Sunday, December 17, 2006

inexpressible comfort

Haven't had much to say/blog lately...

but I came across this quote tonight:

"Friendship is the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful, friendly hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of comfort, blow the rest away." - George Eliot

I have experienced more than a few of these moments in several friendships lately. It's rare to feel both transparent and secure simultaneously - and I am grateful for the faithful friends in my life who provide comfort and wisdom....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

26 Updates

Since last I blogged...

  1. I took a few days off to chill with Melissa in St. Louis
  2. I discovered that I not only enjoy the fancy Marriott beds - but the Courtyard Marriott ones are pretty sweet too
  3. I was appalled to hear Christmas music blaring while shopping in the first few days of November (Little Drummer Boy was bad - but Feliz Navidad set me over the edge)
  4. I learned the wrong way to store leftover cheesecake in a hotel room (in the ice bucket)
  5. I ate waaaaay too much at Maggiano's
  6. I had to renew my driver's license (fortunately I did so online since I met the requirements - my legal name and gender have not changed)
  7. I got a piano in my office - I should play it
  8. I had a random World Market employee tell me 2 really stupid jokes
  9. I had a good birthday - presents included a dream dictionary and music note earrings (my ears aren't pierced)
  10. I had a party that involved crackers and cheese in shapes (!!)
  11. I started getting psyched for Advent - looking forward to using a new devotional this season
  12. I have been especially grateful for my friendship with Melissa - for the sense of authenticity and security that it provides - and its longevity (6 years so far)
  13. I got to be part of a couple pretty cool (and pretty crazy) worship services
  14. I watched Made with Mary and the parents
  15. I pre-emptively slept enough to avoid getting sick
  16. I watched a ton of The Office and may or may not have cried at the end of season 2.
  17. Kara discovered a phantom wireless signal at the apartment
  18. Kara has watched a lot of Lost - I may need to stage an intervention
  19. I cleaned my room (it shouldn't be noteworthy, but it is) and got to display new artwork (by my talented roommate)
  20. I laughed hysterically while getting my ridiculously long black dress hemmed
  21. I saw Stranger Than Fiction - I definitely recommend it
  22. I was free to dance (but I didn't)
  23. I ordered a new jacket for the long black dress (because apparently I have shoulders and arms like a linebacker)
  24. I watched stupid online stuff with Kara and Beth
  25. I have had extra rehearsals for the big Mozart concerts this weekend
  26. I realized that 26 doesn't seem like long in years, but it's really long in random lists

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Here I Stand

In honor of Reformation Day:

I grew up not knowing much about Martin Luther - aside from the very basics, anyways. However, over the past few years I've really grown in appreciation for a good deal of what he did as a part of his life and ministry. Part of that growing appreciation is thanks to my worship studies in seminary. (Luther had a lot to say about worship and music. He did quite a bit to revive the practice of the congregation singing in church.)

Also, though it may sound a bit shallow, there was a movie made about Luther a few years ago - and I've seen it a few times. I highly recommend is made by the Lutheran church (so a bit rose-colored) - but it's not often you see a movie on church history that is as compelling as this.

And today I'm thankful for Martin Luther's commitment to Christ, to His Word, and for his willingness to stand up for those commitments regardless of his personal comfort. It makes me wonder what I am willing to stand for...

In his own words - when he was asked to recant or be excommunicated:

“I can not submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils, because it is as clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore, I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and I will not retract; for it unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help me." - From the Diet of Worms, 1520

Friday, October 27, 2006

Have you seen this?

Haven't had much to say...of any substance...

So I'll just share some random links that may or may not be of interest:

From my boss: How do they do this??

From the .net: First, I can't imagine losing my voice - but this is really wild

From my little sis: Amazing what can be said in just 100 words

And finally: There are no words

Friday, October 13, 2006

Catching up

So, I've been out of the primetime TV loop for a while. I can blame it on being in school - or I can blame it on being lame - it's probably some combination of both. And truth be told, I wanted in on some of the conversations you hear when people make jokes - or when they talk about theories of what's going to happen next on (insert a show here).

So lately I've been checking out a few shows. I don't have DVR or anything fancy, so I've either watched them on TV or rented them on DVD. Here's the downlow:

Scrubs - This one apparently just got syndicated because it's on twice a day on a couple different stations. So, I haven't been able to watch it in order. However, it's pretty funny - I like the inner monologue stuff. And it tends to mix in some poignant moments, which I didn't expect.

The Office - I'd seen an episode here or there and decided to rent the first season (which is only 6 episodes long). I'm not familiar with the British version. I've laughed a lot (and Kara laughed really really hard once last night) - and I'm looking forward to watching more.

Lost - Now this one I wasn't real sure about. First, I tend toward comedy/light stuff for entertainment. I like an occasional drama/thriller here and there - but I also like closure (Rachel Green voice: C-lo-sure). And I also know from observing people that there's a lot of uncertainty even now in its 3rd season. Sometimes I get squeamish/freaked out by scary/intense shows or movies. And finally, people who get into this show seem to be REALLY into the show. In a little bit of a scary way. Regardless, I decided to rent the first disk of Season 1 last night. I watched the first 2 episodes this morning. I already feel a little sucked in. We'll see how that goes.

I've also thought about Gilmore Girls and 24 - but haven't made it there yet.

However, there is one show on TV I haven't missed an episode of yet this season - Project Runway. It's become a staple of Wednesday nights (post-D'Arcy's with the girls). I'm both excited and a little sad that next week is the finale. I have been a Michael fan most of the season, but something tells me one of the girls is going to win. And I love Tim Gunn.

Carry on.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cue the cannons

I had an orchestra gig last weekend, and going into it I was a bit hestitant. See, I don't play as often as I should, and the finale of the concert was the 1812 Overture.

Now, most anyone, whether they're familiar with classical music or not, is at least familiar with the main theme. You've heard it during fireworks, in movies, and probably in cartoons. It's a little iconic. The thing with music like that, though, is that often the larger piece - and its original context - get buried beneath all the pop culture. And in most cases, it's a bit of a shame. It's like only knowing a caricature or parody...and in the case of the 1812, it's all cannons and huge brass (which is admittedly cool).

The full work is quite beautiful. The first time I really experienced it was as a senior in high school at the All-State music festival. The honors orchestra played it as the finale, and I got to play in the extra brass section. I rank it as one of the top music moments of my life thus far. Honestly, it was one of those rare moments when everyone - conductor, performers, and audience get taken in by the music and the moment. Unforgettably powerful...and I knew it was because the piece was just. that. cool.

And so I was nervous about tackling it again - especially when myself and the orchestra...and did I mention myself were not nearly as capable as my earlier performance.

Which brings me to last Saturday. At the rehearsal, we basically ran through it once - stopping only when we needed to. The opening bars (by the low strings) were underwhelming. Well, I thought, this is rather disappointing. Then the horns came in for the introduction of the really familiar theme. Aaaand now I'm underwhelmed with myself. Great. But we kept plugging through.

But then something unexpected happened. We got to the section where the brass plays the opening theme again and the bells go nuts. And I kid you not - I got goosebumps. If I had not been playing, I probably would have cried. I was completely taken in by the music again. If I could describe the end - it's pure joy. And it's really hard to play the end of it with any kind of restraint, because it just begs to be played ALL OUT. And we definitely did. In the performance, it was not the most artistic or skilled rendition there has ever been - but when we got to the end, we played it with all we had. Awesome. (I do wish the "cannon" had been a little louder, but you can't have everything.)

And as I've listened to my recording of it again and again this week, I realized (and am embarrassed to say) I'd never really read any background on the piece. Surely a piece this well-known has some cool history. So I read the short article on Wikipedia, and sure enough, it's pretty amazing and interesting.

So, this is my ode to the 1812 - to its ability to inspire with and without context - AND its ability to cause grown adults to play it no holds barred.

(And it's a chance for me to say that I'm glad I get to play in an orchestra now and then.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Happiness is...

I saw this on Brandy's blog and decided to use it. It's a happy list :)

1. An unexpected gift:
I’m gonna go with my small group that met for the first time last Sunday night. It’s made up of people that I see often, but rarely get to spend “fun” time with. I’m excited about the next few weeks we get to meet.

2. A kind word shared with me recently:
Someone emailed a note of encouragement to me this past Monday morning – it was really sincere and thoughtful (and from someone I respect a lot)…and was one of those things that came at a good time. Also, this article that someone shared with me yesterday:

3. Something that makes me stop and praise God:
The fall weather – I am in complete awe of God’s creation right now. Today at lunch the clouds were huge; I was having a hard time driving without getting distracted by how cool they looked.

4. Something I'm looking forward to:
Hearing how my friend Melissa’s day was. In fact, the suspense is killing me!
Also, I’m looking forward to chillaxin’ on my day off tomorrow…
I'm a big believer in having things to look forward to. Anticipation!

5. A particular part of me I'm pleased with:
I’ve been exercising/eating healthier lately – and that feels good. Even though I fight against it, I know that I generally function better with discipline in my life.

6. Something in my life that I wanted but never expected:
A best friend. I have been blessed with lots of good relationships in my life, but when I look back even to high school, I never expected that I could have friendship that could last a lifetime and be as close as the one I’ve been blessed with.

7. A place that moved/moves me:
Allerton Park in Monticello – I associate it with experiencing God in His creation and in solitude. I’m excited because our young adult group from church is taking a spiritual retreat day there quite soon.
Also, New York City. My funky friend Phil was in my office last week, and talking about memories of trips there made me miss New York a lot. Big cities in general have an energizing effect on me – but there’s something special about that one.

8. One thing/person that always makes me smile:
Babies – I just can’t help it.

9. Most recent "love note" from God:
Aside from the clouds today at lunch…and the fall weather…a couple songs that have been on repeat in my office today: “Maybe There’s a Loving God” – Sara Groves & “Glory” – Nichole Nordeman & Selah

Friday, September 22, 2006

Something unusual, something strange

I've always been someone who has been highly affected by music. This is a pretty obvious statement. But I was reminded recently that there is a connection between music and my emotions that is really strong...and beyond what I can predict or understand sometimes. (I am going to sound like a total girl in this post, but I have decided that I am okay with that.)

There are songs that affect me because of their lyrics, and there are songs that affect me because they remind me of a certain experience or time in my life. There is music that affects me because of its composition or because of the back-story of the person that wrote it. Most of the time, if there's a song that I like, I can generally describe why I like it.

But there are a handfull of songs/music that have an inexplicable connection to my emotions. It's usually immediate - and takes me by surprise. One strong example of a song that "gets me" almost every time I hear it is "Amie" by Damien Rice. The string part in particular (at the end)'s just...tragic and beautiful. (If you look on my page, it's the most-listened to song...I'm a glutton for emotion!)

I was reminded of this most recently because of a random Christmas song. I went with a group from church to Willow's Christmas service last year. We wanted to go - partly to be able to worship together (since most of us would be leading Christmas services) and partly because it's generally encouraging to go to a Willow service. In the middle of the service, they sang a song - and their dance team performed with it. And by the first chorus, I was a mess - weeping in my chair in the middle balcony. And it wasn't really because I had intellectually pondered the incarnation (although that is amazing). The combination of the music and the dance hit something inside me, and that was it. Well, I found the song this week - "Here With Us" by Joy Williams. And listening to it, I'm taken back to that moment when I was watching the dancers express "hallelujah" and sobbing.

There's a tendency to dismiss emotion because it can be unreliable and sometimes it does not coincide with logic/reason. Goodness knows I'm aware of the instability of pure emotion. But at the same time, I'm really grateful that God has given us things like music and dance - that express His transcendent beauty - and I'm grateful for those surprising moments when I'm overwhelmed by it all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

All Harry Potter - all the time

On my vacation just under a month ago I started reading the Harry Potter series. Tonight I should be able to finish book it's safe to say that the past month I've been reading HP in rather large amounts. I'm really enjoying it - having time available for leisurely reading is definitely a perk of not being in school.

However, I've been noticing some side effects of all this: random things remind me of Harry Potter things. Last night I described it as an inner-dialogue. It's probably a testimony to how creative J.K. Rowlings is - that she's created this entire world and characters so convincingly that I confuse it with reality. Fortunately, other people have confirmed similar experience with this type of Harry Potter Inner Dialogue. I'll call it HPID for short.

A few examples:
  • I accidentally cut myself.
    HPID: A phoenix tear would heal that.
  • Late at night flipping channels I see that the end of Sister Act is on, so I decide to watch it. Whoopi Goldberg is conducting the nuns in their performance for the pope. They cut to a shot of the Reverend Mother.
    HPID: What's Professor McGonagall doing in the church?
  • My roommate and her sister are watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - I joined them for a few moments. They're touring the factory, when one of the candies that they try explodes.
    HPID: Fred & George Weasley could have made that.
  • I can't find my co-worker anywhere.
    HPID: If I had a Marauder's Map, this would not be a problem.

Only time will tell if this inner dialogue will stay after I finish reading the books, but for now, this is how my mind is working. So I'm curious - if you've read the books - did you experience anything like this? Or am I a freak show?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Memories from 5 years ago

I got up early this morning to walk, and since it was pouring - I opted for my treadmill. I turned on the TV and decided I wanted to watch some of the Sept. 11th memorial coverage. One of the news channels was playing the Today show coverage from that day. Since I wasn't able to watch TV until the evening of 9/11/01, it was eerie to me to hear them talk about it, not knowing what was coming - speculating after the 1st plane hit, and then watch things go from bad to worse (as they see the 2nd plane hit, find out about the attack on the Pentagon, and then watch the towers fall). It reminded me of how unfathomable it all was at the time.

And then on my drive into work, a couple radio stations played some of those songs where they dub audio clips of people talking over the music. Usually I think those are borderline cheese, but today not so much.

I started to remember that day...and I wanted to put a little bit of it down here while I was thinking about it. I know everyone has their stories of where they were and how it affected them. This is mine.

I was teaching horn lessons at a private school in Champaign from 7:30am til almost 9:30am. I got in the car to drive back to campus; the radio was on the local Christian station, and they were playing some super peppy Point of Grace song. When the song was over, the DJs just started re-capping all the morning's events - and I was just shocked. I remember driving onto campus and thinking how weird it was that everything that I could see looked the same, but everything I was hearing was utterly foreign.

I'm still amazed they didn't cancel classes that day. They cancelled them on Wednesday, but not on September 11th itself. I had orchestral conducting at 10am. No one was paying any attention. Then master class at 11am. Kaz explained that people could reschedule their lessons for the afternoon, but since I was actually prepared I decided to go ahead. We ended up spending a lot of it talking about New York (since he had lived there for several years). He gave me a Manhattan geography lesson using his shoe.

I hadn't reflected on it in a while, but this morning - and really throughout the day I started to remember the rest of that week - and really the rest of that month. The many many emotions - and the feeling of uncertainty. It's one of the only times in life when I've experienced an event that was so communal - everyone was dealing with it. For the rest of the month (at least), every event was in light of that day. Even television stations played alternate programming (it's a funny example, but I remember MTV only showed a handful of videos over and over. That Incubus one where the guy does the pencil drawing was one of them...). Things eventually got more "normal" - but then again - not completely...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Come on, fall!

Fall is my absolute favorite season - and I think this past weekend, it arrived - at least in my mind. It's the one with my favorite memories and favorite traditions...and speaking of memories/traditions:

I went to a U of I game on Saturday - spontaneously - but it was super fun. First, it was a night game (no sun to contend with). Second, it was gorgeous weather. Third, I went with people who put up with my marching band neuroticism. Forth, we won. Fifth, there were a million fireworks. Being around the marching band made me reminisce about that year in my life - and some of the great memories. Tonight, I found pictures from my season (1999) - and a free audio download of one of my favorite Marching Illini songs ("Get it On").

The happiest part of my day today is that fall is officially here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Instead of many words

Photos from the Florida trip are up here.

A few favorites:

It was a very relaxing trip. I came home very refreshed - I needed the rest even more than I thought. I also realized again how awesome my mom is.

I also uploaded some pictures from a trip to Lake Michigan a week or so ago to see college friends here. I wish I'd taken a few more, but oh well. Contrary to all these pictures, I don't spend that much time at beaches. (This central Illinois girl just happened to have a very sandy week in August!)

And finally, my sister is an incredible photographer, as evidenced here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Travelogue Entry #3

Another relaxing day in paradise! (I overheard a guy say that - and I think it works.)

  • Mom and I kept to the shade for our reading/beach time today
  • I branched out and tried the spray-on sunblock. I am NOT a fan. It leaves your skin sticky. No good.
  • In the pool, this Australian couple asked if Mom and I were twins. Heh. Mom was worried I was secretly offended...but nah.
  • I'm getting pulled into the Harry Potter books I believe
  • Had a really good dinner at the Fish House (check out their website - little goldish follow your mouse). Mom and I split a combo, and I had lobster for the first time ever. It was really good - all the seafood around here is good (go figure).
  • We came back to our place for dessert overlooking the sunset. We took another walk around the water. A-mazing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Travelogue Entry #2

After a whole day in Florida, I'm happy to say that this pace of vacation is just exactly what I was looking for.
  • Slept in
  • Chilled at the beach & pool for the better part of the day. At first I thought I'd get tired of it, but I sure didn't!
  • We're not good at identifying accents/languages. We've heard lots, but so far the only one I know for sure is British.
  • We ate dinner overlooking the ocean. Mom & I split meals well - we were brave and tried a conch fritters appetizer. Conch is really chewy.
  • I've decided that "Funky Town" is the theme song for the trip - we've heard it twice already. (Mom's hoping we don't hear it anymore - I keep asking her, "Won't you take me to...funky tooooown?")
  • Had real Key Lime pie and took my favorite pictures of the trip so far
  • We drove for a bit tonight and discovered actual civilization here in the Keys (a movie theater and a Pier 1)
  • I skimmed a bit of this book at a bookstore. Looks really interesting.
  • I realized I got a lot more sun than I thought I did earlier - and that I will have some ridiculous tan lines
  • Our hotel has Bravo - which means I get to see the new episode of Project Runway tonight! Yesssssss.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Travelogue Entry #1

I don't know how often I'll be able to update, but here are some highlights from the first few hours of vacation:
  • Our flight was just long enough for an in-flight movie - Last Holiday. Not bad...made for a quick flight.
  • I saw Jose from the Real World Key West at our rental car place.
  • Mom is now a believer in the wonder that is - the Marriott bed. Yesssss. This place is pretty amazing.
  • I was looking for the stairs, asked one of the hotel workers if they were through a certain door. He said, "No baby..." in this island accent...and then told me they were around the corner.
  • Just asked Mom what she was doing. Her response? "Not much. I like it." Indeed!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cue the Beach Boys...

...cause Mom & I are going to Key Largo!

I have finally settled on vacation plans - in just about a week and a half. And I am soooooooooo excited!

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's about as useless as a screen door

(This post is a story - it's true - and remember, it could happen to you.)

After a long night of watching videos from high school musicals and show choir with my friend Beth, we realized we had stayed up way too late. We laughed at how young we looked, how insecure we were, what fun we had, and how ridiculous some of our choreography was.

As Beth left (around 2am), she had a couple photo albums and videos to take with her, so I decided to help her to her car. After saying goodbye, I walked down my driveway, and went to open my screen door (my front door behind it was wide open). It didn't move. At all. At first I thought it was sticky from the humidity. Then I realize - it's locked. I didn't even know that it could DO that!

Fortunately - I waved Beth down before she drove away - AND by the grace of God, my cell phone was in my pocket. Well, we tried to pick the lock, but it was pretty well-constructed. My back door was unfortunately locked (I'm a little obsessive about that). I decided it was too late to call the landlords next door. I didn't really want to tear through my screens either (they wouldn't pop out - again, stupid well-constructed door).

As we're driving to Beth's house, we stopped to ask the village police officer if he had anything to pick a lock (he was about 19 and was standing outside his car talking with his girlfriend who was keeping him company). His response? "That sucks." Thanks. I feel safer.

This story has a happy ending, though. Beth let me stay with her, my landlords let me in this morning, and no one had broken in through the screen door. (It's like a ROCK.)

And finally - the moral of the story is this: you thought you were cool in high school show choir, but you really really weren't.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hello old friend

I have had lots of mini-reunions lately...and most of them have been unplanned.

Since I live in the same town I grew up in, I occasionally run into someone from high school or earlier. But that's not really noteworthy.

These reunions have been with some of my closest friends from elementary school through high school. And I only ran into them through other they were pretty unexpected. Plus, some college friends visited last weekend. I know people talk about "picking up right where you left off" - and I haven't always know that it's possible. I mean, there are a few topics (job, school, family, etc.) that you always hit...but you wonder what you'll talk about once you finish going through that list. Well I feel blessed that among all of these reunions, we were really able to just be ourselves - amidst all the change that we've been through.

So, I just have to say that I am really grateful that Ami still loves to talk fast, that Beth is still good at making witty commentary during performances, and that Brunsie is still such a good listener...

Sometimes it takes spending a few hours with someone to make you realize how much you missed them.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"For from Him, through Him, to Him is everything"

I can't get the song from this morning out of my head. I probably listened to it 50 times last week, but I still listened to it 5 times on my iPod today (after hearing it in church 3 times too). I can't completely say why I'm fixated on it - aside from the fact that it's probably a good lesson in perspective. It is a reminder that He's above all of this. And in the end, I just want to give glory to Him.

Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments!
How unknowable His paths!
Who knows the mind of our God
and who could bring counsel to Him?
Who has given to God that God should repay?

For from Him, through Him, to Him is everything...

To God be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hail alma mater!

I ran across this nugget of joy in an alumni magazine - Dress Alma. Enjoy!

(For those not familiar with the U of I, the Alma Mater statue is a favorite campus landmark. I've included a photo of her in her original wardrobe and location [ignore the random guy].)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday Randomness

  • Do I look like I work here? I'm starting to wonder. For some reason, whenever I shop at certain clothing stores (Kohls, JCPenneys, and once at Old Navy), random women ask me to help them with something - and then are surprised that I don't work there. Honest to goodness, this has happened to me at least 4 times. The most recent was yesterday. I thought the lady was talking to someone else, so I didn't say anything. She started to raise her voice, but found a person who actually worked there before things got too weird. I can't figure out why this happens to me so often. At first, I thought it could be wardrobe related. Yesterday I was there, still in my nice clothes from church. So maybe I was looking "professional"? But I've had it happen when I'm in really casual clothes and my hair pulled back too. So. My questions are - does this happen to anyone else? And any theories? Any recommendations on clever comebacks?
  • This past weekend, I picked up a skill that I haven't used since I was 12 - cross-stitching! I was with friends at a cross-stitch sale for the day (long story), and I figured, when in Rome... Turns out, it's harder than I remember. The goal is to finish the small project I started and then be done with it. I don't need another hobby unless it's learning the cello.
  • Link for the day: (A t-shirt that made me laugh)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

In my mind, I'm gone...

(...but not to Carolina*)

I have confessed my need to travel and see new places. I'll also admit that once I spent years in Champaign-Urbana, I began to appreciate towns that have a wide variety of cultural opportunities & types of people. And, let's face it, Springpatch just doesn't have as many artsy/diverse things to offer. However, since I can't be away all the time, I've tried to be resourceful and find places that make me feel like I'm...well...not here :)

In my hometown, here's my list of places that have this effect on me (that I can think of):

  1. Prairie Archives - A used bookstore downtown (right by the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office) that is so big and fun to get lost in.
  2. Head West Sub Shop - Why does this place make me feel like I'm back in a college town? It isn't the fact that they sell sandwiches on the BEST bread (it's addictive, I tell you), but more that they also sell hemp necklaces, Ben & Jerry's pints, and decorate with all things hippie. It's SO NOT Springfield.
  3. Norb Andy's - Although I've not been there more than once (and that one time was thanks to Johnna), I felt like I was in Boston in this below-ground pub between the mariner decor and all the politicians in their expensive suits (it's only 2 blocks from the capitol).
  4. Lincoln Memorial Garden - If you follow the trails all the way to the lake, it ruins the effect (the CWLP smokestacks are telltale) - but in the fall especially, it's very peaceful.
  5. Some of the dowtown churches (like First Pres or the big Catholic one) - I really like big, old churches...for cultivating a sense of wonder. First Pres has some fun concerts, too...

Anyone else have ways you get away without going away?

*Not because I necessarily dislike Carolina...just because I've never been there. But I like James Taylor.

Monday, July 10, 2006

From the Midday Office

I read these verses just now, and while they're familiar to me - reading them really convicted me. My life and my relationships would be much different if I applied this Scripture:

A Reading
"Let love be without any pretense. Avoid what is evil; stick to what is good. In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection for one another come to expression and regard others as more important than yourself. In the service of the Lord, work not half-heartedly, but with conscientiousness and an eager spirit. Be joyful in hope, persevere in hardship; keep praying regularly; share with any of God's holy people who are in need; look for opportunities to be hospitable." Romans 12:9-13

I won't self-disclose too much, but I'd just say a good goal for the week might be looking for practical ways to apply that Scripture.

The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Almighty God, to whom our needs are known before we even ask, Help me to ask only what accords with your will; and those good things which I dare not, or in my blindness I cannot ask, grant for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Death's Sting

After Sunday lunch last weekend, I had a long conversation with my roommate. A good chunk of it was about worship song lyrics and the resurrection - 2 topics that I can talk into the ground.

We talked about one of my current favorite corporate worship songs, which happens to paraphrase Hosea/1 Corinthians 15 - "Sin has lost its power, death has lost its sting..." - it's a powerful lyric. However, she helped me remember how in the midst of grief it's hard to see how death has no sting. We talked about that for a long time - but it was just reminder #842 this year of the lesson God's been teaching me: death is not good - but He has done and will do something about it.

There is a real tension in talking about death as Christians. We can't act as though death wins - because we know that we have the promise of heaven. We have a God Who was raised from the dead and therefore has control over it. However, we can't act as though death is an inherently good thing either. It's a result of the fall - and contrary to God's creation and nature. (Think about it - if God defines perfection - and He's eternal - then death is the opposite of that.) That's why it's not okay to give trite or over-simplistic answers to people who are grieving. We should mourn WITH them... It's a bit of a paradox in perspective (I've heard people call it living in the now & not-yet).

I ran across a blog entry that articulated this as well as anything else I've read: The God Who Hates Death. I hope linking to someone doesn't seem like a cop-out, but his thoughts are honest and have a lot of truth stated so well...that I'd just recommend giving it a read.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tuesday Randomness

A day late and a dollar short, but here's some randomness anyways...

  • I wish there were a way to have the benefits of living in a large urban area (such as the amazing shopping/dining options) without the traffic. Last weekend I felt like I spent the entire trip to the Chicago suburbs in traffic. My exact quote to Melissa after moving less than 2 blocks in 20 minutes in Naperville was, "I want to hit someone." We did get to briefly visit Geneva (mom's hometown) - and surprise! it was in the middle of Swedish Days! Melissa was confused by the Scandinavian-related festivities, but she still humored me while we went in the Gift Box. Lots of great memories from my childhood are there - though it was weird to imagine someone else living in my Nana's house.
  • I am officially in love with the Marriott beds. I stayed in one when I was at the arts conference, and then again last weekend (I had a gift certificate). Seriously, IN LOVE. But I don't think it's meant to be - at least not anytime soon. Oh, and the other thing I love is Melissa's good-for-you chocolate eclair.
  • A little internet nugget of joy (or rather a serious conspiracy): Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

3 Pictures that Crack Me Up

With very little commentary, here are 3 (semi-recent) pictures that crack me up.

These are my sisters. This is my current desktop on my work computer.

The attitude is directed at Mary (youngest sister). And this is pretty much how it goes in my family - my mom is cute & content and the rest of us have serious SASS.

And this picture I just got from Chris today - and I laughed when I saw it because that tassel did that to me ALL DAY.

Also, here are a few pics from my time at Allerton Park (aka one of the single most redemptive parts of central Illinois) last Saturday.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The 6 Love Languages

I spent a short amount of my Friday evening with the fam. We watched an episode of 5 Takes: Pacific Rim (I love that show - I want to do 5 Takes: Europe. They already did it, I know...but still) where they go to Taipei, Taiwan. My brother was loving it since he went there last year - he was disappointed they didn't eat stinky tofu.

Then we went to Buffet King (which I MUCH prefer to Buffet City) - all 6 of us. I think it served as our Father's Day celebration since we'll be various places on Sunday. It was good food & the fam tolerated me as I lip sync'd (unashamedly) to the Celine Dion greatest hits that was playing for the entire meal.

As I was about to go to my car, Bekah handed me a mix CD. Now you may have heard of the 5 Love Languages. I say there are 6 - gifts, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, and mix CDs. Don't try to tell me that mix CDs could fit into one of the other 5 categories. Let me explain myself. I'm not talking about making/getting a mix of music just to share things you like (although I enjoy that as well). I'm talking about when someone makes a mix for someone specific for a specific reason. This CD was one of those - and I didn't even ask for it!

Here it is: "Just a Ride" - June '06
  1. Just a Ride - Jem
  2. Lucky Denver Mint - Jimmy Eat World
  3. Long Ride Home - Patty Griffin
  4. Thinking About You - Ivy
  5. Hard Times - Eastmountainsouth
  6. This Time Around - Helen Stellar
  7. Same in Any Language - I Nine
  8. Galileo - Indigo Girls
  9. Santa Maria de Feira - Devendra Banhart
  10. Finally Woken - Jem
  11. 1000 Miles - Vanessa Carlton
  12. Walking Downtown - Copeland
  13. Time Will Do the Talking - Patty Griffin
  14. Lead Me On - Bethany Dillon
  15. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall
  16. The World You Love - Jimmy Eat World
  17. Let Him Fly - Patty Griffin

Some of it I had heard - some of it I had wanted to hear - and it's just a great CD for me right now. Favorites right now - Jem, Eastmountainsouth, Patty (of course), and the Indigo Girls song. Rock. (And thanks, Bekah)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's a shame to build our homes with bricks of fear and cynical stones

I was up at Willow for a couple days this week for their Arts Conference. I could share some thoughts from that...but maybe another time. One major observation from the conference personally is my tendency to make or think witty, sarcastic comments, especially when it comes to worship. I mean, sometimes, people do and say things - especially when it comes to worship - that seem careless. And it can feel good to point those things out - partly because I think that worshiping God should be intentional and full of truth. But there's another side of me that enjoys critiquing because it makes me feels smart and maybe even better than the person I'm critiquing. Yikes. At one point, after a comment that I actually said outloud (and I'll admit, it was true and rather humorous) I told my brother, "I have got to stop doing that."

I do believe that thinking through what we sing and say - especially in corporate worship - is important. Don't get me wrong. And I think that we shouldn't just take everything people do/say about worship at face value. Dialoguing and seeking clarity often allow us to gain a deeper understanding and appreciationg for what it is we're doing when we worship. I just want to guard myself from being so critical that I have a heart that is hard and self-righteous. I really dislike it when I see that in others, so I don't want to cultivate that in myself.

I discovered a worship blog today - Bob Kauflin, who apparently is associated with the Sovereign Grace group. The first post of his that I read is a good example of balance between criticism and charity towards others, in my opinion. He talks about the worship song, "Draw Me Close," and evaluates the usefulness of worship songs with vague lyrics. I really do recommend reading the article, because it's well done, but his last statement is especially well-put:

"May we all proclaim the beauty, authority, and truth of Jesus Christ with our lives, remembering that neither passion nor propositional truth is out of place when we worship God. They were meant to go together."

What I appreciated was not only what he says, but how he says it. It's Biblical and full of grace - it seems pastoral. I want to be more like that and less proud of myself when I make/think snide commentary.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Monday Randomness

I thought it might be fun to blog something OTHER than quotes from the Daily Hours...

  • I could talk about the trip to Cincinnati 2 weekends ago. I'd tell you about experiencing my first flat tire and about how grateful I am to the AMAZING women who put the donut on (where's the jack hole?), to the women who helped sort through the CRAP in my trunk to get to the donut, about having fun Champaign food (Noodles, Custard Cup, Papa Dels) twice in a week, and about finding really cute baby Illinois clothes (for no one in particular, so don't start rumors).
  • I could tell you about my trip to Cincy this past weekend. It involves a ridiculous amount of rollercoasters. How in the middle of a themepark, we found ourselves entertained playing a game that used little more than slips of paper, pens, our memories, and our weird senses of humor. It also involves Skyline and Graeters. Oh, and the Beef House. Food's important, okay?
  • A few friends were around to witness my reaction when I saw this - a sequel to The Passion of the Christ called....wait for it....The Resurrection! About flipping time, people. (I was mostly excited just because of my higher than normal interest in the resurrection this spring.) In seriousness, I wonder if someone other than the original director is taking it on, is it really considered a sequel?

That's all I have for today. Happy Monday to all...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old

Your hand, O Lord, in days of old
Was strong to heal and save;
You triumphed over pain and death,
O'er darkness and the grave.
To you they went, the blind, the mute,
The palsied and the lame,
The leper set apart and shunned,
The sick and those in shame.

And then your touch brought life and health,
Gave speech and strength and sight;
And youth renewed, with health restored,
Claimed you, the Lord of light.
And so, O Lord, be near to bless,
Almighty now as then,
In every street, in every home,
In every troubled friend.

O be our mighty healer still,
Lord of life and death;
Restore and strengthen, soothe and bless
With your almighty breath.
On hands that work and eyes that see,
Your healing wisdom pour,
The whole and sick, weak and strong
May praise you evermore.

-Edward Plumptre

Monday, June 05, 2006

Why I love the Book of Common Prayer

Ever heard someone else pray and agree with them completely (sometimes silently or maybe using a sound of agreement)? That's how I feel sometimes when I pray using the Book of Common Prayer (though I use it from the Daily Hours, so it's changed just a little bit).

From today's Midday Office (there's so much in this small prayer...):

The Concluding Prayer of the Church
O Lord my God, to you and your service I devote myself, body, soul and spirit.
Fill my memory with the record of your mighty works; enlighten my understanding with the light of your Holy Spirit; and may all the desires of my heart and will center in what you would have me do.
Make me an instrument of your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and let me by my life and speaking set forth your true and living Word.
Be always with me in carrying out the duties of my salvations; in praises heighten my love and gratitude; in speaking of You give me readiness of thought and expression; and grant that, by the clearness and brightness of your holy Word, all the world may be drawn to your blessed kingdom.
All this I ask for the sake of your Son my Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Music for everyone

This morning I used my music education degree in an actual school setting - something I haven't done in almost 4 years.

My current small group consists of quite a few teachers. One girl teaches Kindergarten (and I respect her greatly!) - and she mentioned in passing that at her school they don't have any "specials" - meaning, her kids don't get to have music class. So I offered to come in some Friday and have music class. I can't IMAGINE elementary school without music. Seriously!

Well today was the day. And I was a little rusty (and it's been a long time since I've been called by my teacher name!). However, it was quite fun - for both me AND the kids! I played my horn for them, we played a high/low game, sang some songs (Alice the Camel, for example), and then listened to "In the Hall of the Mountain King."

If you're not familiar with "In the Hall of the Mountain King" it's a classical piece by Edvard Grieg (one of the only well-known Scandinavian composers!) - and it starts soft, but then builds to a loud, fast ending. It's very spooky. One of my most vivid kindergarten memories is listening to this piece in music class. Our teacher let us crawl/creep around the room and the beginning and then run around like banshees at the end. (She also let us do something similar to "Flight of the Bumblebee." We loved to run around like bees.) While not to that extreme (we had to creep/walk/run in place because of space), we definitely moved to it today. It was WAY fun. We also listened to it with our eyes closed to imagine what was happening. One kid said that Mike Myers was chasing him.

And it made me happy to share the music love with some kindergarteners. And it made me remember how as children, we're much more inclined to sing, smile at a silly song, and move around to music.

Anyone else have random music class memories from elementary school? I realize I may have liked music a lot more than would be considered "normal." :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

1, 2, 3, & 4

A recent, though rare phenomena has me feeling really good lately - all of my siblings are in the same town.

While I don't think 4 kids is a huge amount, when we're all in the same house or the same area, it's a full house. I can remember back to the days where we had to schedule how we would all take turns in the bathroom to have enough time to get ready (Sundays were the worst). I also remember the cross-country trips in a minivan, staying in small hotel rooms that were not designed for 6. (I also remember the most recent family trip to Wisconsin in 1 minivan - we're all [well, not me] taller now. Enough said.)

I'll admit - I started the exodus from Springpatch in '98. I'll also admit that leaving my hometown was an important part of growing up. During my 4.5 year absence, I probably spent more time away than I did at home. This wasn't because I disliked home; I think I just caught a glimpse of all the other places and people outside of what I had known, and I wanted to explore. Soon Josh joined me at college. It was so cool to see him enjoy it like I did and to be able to share a year or so of our college lives at the same place.

Even though it wasn't my original idea to come back here after college, I was glad to be able to be around my younger sisters. At that point, they had somehow turned from little kids into young adults. I've gotten to go to concerts, graduations, and see them at church every week. When I mentioned to a friend last year that I was sad Bekah was going away to college ("She's leaving me!" were my exact words), they reminded me that she was returning the favor from years earlier. Honestly, though, I'm so happy for her - to be able to go away and enjoy every bit of being away (she took a day trip back to her college town this's a good sign). And while she's still at home for a couple more years, Mary's about to gain some independence in the form of a driver's license (help us all)!

And now we're all here again. Bekah for the summer. Josh indefinitely. And I have SO enjoyed going over to my parents house to see who's around. While my parents' house is always home - something about all 4 of us there together makes it even more so.

I'm not so naive to know that this period of close proximity is likely short. But I want to make the most of it and not take it for granted.

(In other news, I just found the 2 missing library books this morning - they were in plain sight in my living room. Also, hearing "Walk Away" by Kelly Clarkson automatically makes me sing and dance like the random people in her video. I can't help it.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


lcs grad 020
Originally uploaded by Bastewar.

Do you hear something?

dos 001
Originally uploaded by Bastewar.

It's a mariachi band....and it's coming our way!!

The Fam

josh grad 024
Originally uploaded by Bastewar.

Cheese, Joshie!

josh grad 025
Originally uploaded by Bastewar.

The face says it all...


lcs grad 015
Originally uploaded by Bastewar.

It really was a happy day...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pomp and Mariachi

Well, it was a weekend full of much celebration. It was anticipated greatly. And it was quite memorable in many ways. Allow me to share with you some highlights.

Friday was unremarkable except for the fact that it was a day off. (Since I work on Sundays, it acts as my Saturday. Since I am done with school, I actually took both Friday and Saturday off and did not go to the office at all. Wild.) Well, and I got to go to Taco Bell with my little sister back from college. When I got there, we realized we had both worn our Brooklyn t-shirts. I'm super glad she's home from school. She's amazing. I also read a bunch of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It was a quick read (and interesting, though rather "off" in some of its statements about Christianity and faith. I know. Shocking...).

The long-awaited seminary graduation! Serious, I remember being neck-deep in work wondering if this day would ever come. Making it better was being able to graduate with Chris & Melissa - my best friends - while we took only 1 class all together, we spent the 3 years all working on our Masters together. Of course, Melissa quite out-did Chris and I with her MDiv, but that's as it should be. Hopefully we will be able to make the transition from nerds to party people without too much trouble. Who am I kidding? I'm sure we're pretty much relegated to nerdiness...but at least it's together!

I had always pictured the day of graduation to be the day the sky would become clear, the sun would fully shine, and the birds would sing. Unfortunately, central illinois did not get the memo. It was cold and overcast. During the class picture before the ceremony, my hat blew off in the wind and I am sure I looked ridiculous. Chris & Melissa hit a bird on the interstate on their way there and found that it was still in the grill of their car when they got there. So, there you go.

The ceremony itself was nice. There was some interesting singing (of songs very few people knew). I did not trip while walking up & down the stairs, shaking the Presidents hand, getting my hood, or getting my towel (a tradition that reminds seminary grads to serve above all). Mission accomplished.

We took lots of pictures. I hope to have a few to add to this post later. During the 3rd or 4th round of pictures, Spear (who did not graduate, but did have to have his picture taken) says to me between his teeth, "Say paparazzi!"

We went to Jimmy John's for lunch since my parents had to head back home quickly for my little sister's orchestra concert. I declared eating at Jimmy John's a Bethany graduation tradition (since that's where we ate after my undergrad ceremony). If I ever graduate from anything else in the future (which is NOT in the plan), there will be Jimmy John's.

After church and some serious deliberation, I decided to make the trek to Chambana with the fam to see my little brother graduate from the U of I with his engineering degree. Before the ceremony began, we (sisters and the significant others of myself and my brother) took random pictures to make sure the digital cameras worked, discussed how the graduates should enter the Assembly Hall (Mary's was the best - running in to "The Champ is Here"), and made guesses on how long the ceremony would last. We girls all made guesses in the 1.5 - 1.75 range. Spear guessed 2 hours and 5 minutes. When it took 20 minutes for the 800 engineering students to process in, we knew the girls would not win.

The ceremony. Snooze. Engineers think they are awesome. Snooze. Lots of obnoxious families yelling. Snooze. Singing the Alma Mater. The final time of the ceremony was 2 hours and 3 minutes. And then taking lots of pictures! ("Say paparazzi!") In all seriousness, I was VERY proud of my little brother (who became the 3rd generation of UIUC Civil Engineering grads in the family). And he's an awesome guy. I couldn't ask for a better little brother. Something about graduations makes me all nostalgic.

We decided to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner because it's pretty quick. There were 8 of us and it's graduation weekend in C-U, so when they asked if we minded the smoking section we said we'd take it. Well, we ended up in a back room at a booth with a table pushed up next to it. This left only a small opening between us and the people at the booth across from us. We ordered our drinks and queso ("What is this white stuff I'm consuming, cause it's so consuming meeeee....") and began chatting. One highlight was a conversation between my brother and I about Facebook. It's difficult to re-create since it was brief. However, the basic idea was that he had a friend tease him that she was Facebook "friends" with both of his sisters but that he wasn't "friends" with me. I told him I only joined to try to find people I went to school with, but I never asked people to be my "friend." His response was classic: "Well I don't ask people either, so I guess we won't be friends." Before we ordered our meals, our pleasant dining environment changed...

The restaurant had decided to add to the festiveness of campus town by having a mariachi band to play. They played a song or two in the main room of the restaurant; they were very good. Then they decided to come play a song for our room; they were very loud. This was no quartet - there were 4 violinists, 2 or 3 guitar players, and 2 trumpets. Apparently the group knew some people in our small room, because the people at the booth next to us asked for some requests and sang along. The band stayed in our small room for pretty much the whole meal. It was surreal and hilarious at the same time. We'd randomly crack up throughout dinner. I hope to have some pictures of this as well...

While it was a busy weekend, it was one that celebrated some significant milestones. More than that though, it reminded me what AMAZING friends and family I have been blessed with...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday Randomness

Hi kids. I've been disinterested in the internet lately. Don't really know why. But I figured today was a good time to blog because I've given myself permission to be random and non-profound on Mondays.

  • This morning I had an especially bad case of the "Mondays." I was snippy. But I got over it...I think.
  • Last week I made 3 trips to Lincoln. This week, I plan on only one (for graduation!). After that? Only when I want to. I-55, I will not miss thee...
  • I thought that I had finished everything required of me for graduation. Then, this morning, I get an email saying I didn't turn in 2 library books (that were due last Friday). I looked for them in my trunk, but they are not to be found. I don't think something like this should keep me from graduating. I mean, they're just books! (::ducking to avoid the expected librarian rage::)
  • I played in an orchestra last weekend for the first time in years. I did okay, though I was way out of shape. It reminded me that I used to be a lot better than I am now. And what a freakish skill it is to be able to play the french horn. It also reminded me that it's time for me to learn the cello!
  • I've been sneezing non-stop for the last 2.5 hours (and I am NOT exaggerating).
  • I really enjoyed this article from the Singles section of ChristianityToday. I especially liked the 2nd half...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Worship Leaders and Stevie Wonder

So I made some exciting work/school-related discoveries today.

I found this site which has some mp3s from worship lectureships over the past few years. Yeah, Southern Baptists! I realize this wouldn't excite everyone, but for me this is good stuff.

I haven't been able to listen to many of them, but there are a lot of authors that I've had to read for school. I'm looking forward to using them on my ipod for drives/walks. I also think they could be potentially good resources for our worship teams at church.

I was especially excited to see a series of talks by the writers of some of my favorite worship songs: "In Christ Alone" and "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." However, as I downloaded the files, I thought, "They spelled his name wrong. They left a letter out!" Just to prove to myself that I was right and the Southern Baptists were wrong, I got out a songbook to check.

Turns out, Stuart Townend is the guy who writes great worship songs. Stuart Townsend dates Charlize Theron. My bad.

Anyways, I was listening to one of Stuart Townend and Keith Getty's lectures. They both have really fun accents (one British and one Irish). They had some great things about congregational worship. Nothing too revolutionary - but well-put nonetheless. Things like we should balance singing subjective truth by singing a good amount of objective truth. They said that if you write objective truth in a narrative form, people will sing it easily. Really that's what they did with "In Christ Alone." Also, as people who write or choose songs for corporate worship, we have to understand that a lot of people's theology is shaped by what we sing (for better or worse - and whether or not it should be that way). They sang some of their songs.

But my favorite part was when someone asked them who some of their musical influences are. Stuart talked a bit about stuff he'd been listening to lately: Norah Jones, Maroon 5, Coldplay, yadda yadda. But then he said he'd also been going back and listening some of his favorite classic music: Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Jethro Tull, Bob Dylan, and......Stevie Wonder.

And I may or may not have said outloud, "YEAH Stevie Wonder!" So, I feel like I have a kindred spirit with Stuart Townend.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Everywhere I go I see You

I think that a person's surroundings are significant.

My apartment and office have not been the cleanest lately. This is nothing new; it's really just a reflection that I'm busy. I tend to clean in big bursts rather than little by little over time. I don't like that about myself, but it has just been a fact of my reality. I love my apartment (or pre-house if you will). However, when I'm busy and it's messy I don't get to enjoy it as much. It becomes that place that I sleep and keep soda cold.

While it seems superficial, I am starting to think about how the aesthetics of our surroundings can be a part of our personal worship. I had always thought of decorating my living/working spaces with things like functionality or personal expression in mind. People definitely abuse aesthetics - by using them to impress others or to only entertain themselves.

However, I was really humbled by reading a response to a survey from a woman from church about how visual art impacts her.

She wrote:
"Right now God is using incredible visual art: springtime in central Illinois, to illustrate His power, His beauty, creativity, resurrection, extravagant giving and many other themes. We’re made in God’s image and I think it’s natural and appropriate for us to do the same things as He well as we can, of course, which certainly doesn’t compare to how well He does it.

I have art in my house that makes me think of God. I try to make my home, both in the areas where I have intentional worship times and where I just live, attractive just as God has made our home, the world, attractive. Elizabeth Goudge mentions in many of her books the need for us to have beautiful things and surroundings: they need not be expensive or luxurious, but they need to lift our souls upward. I like to keep the windows open so I can see creation and that helps me worship. The bird feeder attracts many birds...sometimes it seems I’m living inside mobile art, like a snowglobe as big as the universe."

I don't know how that affects you, but to me it seems pretty profound. I want to continue to have my eyes drawn upward to God. Part of that is by raising my awareness to how He's already revealed Himself all around me (and yes, the nicer weather helps make that easier). And another part of that is placing things around me that point me back to Him.

What helps you look upward?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday Randomness

(I noticed that this isn't the first time I've used that title. I could make it a regular event...)

  • Small Groups Conference came and went...and pretty smoothly at that. Small groups are an interesting thing. A few take-aways: hearing some cool stories from friends about when small groups are at their best, getting to spend time with church people from around the area, being very proud of my best friend, and being challenged to invest in people more.
  • The big paper has been submitted. Feels pretty good. I still have to do a few other school-related projects, but having that one checked off is nice. I hope to spend much less time at the church after 10pm now - it gets really spooky.
  • To continue the theme of TV shows that cause emotional reactions, I would like to share the following t-shirt design (which is pretty much amazing):

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It's so hard to see when my eyes are on me

Quick post (I shouldn't be doing this right now - but I'm so distractable!)

2 things:

1 - Had a weird thing with my right eye today. My allergies are around because it's so pretty and springy outside. I'm used to this. What I'm NOT used to is having a large bump form on my right eye. Not on the lid. On my eyeball. It was really weird, and after a quick call to my mom (she's a nurse, see) I decided to run to get it checked out. Fortunately, it is not a big deal - I have eye drops and my vision is still going strong.

2 - I am amazed at the way I continue to be really concerned with what other people think. Seems like I have to fight the self-centered battle every day. But my prayer is really that in the things I do that God would be magnified - and that I could just get out of the way.

Monday, April 17, 2006

If I start to cry

Apparently stress not only makes me want to eat ice cream, it also makes me slightly emotional.

Exhibit A:

A conversation over dinner

Me: So I was watching Extreme Home Makeover while I ate dinner last night, and I cried.

Friend: Really? Why?

Me: It was really moving. I always cry at that show - even when I say I won't.

Friend: Like, REAL tears, crying?

Me: I said I cried.

Friend: I don't remember the last time I cried at a TV show. Maybe the finale of The Wonder Years.

Me: OH MY GOSH! I remember that episode! It was so sad - the narrator voice talked about what happened to each character as they grew up. And Kevin and Winnie never did end up together...

Friend: Are you crying?

Me: Ummm....

Friend: (silence)

Me: We can talk about something besides TV.

Friend: Okay.

(Hat tip to Kari's Mike & Kari dialogue series)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Hymn for Holy Week

Go to Dark Gethsemane - James Montgomery

Go to dark Gethsemane, you that feel the tempter's power;
Your Redeemer's conflict see, Watch with him one bitter hour.
Turn not from his griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the Gall! O the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary's mournful mountain clumb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God's own sacrifice complete.
"It is finished!" hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lots of gospels...

I have been teased for reading Christianity Today online.
It's okay - I can take it.

Their weblog has had lots of stuff about the Gospel of Judas stuff that's been all the buzz lately. I have to admit, I was talking out loud to the newspeople on TV when they started calling it a document that could "shake the foundations of Christianity" and tell the story of Jesus from another perspective. Things I may (or may not) have shouted back could include: "This isn't really new information," "People have had jacked up ideas about that for a LONG TIME - it's called G-NOS-TI-CISM (say it with me now)," "300AD? THREE HUNDRED AD??" and my favorite, "Nuh-uh!" That, ladies and gentleman, is what a little bit of seminary gets you - a strong, though still somewhat naive, opinion. For a kinda funny, satirical look at the whole hoopla, check out the internet monk.

In their weblog today, CT has a bunch of links to different conversations and whatnot related to the whole thing. There's some commentary amongst the links, too.

However, the last part of their commentary was especially interesting:
"If you want to be really cool, though, tell your friends about a little-known document that's even more amazing than the Gospel of Judas. It's called the Epistle of Judas, and it makes some pretty wild claims. First, the document is reportedly older than almost any New Testament book, and it draws heavily upon non-canonical Jewish literature. It includes some odd stories like the archangel Michael fighting with the Devil over a corpse, and quite a bit of discussion about sexual indulgence. Unlike most New Testament books, the Epistle of Judas appears to be written in Judea itself. The book makes the dramatic claim that its author, Judas, was the brother of the apostle James (the first leader of the church). Judas apparently makes a subtle claim that he's Jesus' brother, too.

This Epistle of Judas includes some advice that may be applicable for those frustrated with all the hype over the much-later Gospel of Judas. "Have mercy on those who doubt," Judas wrote. "Save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh."*"

They have stuff on about other stuff too - like living the resuurection (but who would be nerdy enough to get really excited about stuff like that?).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

In current (consistent) rotation

(This is a review I wrote for our church's young adult e-newsletter. If you're subscribed to The Know, that was your spoiler warning. I don't know if it does the album justice, but it's the best I could come up with. When I get enamoured with a CD I want to listen to it again and again...and then I want to share it with everyone I think would appreciate it. So it's fun to be able to review an album I feel that way about. Although I'd much rather take a drive with you while playing and talking about the songs. However, since I can't...)

The Far Country – Andrew Peterson, 2005

Andrew Peterson just might be one of the best Christian artists you’ve never heard of. While his distinct voice takes some warming-up to, his songwriting abilities are very solid, and he is definitely worthy of the many comparisons to Rich Mullins that have been made by various reviewers. His 2004 Christmas CD, Behold the Lamb of God, ranks as one of my personal all-time favorite CDs. (If you’ve never heard me rave about this CD, ask me sometime; just make sure you have about a half hour to spare. It’s amazing. Go buy it. No, really!) Peterson always manages to combine thoughtful lyrics with acoustic, organic music.

Peterson describes his latest album, The Far Country, as “a joyful album about death.” While this sounds potentially contradictory, AP explores topics like death and heaven with honesty and quite a bit of hope. The overall message of the album is this: We are living in the far country; heaven is our real home. One of the stand-out tracks for me is “Lay Me Down,” which makes statements like, “When you lay me down to die I’ll miss my boys, I’ll miss my girls; lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world. You can lay me anywhere, oh but just remember this: when you lay me down to die, you lay me down to live.”

The musical style of the album as a whole is upbeat, even when dealing with serious themes. Peterson stays true to his acoustic sound (guitars, harmonies, and an occasional hammered dulcimer) that has served him well for many albums. However, several tracks (most noticeably the title track) groove with a bit more driving electric sound.

Though the majority of the songs stay within the overall theme of life after death, Peterson offers several solid songs on other topics. “Little Boy Heart Alive” celebrates the child-like wonder of Peterson’s sons with lots of literary and spiritual allusions. “For the Love of God” is a song about marriage written for the wedding of a friend who was notoriously bad at relationships. “Mystery of Mercy,” originally recorded by Caedmon’s Call (though written by AP), sings about the grace of God that goes far beyond what we deserve or understand.

Lyrics for the whole album, as well as several music clips, can be found at Andrew Peterson’s website.
For a review (by a real music reviewer) from Christianity Today, click here (The Far Country was also named as one of Christianity Today’s top albums of 2005). [Why do I feel like Reading Rainbow right now? “But you don’t have to take MY word for it…”]

As I have listened to this album over the past month, I have found a great deal of comfort and a widened perspective. While life has its challenges, because of Christ we can have a hope that goes beyond what we can see.
As AP sings on “More”:
“There is more
More than all this pain
More than all the falling down
And the getting up again
There is more
More than we can see
From our tiny vantage point
In this vast eternity
There is more.”

Monday, April 03, 2006

Life (and death) perspective

It's interesting how sometimes when I'm most frustrated with school - and the seemingly impractical nature of studying the things I do, I get surprised at how much I need to hear the very things I'm studying.

Some context:
I've been pondering death a bit lately. It's been a reality for some people around me - in some painful ways. Funerals, especially for the young, are never easy.
I've been listening to Andrew Peterson's newest album, "The Far Country," to try to write a review of it; it's mostly about death. (Fortunately, that album has been a huge comfort to me.)
And I've been working hard on my paper on the Resurrection - and why it's important for us as Christians to talk (and sing) about it on a regular basis.

And in the process of all that - I think that I'm being shaped.
Tonight - in a surprising place (Alexander Campbell's hymnal) - I found so many songs that articulated all of these thoughts that have been spinning in my head. I think we need more songs like this to sing.
Here's one (I apologize, I can't find the author.):

"WHEN we the sacred grave survey
In which our Saviour deign'd to lie,
We see fulfill'd what prophets say,
And all the power of death defy.

This empty tomb shall now proclaim
How weak the bands of conquer'd death;
Sure pledge that all who trust his name,
Shall rise, and draw immortal breath.

Our Surety freed declares us free,
For whose offences he was seiz'd;
In his release our own we see,
And joy to view Jehovah pleas'd.

Jesus, once number'd with the dead,
Unseals his eyes to sleep no more;
And ever lives their cause to plead,
For whom the pains of death he bore.

Then, tho' in dust we lay our head,
Yet, gracious God, thou wilt not leave
Our flesh for ever with the dead,
Nor lose thy children in the grave."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Randomness

  • The reading from Daily Hours included Mary's Magnificat (her song from Luke's gospel) this morning - apparently on March 25th, the church celebrates the angel appearing to her - 9 months before we celebrate Christmas. Kinda neat methinks...
  • I had an oil leak in my car from Friday afternoon until this morning. If anyone wanted to stalk me, they could trace a path from my driveway to church. Of course, if anyone were stalking me, those aren't exactly secret locations. (Don't worry, I got it fixed.)
  • I wish Rich Mullins were still around writing music.
  • I have very encouraging...and patient friends - for which I am extremely grateful. I also have a random encourager here in the office who left this note for me on the dry-erase board outside my office:

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A few wicked pics...

Just got the pictures from last Friday's trip - here are a few highlights:

Monday, March 20, 2006

That giant sucking sound isn't another tornado...

...It's the sound of the Big 10's performance in this year's NCAA Tournament.

And that's a shame. Especially my beloved Illini.

I love March Madness: hearing the brackets be announced, filling out brackets for different pools (I ALWAYS pick Illinois to win it all - always), and then watching the first few days of games when teams (especially the underdogs) play with their hearts and hopes on the line. (Go Bradley! And go whatever little school beat UNC! And the team that beat Tennessee...oh yeah, Wichita State!)

And I've been an Illini fan long enough to know how to handle defeat - but some losses are harder than others. I have been known to hold grudges against the teams that knock us out of the tournament (Florida, Kansas, Arizona...). Unfortunately our recent loss to Washington started to remind me of the Elite 8 game in 2001 (the game I refer to as, "the game of which I will not speak"). I tried not to think about it while the game was in progress, it's just hard when it's almost like deja vu. I just have one thing to say: foul trouble is the worst kind of trouble for a Big 10 team in the tournament.

Another level of sadness is saying goodbye to the seniors - it always comes too soon. This year it's especially hard to say goodbye to Dee Brown - one of the most dynamic players Illinois has had in a long time. Not only did I hate that we lost so soon - but I hate for his last college ball experience to be a missed 3-point shot. Dee, thanks for playing 4 years of college ball, thanks for your leadership and energy, and thanks for bringing so much positive press and attention to the Illinois program.

(Happy Illini bball memories here)

This is cheesy - but whatever:

Hail to the orange - hail to the blue
Hail alma mater
Ever so true (so true)
We love no other so let our motto be:
Victory, Illinois! Varsity!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

It's all grand, and it's all GREEN!

No, I'm not Irish. But I am LOVING St. Patrick's Day...

I don't know why I use holidays as mile-markers...but it is interesting to use them to see what was going on a year ago (or 2 or 3 or...).

In 2005, a group of us spent a day from our Brooklyn mission trip sight-seeing in Manhattan. I love the city - and that day is a fun memory to look back on:

This is one of my very favorite pictures of one of my very favorite people (on the Staten Island Ferry, no less):

And then in 2006, I was lucky enough to spend one short day in the Windy City with another favorite person.
We were lucky to have pretty nice weather - and we had a GREAT time.
There was:

The show was really great - I may attempt more coherent thoughts on that sometime later. I'm still buzzing from it right now. I also borrowed a camera yesterday, so hopefully I'll have some pictures soon.

I say spending St. Pat's in a BIG city is the way to go...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Everything's the same - except not....

Life's been a little weird lately. Lots of hard things happening around me - to people I love - and it's HARD stuff. And I don't know that I handle it well. I don't know what to say - or what to do. But I can't separate myself from it either - I feel things deeply. And in the midst of all the "stuff" - life seems to go on as normal. Even with something like the tornadoes we had - my house is fine, my car is unscratched, I had power 6 hours later, and I don't have a curfew in my neighborhood. And I have posted the struggle I have [see 9/06/05 entry] before - when you realize that literally every day someone is hurting or struggling - how do you deal with that honestly without slipping down into despair?

I was reading last night from a "seminary" book - and the author quoted this song. Different verses were written in different times throughout history when the various authors faced trials (from the Civil War to the Cold War). Then he mentioned that his favorite version was sung by Eva Cassidy - who sings it soulfully & triumphantly - even though she was in the middle of fighting the cancer that eventually took her life. And somehow - reading it last night - I wanted to sing along:

My life goes on in endless song, above earth's lamentations
I hear the real, though far-off hymn, that hails a new creation
Above the tumult and the strife, I hear its music ringing
It sounds an echo in my soul - how can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear, and hear their death-knell ringing
When friends rejoice both far and near - how can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile our thoughts to them are winging
When friends by shame are undefiled - how can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die, the Lord my Savior liveth
And though the darkness round me close, songs in the night He giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I'm clinging
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth - how can I keep from singing?

(Credit Reggie Kidd, With One Voice - Discovering Christ's Song in Our Worship)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A picture's worth....something, right?

Partly because my brain is fried...

and partly in keeping with the theme of my class from last week (where I learned about multiple forms of communication in worship)...

I would like to sum up my last week in a few pictures:

And since I'm probably about the only one that this makes sense to - it just goes to show you images can't completely stand alone....

Friday, March 03, 2006


It's now officially March (breaking news, I know)...

and I believe my blog is going to suffer for it. While I'd like to be really thoughtful, insightful, and artistic - I am feeling more disjointed than anything else, lately.

In the next few months and weeks, there is much to do and much to look forward to:
  • A week intensive class up north with some really cool worship students
  • Quick trips to Indy (maybe) and Chicago, and the viewing of musical productions from the high school to professional level
  • The Easter presentations (help us all)
  • Easter Sunday (oh my)
  • Small Groups Conference (pressure pressure pressure)
  • The due date for my really big and scary paper (AAAAHHH pressure pressure pressure)
  • GRADUATION (have mercy)

And I'll try to update or reflect on the interesting things - but in the meantime, I'm sure you're wondering why I titled this post "retrospective" if I was just going to look ahead.

Well I wanted to share some noteworthy events from this week. So here they are (with my commentary, of course):

  • Getting a voicemail from Phil of the UIUC Black Chorus singing. Best voicemail I've gotten in a long time.
  • Seeing people from my small group handle tough things with grace - and seeing a church community come and support each other - it's hard but there is hope.
  • Ash Wednesday service with Kara downtown over our lunch. ("Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return.") I also liked the concluding prayer: "As we go, we go with both the sign of our mortality and of the Grace of God. Go faithfully and hopefully in this sign. Go out into the world to make this news known, Jesus Christ has set us free. We are forgiven and made new in the cross of Christ. The Lord bless you now and forever."
  • The charge for the parking garage was 50 cents. I had a $20. The parking attendant guy said I was nuts. I look around in my purse and come up with $.35 - he's unimpressed. He tells me TWICE to bring him 15 cents sometime. (Suuuuure)
  • Car ride with BB - both of us talking - both of us listening. Good deal. Oh and Sonic drinks too.
  • I think that lately my hair looks better in a ponytail than down. Though it probably makes me look "young" - I don't care...
  • Lessons were learned as I bid farewell to Plan A, agonized over Plan B's demise, and then dragged a friend into Plan C. (Thanks for your help, anyways...) Plan D will come tomorrow.
  • I am blessed beyond what I even can understand - let alone beyond what I consider on a regular basis. I pray that I'm faithful with what I've been given...