniversary being a Saturday, Mark had to work two movies today to top things off.

So, I decided to surprise him with a homemade dinner. I made a lasagna from a recipe I found on I started last night while Mark was at the movie by making the sauce, and let it sit overnight. Then when he left today, I completed the masterpiece, and topped it off with a Caesar salad, bread with EVOO (thanks, Rachael Ray), and a bottle of wine from the local liquor store - the only bottle of Italian wine I could find that wasn't the huge Maccaroni Grill bottle.

I think it turned out great!

Of course, what would a dinner at our home be without a pitiful-eyed dog begging for a share? The rule has become he has to eat his own dinner before he can have any of ours. He's catching on slowly...we usually convince him to finish just in time to have a few of the left overs. Tonight, he was treated to some bread, dipped in the leftover cheese and sauce from our plates!

Speaking of the dog, this would be the same dog who, while we went to the movie tonight, decided to eat Mark's Symphony bar that he (Mark) received as a Christmas present. 6 oz. of chocolate later, we're calling the emergency vet, wondering what to do. According to the after hours vet ER, he may develop symptoms in 12-24 hours that would include vomiting and diarrhea. If he develops muscle spasms or tremors, then we're to take him to the ER. So, on my anniversary, instead of snuggling up with my hubby for a good night's sleep, I'm up with my dog, paranoid that he's going to react. Thanks, Brisoce. Happy anniversary to me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!

It's 11:14 on Christmas Eve, and I'm cuddled up in my pajamas in my bed listening to Casey Kasem's Top 60 Christmas Songs Countdown on the radio. It's taking me back to my childhood, when we'd listen to his Top 40 each week on the radio in the car after church. We always had to get out of church and through lunch at least in enough time to hear the top ten.

Our Christmas Eve plans have been postponed. We were supposed to go to hubby's family today and celebrate with them, but his mom is sick. No fun being sick on Christmas! So we decided to just stay home, and not even go into town. Mark, himself, is fighting off a cold, so being lazy is a great idea right now.

With so many family, and this year, with so many family spread so far out, we had to plan our Christmas celebrations over the whole week, pretty much. Monday-Tuesday was my family, Wednesday-Thursday was Mark's family, and Thursday afternoon is Mark's extended family. Of course with sickness, that hasn't exactly panned out, but where as we were looking at a solid week of driving to all of these places, we now have 2 days of true vacation in the midst of the holidays.

We spent Christmas yesterday with my family, and what a Christmas it was! Our big present was new cookware - Caphlon! It's so awesome. There are eight different size pots - two skillets, 3 sauce pans, and a 6 quart. Plus, we got a dutch oven that came with the set as a freebie. It's beautiful. We have pretty good cookware right now, it was a wedding present, and has held up well for a Walmart registry item. But I'm excited about having some really good quality stuff to use in the kitchen. Now, if I can just learn how to cook a meal without messing up something...

Another present was The Tales of Beetle the Bard! I hadn't really been all that anxious to read it, for some reason. As obsessed with Harry Potter as I am, you'd think I'd have been in line, but just wasn't. But when we were shopping earlier this week, we passed a bookstore, and I saw it out on a display, and thought, I really hope someone gets me one of those for Christmas. So I was very excited to find it wrapped under the tree.

I am a little bummed that we're not doing more Christmas today. I'm really excited about some of the gifts we got Mark's family - especially the kids. Mark did a great job this year shopping for our soon-to-be niece and nephew, and our baby niece. I was so impressed! I can't wait to share our gifts with them. Maybe we'll be able to pick up our celebrations later this week.

I hope your Christmas is going well! Remember to celebrate, and not rush. Yeah...'cuz I'm so good at that.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Update on our lives

As many of you know, Mark and I have moved! Mark is working as the Associate Director for Choral Programming at the college in town. He is also serving as the Director of movie theatre on campus for his first year here. His schedule has been very busy this holiday season with choir concerts and movies. The transition has been good, so far. We are blessed with all of the pieces having fallen into place: I was approved to work from home three days a week. We are renting a house from some friends, which is a great situation for both us and them. Briscoe is adjusting nicely, enjoying the smells and sounds of a new place to live! As I said, all of the pieces have fallen into place, with the exception of one: we're still looking for someone to buy our house! All we want for Christmas... maybe Santa will pull through for us!

I'm hoping to post more here, as I am hoping to have more visitors. Maybe that can be my New Year's Resolution, instead of losing weight...always a silly idea!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fun Stuff

I've been so busy lately, I haven't even had time to think about updating on my life. I guess I should do that... but until I get the chance, have fun with this snowflake site that my sister showed me. So much fun!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


We saw an amazing play Sunday night! The theatre group here on campus did Proof, a drama about family relationships. Not only was the play itself really well written, the actors did a great job. I was very proud of my fellow thespians.

The play is about a girl who has been taking care of her mentally ill father for several years. He was a mathematician, a genius, well known in the field. The play revolves around her questions as to just how much like her father she is - she's also a brilliant mathematician, but left school to care for him. She worries that she is going crazy, as well. It's an ensemble cast - the girl, her father, her sister, and an old student of her father's. The exploration of family dynamics is so intriguing, and very compelling. And the way the scenes are juxtaposed together, it keeps you guessing about her sanity the entire play.

The actors did a fantastic job, too. I got so pulled into their world. The way they balanced the humor with the drama was perfect. You could truly see their struggles, and how they dealt with them through humor, as anyone does. It was very natural, just very well done.

I love theatre. I'm so excited to be back here, hoping I get the opportunity to act again sometime soon. I love that the group here does plays that affect you - not just the "popular" plays. It's truly an intellectual experience, always challenging some part of life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight: The Movie

I went to see Twilight last night. My sister took me as my birthday present. I took her to see Sex and the City for hers, so it was a good trade off. And it enables us to spend time together, which is fun, ‘cuz we don’t do a whole lot together, just the two of us.

Note, I'm really talking about the movie ahead. Spoilers for the movie (and the book, too, I guess) will follow.

It was okay. It just wasn’t...realistic. And I know, vampires, not realistic, but that’s the whole idea of a movie. It makes you think that it’s real. And this one just didn’t do it for me. The special effects were almost too much. Special effects are supposed to look like they could actually happen. They help you suspend belief, but these just looked like special effects.

The whole movie was angsty teen. I thought the books had a lot of lightness and humor, and while a lot of the lines in the movie were funny, they were all said with a dark, ominous feeling, like at any moment the world’s going to come crashing down. The actors just couldn't lighten up and enjoy their own humor. They really were funny!

The movie did follow the story of the book very closely, quoting it often, but they left out some of the most important parts, to me. All of the questions and details about being a vampire were mentioned in passing, but never really discussed, as they were in the book, as they deserved. And the whole hotel scene...that’s where Bella and Alice’s relationship was really established and developed, and it was completely left out. I think they could have spent a lot more time on her developing relationship with the Cullens, and left out a lot of the process of her finding out what they are.

There were good parts, great parts, actually. I LOVE Charlie! I think he was amazing. The actor did a great job with that character, and the things they did with his character in terms of lines and direction were a perfect representation of what I think of when I think Charlie.

And I really liked Rosalie, too. I didn't really have a strong opinion about Rosalie from the books, one way or the other, but I really liked hating her in the movie. The actor just seemed to convey a lot of Rosalie's emotions in her few lines and just through her visual looks.

I am glad I saw it, and I will see the others. (Summit announced today that they're moving forward with New Moon.) Maybe it’ll be like Harry Potter - the movies only got better. And I do still love the story. It’s a love story at its heart. And a good one at that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Twilight is for Lovers

For my birthday, I received the first three books in the Twilight series. I read the books about 2 months ago, having checked the first three out from my sister's library. But when it came time to read the fourth, I was 118 on the waiting list at the public library, and somewhere around 20 at my sister's library. I wasn't waiting. So I bought it. In hardback, of course, because that's the only way it's available. And, loving the series so much, I knew I had to have the first three. In hardback. (See strengths at right, under Input for further explanation.)

So, I was very excited when my birthday present consisted of the first three Twilight books, beautiful and black, along with the first four Harry Potter books (in hardback), completing both of these collections for me. Yea!

And now, Mark and I are reading Twilight together. It's been fun reading it with someone who hasn't read them, because he has so many questions that I didn't allow myself to ask - I devoured all four books within about a week. But reading them aloud to one another, we have to take time, and we can only read when we're both present, which is more difficult now that we're working in different cities.

And every time he asks a question, my response is "that's a good question." Really because they are, and because if I were to answer them, they would give away something to come, because he does ask appropriate questions to the story. Some of his questions:

If Edward bites Bella, will it kill her?
Has Edward ever killed anyone?
How do you become a vampire?
Why can't Edward read Bella's mind?
Does Edward's family hate Bella?

See? All very good questions. And I can't wait to read him the answers.

Twilight is truly for lovers, because when I first read them, it took me back to the early stages of our relationship, when everything was new and exciting. And it made me fall in love with him all over again. It's fun, reading them together now, because we get to fall in love with each other, all over again, again.

Sorry for the extremely personal post. Maybe all you married/dating people out there can do the same! And it doesn't have to be Twilight...just find a good love story, and read it together. It does wonders for your heart.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I really appreciate the person who took this picture of me on Halloween. 

And in response, I offer this from lolcatz:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Got this in an e-mail. According to the forward, these two churches are across the street from one another. I have a feeling it's generated, but still, it brings a smile to my face. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Searching For God Knows What

In my effort to occupy my time, I've checked out a bunch of books from the library and borrowed several from a friend. The first one I'm reading is Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. It's been on my to-read list for awhile. I read Blue Like Jazz, also by Miller, several years ago, and liked it. I also saw a video a few weeks ago of Donald Miller preaching, and it was really good. He has a great sense of humor, and a realistic approach to, well, reality. I'm two chapters in, though, and while I think a lot of what he's saying is good, I'm struggling with some of it, which, I guess, is probably a good thing. I mean, I'm sure Donald Miller wouldn't want anyone to read his book and agree with everything he says.

So... one bone to pick with him. In the first chapter, he's talking about formulas, and how many people approach God with a formula in mind: do this, and this will happen. Pray for this, and this will happen. Give money to the church and this will happen. I'm with him 100% that this is the case, and that this is not the way to approach God. God is relational, and that's his whole point, that we have to be in relationship with God. God is not a snack machine, being one of my favorite parallels. We don't just put in our money, type in A2 and get our goods.

But one of the examples Miller uses is Harry Potter. In a brief example, he talks about a CSPAN show he was watching, where a literary critic was talking about Harry Potter, and wondering why it's so popular. The critic says it's "wish fulfillment." "He said the lead character in the book could wave a wand and make things happen, and this is one of the primary fantasies of the human heart." Miller agrees.

Okay, so he's making a bigger point here than why people like Harry Potter. But I feel I must make a point as to why people like Harry Potter, with the help of this article. Rather than using Harry Potter as an example of what people are wishing for that they shouldn't be wishing for, Harry Potter is an example of what we should be working toward: relationships. I believe that, within the backdrop of a magical world, JK Rowling has created a parallel universe in which people fight for what's right and wrong, and struggle to create and sustain deep, meaningful relationships that alter your existence. Sure, Harry's got a wand, and all he has to do is point it at the light and say "lumos" and there's light. But does that make everything easy? No one, and I repeat no one, could have created seven books about getting what you want that easy. 

No, I think Harry Potter is the perfect example of what Donald Miller is striving to share in the first chapter of this book. Relationships are the key. Sure, in Harry's world, just as in ours, there are formulas to get some of the things you want. Think back to tenth grade Chemistry. Or just walk in your kitchen and look at a recipe. But when it comes to the truly important things in life, those that shape us as human beings, there's no formula to create that. And throughout the Harry Potter series, this is exactly what Harry learns. He continually tries to go it alone, even to the last fight, only to discover time and again that not only can he not do it alone, he doesn't really want to. He needs his friends. We need God. And our friends, too, of course. 

A New Norm

So, a new norm is being formed in my life. Mark started his new job yesterday! I think it went well, but it was very hectic. He was very tired when he got home. Hopefully, though, he'll settle into this new routine and won't be as tired.

We're getting up at the same time, which is nice. What's especially nice for me is that now Mark gets in the shower first! I love this. It's the little things. I like being able to wake up and know that life is going on around me before actually getting out of bed. I had intentions to stay in bed until he was out of the shower this morning, but I decided to go ahead and get up and eat breakfast. I like not being the first one up. I feel so lonely getting up first... like I'm missing out on something. (Sleep! I feel like I'm missing out on sleep!)

So my new norm: driving to work alone, listening to my I-Pod on the way. (I feel like Bella Swan! haha...) I'm driving our "other" car, because our "best" car gets better gas mileage, so the weary traveler gets that one. The "other" car only has one CD holder (travesty!) and changing CDs while driving down the road isn't the safest thing. Okay, really, choosing which CD to put in next is what's not safe. I'm in a "fed up with the media" phase, and it seems every time I turn on the radio all I hear is commercials. And NPR is doing their fall campaign this week, and I quickly get sick of them asking for money.

My other new norm: lunch conundrum. For the past year, Mark and I have eaten lunch together every day. So, I miss him. Yesterday I got to eat lunch with Nikki, a friend from college (Martin, actually) who recently started working at the same place I work. That was really fun, getting to catch up and do some serious girl-talk. I'm considering trying to work out over lunch, like I used to do before Mark was close enough to eat lunch with. I need to desperately, as well as reign back in my appetite.

My evenings are quieter, as Mark doesn't get home until late now that he's commuting. Last night I had dinner ready. I was planning to just read for the few hours between me getting home and him getting home, but I ended up downloading a bunch of music from I-Tunes and playing it while I made dinner. Reading is on my schedule for tonight, though, as I have four books from the library, and four other books from a friend, and 3 DVDs traveling to my local library just for me! Hey, we packed all of our books, so I'm having to be creative in acquiring reading material. It is kinda sad that I'm really just now getting the hang of the library thing, just to leave.

We are putting our house on the market sometime this week, probably tomorrow or Thursday, depending on when the realtor gets the paperwork together, I guess. I have to say, it's in really good shape. We did a lot of work getting it ready, and so when I do get home, I can relax, and not feel stressed about having to do this or that, and can have no guilt in playing on I-Tunes or reading for hours on end.

So many news, and so many of them, I'm sure, won't be lasting. In my ever-changing world right now, I don't even really know where I'll be living from one day to the next. Okay, probably not that volatile. But still, changing. And the norms I establish today will be changed and re-formed tomorrow! What's going to be weird, I feel, is not going to church on Wednesday night... it's been years since I haven't done that! Times, they are a changin'!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Change the Conversation: Blog Action Day

I'm so far behind the times, that it's already 3:45 my time and I'm just getting clued into this. Fairly appropriate for my discussion...

It's Blog Action Day. Don't know much about it, other than that it's an organization that chooses a topic and encourages bloggers around the world to blog about it on one specific day. For 2008, that day is today, and the topic is poverty. 

I went to the website and saw the video. Very intriguing, and moving. It is amazing to think about the power that bloggers have. I often remove myself from that group, because I'm sure I have a small following, if any at all, and I never really say anything of much interest, mostly just ramblings about my affluent life. I'm not an activist. I'm not looking to change the world. I read other's blogs and think, man it would be cool for me to say something that really affected others, but mostly I'm just trying to say something that will affect myself. 

And so, as I'm watching this video, I'm thinking, wow, this is really cool, people blogging about poverty. I should blog about poverty. But what in the world do I know about poverty? I don't advocate change anywhere. I don't volunteer or serve in missions anywhere. I don't do much of anything.

But I know there are others out there who are like me. (Please? Pretty please tell me I'm not alone!) I "dabble" in advocacy, sending an e-mail to a senator for a random cause that catches my eye, sending some money to a cause, usually around Christmas, but I'm by no means passionate about it. I'm much more passionate about what we can learn from Harry Potter, or being obsessed with the latest Twilight news, or having my head stuck in a book.

So, I'm blogging for those of us who haven't thrown ourselves into changing the world, because we're too busy trying to change ourselves, or figure out who we are so we can know if it needs to be changed. I admire others who so passionately devote themselves to a cause and support it whole-heartedly with everything they have. I want to be one of those people when I grow up, and I struggle to not remind myself that I'm already grown up, and I need to get a move-on. 

And I'm blogging because I have to remind myself that I can do what I can do. I can give money, even if it's just at Christmas. I can e-mail a Senator when I think about it, even if it's not once a day, or once a week, or even once a year. I can blog about poverty, and maybe someone who stumbles across my blog will think twice in the next few months before buying a random present for a distant friend, and instead will give the gift of food to a family in that friend's name. I'm blogging to help change the conversation, because that IS something I can do, even if not the most, and even if not the best.

And however small my offering, I can only trust that God will accept it and be pleased. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Moving On...

Okay, so it's time. The news. 

Most of you who read this probably know it by now. And those who don't are readers I've picked up somewhere along the way, and so this "big" news probably won't affect you very much, b/c I'll still be blogging...

This is an adaptation of the letter we sent to family and friends...

As many of you know, our life for the last few years has been bitter-sweet. While our lives outside of work have been wonderfully filled with family, friends, and church activities, our work careers have lacked a certain amount of satisfaction. So, when we learned of a wonderful job opportunity for Mark, we knew we had to pursue it. 

Mark has been offered and has accepted the position of Assistant Choir Director and Instructor of Music at our alma matter! He will begin work there on Monday, October 20. 

I'll continue in my work for the time being. We're putting our house on the market, and when it sells, we'll be looking for a more permanent place in our new/old home!

We hate to leave, but this is a wonderful opportunity for Mark, as he will be able to use his gifts and talents doing what he has worked toward doing his entire adult life in a location that we know we will enjoy. We hope that you can share our joy at this exciting change in our lives!

So...that's it! We're moving! I am so excited! Yes, very sad to be leaving our church family, not to mention our real family. It's going to be very hard. But we both feel this is where we need to be. Here's to the future...a future with real hope!


I don't get much into politics. I watch a little...I watched most of the VP debate at my 'rents house last week. I listen to NPR. I kinda keep up with what's going on. But I don't spend hours researching and discussing. I vote, most of the time, but that's about as involved as I get.

So everything going on in the world over the past few weeks has kinda been in the back of my mind, not in the front. I'm paying attention, but not obsessing. That's why I haven't really said anything in my blog about it. But I came across this in my google reader this morning, and it's just too classic to not mention. I ran across this guy's blog through a friend of mine, Gavin. He does religious cartoons about the life and adventures of Jesus. Read more about him here. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Week In the Life Of...Part 2

Okay, so I really have been taking pictures. But my husband took my computer with him on a work trip, so no posting them. And I can't post my notes, because I haven't been taking any...

So, instead of posting my thoughts and pictures through the week, I think I'll just post the finished products. However, it'll probably be awhile before I get to scrapbooking because I have to pack up all my scrapbooking stuff. And I have to pack up all my scrapbooking stuff because...well, that's a post for another time. Maybe this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow. But I want to do it justice. 

Just suffice it to say I am doing the project. Really. And you shall one day see the fruits of my labor. But, by that point, I'll probably need to do it again, because everything will have changed...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

List 'o Books

My sister posted a blog about the top 100 books, and noted that studies show the average american adult has only read 6 of them. I don't know where she got the list, and she doesn't know where the list came from. Seeing as The DaVinci Code and Bridgett Jones' Diary are both on here, plus the fact that several books are listed twice - singularly and as a part of a set (i.e. Chronicles of Narnia and Lion, Witch and Wardrobe), and the fact that no Graham Greene are listed, I'm a bit skeptical at holding much stock in this list, but being an avid book lover, and having a number one strength of input (see left), I'm up for a list about books!

Oh..and I've read 28 of the 100 listed, counting the combos as one, not individually (I've read all 7 Harry Potter books, thank you very much!)

The Rules:
1) Look at the list and put one * by those you have read.
2) Put a % by those you intend to read.
3) Put two ** by the books you LOVE.
4) Put # by the books you HATE.
5) Put ! by ones that you have seen in movie form
6) My rule: Put $ next to ones you've seen on stage.
6) Post. (Don't forget to tag me.)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen *
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling **
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee *
6 The Bible **
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte *
8 1984 - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare *$ (read most)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien *
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliott
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell !
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald **
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky *
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck **
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll !
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame *
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia- CS Lewis *
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis *!
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the pooh - AA Milne **
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell *
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown *
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery *
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen *
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens **
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley*
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker !
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett *!
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath *
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens !$
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker *
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White *!
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom !
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad *#
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas !
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare *!$
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl *!
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo !$

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Week In The Life Of...

I follow Ali Edward's blog. She's a professional scrapbooker, works for magazines and companies and the like. She blogs a lot about her projects and her son, Simon, who is autistic.

Next week, she's doing a week long project called A Week In The Life Of... where she's documenting a week of her life. The idea is to scrapbook the ordinary, the boring, the everyday, those routines that we get into.

I'm planning to do this project. I hope I can keep up with it! Ali's said on her blog that she's blogging about it as a way to be accountable - her readers will hold her accountable. So, I'm thinking if I blog about it, then maybe I'll actually do it, and I'll blog more! (My sister tells me I don't blog enough... :-) ). You guys will hold me accountable, right?

Plus, I'm getting involved in a photography group at church, and I've found it really hard to find photographic inspiration in the every day. Each week I come back with nothing, or with pictures from years ago, because I just feel like my every day is boring. And (back to the child thing) since I don't have children, I don't really feel like I have much to scrapbook about, but I know that's not true. I just haven't found the right angle for inspiration.

So, my hopes for this project:

-Record a week of my life: have a record of my everyday routine.
-Blog about what I'm taking pictures of and my thoughts through the process.
-Find photographic inspiration in my every day life.
-Create a scrapbook/pages about life! (Isn't that what scrapbooking's all about?)

Wish me luck...and if you don't see posts, ask me about them!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nashville Gas

This has got to be the funniest thing I've ever seen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To Child or Not to Child

There are many divisions in our world. Race, religion, political beliefs, income, the list goes on. The more time I spend being an adult, the less I see these divisions matter. I can have a perfectly good, even wonderful, conversation with someone of a different race, someone of a different denomination or religion, someone with different political beliefs as me, someone in a higher or lower tax bracket than myself. But I find that there is another division that is becoming more and more prevalent each day. That division is whether or not you have children.

Think about it. Everyone who has children can talk about their children non-stop: good or bad. I see it everywhere. I hear it everywhere. I'm a scrapbooker, and as I peruse blogs and sites, everything scrapbooking has to do with children (or travel). Maybe it's just that it's that time of year: starting school, new beginnings, parents are realizing that their children are growing up, so they want to reminisce and hold on to what they currently have before their children turn into adults and, for sure, have children of their own. Maybe it's because my husband and I are now the only ones of his immediate family who are childless. But it seems everything always comes down to the and so did something cute, so and so was really trying my patience, try this on a page for your kid, how do you deal with this aspect of being a parent?, etc. Not that I exactly mind...I love kids! I want some of my own someday. But I think I really feel left out, because I can't relate. I joke that I don't have kids so I have to scrapbook my dog. And I do (scrapbook my dog, that is). But no matter how cute my dog is, there's really a limit to the variety of pages you can do about a dog. Playing ball...going for a walk...rubbing his belly...that's about it. (I refuse to scrapbook about his bathroom habits, even if they are endearing to me.)

No matter what else divides us, I think it's the kid factor that divides us most, maybe because that's one of the few things that actually affects our daily lives. You have to think about kids daily, if you have them. You don't necessarily think about your religion (even if you should), or your politics (except for right now), or your income (unless it's not high enough). And maybe it's that all of those life factors are thought of a taboo topics. What are you not supposed to bring up in polite conversation? Politics and religion. But kids are fair game. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And though I refrain from scrapbooking my dog's natural system, I know moms who don't refrain from the same about their kids!

And so I wonder if it really is something that changes in you, that moment that a child enters your life. I guess it's kind of obvious that it does. But is it a chemical change? Something physical? Because I've seen it happen to people who haven't actually given birth to the child, just embraced them into their lives.

And I wonder if the same will happen to me when I have kids. I have lots of friends who don't have children. Will my husband and I cross a bridge that separates us from all the other childless people of the world? And if that's an inevitable change, is it one I really want? And is it possible to prevent that change from totally consuming our lives?

Parent or not - what do you think?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Life List, Part 2

Here I go again...

11. Live outside the U.S. for 3+ months.
12. Get a Master's Degree.
13. Weigh 130 lbs.
14. Bring Canvas bags to the grocery store. (check!)
15. Learn to dance ballet.
16. Learn to play the violin.
17. Sing jazz in a classy bar/night club.
18. Flip a house.
19. Visit every state in the U.S.
20. Learn to swim properly.

Friday, August 8, 2008


There is nothing wrong with you.

Do you believe it?

It's an interesting idea. We have all been taught that there's something wrong with us. Where does it come from? Parents? Friends? Comparing ourselves to others?

I ran across this in Gavin's link-love. I think it's interesting that I would find it now. I'm reading this book my sister gave me called Uglies. It's a trilogy: Uglies, Pretties, and Specials. It's young adult fiction, futuristic. The main character, Tally, lives in a world where on your 16th birthday, you're made pretty. Everyone. Through an operation, they shave down or beef up your bones, fat, skin, everything, to make you look "pretty" - or, in other words, like everyone else. They teach them in school that this is a good thing: everyone equally pretty, no one stands out, nothing to fight over.

Sounds good, right? But when Tally's friend, Shay, runs away, and Tally goes after her, Tally learns that being pretty isn't always that good. She meets David, and for the first time in her ugly life, she is called beautiful. And she believes it.

What if we could be called beautiful, and believe it when we heard it? Sure, our parents call us beautiful. Boyfriends, friends, husbands, those who love us and know us say, "yeah, you're beautiful." "No, you're not fat." "I like the way your eyes are too far apart." "It's what's on the inside that counts." We hear those words, and know in our minds that they're true, but it's our hearts that don't believe. It's our hearts that need compassion. Maybe if we could each have a little more compassion for our own self, we'd be able to have compassion for others, too.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Summer TV

As I get older, I'm becoming more aware of the world around me. It's interesting, because I find myself becoming aware of things, and wondering if they're new things because of the changing times, or if they've always been that way, and my juvenile mind has been inward focused enough to not notice.

One of those things is summer tv. Now, I remember as a kid always having my summer packed with reruns. Now summer's the time to try out new tv shows and see what makes it to fall to be added to the list. Has summer always been a time for new shows? Or are the stations just looking for new ways to inundate us with television? I have a feeling it's the latter, but realizing that I've been pretty oblivious of things in the past, I have to wonder.

This summer I've become devoted to two shows: The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Swingtown. Interestingly enough, both about sex. The Secret Life is about a teenage girl, about 15, who gets pregnant at band camp over the summer. I have to say, it is probably one of the worst shows on tv, in terms of talent and writing. The scripts are awful! No one talks like that, seriously. And many of the actors are pretty bad, in my opinion. But, I'm intrigued. Mostly, I think, because the main character (the one who's pregnant) is phenomonal! Okay...maybe not phenononal, but comparatively speaking...she's really good. And I'm invested in her. I want to know what happens. I want to know if she decides to keep the baby or have an abortion. I want to know if she tells her parents, and if she does, how they react. I want to know how she's going to respond to her new boyfriend who now wants to marry her and claim the baby as his. Granted...writing being poor, she is able to switch emotions pretty quickly - from angry at herself and the world to madly in love with this quirky guy who's joining the band just to be with her. But, what teenager doesn't have raging emotions that change in a flash? All badness aside, this is a great show - one to definately to keep me around. It's from the creators of 7th Heaven, and if I remember correctly, 7th Heaven had some pretty bad acting and writing to begin with. But it overcame, and sustained, what, ten years on tv? Maybe there's hope for the Secret Life, too.

The second show is Swingtown. It's about what it sounds like it's about...Swingers. Ha! What an amazing concept. I love recent history - like 50s, 60s, 70s. The decades they never taught us in school because our teachers had lived them and didn't want to be reminded of them. This show is like a history lesson in narrative...yet, is about the history they NEVER would have talked about in school! It's mainly about a couple who move to a new neighborhood, leaving their best friends behind. They meet the new neighbors, who throw swinger parties at their house and even have a "special room" downstairs where all the fun happens. In an effort to keep their old friends, they continue to invite them around, not really knowing what they're all getting themselves into. We're several episodes in, so there's too much to account, but, contrary to the Secret Life, this show contains some really good acting and script writing. The characters seem real - and like they really live in the 70s, but still have current appeal. There's the classic housewife (the old friend) and the classic bad girl (the new friend) and the caught-in-between main character, but it's gone so much further than that, to talk about relationships, and fidelity, and what love really is. The most interesting thing, I think, is that there's a storyline with the kids, too - the daughter dating her summer school teacher and the son sort of beginning his first romance with the girl next door. And even those stories are valued - just as much a part of the whole show as the parents/adults. I was a little unsure of this show at first, but I'm completely hooked. Mostly because they don't do a whole lot of stupid things...and when they do, consequences ensue. And they don't dodge the issues...they lay them out there on the table. They're not perfect, they're real, in a refreshing way.

So...that's my summer line up. What's yours?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Life List

It's time I came up with a life list. ( I will keep adding to this as I think of new things. Here's to the start of something beautiful!

1. See the grand canyon.
2. Be a mom.
3. Direct Ragtime.
4. Write and teach a Harry Potter curriculum.
5. Be on NPR.
6. Have a party in my beautiful backyard. (It's not yet beautiful!)
7. Travel to Italy, France, Germany, and Austria.
8. Learn to make a Wilton Flower.
9. Cook a meal without screwing something up.
10. See the Great Barrier Reef.

Ten to begin...more to come soon!


We have our bishop returning. I had heard that we and our sister conference were not pleased with him, and that we all wanted a new bishop. But he was reassigned to our area for four more years.

I did go to his reception, figuring it would probably look bad if I didn't. And when I shook his hand, he actually asked me if I was glad he was returning.

I smiled, paused, and responded "Always."

I'm not a quick thinker. I can never come up with the right response at the right moment. Later, I think of hundreds of things I should have said. Some cordial and appropriate. Some not so much.

"I'm glad you won't be leaving on a bad note."

"I'm glad we'll have four more years to work out our differences." (thanks, Ginny!)

"I'm pleased you'll have four years to try to rebuild the bridges you've burned."

"I hope you'll use your time to engage the youth and young adults you have shut out."

"I'm glad you won't be destroying another conference's youth and young adult ministries."

But what did I say? "Always."

So, here's to "always." Whatever that means.


We did get Friday afternoon off. Friday morning we passed the budget. A budget that reduces the amount of money given to each ministry in the jurisdiction by 25% each year for the next four years, so that by 2013, we as a jurisdiction will be putting no money into any of our ministries.

Read that paragraph again.

A proposal of reorganization was brought to the floor that reorganized the SEJ, basically making the three facilities (Lake Junaluska, Gulfside, and ugh, I can't remember the name of the third!) "Agencies" of the jurisdiction, with the intention that they would be self-sustaining by 2013. Gulfside was severely damaged by Katrina, so the committee that brought this proposal ensured that care would be given to Gulfside, and that the self-sufficient deadline could be extended if necessary.

What they did not clarify was their idea of self-sufficient. They want the ministries of these assemblies to be self-sufficient. And they include the summer youth events that happen at Lake Junaluska under the umbrella of Lake Junaluska, not under the ministries of the SEJ.

They also included hispanic, native american, and african american ministries under this, too, and intend for those ministries to be self-sufficient by 2013.

So...where are our apportionment dollars in the SEJ going? Well...they'll be going to pay off the debt for repairing the dam at Lake Junaluska.

I use that dam every year. I cross it on my way to Wal-Mart in Waynesville. Without it, there would be no Lake Junaluska. It's a very important dam. But more important than ministries?

According to our Jurisdictional body, yes.

It is a sad day for the United Methodist Church.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Young People Address

The youth and young adult address went really well! The youth went first, and talked about the great things that the SEJ does with youth, including bringing in over 600 youth through the gates of Lake Junaluska each summer. Then for the young adult report, we had about 10-15 young adults stand at the mic and make a statement about either themselves or the situation of a young adult. I said "I am a young adult. My husband and I have been married for four and a half years, and I am working in my first job. I am a young adult." Some of the others said things about having children, owning a home, financial issues, and other marital situations. We were trying to give the body an overall idea of the broad range of life situations in which young adults find themselves. Then Pheobe Hathorn, who has been the secretary of the SEJ Young People's group, gave a rousing speech about young people. The best thing she said (which actually was an idea from Kelsey Morris, who was listed as the person to give the speech, but no one told her until about a week before, and she wasn't able to come) was that young adults are not just the future of the church, or even the present, but are the past, present, and future of the church. We have been here, we are here, and we will be here for years to come. I was moved by her speech. I don't think the body was moved quite as much as I was, but I was moved!

Of course, as always, we give lipservice to our young people, but when it comes to putting them on committees, giving them money, or including them in representation, it's a whole different story. We just passed the nominations report, and there was one youth in the entire list. One. There were eight young adults, which was good. And I guess it's hard to ask youth to serve on a General Board and Agency. But we should try, and we should make it possible for them to attend. Have a board meeting in the summer.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


6 Ballots and we have a bishop. Paul Leland, from North Carolina, was elected this morning with 2 more votes than the number needed.

As a fellow delegate said, there is a sense of relief when the process is over, no matter how it turns out. It's always disappointing when "your" candidate isn't elected, but I think somewhere deep inside none of us expected that Lynn would be elected. However the turn out, I do think that Paul Leland has good possibility. I liked what he said Tuesday in the round robin sessions, some of the answers he gave and points he made. But, I liked our bishop four years ago, too, so I'm hesitant to even give my own opinion on what kind of bishop he'll make. None of us really know.

So, now we turn to the other business of the Jurisdictional Conference. What would that other business be? Well...that's a good question. We're all kind of wondering the same thing. Bishop Whitaker told me this morning that the Consecration service will not be moved up because there is a consensus among the Council of Bishops that all newly elected bishops will be consecrated on the same day across the country. That's kind of cool, I can understand that. But the agenda committee reported this morning, and didn't really make any changes. We're thinking we can at least move things together and get longer meal breaks. Someone did request from the floor that we try to finish our business this afternoon and tomorrow morning and take tonight off. We'll see! I think it's possible.

We do have other business. We've been doing teaching sessions, which have been pretty good, except for the first one. It was really boring, given by a professor of theology. I think he tried to cram an entire college course into an hour. Michael was able to summarize his points into about 5 minutes. The second was very interesting, given by a historian and theologian. I didn't pay close attention because I was doing a sudoku, but what I heard was good. We're in the middle of the third right now, being given by Bishop Carder, so of course it's good! But I'm blogging and not paying close attention, either.

Almost time for lunch. The youth and young adult addresses are this afternoon. I'll post about them later!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Holy Cow...We ARE moving into the 21st Century!

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1st Ballot we're back after lunch. We've had a showchoir singing and dancing for us. They're not that good in the singing area, but their dancing is pretty good, and man are they having fun! It's a choir from a church, and there's a bunch of them. It's really cool to see a church with that kind of ministry.

I think it's time to hear a ballot. The first was taken, and it was supposed to be a write in. But they listed all of the declared candidates in alphabetical order and we filled in the box next to the name. Interesting...I thought the first was to be a write in so that no one had preferential treatment by having their name listed first. Maybe they can't read people's handwriting?

Lunch was glorious! We ate boxed lunches outside by the lake. It was beautiful! I avoided Cokesbury, so I wasn't tempted to buy anything. The plan is Italian for dinner. Yum!

More later!

Juridsuctional Conference: Day 1/2 and 1

The conference actually started today, but yesterday we had a "round robin" meet and greet with each of the episcopal nominees. I was interested that my impressions of the candidates changed between their presentations to the large group and then their q&a with each individual conference.

So far, it's been really good. We're staying at Providence Lodge with Michael, Margaret, Sarah and Elizabeth, and Beth and Debbie. We're having a good time! The only person missing is Mark...he decided he didn't want to take the time off work for this. Can't say that I blame him, but I wish he was here! Last night we went to a cookout for the delegation and then played games (Nert? New to me! and Apples to Apples). This morning we walked around the lake with the Williams. It was a beautiful morning.

Stuart Auditorium has air conditioning! I'm kinda upset...because now it's freezing in here. And we've lost that "nature" feel. They have all the windows closed and signs all over saying keep the windows and doors closed. It's crazy.

Okay, we're moving to a service of preparation for electing a new bishop. Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nashville Sounds

So, the women's ensemble that I sing with sang the National Anthem at the Nashville Sounds Game Sunday night! It was very exciting. About 300 groups auditioned to sing, and only about 50 or so were asked! We were pumped. Even with the Sounds' losing season and a small crowd, it was still the biggest audience we've ever sung for!

4th of July weekend was awesome! Mark and I went to Nashville Shores with Linda and James Thursday after work. That was the first time we'd really gotten to hang out with them, and we had a really good time! Nashville Shores was packed with people. We made it down two slides in two hours. Definitely overcrowded. But Linda found a great place to watch the fireworks over the lake, and that made the whole day worth it! Afterwards, we went back to Linda and James' house and hung out for awhile, just talking. It was really good!

Then Friday was the big family picnic. I overate - though I did better than usual. All of the family was there, and we got to meet the new baby Liam - he's so precious! That night we saw the downtown fireworks. Once again, Mark's dad was awesome at finding just the right spot at just the right moment. We had a great view, and then a perfect shot to get out of downtown without getting stuck in the traffic!

Saturday was a day at the Caboose. It poured rain for about 3 hours, which stunk, but it really cooled things off. We went to the Soda Pop Junction for lunch - I always love that place.

And then we ended the weekend by singing at the Sounds' game! It was a really good weekend!

This week I'm working VBS at church. Our church goes all out for VBS - completely transforms the entire children's wing and about half of the rest of the church. As one of our pastors said today, it's not decorating, it's remodeling! This is the second year I've done VBS, and I really hope to get more involved in future years. Decorating would be so much fun, but they always do it while I'm working. But at least my work will let me off to do VBS!

Monday, June 23, 2008


So, gavin posted this quote on his blog from another website: "Truth comes from being involved, and not from observation and speculation."

The first thing that came to my mind was the quote from our bishop: "this is not a vision, this is just an observation."

And I wonder how different our conference would be if our bishop was actually involved in youth and children's ministry, instead of just observing, and telling others what to do.

And I wonder what I only observe, and try to speak truth to, without actually being involved. What am I involved in? For so long, I was completely involved in youth ministry - as a youth. And then I was completely involved as a college student in my college. But I feel now that I'm not really involved in anything. I'm not devoted to anything. I feel almost guilted into everything I'm doing - none of it is by choice. I work because I have to make money, not because I enjoy what I'm doing. I sing because I have a good voice and have been made to feel a sense of responsibility about that, not because I want to be involved in choirs. I even scrapbook out of a sense of responsibility to make money and provide an avenue for getting more supplies. I haven't actually made a scrapbook page for myself in at least six months.

So, without being involved, to what can I speak truth? And am I supposed to become involved in the things I'm already doing, or do I need to find new things that I'm passionate about to become involved in? And what would those things be?

Maybe my goal for the rest of this year will be to become truly involved in something, so that I may speak truth.

What are you involved in? What can you speak truth about? And not just what do you do...what are you passionate about? Everyone should have something, whatever it may be.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It Begins Today!

Well, actually yesterday, but the actual business of our conference starts today. I'm so proud of my conference for setting up wireless in the church where we're meeting!

The biggest thing to me to come up this week will be our petition regarding the Programming Positions of the Conference. Since it's a resolution, we don't know when it will come up, but I'll be sure to post when it does!

So far this morning, we've had the report of the Standing Rules Committee, and are now on the CF&A report. Interesting to note...we had to suspend the standing rules so that we could hear the report of the Standing Rules because they didn't get their report in on time. We have a rule that reports have to be in at a particular time to be included in the Pre-Conf. Journal (or Pre-Conf. CD this year), and they didn't make it. Ha! I just thought that was kind of funny. Evidently that will be happening a lot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

27 Dresses

So i finally saw 27 Dresses this morning! I know, I'm behind the times. It was worth the wait, though. I thought it was a really good movie - unpredictable in a predictable kind of way, you know? In watching the commentary, the director said that they wanted to do a character driven movie, as opposed to the standard love triangle, what obstacles can the over come usual bit. I did think the story line was good. Of course, it's cliche - the always a bridesmaid never a bride who's in love with the man who she can't tell and watches him fall in love and get married to none other than her sister. But there was a lot of reality in there. Though i did get married young, I do understand the feeling of being the one left out - I think all girls are born with it.

Unpredictable - like I didn't see things coming, but then when they happened, I thought, well, of course that's how it was going to happen. Like when Jane and Kevin finally get together, and the next day she sees the article he wrote about her. Of course that's how it was going to happen. But I wasn't waiting for it to happen, you know?

There were a lot of really good one-liners, too, ones that you've never heard before, which was refreshing. I mean, most one liners are good, but almost staged, kind of. They seem too forced. But the good ones in this movie were just right. I think my favorite was the one Jane told her sister in the bridal shop - yesterday you were my sister, but today you're just another bitch who broke my heart and cut up my mother's wedding dress. It's one of those lines that just doesn't fit in any situation, but applies to everything.

And I thought it was perfect that at her wedding, she had all 27 former brides lined up in the dresses she'd worn to their weddings next to her! Classic! I thought it was hilarious. My sis got teary-eyed, and I can understand that, it was very sweet. She'd always known they'd be there for her one day, just as she'd been there for them, and they were. But it was also poetic justice, and a perfect way to end the movie. And, by the way, did anyone catch in the "credits," which were newspaper stories about their wedding, the ad for 27 dresses for sale, only worn twice?!

Overall, cute movie. And, I'm excited about my second chic flic of the week coming up on Friday - Sex and the City! Saw my first episode of the show on Saturday, and within a week, I'll know the whole story! I sure do love my sister. :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Recovering went well yesterday. I had to wait a really long time, which was a bummer because the longer I waited, the more nervous I got. They wanted me there 2 hours early, and it took 45 minutes to get ready - so I had an hour and fifteen minutes to lay in the bed, waiting. They thought I might go early, but that didn't pan out.

But, once they actually did take me, everything went well. I had some sort of reaction to something - I turned pink and splotchy, and I don't what I reacted to, maybe some medicine or the sheets or something. It wasn't a big deal...I don't think! :-)

And now I'm home, resting, for one whole blissful week! I'm very excited about my time of rest. My mom's taking care of me this weekend. (She's such a good nurse!) Then next week it'll be back to me and the boys (the hubby and the dog, that is).

Just wanted to update you all. Thanks for the love and care everyone's sent my way!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why I Do What I Do.

I had a conversation with some friends yesterday about our UMC conferences. There were a couple of people there who were saying they would never want to go to General or Jurisdictional conference because of all the politics, that the didn't think they could deal with it, that kind of stuff just wasn't what they'd want to do with their time, and that Annual Conference was bad enough. One person said, specifically, "there's a reason I don't go" and my response was "there's a reason I do." That prompted one of my pastors to ask me, why do you go?

Hmm...why do I go?

I'm invested in this church thing, more so than really anything else in my life, with the exception of my marriage/family. One of my strengths is Connectedness. So a connectional church is right up my alley. But I don't like the way we do things in the church right now. I think we are WAY too political, and like the culture around us, we have ceased to listen, collectively, for the voice of God. We all have our agendas - even me, as I discovered that about myself at this year's GC. But there's got to be a greater good we are all seeking.

I talked in a previous post about that experience I had, where I made the choice to stick with the church, to involve myself so deeply into it to work to change it for the better. When I attended my first Jurisdictional Conference, the way I explained it to people when I got back home was that it was a democratic convention where we prayed. And our prayers during the worship services were generally the only time we collectively asked God to be present, and sought God's guidance. We didn't pray during the business sessions. We usually didn't pray before taking a vote, unless someone from the floor asked us to, which usually only happened when things were getting heated.

And the language used! Who's going to "win" the "episcopal race"? Our "candidate" is better than theirs. Our "campaign" is going well. Our "publicity" is the best we've seen.

What about this? "We have open hearts, open minds, and are listening to the voice of God to lead us to the person God has called to this office. It may be this person who comes from our Conference, or it may be that person who comes from that other conference, but we are going to listen with faithful ears and pray for God's guidance in this process."

So...why do I do this? So that i can at least be one voice and mind who is saying that statement above. And because I truly believe God has called me to do it. God has given me a connectedness strength, which gives me a desire to understand this crazy political system we have created. God has given me an intuitive mind to see beyond the pomp and circumstance to what the process could actually be. So I go, and I serve, and I do what it is that God has called me to do at this point. And I look for those opportunities to share God's spirit in the process, to remind others why we are really there. And I learn from others who have much more experience so that I may be knowledgable. And it makes a difference. Even when i don't see it, even when I get so upset because I think nothing will ever change, I know that God speaks through me. I do believe my one vote and my one voice makes a difference.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Random Thoughts

Gavin posted on the methoblog ( that he liked what I did during GC. That's encouraging! I really am going to try to keep this up...I promise! Here's the problem - access to blogger at work doesn't always work that well, for instance, right now I don't have access to set up weblinks (hence the pasted address above as opposed to the natural link it usually is...), and spell check doesn't work (sorry for the many mispellings to come...) so trying to blog during breaks and in between switching gears isn't always that easy. I miss the wonderful wireless from the convention center in Fort Worth...ahh, the good old days.

Anywho. In an effort to keep going, I'll simply share what's on my mind right now: surgery. We'll get there.

I find it so interesting that I'm able to segment my life. A characteristic of my generation is that we DON'T segment our lives, as many of our elders have done for generations. I really segment it into two: work and everything else. Maybe it comes from not particularly enjoying what I'm doing right now, but I've drawn a line and I work, usually subconsciously, to keep the two separate. I rarely take work home, and I don't talk about it much outside of work unless someone asks. I'm in a different mind at work, I guess, focused on what I'm doing there, focused on the problems I encounter, focused on just keeping afloat in our dreaded schedule. And maybe it comes from my sincere desire to not be negative about my job to "outsiders" - those outside the people I work with, who understand, and immediate family, who may not understand but are at least sympathetic. I swore I would not bad-mouth my job in a public forum, lest it come back to haunt me when/as I search for a new job. I struggle for the balance among constructive criticism, anguish, and down-right vilification.

And so, when I'm at work, I don't think about "the outside world" much. And when I'm in the bless-ed outside world, I don't think about work.

Until this past week.

I have gallstones. (Yea! from the peanut gallery) And next Friday, I will be having my gallbladder removed. And all of a sudden, personal life and work life are coliding. I have to fill out short-term disability forms (affectionately called STD forms...isn't that lovely). I have to talk to my boss about personal matters, working schedules around my personal schedule. It's just a little strange. And, with gallstones, I've got this ever-present nagging annoyance (I wouldn't even call it pain) in my gut, bringing the two worlds together. It's a very interesting place to be.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Response to Brokenness #1

There is so much more to say regarding my previous post. Please don't see it as an all-encompassing description of my feelings on the matter. It's just the words I can muster at this moment.

Continuing the brokenness, and working to mend, I recalled this poem I'd seen a few weeks back - it's present and linked to on several blogs, but this is the one I could find. It's not one of the most well written poems I've ever read. But I'm beginning to understand that I'm not the only one who can't always find the best or most eloquent words to describe my relationship with the church.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


For all you readers who may not know me, just be forewarned, this post is a little personal. Okay, a lot personal. I had another bad experience today, and I'm broken. I've yelled, and screamed, and cried, and cussed, as you'll discover if you continue. And now, as a good little millennial, I blog.

I've never confessed this to anyone.

When I was in the sixth grade, I said my first cuss word. I remember it very clearly. It was "damn." There was no reason for me to say it, other than that I was angry. I didn't know it at the time, but I was just simply angry at the church.

My father is a minister, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. That means he's itinerate - he's under the appointment of the bishop, at the bishop's will as to where to move him from church to church within a conference, or across conference lines if the bishop sees fit.

I'd lived with this. We'd moved every few years my entire life. It was a part of life. It's helped shape me into the person I am today. But so long ago, I just didn't quite understand it.

We had been living at one place for two years. Not a very long time, but I had actually made some very good friends. Those kind of friends that when you graduate high school together you reminisce about your entire lives together. It didn't matter that we'd only known one another for two years, we'd become close. Sure, we fought, and I'm sure I romanticize it all now. But for the first time that I can remember, I had good friends.

And I really liked the church. Turns out, I didn't know a whole lot of the goings on and they didn't particularly care for my father very much, at least a small portion of them didn't. But I felt at home. I looked up to my sister and all of her friends in the youth group and looked forward to the day I'd be there. I was friends with some of the kids, and even had a crush on a particular boy. Life was as it should be for any fifth grader.

Then my father was moved. I remember telling one friend who's grandmother lived across the street from me - we were in a homemade tent in my room, and I said, you know we're moving, and she said, I know, and that was about the end of it.

Anywho, to make a long story not quite so long, after we moved, we were invited back to a picnic. There was this park in the town, and they had just worked to build this wonderful playground, and we'd had many picnics there with friends. So, they invited us back, as friends, and we went.

I was playing on the playground, and I don't know there was just something in me that was angry. This wasn't my playground anymore, these weren't my friends anymore. And as we were playing tag, running around the playground, I started cussing when someone would get away from me. I did it over and over and over again, just like it was natural. I'd moved away, i'd changed, I wasn't the person they used to know. They weren't my friends anymore. I didn't belong there. I felt so out of place, so...

A boy finally stopped me, the older brother of the guy I kind of had a crush on. He told me that I couldn't say words like that because there were little kids around. I told him I didn't care. I wanted him to think I was cool, better off for having moved. Or having been moved.

I cussed again today because of the church, a particularly bad one, much worse than that first one. Oh, I've said many cuss words between then and now, but today after it came out of my mouth I remembered that anger at something I felt I had no control over. Basically, I work for the church, and I was let down, once again, and made to feel worthless, less than, unworthy. Like I don't matter. Left angry...furious.

So it leaves me up at 11:54 at night, wondering the question that's been rolling around in my head all day. How long do I stand it? How many times do I let the church walk over me, drive me into the ground, deeper and deeper before I finally say, enough. Can I let myself be hung on a cross with Jesus? Can I pick up my cross? Because I want to change things. I want to make a difference. And I don't know how. God, if Jesus felt this helpless, this hopeless. I don't even want this cup to be taken from me, I just want to know that my cup is doing the right thing. I want some affirmation that I'm doing the right thing. Just a small piece of proof.

I remember another time, returning from a youth event. I was getting my stuff out of my car, and as I walked down the driveway, I don't even remember what prompted this, but I remember thinking, I have a choice, and I have to make it now. I can give up on this church thing. I can say enough, I've had it, and walk away. Or I can throw myself into it and do everything I can to change it for the better. I chose to stay. To devote myself to it, to learn its ways so that I may become knowledgeable and wise, and understanding, and the work to mold it to look more like the church Jesus had in mind. I felt it was my calling, to change things from the inside. Truly.

There have been several times since that point that I have wanted to remake that choice, today being top on the list. I just feel like I can't do anything. I feel powerless, as I watch others much more powerful than me make decisions and actions that are so wrong and hurtful, often without even realizing it. And I feel like my efforts at change are futile. I understand the change process is slow, and that we don't always get to see the fruits of our labor, more often not than so. But when I don't even know where to begin to change something...

My friend told me to begin with Jesus. Crawl into his arms and start there. But I've never encountered God in that way, as a comforter like that. I encounter God in an intellectual manner, a conversational manner, God I don't understand this, help me to understand. Because what I know of the church, who has taught me about God, is that its rational, its cognitive. Decisions are made not in the heart but in the head. But it's become so emotional, so heart centered. It always has been, I guess, as evidenced - anger like that comes from the heart, from being heart sick and broken.

And so I return to my question. How many times can I be broken before I can't be put back together again? Before I won't let myself be put back together? I guess my friend was right. Begin with Jesus. If I could just find him in this mess.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

PC vs. Mac

This is becoming a big issue for me. Bigger by the moment.

Let me give you just a little background. I was always pretty adverse to macs once reaching high school, when pcs became the norm used in public education. I had used macs in middle school, but not that commonly, and once we had a pc in our home, that was my computer of choice.

My college roommate even had a mac - a macbook. She LOVED it! And I just rolled my eyes and settled down at my little HP laptop and continued my work. Then I rolled my eyes at her as I had to ship my little HP laptop off to the manufacturer to be repaired.

Then I graduated from college. And I came to work at the place I affectionately call my job. And I was informed on my first day that I was to work on a mac - everyone does it. (Bandwagon theory?) I expressed my concerns to my fellow co-workers, and they all said, do not worry, you'll pick it up in no time, and you'll love it.

Boy, were they right! Can I say this...once you go mac you never go back! (I've been dying to say that for weeks now...)

So, today, I open Gavin's blog, and he's got a post about this meeting with a guy, Jim Palmer, and he mentions some of the shifting vocabulary, one being PC - Mac. I just nodded my head and continued on my merry way, agreeing with him just to the point of nodding my head, but not eliciting any sort of response. After all, I've experienced that shift, PC-Mac, along with many of the other shifts he mentioned.

Then in my searching, I came across another blog who was responding to Gavin's post. Read it here.

This post inspired me to respond. You can read my comment at the bottom of his blog, or read it below. This is what I said:

The key to me is the focus on customers, not profits. The way this translates into the church for me is a focus on quality, not quantity. We have to focus on ensuring that the people who are already in our churches are connecting with God on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Then the numbers will come, because if you are in a place that you are invigorated and encouraged and energized, you can't help but tell others about it. Growth, as you suggested, is definitely a by product, rather than a goal. If firmly feel that our goal has to be creating disciples for Jesus Christ - and that doesn't mean just getting more and more people to the front of the church to be baptized and take the membership vows. That means once one person comes to the front and is baptized and takes the membership vows, they are then integrated into the life of the church, and continually challenged and inspired to grow in their discipleship. It isn't a "join the church, then you're done" mindset, which is what I think we too often have. Joining the church is just the beginning.

Like Craig, I feel I am blessed with a church that is beginning to focus on the aftermath of joining a church, not just on getting people to the front of the sanctuary. Whatever its faults, in a 3 month period, we had over 100 people join our church. Growth as a by-product of an emphasis on quality.

[So ends my comment on his blog, but anyone who knows me knows I always have more to say.]

I keep returning to this generational theory stuff, but does it apply here, too? Is it, in general, a generational thing to focus on results in numeric value? Our profit margin, bottom line, numbers, membership, whatever it is, I see so many "establishments" in our society (the company I work for, churches, even the recent ongoings in the TN Conference) focus on things that can be measured numerically, on paper, "see?? We are a success!! Here's proof!" Maybe it's not necessarily a generational thing, but a shifting paradigm. Because I don't want to say everyone over 40 thinks in numbers and everyone under numbers thinks in undefinable quality. Because I know that not to be true - I know people on both sides of the "age line" who think the opposite.

There's a shift occurring in our world, eluded to by Gavin. Maybe it happens in every generation, and I'm just noticing it because this is the first shift I'm really old enough to be aware of. But I think there may be something larger going on here. I've heard of a commentator saying that what is occurring in our world right now is comparable to the Industrial Revolution, and it could be hundreds of years before we really see the movement going on for what it truly is and the impact it would have on our world. I kind of like thinking I could be a part of something to change the world. I guess I'm still young enough to hold on to that idealist part of my innocence. Or maybe that's a generational thing, too.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Well, I'm home from General Conference, and quite bummed about that fact. What in the world ever made me think I'd be okay with leaving in the middle and missing the end? As I told someone yesterday, to me, it's like going to a play and leaving at intermission, missing the second act. I want to know what's happening! was money, and attempting to be responsible, financially, to myself and those who have supported my trip there. As it turns out, I had pleanty of money and support to go, and by staying with Mark (therefore, not having to pay for a hotel room), I have lots of money left over!

Mark's company asked him to stay 2 more days, so he's coming home Thursday. I looked into changing my flight to stay, but it would have cost $200 to change it - about what I payed for the ticket in the first place! And I couldn't bring myself to pay that. I'll be donating the rest of the money given to me to UMCOR, probably Nothing But Nets.

So, I'm home. And now I get to follow the rest of General Conference like the rest of you, through the website and streaming sessions online. Good thing I met several bloggers there, and can now follow their blogs to keep updated!

Even though I'm home, and GC, for me at least, is over this year, I hope you will continue to check in here often to see what other updates I send out about my life. It's kind of boring, but my brain sure thinks about a lot of stuff!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sweet, Sweet Spirit

This blog exemplifies to me one aspect of the spirit I feel here at General Conference. It also shows one example of the difficult decisions that are being made here. I encourage you to read it, then return here for my notes.

Yes, there are politics. Yes, there is arguing. Yes, there are still those so caught up in themselves that they can't see the other person, only the opposition. Yes, there are those manipulating the system, as I've even talked about here. But there is an overwhelming sweet, sweet spirit in this place, and I know it is the spirit of the Lord.

What I have witnessed is a focus on Holy Conferencing. People are listening to one another. People are open, people are searching, and people are leaving their own plans at home and coming to this with a spirit of love.

I heard about a delegate yesterday who said something like, I came with one vote in mind, thinking I had made up my mind on a situation. But when I heard the speeches of others in the room, I realized a new point of view and changed my vote.

My God, we're finally getting it! (Okay, maybe some have had it). If we could make up our minds before coming, and continued to think the way we had when we arrived, then we could hold General Conference by mail.

People are making the tough decisions, as the blog I linked to shows. And we're listening to one another.

In Ministry and Higher Ed yesterday, they voted on a petition regarding clergy's ability to officiate a same-sex union. The vote was very close, like 34-47 against, or something like that. But the discussion was honorable. People spoke strongly for, and strongly against, but there was no mud-throwing or disrespect to anyone in the room. Though the vote didn't go the way I wanted it to go, I was proud of the people in the room who honored one another. After the vote, the chair even pointed out how well the conversation went, and how she was thankful for the honoring of the humanity represented in the room.

We've only just begun. Today is really the first day that legislation will come to the floor of the entire body from the committees. I hope that this body will continue to have a spirit of holiness and faith as they move through the rest of this week, dealing with the tougher issues and working on less and less sleep.

Thank you to all who are praying for the General Conference delegates. I feel so immensely blessed to just be able to witness this. It is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

10.5 Hours of Sleep

So, I got 10.5 hours of sleep last night! It was blissful! Mark had to work late, and we decided to sleep in and come in for the afternoon sessions. There was worship and plenary this morning, and not much to pass except for consent calendar items, so I don't think we missed much.

Some committees are done with their work - sub-committees have reported and the committees have worked through all of their legislation. Then there are others...Higher Ed, Church and Society, to name a few. They still have a LONG way to go, and they're supposed to be finished today, and they're not supposed to work tonight after about 4:30 because there's a huge dinner being hosted for all the delegates with a presentation, or something about Texas. Not really sure what it is, I'm not going (tickets for non-delegates are $25!), but it's a pretty big deal. I don't know if committees will press on and skip the dinner, or try to work in committee time outside the schedule.

Interesting Committee Observations

I sat in on the sub-committee for Church and Society 2 last night (Saturday), the one dealing with issues of humanity - cloning, embryonic stem cell research, etc.

I don't have much to say on the actual issues. But it was interesting to observe the process they were using.

The other committees I've looked in on have been pretty relaxed, holding discussion and working toward consensus in holy conferencing. The chairs have been guiding and inclusive, reiterating as necessary, even drawing up documents to pull together the conversation, making sure everyone is on the same page.

The committee last night was a little different. They began every petition by having someone vote to adopt or reject the proposed legislation, and several times got bogged down in the semantics of Robert's Rules, because they tried to have open dialogue in the context of Robert's rules, and it wasn't really working that well.

This afternoon (Sunday), I went into Global Ministries. I thought that the standing rules had been changed so that the committees will vote on the actual petitions, and the same in the plenary, as opposed to voting concurrence or non-concurrence with the committee. But GM was voting concurrence/non-concurrence with the sub-committee. They were also not having people vote yea, they only asked for votes of no or not-voting. It made things go fast, because the pages didn't have to count all of the yes votes, they just subtracted the numbers of no's or not voting's.

I'm for doing what works. But I'm afraid, especially with the concurrence/non-concurrence voting, that things may get confusing when they return to the plenary.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Free Cell Phones - The Price?

Interesting things are going on in our church.

If you're familiar with UMAction, you're probably familiar with the IRD. The IRD is the Institute on Religion and Democracy. They have been prominent in influencing General Conference by sending out materials and taking positions on generally conservative issues. They want to return the church to a more conservative mindset, focused on the sole authority of the Bible.

I get stuff in the mail from them all of the time. I do actually read it, just to know what they're saying. But I am always stressed out by it, and I become very frustrated at what is being sent out in the name of my church, because I do not agree with their exclusive mindset.

Well, word has gotten out at GC that the IRD has given free cell phones to the Central Conference delegates, along with printed information of who the IRD would like to see as members of the Judicial Council.

I'm sorry, but that sounds like bribery to me. Call it what you want, but if it looks like a duck and quacks (or rings...) like a duck, then it's probably a duck.

There was an article in the DCA that called the IRD on this. It was balanced - it had interviews from Central conference delegates who did not feel that they had been influenced in their vote, and others who did not accept the phones because they did not want their vote to be bought.

This morning in the session, someone made a motion that the 2012 GC Commission would study and present information regarding, basically, an Ethics Committee for the General Conference, a body to review issues like this, as there currently is nothing of the sort.

I think there is going to be some serious backlash to the IRD as a result of this. When the person made the motion and the bishop asked for a second, there was an overwhelming response. I will be interested to see where this goes.