Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas: Good-bye, Home; Hello, Chicago

I have been doing some serious traveling this year.

It always seems like that, though. Two years I won't go anywhere, and then the next year I'll take three trips in twelve months to make up for it. Before this year, the last flight I took was going to Orlando for my honeymoon three years ago. Now, this will be the third trip this year I've taken, and I'm heading to the Windy City.

And I'm slightly terrified. It's cold up there. REALLY cold. Like in the negatives.

I've never experienced cold like that before.

I've reconsidered my clothing for the week, even though the weather man up there says it's going to warm up. But I was in Boston when it “supposedly” was 60 degrees, and I nearly froze. So this time, I'd like to pack better.

Superman is heading off to wonderful places such as Los Angeles and Hawaii for two weeks (and I'm having to basically kick him out of the house to go – he hates traveling without me. Now, everyone, say it together: “Aww...”) so I'm heading to Chicago with relatives. And I am not anticipating that I'll have Internet connectivity until Dec. 31 or later. I know you're all tearing up with sadness. ;)

Also, I'd like to thank Rachel for the following bloggy award (my first! Yea!):



I'm supposed to tell ten things about myself that I normally wouldn't tell people, soooo – here goes!

1.I fell in love with my husband when I first saw him. Well, maybe not in “love,” but he caught my eye. And I wanted to be his friend. And I was. We were close friends for about a year before we started dating.

2.I've written stories from my imagination since as far back as I can remember. My mom even bound one “book” I wrote in the second grade. One of my teachers called me a “compulsive writer.” And she's completely right. I HAVE to write. I have to get the stories out. Crazy, I know.

3.I love clean houses, but my house is never clean. Never spotless. Maybe “straightened up,” whatever that means, but it's never completely clean.

4.I want to snowboard and learn how to surf. It's on my “To-Do-Before-I-Have-A-Baby” List. I have gone parasailing, hang gliding, and diving, though. And a cool pilot let me fly a two-seater plane. But I don't want to skydive. I think that's weird (that I don't want to; not skydiving in general).

5.I may have gotten kicked out of grad school at one point. MAY have.

6.I took my first flight when I was in eighth grade, and it was too Hawaii. However, my mom and I almost had to get off the plane because (as it was the first plane ride for both of us), we didn't realize how small the seats were. And we're VERY claustrophobic. It was highly uncomfortable. I love flying now – as long as I am NEAR a window. On the way back from Jamaica in college, I was in the middle of the last row on a HUGE plane – it was bad. I had to keep my head between my legs pretty much the entire way back.

7.I can write it – but I can't speak it. My mouth doesn't work as well as my fingers do. That probably doesn't make sense, but maybe it does.

8.I was a “dramatic” child. My mom said I lied a lot. My grandmother said I needed to be an actress. Then I went into public relations.

9.Everything I DIDN'T want to do, I ended up doing – and liked it. I didn't want to go to the college I attended. Now I LOVE it. I didn't want to teach. And what do I do? Teach.

10.However, as a side note to No. 9, I flipped a coin to decide which school to attend.

And, therefore, I would like to pass this award to newly-married Brooke. She's an awesome girl, and I'm glad she found her Mr. Right! ;)

So, Merry Christmas, everyone, and I hope you have a fabulous holiday with family and friends. And, just so I won't forget, may I present the winners of the PIFG (yes, a day or two early; who doesn't like some early Christmas cheer?):


Sarah M. -- Sarah Short and Gaudy



Jackie at Our Moments, Our Memories


Mrs. N at All That Naz


And, guys, just e-mail me your home addresses, and I'll try to get those shipped out tomorrow. If not, it'll be after I return from Chicago (so sorry! I really have horrible timing).

Again, Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pay-it-forward giveaway

I recently (okay, like nearly a month ago) won Rachel’s pay-it-forward giveaway, a crafty tile pendant that she makes, and, therefore, I am required to host the next PIFG.

I’m going to try to explain it as simply as possible because this is my first PIFG I participated in.

1. Leave a comment to get entered into the contest. I will draw three people who will win the prize (will get to that in a moment) and will e-mail you that you won and mail you the prize.

2. The three people who win will host their own PIFG and do the same. Now, naturally, this prize needs not to be extravagant, just a simple treat in the mail. You choose the prize you want to give.

For example, my prize! =D

I’m not crafty by ANY means, so making something was out of the question. And as this is so close to Christmas, I decided against anything really Christmasy. BUT then I visited Jackie’s blog and realized that, hey, it just needs to be something that reflects me.

And what better way than a $5 Starbucks gift card?

So I will draw three names to win my Starbucks prize on Tuesday, Dec. 23 and will announce the winner on Christmas Eve (Merry Early Christmas!). So, please, I need at least three comments so I can have my three winners.

Hooray for coffee!!! (Or hot chocolate. Or delicious hot apple cider.)



(BTW, please ignore the fact that I am holding a Java City cup and not a Starbucks cup. I work on campus, remember. Hehe.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SOAP No. 15: Playing both sides

Scripture: Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her."

"There is one in Endor," they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. "Consult a spirit for me," he said, "and bring up for me the one I name."

But the woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?"

Saul swore to her by the Lord, "As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this."

The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?"

The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground."

“What does he look like?" he asked.

"An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors -- to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines."
-- 1 Samuel 28:7-10, 13-14, 16-19

Observation: Samuel had died, and Saul was pursuing David, who had already spared the king’s life twice. The Philistine army had gathered and was getting ready to attack, and Saul was scared. He sought out a witch to conjure up Samuel, but the witch was apprehensive, as Saul has expelled all of the witches of the country.

Application: I put in a long passage of Scripture, but I felt all was needed for this. Saul had prayed to the Lord, but when the Lord didn’t answer (because the Lord had departed from Saul), he quickly devised other means to get his answers – so much as to ask a witch to bring up a dead prophet!!! But look at the top, where Saul says, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.” It’s like Saul’s trying to play both sides here – and you can’t do that!

And, again, the whole idea of Saul going to a medium to speak to Samuel is…asinine. Nothing about that makes sense. And then when he does get to speak to Samuel, he doesn’t like what he hears. First, Samuel tells Saul that everything that is coming is nothing that is happening by surprise. All of this had been predicted. And then, the bombshell: “Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” If that didn’t put a chill down Saul’s spine, nothing would.

Saul was like a child: he wanted his cake and to eat it, too, but how different are we? We’ll go to church on Sunday and Wednesday, but we do whatever we want to do during the rest of the week. We’ll do our Bible reading but quickly forget what the Scripture said when we are confronted. Sometimes, like Saul, we react based on fear. We are fearful of the future, and we don’t hear what the Lord says…but sometimes, like with Saul, He has already spoken. We are His children, and He is with us. Even if sometimes it seems like we can’t hear him, God doesn’t change. He’s the one constant in this universe, and He is the same today as He was yesterday. He keeps His promises. He loves us. All of us.

Prayer: God, sometimes we get so caught up in life and fearful of the future that we cannot hear the still, small voice that is You. Help us to remember – help me to remember – that You are always with Your children. When everything else fails, You are still there. It may seem strange to us to have such a loving and compassionate Savior who never changes, but it’s true. You are the same, and You love us with the same passion You had when You came to Earth so long ago. Thank You so much for holding our future in Your hands.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our book

I earlier mentioned the book that Superman and I have written, and a lot of you had some questions about it, so I decided to dedicate an entire blog to the project that took us the better part of the year to complete. =)

First, a little back story. Superman and I both studied journalism in college. When we dated, we naturally were a little shy and tried to hide the more embarrassing character “flaws,” i.e. our supreme dorkiness. Superman’s came out fairly quickly due to video games, but, as a female, I managed to hide mine a little bit better.

I don’t remember when exactly Superman realized I am just as much of a nerd (okay, maybe more so) as he is, but I do remember the look of pure excitement on his face as he tried to entice me with video games because, “you’d love the storyline.”

Yeah, okay. But I digress.

We both are writers and had some projects that we wanted to write, but due to work and grad school, neither of us were really able to focus on our writing. It took THREE YEARS for us to suddenly have a revelation: why don’t we write a book together?

Brilliant.

We came up with a storyline around April, I believe. The book is actually based on something I’ve played around with since high school, altered tremendously, however, as it needed to be. However, we really didn’t start writing until summer, and that’s when the book REALLY kicked off. I would write about 20 pages a week (sometimes more), and Hubby would help me, coach me, and encourage me. He served as editor, mentor, and guide. He had a great plan of where to take the characters, which I was able to put down in writing.

We grew even closer during this time, though I’ll admit it did not come without arguments. Looking back, I see how silly we were about how we argued about the fates of the characters or conversations or how the plot was thickening. We laugh about it now, and, don’t get me wrong: we weren’t fighting then…We just had creative differences, haha.

Editing, though it’s my least favorite activity, became my favorite. I loved waking up at 5:30 a.m. with my husband and drinking a pot of coffee with him as we edited together. Those are my favorite memories of this time. I loved being with him, working on something tangible with him.

We have now sent the book off to several agents, hoping to get a response that they are interested in the book. Hubby wrote the best query letter EVER, and he’s the one who found the agents and has been keeping track of that. I am ever so grateful that he’s organized with that, because we all know I couldn’t do it!

As I was writing this blog, I wanted to kinda describe what our novel is about, and, I felt Hubby had the best description:

“It's an epic fantasy story without all the mythical creatures, medieval castles, and happy endings. It deals with racism, government corruption, and the thin line of discernment between good and evil.”

Thanks, Superman!

And now we wait.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Naughty or nice?

I am a bit cautious as to what I put online. People are CRAZY. I know; I've met them. On places such as facebook and myspace, I've got my profile selected so that only my "friends" (and I say that term loosely as for some reason I've got people on there I don't especially care for -- I'll get to that in a second) can see my profile, and even THEN I'm careful as to what I put out there. Once it's online, it's there. Just ask the girl who had to go into hiding for putting a racial slur inher facebook status. Yeah. You bet she regrets that now.

Anyway, I'm getting off the subject, as usual. I also do the whole instant messaging thing so I can IM Superman during the day. It's handy, and I love it. However, I am not as good with using it as I am other things. For instance, when someone contacted me today saying I was on his friends list and he was wondering why (i.e., who am I), it didn't automatically click that I CAN'T be on his friends list -- because he's not on mine.

I asked him who he was, and he said he was "Jake" and lived around a nearby area. Well, I know one Jake. And he happens to be from that place. So, thinking (and hoping) that this was the Jake I knew, I gave my first name. My REAL first name. "Jake"'s response?

"Cool. What did you major in?"

Uh....the Jake I know would ABSOLUTELY know this answer. As I politely tried to end the conversation ("My boss came in. I have to go. Bye." To which he responded, "Ok. Talk later?" I didn't answer. Maybe he'll take the hint.), I couldn't help but think, "GEEZ!! I'm sorry, but I don't MAKE virtual friends."

And then I realized how untrue that statement was.

As I follow people in this little bloggy world, I've started getting to know you all and praying for you as you struggle with different things: adoption, getting married, getting through the holidays, visiting your children...but then I realized the difference between y'all and "Jake": "Jake" is a name, a faceless person who I know nothing about. I read your posts and see your love for God and your desires to be Proverbs 31 women. True, the wool could still be pulled over my eyes, but I feel a little more connected with y'all than I do with "Jake" (who will be blocked as soon as I can figure it out).

Our world has become a virtual society, but what are the limits? We've all seen the Dateline shows of what can happen to people, good and bad, through use of the Internet and chatting with online buddies. But what about for the people we know? What about those people who ask to be your "friend" -- and you're not keen on them finding you? ;)

I've blocked more than one person online in order for my profile picture not to even show up in a search. And I use my married name instead of my maiden name -- those people who do not know my married name are people I probably am not interested in reconnecting with. Oh, and for people who want to be my friend and then don't speak when they see me in public? There's always that handy "delete" button (which has been used on more than one occasion).

But what about those people who you really don't care for but ask to be your friend? The ones that you see regularly? Is it okay to not add them or to delete them?

Is there a "polite" way to tell someone, "Hey, we're not really pals, and I don't want to be your online friend"?

Probably not.

I have gone through random "delete fests" because, well, frankly, I don't have 493 friends, as facebook claims. I'm not that popular. I didn't invite 493 people to my WEDDING. But I've actually seen people bragging about how many "friends" they have on facebook. And I want to say, "Really? Really? You have 12,038 friends?" That sure is a lot of Christmas cards to send out. Unless you do it electronically. Then it's probably easy.

When you blog, you bare your writing to the world. You allow people to see a piece of you -- whatever piece you want. One of the reasons I like my little anonymous blog so much is the freedom it gives me. I do have a few "real life" friends on here and others who read this blog, but they know me well enough to know that this is pretty much the "real" me. ;)

So what is the verdict in this virtual friendship war? On Santa's list, what would be found "naughty" and what would be found "nice"?

Blogging -- naughty/nice
Facebook/myspace -- naughty/nice
Instant messaging -- naughty/nice

Thoughts, anyone?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Surviving the Holidays with your In-Laws

Some of you out there have fabulous in-laws. You know the kinds: the ones who don’t intrude, who encourage both of you and treat you both as their children, who buy thoughtful presents, who understand that you need to spend time with the other set of parents…you know, your parents. ;)

Just kidding.

For the majority of us, though, as Christmas looms closer and closer, we pull out the big guns: a desktop calendar with lots of white space so you can organize every family function, plan every meal and gift, and divide your time equally between both sets of parents.

So what’s a blushing bride to do? Get the camo gear out and prepare!

What to do when you are asked to make a side dish you’ve never made before
Especially if this is one of your first holiday family get-togethers with his side, this problem can be a real pain in the rear. Make a soufflé what? Use a what kind of baking dish? Dip what into what?? Never fear, ideas are here!

1. Practice makes perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! And use wikipedia.org to figure out what the heck you’re supposed to be making in the first place.

2. Pay your BFF, who happens to be an outstanding chef, to make the dish for you. She likes cooking anyway…

3. And, if all else fails, make something that you know you cook well and pretend that you forgot what you were supposed to bring. And then learn to make that item before next Christmas.

What to do when bad relatives come
There’s always at least one, er, “troublesome” relative that will no doubt bring loads of unwelcome present for the holidays. Whether it’s a bitter spouse or a cold cousin or that a-little-too-friendly uncle, these relatives spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

1. There’s only one rule to follow here: STAY BY YOUR HUBBY. Make sure he knows never ever to leave your side (unless you feel comfortable enough to hang out with his siblings or cousins). That way if a fist fight breaks out or your MIL gets you in her sights, you have a safe place.

What to do when you just don’t want to go
My Sunday school teacher, a very wise woman, has said that for really troublesome in-laws, we should “love them at a distance.” But…what about Christmas dinner?

1. This depends on how quarrelsome you expect Christmas dinner to become. Do you restrain from throwing a knife at your MIL when she makes a rude comment? Do you watch “Forensic Files” on a regular basis to learn how to commit the perfect crime? Maybe this year you should skip the holiday meal and just go visit…briefly.

2. Maybe you and your in-laws have such a bad history together that you don’t want to ever see them again – and they don’t want to see you, either. How about a compromise? Hubby goes to briefly visit – and you stay behind and catch up on those great Christmas movies. It’s win-win.

3. But are you unlucky enough that you have to go visit – and eat with and spend the night with – your in-laws? My sympathy’s to you, BUT we have to look at the glass as half-full. I’m dying to write a book about dealing with insane in-laws – when yours’ turn the Christmas holly jolli-days into Christmas chaos, just remember: it’s material for a book.

The Grinch vs. Santa Claus
Are your in-laws more like the Grinch when it comes to gift-giving or like Santa Claus? AND, even more important, who do they expect YOU to be like?

1. The easiest way: Make your husband buy your in-laws the gifts. He knows them better, so why shouldn’t he buy them (or at least tell you what to buy)?

2. If there’s no way in this world he’s going to go shopping: Try to go for something a little better than generic but a little less than extravagant. Is your FIL a sports fan? What team does he like? What about a shirt with that team’s emblem? Academy has some great deals. What about your MIL? Does she read? Is she a flower person? Does your BIL enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting or fishing? Just try to work with what you know and go from there.

When the worst happens
So there was a fist fight. Or biting words were said. Or someone stormed out. Or the cops got called. What now?

1. If arrests are made and placed in the paper, just point out to colleagues or co-workers who are rude enough ask, “Oh, that’s the other Jones family. Not mine.”

2. So your cheesy chicken casserole was a casualty of the in-law war and got dumped on your BIL’s pants. Just casually mention, “That color of cheese really goes with your sweater.”

3. Make sure to bring a notebook to record snatches of conversation. They can be used as your defense at trial. ;)

4. (BTW, saying you “blacked out” and woke up with blood on the ground is NOT a defense.)

It’s Dec. 12. Whatever happens this month with your in-laws, just try your best to grin and bear it. And remember – it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New table

So it is finally here! Our Christmas present, courtesy of Mom and Dad, a new dining room table!









Also, keep me and Superman in your prayers. We are waiting to hear back from another agent on our book, so...we're hopeful! We've received some rejection letters, but all it takes is one yes! =)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SOAP No. 14: Celebrity

Scripture: David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul…
David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"…
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands." -- 1 Samuel 17:14, 26, 45-47

Observation: Most of us have heard this story from childhood – the story of David and Goliath. It’s become so clichĂ© in our culture, in fact, that we often use the term “David and Goliath” to describe when a smaller (in terms of physical size or any type of power) person/business goes up against the bigger person/business. However, I chose these particular verses for a reason, and I want some characteristics to be noted:

• David was the youngest son and was not chosen to follow Saul.
• David seemed appalled at the thought that no one would go in the name of the Lord and kill the Philistine.
• David (though not in these verses) refused to put on any heavy armor. He was fearless and confident of a victory from God and for His glory – not for his (David’s) own glory.

Application: This is not the first time we see David in 1 Samuel, but it does give us a great look into his character. David was just like all of us are in our youth: fearless, confident, feeling as if he could take on the world – and he did. He was passionate and willing to take risks, but, unlike many teenagers in society today, he depended solely on God.

And now let’s think about the David of the (his) future: a king. A man who would be described as after the Lord’s own heart. A man who would commit adultery with a beautiful woman – the wife of one of his own soldiers. A man who would commit murder to hide his sin. Who is this man?

Do we not see this same pattern (maybe not the murder part) with celebrities today? I think one of the greatest examples is Britney Spears. She was a cute teen, a Mouseketeer in her early days, who turned into one of the greatest public meltdowns of this decade. What went wrong? (And, yes, I have a feeling we all could write a lengthy work of what exactly DID go wrong…)

And, drawing closer to home, think about us. Were we not passionate in high school and in college? Did we not want to set the world on fire for Jesus? Have we become so burdened down with work and grad school and family responsibilities that we don't have time for our First Love(Gee, I wonder who I’m talking about…haha!)? Where is the PASSION??

One of my husband’s greatest attributes is his passion. He’s either in all the way or not at all (which can sometimes be a fault, too). He gives everything to what he’s committed to. It’s quite astounding, really.

I think a lot of us don’t really become lazy but let other things get in the way of our passion and desire for God. Think about this month! What do you have on your agenda? I know that just in the next couple of days I have THREE (that’s right, THREE by Saturday) Christmas parties (actually four, but I cannot attend all of them), volunteer work that needs to be completed today, a cousin who is having a baby, and, of course, work every day. And next week is not looking better.

But…I can either whine or complain…or I can draw strength from the Lord.

Hmmm….I wonder which I’ll choose. ;)

Prayer: God, this should be a happy time, a wonderful time to celebrate the best Christmas present of all – Your son. Please do not let me get caught up with all the things I “need” to do and forget my passion for You. Let me remember my true calling, my true occupation is showing You to others. Nothing is more important than You.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

O Christmas Tree...

Decorations from the "Super" household...

My sweet little 4-foot white tree...


In the dark


Mantle decorations


(FYI, I just ordered a new table, so I'm really excited about that!)


Okay, I wanted to post some more "Christmasy" pics, but apparently that's not happening right now. Anyway, share your own Christmas pictures, and participate in Sarah's Christmas tree show off!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Show off that tree!



Sara @ Butterville is asking you to show off your Christmas pizzaz when it comes to your tree! Just visit her site tomorrow, when a link will be available to show off pictures of your Christmas tree.

We have a little four-foot white tree, but I love it (even though I've already warned Superman we'll probably have to get another one next year). And I was reading Sara's blog, and she mentioned how her ornaments each had memories attached. My parents' tree was always like that, and my tree is now like that. Tomorrow, when I put up pics of our tree, I'll take some snapshots of some of the ornaments, too. =)

(Sorry this seems short and a little out-of-it; I'm just starting on my first cup of coffee...)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting crafty? Maybe...

Superman and I decided to exchange gifts early, as he and I were both very excited about the gifts we got each other. One of the best gifts, in my opinion, that I gave him was a blanket that I -- wait for it -- MADE. Yep, that's right. I got crafty. But not alone.

I was over at Misti's the other night when she was making a blanket for her husband, and, as I watched, I couldn't help but think, "I might could do this." I mentioned that to Misti, who was more than willing to help me craft a blanket for my hubby.

So last night, with Misti's help (and scissors, lol), I made a blanket for Superman. And, for those of you who are also non-crafty, WITHOUT sewing.

The finished product:





One of Misti's little pups also liked the blanket.


Superdog, "shockingly," believes it is HER blanket, haha!


Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

SOAP No. 13: Co-heirs with Christ

Scripture: Now if we are children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. – Romans 8:17-18

Observation: We are heirs of God, the children of God, co-heirs with Christ, but we must also share in Christ’s suffering. HOWEVER, our present trials are nothing compared to the glory that is coming.

Application: I just really like these two verses, and there’s not much to add to them, really, except: THANK GOODNESS!! How sad would it be if all of our suffering here on Earth were for nothing? I don’t think any of us would have joy, but we CAN because these problems are TEMPORARY, and our eternity with God will be more amazing than any of us will be able to tell.

Speaking of that, look back at that first sentence. We are CO-HEIRS with CHRIST. That’s simply mind-boggling that WE could be on equal footing with Christ in this matter. I really have a hard time processing it. I mean…hold on, let me repeat this: CO-HEIRS WITH CHRIST. I wish I had a little mouth-dropping emoticon to add here, because that’s really how I feel.

Prayer: Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are co-heirs with Your Son, we are Your children, and we are ever so thankful. Thank You that while we may suffer here in this sinful world, we will see Your glory. We have hope, we have joy, we have peace – because of You.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Monday!

I hope everybody had a fabulous Thanksgiving. Mine was wonderful -- got to see a lot of family, and my mother-in-law (who I thought would be alone, as I was going out of town) spent time also with family (hooray!), and we even participated in the horror that is known as Black Friday -- complete with waking up at 3:30 a.m. Ugh! However, I did get a beautiful new bedspread at 70% off -- it's the nicest bedspread we've ever had.

Speaking of "we," Superman is back!!! His plane arrived at 3 p.m. yesterday, and Superdog and I were there to greet him at the airport. And that wonderful husband of mine took pictures of his time in Alaska, and here are some. Oh, and, btw, HE SAW SARAH PALIN!!!


Palin is in the dark outfit, sitting down.



Anchorage, Alaska


I asked him to build a snowman and take a picture of it, and this was what I got.




View from Hubby's hotel room -- you can kind of see him in the glass

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A two-part blog: Thankful and quotes

I think I'm on a blogging frenzy this week...

I have so much to be thankful for this year. It’s been absolutely insane, no doubt, but what year isn’t? Superman and I have gone through some trials, but I think we’ve come out on the other side holding on to God, and isn’t that what’s important?

A short list of what I’m thankful for:

My family (biological and married), my Savior, my freedom to worship, my wonderful friends, Superdog, my job, my home, my city, my Sunday school class, the coolness in the air that finally feels like winter, being off work on Black Friday…This could get lengthy, but I want to know: What are you thankful for?

Also, (part two) I’m a quoter. I love people’s quotes, so here are some I’ve heard over the last few months that I felt like sharing.

"Applebee's is better." – My friend, “Transplant,” taunting the Chili's softball team as they played against our team

"I tried E-harmony once after my divorce. He had a man purse, and I left." – Former co-worker

"Go brush your mustache, Geraldo!" – Rachel, yelling at the TV during Hurricane Gustav

"You're allowed to do that." – Superman, speaking to a legendary football coach as the coach went to the bathroom

"He did not look like that on Google." – A student reporter, talking about a billionaire who came to campus

Dad: "I think Spanish would be a really good language to learn. Maybe you should take a class."
Me: (pause) "I did. I took three years of Spanish."
Dad: "Yeah, but you didn't learn anything."

“Ohio Boy”: "When you drive by that restaurant, you usually see a hobo. Do you guys see a hobo?"
Me and Superman: (looking) "Yep."

"You've conformed to Blockbuster. Way to go." – A student speaking a Movie Gallery employee, about Movie Gallery's decision to arrange their movies like Blockbuster's

"If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?" – Student B

"I got into a fight on facebook…" – Student C

There are more, but I’ll save them for another time.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SOAP No. 12: Compare/Contrast

Scripture: “In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” – Romans 8:4-10

Observation: We actually covered a lot from Romans 8 in Bible Study last week, so… be prepared!! =)

Observations, in bullet form:

• Paul writes like a lawyer, making sure all of his points get across thoroughly, but not with so much repetitiveness that it makes you lose interest (can you tell I’m preparing for my column writing class?).
• Paul is comparing and contrasting those who live in sin with those filled with God’s Spirit.

Application: Again, sorry, but I’m using the bullet form because I think it’s the best way to get this across.

• People who live according to sin – have their minds set only on what they desire; their mind is on death; are hostile to God; do not submit to God’s law; cannot please God; do not belong to Christ.
• People who live according to the Spirit – have their minds set on what the Spirit desires; have peace and life; God lives within them; their spirits are alive because of righteousness.

Okay, I wanted to sum that up right there so it’s easy to see and compare/contrast. It’s fairly easy to see the differences; they’re night and day.

I see the contrast of the black and white, but I see so many Christians, including myself, living in gray areas. And, it’s not supposed to be gray. It’s supposed to be as clear as Paul’s description there to be able to tell someone who is living for God as opposed to someone who is not.

Christians are supposed to have peace, supposed to do what the Spirit says, supposed to mirror God. Of course, I know there are several other comparisons that could be made, like showing the fruits of the Spirit and such, but I feel like this is almost a basic overview of how we should live. After all, if we live according to the Spirit and follow Jesus’ command to love God and our neighbors, shouldn’t everything else just fall into place?

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I mirror you every day and that when I fall, my failures are seen only as growing pains and not a slight on You. Help me step away from the gray lines and live completely and wholly for You, as intended.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One week...

Superman left this morning for Alaska. He didn't want to leave. I didn't want him to leave. Unfortunately, due to bills and our need for food, he had to leave. It's only for a week -- but that seems like such a long week.

I'm leaving for my parents' house with Superdog Wednesday, thank goodness, and I do hope that I'll be pleasant company instead of moody. I always get moody when Superman leaves. That's why I drink lots of mochas. That's also probably why I can't sleep at night (that and my overactive imagination, which can see monsters in the shadows -- yes, I'm a huge kid).

He's missing Thanksgiving, though, which makes me so sad -- and him, too. I'll miss Thanksgiving with his family, too, as I'll be in my parents' hometown. I'll miss seeing them, but the drive to and from our homes multiple times is really too much -- especially since Superdog, naturally, will come with me.

So please pray for me and Superman this week. He has lots of warm clothes, though, so hopefully he'll stay warm, and I made him promise to take some pictures of the landscape (and bring back Alaska coffee and a magnet).

Also, another prayer request: We recently sent off a query letter for our book to an agency, and we're hoping we get some positive results. This was our favorite agency, so we wanted to try them first, but if it doesn't work, we're probably going to do a mass query to several agents. Anyway, if you could keep that in your prayers, too, I'd be very appreciative.

Let's see...and here are some pre-Christmas pics of Superdog... she was not pleased.




And here's a picture from a couple of Christmases ago...How scary is that Santa?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So I'm NOT going to get arrested...

Remember the whole ticket situation we've been dealing with for the past month? Well, I have an update which doesn't involve the cops pulling me over and hauling me to jail for unpaid fines.

After not receiving a call back from the city attorney (thanks a lot, dude) and talking to two lawyers PLUS the state district attorney's office, we learned two things:

1. Out of principle, we should fight it because two of the tickets should not have even been issued to us.

2. If we did fight it, though, we would probably have to pay even more than the rotten tickets.

So, as we had to make a quick decision (because it's not like I'd get a phone call back from the police chief to extend my court date; oh, no, this city apparently doesn't know what RETURN MY MESSAGES means), and, as I did not really want to go through the whole arrest thing and I could not go to court because I was giving a final that day, we decided to pay it.

I'm still a little sore. It's a sore loser soreness, though. =)

We paid on 11/06. For once, I actually kept all my records. I sent the mail and requested a return receipt. I did everything perfectly.

And, all of last week, guess if I received a return receipt.

I started to get really panicky by Thursday, two days after my court date. I had to drive out of town a couple of times, too, and I was just praying, "Please, God, if I have to get arrested, let it be in my hometown, because at least I know some of the cops there who would help me out." Now, within my city limits, I was not worried about getting arrested. Yeah, it would be annoying and slightly embarrassing, but, the journalist inside me can't help but think of what a great column that would make (I'm crazy, I know). BUT I did think that it might not be good for my students (or their parents, for that matter) to see my name in the arrest report. My parents might not be too thrilled, either.

Plus, I bet they don't give you coffee in jail. Or, if they do, I bet it's nasty, day-old coffee that's not hot. Yuck.

However, yesterday, praise the Lord, I got a return receipt. FINALLY. I will keep it in my car (my dad reads this, so I just want to verify this for him, lol) for...well, until I get a new one at least.

So all ends well. The mean cops got their money, but I didn't get arrested. A fair compromise, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sentimental

So...I'm also a big facebook-er, and I've noticed a lot of people have been posting old pictures, and I got a little nostalgic. Therefore, without further ado, baby pictures of me and my Superman. =-)

Me as a baby













Sweet baby Superman
















On the boat with my dad
















Young Superman
















My mom with me when I was born











Me and my mom












Dad with me at the hospital when I was born











Superman, growing up

Monday, November 10, 2008

SOAP No. 11: Fearless

Scripture: Before the spies lay down for the night, she (Rahab) went up on the roof and said to them, "I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death." – Joshua 2:8-13

Observation: Joshua had sent spies into Jericho, and, once the king of Jericho realized spies had entered his land, he searched for them. Rahab, a prostitute, hid them, though, to save their lives.

Application: (I'm taking a brief hiatus from 1 Samuel and turning to Joshua.)

I think we’re going to hear a lot of this in the coming years. I really do believe we’re on the brink of something really, really big – and I think we’re going to see a Godly revolution in this country. And…who knows? Maybe it can be initiated by blogging. The Web is the new online media. =)

Rahab told the spies that she had heard all the things God had done for the Israelities. Her people knew, too, and were fearful of the men – yet only Rahab and her family were saved from the destruction that soon followed. Why? How can you know of God and yet not come to Him? That just baffles me.

I think more “Rahabs” will search for God. I know they’re searching now. We just have to guide them to the One who can help them.

It’s also interesting to note the differences between Chapters 1 and 2 of Joshua. The first chapter has Joshua talking with the people, telling them to be strong and courageous. In fact, those words together are used FOUR times in the 18 verses. Be strong and courageous. And what do we find in Jericho with Rahab? “This country (is) melting in fear,” Rahab states. What a difference God makes! I’m pretty sure Rahab was not fearful after God saved her as the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

Prayer: God, let us be strong and courageous, as you instructed the Israelites so long ago. Let us show mercy on the “Rahabs” of our culture and let us guide them to You. There are so many people in this world who are fearful – fearful of the economy, of terrorist attacks, of war. Let them realize there is hope in this world, despite what we may hear on news reports. Let us be strong and courageous.

Friday, November 7, 2008

SOAP No. 10: Soothe

Scripture: Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better."
……
Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. – 1 Samuel 16:14-16, 23

Observation: God had rejected Saul as the king because of his disobedience, and Samuel had just anointed David as the next king of Israel. David had just entered Saul’s service.

Application: It’s quite interesting to see how the Spirit of the Lord had departed Saul yet filled David. I’m not sure exactly how the evil spirit was hurting Saul...maybe a migraine? I don’t know. At any rate, Saul was in pain, and David, filled with the Lord, could soothe Saul’s pain.

Isn’t that what we as Christians should do to those we meet who are in pain? We are also filled with God’s spirit; can we not comfort others as David comforted Saul?

Prayer: Lord, let us all be comforters, not only to other Christians, but to anyone who is hurting and in pain. Give us patience and mercy to deal with our enemies and be a witness for You by our actions. People are always fighting battles, whether they tell anyone or not – and sometimes, they don’t have anyone to confide in. Let us be courteous and kind, filled with Your Spirit and soothe those we meet, just as David soothed Saul.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

You can’t fight city hall…can you?

This is a long story, so I’m going to bullet it to make it quicker (hopefully).

• Superman and I received some tickets (three, to be exact) while traveling out of state. The original one, for speeding (but was written up as “careless driving,” which the officer said would not go on my insurance -- my lawyer, a family friend, tells me differently) was entirely my fault. I was speeding, even if I didn’t realize it. That was my fault. And, granted, the other two (expired license plate tags and lack of proof of insurance – long stories, but we had insurance, just fyi) were our fault. But…

• Superman called to get the price of the tickets. $250. Yikes!!! But, our bad, and we need to pay them. Right? Right.

• Turns out, the lady he talked to last month also said if we sent in our proof of insurance, they’d drop or reduce our proof of insurance fine. That's what the cop told us, too. Yippee, right? Wrong.

• Superman called the police station this week. The price has now gone up to $600. Oh, yeah. No lie. Has anyone ever heard of $75 in court fees and $300 in assessment fees? Please, if you have, let me know, because I’ve talked to two lawyers who also don’t know what this is, and I really want to know why the price has jumped so much.

• Superman faxes in his proof of insurance, saying he was insured from April to October. The woman SERIOUSLY tells him, “Well, I don’t see anything on here for September.” Superman calmly explains to her that September comes before October. She doesn’t believe him.

• My lawyer informs me that as we were pulled over in another state, they cannot fine us for expired license plate tags. They don’t have the jurisdiction. Oh, neither the city attorney nor the police chief have called me, our lawyer, or my husband back.

• My court date is Nov. 11. Turns out I can’t fight it then. Why? I’ve got to give a final that day.

So…what do we do??? I’m at a loss cause I REALLYNEEDTOPAYTHISSOON. Yet…I know we’re being taken advantage of with two of those tickets! But how do you jump the cost from $250 to $600??

Any suggestions? Fight it or pay it?

**EDIT. Superman called the attorney general in this particular state, who explained things very clearly and politely. Apparently -- for all of you out there who may go through something like this -- these little towns, like the one we got pulled over in -- can charge you an assessment fee if they want. Granted, all tickets are revenue-boosters, so this is just their way of making sure you pay as much as possible. So, it looks like we are going to pay it, but it was really nice to have someone EXPLAIN it to us instead of being rude like the police woman Superman talked to was. Just tell me WHY I have to pay a ridiculous fee. Oh, and apparently the judge makes the final ruling of whether or not the license plate tag fine sticks (though, if we caused a huge commotion, I'm sure it would be dropped, but it probably would be MORE expensive). It still is absolutely asinine, but I guess we're going to have to bite the bullet and deal with it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congrats goes out to Obama and Biden

I was quite surprised that Obama was elected president. I really was. The funny thing is that I did NOT want to watch ANY election coverage last night. Why? Because I feared a repeat of the 2000 fiasco and we would not know who was president until Saturday or whenever. However, Superman flipped on the television, and as I was yelling, “No! No! I don’t want to see anything yet!” that was right when Obama was declared president.

Huh.

First, I was quite shocked that at 10 p.m., we knew who the president was. Second, I was surprised that Obama won. But that was my fault for not seeing how much the economy really would impact individual voters’ decisions.

I did not vote for Obama, but I have to see things optimistically. That’s just the way I am. I have to find some positive in this decision – and I do.

I see the next four years as a change – a change for Christians. A change that will light a fire under lazy Christians’ rears and make us take a good look at what we believe in and what we stand up for. I see a change for us to decide what REALLY is important in our country – our pocketbooks or our ethics?

I want this to be a revelation for Christians to start a revolution. And, PLEASE, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want an upheaval of government power. In fact, my biggest fear right now for our new president is that he will be assassinated before he even takes office. We must pray for him beginning NOW.

I want Christians to start a prayer revolution, one that will bring people -- from voters to higher-ups in the government -- closer to God. Our country has strayed so much from what is good and true and right that we will have to have a revolution to bring us back.

I hope Obama does bring change -- I hope he brings a change in us Christians. I hope he inspires me to change and to be a stronger witness for God.

God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). We need to be an Acts 1:8 people – preach, witness, love, pray. The world is crying for a savior, and, truly, I think some people see Obama as the person who can save this world. But he can’t. And when people become disillusioned with him and realize he is only a man, what then?

Man does not save. Only God does.

Congrats to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. May God guide your steps and your decisions, and may you lead this country with peace, justice, and mercy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trick or treat at a stranger’s house? I think not!

Since when did it become the norm to knock at any door to ask for candy? ESPECIALLY when the lights are off?

A friend of mine came over on Halloween, and, due to an unfortunate situation, I decided I did not want to any trick or treaters. I did tell a co-worker to bring her children by, but I warned her in advance my light would be off.

As my friend and I sat on the couch watching television with the lights off, I heard the doorbell ring. Thinking it was my co-worker with her children, I jumped up and took the tiny bag of candy I had to the door.

Random strangers. I’ve got NO CLUE who those kids were – or their parents.

Confused, and wondering why they would show up at my door when the lights were turned off, I gave them a very small bit of candy (I was trying to save it for my co-worker’s kids) and sent them on my way. And I double-checked to make sure the porch light was off.

We continued to watch our show, but about three minutes later, the doorbell rang again.

More random kids.

After I sent those kids on their way, I barely had any candy left for the THIRD group who showed up at the door not a minute later (I’m sure they saw the success of the previous group and decided to give it a go.). By that time, I had just a few pieces of candy left, and I told my friend, “We need to go.”

We left and went to dinner, so I’m not 100 percent sure how many more trick or treaters decided to ring my doorbell, but am I the only one who thinks this picture is WRONG??? Since when did parents send their kids to strangers’ houses whose lights are OFF?

We do live in a little subdivision, so I CAN kind of understand why parents may have sent their kids to my house. But with the porch light off? Am I missing some new trick or treating rule?

I was talking to my dad the next day about the trick or treaters, and I said, “Well, they’re lucky I had candy!” But he had a different reaction. “YOU’RE lucky you had candy,” he replied. “If you didn’t, they probably would have toilet papered your yard.”

And he's probably right. If parents send their kids to strangers’ houses with the lights off, they probably brought toilet paper, too. Glad I left before the candy ran out.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sole memories


I own one pair of cowboy boots.

They aren’t the razzle-dazzle, city-fied country boots either. Granted, they’re not true down-and-dirty boots – they’re somewhere between the two extremes. They’re brown, a little loose, and, when I pulled them from my closet this morning, a little dusty.

I’ve heard that smell can be the most powerful memory tool, but sight’s pretty good, too. As I put on these two-year-old boots, a dim memory – not really a memory, but the memory of a picture of myself as a two-year-old – came into view. I was in nothin’ but a diaper – you know, those pictures that your Mom takes that will embarrass you later in life. But I was standing in my daddy’s boots.

The boots came up past my knees; who knows how I even got them on my tiny (at that time) feet. But they were the real deal, cowboy boots that he wore to work each day.

I vividly remember a brown set that he had that were always covered in dust, probably a hazard of the workplace. And, once I purchased my own, for sentimental as well as fashion reasons, I wondered how in the world my dad could work in boots all day long. They are not the best comfort shoes. They have hard soles, pointy toes, and they often stick to your legs, which is not good for those of us who are claustrophobic. Wouldn’t a pair of rubber-soled, flexible tennis shoes be better?

As I walked to class this morning in my boots, I felt calluses coming up on my feet. I remembered my dad walking in his boots. And then I remembered what he wore now on his feet:

Flexible, comfortable, fairly expensive Rockports.

The man has learned. And I think I’m wearing some tennis shoes tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SOAP No. 9: Looking for a leader

Scripture: As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away. – 1 Samuel 12:23-25

Observation: The people had asked for a king, and God had given them one – Saul. However, Samuel told the people they had sinned in asking for a king to rule over them instead of God, but there was hope if they and their king followed God.

Application: I’ve heard on more than one occasion 1 Samuel 8:6-9 mentioned in reference to the upcoming election. Those verses read: “But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.’”

In other words, the people who I've heard this from believe the country is now pleading for a “rock star” president, one who will incite change and who is the opposite of the current president. I’m not sure on my take on that, but if you do feel as if history is repeating itself, I think 1 Samuel 12:23-25 should also be taken into consideration. Why? Because there is HOPE.

We should pray for whoever is elected president on Nov. 4. It doesn’t matter if we voted for him or whether we like his policies. Either man will need our prayer. Our nation will need our prayer.

Barack Obama and John McCain both know what is wrong and right. Both men have had the opportunities to learn God’s word. Yet both men could lead us into an immoral abyss.

I strongly believe what my pastor said a few months ago in church: If America is going to change for the better, Christians will have to ignite that change. We have to pray. We have to witness. We have to stand up for what is right.

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
-- (attributed to) The Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945


Prayer: God, now more than ever we need to be bold. We need to be prayer warriors. Our country is in need of a Godly leader who trusts You and believes in You. I pray for salvation for those who are lost, and I pray those who do know You grow closer to You. Our world needs You.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I’m probably a little too self-satisfied about this…

As you know, I went on a conference to Ohio at the beginning of the month. My university said they would pay for my trip – fabulous. Now, of course, I paid for Superman’s plane ticket, but, as I am representing the university by presenting my research, they (are supposed to) pay for my things – airfare, hotel, gas, etc.

I tried to save the university money. I really did. I booked a cheap flight two hours away instead of the airport 30 minutes away. I stayed with some friends instead of booked a hotel room. We rode in their car instead of rented a car. I just really cared about getting the money from that plane ticket back.

Now, imagine my surprise when I come back, have all my paperwork filled out, and then get an e-mail from a lady in personnel who informs me that – oh, wait, the university cannot pay for my airfare.

Whhhhaaaaattt????

The first go-round we had with this was when I turned in my receipt for my airfare. Personnel Lady, who had a bird-like voice and one of those “I’m-going-to-act-like-I’m-helping-you-but-I'm-really-not-going-to-help” attitudes, looked at it and said, “Oh, I’ve never seen a receipt look like this before.”

My brow creased with concern. “But the information’s there, right?” I asked worriedly. “I mean, it shows that I went through the correct travel agency.”

“Oh, I see the name, but…this receipt doesn’t look like ANYTHING I’ve EVER seen before,” PL replied, looking at me suspiciously – as if I were smart enough to forge such a document (which, let’s admit – I’m soooo not).

“But…it says ABC Travel Agency on it,” I repeated, TOTALLY confused and a little apprehensive. I really needed to get reimbursed for that airplane ticket.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I’ll see what I can do. Do you have a credit card statement showing that you paid for it?”

I gave her everything I had – credit card statements, receipts, airline tickets – the whole nine yards. And what do I get?

“I’ll see if this will work,” PL replied dubiously. “When is the credit card bill due?”

I glanced warily at her. I had started on my paperwork THEVERYMOMENT I had returned.

“It was due on the 10th,” I replied, a little agitated. It was now the 21st.

The next day, PL came to my office and said, while batting her eyes in mock shyness, “Oh, um, I’m afraid I have some bad news. Here, you read it.” And she handed me an e-mail with the “bad news.”

Oh, yes. Because that’s TOTALLY professional.

Turns out – and this is why I hate red tape and paperwork – that on my first conference, I booked with the NATIONAL university travel agency instead of the STATE agency. The state agency is with the national agency. In my opinion, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal – except that the university didn’t want to pay me.

I’m sure most of you are like me and Superman: we try to save money, we don’t live extravagantly, and, basically, we try to live within our means. Paying for a plane ticket is a big deal to us. We just don’t have a couple hundred dollars lying around for funsies.

I looked back up at PL. “Yes?” I asked, TRYING to stay polite, though already having gone through several rounds with her on this deal. “So?”

She frowned. “Well, I can’t pay you.”

My temper rose. “Why?” I asked, keeping my voice even but trying to let her know that I was not going to back down easy.

“You didn’t go through the right agency.”

“I DID go through the right agency. It was just a different branch,” I replied. “I can’t afford this ticket. This was my first conference, and I tried to do everything perfect. If I had realized that University wasn’t going to pay for my airfare or that it was going to be this hassle, I wouldn’t have gone.”

(Which is TOTALLY true, by the way.)

She jerked the printed e-mail out of my hand. “I’ll talk with Other Personnel Lady and see what I can do,” she snapped and rushed out of my office.

I got an e-mail two hours later telling me I needed to write a memo to some state personnel guy. Oh, and I was required to put the EXACT amounts of what I was requesting. (Since I booked my ticket and Superman’s together, the booking fees and whatnot were combined.)

I sent a page e-mail to State Personnel Guy, explaining my situation and how I had not realized I apparently did not go through the right channels (again, does it really MATTER?). I wrote how this was my first conference and how I had tried to save the university some money. And then, at the end, I wrote that I did not care about the $10 booking fee or the $20 insurance fee. I just wanted the basic airfare cost reimbursed.

Personnel Lady e-mailed me that afternoon:

“Just letting you know that the State Travel Office approved your airfare. They said they won't do it again so next time call State Office. I'll do your reimbursement for your trip now.”

Time for celebrations, right? Right! However, I did not realize how AMAZING the celebrations would be…

I got the check Friday. I did not account for the gas, food, and conference fees. My reimbursement check was for almost three times what I asked for in airfare.

Yes, say it with me:

WOO HOO!!!! =D

Friday, October 24, 2008

SOAP No. 8: Change – but for better morality

Scripture: “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” – 1 Samuel 10:6-7

Observation: Saul was telling Samuel that he would soon be king.

Application: I really want to focus on the last part of verse 6 and verse 7 because, frankly, I feel like I need to remember this.

Samuel told Saul, “You will be changed into a different person.” We’ve all seen how people change, whether for good or for bad. Change is a natural part of our characteristics; we experience, we learn, we grow. Each day brings about new opportunities or new challenges we have to face that, depending on our attitudes and our actions, we either grow or wither.

People DO change. But it’s so much harder for someone to make a good change because, really, who believes that the person actually is making a true change? However, if you’re a “good” person who makes a bad decision, you’re labeled for practically the rest of your life. It’s really a double standard when you look at it.

So I’m going to try – REALLY try – to give those “bad” (sorry for such horrible generalizations; I really should have more coffee) people a better chance than what I have been giving them before. And for the people who slip – I know I would hate if someone judged me by one of my numerous failings.

(And, as a side note, I’d rather not judge or be judged at all because God is the Judge, but we are all human and fallible, and I suppose I’ll be fighting that battle – on both sides – my entire life.)

Oh, and while we’re talking about “change,” I’ll go ahead and digress a bit further and say that just saying “We’re going to make a change” is NOT change. Oh, but if you say “We’re going to make a change” and want to stomp on the face of our morals, values, and ethics in our country – I think that’s change that’s not worth having.

Okay. Off my political rant now.

Okay, on to Verse 7 – “Do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” When I read over this verse, I loved it. I am a workaholic. I know it. I have days when I get really lazy, but I’m very happy when I’ve had a full, busy day of work. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. And doing something in God’s will, with God by my side…that’s just such a beautiful mental image to me – that I’m doing something that pleases Him.

Prayer: You know the challenges I face, Lord, but even more, You know the trials that others face and the problems they encounter on a daily basis. Help me see others with Your eyes and Your mercy and grace and remember that I, too, have so many faults. Let me do Your work and glorify You in all that I do, Lord. I do want to please You. Thank you for my wonderful family and friends – I couldn’t ask for more Godly people by my side.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Puppy Pumpkin Portraits

Misti and I have a bit too much fun when it comes to dressing up our puppies. As you know, I have Superdog (aka The Voo, Vicki), and she has Sophie (Chihuahua) and Sammi (Chorkie -- Chi/Yorkie mix). Sophie and Vicki spent pratically the first year of their lives together, as Misti would bring Sophie over during the day while we worked, and the two would play together. They're soooo BFFs. ;)

Anyway, last Halloween we started the let's-dress-up-our-dogs-and-take-pictures-of-them-for-Halloween tradition. Here's what came of it:



Vicki is Superdog, Sophie is the football player, and Sammi is Dogzilla.












This year we tried the same. Here are the results:

Vicki as a ladybug

Sammi and Vicki escaping from the pumpkin patch

Vicki has excellent vertical leap

Vicki and Sammi acting all sweet for treats

Vicki explores

Sophie, Vicki, and Sammi

Not a willing pose

"Take that hat off of me!"

Vicki

Sammi's heading out!

Monday, October 20, 2008

SOAP No. 7: The truth ain’t pretty

Scripture: And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."
…..
When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.
-- 1 Samuel 7:3, 6

Observation: The ark of the Lord had been taken to Kiriath Jearim after being in Philistine territory, and even twenty years later, the people of Israel were seeking God.

Application: I think we’ve all heard sermons like this before, ones that state that we need to cast away our idols and focus wholly on God. But…when you look at America today, especially with the upcoming election, how can you not see how bad our country has gone morally?

Our pastor spoke yesterday of how his heart aches for our community. Our church is very large (I think the largest in our city, actually), yet we only baptized twelve people last year. And he’s right in what he spoke on Sunday: we (I say “we” like there’s a rat in my pocket, ha) need to be more involved, need to take risks, need to speak out and invite people to visit. If this nation is going to change, it will have to be the Christians that come forward and speak out…but I’m afraid we’ve become too comfortable in our circles to venture out into the unknown (there I go using the “we” again).

Our pastor gave a quote in his sermon, one he found, but I can’t remember who said it: “If you want to see how popular you are as a preacher, see how many people come on Sunday night. If you want to see how popular God is, see how many people come on Wednesday nights.”

He brought the hammer down on us, and I am so grateful to have a pastor who isn’t afraid of offending people to speak God’s word.

Apparently his weekly “column” (that all of our members get) was not well-received by some parishioners. Apparently he had a few angry e-mails regarding it and heard through the grapevine that some of the members were not pleased with him.

And why? Because he said that feels we are too comfortable in our church and do not want to reach out to others.

And, frankly, if our large church only had twelve baptisms, he’s most likely correct.

We (and now I say “we” meaning our nation) need Christians who will stand up and devote themselves fully to God. We need to repent. We need to be delivered from those who stand against us.

And we need to bring the hammer down.

Prayer: God, I want to be more involved, I want to be bolder, and I want to learn more. I want our church to be able to bring more people to know You, and I want our pastor to continue to say what You have laid on his heart. Thank You so much for people like him and his wife, who are strong and devout and have no problem speaking the truth. Please strengthen and guide them and the rest of our church.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From Rachel

Hey, guys, I saw this on Rachel's post, and this is absolutely amazing. I just wanted to share it with you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

In her weekly blog (yes, it is a class assignment), one of my students wrote about her parents’ divorce and how it affected her. Yes, the divorce occurred when she was a child, but it still has lasting effects. She has a stepfather. She has a stepbrother. Her boyfriend’s brother, a staunch Catholic, despises her (she says) because she is from a broken home.

I know about divorce well, but never really gave it an overly-amount of consideration, as my parents are still together. My husband is a product of a divorce (from five years ago), and, for those of you who know me, you KNOW how GREAT that situation has turned out (Sense the sarcasm). My dad also grew up in a divorced home. He had a really rough start as a teen, but he eloped with my mom when he was 20, and they’ve been married 39 years so far. FYI, their story really is a great one.

Our friend, Will, taught our Sunday school lesson yesterday as our regular teacher was a guest speaker at an area church. He briefly mentioned his parents’ divorce and how it had greatly affected him during his teenage years. “I had this part of my life that was taken away,” he said, speaking of his father leaving the home. “He was gone. Everything was different; nothing was the same.”

I never really thought about it that way. I mean, I always knew that when divorce occurs, one person leaves the home, but I started thinking about one parent leaving the home. Not at the family meals. Not watching TV with everyone else. Not being at family get-togethers...How unnatural.

And I got to thinking of all the family counselors, all the attorneys, and all the doctors who prescribe Prozac and anti-depressants who are in business because of divorces. Because of the children who are affected because of divorce.

My children will know divorce, as Superman’s parents are no longer together. Our Thanksgivings and Christmases will not be spent going between two households, but three. For me, an adult, this really doesn’t bother me. But how will it affect my children?

I never really thought too much of family ties and divorces as a kid. In fact, I had extra “aunts” and “grandmothers” who I considered just as much family as my biological ones (comes from being an only child, I’m sure). I hope our children will be the same.

Honestly, I don’t have a true point to this particular blog other than my reflections. Divorce is everywhere, in the church and out. Bad marriages are everywhere. You see it all the time. You see it on television, in your workplace, with your friends. I have friends who are my age who are divorced and have remarried. My dad used to say after I got engaged that I’d come of the “marrying age.” Have I also now been thrown into the “now-it’s-okay-to-divorce age”?

When the two divorcing parties refuse to reconcile, what are the kids supposed to do? How do we heal our families?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Speaking Up: SOAP No. 6

SCRIPTURE: Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called him and said, "Samuel, my son." Samuel answered, "Here I am." "What was it he said to you?" Eli asked. "Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you." – 1 Samuel 3:15-17

OBSERVATION: God had just called Samuel during the middle of the night and told him that He would render judgment on Eli’s family. Samuel did not want to tell Eli what the Lord told him.

APPLICATION: Oh my goodness, does this ever apply to me! I wouldn’t say that I am a peacemaker by any means, but I do not enjoy conflict. I will do pretty much anything to avoid it – but, as Christians, I think it’s unavoidable.

Not to say that I won’t speak up on my hot topics that I am very passionate about, but most of the time, I feel that I don’t say enough. I feel that I’m not knowledgeable enough to argue with politics or that I’m going to say something wrong or – heaven forbid! – offend someone.

I’ve heard all my life that Christians will offend non-Christians, but it’s really hard to offend a friend. Or it is for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I feel that iron sharpens iron and that, as Christians, we should build each other up and assist each other in trials or temptations. But I’m such a pacifist that sometimes I feel I let things go when they shouldn’t be.

PRAYER: Lord, teach me to speak up better. You know how blunt I can be, but let me be kind – yet blunt – when it comes to things that truly matter. Even if my faith or beliefs offend someone, I should not stay quiet (and You, naturally, know what situation I’m referring to). Teach me to be gentle and kind but a witness for You as well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Different Opinions: SOAP No. 5

Scripture: Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the Lord’s people. If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?" His sons, however, did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death. – 1 Samuel 2:22-25

Observation: Eli is reprimanding his sons, who (unless I am mistaken, and if I am, someone please correct me) were priests but, unfortunately, who were evil in the sight of the Lord.

Application: I have a very bad habit of trying to get people to see things my way – the correct way, naturally (haha). Some things, though, I know are wrong: abortions (Exodus 21: 22-23), premarital sex (1 Corinthians 6:16-18), homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27), etc. As I look at elections, I choose my candidate usually based on a single issue: does he (or she) support abortion? This is usually the easiest way to go, because usually one candidate supports it and the other doesn’t, and I just cannot fathom voting for someone who openly supports abortion. And, yes, I know there are other very important issues to consider as well, but, really, most of the time, if I determine who is pro-life and who is not, the candidate who is pro-life usually agrees with me on many other issues, too.

This presidential election has gotten everybody in an uproar. I’ve heard everything from Obama is a rock star (which is seen as positive) to Obama is the anti-Christ. And you all know that my “favorite” thing to do is worry, so why wouldn’t I be concerned about this election?

Concern is the key word. I am concerned about the direction our country is headed. I am not worried, though.

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil. -- Proverbs 1:33

TA DA!!

Some people’s minds are just not going to be changed, like Eli’s sons. We cannot see nor fathom God's will or how the future will turn out, but we can pray for them and for our country. However, we cannot make people with different values and opinions think the way we do.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. -- 2 Chronicles 7:14

And, really, that’s all we can hope for.

Prayer: Lord, you know how frustrated I become when I cannot make people see things my way. I just don’t understand how people can read some lines in Your word and not understand how bad our world has become. I can’t understand why people see some atrocities and consider them just a simple “choice.” It goes far beyond that. Please bring our nation closer to You.