December 22, 2008
- I'd make all schools year-round (sorry Meredith). It just makes sense to me.
- Just like every child must take math and science, I'd make it a law that every child take art and music.
- People would have to take a simple intelligence test before they are allowed to drive. Such questions as what follows would be on the test:
- When is it logical to turn on your headlights?
a. When it is dark outside
b. When it is foggy outside
c. When it is raining, drizzling, snowing, sleeting, hailing or any other time precipitation is falling from the sky, therefore obstructing the sun and making it harder for other drivers to see your vehicle
d. At dusk and dawn
e. All of the above
- When should you begin slowing down to make a turn?
a. When you're in the turn lane
b. When your 200 yards from the turn and there's 4,000 cars behind you trying to go home after a long day at work
c. Whenever you feel like it
- For every “guy movie” a female watches without complaint, the guy must watch a “chick flick” without complaint.
- The number of baseball and basketball games in a single season would be cut by 50 percent. Is it really necessary to play 162 baseball games to find out which team is the best? Do we need to see the Utah Jazz play 82 times, only to be reminded 82 times how ridiculous that team name is? And don't even get me started on the OKC Thunder logo or the number of games in the playoffs.
- Schools would be funded so well that the military would be sending out soldiers to sell candy and doughnuts (this is, of course, said somewhat sarcastically. I'd prefer both the army and schools be well funded. Not just one or the other).
- Overcharging the public for uncreative music in which the “musician” or “singer” had absolutely no input in the process other than lip syncing into a microphone would be a crime with a penalty that includes being forced to listen to the Bee Gees nonstop for three months.
What law would you add to the books?
December 19, 2008
December 12, 2008
Scientists baffled by mysterious acorn shortage
In far-flung pockets of northern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states, scientists have found no acorns whatsoever.
"I had read about the collapse of the bee colonies, and it made me wonder, is something else going on here? Could this be affecting other systems?"
I bet I know where the acorns went:
December 3, 2008
-Sponsor an impoverished child with AIDS or HIV for 10 months.
-Save the lives of 350 Africans. One dollar (combined with other donations) builds a well and provides enough water for one African for the rest of their life.
-Buy three and a half acres of a rainforest.
-Buy enough fair trade coffee to last you a month (give or take) and help coffee growers earn fair pricing for their trade.
-Send 18 care packages to soldiers during the holidays.
-Give 11 families that have been through a natural disaster, food and clean water for two weeks.
-Buy 70 LifeStraws. LifeStraw is a point-of-use water purifier that lasts up to one year and removes 99% of waterborne bacteria and viruses.
Those are just a few of the ways you can spend $350. There are numerous other places where you can make one-time donations of any amount. I understand that all of the $350 doesn't go to Britney Spears, and there are a lot of people to pay on a concert tour (everyone from her hairdresser to the guy making sure the lights work). But $350? Diarrhea alone is responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million people each year, 90% of whom are children under 5, and 88% of diarrhea is caused by unclean water and inadequate sanitation (World Health Organization via Blood:Water Mission). I think maybe enabling these people to have clean water, or ensuring we don't destroy the earth or ensuring that we don't promote sweatshops is a better way to spend our money. Just a thought.
November 29, 2008
Check out the new blog here.
November 13, 2008
November 4, 2008
Many hours have been spent trying to pin down the correct way to go about finding a travel buddy to The Land of Marriage, but no clear map has been made. Until now.
I was perusing the November 2008 edition of Real Simple when I stumbled upon a treasure map of epic proportions. With just one full-page ad, all our questions have been answered. And we have New York Life to thank for it.
Below you’ll find a simple map that will bring you out of The Land of Singles and into The Land of Marriage. In a few simple steps, you’ll have that band on your finger and a date for your office holiday party.[Click to make the image larger]
As you can see, it’s really quite simple and begins with an ice cream cone. This cone can be substituted for something else your partner of choice likes—you know, in case she’s lactose intolerant. Maybe a bag of her favorite snack food, like Pizzeria Pretzel Combos. Or her favorite drink from Caribou Coffee.
The good news is that this map is easily customizable. If the girl you have in mind prefers daisies, then go for it—give her daisies instead of roses. Or if she doesn’t like heart-shaped pendants, go for a nice pair of earrings. The key is that each step shows more commitment (oh no! The ‘c’ word!) than the one before. It’s a grander gesture that signals to her that you want to be more than just the purveyor of delicious frozen dairy treats. You want to be the recipient of her life insurance (okay—something more romantic—the recipient of her heart for all time. Awwwww).
Armed with this map, I believe even the guy most inept or insecure about talking to girls will be able to find his travel buddy. All it takes is a gesture that proves his intentions. And maybe it doesn’t work on the first try (or second or third), but when the right buddy comes along, she’ll walk alongside him and follow the treasure map at just the right time.
October 13, 2008
I live in the United States of America. One of the perks of living in this country is that you can find any kind of restaurant you want: Italian, German, Irish, Chinese—take your pick. Among my favorites are Chinese and Japanese restaurants. Yet every time I’m in one I am confronted with the same question:
Why are they using chopsticks?
By “they” I mean the other patrons. Why are half of them using chopsticks when forks are readily available? Do they not realize they are in the US? Do they think the forks are there for decoration? Or do they think everyone else is impressed with their skill? Because we’re not.
Listen, if you’re trying to get the full “Asian” experience, then you’re going to have to eat somewhere else. Because I hate to break it to you, but that General Tso’s chicken you’re eating at the Happy Panda is not real Chinese food.
I’d like to take a poll to find out what chopstick users have in common with other chopstick users. I’m willing to bet that a lot of them only use Macs**, have a love/hate relationship with Starbucks and subscribe to (but don’t read) The New Yorker. They might also drive Volkswagons.
Then again, maybe there are two types of chopstick users—the yuppies (the Mac users) and the posers. The posers are hoping you’ll comment about their chopstick use so they have an excuse to tell you about their trip to China (or Chinatown).
Maybe I’ll start talking in an Italian accent whenever I go to an Italian restaurant or insist on drinking my chosen beverage from a steinkrug if I go to a German restaurant. That wouldn’t be ridiculous at all.
*I don’t actually have a vein like that. I had a seventh grade English teacher who did, though.
**If I had an extra $1,000 lying around, I’d go buy a MacBook right now. I want one like the desert misses the rain. So using only a Mac isn’t a bad thing—but only using chopsticks in an Asian-American restaurant is.
September 30, 2008
I've never had the privilege of seeing one of Sorren's pieces in person, but even from the online photos you can tell that each of his paintings is incredibly detailed and multi-layered. This series proves that theory and gives a glimpse into Sorren's process. Absolutely fascinating.
Painting in Progress
September 29, 2008
While we were out we saw our apartment manager, who lives in the same cul de sac with her husband and three sons. As we draw closer to our home we notice her three-year-old son running out of their house. No one is running behind him or after him.
"Whaaaat?" I ask.
"Is he?" she asks.
"Oh my stars..."
"Oh my goodness..."
He's naked. Butt naked. And running down the street.
He gets closer and announces his intentions.
"I'm looking for my mom and brother..."
He keeps running and we suggest that he wait for her, but he'll have none of it. So we watch him as he runs past us to his mom, about 30 yards behind us, in all his naked glory.
Children are a blessing from God.
September 16, 2008
I'll be keeping my eye out for blog entry ideas. Not just at the conference, of course (although getting that many ministry workers in one place has to be a breeding ground for such things), but also at the airport and out and about Oklahoma City.
I'm not going to lie, though. At first we (my coworkers and I) weren't sure we wanted to attend. But then we saw that Jon Acuff, writer of Stuff Christians Like, is one of the keynote speakers and we signed up immediately. I already have several requests to bring back Skittles.
September 13, 2008
As a child I dreamed of being respected and taken seriously when I made proclamations or observations about the world or life or the frequency of bathing that is really necessary. But among the many things they don't tell you about adulthood, one of the most disappointing is that this never happens. Once you become an “adult” (whenever that is, exactly), people do not start respecting you or treating you as an equal.
You see, we never really grow up and we never really leave high school.
I remember going to school and being baffled at the behavior and lack of respect I saw in other students. They disrespected teachers or professors by talking or sleeping class. They disrespected pastors by reading a book during sermons. Or they disrespect each other by talking about or making fun of each other.
The only difference between adults and kids or teens is that adults are much more sly about it. They use their age or professional title as an excuse to trample over a person. Or perhaps they assume that someone else couldn't possibly make a wise decision without their input.
I guess the simplest way of explaining it is that people view you through glasses that are shaded by the amount of pride or arrogance they have. The more pride, the darker the glasses. Eventually it becomes so dark that all they can see is their own reflection in the glasses. When they can't see you for the person worthy of respect that you are, they only see their own desires.
When you have training or a degree or natural ability in something, and you try to explain an aspect of this subject to someone with dark glasses―it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that despite your low place on the totem pole of life, you actually know some things and have skills they don't. All they see is what they want to see. I guess a lot of people only need an opinion about something to consider themselves an expert.
Perhaps I was expecting too much of people when I thought they'd respect each other. Perhaps I was expecting too much of people when I thought they'd love and treat others as they want to be loved and treated.
On a completely different note, I was browsing CNN last night and thought for a second that I had gone back in time:
September 10, 2008
My brother and I used to have this chart on the refrigerator that would let us know what chores we had to do, and if we did them all we’d get an allowance. I’m pretty sure I was never paid my allowance and my parents still owe me, with interest, approximately $20,354.54. Or they could just buy me a MacBook Pro and we’d call it even. A white one with the Adobe CreativeSuite.
The chart was a pre-made one with normal chores (make the bed, do the dishes, feed the pet, etc.). But my parents had other chores they added to this. Among these chores was perhaps the most ridiculous task ever devised by a parent in the whole world forever and ever, amen.
Our house had (still has, in fact) a magnolia tree. Naturally, the branches on a magnolia tree begin about one foot above the ground. Since this tree was near a path and a door we used regularly, the prior owners had cut all the branches about seven or eight feet up the trunk. Said tree was in a natural area (meaning it was surrounded by pine straw and azalea bushes…no grass).
Apparently my parents were of the school that torturous chores build character. You know what else builds character? Bending over until your back feels like it’s going to fall off and all that will be left of you is a head and legs. Not a pretty picture.
With these beliefs in mind, my parents made it a chore that my brother and I would pick up the fallen magnolia leaves from the natural area. I’m sorry, what did you just say? Yes, I said that they made us pick up leaves—from a tree—in the natural area. What else goes in a natural area besides leaves?
After we picked up the leaves, we had to move all the pine straw so they were at perfectly straight 90 degree angles with the porch. I kid.
So we divided the area in half and I promise you my “half” was actually my “two-thirds.” But then, I was the younger sibling, so I was always the victim. I’m pretty sure my lower back is sore to this day because of this “chore.”
August 22, 2008
Last weekend, I and several of my friends from college got together at the beach. One of the guys has a beach house [side note: It has a 65" flatscreen TV. I want one. I saw Michael Phelps larger than life. This is a good thing.], so we got together and reminisced about the days of yore. We talked about our favorite college memory and about the time Dan's knee popped out of joint or when we had a VIP room at the Super Bowl party. Then we waxed less than poeticly about what we're doing now. Although we've all seen each other several times since we graduated, so we weren't all that clueless about our lives.
On Saturday I was tragically out of Diet Dr. Pepper and knew that I'd need the sweet nectar that the doctor has so graciously bestowed upon the world. So I went to the grocery store to stock up on a supply for the weekend (with a couple other things to munch on while basking in the cloudiness of the day).
I paid for my haul and grabbed my bags. As the bagger was handing me my bags he also reached for a bouquet of roses that I hadn't noticed was lying on the counter. And he handed them to me. "What are these for?" I asked. "They're for you," he said. "Oh!" was the only response I came up with.
So I took home my roses and put them in a red Solo cup.
They were getting rid of the old roses at the Food Lion and the 80-year-old bagger gave them to me.
Using the intuition that our senior friends often have (part of the wisdom they glean during their years), I believe he saw in my face how much I love flowers. The end.
August 14, 2008
As summer is winding down, though, I wish I had found NPR's online series, Road Trip: Songs to Drive By sooner. Each set has a theme, including Weeping at the Wheel: Crushingly Sad Songs, Songs for Stops Along the Way and Songs for When the City Lights Fade. I've only just begun listening to them, but NPR is always a great place to learn about new artists (or artists who aren't new, but new to me).
Slate.com has a series named The Explainer. In the past they've answered questions about why moonshine is illegal, why gas prices fall slower than they rise and to commemorate the Olympics they answered a few questions about the games, including why swimmers always take a shower after a competition. It's an interesting read, and anything about the Olympics is a good read. Go Phelps!
Although I don't completely understand why the heck Russia decided to invade Georgia, I have learned one thing: George W. is still our president. It seems like it's been such a long time since I've heard anything about him (other than his dismal approval ratings), I thought maybe he had just decided to take the rest of his term off and spend it on his ranch.
Nobody wants to live in Detroit, even if the houses cost $1.
Finally--for your viewing pleasure, here are some wicked amazing photos from the Olympics opening ceremony. I must admit--the ceremony was stunning. Even if the fireworks were fake and the little girl was lip-synching. I'd expect nothing less from China.
August 8, 2008
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Page 69 of the Wordsworth Classics version I own puts us in the scene where Jane visits her one and only friend, Helen, in the sick room. This particular section helps set the scene that this is not a sunshine and lollipops type of book. Would this page alone make me want to read the book? I'd probably give it a try, not expecting to like it as much as I would. Although page 69 is good (as all the pages of Jane Eyre are), it certainly doesn't give justice to this classic.
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Phew. Yes, this page would make me want to read this book. I don't even remember who the characters on this page are, but the dialogue is intriguing and mentions the murder of the Clutter family. It does a great job of showing the grief that the town went through after the tragedy.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
I figured most people have read this (and if you haven't, go read it now). In the version I own, we find Jem and Scout discussing whether or not they should write a letter to the person leaving gifts in the know of the tree down the street from their house. It's not an especially intriguing passage, but it does a good job of showing the relationship between Jem and Scout. Like Jane Eyre, this page would encourage me to read the book, but it's doesn't show just how good the book is going to be.
I have not read these:
The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
Page 69 is the first page of a chapter, so half of it is blank. It's quite interesting because it's about Virginia Woolf as she is writing a book. One sentence in particular makes me want to finish this book: One always has a better book in one's mind than one can manage to get onto paper.
Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
This is a pretty good passage. It's written in first person and the character is resisting someone who is trying to give him a pill. Apparently he's been injured, so I'm interested to see what happened. However, it doesn't seem like a page-turner, but quite possibly a good book nonetheless.
Well, that was fun. I'll have to try it sometime when I'm at a bookstore and just need a book to read. It's probably more useful than reading the back of book, since most of the space is taken up by one sentence reviews and the author bio.
August 7, 2008
Today I found a link on a blog to one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever read. The story is from the St. Petersburg Times and tells the story of Danielle Crockett, a feral child. When I hear the words “feral child” I usually imagine a boy who is raised by wolves or the cartoon character Tarzan—but I never imagine a seven-year-old girl who lives in a city, in a house surrounded by neighbors and with three adults in the same house.
The story is told in three parts, beginning with the discovery of Danielle in a house crawling with roaches and with walls stained yellow by cigarette smoke. Police officers find the girl in a room wearing nothing but an overflowing diaper, lying on a torn mattress in a room filled with diapers. The mother yells at the officer, not understanding why Danielle is being taken away. The second part of the story explains how Danielle is adopted by the Lierow family. After living in a group home for more than a year, she is adopted by a family who has a nine-year-old boy—a family who felt complete, save for their desire to adopt a daughter. The third part of the story is an interview with Danielle’s biological mother. She attempts to explain how she could possibly allow such horrible things to happen to her own daughter. She seems clueless to the magnitude of her selfishness. How can a mother neglect her child to the point that the girl is unable to talk? Feed herself? Make eye contact? Walk in a straight line?
As I read this story, I was overwhelmed with thoughts and questions. I was reminded of the man in Austria who had kept his daughter in a dungeon for 20 years and fathered children with her—all while his wife and other children lived on the other side of the soundproof walls.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don’t know who said that originally, but we usually picture people like Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin when it’s said. But what about people who have absolute power over just one small area of the world? Like their home or their office or the life of their child? It’s unthinkable to me that such a person exists that they would give birth to a beautiful little girl and then neglects her to the point that she is unable to function. It’s unthinkable to me that someone like the man in Austria can deceive family and friends for 20 years and seem perfectly normal—until the devil within is revealed. But each of these persons exerted absolute power over their victim. They had the choice to love and nurture or neglect and torture. They chose the latter.
Sufjan Stevens has a song on his Illinois album about the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr. Gacy would lure and kidnap teenage boys and do unspeakable things to them before killing them and burying them under his house. The song gives some minor details about the story and the melody is haunting (I admit—I often skip over the song when I’m riding in the car alone at night). What is more haunting is the line Stevens repeats in the chorus: And in my best behavior, I am really just like him. Look beneath the floorboards, for the secrets I have hid.
Each one of us has the capacity to do evil things. We’re all sinful and fallen and selfish. We have the capacity to exert absolute power over someone else or something else and we do this as an attempt to fulfill our selfish desires. And at the same time, each one of us is an orphan or a child in the foster care system—waiting to be saved. A few months ago Steven Curtis Chapman’s adopted daughter was accidentally hit and killed by an SUV being driven by their son. He’s being interviewed on Larry King Live tonight and they just published an article he wrote about his daughter’s adoption. One paragraph in particular reminded me of the story of Danielle and the way her story had affected me:
“…what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family.”
Each one of us is an orphan and at the same time, each one of us is capable of the evil we turn our eyes from when it comes on the local news. Reading the story of Danielle Crockett not only deepened my desire to adopt the lost children in the world—children who just need a home and a family—but reminded me of the fallen world we live in and the world we’ve created.
Go, read the story of The Girl in the Window.
August 3, 2008
Parents are people too!
Okay, I've known that all along. My mom turned 52 yesterday and every time my parents celebrate some sort of milestone (birthday or anniversary), it gets me thinking about how my perception of them has changed and how they've changed. It's been interesting to look at them from "the outside in." They never went out while my brother and I were kids and they never made random weekend trips to the beach. They didn't go on cruises or go out for ice cream or go to plays.
It's been sweet to see how they're able to do things together now and have fun with just the two of them (although I must admit that I become jealous whenever they go on some fabulous vacation that we never got to do as a family...but that's okay). It's nice to see my dad take my mom to see plays, even though The Music Man is the one and only musical he'll ever voluntarily watch. Or for my mom to call and say they're going on a treasure hunt and then find out it's because they just left the theater after watching National Treasure 2.
Although my parents (just like everyone else) are far from perfect, seeing their relationship offers a view of what I hope to have in 30 or so years with my own spouse. I don't have a spouse or a prospective spouse on the horizon, so it's a blessing to witness my parents and hope that I have the chance to experience this same sort of joy in the future.
August 1, 2008
~This graphic tee
~The realization that the website design at church is almost complete and my life will soon be much, much easier and the site will be much, much better looking.
~Daydreaming about a quiet vacation at this lake house.
~Or maybe taking a vacation to this house.
~Riding motorcycles (I'll leave the driving to someone else, thank you). I've only done it once, but for-the-love-of-pete it was fun.
~"Laughing, loving and crying are the secrets angels share when we admit we're only human."
~People who leave comments.
Happy Friday! Someday soon I'll write a real blog entry with substance.
July 30, 2008
I was looking for an image to use for my "Wednesdays are for Opinions" graphic and found this:
It's soap in the shape of hands.
Am I the only one who would be more than a little weirded out if I used the bathroom at a friend's house and this was the hand soap (no pun intended) beside the sink?
...I think I just saw one of them move...
July 24, 2008
My office mate was reading part of this story to me this morning: Iraq Banned from Beijing Olympics. They had only seven athletes participating in the first place. The IOC explains their decision by saying they were already on an interim ban because after the Iraqi government replaced the country's Olympic committee with its own appointees.
This whole Olympic year has been very perplexing to me. Why, oh why did they even let China host the Olympics? It's okay to hold the games in a country that is notorious for mistreating its own citizens and bullying anyone else they can, but we can't allow seven innocent athletes participate? Why are those athletes being punished because their government (if you can call what Iraq has a government in a country that is falling apart in a region of the world that is falling apart) made a mistake?
Somebody should give this judge an award and then ask him to make the same ruling for some celebrities. He made a nine-year-old girl (who was part of a custody battle) a ward of the state so they would have the authority to change her name. What was so bad about her name, you ask? Well, her cruel parents named her none other than: Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. Alrighty then.
Watching the Couples Go By: This is the sweetest article ever written by an economist and one of the sweetest articles period. It's just a simple look at why people get married and how two ordinary people work well together. Good stuff.
July 15, 2008
I almost missed my first Positive Post Tuesday! And since it's late and I need to do stuff before going to bed, I'm going to cheat and write a list of things that have made me positive and optimistic about life:
1. Roommates who come home after being away for five-ish days: I seriously have the best roommate ever. She's hilarious and puts up with my obsessive compulsive need to clean things. I'm pretty sure that if I woke up at 3 a.m. and needed a Diet Dr. Pepper or I'd die, she would find a 24-hour store and buy me 76 bottles of that sweet, sweet nectar of the heavens. And then she'd hook up an IV straight into my mouth for fast relief. She also likes dogs as much as I do and frequently quotes Madea.
2. Friends who come back from vacation: I understand that people need to go on vacation, but it's especially sweet when they come home so they can continue sending me facebook messages about life and love and Dave Ramsey. I have the greatest friends in the world and if I wrote a full entry about the friend in question, you would all send me emails, trying to find out who she is so you could steal her and make her your best friend. Well too bad, Internet stalkers. She's mine and she's fabulous.
3. Earth friendly dishwasher detergent: I feel less guilty about never washing dishes by hand because they now offer earth-friendly cleaners. See? My laziness and hatred of dishwashing hands is saving the environment.
4. New offices: We just moved offices at work and the arrangement of the new office makes it possible for me to see who comes in and out of our office. I can also see everyone who walks by the office. So not only will this be great for distractions, but now people won't be able to ignore me when they come in to talk to my office mate. More chances to use my dry wit and gift of sarcasm? Check.
5. Finally finishing a project that was started months ago, but should have take a month to do: We've been working on designing and coding an e-blast for one of the ministries at work. Let's just say our schedule and the web designer's schedule (who is an outside designer) did not mesh well. But I received the correct coding and design yesterday. And I'm not lying when I say that I thought about going out for a margarita and using my own salty tears of joy as the garnish (is margarita salt a garnish?).
Welcome to Positive Post Tuesday, where I will be optimistic and say nice things. It will be like the feng shui of my blog and help balance out my rants and raves. Fun for you!
July 14, 2008
If these scientists really wanted to do me a favor, they'd team up with theologians and pastors and develop a pill I could take that would endow me with all the biblical and theological knowledge I'd ever need. Then I would know everything about the Bible (contents, history, etc.) without having to worry about things like "reading my Bible" or "studying" or "making an effort." I mean, really, who wants to do that?
I finished reading The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne last week. It's been a long time since a book has given me so many things to think about. Near the beginning of chapter eight he tells about a member of a youth group he used to lead who was caught with acid at school only a few weeks after "giving his life to Christ." When Claiborne asked him why he did it, the young man said it was because he was bored. Claiborne goes on to write "I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it's because we don't dare them, not beacuse we don't entertain them. It's because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives, which is why they play video games and join the army. But what are they to do with a church that teaches them to tiptoe through life so they can arrive safely at death?"
I'm convicted every time I compare the knowledge I have of my own faith and the knowledge that followers of prominent religions are expected to have. Or when I read something by Christopher Hitchens or another well-known atheist and they cite the fact that most of the Christians they talk to know less about their religion than they (the atheist) knows. I've heard pastors explain how young Jews would memorize the first five books of the Bible and if they were deemed worthy, they'd go on to memorize their entire Bible to become a rabbi.
Christians have gotten caught in this web where they believe they must make their faith easy in order for others to want it. We have to make being a Christian hip or trendy or simple in order for people to "try it." We don't want them to know how easy it is to be discouraged when we feel like God is far away. We don't want them to know that the Bible is hard to understand most of the time and there are parts we'll never understand. We give them the soft, cotton candy version of Christianity to get them started and once they've accepted Christ, we peace out and wish them the best. Another name in the Book of Life and another notch on our belt.
This is not to say we should paint a horrible picture of our faith and scare them away. Goodness, no. Because even at our worst times, Christianity is better than any alternative. Even when we feel alone, we aren't. We have the author and perfector of life with us at all times. But it's not easy and He never said it would be. But it's good--oh is it good.
I guess all of this is to say that I need to get over my complacency and laziness. I wasn't lying when I wrote that I wish I could take a pill and know everything about the Bible and Christianity. But even though it's a long and complicated book, nothing but good comes from reading God's Word. And to borrow a cliche, nothing worth having is ever easy.
July 13, 2008
There's no better way to start the week than with a "spiritual" post. Mondays will be when I write about what God has been teaching me or a particular theological subject I've been thinking about.
Positive Post Tuesday:
I got the idea for this from this guy. His posts are about specific people and are used to encourage and lift up that person. My post will just be positive in general. It might be about someone or something or a glowing review of a good movie I just watched.
Opinions are for Wednesdays:
I have a lot of opinions and sometimes I like to share these with the Internet. To spare those who don't enjoy the rantings of an over-opinionated twenty-something, I'll try to reserve my opinions for Wednesdays.
I also like to read the news. This has become less of a habit because the news is getting increasingly depressing. But I still read it a fair amount, so Thursdays will be when I talk about what's in the news and perhaps what I think of it all. This might also be where I share with you news of the weird or just plain interesting.
Things I Love Friday:
I really like links (except the kind that pop up one of those annoying screens when you pass over it to give you a preview of what the link goes to). Since it's the end of the work week and I like making lists, I'll use Fridays to show you the things I've seen or done or read or thought about or listened to that make me smile.
Now, I won't stick to this religiously if I have a great story to tell or a thought to ponder and I can't wait for the appropriate day. Or if the post doesn't fit in one of the categories. Heck, maybe I'll even post two things in one day--I know, I'm a wild and crazy gal. But from now on, whenever I'm thinking "Gee, it's been a while since I've posted. Whatever will I post?" I'll know that I have a schedule. So come on back for more later and we'll see how this works out.
June 26, 2008
Encouraging words like those come few and far between. What’s sad is that simple or small compliments and words that build another person up and spur them on to good things seem just as rare as a well thought-out compliment.
I was reading Stuff Christians Like the other morning and something in the Judgment Olympics entry really stood out to me. Number six on the list of ways people judge each other explained the common act of only pointing out the one thing that was done incorrectly, while dismissing the 99 things that were done right.
It’s been my experience that hearing a heartfelt thank you or a meaningful compliment for one of the 99 things done right, certainly makes it easier to get over that one mistake. Mary Poppins wasn’t joking when she said a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. A word of encouragement helps the criticism go down. It reminds you that you aren’t a total screw-up.
Why do we do this? I believe part of the problem is that we let trite politeness double as our edification. We believe that because we say “Bless you” when someone sneezes or tack on an unneeded “Thank you” at the end of an email, we’ve done our job. We’ve been polite to that person, so we can check that off our list of virtues.
I also believe we place too much emphasis on complimenting a person’s outward appearance (“Your hair looks great!” “You look like you’ve lost weight!”) and we forget that edifying who a person is, is much more important. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t like being told I’m pretty (I also remember the first time someone told me I was beautiful and they meant it, just like I remember the “less vain” compliments in the first paragraph). Telling someone that you appreciate their hard work or their gift of singing or their servant’s heart is too much work and too close to real emotion. But we are called to edify each other! Edifying is part of showing love to those around us and loving one another is second only to loving God. And part of loving God is following His commands. It goes hand in hand.
This entry hits close to home because I need to work on encouraging others and looking for the positive in others. And I sometimes would like to know I’m doing okay or I’m not a total screw-up too. So my friend and I have made a pact to look for the positive and be more encouraging. No more stale politeness or glossing over the greatness in others.
June 9, 2008
1. Name: Tiffany
2. Favorite food: Club sandwich
3. High school you attended: Clayton High
4. Favorite color: Sage
5. Celebrity crush: Anderson Cooper
6. Favorite drink: Sweet tea
7. Dream vacation: The British Isles
8. Favorite dessert: Ice cream
9. What I want to be when I grow up: A mom
10. What do you love most in life: Jesus Christ
11. One word to describe you: Passionate
12. Flickr name: randomdtd
Here's how you play:
Open three windows. One with the list of questions, another open to Flickr and ready to do an image search, and a third to Big Huge Labs' Mosaic Maker (create a mosaic with four columns and three rows). Answer the first question, put your answer in the search field on Flickr and choose one of the images from the first page to represent your answer. Click on the photo then copy and paste the url into the first spot on the Mosaic Maker. Do that for all 12 questions, then click create and post the results to your blog. Sweet, eh?
Once again, if you can't see the photo at the top of the page or the links are messing up the text, go directly to my blog: breakfasttiffany.blogspot.com. Photo credits for the mosaic can be seen by clicking on the photo.
June 7, 2008
When I was in the fifth grade I wanted to be a singer, actress and owner of a dog farm. My dog farm would be huge and would welcome any dogs that needed a home. They'd run around like cattle on a "normal" farm. Take a moment to imagine dogboys rounding up the dogs like cowboys round up cattle. My life aspirations have changed and now I just want one dog and I've resigned myself to the fact that I don't have the voice to be a singer (but I still have my Oscar acceptance speech ready just in case). I'm happy with where I am professionally and hope to one day write books, once I have the discipline to churn one out. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions about my future.
Which brings me to my point. A phrase has been making the rounds for a while now and it describes what many people my age are going through: the quarter-life crisis. We want to know what career to pursue, if and who we're going to marry (and when) and the general path we should take in our life. We're still getting used to being an adult and we want to know what comes next. Should I go back to school? Move to a different part of the country? Pursue a relationship with that person across the room who just happens to be fabulous?
Waiting for the answers to these questions (or questions that arise at any time of life) is about as much fun as counting the number of openings in a screen window. That is--it's not fun and it's tedious and makes you want to scream obscenities. And so we're told to be patient. We read over and over in Scripture to be patient and we repeat over and over that "patience is a virtue." So here's my question:
What the heck does patience look like?
Does it mean I have to be cool, calm and collected and just take whatever is thrown my way? Does it mean I'm not allowed to be upset or sad that nothing is happening? Should I just wait patiently for something to hit me in the head? What do I do while I'm waiting patiently for the Lord? Can I be proactive in my pursuit, or am I supposed to go about my regular business?
Patience can be seen throughout the Bible. It's no coincidence that saying someone has the "patience of Job" is a common phrase. So I did a topical search of patience and lo and behold the verses flowed forth. I read each of them and let me tell you--the people writing these verses often had a lot more to be upset about than me. I don't think I'll ever have to worry about being pursued by mortal enemies like in many of the Psalms (unless that dream I once had where I was the nanny in The Sound of Music and my husband hired someone to kill me comes true...but I digress).
The more I thought about patience and what it means and the more I read passages about patience, I began to notice something. Patience isn't a singular item we must cultivate. It doesn't stand alone, as though separate from other virtues. The overarching goal of our life in Christ is to glorify and worship God. When learning to do this, patience is one of the many results. When we're learning one virtue, we're actually learning others as well. When working on kindness, we're learning to be patient with everyone. When learning faithfulness, we're also learning self-control. These things go hand-in-hand and stand together.
Take a look at Galatians 5:22-23. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Did you notice how is says the "fruit" of the Spirit rather than the "fruits"? Or the fruit "is" instead of "are"?
I was looking up sermons about patience on my church's website and found one that talks a great deal about the need for endurance in our walk with Christ. Life isn't going to be easy, but God never hides His intentions or fails on His promises. In fact, I believe we can take great hope in knowing that our spiritual and personal success depends much more on God's promises than it does our own persistence. Meaning, if we're doing our part by seeking and following God, our job is just to remember and believe/trust His promises--and wait on Him.
There we go with the patience and waiting again. Back to my question: what does patience look like? I believe in the passages that explore patience by showing distress and doubt, we can find hope and guidance in the fact that these verses are included in God's Word. If it were wrong to be sad or upset, the entire book of Lamentations would not be included in the Bible. The fine line, though, is to remember God's goodness and continue to seek righteousness despite our problems.
In the end, I think patience means having full confidence in God's timing and waiting on His will to be fulfilled, rather than jumping ahead of the game or going directly against His will. We may have times of anguish and we may be hurting during the long wait, but while we're waiting we're also learning other lessons about God and cultivating other virtues. Even in the middle of Lamentations, the author writes "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great if Your faithfulness...The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord" (Lam. 3:21-23, 25-26).
To conclude: I don't believe there is anything wrong with asking questions or wondering about God's timing or even becoming emotional about a lack of change or movement. Our God is not an unemotional God who demands no emotion from us. Our God only demands continued trust in His timing and to follow the principles He has laid out for us in His Word.
Seek righteousness in all areas of life, even in our waiting.
June 4, 2008
Setting: In front of the townhouse
Time: 10 p.m.
Players: Tiffany and Meredith
Extras: Big spider, 432 small spiders, 1 toad
Meredith and I are leisurely walking to the door of the townhouse, talking about Very Important Things and about events that may or may not have transpired that evening. As I reach into my purse, a spider catches my eye. This would normally be a small matter--just kill it. But this spider happens to be the size of a Buick Le Sabre and happens to be chillin' on our doorstep.
We prepare ourselves. Meredith deftly scoots the spider away from the door and I sweep in with my cute red shoe, like an eagle going after its prey.
Did I mention that this spider has a ghetto booty that makes Jennifer Lopez look like a skinny white girl? I didn't? Well, this spider's butt was bootylicious.
So I go in for the kill when all of a sudden the bootylicious spider bursts into 4,087 tiny spiders going everywhere. That ghetto booty was, in fact, a large spider sac. Ew. I then notice that the spiders are crawling all over a toad. The toad is frightened--I can see it in his eyes. He runs for cover among the bushes while Meredith and I begin frantically squashing spiders like a ninja warriors squash trespassers.
Our Mission: Make sure those devil-spiders don't crawl under the door.
We're stomping frantically while hoping the spiders don't crawl up our legs. Our legs are moving and flailing about as though independent from our bodies. We are like lords of the River Dance and the crickets are providing our soundtrack. But it looks as though the 10,235 spiders are too much for us. So Meredith makes haste to her Honda to retrieve a mug so we can pour water over these tiny, tiny fiends.
It's over. We have conquered the 24,987 spiders.
Tiffany and Meredith-1
May 29, 2008
May 23, 2008
But when it comes to worship music, I can indeed pick a favorite. Music that makes me want to sing all day, even when my voice becomes hoarse. Music that makes me want to dance and swing my arms around and just revel in the beauty that is God. Love it. What is this music I speak so highly of? Why, it's Enter the Worship Circle.
Here's the thing: I like raw, under-produced music. And that's what this is. They literally sit in a circle and record amazing music taken straight from the Bible or taken straight from their reaction to the Bible and God's love. It's not a group of people who act and sound like they're hyped up speed and the entire time, you can only think of the word "hokey" as you listen to it. It's just real--like you're sitting in a living room with these people and singing. Every time I listen to these CDs I feel a renewed eagerness to learn the guitar and djembe.
They just came out with the Fourth Circle CD and it's a bit different than the other three and in this case, that's not a bad thing. It has a fiddle, mandolin and another weird instrument in track four that I don't recognize. It has songs like the other three CDs but also works in some blues and gospel sounds.
They're also doing a series title Chair and a Microphone. It's literally a musician and one instrument being recorded--and that's it. So simple. It's also amazing to see how short songs become when you don't add a lot of extra instrumentation. But that's just a side note.
That's my commercial for today. I wanted to spread the love and let all three of my readers know about this amazing music. Go check it out.
May 6, 2008
And that's just in the U.S. The rising cost of food is crippling other countries and a cyclone in Myanmar just killed 22,000+ people. The war in Iraq keeps dragging on and the situations in Zimbabwe and Sudan don't seem to be improving. What a world.
Joy has always been a concept that I had a hard time with. I remember in high school, my church's pastor (not the same church I attend now) was dealing with a rebellious daughter. His other daughter had always been involved with the youth group at our church (she's a few years older) and acted as a sort of mentor to the girls. And amidst these sad circumstances she was always smiling and full of joy. My friend and I asked her how she always seemed happy and her answer was quite simple: She chose joy. So simple to say but excruciatingly hard to do. I've heard it said that happiness is based on circumstances and joy is based on attitude. This is when I wish God loved lists as much as I do. Then he could have given me a five-step process to being joyful:
1. Eat chocolate
2. Pray the exact prayer found in 2 Hesitations 3:14
3. Take two ibuprofen
4. Drink a margarita
5. Pray the prayer again and voila! Joy!
But our God is not a God of lists or five-step processes or 40 days to a new you. He's a God that wants us to pray and delight in Him. I just started reading Desiring God last night for the first time (I know, I know--it's a classic. But I'm slow on the non-fiction reading). I had heard the concept of Christian hedonism before and I had heard John Piper being quoted as saying "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him." But in these trying times (both in my own life and in the world around me), it rang more true than ever before.
A few weeks ago I was reading a blog and the author had a link to some of her music she'd recorded. The first song she linked to was "Weight of Joy." I put this song on repeat, downloaded it and then played in on repeat for two weeks. It's such a simple song but has such a profound message. It basically says that sometime during life she (I) was juggling and struggling with everything, and she dropped God's joy in order to "make room" for other things. "Relieved of its weight I trudged forever on, but the absence of joy had transferred to a burden on my heart." She continues on until she ends her journey on her face. God finds her "hollow and alone" and He gets down on His knees and hands her joy.
He gets down on His holy knees and handed her joy.
I'm not saying I'm depressed and on the verge of a breakdown. I'm nowhere near that. But reading the news and hearing about the struggles in the lives of others and in my own life--it can be burdensome and it's easy to drop God's joy. So many questions about the future and what this means or what that means or trying to ignore loneliness or trying to learn about a God who can seem so distant--it can all be overwhelming. But through it all, He's right there, whispering softly in my ear "My child you dropped this back there" and He hands me joy.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
April 24, 2008
Around 60 portraits were painted by artists all over the world who live in poverty-stricken countries. I like the idea, but as I was looking over the portraits (each one is available for download, by the way), many questions and thoughts came to mind. It’s interesting to see how different cultures portray Christ. I think a lot of postmodern Christians like to make snarky remarks about the fact that Jesus was not a white man, with the underlying belief that only arrogant and ignorant white people would ever presume to portray Jesus to look like them. Yet, I look at these portraits and find that many of the artists painted Jesus to look like someone from their own village or town or demographic. One artist actually did paint himself, which is taking it too far (in my opinion), but the point still stands. We like to picture Christ as we are. We take the qualities we like about Jesus and focus on those. The author of one of the blogs that linked to the exhibit pointed out that everyone loves Jesus. He’s a great guy and everyone can find something to identify them with Him. Of course, that obviously doesn’t mean they follow His teachings. And just because someone likes Jesus, doesn’t mean they understand Him. But I digress.
This also reminded me of something I was thinking about a couple weeks ago. For book club we read a ridiculously awful book, The Shack by William P. Young. Not only is it full of dangerous and shaky theology, but the writing was elementary. Although the book as a whole was not very good, one aspect struck me with its truth. In The Shack, the main character (Mack) “meets” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a shack and spends the weekend with them. Mack quickly realizes that he is much more comfortable around Jesus than he is around God. And to Mack, the Holy Spirit is the oddball or just a mostly unknown entity—almost like the third wheel that no one fully understands. But this rings true for me. If I’m honest, I’ve always pictured Christ as my friend and God as the stricter father of my friend. These portraits reminded me of this incorrect notion I have. I can picture Jesus laughing and fishing with friends and lovingly caring for friends who are mourning. But it’s easy to see God as the disciplinarian. The bad cop in the good cop/bad cop scenario. Which is crap. They are the one and same. All three are separate but one. Our God is a God of love, even when we don’t understand Him. A hateful or unloving God would not have sent His son.
Although it is good to be reminded of Christ’s love and good humor, I think we should also remember that He is the same man who drove out the moneychangers and those who were buying and selling in the temple. Yes, He is a loving Savior and God, but He is also righteous. Just liking His personality and agreeing with His “love one another” teaching means nothing unless you put your faith in Him.
Now, after all this rambling, go check out the exhibit’s site and the actual portraits and tell me what you think. Some things to ponder:
-Many Americans would see some of the depictions as silly or too feminine. What does that say about our culture or the culture of the artist?
-Despite the flaws of some of the paintings or historical inaccuracies, do they glorify God? Let’s assume the best and say these are believers who are using their God-given talents and showing Christ to the best of their ability, so would these please God?
-What would your painting look like? How do you picture God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit? A white man with a trimmed beard? A lion named Aslan? A corporate executive sitting behind his desk, dictating the affairs of the world?
April 3, 2008
1. It's too jam-packed full of merchandise. It's in the middle of aisles and covers ever inch possible of the ridiculously large stores.
2. The employees often (I'm sure not always) have no clue where merchandise is located (perhaps because there is so much merchandise).
3. The customers in Wal-Mart seem bent on being completely rude. They know they're in your way, in the middle of the aisle and that you need to get by. But they don't move. This isn't Wal-Mart's fault, it's just annoying.
4. They shut down smaller stores and become a monopoly.
5. Find more reasons at Wal-Mart Watch.
Those are just a few of the things I don't like. Add the following news to that list:
Wal-Mart Prevails in Case to Recover Health Costs
Deborah Shank stocked the shelves in a Wal-Mart until she was in a car accident with a tractor trailer that left her with brain damage and unable to walk. Her family sued the tractor trailer company and won $700,000. After paying all their legal fees, they had roughly $410,000 left over to pay for her medical expenses to take care of her for the rest of her life.
That's when Wal-Mart came in and decided to sue Shank and recover the $470,000 that her health insurance paid for medical expenses after the accident.
This is totally legal. It's call subrogation.
Okay, so it's legal. Big deal. Wal-Mart is the largest non-government employer in the U.S. I think, I think, they can live without that $470,000 that helped pay for a woman's medical expenses after a horrible traffic accident that left her without the ability to walk.
The good news is that after bloggers across the world, news shows and more berated Wal-Mart for their unfeeling and greedy lawsuit, they finally backed off. They won the case and all the appeals (although the Supreme Court declined to see the case), so they could have gotten away with it. But given the fact that Wal-Mart already has more than their fair share of PR problems, they decided to grow a friggin' conscience and not take the money. Or at least do what anyone with half a semester of Public Relations 101 could have told them would be the smart thing to do.
March 26, 2008
March 25, 2008
Characters: Roommates Meredith and Tiffany
The State Farm commercial shows different people at different stages of their life, some young, some old and some in between. One shot shows a father in his son's nursery.
Meredith: Aww...look at that dad with his son. Precious little...
Tiffany: What do you think it says that I noticed the rug and the lamp, but not the baby?
Meredith: I don't know. What do you think it says that I noticed the man but not the baby.
Tiffany: We're not ready to have children.
March 19, 2008
"Zealous atheism renews some of the worst features of Christianity and Islam. Just as much as these religions, it is a project of universal conversion. Evangelical atheists never doubt that human life can be transformed if everyone accepts their view of things, and they are certain that one way of living - their own, suitably embellished - is right for everybody."
"The problem with the secular narrative is not that it assumes progress is inevitable... It is the belief that the sort of advance that has been achieved in science can be reproduced in ethics and politics. In fact, while scientific knowledge increases cumulatively, nothing of the kind happens in society. Slavery was abolished in much of the world during the 19th century, but it returned on a vast scale in nazism and communism, and still exists today...Knowledge grows, but human beings remain much the same."
Read the full article here: "The atheist delusion" By John N. Gray