29 May, 2006

Memorial Day

My maternal grandparents recently celebrated 50 years of union, so this weekend their children planned a surprise celebration. We left on Saturday to travel to their town. I ate "fruity delight" and M&M chocolate bars while planning a trip to Paris on the way there :-) However, my father stayed behind to wrap up the Sewer Project, and my sister headed to L-ville for a conference, so not all of us could come.

My grandparents were thinking that they were going to meet my uncle at the country club for a belated Mother's Day dinner, though they called and wanted to delay it. They were late anyway! But after opening the door, they saw all of their children and their children's families, as well as some of their own siblings, standing in the room yelling "surprise!" and "happy anniversary!"! My grandpa was laughing heartily at the sight of his brother, and my grandmother was in tears upon seeing her brother and my cousin (who's been deployed for a while). It was a pretty cool evening, celebrating their lives together while a wedding party was celebrating downstairs :-) My aunt had made a DVD of pictures that encompassed their marriage and family, and my mother had made a scrapbook of many similar pictures as well as newspaper clippings of important events. I ate so much I couldn't believe myself. I had some queen-cut rib (whatever that was), which was rather tough but still juicy and almost pink :-) along with potatoes and bread. I didn't touch the green beans because they were stewed, but the salad was delicious. I had cookies and cheese throughout the entire meal, and topped it off with a huge piece of chocolate cake.

After dinner we went to my uncle's house and played some volleyball. I got involved in a backrubbing chain, which was inevitable, and then I suggested the hot tub. So we continued the massages in the hot tub, which was cool, and then we ate mountain pies around the campfire. Plans were made for breakfast at Eat'n'Park, and I could just imagine gaining 5 pounds by lunch on Sunday :-P

The weekend in general was full of good food. I ate only fruit and eggs at Eat'n'Park, and washed it down with chocolate milk. Yum! Almost the entire family attended my grandparents' Methodist church, which was interesting and VERY HOT. I felt bad for the pastors, who wore those robes and scarves and cords and whatnot during the hour-long service. Most of my relatives were astonished to find that I usually sit through an hour's worth of preaching, but we cover a LOT more material that way. Dave (a cousin) showed up in his Air Force dress uniform, which was way sweet and had a lot of little buttons & stuff on it. I found out he's a veteran of 3 wars! And he's 24?! Cool. I had an interesting discussion with my great-uncle Dick in his convertible Toyota on the way home. We discussed the sermon and the DaVinci Code, but I was mostly excited about the car, and I think he was too :-) Lunch was your typical American grilled picnic. Dave and I searched for a frizbee, to no avail, but found stuff for wiffleball, and got a game going. I think my team won, but we decided to go sailing and/or swimming before a victory was decided.

There wasn't much wind, but I had fun putting the sailboat together anyway. After my lonely little jaunt on the lake, I took out the kayak for the first time. Wow! I LOVE that kayak! It was crazy fun and crazy fast. It's probably the best way to get a tan that I've ever encountered :-P My dad arrived sometime that evening, which made me happy. I talked with my great-uncle Tom and my great-aunt Chris about their extensive traveling experiences. They both were in the Peace Corps and Tom was a US ambassador to Egypt and Chile and a bunch of other places for years. Gradually people left and I collapsed in the basement.

On Monday I woke up to a typical breakfast experience. Grandpa and I conquered the world's problems by the time I finished my third bowl of cereal :-). He had been talking about the purpose and necessity of NASA with my brother, so we discussed the role of government and privatization etc. until the younger crowd woke up and demanded some table space. Then I went out on the kayak again while the younger cousins drowned the canoe and had a ball. Matt accidentally overturned the kayak so I swam a bit in the coldcoldcold water until it was time for lunch. By then a few aunts and uncles had arrived, so I tried to join another theological discussion. My grandma was going to cut my hair, however, so we went out on the porch. Dave came out with a guitar to strum and chat for a while. I kinda got an inkling of how the military changed his life. We went inside and didn't really do much until it was time to leave, and then I said goodbye to everyone.

Dad and I left earlier than the others, and had a long, hot ride home. We had some good discussion, though, and I'm glad I went with him. I'm hoping he comes to the dance show in a few weeks :-)

Throughout the weekend I've been thinking of marriage and what it means. I know marriage isn't always a picnic, and though it is often marked by moments such as births, graduations, and deaths, it isn't built upon them. So, how do I build such a long, fruitful marriage? Honestly, I've come to the conclusion that I can't do anything to ensure a godly marriage. Why? Two reasons: God has done everything that I, as a sinner, can't. Also, marriage takes two, and my (hypothetical) husband has some preparation to do before we tie the knot :-P As for my preparation, I'm going to continue in the Christian calling that God has given me, seeking the Spiritual gifts for the building of the church. I'm going to work on my memory, though, to make it shorter and more forgiving :-) I think my grandma's ability to chuckle and forgive contributed a lot to the success of their marriage.

My grandpa passionately loves my grandma and seeks her comfort, but he also loves his children. I hope to see my own parents in such a place in 26 years, and maybe I'll have a loving husband and blossoming children of my own by then!

Blast From The Past

I'm publishing this mostly for posterity's sake. I wrote most of it the week following the concert (which was April 15), but because of life's events, I never had time to smooth it out and publish it...

Well, well, well. After going to the Pure Boss concert, I was feeling pretty grumpy about Monday morning. Nate reminded me of a Switchfoot concert that he and John were attending the next Saturday, and asked if I wanted to go. Though I initially declined to attend, I called my parents and asked for their blessing on such an impromptu trip. I was torn between wanting to have another blowout weekend and wanting the $30 to spend in Europe. Oh, well. The call was made, and I'm still waiting to see if I'll need that $30 in Europe :-)

I suffered through another week (school has become excruciating, as it once was). On Friday I made impromptu plans to see The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at the $1 theater with friends, and unexpectedly added a Rita's Ice and Taco Bell to my "entertainment" bill. This was certainly proving to be a blowout weekend, especially in the finance department! On Saturday I woke up at 7 and immediately popped open Jakey (the lappy) to work on a paper. Around 1 I started to clean the bathrooms and prepare for the concert & road trip. Nate and John arrived and we finally left. I got to be navigator, and we were only lost once :-P

Road trips are my favorite form of relaxation. On this road trip, we had comfortable leather seats, good music, good conversation, and a relatively open road that became flat as time progressed. I think John was having a ball, since he was in a moving car, but not driving :-) What did we talk about? Random stuff. I mostly remember the Weezer album we listened to, though I pulled up a few random memories of Ohio and my childhood there. We didn't have a dominating convo topic.

We arrived after touring the city in a roundabout way and found parking for $5 (woot!). After seeing the huge line waiting at the concert venue, we decided to skip the opening band in favor of dinner. A policeman had suggestions for a close, quick restaurant so we wandered around the hockey arena to find Chipotle's.

Chipotle's is a good restaurant! I really enjoyed the steak fajita I had. I wasn't paying attention to the guy making it, so when he asked what kind of salsa I wanted, I just repeated the last word he listed. It happened to be "hot." "Oh, good girl!" he replied, giving me an approving look. "Oh, uhh, yeah, sure," I said, smiling uncertainly, not realizing what I had said until that minute. It was actually quite good, and since everything was kinda clumped in my fajita, I only needed water about 1/2 way through. Then I needed two glasses. But this was providential, since the water would stay in my system long enough to stave off thirst during the concert. One of the bites I took was heavenly...the perfect mixture of rice, steak, salsa, cheese, etc. I finished the whole fajita, despite being full earlier, just so I could say I did :-)

We walked to the concert, Nate got our tix, and we realized that the concert started later than we expected. Ergo we didn't miss the opening band (LoveDrug). I wouldn't have minded missing their rather monotonous set, but I got my neck warmed up for some heavy-duty headbanging before Switchfoot came out :-)

Switchfoot had quite a different atmosphere this time around. They were much more laid back, almost to the point of being absentminded or careless at the beginning, but the music didn't suffer much. The drummer pulled a cartoonish move and played a song on a child's drum set that was on top of the bass amp! So funny. Jon Foreman was extremely casual and personal with the crowd that night, which was definitely a new aspect. He took his own sweet time when it came to arrangements and singing. At one point he left the stage and wandered around the audience, carrying his mic stand with him! Nate and I gave each other astonished, bemused looks as he walked within arm's reach. I did not reach out to touch him, though I could have. That would have been too close to worship, in my opinion. This was the one point of the concert where peopole actually got close to each other! *eww!*

The crowd seemed impassive, which was frustrating. At one point I was jumping, and my arm brushed some guy's head. He turned around with an annoyed look and smoothed his hair. Umm...it's a concert, dude. Were you expecting personal space? I could understand the weird looks at my screams (I actually asked John to let me know if I was too annoying), but an accidental brush? Anyway. John was definitely rocking out. Nate had a goofy smile on whenever I turned in his direction, so I'm sure he was having fun, though he never got to crowd-surf :-) I ran out of oxygen about halfway through the concert, and had to take a breather for a few minutes, and there was no real moshing, but I really enjoyed it.

Switchfoot played a new song. I don't remember the words, but it seemed rather formulaic in style. I shall have to pay attention if I get to hear it again. Jon sang another impromptu song about Ohio that was pretty witty...with harmonica, too! I like harmonica :-) My favorite song was We Are One Tonight. Jon introduced it by saying that unity rarely comes without conflict, and as I paid more attention to the words in that context, I heard it! "the whole world upside down...I don't wanna fight about it now...these scars will heal." It was cool to ruminate on that as I rocked out when the instruments came crashing in. Easier Than Love was an interesting moment in the concert for me. I couldn't really enjoy the song since the lyrics describe a constant, ugly struggle of mine. God took that emotion and completely turned it on its head when the band played On Fire later in the night. It was an incredible song, and I just totally ate it up. Another incredible moment, as I sang with hundreds of people, was realizing that we were acknowledging a being greater than us and declaring our own transience and weakness. That was really cool.

The concert ended and we made a run for the door (except for John's brief convo with a large sound man dressed in purple). Thus began the dark ride home with a beautiful moon on our right. We talked about the concert a bit, and John reiterated his passion to produce such music and emotion in other people. I tried to ask some helpful questions (I don't know if they were or not), and it sounds like John is really serious about this. It'll be interesting to see where God leads you, John! :-)

We stopped for water and I got a popsickle thingy to soothe my throat. Ohhh, so good :-) John fell asleep soon after that. Eventually Nate was showing obvious signs of drowsiness, so I asked if he wanted me to talk his ear off. "Sure," he said, sounding rather amused and interested. I decided to talk about theology, and turned to devotions since Nate had been encouraging me to pursue a regular devotional time with God. We talked a bit about Hosea & stuff, and the rest of the conversation is buried in the hazy, half-remembered recesses of my mind. But Nate stayed awake, so my purpose was served.

We got home and woke up John. I offered the use of our basement as a place of repose for John, and of course he responded, "I'm one step ahead of you, honey." Gahh! He keeps SAYING that! And I know it's just to be annoying, but...it works! Anyway. Nate got home safely. Church followed soon after.

21 May, 2006


That's what the Foxtrot cartoon said today, in Morse Code. I was silly enough to transcribe it.

Ye Olde Froute Dyit has been discontinued. On Saturday I was at a fencing tournament, and didn't have time to plan for lunch so I ate whatever was at the concession stand (free food for the coaches! Yay). The barbecued chicken sandwich was lovely, but it made my gallbladder hurt (I think), so Dad is wondering if my problems aren't with my kidneys, but my gallbladder. I don't know, but it's an idea that hadn't occured yet! Perhaps my Doc will have a more informed opinion.

In other news, I'd like to start a new habit in which I discipline myself to put my thoughts during the Sunday sermon on my blog. Often, one or two points will hit me particularly accurately, and by reviewing them here, I might remember them more. Ergo, the majority of this post.

Mike Pierson taught a sermon on Fellowship, and used the text of Hebrews 10:19-25. I have wonderful fellowship with church members, though conversation is not always deep. (why is it that I can have IM convos that last 'til 3 AM about theology, but I can't open up in face-to-face conversations and get personal? John, how do you ask meaningful questions? You do a good job of that.) As a result, I was thinking about this during the sermon and trying to pick up on things that would help me develop friendships that went beyond common interests. Here's what I came up with:

  • We are called to fellowship. Through Christ's crucifixion, we have been united with him. But, through that unification, we have also been united with each other. Fellowship is the lifeblood of the church-without enough of it, the church would suffer and rot.
  • A purpose of fellowship is to provoke one another to repentance (see v. 24). Repentance is not always a pleasant thing, but without it, how could we fully experience God's grace? This is one way that I can be a means of God's grace for my friends, and they for me, so I need not fear it.
  • God gives us grace to sustain fellowship, even during conflict. I have experienced this recently. Some of my friends resolved conflict in such a way that it built each other up, and I had never experienced that before! Conflict in the past has been immediately destructive, though it might have borne fruit later. I'd always been afraid of conflict as a result, and by seeing these friends work through their conflict, God's grace was revealed in a way that astonished me and made my heart glad.
  • Jesus listed the most important commandment as loving God. However, he listed loving other people right alongside that commandment because it was so significant.
  • Verse 24: The word "consider" is synonymous with "strategize." Fellowship happens spontaneously, yes, but be purposeful when fellowshipping. Fellowship is a lifestyle, not an event.

This sermon brought up a question: Can fellowship happen by means of blogs? I keep track of several friends by their blogs, and hope that the comments I leave might have some significance, and the comments they leave on my blog are significant to me. What do you think? (Significant comments only, please...just kidding :-) )

17 May, 2006


Ever eaten nothing but fruit for a week? Neither have I. But I'm going to try to beat my old record of 4 days with no starch. My menu: Cranberry sauce, Mandarin slices, peach slices, bananas, oranges, apples, grape juice, apple juice, and random, indistinguishable frozen fruit pieces. I may cave and eat 1 granola bar after large meals, but only to neutralize the acidity of my stomach.

Why? I think the occasional purging diet has some "medicinal" benefits.

How long do you think I can last?

(this is a picture of a dragonfruit, by the way. They make really, really good juice)

14 May, 2006

Mother's Day

My family usually goes to Olive Garden for Mother's Day, where the lines are long and the food delicious. I think eating out is fun, but honestly, I'd rather make food. So, I proposed that I cook whatever Mom wanted for Mother's Day rather than an outing to an impersonal restaurant. She chose pork chops. My family rarely eats pig meat because my father dislikes it. Ergo, I had never eaten pork chops, and had absolutely NO idea how to prepare them.

I got a few suggestions from the ladies at church, so I knew to tenderize it, put rosemary on it, grill it, and serve it with baked apples. My mom really likes apples fried in brown sugar, so I made those and mashed potatoes. Then I grabbed the "meat hammer" and had a ball with the raw slices of animal muscle. That was the best part (I don't like peeling apples or potatoes so much as pounding flesh *shrug*). After cleaning off the propane-fueled George Foreman, I grilled ye olde pork chops. Meanwhile, Mom had decided that she wanted green beans too, so she cooked those. In the process of draining potatoes, I poured boiling water all over me. Yow! Polyester was quickly exchanged for linen. I had chosen braided bread at the store, so I cut the nubs of the braid to separate it into "buns" and microwaved it to restore some freshness and warmth. Mom whipped up some dipping sauce for the bread. Everything took me about 75 minutes, with a little help from Mom.

Guess what? People actually ate my food! My family projects this opinion of my food: I pick weeds from the backyard to cook and do all sorts of dirty tricks with food, and that makes it bad. I dunno why. But this was the first "unusual" meal that I had cooked and the family had eaten. My dad ate the pork, and liked it! All the females ate a lot :-), but Matt & Mike were feeling rather lethargic and ate little. I got not-bad reviews, for which I was thankful. And I think Mom was excited to see my culinary skills stretch. :-)

"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels...Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates."
~Proverbs 31:1, 25-31

13 May, 2006


I just spent 5 hours shopping. No headache! This is the first time I can remember shopping for clothes and not getting a headache. I went for dress shirts (for work), and came home with 5 shirts, a sweater, a vest, a skirt, a belt for the lawn mower, 6 slices of pork chop, 2 loaves of bread (braided, of course), chocolate, deodorant, and 6 pairs of socks. I got nervous...what if I start to enjoy shopping for clothes? And then, I remembered that we had to visit 6 stores to get those items. So much for convenience. Well, the thrift store was convenient...I got most of my clothing items there. Anyway. That's the story of my Saturday evening.

11 May, 2006

The Semester In Review

"Hey! Welcome to Thoughts of A Wood Elf! It's the end of another semester, and tonight I'm hosting a guest, Self! So, Self, how did I like the semester?"
"Well, to be honest, it was hard."
"More annoying professors who evaluate you in the worst way possible, eh?"
"No, actually, the semester was going wonderfully until Spring Break. I mean, it had its rough spots until that point, but I was having fun in my busy life, and getting better grades."
"Wow. What happened?"
"You probably know, but I got really sick. My Doctor thought I had mono for a while, but it was bronchitis, pink eye, a cold, and a sinus infection that lasted for about 4 weeks. It was a killer. I decided to blow off a weekend and go to a Switchfoot concert as I was recovering, which was fun but exhausting. As I was trying to do 3 weeks of school in 1 week, I learned that my aunt's cancer, which we thought was dormant, was actually terminal and she died 3 days after we learned this. And I was preparing for final exams. I missed my aunt's funeral so I could perform in my West African Dance recital, and had to push thoughts of her away until the testing was over. My last two projects were due Monday, May 1, and I stayed up all night to be able to turn something in that morning. I began working full-time at an optometrist's office that day, so I had no rest."
"Have you recovered?"
"Yeah, don't worry. My health seems to be returning, although I can't say the same for the physical stamina I once had."
"So, Self, how did you begin this semester differently than the others?"
"Well, I prayed a lot more than I had before. School is not my top priority, as I've said before, but a yearly $5,000 scholarship was hanging on my GPA, and this was the last semester I had to make it up. So, I definitely hung a lot more of my worries on God."
"What happened to the scholarship?"
"I lost it."
"Does that make you sad?"
"No, actually. I was expecting it to, but God has constantly amazed me with my wonderful friends, showing me his amazing providence through their care and concern. Lisa was an amazing help, hanging out at any and every time I needed someone. Thanks, Lees! Nate, the Behrenses, Wes, Kayte...oh, I just got a letter in the mail from Kayte the other day. She's so cool."
"So, your friends sustained you?"
"No, I wouldn't say they sustained me, but gave me practical evidence of God's amazing grace, and made it clear that they loved me when I had absolutely nothing to give back to them. I can't thank God enough for them. Losing the scholarship was sad, and life won't be so easy as it once was, but I no longer feel pressure to 'perform' in school like I used to. It's ok that some of my friends *coughJohn* have 4.0's, and I don't."
"Would you consider that as fear of man?"
"Well, yes and no. My GPA wasn't a secret, but I did feel a need to be an 'intellectual' person, and my GPA would be proof."
"Have you learned anything else from this semester?"
"Not having class on Fridays is AMAZING!! I didn't necessarily get all of my school done, but I was able to sleep in for a day and focus on schoolwork more than I could on Saturdays. I think I'm going to arrange for that next year, too."
"What have you been studying in your devotions this semester?"
"You know, it's really interesting that you ask about it, because Nate and I had a long convo about that very thing after I got sick. He referenced a Q&A with John Piper that led to a long conversation about the importance of daily communication with God. He encouraged me to begin daily devotions again, so every morning I'd throw my Bible in my backpack & read on the trolley and the bus. It worked out well, and I've continued the habit, excepting finals week, into my work-a-day world."
"Well, that's amazing! Thank God for his grace!"
"Yes, I am daily amazed at his grace. 'Smile moments,' as I've called them :-)"
"Thanks for being a guest, Self. I look forward to seeing you soon!"

04 May, 2006

Humility Check (again)

[This section edited upon the advice of my brother. Not Legolas, the other one. Basically I reported my semester grades etc. and followed it with thoughts of the semester...]

What do I care about all of this? Eternity is paid for! I am assured that I will be treated in every way except the way I deserve! So how do I temper that view with this feeling of ineptitude? This was going to be the semester that my academic abilities shone, and I get just 1 letter grade higher in 1 class than last semester. I immediately turn to excuses: I was sick many times, once for a whole month. My father's sister died right before finals week. I worked at two jobs while doing school work and coaching a championship team. Not all of these excuses are invalid, but the point is that I failed to overcome them and meet my goals. I wonder what God's goals were through this process. Am I more mature than I once was? I do not feel closer to Christ at all; I feel farther away than I felt last semester. I think I want to go get lost in the woods with a Bible, a blanket, and a pack of matches for a few days.

01 May, 2006

Traveling Far Into The Night

The semester is a few hours away from ending. Finally. Here I am, "at the end of time. Speak to me slow, take my hand, hold me down...I go on into the night...at the end of time." For some reason, Johnny B's song just popped up on iTunes, and I was like, whoa, it's the end of the semester! I might actually get an hour or two of sleep tonight! But, I really shouldn't.

This song describes me right now. Cruising along, my mind distracted from the here and now by thoughts of what might be and thoughts of the end. So much for Thomas Belmonte. This has been such a crash & burn ending of a semester.

"What you said is what is right, and the night will be gone, at the end of time."


I took a break from my late-night typing to read Josh Harris' blog. I found this quote from a girl named Juli, and absolutely loved it.

...the fact of the matter is that the day I am a bride, the only thing I "deserve" will still be hell and I will still be saved from it. Anytime we talk about what we "deserve" we are entering into dangerous territory. If I as a bride were to start off my WEDDING day with an attitude built around what I've dreamed of, what I deserve, what I am capable of deciding, and what I FEEL comfortable in, I should fear greatly for my MARRIAGE. Marriage is about the opposite of those things (how can I help my husband fulfill his dreams, how can I honor him, how can I cheerfully submit to his decisions, how can I offer him comfort?) and the beauty of the arrangement is that he will be striving to honor me in the same way. I so desire that someday my wedding will be a day celebrating not my body nor anything about me, but the God who has so graciously given me a husband with whom to become one.

What captured my attention were the four questions about what marriage is, how can I help my husband fulfill his dreams, how can I honor him, how can I cheerfully submit to his decisions, how can I offer him comfort? That's probably the most meaningful, concise description of marriage I've ever encountered. It also made me think...would it be preposterous to have an altar call at a wedding? If I could have a dream wedding, it would involve a conversion :-)