Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year Gone

Photo by K.L.R.
 As I pause to think back to a year ago, I have a difficult time remembering where I was and what I was doing.  For some reason, last Christmas seems a haze.  I know I was preparing for the wedding of two dear friends, but everything else eludes me.

I've reflected a little bit on the past year, where I was and what has changed.  Honestly, it's not been the most monumental of years.  I agonized over planning the future, discovered my love for high schoolers (thanks CoTA!), graduated from university, studied journalism in NYC, survived an intense storm and no AC for three hot days, was published in a newspaper, became a substitute teacher, started working another job, grew relationships and started new ones, and changed.

What I hoped my life would look like?  Me, living in England.  Me, living with Steph in SC, still attending Church of the Apostles.  Me, having adventures and starting my life as an adult.

God changes desires.  Sometimes He uses other desires.  He has a different schedule.

While not the most thrilling of years, my friendships have grown, and for that I am thankful.  My friends are amazing, unique, and caring.  I look forward to the years ahead.

I'm excited to see what 2013 holds.  Hopefully it will be an exciting and adventurous year, full of good changes.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day

Christmas Perfection
 Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day to you all!

Christmas was very enjoyable!  We opened stockings, ate coffee cake (my great-grandmother's recipe), read the Christmas story, opened presents, enjoyed our presents, had a church Christmas dinner, and enjoyed having some cousins over in the evening.  Actually, having my cousins over was one of the day's highlights.  Elizabeth and her husband have two precious little girls who, along with their six year old aunt, Abi, made it feel like Christmas.  Seeing those little girls so excited, telling us about their gifts, jumping around, and rolling on the floor made the day more festive.

Boxing Day opened with snow on the ground and sleet coming down.  A perfect day to continue eating goodies and enjoy a new movie.  Later, I think we may enjoy Eloise at Christmastime...and maybe enjoy a new game!

In another post I'll highlight a few of my favourite gifties!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Magnificent Is Only the Beginning

I was driving east on I-64.
The sun setting against the hazy sky showcased the Blue Ridge Mountains in all their glory.
Magnificent only begins to describe the beauty I beheld.
When I saw the next exit, I knew I had to get off and go up the mountain road to get a view from the top.
Little did I know how long it would take.
I saw the setting sun to the west, from one side of the road.
From the other side, I saw a chilly, winter haze basking the deadened mountains.
The valleys, lake, mountain ridges, and fields looked like Scotland in a film.
I wanted to stand and stare. Sit and stare. Write and stare.
However, the number of bear hunting trucks and being alone persuaded me to go on my way and do my thinking in the car.
It was a wonderful, 10-12 mile unexpected escape from life.

I thought of the sublime.
Wordsworth came to mind.
I'll be going back, but with a pen and a camera next time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12--Writing It All I Can

Photo by K.L.R.

I remember the first New Years Eve that I cried lying in bed.
I was sad the year was over, never to return.

I've loved the twelve years that we were able to write the same number in a row during a different sequential month.

Now it is over.
I would be lying if I said it didn't make me the tiniest bit sad.

We are heading into the teens.

One hundred years ago, WWI had not yet begun.
The world was a very different place.

In other news, Happy 97th Birthday, Frank Sinatra!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just Another Day

Ever wonder what 75 lit candles look like?
Photo courtesy of Mike Jordan
It's been one of those days where nothing has gone according to plan.
Seriously, nothing.
I'm sitting, eating chocolate birthday cake with wax on top.
No, the wax is not part of today's self-planning.
It is left over from Grandaddy's 75th birthday party last night.
75 candles on his cake...all lit. 
It gave a halo effect...and quickly formed a lake of wax on top of the icing.

Now I sit.  Cake on a plate.  Milk in a cup.
My plan for the evening was to watch Numb3rs with Mama.
Instead, Women of the Church Christmas party, our car not starting, finding another car (big thanks to the Taylor's for the loan), and not watching Numb3rs (well, not yet).
It could have been far worse.  The car could have quit on me at work.  Can you see me now?  Oy, I don't know what I would do.

Tomorrow morning I head back to Lynchburg for work.
Then, more plans for the future--oh wait, that's all the time.

Happy December!  Merry Snow Days (here's to hoping, anyway)!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thoughts of the Night

Freshman year...we were babies!
Growing up, I really wanted the Kirsten American Girl series to be made into a movie.  Oh, and I wanted to be Kirsten.  After all, we shared the same name!

Tonight I watched Eloise at Christmastime while I wrapped some Christmas presents.  Without fail, whenever I watch that movie, I wish I could be Eloise.  What a fun role that would have been to play!  I definitely see similarities.  Now, if only I had grown up in the Plaza...

Watching The Holiday makes me desperate (more desperate?) to move to England ASAP.  Snow (rain), accents, culture, lifestyle...I miss it.

I'm thankful for good friends.  I was able to Skype with some today.  And, Becky.  Well, she is one of my dearest heart friends.  I was (yet again) reminded of the quote from Augustine about friendship while rereading some notes between Becky and me. 
"For though they cling together, no friends are true friends unless you, my God, bind them fast to one another through that love which is sown in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us." (Book IV, section iv)
Now, I will finish my movie.  I've had serious ADD while watching it tonight!

Oh, lights and Christmas decor are up around the house!  Yay! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Birthday to an Awesome Uncle!

 Photo edit: a little "photoshop battle" we had (note: I don't have photoshop)
 Happy Birthday to my favourite English uncle!

Before 2008 I had very select memories of Uncle Gavin.

The first memory was from my first trip to England when I was five or six.  Daddy, Michael, and I were staying with Auntie Michele and we had a little, family gathering.  Uncle Gavin, Lisa, and Grandma came to visit.  The funny thing is, I seem to only recall Lisa, and she only vaguely.

My second memory was from my second trip to England.  We had a family get together at Grandma's house.  We cousins were having a grand ol' time giving Uncle Gavin a hard time, and he played right along with us.  I think we may have been calling him, "Uncle Gavin Graveyard Digger."  The name could be wrong ; )

Oh, that same trip, I accumulated a number of coins in my little purse.  Uncle Gavin offered to give me bills and take the coins off my hands.  Something was lost in translation to my eight year old mind, and upset, I said no, thinking he was trying to take my money.  (Chances are, I would have fared better had I taken the offer.)  Ah well, memories!

Nine years passed, and I found myself arriving at Uncle Gavin's suffering from jetlag, totally exhausted.  I got to be around my family a bit more and gain more grown up memories.  I got to know everyone better, which was grand.  Somewhere in Rochester lives a squirrel that started some sort of inside joke...a joke that is even lost on me!

Two years later I came to England for an extended stay.  Every Tuesday I would traipse over to Bromley for Tuesday roast at Uncle Gavin's, oh, and orange juice!  It was always a lovely time.  I loved spending time with Unc, Lisa, Ellen, Peter, Roy, Rex, and whomever else was around.  Uncle Gavin took care of me.  Daddy wasn't around, but Uncle Gavin took his "Uncle's Duty" seriously.

I remember my first Tuesday visit.  We talked about Grandma.  I think that's when we bonded.  I am very thankful for Uncle Gavin.  He became one of my favourite people; he still is one of my favourite people.

Happy Birthday, and many, many more!

Here's to hoping to see you soon!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Guess Who's Having a Baby!

They adore each other!
Today I learned the news...

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are having a BABY!

For those of you who don't know, I awoke very early in the morning to drink tea, eat scones, and watch the Royal Wedding about a year and a half ago.  Now, a baby is due to arrive shortly after their second anniversary.

Also, based on the report that the Duchess is less than 12 weeks along, my calculations show, the baby could be born near my (and Daddy's) birthday!  Plus, there are a number of people in my family who have birthdays in June and July, so maybe someone will get to share the day : )

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I'm Still Here!

This week exhausted me more than any other in a while.
Nights lacking sleep, 10+ hours work days, meetings, and more.
Tonight at work I felt dead, as if I had missed sleep due to writing a paper in college. 
Coffee perked me up, the phones were quieter, and I was able to chat with some work friends!

A stop at Wal-Mart on the way home became a necessity.
Chocolate and ear plugs are now in my possession...oh, and vitamins!
I was hunting for ear plugs in the hunting section and asked this guy if he could possibly direct me in their direction, as he seemed to know his way around better than me.  I thought he looked familiar.  Turns out, I just saw him at work as I was leaving tonight!  Fun, random work-people sightings!

Now, sleep beckons me.  I've watched Numb3rs, had a little red wine, tasted Lindor Dark Peppermint chocolate, and am now preparing to sleep in!  Tomorrow I will sleep and lounge (mostly).

On a different note, I hope to have definite plans to share very soon about what my spring will hold!

Till next time, sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Augustine and Education: The Final

The third and final installment of my Education and Augustine posts.  I most looked forward to writing this one.

"Patricius and his family had to go poorly-dressed; he had to scrape; for one disastrous year Augustine found himself condemned to give up his studies at a pleasant 'university-town' at Madaura (or Madauros: modern Mdaourouch) to run wild in primitive Thagaste.  His cousins were less fortunate: they remained without a proper education; and would have to face the poverty and boredom of a narrow world of unlettered squireens."  Peter Brown, pg. 21

After reading that quote, it struck me (again) how education is horribly taken for granted in the United States of America.  (I have not spent enough time elsewhere to speak to the extent of which other countries take education for granted.)  We are taught that everyone is entitled to education.  If you don't quite pass a class, that's okay, we'll let you go to the next grade.  If you are in high school and can't pronounce a word correctly, we'll let it slide.  After all, you did try.

That tactic is not enhancing education or our student's futures.  Rather, it is failing our duty to instruct the younger generation.

Education, as evidenced in the quote above, is a privilege!  Yet, our children drag their feet, pretend to be sick, and whine when they have to go to school.  Since school funding is based on numbers, students are subjected to foul tests that impair their learning.  Instead of the teacher focusing on preparing the student to be thoroughly educated, they focus on preparing the student to pass a test so their school can receive money.  If a student doesn't pass a grade, they'll be pushed through.  They might not have learned anything, but at least they will graduate on time.  Oh dear, it's senior year and they don't read very quickly.  Hm, and they can't say that word?  It's too late to send them back to third grade to fix it.

Our education system doesn't care about educating, they care about having money to buy the educational tools, but they fail to utilize them properly.

It seems only fair to point to the Government and not put all the blame on the schools; after all, they only do what the system requires.  Why does the Government play this game of bribery?  It is bribery; you do well and we'll give you money.

Augustine's father sacrificed for him to have the opportunity to attend school.  Patricius knew that in order for Augustine to excel in life, he needed a classical education.  Augustine attended university, and his family wasn't properly clothed.  That is sacrifice.  That is understanding the privilege of an education.

Children in Togo walk miles, sit on a stick, and write in the dirt so they can LEARN.  They don't drag their feet.  They don't have shiny school buses.  They don't have iPads.  Do you understand my anger at what education in the United States of America has become? 

Our teachers (there are exceptions) bad-mouth their students, complain about school, and give half-hearted lessons.  It is no wonder our students do not want to read, write, learn, or go to school.  We force it but don't encourage it.  180 days in school, but you will spend it doing worksheets and preparing for tests so your school can coddle the undisciplined students and fail to teach the disciplined ones.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Education and Augustine Installment 2

For the second installment on education, I want to share something from Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown. A few quotes in the first chapter hit a chord within me, and I want to share the words with you.

"A classical education was one of the only passports to success for such men; and he [Augustine] narrowly avoided losing even this."  Brown, pg 21 (brackets placed by me)

Having enjoyed learning about the classics growing up and again in college, I am a firm believer that knowing the them is one of the best educational foundations.  I realize, not everyone is inclined to learn in the same manner.  However, there is a reason when I read C. S. Lewis, I find allusions and quotes from Plato, Virgil, and many others.  Certain material was considered to transcend a certain time frame.  It could be learned from and taught to new persons in new generations and still be relevant.

Education is more than a number of subjects, disjointed and assessed separately.  Education is gaining and retaining knowledge in one's mind and pulling relevant material, regardless of the subject, to further question and solve problems.  To illustrate, Augustine became a professor of rhetoric (the art of speaking, informing, arguing).  In order to master this art, he would have thoroughly studied each subject he pursued and combined it with his study of logic and language, thus allowing him to become a master of rhetoric.

The timeless question from students, "When will I ever use math again," is a perfect example.  To master one thing requires knowledge in many things.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Education and Augustine Installment 1

Photo by K.L.R.
This is installment one of three on the topic of education.

Education fascinates me.
Growing up I loved to play school, but I always said I would never be a teacher.
My reason: I love kids, but I do not have the patience to teach.
Just before my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to teach.  I wanted to influence students to love reading and writing.  I wanted to be their friend.
A year and a half into the program at CIU, I was losing the passion.
I heard one of our instructors say during a department chapel, in order to be an excellent teacher we needed to have passion for teaching (I paraphrase).  I became worried because I realized I didn't have that passion.
The next semester I studied in Germany.  It reawakened what I loved as a child.  History, literature, art, etc.  It caused me to like philosophy.  I spent hours thinking about what solution would fix my dilemma of what to study.
I finally decided to become a Humanities student.
Best. Decision. Ever.
The major, the classes, and the professors under whom I studied influenced me more in the year and a half than the two years I spent in Teacher Education.
I've come to see the importance of a Classical education.

The classics are scattered through the centuries of writing and art, allusions connecting the generations.'s Letters

Dear Friday, Now you are Saturday, but all day it felt like Sunday, Saturday, and maybe even Tuesday.  Lack of work and Thanksgiving threw my week off.

Dear Josh, It was so great to see you!  I miss hanging out with you : )

Dear Thanksgiving Meal, YUUUUUM!!!

Dear Mama, You made delicious food.

Dear Pawan, Thank you for the Indian dishes.  The flavors were incredible.

Dear Home, It was nice to visit, nice to be on "vaca."

Dear Anti-Christmas-Music-Before-Thanksgiving People, "Have a holly, jolly, Christmas, it's the best time of the year..."

Dear Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, I love watching you!  This year was extra special because I saw my building where I lived this summer multiple times on camera!

Dear Michigan, Prepare to beat Ohio State!

Dear Ohio State, Prepare to LOOOOSE!

Dear Life, I'm enjoying you right now : )


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Expressing My Love for Indian Food

Indian food.
A lifetime love.

I was one of two blonde kids (my brother was other) who, at age 6 and 2, would go into a Chicago Indian restaurant and devour the tandoori chicken.  Our last time in the restaurant, the servers brought us a complimentary second platter.  Divine.

Whenever I make a visit to Columbia, Punjabi Dhaba is a necessary stop.
Best. Indian. Buffet. Ever.

I'm home for Thanksgiving.  We have an Indian friend, Pawan, eating with us.  He decided to grace us with a few Indian dishes.  Oh my heavenly day.  The spices in my mouth were like standing in a room full of rich colored, Indian scarves and rugs.  I commented that the food was heavenly.

I hope heaven and the new earth have Indian food.
The food is so close to perfection.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday, after getting home, I realized I left my camera at my other home. 
Therefore, I apologize in advance for any poor quality cell-phone pictures I post.

I slept for about 12 hours last night, which was marvelous!

Upon awakening this morning, I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!  Always a favourite.  Of course, after I leave NYC, Broadway shows I want to watch open!  So, now I must find a way to get up there to watch Annie and Cinderella.

Now, Mannheim Steamroller Pandora station is playing.  Mama is cooking.  And, it just feels like the Holiday season is upon us!!!

I hope you enjoy your turkey, gravy, cranberry relish, sweet potatoes, whipped parsnips and carrots, peanut butter pie, and pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas is Upon Us...

...and I'm okay with that.

Driving home from my cousin's house tonight, I passed several homes decorated with lights.  Also, Christmas music is finally playing on 99.1!

I'm not a "Celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas" person.  But, it does bother me that Black Friday starts at midnight....or even on Thanksgiving night.  Really?  Are we in that much need to make (and spend) money?  While you all shop, I will be snoozing.

That being said, tomorrow morning I will be rising EARLY for some shopping of my own : )

Happy Almost Thanksgiving Eve, my friends!

Need a Laugh?

You have my permission to laugh after watching this link.

It is one of those scroll through in a minute but laugh all the while conglomerations.

How many of these have you experienced?
(Come now, I know we all "eye lash kiss" ; ) )

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Role of a Female: Workplace & Home

Sitting at work last night, I overheard a conversation about what someone wanted for their future.  As it was something my mind has been mulling over for a while, it didn't take much for me to start thinking it all through again.  Since I had some time, I expounded my thoughts on a handy notepad.  I've decided to share some of my thoughts here, too, as I would love to hear feedback on the subject.

At this point in my life, I am single, young, and seeking an exciting career path.  Long-term, I want a successful career in a field I love.  I also hope to someday marry.  When I look at what I want, I feel the need to begin strategizing how I will handle certain situations.  There are variables I cannot anticipate and plan, such as whom I will marry, how our strengths and weaknesses will coordinate, how we will change together, etc.  In the meantime, I can only plan from what I know and have seen. 

A movie that has been coming up a lot lately is The Devil Wears Prada.  Miranda Priestly goes through three husbands, has two daughters, and keeps her successful career as her main priority.  I reference this movie because the industry around which it revolves is one by which I am greatly fascinated and would like to become a part.  However, I do not want my life to reflect Miranda Priestly's (or Andy Sachs', for that matter).  Last week a friend and I debated about the character of Andy Sachs and whether or not she was properly represented in the film.  We disagreed, but I took some good points away from the discussion. 

I think Andy Sachs was poorly portrayed.  Yes, she made decisions that caused her to be far less social.  Yes, she didn't sit down and explain to her friends and boyfriend that, for at least the next year, her time would be far more occupied than it previously had been.  However, her friends lacked understanding of her profession.  At the end of the film, it is made apparent that Andy doesn't want to become Miranda Priestly.  She doesn't want to lose her friends, her life, and all that is important because of, "Shoes and shirts and jackets and belts." 

The illustration above is supposed to somehow represent, in part, the dilemma I have been mulling over in myself.  Can I successfully have a career and a family?  I don't want people to assume that because I am (will be, maybe, someday) the wife that I will sacrifice everything.  Am I opposed to sacrifice?  Of course not.  I am willing to sacrifice my desires as life requires.  But, I don't want it to be automatically assumed that because I am the woman that I should sacrifice when time needs to be distributed differently.  Marriage is a partnership (and I don't anticipate marrying someone who opposes sacrifice on the male's part).

I was thinking about the men who are called workaholics.  That "disease" can destroy a family.  But, as long as the wife keeps things running, life can continue (with repercussions).  But, if a woman is away from the family too much, she is labeled as neglectful and considered a bad person.  People expect the woman to be at home and be the glue.  (I will admit, the idea of a stay-at-home dad is still strange to me).  Yes, I am generalizing, but as I've said, I'm thinking, processing, and trying to see how this could potentially all play out.

I understand the value of children.  If I ever have children, I don't want them to be raised by teachers and babysitters.  There has to be a balance.  In Nancy Pearcey's book Total Truth, she talks about the roles of men and women and how the roles changed during the industrial revolution.  I think the "traditional" roles society puts forth come from these post-industrial ideals: that the man is in the monstrous world and the wife needs to create a good, righteous haven for him in the home.  Somehow Christians have morphed that into a Biblical mandate (yes, the Bible, specifically Proverbs 31, shows the woman in the home, but may I point out that Proverbs 31 has her in a lot of other places too?  Like, the market place!)

My point is not to bash home makers and Christians, nor is it to support male-bashing and certain feminist ideologies.  It was simply to write my thoughts, albeit in a less than concise manner, and to open the floor to conversation.  I know I am not the only one who thinks about this.

So, thoughts, opinions, anyone? (Don't be shy....but, if you go anonymous on me, please keep it civil).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dear Friday & 300th Blog Post

Dear Blog, Happy 300th Post!!!  We started two years and nine months ago.  I've updated you frequently...and not so frequently.  But, I love looking back to see where it all started and the tales that have been told since.

Dear Friday, once again, you've rolled around quickly.  It is hard to believe a week ago I was excitedly anticipating my trip to Columbia.

Dear Job, I really like you. 

Dear Lynchburg, we need to become friends.  I am willing to explore your brick buildings, riverfront, and cute little shops.

Dear Friends in Lynchburg, let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah.  Mmm, broke into a Parent Trap song.

Dear Josh, I am SO excited to see you next week!  I've missed having you around.  I'm glad we are cousins : )

Dear People at Work, I'm glad we are getting to know each other and becoming friends. 

Dear Life, I am excited about the options opening up before me.  I'm also beyond thankful that God knows what is best for me.

Dear Europe (Specifically England and Germany), I miss you.  I can't wait to be on your land again.

Dear Weekend, we need some plans. 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Topsy Turvy Life

Sitting at work the other night, a friend asked me, "So, what do you do all day?"
I panicked a little and said, "Well, I'm looking for a second job, and I am doing some work for a study abroad program."

Second shift is so hard to adjust to.  I'm a person who needs a lot of sleep (8 or more hours is ideal).  If I don't get the amount of sleep I need, I eventually hit a point of sleeping WAY longer over several days.  I don't like it.  I don't like this, "What do I do with myself..." Yes, I enjoy my shows.  I understand this is my "down time," but my down time feels like wasted time because everyone else  (ok, a lot of people) are at work.

Next week I start my new schedule (read: working four nights a week).  So, maybe I will be able to swing a more regular schedule.  You know, rising at a normal hour and relaxing in the, imagine that.

I'm not complaining about my job.  I'm thankful for my job.  But, learning to use my time and not just bum around in my pajamas during the day is what I need to do (although, bumming around in my PJ's is a fave!).

Motivation: A few things I'd like to do

-Be organized
-Explore downtown
-Spend time with friends
-Dedicate time in my schedule to specific tasks and execute them in that time frame

(Yes, I just realized the order in which I wrote those...just pretend it was because I wanted the descending staircase affect.)

Any advice on this new way of life?

Late Night Jumble

Today I had two "profound" thoughts.

1.  Holocaust survivors live with horrific memories (understatement, maybe?).  Some lost their entire families.  The horrors to which they were subjected are unfathomable.  There is a whole generation of Europeans (and others) who lived through terrors that my worst nightmares cannot let me grasp.

*I didn't have this much of an articulated thought earlier.*

2.  I think it is easier to be a working mom with in an established career and routine than when still establishing.  This is not meant to offend anyone.  I was simply pondering the difference between some working mothers and others.

Now, my eyes are closing.  Goodnight.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Love, Laughter, Friends

I am blessed.

God has given me the dearest of friends.
I have such a basket full of true, real, loving, caring friends.
We share burdens and joys, laughter and sorrow.
I've gained family.

I've spent a day and a half, minus an hour, in Columbia, SC.
It has been full of visiting friends--my favourite kind of busyness.
The time has filled my tank, so to speak.
I got to go to my church.  People said, "Welcome home."
I got to see "my kids."  All those lovely, dear high school students who make me smile and a little teary when I see them excel.
Lunch with more laughter than I've experienced since....maybe the last time I had Sunday lunch with the Crutchfield's.  Honestly, I've laughed more this weekend than I have in ages.
Indian food with Hannah and yummy!  Oh, and great conversation ; )
Steph and I met at Starbucks...and proceeded to have the best and most funny time.
Long talks and Krispy Kreme donuts with Em. (I've missed that girl!)
An almost midnight visit with Annie and Kathleen...those girls are so funny!
Lunch at the Crutchfield's...the highlight of everyone's week!
Fish and Chips with Chris and Marie. These two are amazing.  They love me even when I am tired.
And, then tonight, chats with my roommate from last semester.  So good to see her!  (I'm crashing on her floor!)

Can you tell this has been a fabulous time?
I"m blessed, loved, and thankful!

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Little Reminder

Since studying in Germany two years ago (yes, TWO years!), I've come to appreciate the traditional, the orthodox, the symbolism.  There are times when something is taken to a level with which I am uncomfortable.  However, the rituals and liturgy are something I've come to love while attending Church of the Apostles.  In fact, one of the most painful parts of leaving Columbia was leaving my church.  I've been going through the "how do I move on" stage for the past few weeks. 

In August, just as it was getting very hard to be away from my friends and church, I was able to make a trip down for an entire week.  It was wonderful.  This past Wednesday a friend sent me a text asking if I would be coming to Columbia any time soon.  I told her that sadly, no, I wasn't able to.  After I sent that text, I thought to myself, why not?  It is my last full, free weekend before my new work schedule.  I am happy to say, I am going to Columbia this weekend.  Just as I was really needing time with my church (and to see my friends), God opened the door and surprised me!

I digress.  A couple of days ago I was watching an episode of Numb3rs.  In this episode there were several girls from India.  One of the girls was given a prayer kit from a main character on the show, Amita, who came from an Indian background.  Amita didn't know a lot about this prayer kit, as the contents were a gift from her grandmother.  She asked the Indian girl what the red string meant.  The girl explained, "We tie a bracelet after, to remember."  That one line struck me.  In their ritual of prayer, they do not just finish the prayer and move on.  They make a visual reminder of the prayer. 

My grandmother made a necklace with different beads on it.  Each bead reminds her of a person or situation for which to pray.  It is personalized to her.  I feel the need to clarify, I am not Hindu.  I am a Christian.  But, the concept of making that visual reminder of a prayer I am seeking God to answer, or a situation I want to continue to pray for, is one I like.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012!

Today marks the end of a season that has driven me nuts.

We have approximately three more years until we hear bashing ads accusing the other rather than promoting oneself.

Today is ELECTION DAY!!!

This year is my first Presidential Election.  I voted absentee, but I'm still pumped!

I am genuinely so excited!  We should have a party.  We should celebrate!  Maybe I will get some champagne on my way home from work.  Or, tea might just have to do.

Work goes very late, but I am hoping to make it home without hearing who has won the election.
I want to experience the moment where I can soak it in and not rush back to my job.

However, before we can get to the results, people need to VOTE!
If you are not planning to vote, please reconsider!  As United States Citizens we are given the right to have a say in the direction of our country.  Take the opportunity.

Happy Voting!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Confession of a Childhood Planner

Week 1 of work is done.

Earlier in the week I commented to a girl that I don't miss the lists of college.
What did I find myself doing tonight?
Making a list.

Truth be told, I love lists. 
I love crossing things off lists.
But, more than that, I just love making them.

Do you remember being a kid and going through all the work of organizing a game, creating the people, their personalities, etc., and then mom calls up the stairs and says it's time to go?
That was me.  All the time.  I can think of countless scenarios of planning the game, and not getting to play.  Honestly, the times we would get to play, it wasn't as fun as planning the game.  Except when I would play with Amanda and we would create lives for the horses in my horse box.  We made the best stories!  When it was time for the baby horses to grow up and get married, we just had their parents die and switched the names.  Brilliant, eh?  (Writing that sounded so morbid)

Anyway, back to my list.  I made a list.  On my list are things I have to remember, things I need to do, and then things that I want to remember to do.  We'll see how the list goes against this weekend.  I'm excited it is the weekend!  WooHoo!  Skype, friends, no work, the Nicene Creed in church, and maybe a little shopping...

In parting, two questions:
Did you have any weird, childhood quirks (like me)?
What weekend plans do you have?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday's Letters: Continually New

Abi (Queen Esther) and me (Queen of Sheba) at the harvest festival
Dear Friday, You came so quickly this week.  Last week took forever, this week flew by.  I think it is the new work schedule.

Dear Numb3rs, Still watching you and still loving you.  I'm now watching from the first season.  So. Good.

Dear White Collar and Downton Abbey, I can't wait for your seasons to begin! (I'm really not a crazed TV watcher...but I have a few shows that I LOVE.)

Dear Lynchburg, why is it that when I am going one direction, I am driving North and South at the same time?  Oy!

Dear Saturday, I'm so excited for a Skype date and a party to see friends!

Dear Thanksgiving, I have you off!!!

Dear November, I'm excited you are here!  It means I get to see Josh!

Dear God, Thank you for this next/continuing step of life you have given me.  I'm excited to see where it goes (and what's next).  (I realize I am still that girl always wondering what is "next.")


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life Update

I apologize for the hit and miss blogging of late.
Life has been busy and changing for me.
Between funerals, harvest festivals, packing, moving, and starting a new job, blogging has lagged.

But, I am now happily situated in the basement of my aunt's home, with my lovely cousin as a neighbor (meaning, a curtain separates our living space).

I bumped into a camp friend at work this evening, which was a pleasant surprise!.

The weather that has been causing such trauma up north has hit us, but not heavily.  The air is cold (pea coat time!).  I am still transitioning, though.  I keep asking myself, "Can I wear my black dress with my fishnet tights over my blue tights?" (I love that outfit!)

 I realized as I went to work earlier, going to my job doesn't feel like, "Oh, I'm off to work."  It feels more like, "Oh, I have this meeting and this meeting and this thing..." like when I was still in college.

 Oh, on Saturday, Trey's B League football team won their Super Bowl game!!! I've been watching Trey play football since he was...oh...about two years old?  Yep, I think he was throwing the ball better than I could.  I know he was by age three.  Also, at the game I bumped into come high school friends!  It was so fun to stand around, watch the game, and chit chat with them :)

I've rambled.  I'm sorry.  Maybe tomorrow I will have more organized thoughts or even a topic!  Actually, I have a topic, but need to finish some research to properly write about it.

Till next time, goodnight!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Exercising my Suffrage

Today I voted.
It was my second time voting.
It was my FIRST time voting in a Presidential election.
I voted absentee, since I am temporarily moving.
They filled in my information and told me when the system was ready for me.
I stepped up to the voting booth and began.
When the final screen came up, telling me my vote had been cast, a big smile came on my face.
I thought the people standing there might think I was a little odd.
They handed me an "I Voted" sticker.
I told them, "This is my first time voting in a Presidential election."
My smile didn't hide that time.
And, it was still there after walking down the stairs and out the door.

Later, while driving home, I began to think about the time table of women voting.  I realized it hasn't been THAT long.  My mind went to the scene in Mary Poppins where Mrs. Banks, the old nanny, and the house keeper sing the "Sister Suffragette" song.  I thought of all the people who had fought for women to have the right to vote, to voice their opinions as men did.  It turns out, Woodrow Wilson, my slightly distant cousin, was in favor of women's suffrage starting in 1918 (my apologies for citing Wikipedia, but they cite someone else for the fact).  In 1919, women were given the right to vote!

I am proud to be an American and to contribute my voice to the decision of whom will lead the United States of America for the next four years!  And, in the words of Mrs. Banks, "Well done, sister suffragettes!"

Don't forget to vote November 6, 2012---or absentee if need be!

Now, for your viewing pleasure:

Friday's Letters: A Month Long Week

Dear Michael, Happy Birthday week!  You are now 17! grown up : )

Dear Friday, what a busy day you are.

Dear Week, you've been full, sad, fun, and you're not done.  I can hardly remember Monday.

Dear Self, you've got to get a move on. Pack, bake a pie, absentee vote, etc. etc. etc.

Dear Numb3rs, you are an addictive show.  I love the mathematical solutions (I"m not really a math person so it is awesome!).

Dear Mama, thanks for discovering the show!  I like watching it with you : )

Dear Harvest Festival, I have to bake a pie and pick an Old Testament character to dress up as.  But, it will be FUN!

Dear God, Thank You for providing, leading, and changing me plans.  It keeps me guessing.  Also, thank You for the beautiful autumn this year.  The colors are amazing.  I can't get over how beautiful everything is.  I am constantly in awe.


My Plans...Like a Balloon in the Wind

I'm always planning the next thing.

Dream, planning, and connecting are a daily activity for my brain.
I love it.  I thrive from it.  I get frustrated by it.

Today I was thinking about my future, what is coming up, and how it will connect to the next thing.
 I realized, it could mean staying the country a little longer.
 *Quelle horreurs*

Immediately I start asking myself if I could deal with that.
It will throw a kink in all of my plans!
But, I can see how it might be beneficial.

Then it hit me (and not for the first time).
Every time I make a plan, God changes it.
Always for the best (even if I don't love it).

I need to hold my plans loosely.
God knows my loves and my passions.
He knows what I do not know.

God will put my life together in such a way that will glorify Him.
I will do the next thing and try to keep that in mind.
Life is to be lived for the glory of God.

As parents of a friend of mine wrote on a frame of their wedding pictures:
"All that matters
is the glory of God."

Photo By: K.L.R.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little Brother!

Happy Birthday, Michael!

My brother is 17 today.
I remember the night he was born.  I was at Kae Lacy's making blackberry syrup, standing on a chair next to the stove, when my dad came to pick me up.
I remember going to the hospital to see Michael.  I tried and tried, but the nurse took him out of sight to give him a bath.

I was always told, "one day he will be bigger than you."
I am 5'4ish".  He is 6'1".

I'm so proud of him!
He'll play in the major leagues someday : )


Monday, October 22, 2012

English Show Recommendation!

I was perusing Netflix yesterday for a new show to catch my interest.
Somehow, and I don't remember how, I stumbled upon Rosemary & Thyme.
Rosemary & Thyme is an English mystery program based around two women, one is a former detective and the other is interested in plants.  As a result of different circumstances, they team up and solve mysteries they happen upon while on the job...gardening.

If you are looking for humor, this is not it.
But, if you like a bit of suspense, the beauty of England, and an interesting storyline, give this show a shot!
I really enjoy a good English show now and again.  I see real life in this.  Ok, maybe not all the mysteries, but the houses, doors, pubs, etc. makes me miss it.

Happy Watching!

Source: Overstock

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Extrovert/Introvert Societal Downfall

How often have you heard, "I'm an introvert" or "I'm an extrovert" as an excuse for something?

I had not given much thought to these personality traits until I went to college.
Suddenly, it was a way to label oneself, almost as an excuse for behavioral tendencies.

Situation "I":  A large group of people in a public setting.  The introvert, to avoid being uncomfortable, will say, "I'm an introvert," and avoid mingling.

Situation "E":  A large group of people in a public setting.  The extrovert will be loud and possibly obnoxious, giving, "I'm an extrovert," as reason for their boisterousness. 

Yes, I did generalize and exaggerate in the examples above to make a point.

Have you heard of Emily Post's etiquette books?  They were reference material to instruct people how to prepare for an event, act in various situations, and help people become adequate, social beings.

Have you read books set in a different century, particularly in an upper class setting, and observed the manner in which people interacted with each other (Jane Austen's novels are a perfect example)?

Have you heard of finishing school or read about young girls being sent to an instructor to learn how to receive visitors and serve tea (think Felicity of the American Girl books)?

Introverts and extroverts existed back then, too.  Chances are there were ways to tell their personalities.  But, despite how a person felt in situations, they knew how to make a person feel welcome, carry on small-talk, and have an intelligent conversation with someone they had just met.

I find myself wishing I knew the art of small-talk.  I used to be the most outgoing little person.  As a child I didn't know a stranger.  As a result my dad still tells me not to talk to strangers (I'm 21).  My parents taught me manners.  I spent a great deal of my childhood interacting with adults more than children.  But, I now feel stress in situations where I don't know what subject to bring up.  Perhaps I need to become more literate in current events and have a few interesting topics ready to broach in various settings.  Actually, I do.  I don't say all of that to laud myself.  I, too, have fallen into the same ditch of allowing labels to tell me what to expect.

I argue that these labels of "extrovert" and "introvert" should not be a reason or excuse for a person's behavior.  If someone is loud and annoying, please don't tell me they are an extrovert.  They may not know how to curb their enthusiasm in various situations.

If someone is not talking, keeping to themselves, and failing to interact in a way expected of them, please do not tell me they are introverted so that I will nod understandingly and "tut tut" it away.  We won't always be comfortable, but it is important to stretch ourselves with the purpose of becoming a well-rounded individual.

I have now put a level of expectation on myself.  Certainly I will fail.  But, I hope I will be more aware of my usage of "introvert" and "extrovert."  I hope I will strive to become more well-rounded and ladylike.  Grace under pressure, considerate when approached by rudeness, humility to those lacking manners, and cordiality to all.

Jane Austen Examples for each of the listed characteristics in order:

1.  Mrs. Dashwood when her step-son came to take over her estate
2.  Miss Elinor Dashwood in response to her sister-in-law and others
3.  Emma...who did fail by responding to Miss Bates rudely
4.  Anne Elliot of Persuasion fits this category, I believe.

I welcome your thoughts on the subject!

6.5 on the Richter Scale

Do you ever have a dream that seems to last alllll night?
I had one of those.
It was so strange and very intense.

At one point I learned a friend from school was dead.  But, there was something odd about it.  I was very upset (obviously), but come to find out, it was a JOKE!  He had decided to pretend to be dead.  Then, I was in NYC going to school (which is actually true).  But, we lived in a skyscraper on the sixty-something floor.  I had been warned to expect a 6.5 magnitude earthquake the next morning.  I was all prepared to run out, and nothing happened (except I WALKED up sixty some floors of stairs to avoid being stuck in the elevator).  We went to school, did some weird running and ball game on VERY steep hills, and began to pack (I had a lot of little things to pack...very tedious).  But, then I had to expect the earthquake sometime that evening.

Needless to say, I awoke, finally.
The dream was long and very detailed.

Do you remember the dreams you have?  Or at least some of them?
Often, when I remember a dream like this, I will mull over it throughout the day.

I have one dream that I wrote out completely in ninth grade.  I doubt I will EVER forget it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Foliage Festival Fun

Today went mostly according to plan...with a few changes.

Abi ALMOST scored a goal.  It crossed the line, but before it could roll into the goal the other other team kicked it out : (

But, she was all over the field.  Those 5 year olds are very cute playing soccer.  One coach had to remind them to not fight with their teammates over the ball.  Oh, kiddos learning sports.

I went home with Aunt Anna and Abi before we all headed to the Fall Foliage Festival.  Aunt Anna had to help with a booth, and Abi and I walked around, looked at cool stuff, ate hot dogs and cotton candy, and visited a cool antique store (that little girl has great taste!).

When I got home I was wiped out.  So, I watched a Hallmark movie I had started once before, but at that time I did not like it.  Oh my goodness, it is incredible what the TV screen does to a movie.  Dumb HD makes some things look like soap operas.  On our non-HD TV it looked normal (call me crazy, but I'm okay with that).

An invigorating walk followed by a search for a lost cell phone leaves me prepared for a cup of tea, a little dessert, and another Hallmark movie : )

Have a fab Saturday night!

She wanted me to take her picture with the lamp!

Happy Saturday!

Photo by K.L.R.
 Today is going to be full of fun!

I am going to see my cousin play soccer in about fifteen or twenty minutes.  She is five.

My town is having its Fall Foliage Festival this weekend and I hope to go down this afternoon and enjoy perusing the stalls, seeing people I know, and enjoying the fall foliage, which is gorgeous!

Later I will try and finish packing my school stuff away.  It is annoying getting everything organized satisfactorily.

But, as always I am open to plans changing (hopefully in a good way)!

Happy Saturday : )

Any fun plans in your day?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's Letters: Life

Photo by K.L.R.
 Dear Daisy Elizabeth Daw, Welcome to the family!  I can't wait to meet you in person (hopefully before you reach your first birthday....or even six month birthday : ) )!

Dear Friday, you come with a full day: substitute teaching, a visit to the eye doctor, and maybe a perusal of the Fall Foliage Festival.

Dear Weekend, hooray!  You have arrived and brought the Fall Foliage Festival with you!  My first one in  close to eight years (crazy, I know!).

Dear God, thank you for this beautiful fall weather!  I am overwhelmed each time I look outside, drive over the mountain, or soak in the beauty.

Dear Nanny (as in The Nanny), I can't just watch one episode.

Dear Mama, I love having a show to share now that White Collar is on a break.
(a few years late, but she discovered Numb3rs...and totally gets it, while I just understand parts).

Dear Deborah, so fun Skyping and Pinteresting and planning ; )

Dear God, thank you for hearing and answering prayers.  You are a great God.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Beautiful Soul

Photo by K.L.R.

The soul can be a beautiful thing.

I was just pondering a person and thinking about what makes them "them."
By outward appearance, they are just a human being.
Their soul is what shines through and makes them special.
When they show that side it allows connectivity with other people's souls, with my soul.
I see their loves, their hates, their sorrows, their joys.
Therefore, when I see them, I see them through the lense of their soul.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'Call Me Maybe' Olympic Style

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook in August.  I tried to share it then and it didn't work.
But, I was just thinking about it the other day and wanted to finally share it.
Every time I hear this song I picture these guys.
It makes the song awesome instead of annoying.

I want to:
1. Know how they did it.
2. Be friends with the entire team.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, October 8, 2012

High School Seems Forever Ago

Today was stressful, productive (although it could have been more so), and fun. 

Lots of phone calls, emails, and a couple episodes of The Nanny (always producing a laugh).

A few days ago I got the urge to watch High School Musical 1 & 2.  Feel free to laugh.
Anyway, tonight I watched the first one.  I hadn't seen it in more than three years.  They all look like babies.  And, I saw all the high school stereotypes (And realities). 

My thoughts throughout:

He looks so young.
She looks so young.
Look at their clothes.
Oh, I knew someone who dressed like that.  And that.
Why do skaters dress the way the do?
Etc., etc., etc.

Overall, an enjoyable experience.  A bit of reminiscing and wondering how I will view the movies as I continue to grow older (or any show I enjoyed at a younger age).

Did you watch the High School Musical movies as they came out?

December 2007.  Later that night we had a HSM Marathon of 1&2
We were missing one in the picture...but she drowned in the bathtub was taking a bath.

Turning a Spade With the Crew

Blog Challenge (that I've been thinking about for a few days):  What two brands of clothes would I wear for the rest of my life?

I have made one definite decision and one maybe decision.

J. Crew

Their clothes are beautiful, well made, and classy.

I've been wanting a navy pea coat!  Love this one!

Kate Spade

I always find myself attracted to her styles, accessories, etc.

This dress reminds me of the Don Loper dress Lucy chooses in The Fashion Show!
 What brands do you love?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Buddy the Elf

I have this friend whose eyes disappear when he smiles.
He has hilarious experiences while sitting in church.
And, his stories are side-splitting.

Today I saw a video that reinforced this humor.
Are you a fan of the movie Elf?
Regardless, watch the video.  Now : )

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Friday, I feel like I deserve you more than I did last week. 

Dear Week, you were full of surprises!  Woohoo! 

Dear Elizabeth and Becky and Uncle Gerardo, Happy Birthday Week!

Dear High Schoolers, you guys are awesome!  I love subbing for your teachers!

Dear Weather, tomorrow you are supposed to cool down!  Does this mean I get to wear warmer clothes?

Dear White Collar, you are the best show ever. 

Dear Matt Bomer, you should really dress like Neal Caffrey does instead of your khakis shorts and sneakers.

Dear Sleep, you and I are going to be buddies tonight!

Dear God, thank you for beautiful colors on the trees as I drive to and from school!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sold for Sex

Human trafficking.
Sex trafficking.

The list could go on and on.

We've all heard about it.
We've seen the videos.
We've listened to the presentations.

But, in the comfort of my home, away from the horror that is some people's every day reality, I can forget it exists, until I remember the next time.

International Justice Mission, mission agencies, celebrities, Vogue, and so many others are speaking out about it, wanting to be a part of fighting this evil.

An acquaintance with whom I studied in NYC wrote an article for WORLD Magazine on this topic.  It is profound, yet written in a story-telling manner.  Please, take the time to read it in its entirety.

If you see something, say something
By Chelsea Kolz

Ten Little Words

I believe I have truly met a challenge in my Blog Challenge list.

I am supposed to write the story of my life in ten words.
Is this possible??
Let's find out.

Moving and traveling, family, friends, experiences, love, laughter, memories, dreaming.

These words describe me in my life for the past 21 years.

Life stories are not meant to be so condensed.

Part of one side of my awesome family!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

With Pen and Paper I Pray

The blog challenge I am up to wants me to write about how I want to grow closer to God.

I don't mind being personal and opening up, but I'm not going to go into that here.

But, I will share one way that I love spending time with God.


I LOVE writing to God.  My prayers.  My thoughts.  My desires.  My praise.  My thanks.

I am a verbal processor, so I pray out loud, too.  But, journaling means I can look back at what I prayed.  I can see God's faithfulness...and my sometimes progress.

My journal didn't tell me how many pages it came with.  So, rather than spending the time to count, I just number every page as I finish it (come close to finishing it).  When I fill up the book, I will have a surprise number!

Do you ever have the thought while writing that some day someone might read through your journal?  Your spouse?  Your child?  A fan if you become famous?  An historian if you become extra famous?

I'll admit.  The thought does occasionally, more frequently that I care to admit, cross my mind.

Why Am I So Tired?


God blew my very recent prayer and thought out of the water.  I attended my first BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) meeting.  THEN, I sat in on/gave input at the high school bible study that is starting.  (Made me miss my Apostles kids so much!)

It is my cousin's birthday, and I surprisingly got to see her!!!  And her sweet little girls.  AWESOME surprise.  Happy Birthday!!!

It is also Becky's birthday!  Happy Birthday, my dear Fern!

I scheduled my trip to UVA to rep AMBEX!  Whoop!

I sat through my first presidential debate as a registered voter.  Four years ago...I didn't have an official say.  My one blog response:  Mr. President, Germany makes better cars than the USA.  Please don't claim otherwise.

Now, you ask?  Bed soon, my friend!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Writer Forgetful! I Found A Poem!

I was on Pinterest a couple of days ago when a particular pin caught my eye.
I clicked on it, and it took me to a poem.
And a beautiful poem it is.
Analyzing myself, I am forgetful, but I don't know if I am writer forgetful.
I could use it as an excuse, though.
Because I remember the impractical things.

Anyway, found on Of Heights & Hollows, here is the poem.
Writers are forgetful,
but they remember everything.
They forget appointments and anniversaries,
but remember what you wore,
how you smelled,
on your first date…
They remember every story you’ve ever told them -
like ever,
but forget what you’ve just said.
They don’t remember to water the plants
or take out the trash,
but they don’t forget how
to make you laugh.
Writers are forgetful
they’re busy
the important things.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the poem!

Christmas Favourites!

Blog Challenge:  Favourite Holiday!

"Hi, I'm Kirsten, I listen to Christmas during months that aren't after Thanksgiving and before New Years!"

Yes, Christmas is my favourite holiday.  I've always loved it.

After I was born my mother listened to Christmas carols.  I was born in July.

When I was little I called nativities "festivities."  Can you already tell I was an extrovert?

The whole Christmas season gives off the cozy, warm, aura.  Some foods even taste like Christmas.  They may not even have cinnamon in them.

My best Christmas present memory is when I got all my American Girl Dolls (Kirsten and Felicity), their accessories, and in my stocking was a white little statue that opened at the bottom and held a pretty ring.  It sounds very Elsie Dinsmore, doesn't it?

I love the family gatherings, candle light services, and solos of O Holy Night.

We used to open a present from my Grandma in England on Christmas Eve.

Oh, and Grandma Bush's Coffee Cake on Christmas Morning.  Oh. My. Word.

During the Christmas Eve service my grandfather reads The Visited Planet.  Please go read it!

One of my favourite Christmas songs (that tells me it is Christmas) is Mannheim Steamroller's Hallelujah.  So beautiful.

Then, during my Freshman year at college the Freshman girls decorated the Freshman guys dorm.  It was SO much fun.  AND, this is what happens when you leave a camera to catch their first reactions...the Freshman guys...not those upperclassman.

Do you have any special traditions or memories?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blog Challenge: Thankfuls

Today's Blog Challenge is to list some things I am thankful for.
It is a little bit ironic because I've been thinking about my need to be content where I am, even if it is not where I would prefer to be.

My Thankfuls:
-Skype to talk to friends who are at a distance
-Being with my family for longer than a month, something I haven't had for about four years.
-Having fall start in September instead of November (Virginia trumps Columbia in that respect)
-Being able to see my extended family
-An opportunity to substitute teach, which allows me to connect with people I haven't seen in ages
-HobNobs from my grandmother
-Emily.  She dreams about England with me

A little practice for November : )

Homemade Caramel Apple Spice with a HobNob!

This afternoon I decided to celebrate Autumn and the cool, crisp air by making a homemade version of Starbucks' Caramel Apple Spice!  Thanks to this cool link, I was able to do it!  But, I made a few changes.  I don't have cinnamon syrup, so I just used cinnamon.  But, I used to much, so, maybe three shakes is good?  Oh, and I don't like whipped cream on my apple cider.  Ew.  Dairy and apples?  No thanks.

Last night my grandmother handed me a box of chocolate covered HobNobs.  So, those are joining my caramel apple spice!

Happy Autumn!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Family: Learning to Laugh; Grandma Humor

Blog Challenge:  My family.

If you know me or have read my blog, you know I love my family.

Family is a special group of people who, though we may not always see eye to eye or get along, are always there.  We can move, grow up, get married, but our family will always be there.  "Be there" doesn't mean constant contact.  "Be there" means we can pick up the phone, send an email, or get together, and just keep going, even if it has been a while.

I love my family.  I'm pretty close with everyone on both sides.  I don't see everyone a lot.  But, I love the times we spend getting together and laughing, sharing memories, and making new memories.  Are we a perfect family?  Well, actually, yes.  I'M KIDDING!  No.

When my great-grandmother on my mom's side died, we celebrated her life and had so much fun in the process!  She was 97 and had lived a FULL life.  Yes, we had our moments of tears, but sometimes the tears were from laughing at stories of Grandma.  Do you know one time she got stuck in the bathtub and the fire department had to come and get her out?  No, of course you don't.  But, you do now.  She would also say, "Don't ask me to go with you if you don't really want me, because my bags are already packed."

While everyone was in for her memorial services, we sat around my grandparents family room eating Andes Mints and Oatmeal Cream Pies (her favourites), wrote memories of Grandma for the box her ashes were put in, and just shared time.

Also, I really like to think she was a flapper.

Great-Grandchildren Christmas Card '93?  I had a fractured leg and Josh clearly was not thrilled.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Songs: From Taylor to Ingrid

Blog Challenge time, again!
I'm supposed to put my iPod on shuffle and write about the first five songs.
But, I don't use my iPod enough to keep it charged.
So, as I've been prone to do during this challenge, I am going to change the rules a little bit.

I'll be writing about the four songs I can recall having bought on iTunes (I know, keel over in shock) songs I enjoy.

Love Story by Taylor Swift
I bought this song after it became a fun memory song with friends.  We would sing (screech?) it at the top of our lungs in the car.  And, I like this song.  And enjoy picturing Romeo and Juliet (the play) in my mind (does that make me a nerd of some kind?).  Except, it has a happy ending.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Deep Blue Something
I just love this song.  I don't remember where I first heard it.  But, I love it.  I think I read that although the song is named after Breakfast at Tiffany's the song actually follows the storyline of Roman Holiday (both are Hepburn movies).

Scalliwag by Gaelic Storm
I first heard this song on Pandora last summer.  I loved it so much and decided I had to buy it.  So, I did.  Although I can't understand a lot of the words, they talk about wellies.  And, the music is so fun and upbeat.  It makes me want to scurry over the pond!

You and I by Ingrid Michaelson
They talk about the south of France.  And, the music is fun.  Ok, I don't have a lot of commentary, but it is a fun song.

Well, now you know.
Happy listening!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Letter from Youcef Nadarkhani

Do you remember when I wrote about Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani being released from prison?  If not, please read about it.  It is truly an incredible story of God's grace and faithfulness.

Today my mom sent me the link to a letter he wrote to thank all the people around the globe who prayed for him and fought for him to be free.  I am copying his letter below.  But, to read the article and the letter, go to this link.

After reading his letter, I felt like I have been a part of something bigger, like the Christians in the New Testament.  I joined with the body of believers around the globe praying for a fellow Christian to either be released or to stand strong and not recant his belief in Jesus Christ.  I am thankful for his freedom.  I am thankful for his testimony that has been seen around the world.  It makes me realize how easy it is to be a Christian in the USA.  Yes, there is persecution, and it can be difficult.  But, we can't be imprisoned for what we believe.

After you have read this letter, I would love to hear your thoughts.  What do you think and feel about the story of Pastor Nadarkhani?
Salaam! (Peace be upon you!)

I glorify and give grace to the Lord with all my heart. I am grateful for all the blessings that He gave me during my whole life. I am especially grateful for His goodness and divine protection that characterized the time of my detention.

I also want to express my gratitude towards those who, all around the world, have worked for my cause, or should I say the cause that I defend. I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy. You are all very dear to my heart. May the Lord bless you and give you His perfect and sovereign Grace.

Indeed I have been put to the test, the test of faith which is, according to the Scriptures “more precious than perishable gold.” But I have never felt loneliness, I was all the time aware of the fact that it wasn’t a solitary battle, for I have felt all the energy and support of those who obeyed their conscience and fought for the promotion of the justice and the rights of all human beings. Thanks to these efforts, I have now the enormous joy to be by my wonderful wife and my children. I am grateful for these people through whom God has been working. All of this is very encouraging.

During that period, I had the opportunity to experience in a marvelous way the Scripture that says: “Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, our encouragement abound through Christ.” He has comforted my family and has given them the means to face that difficult situation. In His Grace, He provided for their spiritual and material needs, taking away from me a heavy weight.

The Lord has wonderfully provided through the trial, allowing me to face the challenges that were in front of me. As the Scriptures says, “He will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength….”

Despite the fact that I have been found guilty of apostasy according to a certain reading of the Shar’ia, I am grateful that He gave the leaders of the country, the wisdom to break that judgment taking into account other facts of that same Shar’ia. It is obvious that the defenders of the Iranian right and the legal experts have made an important effort to enforce the law and the right. I want to thank those who have defended the right until the end.

I am happy to live in a time where we can take a critical and constructive look to the past. This has allowed the writing of universal texts aiming at the promotion of the rights of man. Today, we are debtors of these efforts provided by dear people who have worked for the respect of human dignity and have passed on to us these universal significant texts.

I am also debtor of those who have faithfully passed on the Word of God, that very Word who makes us heirs of God.

Before ending, I want to express a prayer for the establishment of an unending and universal peace, so that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is in heaven. Indeed, everything passes, but the Word of God, source of all peace, will last eternally.

May the grace and mercy of God be multiplied to you. Amen!

Youcef Nadarkhani
8 September 2012 
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