Friday, February 28, 2014

The Evolution of Country Music in My Life

I've been thinking about this evolution for awhile.  The story is a bit uncharacteristic for me, I think.

We moved to Georgia when I was in 1st grade.  That meant I lived a LONG time in the south.  I don't remember much about country music until I met my best friend,  Nicole in middle school. She listened to country music. Around that same time, I remember visiting family for the holidays and realizing that a couple of my cousins listened to country music.  Here is where it gets uncharacteristic.  I am a pretty good follower. When people I like do something, I often follow.  Take the infamous New Kids on the Block summer, for example.  I spent one summer in Illinois when NKOTB was very popular.  I actually didn't have an opinion on NKOTB.  But I spent the first part of the summer with a cousin who HATED NKOTB.  So I HATED NKOTB.  But then I spent the second part of the summer with cousins who LOVED NKOTB--had clothes and pins and notebooks, etc.  So I quickly learned that I also LOVED NKOTB.  And I bought all the stuff that represented that love and picked a favorite New Kid (I don't remember who it was, though.) I am usually easily swayed.  So, back to the evolution of country music.  For some reason, I refused to catch on to this country music fad in my cousins' lives and my best friend's life.  I verbally disdained country music. And this continued through middle school, high school, college, and part of grad school.

Enter the season of grad school in Texas.  Where my best friend (different from the middle/high school best friend) listened to country music.  I probably started by verbally disdaining country music.  But we went a lot of places together, and if we were in her car, I didn't feel like I could tell her what we could and couldn't listen to.  So, I started listening to the music.  I can't say I immediately liked it, but I will say that I stopped verbally disdaining it.  And sometimes I began to sing along.  And then she got a red pickup truck.  I mean, come on, it was meant to be.  Two girls, listening to country music, in Texas, in a red pickup truck.  I was destined to failure! :)  So I became a closet country listener.  I still refused to admit that I liked it, but I would even listen to it in my car when no one else was around.  I also kind of blame the Christian radio station in Texas.  They played a lot of outdated music that I didn't enjoy.  So they "forced" me to listen to something else.

So, I just admitted defeat and began verbally letting people know that I listened to country music.  Recently I had an epiphany.  I realized that country music fits my personality.  I love telling stories, right?  Well, country music is just a bunch of stories put to song.  I mean, I know that other genres of music tell stories.  But their stories are often hidden in poetry-like language and reading between the lines.  Country music is just straight-up storytelling.  And I like it.  And now you know the story of how I came to love country music. :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Math is not my friend

This post is really about vulnerability.  I am putting myself out there to help people understand my brain.  So, don't laugh at me!  Okay, just kidding.  You can totally laugh at me.  Because I laughed at me.

Math is a concept that I am good at if I work at it.  I always made good grades in math.  But it DOES NOT come naturally to me.  Here is a story that helps illustrated how my mind does not naturally do math.

I was working on an assessment for work.  I had asked my client when her parents were born.  She could tell me their birthdays and how old they were, but not their birth dates.  So, as I was typing, I was trying to figure out their birth dates.  One of her parents was close to my mother's age, so I started by subtracting a year close to my mom's from 2013.  Then, because it was just a few years off, I quickly came up with her mother's birth date.  So, then I had to work toward her father's birth date.  He was significantly older than her mother.  I again picked a random year and subtracted it from 2013.  Not the right age.  So, I picked another year, and subtracted it.  Still not right.  I did this about three times before I realized that I could subtract his age from 2013 to get his birth date.  If you're not following this post very well, I was doing the math completely backward, creating a lot more work for myself, and didn't realize it for several minutes.

And that's how my brain on math works, folks!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

'Tis the Season...

...for weddings!

My friends tend to get married in groups.  I don't know if that is true for most people, but it seems like it's true for me.  My brother and college roommate got married 2 weeks apart.  And throughout the years it seems that weddings often happen several at the same time of year.  Yesterday was the first of three weddings I get to attend in the next two months.
Andy and Jena's wedding was a wonderful example of a couple wanting to start their life together by honoring God and proclaiming Him to their friends and family.
Jena may have gotten the giggles during the ceremony.  You know how two people get the giggles and, even after you have composed yourself, you make the mistake of making eye contact with that other person and you start laughing all over again?  That was Jena and her maid of honor/sister.  It was adorable.
Exchanging of vows.
Lighting the unity candle.
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Slotter.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Road Trip/ Phantom of the Opera

Yesterday, I trekked to Chicago with some amazing people to see an amazing Broadway show!

Above is a really poor picture of the van load of us!  Kari, me, Ash, Susan, Jordan, Emily, and Joanna piled into a borrowed van to head to Chicago.  It was a beautiful and sunny day with no snow!  We ate at the Grand Lux.  I wanted a little of just about everything on the menu!  I never got around to taking a picture of the restaurant, but it was beautiful.  I would recommend it to anyone visiting the city.  My cousin Michele met us in the city for dinner and the show.
Michele and I waited for the group outside the theater.  After dinner, the two of us took a taxi (a new Chicago experience for me) while the others drove the van to a parking deck closer to the theater. Michele informed me that she does not like people wearing masks.  But she knew going into the evening that the phantom wore a mask. :)
I took a picture of a mom with her two daughters, so they reciprocated by taking a picture for us.
This was also Susan's first time seeing a Broadway show.  So, of course, we had to take a picture.
Phantom was at the Cadillac Theater.  It is a truly amazing, beautiful theater.  This picture does not even begin to do it justice.  If we weren't busy getting to our seats and waiting in line for the bathroom, I would have taken lots more pictures of the theater.
The stage while we were waiting.  We had really good balcony seats.  Only one row in front of us.  The music was amazing live.  I just sat with my eyes closed several times soaking it in.  But then I wanted to look at everything too, so I'd pop them right back open. :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Good thing I'm single

Just so you know...I only titled my post "good thing I'm single" because I knew it would draw you in. :)  I really have a completely unnecessary story to tell.  And if you trace the rabbit trail, it does technically relate back to being single...sort of.  I just accidentally poured myself a whole glass of milk when I only wanted half a glass.  But then I thought I might drink the whole glass, so I didn't do anything about it.  However, after drinking half the glass, I decided I didn't want anymore.  So I poured the rest back into the jug.  Because I could.  Because I am the only one who drinks it.  So, I'll just be drinking my own germs the rest of the week.  :)  As a side note, if you come over to see me in the next four to five days and I offer you milk, you might want to say no!

Lorelai hates snow

I cannot say that I hate snow.  I really like it.  Even driving to work this morning, watching it fall from the sky in HUGE flakes was pretty.  But I'm really tired of snow messing with my schedule and causing me stress.  I'll admit, I've had quite a few self-proclaimed snow days.  I don't mind those either.  But I do mind not being able to get my work done because of the snow.  So, it was time to pull out the clip from Gilmore Girls where Lorelai decides her symbiotic relationship with snow is OVER.  Here you go...Lorelai hates snow.  This particular video has weird pop-ups, but it is one of my favorite clips.  At the end of the episode, Luke builds Lorelai a skating rink so that she can love snow again.  Can someone come build me a skating rink so I will love snow again?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Scripture Memory Box/ College Memories/ Paint Pens/ Snail Mail

I just had a hand to forehead moment.  Because I realized that my list with / slashes in the middle is like a list of hashtags.  And I pretty much despise hashtags.  All I can say to redeem myself is that at least my list has proper spacing. Anyway...

As promised, the box that the Valentine note was in:
Behold the Scripture Memory/Just plain ole' memory box.  It was a present from Ali, my small group leader. It was kind of a fad in the Christian college student circles back in the day (well, at least at my school...). Completely decorated with paint pens (also a college staple.  I have many a thing from that time in my life that was decorated with paint pen).  Those are sheep on the front, in case you were wondering. :)
Above is a view of the back.  There are also passages of Scripture on both sides, and Ali signed the bottom. :)
And this is a view of the inside.  Ali even wrote on the inside lid.  Chock full of Scripture memory cards and other goodies.  The colored things...rubber bands...around each day's cards (the last time I used the box, I had them divided into Scripture to review daily and Scripture to review each day of the week)...rubber bands that are all broken and brittle...because they are so old (yikes...but true).  The purple rock fell out and, while I wasn't surprised that it was there, I wasn't sure on what occasion I had received it and why I kept it (okay, let's face it, there is no need to ask the "why" question about reasons for keeping things.  I am a sentimental pack rat.  That is always the answer.)
But then as I looked through the box, I found this note card from Ali.  She was always giving us encouraging cards.  I'm pretty sure the rock came along with this particular card.
Like I said, she was always giving/sending cards. campus box number.  We used to send cards to friends because you could do it for free through campus mail.  And the receiver still felt like she was getting precious snail mail!

The most encouraging thing about this box, to me, is that Campus Outreach (the ministry I was involved in during college) was such a huge blessing to my spiritual growth the first few years after I came to know Christ.  They taught me the foundations of my faith...prayer, Scripture memory, consistent time in the Word, and evangelism.  All foundations that I still rely on today.  And many of those verses that are in that box are verses that I can still quote today.  Now that I am older, it is so much harder to memorize and retain Scripture, but some foundational verses come from my college years and are verses I can still quote today.

This was one of the most fun walks down memory lane that I have had in a long time.  Because, to be honest, this box was tucked into another box that sits in a closet that I had forgotten I even had until a couple of months ago when I was looking for something else that I thought I had lost.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was just on Facebook and came across this article, Nine Lies in the Not-Yet-Married Life.  I'll be honest, I only skimmed it.  Partly because I didn't know I was supposed to feel this way: "Singleness’s greatest sorrows are secretly reinforced every February in the souls of the not-yet-married still waiting for their wedding day. While many of our friends and family are inundated with dates, flowers, chocolate, and love notes, lots and lots of the valentine-less are overwhelmed with everything from impatience to bitterness, from shame to regret to confusion."

Ironically, Valentine's Day is the one day a year I feel most glad to be single. :)  Really, if I'm being honest, I feel indifferent.  But I kind of think Valentine's Day is a foolish holiday, even when I have been in a relationship in February.  It's much harder to tell your significant other that he doesn't have to spend extra money on flowers just because the calendar says so. Because you'd appreciate flowers more on a day that the calendar doesn't tell him to buy them.  And that you'd just as soon stay in and watch a movie than battle the crowds at the restaurants.  Trust me, telling him these things does not endear you to him like you would think.  It kind of ruins a holiday that he might find enjoyable. 

That being said, I can think back on many Valentine's Days that I have enjoyed as a single person.  One year in college, I was actually on a retreat with Campus Outreach.  We went to Atlanta and saw the Hawks play.  And played Killer Uno until really late.  Oh, we also learned about Jesus (but sadly, I couldn't tell you the theme of that event, just the stuff we did) And I remember getting a sweet Valentine from my small group leader.  Actually, I think I still have it.  Let's pause for a moment while I go look for it. [Insert elevator music here] I am such a pack rat.  This cute little index card is from my first Valentine as a believer in Christ.  There are a few miracles in this.  1.  That God would accept me as His own.  2.  That this card has survived at least 7 moves in the last 16 years.  3.  That I knew exactly where to look for it (stay tuned for my next post, which will be all about the box I found it in).

Okay, so that was one Valentine's.  The next that comes clearly to mind is the first year I lived in Illinois.  I moved to Illinois at the end of January.  So one of the first things I did after settling in was to send Valentine cards to all my single girl friends back in Texas.  It was fun to do because it made me feel like I was a part of their day even though I was so far away.

Then there was the year I was dating and got sick the whole week leading up to Valentine's Day.  Okay, so maybe I didn't mind the flowers, but I still told him not to get them! :)

Last year, I believe we had our Thursday night Bible study just like always.  So, I got to spend it with a bunch of friends who love Jesus just like I do.  My kind of night.

This year, I sent Valentine's cards to family.  That was fun too.  Such an encouragement to put those in the mail.  I have no idea why I enjoy sending things in the mail, but I do!

And tonight I am off to a friend's house for some girl time.  Kayla loves Valentine's Day, so I am excited to spend the evening with her because it will make me happy that she is happy.  And again, I get to spend it with friends!

PS.  As I was editing this post, I remembered that I probably had pictures of that Winter Retreat I mentioned above.  Ignore the yellowing pages of the album and my lame attempt at "scrapbooking."  Just enjoy the fact that I also knew right where to find these gems!
 (the girl in the green...Ali...was the one to give me the Valentine mentioned above.  The girl with her, Shannon, was the one who led me to Christ three weeks before on January 21)
 See...I have a good memory (usually for things I don't really need to remember)...horrible seats at a Hawk's game.
And the top two pictures are of a rousing game of Killer Uno.  A college staple at retreats and late evening hangouts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

If only I were an Olympic commentator

Really, I want to be the Olympian answering the questions.  Making up my own commentary is by far my favorite part of the Olympics.

The following is what I would answer:
Commentator: How does that run rank in your skiing career?
New gold medalist: Hmmm...probably number 12.

Commentator: What were you thinking when you realized you had won the gold?
Olympian: I was really wishing that I had won bronze, but I guess I'll take the gold.

Commentator: Did you feel the pressure while you were out there?
Olympian: Pressure?  No, I just pictured everyone naked.
Olympian: Why would I feel pressure?  It's not like this is the biggest moment of my life.  For me, it was just another run.  No biggie.

Commentator:  How did that feel when you fell?
Olympian: I was thinking, "Phew.  At least all the pressure is off."
Olympian: I really wanted to curl up into a ball and never get up again.  But then, you know, reality hit and I knew I would have to talk to you about this, so I pretended that it was no big deal and just kept going.

Commentator: What happened out there?
Olympian: Well, I got distracted when I saw a bunny run in the woods next to the course.  And I thought, wouldn't it be cool to be that bunny?  And then I ended up in the woods." [sheepish grin]
Olympian: I really decided I wanted someone else to win today, so I tried my hardest to throw the competition.

Commentators as the skaters skate: It is their dream come true to be out there today.
Me: Everyone else, just another day.  Olympics?  No big deal.

Send me your commentator questions, I'll give you the real answer the Olympians want to give.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Task-oriented vs People-oriented

I am hands down a task-oriented person.  Put me in a room of things that need to be alphabetized and I can enjoy myself, easily, for several hours.  Give me a room full of people where I get to do nothing but socialize for a couple of hours and I will, easily, be stressed out and trying to figure out how I can turn it into a task so that it is easier for me to process.  Many times this is a huge struggle for me, as I live in a people-oriented world and work in a people-oriented field.  I like to have a clock in view at all times and struggle when I don't know the passage of time.  This is something that I am continually working on.  There are times that it is not a problem.  Friday night I went out to eat with some friends.  We were at the restaurant for 2 1/2 hours.  It wasn't until the last 20 minutes that I began to feel antsy.  We had finished eating (our task).  Usually once this happens, I'm ready to move on to the next thing.  But occasionally my brain shifts and I am able to enjoy the conversation (another task?).  Don't get me wrong, I can sit and talk for hours, but I have to know that this is what I am supposed to be doing and it has to be with a smaller group of people.  I feel like I am not explaining this well.  I'm guessing that people-oriented readers don't understand at all.  But I think that task-oriented people will probably get it.  What about you, my readers, are you task-oriented or people-oriented?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow/Cold Days/Polar Vortex/Blessings

I've tried to refrain from blogging about the weather. :)  But here's a good truth for everyone to read, straight from my mouth.  I'll even say it out loud while I type it.  Even I am a little tired of the snow/cold.  Well, not really the cold.  It doesn't bother me.  But I'm tired of the snow messing with my nice, scheduled little world. So, since I'm struggling a little, I thought a blessings list would do me some good.

1. I'm thankful that hoodie sweatshirts are one of my favorite pieces of clothing.
2.  Sunshine on snow is still one of my favorite sights and brings me a lot of peace.
3.  The maintenance guy shoveled out my car this morning while I stood there and watched him.
4.  The longer winter becomes, the more confident I become driving in the snow.  So what if I slip a little here and there as long as I'm going slow?!
5.  My puzzle collection has been put to very good use this winter.  Last winter, I don't know that I actually completed a puzzle.
6.  I'm not sure of the last time I broke a sweat.  Oh, wait, that was today while I was cleaning off my car. :)
7.  I've had a little extra time at home to be lazy, be productive, and get some reading done.
8.  Cuddling under a blanket is also one of my favorite things.
9.  When you're driving and there is snow everywhere, deer are much easier to spot.
10.  Ruined plans can most often be rescheduled.

As for the cold, I kind of wish I could bottle some of it. Because when everyone else is excited about the 90 degree summer days, I'm going to be wondering if summer is ever going to  be over.  I just hope that summer is not as extreme as this winter has been.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Scripture Saturday/ Wise Speech

One thing I know...I like to talk.  That is why when I sat down yesterday to read the next chapter in "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?" entitled "Wise Speech," I knew I was going to get kicked in the butt!  The whole book takes excerpts from Proverbs 31, and this particular chapter was verse 26: She opens her mouth with wisdom, and teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

In reading the chapter, I reaffirmed a few things about myself.
1.  I often speak recklessly.
2.  I often speak out of my emotion.
3.  I complain way too much.
4.  I often respond according to my assumptions rather than what is actually being said. (This is a BIG struggle for me!)
5.  I speak out of the overflow of my heart (Matthew 12:34-37), so when my heart is not in the right place, I will speak unwisely.

I cannot simply change the way I talk, I must first change the thoughts of my heart and what I put into my heart.  My words come from the overflow of what is in my heart.  The more my heart is filled with Jesus, the more my words will reflect Him and I will speak with His wisdom.  Several quotes in particular stuck out to me in this chapter, and rather than try to summarize them, I'll quote them for you.

1. The author quoted Matthew Henry, who said, "we shall find we have been often the worse for our speaking, but seldom the worse for our silence."

2. "Complaining drowns out our witness that God is good and His ways are best."

3. This one made me stop and read it several times over. "When we grumble and question and complain, we have become God's judge.  We have told Him at least two things: 1) You are not enough for me.  I cannot be content with things the way they are.  This difficulty is too great for me to respond to in a way that pleases You.  You are deficient, and ultimately You do not satisfy me.  I want a different God.  2) You are not wise.  If I were You, I would do things differently.  You should have consulted me before You allowed this difficulty in my life or before You chose to keep that good thing from me that I want and don't have."

Such sobering words.  I often think of complaining as such a little thing (even though I know it's not true because God says to do everything without complaining or arguing).  But it is sobering when I think that by complaining, I am telling God that He is not enough, that He is deficient, and that He does not satisfy me. I am saying I want a different God, a self-made idol that allows me to have things my way because I think my ways are best.  

Proverbs is a great place to read if you want to learn to control your tongue.
10:11: The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.
10:19: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who hold his tongue is wise.
10:21: The lips of the righteous nourish many
12:18: Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
13:3: He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
15:1: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
17:27: A man of knowledge uses words with restraint
18:21: The tongue has the power of life and death
21:23: He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.