Friday, January 30, 2009

Those Brits!

I love watching What Not to Wear (definitely ranks as a favorite show) and I have caught the original British version only a couple of times. Now TLC has a new show with the original hosts, Trinny and Susannah, on their own show. I watched it for the first time tonight and I was so attracted to their honest candor about the realities of the aging female physique and their fearlessness when it comes to exposing (literally exposing) their own body issues, I had to look up more about them. I went to their web page ( and promptly registered and read all the articles. I chuckled so many times and was so refreshed by their frankness and great advice for ALL body types, skin types and tastes as well as their honesty about the fact that most women are not gymoholics and like to eat food they enjoy. *Beware of the slight culture shock if you go look around: use of the word "tits," a picture of bare breasts, etc.

Here are just a few quotes that made me giggle.

"There is nothing more unsightly than a hairy leg (well, maybe a hairy bottom)."

"It's very easy to be cynical about the wonders of face creams enriched with baby lamb embryos..."

"Some of you may remain sceptical even after reading this practical and realistic take on beauty. Susannah was the same. A hardcore non-believer. But as she has got older, the importance of body maintenance - as with a tired old van - has never been more evident."

"Toothpaste can be a great emergency fixer as it will dry out the spot. Just make sure you are sleeping alone that night or your partner has already started snoring."

"How many face-lifts have we seen where the neck was forgotten? The combination of 30 upstairs and 50 below is dreadful."

"The scarf worn like a choker is the saviour of wrinkly turkey necks."

"...does your pot belly require a waistband that cuts across it or is your bottom so large it needs to be halved by a hipster waistband?"

"If her butt were kept cosy by a nice pair of comfortable knickers that didn't ride up her crack or leave room for a nasty draft between the waistline and her top, the smooth, rounded globes wouldn't be gouged by flesh-eating elastic."

"Surplus income should be spent on a sensible wardrobe that lasts. Well, what's the sodding point if your tits are down by your ankles and your pock-marked arse bubbles the material of your trousers."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Gradumatated

Here's proof, if the fact I have a college degree isn't proof enough, that homeschoolers can and do graduate from highschool. I even got to walk and wear my mom's tassels!

Just thought I'd share with my homeschooling mom friends. :)

The Evolution of a Shower

before pregnancy: occasionally think about how nice a hot shower is, but typically just take one to get clean and try to remember to shave while I'm in there.

during the end of pregnancy: stand or bend over for 5-10 minutes at a time just relaxing in the wonderfully soothing hot water. wish that I could still see and/or reach all the places I'd like to shave so I wouldn't have to walk around big as a whale and hairy too.

after baby arrives: cry in the shower because of the stress, lack of sleep and the fact that I'm so sore from breastfeeding that I don't want to stand facing the stream of water.

3 months old: who's showering?

6 months old: hope that she'll entertain herself in the bedroom just long enough for a quick shower. wish that I had the time that I did back when I was pregnant to just stand in the water and relax. what's shaving?

9 months old: take a shower only when really needed because there's no relaxation at all involved when you have a screaming, crying baby sitting right outside on the bathmat wanting mommy.

12 months old: begin to realize what other moms talk about when they say they have no privacy any more. showers now include baby pulling back the curtain and babbling and pointing, making me a bit self-conscious...

today: shower with baby banging on the closed bathroom door and yelling what sound like baby obscenities at the top of her voice. at least I got a shower without an audience. stop to check that there is, in fact, a lock on the bathroom door and plan to utilize it next time, just in case.

Rehearsal #2

Now that I have recovered from my second, more minor freak-out, I will update you all on the progress of the musical. The second freak-out was caused by a call received Monday afternoon from the director. The stage manager had made the schedule for the following weeks up until the show and my pieces were being rehearsed... wait for it.... on Monday nights. MONDAY NIGHTS! THAT VERY NIGHT! (thank goodness my dance classes I'm teaching for Salsa Mississippi have been temporarily cancelled while they remodel the studio!) Remember when I was trying to tell myself not to think about re-choreographing because I had until the following Friday? Yeah, out the window.
I spent the rest of the afternoon re-choreographing in a hurry, which I hate doing. I'm always afraid I'll regret something when I see the finished piece or that it will just not have lived up to it's potential. Fortunately, I had failed at trying not to think about the pieces and already had a few great ideas for changing things around to fit the stage and the ability of my dancers.
Monday evening arrived and my first rehearsal was with Poor Unfortunate Souls. Everybody remembered everything we had learned last time, which was great, and they all seemed more willing to get into their parts this time. The director was there and she was able to help me with a couple of questions and give some great input in key places. All in all, that hour was fantastic. We got the piece completely done, even down to details like where the scroll and the pen would be for Ariel to use at the end. I'm so so pleased with how it looks and the director flat-out loves it. It's going to be a fun piece to watch.
Then it was on to Some Enchanted Evening. I found out that one guy had been cut and another had taken his place...a guy that wasn't there at all on Friday. Ok, I can work with just one new person. Also, there was one couple completely gone and another that just hadn't made it to rehearsal yet. That means all my diagrams and choreography I had written for six couples, now needed to be for just five and the fifth wasn't there to learn it! UGH! If this had been at the dance department at UGA, that fifth couple would have been out of the piece. You can't not be there for a rehearsal when there are only, like, three more until the show! (Did you like "can't not"?)
I went ahead and worked with who I had there and still ended up having to rework some things on the spot. The director still thinks it's going to look great, but we didn't make the progress I had hoped for because I only had one hour with them. I told her last week when we were first planning the Friday rehearsal that there was no way they would be able to do that piece with just one hour of time. She had blocked out two, but then you read what happened there. Monday night, was almost like starting over, so, once again, I really needed two hours to get the piece finished. Oh well. I will just continue to hope for the best. (and hope for extra rehearsals)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Poor Unfortunate Me

So now that I have settled from my freak-out mode, I can tell a bit of my experience from the first rehearsal for the musical.
Poor Unfortunate Souls went pretty good. I didn't really have a handle on my time, so it seemed too short. I'll probably be better able to gauge one hour next rehearsal. The actors were very willing to try whatever and very supportive of and even excited about the choreography, but I just couldn't get out of Ursula what I wanted. I would demonstrate things with these over-the-top motions with energy through the roof and she would repeat them with about half the energy. That got a bit frustrating, because it just won't look right if she's not a little wacky. Right now the actress may be a bit shy and just not ready to own what I'm giving her to work with. I'm hoping as she rehearses it, she'll be less concerned with how she looks doing it and just go crazy with it.
I had also hoped that she would be really expressive with her hands and body all on her own, so I left quite a few parts with no choreography so she could just gesture and do what came naturally. Apparently, what comes naturally is just to stand there and sing. Now it just looks blank in the sections where I didn't choreograph. I mean, when I was belting it in my kitchen to get into the mood of the piece, I was making all sorts of motions and gestures... so I wanted to give her some space to do that too and not choreograph every single beat for her. Besides, that would be a heck of a lot to remember for a non-dancer. The director wasn't there for that rehearsal, so maybe she can help me pull some animation out of her next time.

Then it was on to Some Enchanted Evening. Ugh! It was pretty much all as bad as I thought it would be. The wings that I had hoped the actors could step from directly onto the stage were actually just curtains denoting the edge of the theatre space about 10 feet away from the raised plywood stage on three sides, so each couple must walk from the "wing" to the stage and go up about 3-4 steps. Not a good thing when I had planned entrances and exits where they dance right out of the wing onto the stage and again off into the wing. Thus, my first big fear was realized.
The stage itself has four different levels. It is a square, but the third closest to the audience is lower than the rest and a small square portion of the stage in the third furthest from the audience is raised higher than the rest. My plan was for couples to dance in a circular pattern around the stage. This is impossible with this configuration of levels! If I had been able to see the stage in advance, I would have never choreographed the piece the way I did... and I've choreographed every single beat, written it all down in counts of 8, gone over and over it in my kitchen so I wouldn't forget while I was teaching... you get the picture, right? When I saw the stage, all of that work pretty much went out the window. Second fear, realized.
My other concern was that the steps would just be too hard to pick up as fast as they need to be learned. I thought I had two hours with my group, but after the director's introduction of the concept of the piece, the stage manager stopping rehearsal to make some folks get shoes on, and my rehearsal getting cut short because another piece needed rehearsal that night, I got about one hour of time with them. NOT enough time to do a whole lot... which, I guess turns out to be fine, since I'll be reworking the choreography this week anyway.
I taught everyone two combinations of steps, which are just repeated in various ways for the entire piece. About three out of six couples got the steps with some level of proficiency and at least two couples are entirely lost. I have no idea if they'll practice them this week, but if I have exactly the same level of proficiency when I come in for rehearsal, or if (heaven forbid!) they've forgotten any of it, I really am not sure what I will do. I need a plan B for sure. I asked the director in that moment when I was watching them all try to do the right turn I'd taught if this was too ambitious for the amount of time we have. "No, no, they'll get it! It's fine!" she assured me. *sigh* ok! I'm taking her word for it and hoping against hope for the best. (and making the whole last half of the piece simpler than it had originally been.)

Needless to say, I was quite distraught about the whole thing when I got home. I drank a glass of wine and tried to tell myself not to worry about re-choreographing that night. I have a week. Just relax. Don't think about it. Showers are sometimes where I do my best work. I had several little epiphanies in the shower this morning about how I can use the space better, re-do some parts to make them easier to learn and dance and still make it look grand. I'm still frustrated about my experience because I feel like a lot of that could have been EASILY avoided if I had just been able to see the stage or at least have it described to me in detail since it was so different from the theater spaces I'd worked with in the past. Despite my frustration and self-pity party from last night, I am feeling more hopeful today.
The show must go on!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Did you know the Jonas Brothers sing Poor Unfortunate Souls? Wierd. But I still like them. :)

Favorite Friday

This video isn't necessarily a favorite, it's more informative than anything. This is a video of Ursula singing "Poor Unfortunate Souls" in the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid. I am, in three hours, going to be setting some choreography on an Ursula in a local college production. I looked to this video for some inspiration, but, as you can see, she pretty much does nothing except talk and sing. I feel a bit like I'm flying blind. I know how to choreograph and I love to, but choreography for a musical production is different than anything I've ever done.
These people have to sing AND dance at the same time. I don't know yet if they can turn their backs on the audience while singing because I don't know if there are microphones on their person or hanging from the ceiling or any at all. I don't know how big the stage is or how talented the people are that I will be teaching. I don't know how cheesy the director wants to go or how much the actors will be able to contribute. There's a lot I don't know, but I'm excited (and nervous) to find out. I've got a basic structure for the piece and some ideas that I can go different directions with when I'm in the midst of it all. I'm really, really hoping it all goes smoothly tonight.
And that's the piece I'm less concerned about....
I'm also doing a group production for "Some Enchanted Evening" where I'm teaching at least 5 couples some Fox Trot choreography. I have them (hopefully) entering and exiting the stage at specific times and (hopefully) transitioning into a couple of different formations. I really hope I didn't plan too much for them. They've never had ballroom before and it will probably seem like a foreign language. It did to me even with years of dance training.
Did I mention I'm nervous?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Doubt = Faith

I'm still reading the book "The Reason For God" and I am still thoroughly enjoying it. What has struck me most and what the author says in almost every chapter in some form or fashion is that doubt itself is a belief system. Rejecting one belief means clinging to another. We all have faith in something. There can not be a void of nothingness in your mind unless you're a vegetable. To vehemently insist that you do not believe one thing is insisting an unsaid belief in another.
Another point he brings up is the oxymoron of exclusion. I have had some idea of this running around in my brain for a while, but couldn't really make it gel until I read this book. It's as simple as this: Either you're fighting for everyone to have equality and for everyone to be included, or you're not. For example, someone can't say "We don't want Christian beliefs to be expressed here because the Christian belief system is exclusive and we are for inclusiveness" without being exclusive themselves. To exclude someone or some group because you don't agree with their exclusiveness is still exclusion. (That word is starting to sound funny.)
There are so many other things from this book I'm still struggling to have a firm grasp on. It gets very confusing very quickly and I often have to read paragraphs again to really get it. The writing style isn't confusing. It's just the information itself. When you're not used to thinking a certain way about something, it's a challenge to work through it a completely different way.
You'll just have to read it, because I think I'm starting to sound confusing here. I highly recommend it for both Christian and non-Christian alike. It will challenge you either way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Endangered Species?

I just wanted to praise God publicly for leading me to a group of young mothers like myself who want His best for their kids and are searching and studying to find His will for their parenting. I just started attending a Bible study geared toward parenting with some of the girls from the UMC Spouses Alliance and they are in there talking about doing devotionals with their children, God parenting their kids, praying with their children before disciplining them, spanking, complimenting their children about God-given character traits... and on the list goes.
I am just so blessed and tickled to have been asked to join this group. I think every generation wonders if there are others out there who are still holding firm to the faith that they were raised in. I know, as I left home and went to college and began to hear about how other people were raised, I didn't know if I was going to find a husband, much less find someone for my children to marry. What a huge, huge confirmation that God has placed us in the right place for such a time as this that I would find a whole group of like-minded moms who are determined to put in the extra work to train their children and who desire their children to have a personal experience every day with their Creator!
Please let this be an encouragement to any moms that may think that they are alone in their endeavors or that their children have no counterparts elsewhere, but may be the only ones of their kind. We are not extinct! Our numbers are growing and we CAN make a difference for generations to come.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Why does Carmandy from "What Not To Wear?" on TLC look like she needs to be on an episode herself?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Valentine's Day is Just Around the Corner

...and to get you in the mood, I thought I'd post a video clip full of mushy-lovey-doveyness.
The movie Moulin Rouge is a modern musical with a feel from the past. The movie has no redeeming qualities besides its entertainment value. I can't help but enjoy the artistry of it. The witty dialogue and storyline, the beautifully written songs, the saturated colors of the set and the intense love story all suck me in. I saw it again on TV a couple of days ago and couldn't help but sing along to this medley. I remember when I first heard it, I had no idea that they had pasted together the words from so many different songs. It's almost like a tribute to great love songs from the past. Enjoy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Aunt Flo

Well, I didn't have to exercise my self-control relating to the pregnancy test for very long. Aunt Flo stopped by for an early visit this month and burst my bubble of hopefulness. I'm kinda down about it. We've really had it so easy in the past and I know I shouldn't complain about trying again, but I built up expectations. I couldn't help it. I want to have the right sperm and egg together more than I want to be pregnant just for the sake of being pregnant, though, so I believe this just wasn't the right egg... if there even was one this month.
Mentioning Aunt Flo reminds me of fourth grade. I can't believe that there were girls starting their periods in fourth grade, but my teacher decided there was a need for a code phrase so girls wouldn't feel embarrassed to tell her if they suddenly were in a womanly way in the middle of class. I remember her gathering just the girls around at one point and telling us we should say we "fell off the roof" if we needed her to know our period had begun. How in the world that was normal and subtle sounding, I couldn't tell you. The point was that it was something the boys wouldn't be able to guess. But who wants to come up to the teachers desk and say they fell of the roof? Wouldn't you have some broken bones or not even be in school. Kinda weird. I didn't "fall off the roof" until around 7th grade and by that time, I was being home schooled, so no need for code words. I just told my teacher straight up. :)

Wait for it...

Don't touch the pregnancy test... Don't touch the pregnancy test!
I'm waiting until the 20th (the day of my next cycle) since last time I tried to test early and it didn't show until the day of. So I'm waiting.
It's right there on my bathroom counter, but I'm waiting.
Just don't think about it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I have had some korker ribbon for a while, with the intention of satisfying my craving for bows for Eden, my desire to do something crafty, and my curiosity as to how hard it would really be. I finally got the appropriate glue and ordered the clips.
I decided to go all out and make them with lined clippies, a no-slip-grip strip and the best glue out there. These are probably worth in the neighborhood of $3-$5 a piece I'd guess.

I made this one yesterday for my little Georgia fan.

I also made a Valentine's Day bow to match her V-Day outfit.
It turned out great, in my opinion...
I made one more with pinks and browns to go with all the pink and brown in her wardrobe. Her cousin, who's clothes we borrow and wear most often, is very often dressed in those colors. Her mommy has a preference for them.


I just finished instant messaging with my very pregnant friend, Melissa. At the end of our chat, we were talking about the overwhelming curiosity people seem to have about pregnancy. Questions like "When are you due? What is it?" and "Are you having twins?" as well as belly pats and rubs seem to be part and parcel in the experience of being pregnant.
*I had to take a break and come back to this, so the first sentence isn't so true...*
Our Pastor has been talking for the past couple of weeks about taking the opportunities given to us in this year to be salt and light. My personality doesn't lend itself to talking about the gospel with strangers, but he was encouraging us to just BE beacons of His light. I wrote in my notes this morning that it wasn't about shining a spotlight into people's lives, but being the beacon, the lighthouse. The light emanating from you is apparent in all you say and do.
He mentioned just smiling or saying "God bless you" can have an impact on someone searching for hope. It sounds so old and replayed. We've heard that before. In fact, I thought to myself this morning "What good will a 'God bless you' do nowadays when every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to say it and everyone from pastors to rappers use the name of God?" This is what I am good at. I logic my way out of doing anything to promote Christ. I need to let God worry about conveying the meaning behind my words. I need to let Him worry about how the heart of the other person hears my words. He's the one whose words have power anyway, not me.
Keeping this in mind, I think whenever it is my turn to be asked all those questions, I will try to answer in a way that is God-honoring and light-shining. I hope I can be so aware at that moment that someone is asking me, not just about my due date, but about the life God has created inside me. I hope I can remember and project what a huge miracle and blessing it is for that child to be growing in my womb, no matter how cliche or cheesy I may think it sounds. I want to take the opportunity to marvel at God's goodness whenever it presents itself and allow God to do His thing through me.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Favorite Fridays

I love Casting Crowns. I have since high school. Every time I hear this song, my heart and soul are stirred. I have wanted to choreograph to it for a very long time, but it's just so grand. I haven't wanted to assume I could do it justice. Maybe one day.
I hope it moves you.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I found a CD my mom had given us of photos she took that I want to make into an album. I haven't really even started on the album yet, but I really want to be able to have these beautiful photos and the memories that they inspire in a permanent place soon.

I thought I'd share some that I especially like.


I stand to eat my lunch now. I never did that before. I guess it might actually be more exercise to sit because I would have to keep getting up to give Eden a few more pieces of cheese or meat. I can't put it all on the highchair tray at once because she doesn't stop to swallow one piece before the next piece goes in. I guess it might be funny if I let her stuff her mouth completely full once...

My poor baby has Dada Disease. She won't say "mama" only "dada." We faced off today after lunch. She started happily declare, "dada... dada... dada, DADA!"

Me: "Dada's at work. Say Maaaama."
Her: "Daaada"
Me: "Say Mama."
Her: "Dada, dada."
Me: "no, no... maMA, MAMA!"

Then we began a simultaneous shootout of "dada"s and "mama"s until I forfeited, battered and wounded.

Ok, I just posted this and thought, "Wasn't there one more little thing I was going to write?" About five minutes later, I remembered that the one more thing was how I threw the tea bag in the garbage today instead of the teabag wrapper. So very appropriate that I was going to comment on my absentmindedness and then forgot completely what I had planned to write about.
Am I pregnant? *jitters*

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Matrix: Part Three

I began reading a book a couple of nights ago by Timothy Keller titled "The Reason For God." I've only read the first 20 pages or so, but already I can tell that it's a perfect book for me to read right now. The author "uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations, and reasoning to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth" according to the book jacket.
Here's a quote from the introduction that I bet a lot of people I know would identify with.

"I seemed to see two camps before me, and there was something radically wrong with both of them. The people most passionate about social justice were moral relativists, while the morally upright didn't seem to care about the oppression going on all over the world. I was emotionally drawn to the former path-what young person wouldn't be? Liberate the oppressed and sleep with who you wanted! But I kept asking the question,'If morality is relative, why isn't social justice as well?' This seemed to be a blatant inconsistency..."

He goes on to explain what the third option would look like. A group of Christians who are intelligent, can answer for their faith and who are compassionate people, in touch with the needs of a dying world.
From my last blog entry, you might think that I have come to the conclusion that I am not living right unless I have alienated my secular friends and left them with Bibles lodged in their esophagases. On the contrary, I want to learn how to draw them, to be the person they can talk to without worry of offense or condemnation. Vaguely similar to where I started right?
Here's what I know. I want a balance. My purpose should be neither to alienate nor to make comfortable. My only goal should be to say what is needed at the time. If that means making someone uncomfortable by telling them that they can't be neutral about Jesus, then so be it. If that means just listening to their point of view quietly so that they know I'll also be there to listen to their worries and fears, then so be it. If that means being strange and "religious," fine. If that means I'm respected and sought for good discussion, fine.
See, I've been trying to cause a certain outcome and I've directed all my actions around that goal. I've been dependant on the end result (being liked and well-thought-of) to make me think I've succeeded. I should, instead, follow the Spirit in each moment, disregarding the outcome and realizing that success is obedience.
After all, we are living in the matrix. This world is not our home. All we strive for in our flesh becomes trivial when compared to eternity. If I can just work that into my soul, I won't be scathed by the bullets the enemy (and my own mind) create to prevent me from sharing Christ with others. I only have one lifetime. I only have one chance. This is my purpose and my calling.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Matrix: Part Two

We watched The Matrix last night. I requested to watch it again because my favorite lines from the movie have been on my mind as of late. Now, I dare not treat this movie as if it is an allegory for spiritual matters, but, as I've said before, I love it when secular people tell the truth. I love it when songs, books, or in this case, scripts, reveal what's going on on the inside of us all. I'd like to use some of the dialogue to help further explain what's been stirring in me.
The Matrix was the first R rated movie I'd ever seen. My dad took me to see it because of the metaphors for the spirit world that struck him when he saw it. It has a lot of language (that I'd forgotten about) and plenty of violence, some in slow motion to ramp up the "cool" factor, so don't take this as a recommendation to go see it if you'd prefer not to hear or see those kinds of things.
Here is a section from the dialogue. I bet you'll catch the significance right away. This is when Neo, the searching character who later grows to be the hero, meets Morpheus, his future teacher and mentor, for the first time.

Morpheus: Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Neo: The Matrix.
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
Neo: Yes.
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

I LOVE THAT!!! We were all born into bondage. In our case, a prison for our spirits. We all have a nagging, searching, empty feeling. Until we put off the old man and are made into new creatures, our spirits are listless and unfulfilled.
Morpheus' description of the Matrix reminds me of a couple of things. Our world of the five senses is NOT the real world. The real world is a spiritual battle ground where a great war is raging for the human race. The spirit world is the real world. The eternal is primary, the temporal, secondary. Because of this fact, Christians are living in a Matrix of sorts, where the bodies we see only represent the spirits, bound or free, that are temporarily living inside them.
What does this mean for me? I struggle with the desire to be the "cool Christian friend." (I have to say that this becomes exponentially more important because of my home schooled background) I want to be the interesting one, the fashionable one, the intelligent one. I want to break any preconceived notions people have about Christians believing blindly in a God who can't be seen while wearing denim jumpers and gasping at "shoot" or "darn." I don't want to be easily offended. I don't want to shove the Bible down any one's throat. I don't want to alienate. I don't want to try to convert. Um, this isn't really going in a good direction, is it?
I need to get a really good firm grasp on the fact that the temporal is not important! The eternal spirit of that friend of mine will be around long after all those invites to social functions, mental sparrings and intelligent discussions. What's more important?
I can illustrate this best by a brief anecdote. Remember that college friend that I exchanged so many pages of emails with? He mentioned something about many of the Christian friends he had in college strongly feeling the need to convert him. He felt he couldn't just have a conversation with them without being told that something in his life needed to change or that he wasn't good enough for some reason. He was turned off by this and doesn't remember these experiences fondly. I sent him a message to ask if I was one of those friends. As I clicked "send" I wasn't sure what I wanted the reply to be. When I was writing the message, I was thinking smugly to myself that I was on the list of those he did not have an uncomfortable moment with. What an accomplishment considering the amount we debated about faith! Then, I wondered, do I want to be the one that never really told him he had to make a decision, that the debate required an answer, that Jesus' life demanded a response that was for or against and not just ponderings. He wrote me back. No worries, I wasn't one of "those."

Here is another quote from the movie. Neo is caught by an Agent (actually a part of the artificial intelligence that has enslaved humanity) and is being questioned, FBI style.

Agent Smith: It seems that you've been living two lives. One life, you're Thomas A. Anderson, program writer for a respectable software company. You have a social security number, pay your taxes, and you... help your landlady carry out her garbage. The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias "Neo" and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not.

I want to choose the life that has a future. I want to say and do things in my life that will have an impact on the future, not just the future of the world and this life, but on people's spirits for eternity to come. Neo, the computer hacker, searching for truth, discovering things the AI did not want him to find out, for fear the knowledge would spread and truth would set people free... that's who I need to strive to be like. The truth I know is the truth that can set people free for eternity.

That's all for tonight. Still more to come...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Matrix: Part One

I've been struggling lately with my brain. You see, I was raised with a lot of head knowledge about God and the Bible. I was on the Bible Quiz team and had to memorize a stack of 500 questions and answers related to Bible verses and facts (yes, I had to memorize the questions AND the answers. You could buzz in on the beginning of the question, finish it and then answer it to get points... if you were that good.) I was in church every Sunday and every Wednesday and we listened to tapes of preachers in the car and at home throughout the week and went to their meetings when they came to town. My parents referenced the Bible often and I remember my Mom and Dad both, after quoting a verse that applied to a certain situation or topic almost always pulling out a Bible and reading the text and the verses around it, just to make sure they were remembering right and to give it some context.
Because of all this knowledge and my always-contemplating, critically-thinking mind, I love debate. I love it just for the sake of it and I love winning. I'll debate almost anything I know enough about and I'll even question someone about a topic they like even if I don't really have a firm grasp of it. I exchanged over 30 full pages of emails with a college friend of mine over Christmas break one year debating the topic of my faith. I like posers. I like games that make you think. I'm wired to find mistakes in others' writings, sermons, etc. and it gives me a little thrill when I do. (see post; The Muffin Police)
I was raised to have a relationship with God too, not just know things about Him. I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was two. I rededicated my life to God and remember speaking in tongues for the first time when I was about 7. I was eager to get baptized, but the pastor said I couldn't explain it to him well enough and would have to wait. I was baptized at, like, 8. I participated in youth group. I was a stellar child (this is according to my parents). I witnessed to my friends.
I never rebelled as a teen. I went to a party college, but never partied. I got involved in a local church and was part of their dance ministry as well as a campus ministry. All my friends in college knew where I stood and Who I stood with. I didn't date or kiss anyone throughout college. (There was one guy who tricked me and stole a kiss. Yes, you can actually steal a kiss.) I married the first guy I dated and we're still happily married.

This is all just to give you the backdrop of my life as you read the rest of my thoughts and struggles as of late.
Here are the Biblical references that frame my struggles.

1 Peter 3:15 - Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 - 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Romans 13 :10-13 - 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. 11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see.

Ephesians 5:16-17 - 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

More to come...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Jonas Brothers

I know I've been delinquent with Favorite Friday's. I'll make it one of my New Year's resolutions to be better about posting them.
During the New Year's Rockin' Eve party, the Jonas Brothers performed. I've heard them on the radio and was vaguely aware that I like pretty much every song I've heard from them. I know they're trying to portray good values as well, which is nice to see in young men. Publicity stunt or not, I'm glad someone's going against the flow.
This video has caused my interest in them to continue to grow. The story line is so sweet and the tune is catchy. The lyrics aren't Shakespeare, but sometimes simple works.
I'm not the right age to go ga-ga for them, but I can enjoy thier music anyway right?
Sorry about the Office Max sponsorship bar...

Jesus Christ Superstar

The Jesus Christ Show.
Oh yes, you can listen to Jesus speak directly to listeners by tuning into your radio the same time each week. Call in with your greatest need, your unanswered questions, your worries... and hear your answer directly from the Man/God Himself.

Sound crazy? Sound interesting?
I was offended the first time I saw the title and didn't even bother to click on the link to see the interview about it. I assumed it would be completely irreverent. I saw the same link again today and decided to give it a moment of my time. This guy, Neil Saavedra, a born-again Christian since age 17, has begun to host a radio show where he plays Jesus and answers callers questions by referencing Jesus' words in the Bible.
I have VERY mixed feelings about this, but mostly negative ones (and I'll warn you that I haven't organized them, so this post may be long and scattered). When callers address Mr. Saavedra, they call him "Lord" or "Jesus." This makes sense since that's his character for the duration of the show, but I would NEVER want anyone to address me with the name of God in any serious manner.
Then I thought, what about acting the part of Jesus for a film? Is that something I wouldn't do? Mr. Saavedra calls his show a type of interactive theatre. He is completely upfront about the fact that he is not God and he knows it. He only inhabits the character for the show. It still disturbs me. In a movie or play, one is speaking lines and portraying a character, not directly answering real people's real questions, some of which have haunted them for years.
The danger is that instead of people talking to Jesus, they will call in and talk to Neil because that is a more "real" experience for them. They're talking with flesh and blood and they can get some kind of immediate answer to something they really want to know. Yes, he's referencing the Bible and yes, he says outside of the show that all his answers are obviously based on his point of view and express only his opinion, but I'm seeing shades of the Catholicism he was raised in.
Strict Catholics go to a priest instead of straight to God and, as far as I know are generally not encouraged to study the Word for themselves. When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn. We have DIRECT access to the throne; access to God's very Word, those words full of life that can separate bone from marrow, soul from spirit. Then I thought about pastors, mentors, therapists, people that Christians go to and ask questions or discuss their lives. Those people might reference scripture, give their opinions to answer questions, even say "Here's what Jesus had to say about this." Isn't this man just another form of mentor for people that call in?
So is this radio show (on a popular secular station) a God-inspired new way to reach the masses that might not otherwise seek Christian counsel for the questions in their lives and don't know how to start to find answers in the Word? I don't know. I don't know his heart and I'm not judging him as a person. (And by the by, the fact that he has struggled with rebellion and is admittedly not living by all of Jesus' teachings himself doesn't help me like the program more, but ultimately that doesn't play into this at all because nobody's perfect.) All I can say is that it seems dangerous to play a role that Jesus should be playing in people's lives. It could cause people to depend on a man that knows a lot about what Jesus said instead of the omniscient One who died for us and actually spoke the Word and can still speak directly to hearts.
I've got many more thoughts on the matter and it would make for excellent discussion, but I'll stop writing and let you read an article about it for yourself.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

We celebrated Eden's first birthday
again last night by taking her to Macaroni Grill and getting
her a huge bowl of shells and cheese
and a cup of apple juice.

She ate a good portion of it before she decided she'd had enough and she drank about 3/4 of the juice (more than she's ever had in one sitting). I wanted them to do a birthday song so I could get her surprised expression on video when the staff came out clapping and singing to the table.

Macaroni Grill is boring.

Four of the wait staff gathered at our table and slowly and gently sang "Happy Birthday" in Italian. It's Chuck's fault. He picked the restaurant. If we had gone to Applebee's or Chili's, they would have done some peppy, cheesy number and it would have been funnier. The good part was the dessert they brought. They set this HUGE brownie, fudgey, cakey thing in front of her with two lit candles. It was yuuuuuummy. Daddy was able to blow out the candles just as a pudgy baby finger was about to make contact with the flames and then baby chowed down on chocolate icing and whipped cream while we ate a few bites of the scrumptious cake.

We celebrated yet again one last time tonight. I had made lemon cupcakes yesterday for her to have when we got home from the restaurant, but the chocolate dessert we had there was plenty of sugar for one evening. We had our own little moment with one little cupcake and our own "Happy Birthday" song. She tackled the icing again. We pulled what was left of the treat away as soon as we turned the video camera off. Are we mean? I hope not. I just want her (and us) to sleep tonight.

I keep thinking that even though I didn't really want a party and kept saying that she has no idea what a first birthday is anyway, that I'll regret something about her experience. We're planning on doing this all one more time, but that's the only first birthday our first baby girl will ever have.

I could really get in some deep doo-doo thinking that way.
Talk about pressure.

I can't create what I think is the perfect experience for her all the time, not even some of the time. It doesn't really matter either, as long as she's getting the love she needs and we're all together as a family.
And there's some cake. :)

Attention: Ornament Manufacturers...

My husband pointed out a Christmas ornament to me today at the mall. It was a little man in a white coat with a stethescope and clipboard. He said it wouldn't be an appropriate ornament to represent him. I asked why that guy couldn't represent a radiologist and his answer would make a very unappealing ornament. He said radiologists are fat from sitting around all day and have big eyes (like marsupials) from sitting in the dark looking at films. Um... ick.
Hopefully he'll break the mold.