Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Monday, January 31, 2005

Confession 0001.5

I actually went to a Jessica Simpson concert last summer.

Before you ostracize me, you must know that I had free box tickets. It was right before I left for England and I was up in DC with Elaine. One of her co-worker's roommates worked at an accounting firm that held box tickets to every concert. So we all went together and enjoyed the luxury of VIP parking, access to the private "club house," and box seats with a personal waitress offering us overly-priced appetizers and drinks.

And while I'm confessing things, I might as well confess that we all had fun! It was a huge girl-bonding experience and, apart from seeing Elaine, was probably the highlight of my stay in DC (my second favorite event in DC was the Virginia's Texas Society bar-b-que - they even had cotton candy, bull-riding, and Blue Bell ice cream!).

My previous confession prompted me to write this one because Ryan Cabrera opened for Jessica. It was just before he got "famous" and as he was wrapping up he told everyone he would give them a free demo CD at the end of his set. It was hilarious because as he was starting his last song girls started running to line up for the autographed CD. Cabrera didn't expect that reaction and had to turn around and have a quick laugh before he could even start his song. It was funny. Crazy teenie-boppers!

Confession 0001

At the risk of sounding like a teenie bopper, I must confess that I actually like the Ryan Cabrera song "True."
Sad, I know. What's even more sad is I'm listening to it on launch cast as I type this post.
Tirzah, perhaps you should pass along the number to that therapist you are always mentioning . . .


I thought y'all might could use a little laugh. Posted by Hello

Friday, January 28, 2005

You know Mom's poodle is spoiled when...

You know Mom's poodle is spoiled when...
Mom pulls back the pooch's ears with a hair scrunchie, pony-tail style, at every meal.

You know your cat is confused when...
He wakes you up at 12:30 a.m. so you can play with his plastic toy.

You know your cat is territorial when...
He deposits his plastic toy in his Purina bowl so as to hide the food from the other cat.

You know your cat is bossy when...
She scratches at your hair at night because you're trying to sleep facing the wrong direction.

You know your cat is happy when...
You can hear her purring through her butt.

You know Mom's Betta fish is feeling neglected when...
He rams himself against his tank so as to remind the entire household of his feeding time.

You know Mom's poodle is eccentric when...
The dog barks at you from across the house to demand that you be her audience while she drinks water.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"By the grace of God."

Mustafa Kamal reunited with his 5 year-old daughter, Rina Augustina. Posted by Hello

I just stumbled across this story . This man, Mustafa Kamal, is a truck driver and was traveling to a city twelve hours away from his home in Banda Aceh when the tsunami hit. His wife, three daughters, and brother were all swept away from their home.

Kamal diligently searched for his family, even though there seemed to be no hope. He found the bodies of his brother and two older daughters, but kept searching for his wife and their youngest daughter. He explained that he knew in his heart his daughter had survived; he even had dreams that she was alive.

Nearly a month after searching, Kamal was finally reunited with his 5 year-old daughter, Rina Augustina.

``By the grace of God! I knew you were alive! I knew it!'' Kamal screamed at a reunion organized by the aid group Save the Children. ``My precious little one. I did not give up. I kept looking.''

This is nothing short of a miracle. As the article explains:

A local government department has recorded fewer than 10 reunifications since its program began around a week after the tsunami.

Praise God for this miracle! And know that there is a Daddy out there diligently searching for you, too. He longs to gather you in His arms and say, like Mustafa Kamal said, “My precious little one. I did not give up. I kept looking.”

Monday, January 24, 2005

Vertigo Tour

U2 released their world tour schedule today. Unfortunately, they are not coming to Texas during this round (why, I have NO IDEA, even though they are having FOUR shows in California!) My brother told me not to worry - they will probably come back and have more state-side shows by the end of the year or the beginning of '06. It just sucks that I have to wait that long!
However . . . I'm tempted to go to a UK show. They're in London June 18th, and that's only a 45 minute train ride away from my Bedford friends. The down-side: tickets for the UK tour go on sale FRIDAY, so I'll have to decide quickly. I'll try to get in touch with some of my England friends and see if they're interested in going, but I have to work fast . . . hmmm . . . it's very tempting! I've waited over 10 years for this! My brother will try to hold out for the Dublin show, which will be awesome, but my free room and board is closer to London or Manchester. I planned to return to England this summer anyway, so who knows . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Singlehood: Unsuccessful Set-ups

I gotta tell ya these funny stories about unsuccessful attempts at matchmaking in my family.

A couple of years ago, my dad was in a local theater production. The cast included a young gal whom my dad thought might be a good match for my single cousin. So my cousin drove down for the performance and met the girl, but unfortunately it didn't work out. My parents and I were talking about it one day, and we were especially intrigued by the whole situation since this was the first time my dad had ever tried to set up anyone. "She's such a nice girl," Dad observed, "I just didn't want her to go to waste." My ears perked up. "Wait a minute," I replied, "are you saying that women who stay single just go to waste, like a leftover piece of pizza?? I am not a leftover piece of pizza!!" My mom was listening from the kitchen, and she concurred, "She's not a piece of pizza." We all got a good laugh that day.

More recently, my mom and sister walked in the door one evening and announced that Sis wanted to set me up with one of her co-workers, a 30-year-old single guy who was "sweet" and would probably be good for me. I know Sis meant well, but I admit I was mildly offended, mainly since the suggested gentleman was all but a complete stranger. And I wasn't all that impressed with his basic description. But he and I were never introduced. A few days later, I accompanied my parents to a job-related function of my sister's. Mom pointed out Sis' co-workers from far away and identified which one was the suggested bachelor. To me, it seemed that he had issues with spastic gum-chewing and did a sloppy job shaving that morning. But mom kept subtly encouraging me. However, later in the evening, somebody presented the bachelor with what appeared to be a set of paper plates and announced that when they spent Thanksgiving with him, they realized that he didn't use real plates. He laughingly concurred, "That's right! I never use real plates!" Mom kept a polite smile, but I sensed tension. She leaned over to me and whispered, "HE DOESN'T USE REAL PLATES." Interestingly, I did not receive further encouragement regarding the aforementioned bachelor.

Surely Sis should know by now how picky I am. Apparently, so is Mom...

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sloan Resigns

My brother called us this morning to say that a press conference was going on at Baylor. The topic: a change in leadership. Turns out that Baylor President Robert Sloan finally succumbed to the wishes of various staff, faculty, students, and powerful alumni who have all been against his leadership since implementing Baylor Vision 2012. The website explains that
the purpose [of 2012] is to assume a unique leadership position in higher education by adding new faculty, facilities and programs, all while retaining and remaining grounded in our strong Christian mission. Baylor 2012 is a ten-year vision statement developed to set goals for moving Baylor into the upper echelons of higher education . . . . The 2012 Vision includes 12 imperatives necessary for the school to become recognized as a "top tier" institution. These imperatives range from academic and scholarly initiatives, to student life and campus expansion and improvement, to reaffirmation of faith-based learning, to athletics.

Even though I was around Baylor when 2012 was implemented and have read and heard the descriptions, I still don't know what it fully means. I just know that tuition is soaring (praise God I already graduated!) and construction is going on everywhere to create beautiful red-brick buildings. I'm still a little bitter that I never had a class in one of the new buildings my tuition helped build.

Anywho, Dr. Sloan has had to deal with a lot over the years. The faculty held a vote of no-confidence in the fall of '03, and followed it up with another vote at the end of the school-year and the beginning of this school year. Sadly, President Sloan's popularity has been declining and it seems he and the Board of Regents have finally decided to adjust the leadership. This is from Dr. Sloan's statement this morning:
But the natural side effect of change is conflict. We moved quickly and boldly to implement the vision and found that Baylor is not immune to the discomfort and insecurity generated by change. My leadership has often been a lightning rod for that discomfort.
But the focus should always be on the vision, not on the President. Though I have worked hard to cultivate mutual understanding with those who disagree with various decisions or even my management style, the reality is that my role as President has become a distraction from the main goal of fulfilling the vision. The vision is more important than any one person. No one is indispensable. Changing situations often require new leaders with different gifts and the benefit of a clean slate.

Although Sloan will no longer be president of Baylor, effective May 31st, he'll be the Chancellor. I have no idea what that means. Sounds like a demotion to me. But he explained the position will allow him to "focus on fundraising, recruitment, and promoting Baylor 2012."

Personally, I didn't think Dr. Sloan wasn't all that bad. It was frustrating to see the campus gutted and rearranged, not just buildings but also whole academic departments. But I did like that Dr. Sloan wanted to build a stronger Christian foundation at the school. That's the whole reason I chose to go to Baylor, so I would have that quality education based in Christian faith. Those who think that's narrow-minded in the world we live in today better watch out, lest we sic the bears on ya!

Life's Happenings

1.) I GOT A JOB!!! Yay for me!
Actually, it's only a VERY part-time job, but it's better than nuthin'! It's working at a Christian preschool as an assistant teacher in a three-year-old class. I'm excited because I'm definitely qualified and I love working with little ones in a Christian atmosphere. Thanks to my good friend, Becca, for the hook-up!
I'm going to try to substitute teach as a second job, and in the meantime work on an application for HISD alternative certification program and/or Baylor Graduate School of Social Work. I'm excited about both, so I don't know which one to pursue. I'm hoping God will show me soon.

2.) I finished reading C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces the other day. I read it years ago, but I barely remember it. I really enjoyed it this time around.
It's Lewis' rendition of the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche. Psyche's bitter and ugly oldest sister, Orual, tells the story, blaming the gods for taking her beautiful, beloved little sister from her when Psyche falls in love with Cupid. But at the end of her life, Orual looks back and is forced to reexamine her motives, love for her sister, and the gods' roles/actions. That's as far as I'll go with describing the book because I couldn't do it justice, so just read it for yourself!

I think my favorite part of the novel was towards the beginning when Psyche tells her older sister, Orual, that she always "had a kind of longing for death":
It was when I was happiest that I longed most. It was on happy days when we were there on the hills, the three of us, with the wind and the sunshine . . . where you couldn't see Glome or the palace. Do you remember? The colour and the smell, and looking across at the Grey Mountain in the distance? And because it was so beautiful, it set me longing, always longing. Somewhere else there must be more of it. Everything seemed to be saying, Psyche come! But I couldn't (not yet) come and I didn't know where I was to come to. It almost hurt me. I felt like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home.

I think that's a beautiful description of life after death, of which I'm still working out issues I have. But we won't go into that emotional baggage here. =o)

3.) Still haven't finished reading MacDonald's book, but I'm slowly trekking through. Last night's chapter was especially good because it described John the Baptist as the ideal "called" person. MacDonald emphasizes that it's in the desert/wilderness that God speaks to John and forms his character. It reminded me of one of my favorite verses, Hosea 2:14-15
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor(Trouble) a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

This is one of those scriptures that gives me hope in my own desert times.

4.) I'm still church shopping. I'll probably have to write about those adventures in a separate post. I've only been to two churches but I'm already sick of having to look around. *sigh* I wish there was an easier way.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

How can you believe in someone you can't see?

Terry asked this question many times while I worked in The Nightshelter. He's mischievous, to say the least. And a charmer. He's the class-clown; the kid who always misbehaves in class but the teacher can't seem to punish because he flashes his dimples and dances his way out of trouble faster than you can say, "Terry, shut up and sit down!"
Even though Terry went to church every week, he claimed it was only because he wanted free doughnuts and coffee. He and his buddies mostly did just stand at the back of the room and scoff at everyone. He thought we Christians were weird and always tried to ruffle our feathers. I'll admit that even though I've been a Christian for most of my life and was fortunate enough to grow up in a Christian home, it was hard to answer some of his questions. It still is.
Perhaps one of my most memorable moments at the Nightshelter was halfway through my time there. I was starting a grilling 11 hour night shift and the middle lounge was full of residents. There were about five different conversations going on about the same subject: Is there a God, and if so, how can you believe and do what He says? I told Terry I know God exists because I've experienced Him. Of course Terry rolled his eyes and tried to discount my experience. So I tried a different approach: "I know God exists because if He didn't my brother would be crippled in a wheelchair, if not dead." Terry was unconvinced and explained that my brother was just lucky.
Even though Fiona, my co-worker, was involved in a conversation across the room, she jumped in and told Terry he couldn't say that because he hadn't even heard my testimony yet. Terry then turned to me and said, "Okay then, go on." I was stunned that he was willing to listen, so I quickly spoke up, lest he change his mind. A few seconds into my story, I was shocked to realize that the whole room was quiet and everyone was attentively listening to me.
I explained how my oldest brother, David, got very ill when he was nine. My parents took him to a doctor and eventually to a specialist because the docs believed he had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. My mom took him to the appointment, and while he was being examined she sat in the waiting room that was full of parents and their sick children. She saw the kids at different stages of the disease, from relatively healthy-looking to those with shriveled-up arms and legs sitting in a wheelchair. Knowing that is what her son might face frightened her, so she moved to a different area and started praying. As she prayed, she randomly opened up her bible and immediately began reading a passage on healing. She prayed some more, turned to another part of the bible, and again her eyes fell on a passage about healing. She randomly flipped through her bible at least half a dozen more times and each time she read a story of healing. She knew in her heart that God was telling her He wanted to heal my brother. So when the doctor called her into the room and confirmed that David did have rheumatoid arthritis, she chose to believe what God spoke and not receive the doctor's words.
Mom and Dad continued to take David in for treatment, but they also gathered friends and family around to continuously pray. Days of prayer turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. At some point, my parents did stop taking David to the doctor and chose to keep praying and walk out in faith. It was a long, grueling process, but when they all ran into David's doctor at the store nearly a year later, the doc was baffled when he saw my brother and claimed it was nothing short of a miracle; he exclaimed that David should have long been in a wheelchair.
When I finished my story, the guys were nearly speechless. So was I. I mean, what can you say when someone is diagnosed with a sickness and then later miraculously healed?
I share this story because I've recently been asked again about my faith - why and how can I believe in someone I can't see, especially when life sucks sometimes. I am blessed because faith comes easily for me and it has been rooted in me since I was a child. I can never stray far without being reminded of God's goodness. So in those dark moments, in those times I can't hear or feel or taste or see that God is there, I look behind me, at the path I've just traveled down; and I choose to believe that the past will carry me to the future, that the past is only a foretaste of what is to come.

TV Corner2

Lately I've been glued to the tube watching reruns of Highway to Heaven, a Michael Landon drama that was originally on the air I believe 1984-1987. TV Land broadcast a marathon of the show last week, in promotion of the show's new time slot every night at 7:00 (CST). If you're not familiar with the show, it's about an angel (played by Michael Landon) and his human sidekick (played by Victor French) who drive across the country helping people who are in need. If you're familiar with Landon's production career (e.g., Little House on the Prairie), you know that he tends to keep his plots extremely melodramatic and his dialogue simple. Highway to Heaven is consistent with this style. Usually during each episode, at least one of the characters either makes a life-changing decision or becomes ill and dies. Or both. But it's done in such a way that the characters are encountering their life-changes with God's direction and help. Usually you're almost moved to tears while watching.

H to H isn't perfect. But I believe Landon's Jewish heritage contributed substantially to its content, and I think as you watch the show, you can detect overtones of what Landon's walk with God and heart for people were probably like. Personally, I find this to be an outstanding show, and I am astonished at how little I appreciated it when it was first on the air in the '80s.

My family and I think H to H probably inspired Touched by an Angel in some way, since TbyA is a show about angels helping people. Personally, I found the first 2 or 3 seasons of TbyA to be awe-inspiring in every way, with each episode trumpeting an overt "God loves you" message and its tightly-written scripts exemplifying what art-meets-Christianity ought to be. I felt that this glorified God. But as the show aged, I personally felt that it deteriorated considerably in quality, compromising its Christian message and artistry for popularity. Just a personal opinion. I have also heard that the show in general was excellent in that it drew viewers closer to God.

Angels and television. I know that the mass media in general is out of whack when it comes to portraying God and His ways, but ya gotta love that there's one more springboard for getting His message across to massive audiences.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Mystery Fertilizer Revealed

Mom solved the mystery. It was indeed my Siamese cat who was fertilizing our plants in the sun room in an unauthorized manner, with unauthorized materials. The said perpetrator was sentenced to 100 minutes of litterbox re-training.

And so it was that order was reestablished in the sun room.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Addendum to Discussion on Singlehood

I wanted to elaborate even further on my post from 1/11 and the discussion it seems to have spawned. Which I have enjoyed, by the way -- thank you to all who have participated thus far. :D

The issue of being single vs. being married seems to be a rather delicate and complicated one. Singlehood and marriage are two distinct phases in life, and just as in any other life-season, one must aim for contentment and holiness throughout. But this contentment and holiness can be tested, and the balance can be tipped into the realm of discontentment and gut-wrenching chaos.

For instance. I worked at a job a few years ago where a girl asked me if I had any kids. I naively replied that no, I wasn't married. She responded, "Well, you don't HAVE to be married to have kids!!" I blushed and concurred.

Actually, at that same job, the seating assignments were unstable, and one day a new trainee was sitting at my cubicle and made a remark about the pictures I had displayed of my cats. "Hey, whose cats are these? Whoever this is, must not have any kids!!" Meaning that if I had CHILDREN, I would have displayed pictures of them instead. I suddenly felt self-conscious about my singlehood. Or my datelessness, for that matter. Besides, what the heck is wrong with me showing off pictures of my meowing babies??? (Hey, I should post some for y'all someday. :D)

I mean, come on. Why should I feel inferior just because some people reproduce before their time, while I'm still sitting here preserved??? Not to put down those who didn't wait as they should have -- God loves all of us, and loves to forgive us and restore our lives. But I'm perplexed at how I felt put down for doing what I was SUPPOSED to do, which was waiting for marriage and enjoying my singlehood and cat-motherhood, and how I felt that God needed to fast-forward through this suddenly agonizing period so that I could be joined forever to some dude and finally be on the same level as everybody else. Perhaps it was my own self-consciousness and insecurity. But my mind still felt like an anthill that had been stepped on.

Even in the church. Many of the sermons I've heard in Odessa insert the phrase "when you get married" or "when you pray about your future spouse" or something similar. Perhaps assuming a little too hard that everyone in their congregation is eventually going to get married. Which is not a horrible assumption to make, but technically it's a matter that's really out of their hands.

Faith will be tested. But I really wish folks would remain a little more sensitive to those around them whose singlehood is being tested.

In the meantime, I am endeavoring not to give into temptation. When the online dating commercials come on the tube, I will NOT throw my shoe at the TV.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Mystery Fertilizer

When I was considering moving back into my parents' house after being out on my own, one of my main concerns was bringing my two cats with me. I imagined the two of them destroying most of the house, especially the knickknacks, furniture, plants, etc. ... Thus far, I'm happy to report that all is well, and the house is not destroyed. With the exception of a few floor-level house plants that have been chewed on the ends. And another issue, although I don't have proof yet.

There is a possibility that my little Siamese cat has been using some of the house plants in our sun room as her alternate litterbox. Neither odor nor visible evidence have been left behind -- it is solely the following circumstantial evidence: My mom and I have caught the little furball with her paws in the soil on occasion. One plant, although Mom rescued it from dying by reducing it to a mere stump, has remained green with moist soil... even though my mother has not watered it. Another plant (sorry, I'm bad with horticultural terms), a tall one that reaches to the ceiling, has sprouted flowers on two separate occasions... and my parents insist that the plant did not bloom before my cats arrived.

To an extent, my family is grateful for the extra fertilizer. Although I am somewhat tickled about it, I am rather embarrassed, and am eager to solve the mystery and issue sentencing for the crime of unauthorized litterboxing.

My orange Tabby has been cleared as a suspect due to his routine visits to the litterbox and easygoing temperament with his routine. But my Siamese actively protests any complaints pertaining to the litterbox, whether related to cleanliness or my choice of litter brand -- it is a very delicate balance to maintain. (Let's just say I'm REALLY thankful for carpet-stain remover.) And it is she and her little bladder that remain unsupervised in the sun room for extended periods of time.

I believe it is simply a matter of catching her little Siamese butt in the act. But until then, the new flowers in the sun room do emit a rather pleasant fragrance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ordering the Disorder

So for a couple of months now I've been trying to read Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. A former professor gave me a copy when I visited Baylor back in October and I thought, "Hey, this sounds like a book I should read." Well, I've been trying to read it ever since. After reading the preface three or four times I finally made it to chapter one. A few weeks later I finally made it through chapter one. But I kept trucking along, and now I am proud to announce that last night I made it all the way through chapter three! Yay, for me!!!
I made two observation so far, and since this is my blog I figured I'd post any epiphanies here:
1.) The third chapter is about driven people (versus the fourth chapter which is about called people). MacDonald spends time describing stress and the tremendous amount of stress driven people take upon themselves. Now, if you've met any of my family members you would agree that we are NOT driven people, in the sense that we do not seek the next big promotion with the six-figure paycheck, etc etc. We're all rather laid back, go with the flow.
So I'm reading through the anecdotes about over-stressed people and I'm thinking, "Man, these people have families to provide for and high-power jobs that take up all their time. Of course they're stressed! But I'm totally not relating to any of this; I don't have any stress now that I'm out of college. In fact, I don't even have a job! All I've been doing is sitting on my arse since I got back from England . . . Well, we did move to a new city and still have tons of unpacking to do . . . Hmm, and I need a job . . . I need to start paying back those darn student loans and I need to pay more on my credit cards . . ." And that's when the neon sign baring the letters S-T-R-E-S-S lit up and I literally said outloud, "Oh! I do have stress now!" I was actually, in an odd way, happy for that revelation. Then, I started thinking about how I could reduce my stress. That's when I looked around my room and the second epiphany hit . . .
2.) I looked about my room and saw half a dozen boxes stacked off to the left of my mattresses, where I was sitting. I haven't even put my bedframe together because I was hoping to refinish it, but my headboard and baseboard are still across the room behind my tall bookcase. Then I looked at the dresser to my right. There sat a few more boxes as well as a plethora of papers that included an old resume, a copy of my application from King's Arms project last year, and unsigned loan deferment papers. Scattered on the floor was packing paper and bubble wrap, and books were haphazardly stacked on my short bookcase. Then I thought, "Ya know, I think what MacDonald has been saying is true and the physical disorder of my room, and my life at the moment, is a reflection of my spiritual disorder. Ooooooooo."
Looking around my room at 2 a.m. last night/this morning, I decided enough is enough! And I am happy to report that today has been my most productive day since Christmas. I woke up and cleaned my room, shocking my mom in the process. I searched through jobs online and I even got dressed before noon! AND I went to the grocery store and cooked a curry for dinner! Tomorrow I shall continue updating my resume, finally sign and mail my loan deferment papers, and write some overdue letters. Hmm . . . maybe I'll even mail the letters . . . of course that would mean I have to go to the post office because most will be going overseas . . . but we'll just cross that bridge when we get to it.
Now I need to start working on the "private world." There are stacked papers I put aside because I had no place to file them, and there are books that I need to brush up on, one in particular (the bible, that is, not OYPW). I sure do need to tidy up in there, though. Hmm . . . maybe I'll start by at least reading chapter four . . .

Overdue Comment

As I was browsing through the Amiculus archives, one of Debbie's entries from August caught my eye. I would like to elaborate, if I may. One of the things that Debbie "hates" is being single when most of your friends are already married, and it isn't quite the same when you try to hang out with them. I must concur -- this is one of my pet peeves as well. Not to slam married people -- you folks have a wise perspective on life that I do not have!

I think living in Waco spoiled me, in a good sense, in that I was constantly surrounded by my single peers, aged 24 and up. (Thank you, Baylor and The Timeline.) There is nothing horrible about being "old" and still single. Ultimately, to pass from singlehood to marriage, we must be dependent on God, our Divine Matchmaker. (And, not to mention, on a member of the opposite gender enthusiastically volunteering to be your other half.) It is society that has placed a stigma on singlehood.

Some societies more than others. I was far from prepared to encounter this stigma when I moved to Odessa last year. None of the churches that I've visited here even HAVE a singles ministry! (Except for one, which lumps ages 18-29 into one category. Uhhh, let's see, 18-year-old college freshman who wants to conquer the world; 29-year-old college graduate who's had the world trample all over her and just wants her mommy... yyyyyeah, real similar.) Technically, I'm not sure many pastors in this area have even seen a need for singles ministries, since most Odessans either marry or co-habitate by age 22. I wondered how the population kept renewing itself out here in the middle of nowhere... The freak Odessa residents who fail to find lifetime counterparts are casually tossed into the refuse pile of humankind.

I, for one, am weary of being considered a freak. SINGLES OF THE WORLD, UNITE!!!


Sorry, I distracted myself. Where was I? I guess what I'm trying to say, Debbie, is that I think I know what you mean, Dude. I believe it's a matter of waiting for the Divine Matchmaker to do His work, if He chooses to do so, and not being afraid of wanting your mommy when it's appropriate... Especially during those times when your hormones are racing so hard that it's all you can to do to keep from puking estrogen all over yourself...

LITERARY NOTE: Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" is NOT a manual for single women.

Monday, January 10, 2005


My mom told me that my aunt accidentally killed a ferret once. My aunt heard strange noises and figured that there was probably a rodent in her house. (She thought it was a mouse.) She finally cornered it one day while it was under a rug and exterminated it, but when she pulled the rug back she was horrified and saddened to discover that it was a ferret. Probably somebody's pet who had wandered somehow into her house. My mom said that my aunt felt sick about it. I wanted my aunt to feel better, so I told Mom to tell my aunt not to feel so bad -- after all, the animal was trespassing in her house. (Maybe it's a good thing I didn't become a doctor... think I'd get sued for having a lousy bedside manner???)

I'm not sure what the deal is with furballs and trespassing. Last year, new neighbors moved in, with a domino-colored female cat. It didn't take too long for the neighbors' roaming cat to discover my two cats basking in our sun room. She would meander her little domino-colored self across our lawn and over to the back patio door and stare inside. She would visit our front yard as well, sometimes near my car, and sometimes sniffing around the bushes outside my bedroom window. Even though we observed her, um, fertilizing our lawn from time to time, I really didn't mind her trespassing because she seemed harmless.

Until she began to pick fights with my little Siamese cat through the window. First it was through the back patio window, and then it was by the bushes outside my bedroom window. Imagine waking up to the sound of two cats growling and punching at a window with their little paws. I'm glad there was a window between the two rivals, yet it freaked me out and ticked me off that the neighbors' cat could just saunter over whenever and pick a fight with my girl cat. (My big, hulky boy cat would usually either hide or dart out of the room on such occasions.)

My family quickly learned that although Mom's guard-dog poodle can get along with my two cats, any other cats are off limits. So whenever the domino-colored arch-enemy approaches, all we have to do is whisper, "THE CAT!!" and the poodle charges barkingly towards the back patio. The neighbors' cat usually leaves right away, so this seems to work just fine.

If that didn't work, I'd suggest a 'No Trespassing' sign... but I'm not sure it would do any good.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

What can I do?

When I was in Waco last weekend I got to go to Antioch again. I miss that church loads and visiting makes me want to move back to Waco!
One thing I love is that the church is so missions-focused. I have gone overseas with Antioch three times in five years, and each trip changed my life in some way. Sunday was the first time the church met as a whole since the tsunami disaster. Hearing about the devastation grieved my heart because I have good friends who plan to be missionaries to Sri Lanka soon. I also have a college acquaintance, Sohani, whose mother is one of the top government officials.
Antioch quickly gathered their resources and sent a team of 22 to work in Sri Lanka. Sohani's mother is heading up the aid work in the country and the team is working with her and her church. Plus, there's a medical team traveling to Indonesia to work for two weeks AND two more teams are being sent to Sri Lanka and Indonesia again next week.
These latter teams were in the early stages of formation at the start of the week, and all I could think about after attending church was how badly I wanted to go. Even though I've officially moved and the church is HUGE, I still have a strong connection to the church and many of the leaders, so I know they know me. And since I'm not working, I have the time to go. But I knew my parents would have kittens if I decided to jump ship and leave the country for the third time in a year. So I resigned myself to staying and put my application aside for now. But my heart is definitely with the teams over there, especially since I know most of the people who went.
Our pastor, Jimmy, said that when we hear about such devastation it's easy for us to get so overwhelmed we harden our hearts. I know that's been the case for me; that's why I haven't blogged about it. It's not necessarily that my heart is hardened, it's just that what happened is so huge I don't know how to respond. While watching the news, reading the online articles, and glimpsing the horrifying images I'm stirred to action. It's hard for me to just sit here. Yes, I pray, but my arms yearn to embrace those who are grieving and my heart aches for those who are broken.
Many have questioned God's inaction and God Himself, as people easily do after every disaster since the world's beginning. I don't fully understand it myself, but who am I to question God? All I know is that He grieves with those who are grieving; He desires to comfort the hurting and heal the broken.
So, rather than sit back and do nothing, I keep praying. I pray for the child now left an orphan. I pray for the father who lost his whole family. I pray for the family that lost their home. I pray for the worker who lost all means of livelihood. I pray for the parents who lost all their children. I pray for those who are lost, hungry, and hurting. What little I have, I give, knowing that that is all I can do.

If you are interested, the teams Antioch sent out this week send daily updates that are posted here. Also, the church is raising money to support those teams going out next week. All the teams are taking money with them to give immediate aid to those they encounter. Some people prefer to donate to small, private ministries/organization, like Antioch Ministries International (AMI), because the money goes immediately to help those in need and doesn't get tied up in a larger system. Also, AMI doesn't have to wait and assess damage before giving aid, like large organizations must do.
If you're like me, and you ache for all the children, Debbie Carona (whose son, Joey, is in Sri Lanka with AMI) of Highlander School in Dallas has organized a "teddy bear drive" to send teddy bears and other small stuffed animals to Sri Lanka. You can send bears to
Highlander School
9120 Plano Road
Dallas, TX 75238
Or, if your in the Waco area, drop bears off at Antioch's office (on 20th & Waco Dr.) by 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 10th, to be packed and sent with the team going out Tuesday.

TV Corner

On Monday night, while I was killing time and waiting for dinner to be ready, I flipped the TV to Fox where this reality show that I hadn't seen before came on at 7:00. If I remember the basic plot correctly, this girl who had been separated from her birth father, and was actively searching for him, would be placed in a room of 8 men who possibly COULD be her father. The catch was that she had to guess which one her father was -- if she guessed correctly, she would win $100,000. But all of the men, some of which may have been actors, were each trying to convince her that THEY were the right dude -- if one of these fake fathers convinced her, he would win the money instead. I assume that at the end, they would reveal to the girl whom the real father really was.

At 7:15 my mom called me away from the TV when she announced that dinner was ready. So I didn't see the end of the show, and frankly I'm glad I didn't... Personally, I felt that the whole idea of the program was extremely cruel. I imagined a bored network executive thinking the whole thing up in his office, and then paying otherwise helpless producers to pull the whole thing off. I'm sure the girl and whoever her father turned out to be were relieved in the end to finally have found one another, and that they knew what they were getting into before the episode was filmed, but still.

Is this the kind of stuff they're dreaming up for reality TV nowadays?? Whatever happened to dropping a bucket of green slime on somebody's head??? Viva Nickelodeon!!!

Personally, I'm eagerly awaiting the premiere of the new Survivor season. Rupert was the bomb. I have to admit I've been hooked on the show ever since that gal screamed on the island at Survivor Thailand.

But really, on Monday night I should have just waited for Everybody Loves Raymond to come on at 8:00. Or at least flipped over to that show on the Discovery Health Channel where the people have horrifying accidents but survive. Yeah! :D

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Cats that Snore and Talk

Earlier this week, my girl cat woke me up in the middle of the night because she was snoring. Not sawing logs, just a gentle "PRRT" emitting every few seconds from her petite Siamese frame. I figured maybe something had flipped with my hearing, since all of a sudden I can hear puffs of air blasting out of this tiny 7-pound furball. But then I realized that the covers weren't over my head and that the cat was only sleeping about 6 inches away from my face. I was a bit relieved that my ears suddenly hadn't developed superhuman abilities. But she was still snoring, and I was still awake.

I saw a talking dog on Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks recently. The pooch could say "I love you." I was mildly impressed. OK, so the little canine can speak English. But what about my boy cat? When I tell him that I love him, he replies with "Wow, Mama." I don't see Letterman beating down my door and demanding an interview. But then, I'm not sure the shy Tabby hulk would react so well towards a TV crew and audience... He still gets jumpy around ME sometimes. All 15 pounds of him. "Wow, Mama."

Added Linkage

Tirzah and I compiled a list of our varying musical tastes. Feel free to browse through it on the sidebar.
It sure is a random list . . . Can you match the music with the amiculus blogger?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Extra Mayo

That reminds me of a time a few months ago when my parents and I went out to eat at a local restaurant. Feeling diner-ish, I ordered a "BLT, heavy on the mayo." The waitress returned with a sandwich that contained a teensy bit of mayonnaise. I assumed that perhaps I had mumbled my order the first time, so I asked for extra mayo, and made sure to enunciate. The waitress returned again with a condiment bowl overflowing with mayonnaise. So I smothered the mayo all over my sandwich, and although my hands were greasy and my arteries were probably protesting, my tummy was happy with the rest of my meal.

Recently my family and I returned to the same restaurant. But that waitress wasn't there. Hmm.

Making Tirzah Blush

Aww, shucks! Thanks, Dude. See? Good things happen when otherwise unemployed people get their heads together! :D

I moved out to Odessa a little over a year ago, in October 2003. It's WORLDS away from Waco. The mentality and climate are total opposites. Meaning that in Waco the mentality is that you're just passing through, while in Odessa the mentality is that you're stuck. Even your pores seem to share this mentality. Meaning that in Waco if you get a zit, it takes about 2-3 days to clear up, while in Odessa if you get a zit, it takes about 6-8 weeks to clear up. Seriously! Aaah, I miss humidity.

As for that 80s dance party, er, them's blackmailin' words... I think I still have a copy of a picture that was taken to remember the moment. And there is a scanner in the next room...

Sniff, sniff. Those were fun times in Waco. I miss our Subway treks, too! And that cold cut trio with extra mayo... Yum.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Introducing Tirzah!

Although she's already posted, I figured I should still go ahead and introduce her.

Tirzah and I met in the summer of 1998, in my first few months at Baylor. We shared an apartment for a couple of months as well, and I soon learned she's a rather groovy chick! Not only is she HILARIOUS, she's a godly woman of wisdom who always had a knack for tempering my young, freshman zeal. AND she always laughed at my jokes.

Even after she moved out we would get together at our neighborhood Subway and catch up. We went to the same church and both led college cell groups in the same section (3-6 cell groups make up a section), so we got to see each other quite often. While taking a break from leading, I was even in her cell group for a semester. But the next semester she moved on to the 20's group (the singles and young married group). We didn't get to hang out much after that, and we haven't seen each other in well over a year and a half (When was it you moved back to Odessa, Tirzah?) Except for the occasional email, we haven't even interacted much over the past couple of years. I was sad about that because Tirzah always has such wonderful insight and is fun to be around (remind us to tell you about our spontaneous 80's dance party with our friend Julie).

Anywho, I was reading a recent email from Tirzah two weeks ago and I thought, "You know, Tirzah is a writer. I wonder if she ever considered blogging? I know of tons of writers who blog. Hmmm...maybe she could join me here...hmm..." Well, I sent an email, and the rest is history.

I mainly asked Tirzah to join me because I know she'll have fun with blogging, and the whole point of this particular blog is to connect friends who are separated by distance. Elaine and Tirzah don't necessarily know each other, but since Elaine is on a semi-permanent hiatus, I figured I might as well bring in someone who also enjoys word-smithery.

Welcome, Tirzah. I hope you enjoy yourself here and I'm sure our readers will enjoy your posts! I'm sure looking forward to it!
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