living. loving. laughing.

living.  loving.  laughing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You know you're in Oregon when...

We spent the Christmas holiday up in Oregon, which is where I grew up. Because it was James' first time visiting the homeland, there was lots to take note of, and in particular, I almost felt like I was seeing my home state for the first time. Here follows a list of "you know you're in Oregon when..." for your viewing pleasure:

(in no particular order, but Oregonians out there, feel free to pick your #1, and/or add to it!)

1. Teenage girls wear short shorts in 50 degree weather, pasty white legs and all.

2. Gas stations employ these people called attendants who pump your gas for you, and even wash the windshield at no extra charge. It is guaranteed that it will startle your husband who has never NOT pumped his own gas upon every visit.

3. No sales tax! Shopping is a field day because "it's like saving 10% automatically!" (said one such James - he is in finance, I suppose).

4. Strangers actually look you in the eye and say hello.

5. People greet you with "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."

6. There are equal numbers of drive-thru coffee stands as there are pizza parlors, one on every corner.

7. You see a man who looks like Mr. Pauley, your favorite 9th and 12th grades history teacher, so you follow him around the local Roth's grocery store. Then you realize that there are a lot of old, bald, white men in the town. Was it you, Mr. P? Love Monster.

8. You find yourself appreciating not seeing BMWs and Mercedes zooming pasting you, cutting you off every 50 feet.

9. The state colors fluctuate between green and yellow, and orange and black - both making your Auburn-cheering hubby mad.

10. People actually drive the speed limit on the freeway...

11. Said people don't pull to the slow lane if they're in the fast lane, because hey, 65 MPH is fast!

12. You have to work hard to get the hard stuff - ie: grocery stores only sell wine and beer, not hard liquor. But what about my hot buttered YUM?

13. Life just seems a little easier, and not so complicated...

14. No fog needed, says James - you find yourself driving straight through the clouds. Grey, grey, grey is everywhere.

15. Shaniquah the Subaru is not alone, as Outbacks have achieved world domination in the northwest.

16. The state encourages cliff jumping by naming a creek, "Jumpoff Joe Creek." Joe would sue you in California.

17. The sun seems to go to bed at 4 in the afternoon, and then sleep in till 8 the next morning. I have a hard time with those long hours...

18. Wait, what sun? (Just kidding - the first few days we were there were filled with that spectacular rain-free, cold, sunshine winter days).

19. A sun addendum: you hear real live chants of "rain, rain, go away" coming from the hallways of your local schoolhouse.

20. Your local high school and alma mater still looks like your local penitentary.

Monday, December 20, 2010

randomness

1. if you have a dog and need to laugh, read this: dogs don't understand basic concepts...

2. last night we had our first annual (only annual?) 70's Fondue Christmas Party. Please combine this concept with the current Biggest Loser contest I'm participating in and see if the two go together.

3. I've recently been sporting some pretty incredible Christmas outfits....last night's to be posted soon, so in the meantime, here's a little sneak peak of other holiday goodness:



4. I'm hungry. Maybe the Biggest Loser IS working! But in the meantime, we're going to see our old camp friends Scooby and Grommett for dinner tonite. Currently, Eric is kicking my butt in Words With Friends (Scrabble on the iphone), so I'm really really mad and mostly jealous at him. But we'll see, as this dinner MIGHT redeem the friendship. We'll see. Want to know where we're grubbing tonite? Farmer Brown.

5. I wonder if people realize my sarcasm at times and really do think I'm a hater. Hmmm...

6. Tomorrow morning, bright n early (5 am! Am I a farmer? No!) we're trekking up to Oregon for the holiday week. I am BEYOND delighted.

7. If you think of it, pray and/or send happy thoughts our way for NO blizzards. Need a reference? The Christmas Drive Two Years Ago By Cara.

I think that's about it...merry christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

today's 10

1. the orange is over - and it's about time, because the green and red has arrived!

2. JOY and PEACE adorn our living room...but they're ain't a whole lot of other decorations. Will we even get a tree this year? That is the question.

3. This morning I made some yummy honey butter to go with some yummy homemade biscuits...but decided to use vegan "buttery sticks" in place of the real butter. NEVER DO THAT. I repeat never, ever use a buttery stick if you have to. Ick. Bleh. Yuck. Don't do it!

4. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free friend, hence the leftover buttery sticks. Again, eat fatty animal-laden real butter as much as you can!

5. Join me in therefore gaining the holiday 15 - or the marriage 15. Oh dear.

6. What are you READING now that's striking your fancy? I've been a book whore, as of late, and I want to know what you're devouring.

7. Yes, I Just said "book" and "whore" together - it's for literary affect.

8. james and I will be putting our fondue pot to use in our first annual 70's fondue christmas party. Wear 70's green and red! eat fondue! see above marriage-15 pounds!

9. we have discovered the brisbane dog park and it is just lovely. mr. darcy has a new best friend name ruckus who lives a couple doors down; ruckus is about the side of my stomach, but plays ball quite well.

10. life is good. life is good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

12 days of orangeness

I think the now-extinct 30 days of pumpkin officially lasted 12 days. I'm not really sure; once my skin started turning this lovely hue of orange, I knew it was all downhill from there. Here follows the remaining days:

Day 5: a loaf of pumpkin sugary goodness. "Winner" and I were Young Life leaders together in college, once having a sleepover in my freshman room dorm...oh, if only we could find the video (that's right, it'd be on VHS) of that night now. James and I volunteered one night at a homeless shelter, serving dinner with our community group, so this yummy loaf was our addition. No regrets!

Day 5 recipe: Winnie's delish harvest loaf

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 16 oz can pumpkin
2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 bag mini chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together with mixer. Mix in eggs and pumpkin, and then add remaining ingredients and mix. In a greased loaf pans, spread mixture evenly, and bake at 350° for 60 minutes, DO NOT OVERCOOK mini loafs 40-45 minutes.

Day 6 recipe: Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. Uh-oh, you know when the recipe comes from one such southern belle, Mrs. Paula Dean, that it's gotta scream DELICIOUSNESS. Wow. Yum. Let's be glad we gave away most of the batch as to alleviate the marriage-15.

Day 6 recipe: sin on earth yumminess.

Days 7 and 11: What's for breakfast? Pumpkin muffins, what else? Since we blew up the waffle iron, muffins it is. I've actually made these twice, and ba da bing, ba da bang, yum!

Days 7 and 11 muffins: muffins without the added pecans (because we didn't have any!)

Day 8: We transported the remaining 100+ pumpkins to the county dump, so with rotten pumpkin guts on my new jeans and a nose tainted and in need of a face mask, there was no WAY I was eating pumpkin today. Bleh.

Day 9: 20 pumpkin pies! This was the catalyst for using up all the Wyldlife pumpkins: make pumpkin pies for our top 20 donors. I will hint at this one kitchen disaster that was quickly averted, after the first four pies had finished baking: if a recipe calls for SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK, don't instead use EVAPORATED milk, thereby eliminating sugar from the recipe. All I have to say is that those cans look MIGHTY similar...

Day 9 recipe: who needs sugar in a pumpkin pie? eh.

Day 10: I must say, I'm really not THAT into baking, but I feel like it's the most viable option with pumpkin, so when the idea of pumpkin crab bisque came my way, I was like BRING IT! I was so grateful for my Lily-friend who operated the blender in small portions so that I wouldn't again be scarred by blended pumpkin puree all over the kitchen when it pops off. Lily says we need to get an immersion blender...I say, Lily, you can be my blender!

Day 10 recipe: yes, I'll have some soup for dinner!

Day 11: repeat!

Day 12: P-Dub comes through again with the healthiest "butter" I've ever eaten! I've been putting this on top of applesauce, or, well let's be honest, just eating it out of the tub. Shhh.

Day 12 recipe: 1 cup pumpkin + 1 cup vanilla/plain/coconut (the last of which I had in the fridge) + 1 cup powdered sugar (dun dun dun...) + 1 t pumpkin spice = yummy goodness.

---

So with 12 days of pumpkin under my belt, 4 no-sugar pumpkin pies, enough baking to carry me into the next year, and a husband who's willing to eat it all, I say pumpkin be gone! Farewell!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

pumpkins, pumpkins...


I have this amazing helper of a woman who becomes the necessary detailed brain when it comes to planning wyldlife (middle school young life) events. She thinks of the big and little things, and she carries them out, and she does what she's asked, and more. So as we began planning last week's kick-off pumpkin bash, we made it her goal to get pumpkins. And get pumpkins she did - 298 of them to be exact. As the night itself came and went, so did the pumpkins - some of them that is. We seem to have about 200 extra pumpkins, and more guts than one can dream of, without the means now to properly dispose of all the said pumpkins because of the garbage company's weekly allowance. So made use of the pumpkins, I will!

Day 1: thanks to our trusty "www", I learned how to cook and puree said "pumpkin pie" pumpkins, roast a batch of seeds, and make a jarful of frosted pumpkin cookies (which I gave away all but four - girl's gotta keep off the butter weight!).

Recipe #1: Frosted pumpkin cookies...

Day 2: Our refrigerator is now chalk-full of pumpkin puree, with another two pumpkins sitting on the counter patiently waiting their time (and another 87 back at the office...). Since yesterday was a dessert, might as well incorporate today's into dinner; along with chicken parmigiana and spinach, we had pumpkin cheese puffs! Note: minus"puff," and insert "flat."

Recipe #2: The puffs that sound better than they taste...

Day 3: Is James seeing the trend yet? Well then, we're doing straight up pumpkin for dinner!

Recipe #3: pumpkin chunk + butter chunk + brown sugar goodness, roasted for an hour = yummy vegetable for dinner!

Day 4: James just learned that pumpkin can stay in the freezer for up to 6 months; he's now pretty scared that we'll be eating pumpkin through Easter. But James, we eat seasonally! Silly boy. Might as well start the day off right with pumpkin waffles!

Recipe #4: pumpkin waffles that caused the waffle iron to short-circuit and spark...

---

My goal is 30 days of pumpkin - it just sounds so doable, so practical, and perhaps for some of you, so biblical. Will we make it? Stay tuned...

Monday, October 18, 2010

bubble wrap and a cop, or two.

1. cara loads three large boxes of bubble wrap into james' car (because they ain't gonna fit in the suby).

2. cara drives with a car full of said wedding present bubble wrap all over san mateo county, crossing her fingers that she doesn't back into any unsuspecting vehicles. bubble wrap may be see thru, but it's rather obstructive when it comes to vehicle safety. remember that, children.

3. cara arrives at young life for the evening, and makes the poor leaders unload all the bubble wrap into the auerwecks backyard. it quickly looks like it's been trashed, but no, it's good clean fun!

4. high schoolers arrive, and they're like kids in a candy store. without instruction, they start fashioning bubble wrap mini skirts, butt warmers, tube tops, neckties, vests, hats, etc. Don't leave home without it!

5. we play bubble wrap volleyball. success.

6. we have a bubble wrap fashion show. don't worry, the above outfits were trumped by this load of bubble wrap wedding dresses and space suits.

7. we play STOMP THE BUBBLE WRAP BUBBLES AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN! ...but one smart 11th grader figures out that we're just trying to decrease our waste and calls us on our "pick up the garbage game." he's so smart.

8. with final bubble wrap, we wrap up a couple of new kids and put boxing gloves on them. "Don't aim for the face!" hey, it's young life. we're a punching good time.

9. nate gives a GREAT talk - and meanwhile, we begin to hear sirens.

10. and then yells.

11. And since we're in the backyard, we can hear all of this rather clearly because...

12. a car has been stolen, and the suspect, upon getting cornered, jumped out of the car and RAN!

13. ...into someone's backyard. and this happened right in front of the house. On the same street.

14. There are now 15 cop cars in the neighborhood, so we're told to have everyone go inside. NBD...no big deal. Kids love drama. It's gonna be all over facebook.

15. And I'm sure this looks really good to parents who are picking them up right about now...

WHEW! What a night.

I love my job. :)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

the stills


it seems like the one of the lessons young girls are taught from the age of, well, young, is that you can't change a boy. we grow up and reach adulthood and the message is only further exemplified about prospective suitors. so without picking on the hubs, i'm also learning that there are some things that i ain't changin' on. for instance:

1. I still don't like to make the bed. I thought maybe that this would be remedied with marriage, but alas, why make it if it's just going to get un-made that evening?

2. I still like to sleep more. and apparently need to sleep more. ahhh, sleep. I love you. i need you.

3. I still have this horrible habit (that I'm accepting, nonetheless and posting it here in cyberspace for all the world to see) of creating this mound of worn but still clean clothes. dirty clothes automatically get put in the laundry basket, but instead of hanging it back up, the mound just grows. i think it's in the midst of creating its own identity while we speak.

4. i still let the gas tank run to double, triple E for empty....and this drives james crazy. i like to think that i'm a woman of risk! he likes to think that i'm a woman who likes to run out of gas.

5. i still recycle everything in our house like it's going out of style, which i believe is a pretty green and eco-savvy thing to do, until said recycling begins to take over half the garage because the garbage guys can only take so much each week.

6. i still can't hone in on one thing at a time: ie: let's have 7 books i'm in the middle of reading, let's be working on 12 projects, let's take 13 years to unpack all the boxes from my old place and find a place in the house. i suppose this is normal, but i think there's that part of me that secretly thought i'd get all grown-up and focused upon marriage. it's called personality, cara.

7. slightly in regards to #2, I also still do not like to get up at the butt crack of dawn. hubs, why must you call 5.30 am glorious? It is not so!

the list goes on, and now that we're a whopping 6 weeks plus into marriage (!), the newness of putting clothes away and making beds is wearing off. what are your "stills"?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a tv couple.

we started tutoring up again yesterday again, and i was immediately paired up with this cute little latina girl, a sophomore that we'll call gloria. we spent the afternoon working on her _of mice and men_ essay, and then agreed to meet up this afternoon with mango fro yo in hand. (yes, i bribe for educational purposes).

well of course, what tutor would make a child who'd already sat in school for 7 hours that day not take a break and eat her drippy frozen yogurt on a wednesday afternoon?

so we sat. and then she broke the ice.

[note: i'm not used to kids asking ME questions until we've hung out for months. that's my job ...isn't it?]

"so do you like being married?" she asked me.

"absolutely!" how do you explain to a 15-year-old girl how wonderful it is to have your biggest fan there at the end of the day, cheering you on, your best friend to hang out and just do life with?

but still, I told her just that, and let her in on what a wednesday evening at our house would look like: i'll cook dinner, then we'll eat together and he'll clean up. we'll watch glee from last night and just hang out!

it sounded completely normal to me.

gloria: "you mean, you're like one of those families on TV? you're going to eat at the same table and cuddle together and stuff?"

Um. er. no. uh..... but to this young girl, the only picture of stability, of a loving family, of eating dinner together, of sharing responsibilities, of cuddling together, is only a faraway Disney picture she's seen on television.

My heart broke at that moment. i wanted to tell her - in the middle of the public high school's library, mind you - that she CAN have this, that this IS an option. There is something so much greater that God has for her, and for her future....

Yet my words rightfully are guised by respecting the boundaries of church and state. Still my heart breaks, and secretly i want and desire for her to stay in the group home so she can keep going to this high school, and i can keep seeing her afterschool for tutoring times and eventually be able to tell her such truth over jamba juice one afternoon.

but i have to trust that even if the courts do allow her to move back in with her family (and yes, please...) that this nugget of truth that she saw and experienced these two afternoons will stay with her. it's not up to me, but sometimes I wish i could rescue these young friends who have seen no such hope except that which the boob tube transmits over the air waves.

gratefully, cm.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

cake shoving and such.


Once upon a Sunday afternoon, we re-enacted our wedding, young life-style. note the jeweled bling-bling crown, and the hand raised mid-air for a group sing-a-long.


they even got us a cake, and ooh wee ooh, we were so excited. scratch that: I was so excited because I'd finally be able to shove a big, mushy piece of sweetness in love's face! you can see it in both of our eyes: he's like, "...honey, you're not really going to shove cake in my face, right?" And i'm just like, "it's all downhill from here, buster!"


The form, oh the perfect form! I really should think about going into cake-shoving professionally.


Finally we have the payback picture - smiles abound, and james succumbs to peer pressure that since it's a young life wedding, he has to take one for the team. "this is for the kids, right?" "right." SUCKA! mwah ah ah ah.

it's good getting married twice. or even once, for that matter. I highly recommend it. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

trouble.



For about 8 years of my life, I had the upper hand in my relationship with Brandon, my little brother, and was able to dominate him physically. I had a mean headlock and wasn't afraid to use it, except of course when mom came around the corner, and then I'd pretend like I was gently petting his head. "Here here brother, sweet brother..." I knew I was in trouble when he started to outgrow me, and those big sister headlocks were suddenly a thing of the past. I ran for my life.

I knew I was in trouble the first day of high school, and with school map in hand that I tried so desperately to hide, all of the sudden, MEN were before me: real, grown-up senior boys with hair on their faces. We freshmen girls gawked and knew them all by name - not that they ever had a clue who we were, but man oh man, walking to my locker would never be the same.

I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't hide that I WASN'T passionately in love with teaching English and the education system as a whole. I couldn't put on the act anymore, and though I loved being with kids, I fervently wanted out of the classroom, out of the box that was suffocating me alive. So I joined Young Life staff. More trouble.

There are moments in our lives when we know that we're in trouble; we know that ain't nothin' gonna stop me now, it's alllll downhill from here.

I knew I was in trouble last Thanksgiving break, when I found myself over the border in Mexico speaking to a group of high school friends; we had no internet or cell phone reception, or flushable toilets for that matter. Here I was on Thanksgiving day, officially done speaking, with no talks to plan and organize, and not a soul around me; I sat on the bunk in the musty storage room and began thinking about all that I was thankful for. And James kept coming to mind.

We had been officially dating for less than two months at that point when it hit me: I'm in. Oh no....my heart is in it to win it, and I'm in. I'm in trouble now.

Three days later, upon arrival back in the bay area, James and I had had an impossibly perfect day when this positively trouble-filled conversation ensued:

"James, if you're going to back out, you'd better do it quickly."

"Huh?"

"I mean, if you're going to leave, if you're not IN this, then break up with me now. Fast! Stat! Do it!" (How do I tell him that my heart is in it, that I really, really, really like him? Every other man leaves - but my heart is in it, and I don't want another lonely night of bon bons, vino and a chick flick ... really now).

"What makes you think I'm going to break up with you? Have I given you any indication of such thing?"

"I'm just sayin' - let me off easy if you're out!" (I ... like ... you ... can't you hear me?)

"Cara, I don't know how else to tell you this, but I'm in. I'm in, I'm in, I'm in, I'm in. I'm not leaving. I'm in."

"You're in?"

Gulp.

"Yes, I'm in."

Pause. Tears.

"[insert James' full name here], you're planning on marrying me, aren't you?"

"I am."

"Well, all righty then..."

We were so in trouble that Sunday in November, we didn't even know it.

Happy almost one-month anniversary, love.

Monday, September 13, 2010

my peeps.

there was this girl, jenny, whom I used to teach with, and i remember getting into one of those lunchtime conversations: she'd boasted in a delightfully i've-got-a-secret-that-you-want-to-know sort of way that she'd married the same man three times. the table was transfixed and slightly ill-at-ease all at the same time, as you hear those stories of love and marriage and divorce and remarriage when the identical twins reunite at summer camp and then switch places, forcing their parents to meet up again and fall in love .... starring Haley Mills and Haley Mills. But somehow Jenny had managed to meet and marry the same man three times in real wedding and civic wedding and fake wedding sort of way.

I was always jealous of that - i mean, i hadn't even had one wedding, and here she was able to stump all of us with three weddings under her belt. so my competitive self is glad that i'm catching up to jenny with two weddings under my belt, as of yesterday.

we had a young life wedding, and the one word I've used to describe it is endearing. it was endearing to have our family of parents and kids, leaders and committee, and other friends of young life surround james and me with just as much enthusiasm and heart as august 21st. tears were shed, snorts were had, christ was present and we felt renewed and believed in and fully supported, both in ministry and personally. i loved it when alan, our friend and 63-ish year old leader, asked who gives this woman to this man. All the young life kids were standing up front with james and me - the guys on james' side, and the ladies on mine - and those young men looked at each other and bellowed, WE DO! with all the gusto they could manage.

it was delightful and utterly heartwarming all at the same time.

it's funny, because as we were talking about what this day would be like, it's almost like we felt like we were chalking up a mark on the chalkboard of good deeds. the wedding on the 21st was about us, but this, this day was for everyone else - for those friends whom you associate with in all things of the heart ministry-wise, but they don't really know you. they're not really "your people."

I was wrong.

they are my people.

they do know me.

this day was for them, but it was for us as well. these are my everyday people. i may not be pouring out my guts to the teenage boys proudly standing up there next to james, but week in, week out, we're seeing the ups and downs in each other's lives. we're seeing when we're tired and when we're celebratory; we're seeing each other when we've had a hard day, and when we can't seem to get out of the sludge our feet are stuck in.

these are my people.

and I embrace that which is before me.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I nabbed myself a hot guy.

As per what often happens with dogs, if you're (ie: the human) a social creature, then interactions with other humans and their canines ensue. We've begun to get into the dog-walking rhythms of the day, doing the loop around Brisbane morning and evening with Mr. Darcy (plus a run with his dad if he's lucky). Whilst beginning the walk last night, we happened upon a favorite friendly neighbor and his dog.

"Hey!" (me)

"So, how's it going?" (him)

"Good, good, just walkin'" (as you can see, the conversation was well on its way towards greatness).

"So, when's the wedding?"

"Oh, we actually got married a couple of weeks ago!"

"Well, congratulations!"

"Thanks!"

Pause...awkward silence...does he know who I am?

"I'm Cara - I married James; we live at the end of the street."

"Oh yes, yes - he's the .... " Another pause.

My thoughts: oh...the white male doesn't know how to say "black man." That's okay. I'll break the silence and the racial barriers, and put the words in his mouth for him.

"...black guy?"

"Well yes, but I was going to say HOT GUY!"

Dying, dying. I was dying.

"Yup, I think he's pretty hot too."

Matt* then proceeded to tell me about how he and his partner and the other gay men on our street were so excited to learn that a hot, single man had moved in - but bummer that he's heterosexual!

I'm excited to do dinner with these new friends. Welcome to the neighborhood, welcome to the neighborhood.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

lessons learned in 15 days



James and I have successfully been married for 15 days now. Whew! Here then are 15 things I've learned thus far:

1. When rearranging every cupboard and drawer in (his) house, be sure to tell him where you've organized said things.

2. Remember where you organized such said items, so maybe tie a little string around your finger or something.

3. He will always be cold when he sleeps; you will always be sauna-hot. Sleep in a tank top and don't worry if he steals the covers because you'll still be sweating bullets.

4. Even if you - naturally - wake up before him, he will always get out of bed before you. You like to lay in bed, awake, he likes to spring out of bed, chirping.

5. Just because you're lying in bed awake doesn't mean you want to be alert to the outside world.

6. You'll compromise. A lot. We went out to dinner with a couple from the prayer breakfast (February) who's been married almost 40 years. Dave and Marty's one word of advice? Compromise.

7. For every one picture you take, he'll take 30.

8. For every five books you read, he'll read 1.5. And this isn't a bad thing, he just chews slower, and you digest quickly. (Honeymoon books read: Bittersweet, The Blue Parakeet, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Saving Fish From Drowning and Change of Heart. Currently finishing The Girl Who Play With Fire).

9. This also applies to food. No matter what, you'll finish your meal before him every time.

10. it annoys James when you don't break the label of the wine bottle before opening. You think, why waste time?

11. It annoys you when James doesn't smoosh every item in your kitchen into the dishwasher in order to be more energy-efficicent and green when using the appliance.

12. Say I love you - and mean it - a lot.

13. He wears more sunblock than I do. And he's black. And I'm not. Hmmm.

14. As long as you introduce the word "practical" into your sentence, he'll buy it. This especially works for clothes. Mwah ah ah ah.

15. I really - really, really, really, really - am loving life together.

Bring it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

woo-hoo!

Hello, my name is mrs. meredith.



and now, back to the honeymoon! (actually, we leave tomorrow, but i feel like I'm not supposed to be having ANY sort of social contact with the outside world, so it's time to go and eat pizza with the HUBS). ps: thanks b-ren for the PERFECT pic!

Friday, August 06, 2010

defying gravity.

9.30 every friday morning is marked on my calendar with the following: BUTT KICK CARDIO CLASS!!! A few months ago, one of my mommy-friends suggested that I attend the class, with my "flexible schedule and all". Hey, why not, I mean, I go to the Y regularly, I walk Mr. Darcy like my life depended on it, I did Billy Blanks videos 1, 2 and 3 in college - what's another Friday morning class? So I arrived at the Y as per my usual five-minute-late self, walked into the gym, and took a place in the back row.

I couldn't even see the instructor, but I could sort of hear her. What I could see was a look of mean determination on the face of every man and (let's be honest) woman in that room - and I was not up to par, to say the least. Thoughts of Tae-bo are dancing through my head, as I'm remembering how GOOD I was at doing the video with three other girls in our 9 x 12 dorm room in Tinglestad. So what's this class got on me? Everything. Everything.

I somehow made it through the first 45 minutes, a bit red-faced and sweaty, and started patting myself and my teammates on the back: good job, good job. "RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" The instructor barks out commands, and quickly everyone gets in formation and starts running laps around the gym. Okay, so maybe this is what we do at the end of Cardio-Kickboxing, I thought to myself, nodding my head of approval to every person I pass, and am subsequently passed by.

Little do I know, but I've entered part two of what I've affectionately come to refer as the BUTT KICK CARDIO CLASS (exclamation points) - because we'd started in on boot camp. Of course. What hour and a half interval wouldn't be complete without an added 45 minutes of boot camp?

The instructor continued to bark. I started to lag, lag, lag behind as I realized that I'd about reached my game at the height of my jab-jab-kick combination. "GET TO THE WALL!!" she screams. So get I got. And she begins to demonstrate these push-ups that were not your normal push-ups, but with your hands on the ground your feet got up ON the wall. So I'm trying my hardest, but every time my feet go up, my hands start slowly sliding forward - with the sweat from the previous hour and 15 minutes of ridiculousness. The instructor comes up to me: "you're not doing it right." "really?" (I suppose I didn't sound so sarcastic at that moment, though my heart wanted to deal her one of those blows she taught me how to throw just an hour earlier). "You have to go like this..." And she begins to do her non-sweaty hand my-whole-body's-like-a-feather push-up against the wall. I looked at her and sneered.

Soon the class was over. Soon I was walking out of there drippier than the faucet that drives you crazy when you're trying to fall asleep. And I vowed never to unleash another 15,000 calories on that Friday morning again.

But I found myself there this morning.

And I found myself kicking butt.

And I was still glaring at the instructor who's able to show me up like there's no tomorrow with her gravity-defying push-ups.

But I also walked out right as the ants began to march around the gym in their running position. I think I won.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

building 555

this morning james and i arrived at the san mateo county courthouse at 8 am on the dot to apply for our marriage license. we met up at peet's at 7.30 to grab his regular drip and my white chocolate americano with room, and I was reminded of his chipper early-morning being and my I-don't-naturally-awake-to-the-world-till-9 self. [after working not more than 3 early morning shifts at starbucks in college, management finally took the early morning reigns away from me because of lack of productivity during the 4 am shift. "What?! i'm not allowed to drink my latte behind the counter? well, forget it!" so, i became the night-shift girl].

after grabbing the necessary energy juice, we found ourselves moseying over to building 555, and second (!) in line, after filling out our online application, we came face to face with the kindest grandma-like processor of our marriage proposal. She complimented us on smiling on our driver's licenses, and on smiling to each other, and on smiling to her - "you seem happy!" she squealed. "Well, isn't everyone?" "no...."

interesting.

interesting.

it's an exciting time, to say the least, and as the future mrs. meredith-to-be, i desire to choose joy. i desire to smile, lots. i desire to not let the silly big and little details of the wedding take over, but instead relish the present moment of standing in line at the courthouse, putting our right hands up and being prompted to say yes. So yes. Yes, yes, yes. To learning how to love each other more, to being each other's biggest fans; to cleaning out our respective houses and making room for each other, physically and emotionally; to living simply, choosing instead to hunker down with love.

that's not exactly what she asked us, but that's the yes i give anyway.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

a potential look for the wedding....

I just asked gracie (future hair and make-up wedding artist) and james (future hubs!) if I should do my hair like this for the wedding:



it's a possibility.

Oh, YL camps....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

man, that's just crazy!

this afternoon a high school buddy and I took a trip to the mall, among other fun n exciting afternoon activities. After stopping by Hotdog on a Stick's $1 Tuesday corn dog specials (of which the future bride did not partake, sad face) and grabbing lemonades instead, we passed by Crate and Barrel.

"Oh, that's where we're registered at!" I said excitedly.

"registered? what does that mean?" So I then began the process of -trying- to explain what it means to register for a wedding:

*it's like your best Christmas present wish list at age 12 come true.
*it's like you tell your mom and dad that you really, really, really want a puppy for your birthday and they actually get it for you.
*it's what people are supposed to do. I mean, it's just what you do. You buy them dinner and invite them to your party, and they bring a present.

As we're then walking through Crate and Barrel, I'm showing Keisa some of our items: "you mean people BUY you this stuff?"

"Yeah!"

"And how much do you have to pay to get this?"

"nothing! people just do it for you! it's the best thing ever!"

"man, that's just crazy!"

Indeed, this whole idea of registering, it's crazy! don't get me wrong - I'm sure back in the day before registries existed there was a use for five Crock Pots, four Betty Crocker cookbooks, and 12 hot plates. But now-a-days, I can technically say I just want one, and I might just get one!

---

In all seriousness, it's been a little overwhelming - in a really, really good way. I know that it's my 'time," and when I attended countless showers and weddings, that it was pure joy to give a gift. it was fun, it was a blessing from me to the person receiving it. But now that it's reversed, I'm having a hard time all the way accepting that this gift is the same....that the same heart desires to give back to me what I've given to them. And that's just weird. That's just a little crazy, as Keisa would say.

But I think i'll be okay with it in the long run. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

we've been in camp mode. we've been in wedding mode.

and that....is my excuse. But if you haven't seen the engagement picture slideshow, feel free to indulge here.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

the thread of recent conversation.



My conversations as of late seem to be revolving around this single thread: transition. And life is full of them. As of late, I've been struck with the transition in moving from being a single, independent adult to a married, dependent-in-a-good-way partner. Not that engagement makes me feel like I'm in that weird middle spot, but I do feel like I'm in that place of transition. James and I were both laughing and lamenting the ever-evolving transition to "couplehood": no longer is my inbox full of evite and facebook invitations to this 75+ party and that, but instead emails circulate as to couple dinner dates and Friday night game nights. Apples to Apples, or Settlers of Cattan? What shall it be, folks?

It's been stark, to say the least, and has hit me abruptly - but though the massive friends list may be decreasing, I feel like I'm - like we're - trading it in for something better. It's that which everyone at the Saturday night party craves, even with all the single-minded, feminine streaks we possess: we long and we yearn for intimacy. We want to be known, loved and understood. We all had our little "beep beep! Is THIS the one?" radars on and collection of men to fall back on in our hoppers. but now I've got the one. and there is no back-up hopper plan.

So as James and I step into marriage in just a couple months, we're excited to hunker down and be each other's #1 fans - and with such a statement, it does mean that naturally we're easing ourselves out of that arena. But I don't lightly brush it off with an "out with the old, and in with the new" mentality: there is a mourning process that goes on. A well-loved and celebrated season of the past 10 years post-college is coming to a close, and I don't want to then become one of those married women who forgets what it was like being single, thoughtlessly peering past the person's eyes, wondering why they're too not married yet.

Because there's not a recipe, or an order, or a formula that works.

That I'm finding out with relationships, with life, with jobs and ministry, with it ALL. But sometimes I do wish for an inbox full of evite invitations, just for old time's sake.

Monday, June 07, 2010

is it illegal....

to save money on return address labels, with the following pre-emptive strike?



(except, FYI, it didn't exactly say "Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith"...

Heh heh heh.

Here's my thought: we didn't buy the super fancy-dancy invitations that come with an embossed return address label, so one had to be purchased. We're for the most part paying for the wedding, so it had to come from us...and given my cheap Scottish roots, I justified an early "Mr. and Mrs. James Meredith" stamp.

We really didn't get hitched at city hall.

And I could have added an "established 8.21.10," but that would have cost at least $2 more! So, reduce, reuse, recycle, we have justifiably arrived at the answer.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

go green!

while visiting the northwest last month, James took this rather GREEN pic of me. Green jacket, green grass, green trees. Hey, they do what they can in Seattle.



The most eco-savvy friends I know, Jer and Care (who even make their own LAUNDRY DETERGENT - I mean, that's green!) recently had a baby. Just in case they'd decided to, I don't know, go orange or something after Saige's birth, I sent them that eco-savvy pic to encourage them to continue in their green-ness. And Saige's response?



Of course she's green! She was practically born that way - in a completely rosy pink baby sort of way, I say.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

i cook, therefore I am...

I'll admit, having someone to cook for makes me want to cook just an eensy weensy bit more. I wouldn't say that I'm at the point of cooking being a form of relaxation (and if that is you, please explain to me how balancing timers and ingredients and measuring cups and hot stoves is relaxing! stress says me!) - but James and I are loving going through cookbooks to see what sparks our tastebud's interests. here's what i've learned:

1. this, as we had for dinner tonite was YUMMY. and even if the sauce ends up soupier rather than saucier, james still thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, he's excited to dip such sliced bread into its leftovers.



2. I'm a bit of a reduce-reuse-recycle kind of girl...for instance, no food should go to waste, and it's easy for me to get over-zealous in my grocery shopping and purchase food that I end up throwing out. So, what's on tap this week in the CROCK POT because there is a huge excess of celery? this.



3. Chorizo is not a vegetable. and you should find that out before heading to safeway and asking the "nice" mama with a baby.

4. I still have to look up how to properly hard-boil an egg: do I boil the water first, and then drop the egg in? is the egg in there from the beginning? and for how long? See, it's times like these that typing in "how to boil an egg" into google's search engine is quite handy.

5. you really can get by in life without a microwave. i'm (by choice, mind you), going on 9 months now, and life is still grand and relatively radio-active free.

6. No matter what the food, mr. darcy begins to beg the minute I step foot into the kitchen. Okay, so he's a dog, that's a no brainer.

7. Now let's say you decide to get creative with your coffee in the morning, and you think to yourself, "...self....what if you made this toasted coconut coffee. you sure would be a superstar." And then you put said coconut into the toaster oven, and put it on "toast," naturally. Well, you might just catch the coconut, the pan, and the oven on fire. Be careful what you wish for, little girl.

8. Bisque requires a blender. if you don't have a blender, you'll have chowder, and really, the man will still like your soup! (and also, if you don't have a blender, that's what wedding registries are for!)

9. People will still talk about chicken and waffles long after your engagement wears off. it's a delectable treat, and a must-have for future parties. (note: in case you don't know what i'm talking about, we had a chicken and waffles engagement party. YUM-MY!).

10. So, josh and brenda, I guess I've come along way since MFCB: my first cookbook.

Monday, May 17, 2010

3 things I kind of secretly wish in my head. by cara.

1. why can't a bride, or even a bridesmaid, walk down the aisle with a big ol' fat BIRDS OF PARADISE flower? I mean, they're confident, they're uniquely beautiful and they scream, "look at me!" - even if they're prone to poking an eye or two out.



2. One more wedding note: I secretly wish for COWGIRL boots, for all the ladies! Actually, I did slightly propose this, and my sister quickly vetoed it. But how rad would that be? And who cares if I have not an inkling of actual cowgirl in me, although I have recently become obsessed with The Pioneer Woman, and am crossing my fingers that perhaps James will take to raising cattle and wild horses one of these days.

3. no such thing as 7 am meetings: oftentimes I give workin' folk the option of a morning, noon or night meeting, after all, I am the one with the flexible schedule. But when they take me up on the 7 am meeting, I mean, really folks! I think the world would be a much happier place if we all slept in everyday until 8 am and began our workday at 10. It's just a proposal. [Side note: because here I am at noon-thirty, having already had four meetings this morning. What is this crazy productivity?]

The list goes on: I secretly wish for a constant caffeine injection, for flexible poses during yoga so that the instructor doesn't have to call me stiff-bones, for a million dollars, for a Subaru Outback, for my very own tropical island named Caramer. The end.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

add a caption


I think this is the most serious-looking picture I've ever taken; let's play 'add a caption' to this sun-beaming pic.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

apparently...

I've got wedding on the mind - but I swear there's more to this girl than burdensome guest lists and coconut cupcakes! But since we're on the topic, might I present this sassy little number for the ladies standing up there near me:

*Sweet sassy molassy Marilyn dress.

Otherwise, we had a "meet the fiance" weekend up in Washington - I'm still here, sitting in my sister's living room, while the man flew back to the land of sunshine this afternoon. We did have a fabulous little laugh over this memory with The Millerhood last night:

*Why you men and women should always choose single-person kayaks by Cara, Josh and Brenda.

I feel full, in a good, completely soul sort of way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

i don't like...


*narrowing down a wedding list.
*picking and choosing between what I like to call everyone: FRIEND.
*thinking about who pursues me and who I pursue (which has been the separating factor).
*realizing what relationships are just ministry-lationships, and which are friend-lationships.
*the fact that i'm not okay with this thing called the guest list thus far.

I hear that the guest list is the HARDEST part. I hear that you have to just do it. I hear that there might be regrets on those whom you don't invite. I want everyone to feel like an A+ superstar, and not a B-list video rental.

So, ending on a positive note:

I DO like...

*the reality of ELATION that exists over this event!
*a fiance who still loves me even when I get frustrated over the guest list and have to call a conversation quits because i'm just fed up.
*feeling celebrated.
*seeing all the pieces of the puzzle come together rather quickly. Let's be honest: by the time you're 31, have been to a ba-jillion weddings, and been in 10+ weddings, you know what you want (and don't want) in a wedding. Photographer - check. Cake woman - check. Hot black man to be the future husband - check. Oh wait...

On another note, the YL kids stole my phone tonite and texted James with the following: "I miss u babyyy... Love u sooo much." Really, he didn't know any better (although I hope he questioned the grammar) - BUT since they also decided to text the OTHER James in my phone - ie: the 7th grade BOY I read with every Wednesday morning!!! - well, that wasn't so easy to explain. Here's to YL kids showing their love through the illegal.

love, peace, weddings and horrid texts- chm.

Monday, April 05, 2010

windrider this weekend in MP



It's a shameless plug for an AWESOME event: the Windrider Forum is coming to Menlo Park! if you're in the YAY AREA, then join them this coming weekend...including the opp to meet MARK RUFFALO!

Here are details from an email I just received:

Thursday, April 8th We open with an informal presentation with Ralph Winter and Chap Clark followed by the Priddy Brothers film, AFTER THE STORM, and a Q&A with John Priddy and James Lescene.

(c): Ralph Winter is big time. Chap Clark is smart time. the film After the Storm is amazing - i just wrote a final paper on it.

Friday, April 9th Mark Ruffalo and Christopher Thornton were impacted so profoundly with their Q&A session in our class at that their distribution company pursued us to set up this screening of SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS. This is the first time the film has screened since Sundance.

(c): GO SEE THIS AMAZING FILM THIS FRIDAY NIGHT.

Saturday, April 10th Three events are planned. Our Shorts Program in the afternoon, followed by a filmmaker reception, and closing with the 2009 Sundance selection, THE ANSWER MAN with a Q&A session with John Hindman, Director

(c): I really have no comment on the above other than the fact that I'm distributing tickets at 6 pm. :)

---

Windrider Film Forum – Bay Area

April 8-10, 2010

650.321.7444

Tickets: $10 General Admission/$8 Students

(available for pre-purchase online or at the theater prior to the screening)

---

Spread the word and GO!!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

plus one - they're not just a bad band from 10 years ago


Back to the list of "do's" and "don'ts" when it comes to a wedding: James was adamant about NOT allowing any "plus one's." I'm like, I hear you - I mean, it really doesn't get any better than insync and backstreet boys, so why try and "christ-i-fy" it by playing music from a horrible Christian boy band? James looked at me. Oh no you didn't.

Plus One: your guest when you are invited to an event. "billy's gonna be my plus-one at jane's party." (urban dictionary, I love you).

Now here's the hard thing: I've been a plus one. I've been a "hecks yes, I deserve an invite to your wedding! I'm coming whether you like it or not!" (Camo, can I be your date please?) I've been that college kid who didn't get an invite to a wedding, but thought I had the "right" to be there because we'd had five or six conversations in our lifetime.

Oh no I didn't! but i did.

So without even bringing up the (very hard task of the!) guest list itself, how does one nicely communicate "no plus ones"? Is plus one inevitable, kind of like requesting absolutely NO kenny g at a wedding and then hearing his saxophone romantically brush the DJ airwaves? (Bennett, you'd better not!) ....or should I take these potential plus one wedding crashers as a compliment of sorts?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

will mr. darcy be the ring bearer?

Now really, people. I know that I love my dog. I know that sometimes I humanize him a bit too much and call him Fitzwilliam and let him cuddle with me. I know that he's been my token side-kick for a good 3.5 years now, and that every good illustrative story at camp involves the little dude. So when I was asked for, oh, the 10th time today whether or not Mr. Darcy would be in the wedding, I really had to take a step back.

These people are serious.

People really do think I'm as obsessed with my dog as, well, someone really obsessive. And am I? (Wait, wait, don't answer that question). I love the little bugger - but there are boundaries, and he's a DOG.

So, a reminder: MD IS A CANINE. He will not be in the wedding, ushering (herding) people down the aisle - he will not be a ring bearer (ie: peeing on the sides of the pretty white chairs), and certainly not be mingling around 200 people, because his limit is, oh, 5 (and let's just refrain from even adding a parenthesis here...). He is a dog, and dogs do not wear clothes.

No, no, no. The dog will be in some undisclosed doggie daycare of a heaven, enjoying his own honeymoon of sorts apart from the wedding madness.

I think. ;)

So please, get the following out of your head:



The ring bearer will instead be played by my lovely friend Claudia with her fluffy feather pillow. Thanks Claud!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

and so it begins.

There is an industry out there known as the BIG DAY. I'm 9 days into the world of engagement and already it's like the wedding world dropped an a-bomb on the front door of my cottage. james and i are committed to the following wedding mantra: stress-free, fun, about the two of us and life together and marriage preparation - and not the $100,000 wedding.

We met on Sunday for our first official "not calling it a meeting marriage preparation" day ... in other words, we met to plan a wedding (shhh! don't tell him I said those words!). I arranged it much like I would if I were preparing talks for a weekend at camp: 1) get a stack of recycled paper (because I'm eco-savvy). 2) at the top of each page, write a different theme; for instance, "DREAMS," "do's", "don'ts", "setting," "pastor," "FINANCIALS" (ack!), etc. The "do's" were not then about the vows, but about what we've seen in other weddings that we like.

So, on the do's list:

*Marvin Gaye (J)
*a weekend of festivities (C)

Don'ts:

*no line dancing (J) - bummer! ;)
*no Ephesians 5 (C)

And the list goes on...I suppose this is why you're supposed to buy a wedding planning book, but I haven't gotten that far and am okay with it.

In the meantime, I'm still in DREAM phase - and in "how to have a lovely, inexpensive, fabulous, posh" wedding phase as well. Here are some ideas thus far:

*flowers: go to the farmer's market the morning of. Done.

*centerpieces: put said flowers in mason jars. fill with water.

*DJ: honor a friend who's good at music and on a mic, and hand him/her an ipod and the microphone.

*Hair: cross your fingers that a favorite friend/hairdresser will cut you a deal and still make you look pretty since she's coming to the wedding anyway.

*Photography: muy importante. Spend money here. Also beg friends who are good at photography to bring their cameras along and take one billion pictures.

*Venue: Cross your fingers, smile pretty and pray for a venue that's free and that we can fit a big white tent into the backyard of!

*Tables and chairs: see if churches I have a relationship with (through YL) will offer us a few ... or BYOC! I've heard of that - bring your own chair!

*Dessert: 1) BYOD - for all the little old ladies who want to participate, have them bring in a dessert! Potluck dessert at a wedding - yum! (Note: there would only be one "BYO-_______"). 2) Do a nice 6-inch cake for the bride/groom, and then do a cheaper mass production cake for the rest of the peeps. 3) Hire Jenn Lopez to make hoards of cupcakes.

*Food: MUY IMPORTANTE - we want this day to be a gift to everyone involved, so if they're showing up, they're eating! We'd like to do a SOUTHERN meal in honor of James' heritage: fried catfish, hush puppies, cornbread and greens, anyone? next question: does anyone know of a cheap but good private caterer who'd like to cater our wedding with such food?

*Drink: yes. Hopefully we'll be able to have a location in which we can bring in our own beer/wine.

*Date: WE DON'T HAVE ONE, FOLKS. I know that with summer vacations and such, inquiring minds want to know - but we don't know yet. I'll say it's our goal by April 15th - how 'bout that?

*Special friends, bridesmaids, flower girls, etc - still deciding how to honor dear friends.

*Wedding planner: it's me, it's me! DREAM BIG and have monthly crafting parties. :)

WHEW!

I'm glad for websites like this one here and that one there that give me hope...and now, stress-free, let that be me!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

name that tune

today's post is song-lyric inspired:

1. "If you like it you'd better put a ring on it..."
2. "Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony...
3. "Girl, you know it's true..."
4. "Let's get together, yea yea yea" (that's for all the Parent Trap starring Haley Mills and Haley Mills fans out there).
5. "A Whole New World..."

That's right - a whole new carpet ride is in store....James and Cara are engaged!




A lot can happen over the course of fall and winter. :)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

call me medium tall.


This afternoon I went to Target to buy a pair of brown tights, and found myself staring at the two size selections: S/M and M/T. Small-medium: dream as I might, I'm just not that lithe 7th grader I once was - and medium-tall: well, last time I checked I wasn't sporting Julia Roberts' 44 inch legs. So where then is the M/L? I sort through both rows: I reorganize both rows: and no M/L is to be found. Well, could I be a S/M then? My mind is churning, wondering if the latest step aerobics regime really is doing the trick. But would a pair of long tights really be a bad thing? I reach for the package, and it's then that I see that these ARE the two available sizes. Target, in all its marketing brilliance, has realized that no woman wants to be called "large" - no, just label her tights as Tall! I'm a medium-tall!

The point (which I came to realize tonite at my monthly spiritual direction retreat): there are things in my life that I disguise and label as M-T, even when they're clearly a M-L. I think about the area of giftedness: every single one of us is gifted in some way, and those are gifts that are SO unique to our own personhood and being. But oftentimes those gifts go awry. They're used in the wrong way. They become mislabeled. The gift of the people who surround us merely become a means to the end - you have what I need. A gift that uses a platform, that of speaking or writing or music, becomes a way to achieve praise and admiration. Instead of the gift being used in pure service, of an honest heart, it gets disguised as a M-T, instead of just letting it be the old M-L that it is.

Sometimes this is just the way an analogy works in my head.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

books: past and present

I am not at all complaining about Sundance - but I will say that I've been craving sitting down in front of the heater and holing up with a good book more than normal ... so much so that in the past week and a half I've finished four books and am now sifting through another stack. Mmmm. Did I ever mention that I can't just read one book? I have my genres. So first, the finished:

*The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: fun little Swedish murder mystery but the author who seemed to gain fame upon his death before the third of the trilogy was completed. I will say that reading book #2 is a viable option...

*Culture Making: This I "had" to read for my recent Fuller (ie: SUNDANCE) class, and it was good, but not my favorite (at least of the four recent reads). It's simply looking at the intersection of faith and culture, and how as and because God's created each of us individually and uniquely that he can and will use those as we become future makers of culture.

*Clinging: WOW. This was a book we "had" to read for Soul Care (a spiritual direction program I get to participate in this year), but I'm telling you for an easy, soul-filling, honest, short book on prayer, this is it.

*Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Now, truth be told, I've been trying to sift through this for the past year, so though that doesn't sound very good, this book is AMAZING! It's by a professor who spent 30 years in the Middle East, so KNOWS the culture. So many of our stories about Jesus stem from our own westernized interpretations - and he sets the story straight. I used it in quite a few preparations for speaking this year - it's that good!

So indeed, now the books that I'm slowly sifting through:

*The morning read: BeautyI love the mystic picture of beauty that's holy, that's real, that's present, and that's right there for me to grasp.

*The coffee shop read: God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Recommended by my friend Jamie whose getting her degree in counseling at Mars Hill Graduate School, this book looks at the truth of, well, God, and what he thinks about, well, sexuality. I love that it's continuing to break up some of the myths I've latched onto in/from the church.

*The BART read: The Witch of Portobello. I'm a big Paulo Coelho fan simply because I like that he makes me think outside the box. Even if I don't 100% agree with his spiritual beliefs portrayed through some of his characters, I like that he makes me think and realize that I've got a box. And he's a beautiful writer. Mmm.

*The bed-time read: The Family. I'll be honest: I was dying to read this after a week at the prayer breakfast, after and while friends have been and are involved with the Fellowship, after recent NPR specials. I appreciate that it's written from an outsider's perspective, but I have to also realize that it's written from an outsider's perspective, and hold its "truth" loosely.

*The work-out read: Incarnate Leadership. This is another "have to" read for Young Life, but I'm enjoying it, and getting a good sweat on at the same time. This idea I love: leaders are not supposed to be up on a pedestal, but down in the trenches. I think it's too easy as leaders within our communities (or wherever we find ourselves) to assume that we can only be real with those who "really" get us. But was that Christ's model? I'm gaining new perspective, and loving it.

And now, with Paul Potts singing to me in the background, it's time to go grab the bed-time read and skee-daddle!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

words at the NPB (National Prayer Breakfast), #1

...from our President:

“[L]et us be guided by our faith, and by prayer. For while prayer can buck us up when we are down, keep us calm in a storm; while prayer can stiffen our spines to surmount an obstacle -- and I assure you I'm praying a lot these days -- prayer can also do something else. It can touch our hearts with humility. It can fill us with a spirit of brotherhood. It can remind us that each of us are children of an awesome and loving God."

I am unashamedly a big fan of Obama, and will proclaim it without regret, including the fact that it would have been a tough climate for any presidential candidate to step into. And as his many critics attacked his lack of experience, this little paragraph above reminded me (and others in the room, regardless of political affiliation) that humility has smacked him in the face. So I love his words: we are to be guided by our faith, and through that faith, in relational connection with God. Prayer gives us hope, as we place our trust in a greater good, in the unexpected outcome, in that which we do not know. We are given peace in the midst of storms. And realizing that God's a wee bit bigger than us, we humbly step into community with one another, knowing that as children we all sit at the feet of a loving Father.

I am encouraged that this man leads our nation.

Encouraged.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

a quick recap

....went to high school camp, January 22-24. Probably looked like this the whole time:



Stress-free, that's me? ;)

...traveled to the Sundance Film Festival, watched 11 full-length films and participated in the Windrider Forum. I am still processing big-time the intersection of faith and film (and, for that matter, doing classwork). BUT, among the people highlights, lizzy and I got to hang out for the week:



And so did mark ruffalo and I. How do you like me NOW?!



...then hopped on a plane to DC for the National Prayer Breakfast, and again, am enjoying having the weekend to relax so that further processing can happen. Though we weren't of course allowed to take pictures, it brought tears to my eyes to be in the same ROOM as the Obamas. WOW. Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the keynote address, and that was powerful. So we went from faith and film to faith and politics - culture colliding with Christ, though not ever the way I assumed it'd be.

I thought I'd get more "shaking hands and kissing babies" pictures, but alas, most of the picture memories came from jaunts out and about town. One afternoon was quite memorable after arriving at National Cathedral having just taken an emergency "Holy &*$#! I can't hold it!" pee stop on the side of Massachusetts Avenue. So far I haven't received any tickets in the mail, but did manage to snap a couple of pretty pics:





And then of course, as much of the world knows, I'd planned to see James and MEET THE FAMILY down in Florida for the shuttle launching but got SNOWED IN, blizzard-style. Since joy comes in the morning, realizing that out of our group of 15, 9 of us were stuck, we decided to make lemons out of lemonade....er snowballs out of snow? We made do:





Dave and Siv (the couple above) gained a roomie as they let me tuck a roll-away into their odd-shaped hotel room. They made the holed-up, bummed-to-not-be-in-FL weekend lovely.

And now, I'm home....woohoo!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

butch cassidy and the sundance kid

Butch Cassidy: How long before you figure they're not after us?
Sundance Kid: A while longer.
Butch Cassidy: How come you're so talkative?
Sundance Kid: Naturally blabby, I guess.

It's not that we've got the wild west a chasin' us, but the upcoming adventures of Lizzy and Cara could naturally resonate with these characters (and dang that I've already labeled myself the naturally blabby one!)

(Lizzy and I last year in Colorado, taking separate Fuller intensive courses).

On January 25th, dear friend Lizzy and I join forces at the Sundance Film Festival for a Fuller (Seminary) Theology and Film class. Am I excited? YES. Am I hoping to score one of those fabulous $800 celebrity goodie bags, but am unable at this point to decide which celebrity I could pass for? Unfortunately, yes. This past week we submitted our top 11 films we'd like to see, as tickets were then lottery-style picked and accounted for. We didn't get everything we were hoping to see, but I'm stoked regardless. Here are a couple I'm stoked about seeing:

Welcome to the Rileys... A dark comedy masked within the confines of a dysfunctional family setting - what could be better?

Holy Rollers... I'll admit it: extreme cultures, especially from that which are religiously-driven, intrigue me. So here you have the Hasidic Jewish community caught between the ideals of faith and culture in the midst of drug trafficking? It doesn't get much better than that.

What an adventure, opportunity and once-in-a-lifetime experience January 25th-31st will be!

Monday, January 04, 2010

new years, resolutions, all-city YL, and how they all fit together



The new year is upon us, and whether our new year's resolution is to write more blogs, to work out more, to lose weight, to eat all the food in our fridge (that really is a good one for me - hence, today I made apple salsa!), or to simply to NOT have a resolution, each one of us still finds ourselves entering into 20-10 whether we're ready for it or not. This past year (old) roommate Jeannie and I giddily gloated at having a new year's eve date and kiss that wasn't someone we randomly grabbed on the streets of Pac Ave in Santa Cruz. But I digress... And this year's January 1 brought with it further days of rest and reflection for me personally, along with thoughts about what's in store in the year to come.

Moving forward, I spoke tonite at all-city Young Life, which is an event we started this year as outreach for local churches while essentially providing critical mass for YL on Monday nights. And tonite's talk was about just this: resolutions. We step into these resolutions wanting to better ourselves, desiring to slip off that of last year that didn't go so well. And for many of us, 2009 was a year that many soon want to leave behind: job loss, debt, divorce, singleness, infertility, death, illness - those were just a few that seemed to hit me (and someone I know) personally. It's natural to then want to leave it behind and step into the new year.

And of course there was a spiritual parallel, which I'm curious to see whether or not is agreed upon or not; years ago I read a line in a Max Lucado book that stuck out to me like a sore thumb: "God loves you just the way you are, BUT he refuses to let you stay that way. He wants to make you more like his son, Jesus Christ." Sometimes I struggle with this thought knowing that the "but" of the sentence exists, so how can there be a "but" in grace? But the but remains: he wants me to be like Jesus. Maybe, just maybe, as I move into the new year, as I leave behind the things of 2009 and step forward into twenty-ten, I also do so knowing that Christ wants to know me that much more intimately...that much more deeply. And he wants me to be more like him.

So this isn't a blog to then pastor everyone, and say, "well, what are you doing for JESUS this year?!" (emphasis on Jesus, like I'm a southern Baptist preacher), but there is truth in acknowledging the different parts of our being, and perhaps setting goals accordingly: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, physically, (though Christ encompasses each part of our being, not just the spiritual).

This was somewhat of what was said tonite - but on a more toned-down, high school-ese level. So happy new year to all, and to all a good night.

peace.