29 June, 2006


"It tastes exactly how it smells."
"Oh, you don't like it?"
"I never said I didn't like the smell of beer!" *demure smile*

I went to an Irish Pub (Molly Brannigan's) tonight and had my first beer. Chris insisted that I have Guinness, despite my request for a Killian's Irish Red. Well, he bought the beer, so...I guess it's his choice. "I'm not drinking this if it's bad, you know," I said. "Yes, you are! Drink the whole thing!" Whatever :-P I had Shepherd's Pie along with my Guinness.

For some reason it was good before dinner, terrible during dinner, and then went from mildly repulsive to pretty good after I finished eating. I had about half a glass left and let Nate have it, but my taste buds wanted two more swigs so I indulged them. It would have been better if it were colder, like below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It was pretty warm after dinner, which is when I started getting thirsty for it.

Nate got a Killian's Irish Red and let me have a sip. This would have been a much better pre-meal beer, and seemed more lively. I still think I'd prefer the Guinness after dinner. Anna got "snakebite" which was fizzy and only slightly alcoholic. That seemed like a fun beer.

I have a slightly annoying headache, which I think is from the alcohol, and I'm not tired at all. This surprised me. I still want to taste red wine and see if that makes me sleepy. Oh, and you notice how my sentences and paragraphs are shorter than usual? I wonder if that means my mind is thinking slower or has a decreased RAM capacity, or something.

I was pretty quiet during dinner, mostly because Chris was talking a lot :-P But I was trying to gauge my body's response to alcohol. I had a few sips, then started swigging just to see if anything would happen. If it was, I didn't notice much. However, when Chris mentioned the Latin in The Once And Future King by T. H. White, I laughed so hard. The book pokes fun at Latin, but you have to know Latin to get the joke. But anyway, it seemed like people were looking at me strangely...was I laughing too hard? Did they think I was drunk? Hehe. Was I?

Chris said he'd come to church if I convinced his wife to come, and he sounded interested in the Church picnic. Isn't that so cool?! Maybe they'll come and I'll invite her to church. As Chris got up to leave, he said, "It was a pleasure meeting you all; I don't know when I'll see you again..." And Domenica jumped right in with, "well, you'll be there Sunday right?" Haha! I hope he does come eventually.

Lisa and Nate and I got ice cream and went for a walk in a large, old graveyard after that. John and Jon called, so I chastized both of them for not being there, even though John was in class and Jon said he was wrestling bears. I'm miffed that *I* didn't get any calls! *tsk* The graveyard was fun, even though I accidentally knocked Lisa over while trying to climb a tree. The bed-shaped headstones aren't very comfortable, by the way. :-P Lisa then dropped me off and we decided she'd get a job around here and move in with me :-) That would be so fun.

So, I had half a Guinness, a few sips of Killian's Irish Red, and a sip of that Snakebite stuff. Not bad for a 21st birthday celebration, eh? I'm curious about mixing drinks now... :-)

My Mind

Yes, that organ is full of odd twists and perilous paths. Today I came up with a brilliant idea: I should have a place for things! Listen, kids, it's bad news when you find an undeposited pay check from MONTHS ago. Ouch. So, I came up with an organization plan. My desk is now clean, and I'd like to keep it as only a temporary cache for random items. Ergo, I'm taking my paychecks and stuffing them in one of my pots by the window as soon as I get them. Once they're cashed/deposited, I'm taking the pay stub and writing down the amount in my check register, then I'm going to write a check with that pay check's tithe amount on it and stick it in my Bible. Then that stub is going into my files. I'm taking all of my Europe stuff (Passport stuff, Eurail pass that I just got in the mail, travel guide, etc) and putting them in a laundry hamper until after the trip. Everything is clearly labeled, so nothing should get lost under my trash can and get destroyed :-P I have no hope for organizing my reading material, so I'm just stacking that on a small table next to my bed for whenever I want to read. How's that sound for a plan? Maybe this'll avoid spending an hour every month fussing over my monthy statement.

27 June, 2006

Turning 21

If I were gifted in the area of songwriting, I might be plunking on a piano tonight, considering the 21st anniversary of the day of my birth. Since I've never let people hear my songs, I chose to write a blog post instead of a song. The day before I turned 21, I worked for a solid 12 hours at two different jobs, I bought a Youth Eurail pass for my trip to Europe, and scheduled my driver's license test. I reread 1 Timothy 4:14-16 to my sister and talked about Youth Camp and acquaintances in a way that I never would have dreamed of talking with her a few years ago. I'm listening to some a capella hymns in a Southern Gospel style (sing it, bruthas!) as I type on my sweet little Jakey. Airplanes fly overhead, crickets chirp, and Hezz finishes her shower.


If there were no God, I would not be here. If I had not received God's grace and guidance, I'd be in a deplorable state of mind and body. My soul would be in the depths of sin so deep I dare not think about it fully. However, I now sob for the grace of my Father, sighing at his amazing work. How? Why? Just asking the questions is thrilling enough, and when I live forever with him I will finally start to learn the answers. Oh! Oh! What can I say? Nothing. My chattering mind is silenced before his glory. "Reigning now, the King Eternal! Yes we know the victory!!"

"Aint'a that good news? Good news! I'm so excited, my face can't hide it! My soul's delighted! Hey, hey hey hey! Have you heard the news of Jesus? Ohh, oh yeah!" Exclamation points don't do justice to this emotion. Dancing would probably get me the closest to expressing this. Alas for my weakening, tired body that simply cannot jump or pose.


At Youth Camp this past weekend, I experienced God's grace in amazing ways. The biggest thing I learned was that my friendships need to be purposeful and selfless. Too often I've been aimless and selfish in how and with whom I seek friendship. I learned this especially with my campers. They may not be the "coolest" ones to hang out with, but boy did they teach me some stuff. I am so grateful God put me in their lives and enabled me to see some of the magnificent change that was and is going on. I had to give up good things to follow God's lead and invest time into relationships, but God has already brought fruit from it and I hope he continues to do so. This helped me realize how stupid I've been with other friends. Even though some of my friendships are steeped in church and service, my side of the relationship has been focused purely on how I can get the greatest social or personal benefit from it. Please, if you see me sinning in this area, let me know. If I have ever offended you because of this, allow me to apologize! God may use it redemptively!

Another cool experience at Youth Camp was seeing the HUGE, huge gap between where I am now and where I might have been if God had not intervened. What a way to appreciate the cross! And then, to look forward to heaven, and to appreciate the resurrection! Worship was so much spicier after that :-)


As I turn 21, I'm gaining new experiences that are telling. Is there any rhyme or reason between these circumstances...? I coach fencing, and love it. Youth Camp is so much better as a team leader. I'm teaching 15 elementary-aged children how to fence as a summer job. Katie C just asked me on Sunday to teach her to play violin. ...I never saw myself as a teacher. My mom got a degree in Elementary Education, and *tsk* I didn't ever want to be like my mom, gosh! I could see myself in the role of a home schooling mother, but never teaching children that weren't my own. I always hated that a lot of girls who don't know what to do with their professional lives turn to teaching, so teaching was repulsive simply by association. I still can't imagine myself successfully controlling and educating a class full of 30 kids, but it's interesting to watch my life. As I turn 21, it makes me wonder. Does this mean I could enjoy the role of home schooling mother more? Does it mean that physical therapy will be more educational than encouraging with regards to patient psychology? Will I teach Latin to a cool group of high schoolers, as my beloved public school teacher does?

You know what else is cool about this process? I'm happy with letting God do what he wants with it. When I determined to pursue physical therapy, I drew out my own academic path to success, and failed miserably. Thanks to Lisa, I realized that God doesn't need school to carve a beautiful character, and I also realized my own pride in building a castle that never materialized. So now I am content to seize the opportunities he gives me and go no further.


On Thursday I am tasting my first beer, and I'm surmising that it will be a Killian's Irish Red. Though life right now is full of jobs (3 of them), planning for Europe, worrying about transportation, and attempting to maintain my killer figure (ha, isn't that funny--she thinks she looks good!), I must remember my Savior. Though I didn't attend New Attitude, the conversations afterward affected me greatly and have helped to shift my focus to the point of infinity, drawing everything into perspective and revealing truth. The Truth. May my 21st year of existence be marked by Truth and courage. May God teach me things that will be a foundations of wonderful things to come. If I don't survive this year, then may I be able to use every remaining moment to invest in God's kingdom and bear fruit. I want to see God's smiling face when I reach home.

16 June, 2006

Ten Years Of Fencing

Tonight my beloved fencing team celebrated 10 years of existence. I've only been a part of this pageant for four years, but I have learned so much from the people involved. I'm planning to learn a lot more. You know, I've gotten lots of advice from people to not let other people stop my dreams, including the gratuitous "Don't let a boyfriend stop you!" Well, as I consider my future and a possible year in Namibia, I wonder about this team. Will I be able to leave them? What will they do without me? They've taken over the role of a boyfriend in my life, and I hope I get much better rewards :-P

After my mother and I arrived, the head coach, Chris, asked me to lead the group in prayer for the food. I blanched. "What?" "You know, like a short prayer or something." I didn't realize that male leadership isn't always as prized as it is in my church. "Uhh, well, why don't you ask a guy? Liam's right there," I say. Liam is Mormon. Chris asks him, and he refuses. "Well, God, here goes an opportunity to serve you!" I reluctantly agree. (On afterthought, I wonder why I suggested Liam. I know his faith is sincere, but it's misguided!) After my prayer, Chris thanks me and said, "You did a much better job than I would have; you're holier than I am." "NO!" I pound the table. "It's by grace alone that we're saved!" Then I glance at his face and just KNOW he's teasing me. And now the whole table is wondering what's going on...oh, dear. Do I explain the Gospel, or...well, they're carrying on without me. I suppose it's all in God's hands, anyway. God, bless those moments and help them to bear fruit!

As I sit in the banquet hall listening to Chris rattle on, I like watching peoples' faces. I am so privileged to have taught the middle schoolers sitting at that table over their, looking bored and full of cake. It's interesting, I've learned so much about that unique age group. That boy, for example, is so smart you can't see him thinking. Before you've finished one sentence about parries, he's on to disengages. This other kid is Mr. Little-Rebel-On-The-Block, and yet the moment I need to exercise authority or lead him in a specific direction, he's quick and eager to respond.

Over there sits my captain of two years and a wonderful friend, looking like she's in High School listening to another of Herr's (Chris') lectures. I still think of her as my team captain, and draw on her leadership as an example of my own coaching. Right in my line of sights sits the current team captain, with whom I'll be working this summer. She and I exchange glances, roll our eyes towards Chris and stifle giggles. With my cheeks suffused, I turn to my left, where current and former coaches sit. They came straight from a French & Indian War reenactment, and look as lovely as ever. We'd just been discussing Barcelona over dinner.

Chris pauses, and I realize it's my turn to hand out the "Coach's Award" to the fencer that year. How honored I feel to walk up to the podium and take a trophy, feeling its cool marble base and smooth metal top. I say a few sentences about the award, successful in my quest for laughter. As I hand over the trophy to its intended recipient and receive her hug, I feel blessed beyond measure.

This year I had determined to make this fencing team my mission field, and to glorify God with all the authority I had as a coach of this team. Though I haven't had any converts yet, I know seeds have been planted and watered, and I can but trust God to finish the good work he's started in the people around me and in myself. I have never obviously and clearly declared my faith to the team, but I hope that my stuttery prayer before the beginning of the meal would clarify my faith to those in attendance.

15 June, 2006

Akron Is Lovely

Another speechless weekend. In every way. I never knew a simple little road trip to help out at a dance show could be so impacting. The Christmas show was incredibly affirming and encouraging, but this weekend just blew me away, and it wasn't just the dancing.

Jealously was the sin of the weekend, though I wonder how many people noticed I was struggling with it. Jealous of those who trained for worship through dancing, jealousy of relationships, jealousy of others' self-control (doesn't that sound ironic?), jealousy of sounds I can't reproduce, and bitterness for why. Why? God has me here, that's why. I don't like God's plan; it requires shouldering his cross (not mine) and struggling with my own humanity. But, how can I worship him whole-heartedly if my heart is not his? Ah! It's so stupidly obvious.

God used the weekend as a springboard for a ton of work that he's doing and will do. A perfect work that I am confident he will finish. It started off with the ending of work, and my mother slugged through traffic to deliver me to the Behrens homestead. John and I took off some time thereafter, heading toward the setting sun. We arrived in Akron after the dance rehearsal was finished, so we convinced the Murphy girls to go eat. We went to Applebee's for unremarkable food and hilarious conversation. We drove in circles in Craig's car, moshing in the back seat and being pretty much ridiculous. After meeting Steve, we drove to Craig's secret park and went down slides and jumped off of swings. John had fun taunting me by sticking his feet in the path of my swing. I had fun pushing Jen so high I had to grab her ankles and pull down because she was too high to push. THEN we went back to Murphys' and I stayed there.

Morning came at 8:30 with little conversation between Jess and I, but I became entertainment for Mrs. Murphy while she kneaded dough and I sipped raw milk. Raw milk reminds me of whole milk, with some flour added to change the consistency and add some flavor :-) Quite good with homemade whole wheat cinnamon rolls. The gals got all packed for the rehearsal, sighing over their tights again (that always makes me laugh. Stockings in general are hateful, and dance tights that are full of runs and covered with pill-balls are really despicable). I got to mill around and watch them put the finishing touches on a few dances while folding programs for the show. Prayer was awesome as always, and so wonderful I wondered if the tears in my eyes would spill down my cheeks. Mrs. Hoffman has an amazing way of making everyone feel truly special and important, yet still keeping her authority.

I wondered why the dancers seemed to know who I was, and then I found out that she had read my blog to some of the classes!? Wow. That took my breath away. I hope they took what I said to heart. I meant every word, and mean them now.

The actual show was amazing. Mr. Hoffman explained the Jewish tradition of betrothal and marriage, and used that to illustrate how Christ is eagerly preparing a place for us, and how we should be working to please and honor him. The gospel was not reenacted, but rather described. The Christian life was showin in such detail and infused with so much meaning that the gospel would be hard to miss. The boys' dance with the "Jesus" shirts was amazing. Hey, Phillip smiled during that song! I was so glad he enjoyed it. I sure did. At this show, I didn't have a job, so I paid more attention to the actual dancing. The crowning piece, featuring brides and flower girls galore, was a beautiful work of pageantry and a perfect conclusion. I found some modern moves that astonished me, and made me appreciate my modern training a bit more. The song that goes "I go deeeeeper...into your glory" had a way cool modern combination for that line. I had some questions for Jess on Sunday night, learning a few new jumps and getting more ideas.

Somewhere between the dancing we went to church. Singing next to Jess seems rather pointless, so I just signed and enjoyed the sound of her voice. Worship was all about thanks. The sermon was about Jonah and evangelism. The pastor was encouraging us to plunge into people groups that we might not appreciate to spread the gospel. To go along with the jealousy theme, the ending struck me incredibly. Jonah had the privilege of being so close to God, and obviously understood his way more than I do, yet when Ninevah repents and seeks God, he just gets angry and bitter toward God for his mercy. I see my friends interact in ways that I do not have the self-control to, and I'm angry and bitter because God has given them that particular grace. That was frustratingly enlightening, and something I must work on--both the self-control and the jealousy.

Don't get the picture that my friends and I didn't enjoy each other's company--on the contrary, we had some crazy fun times. Dinner at Don Pablo's after Sunday's show was so funny. Christin has the honor of being one of a select few who have ever caused me to regurgitate liquid through my nose. We both were laughing so hard. She was in rare form, and amazing as always :-) John cracked a Homestar Runner joke, which went right over the heads of the Akronites :-P But I missed a few of their cultural references, so I settled with laughing hysterically at their hysterical laughter. The waiter misunderstood my order, but I got food eventually. Whatever I ate (ask John how to pronounce it) was delish, and the left-overs were still good.

After dinner we went to the Hoffman's so John could get his stuff. We tried to take off before the truck got there, but (fortunately, I think) we stayed to help unload. During that time I decided I'd just come live in Akron to complement Jess for the rest of her life, and Mike decided to be her personal bodyguard. What a threesome! Could you imagine us being able to tolerate it for more than a week? I think it'd be a hilariously failed effort :-P

We went to the basement for some music after unloading, and I gave Mrs. Hoffman a back rub. Oh, that singing was so sweet. The guitars and occasional piano sounded good, Jess was stellar, and I felt my voice was up to the task. And then people would say things, prayers and whatnot, that just added a spontaneous depth to the worship that I've rarely felt. It's not a big-conference feel, or even a homespun-Youth-Camp feel, but a group-of-friends-caught-up-in-one-purpose feel, sharing our passion and encouraging one another. The prayer at the end was a perfect wrap. And of course God orchestrated all of it, even the one time I felt satisfied with my voice.

And then the phone call came. That made me realize how foolish I'd been, trying to ignore authority in the hopes that it wouldn't become more restrictive. Ouch. Apologies to my parents for forgetting their wishes and not calling. John and I hit the road around midnight. I couldn't get comfortable in his car, which is unusual but probably a blessing; otherwise I might have fallen asleep. And of COURSE John needed my conversation to keep him awake! I mean, what does he do on the weekends when I'm not around? :-P (Totally sarcastic, that)

John stopped and got Vault, which seemed to help. His conversational cadence picked up :-P I only remember two things we talked about for that whole time. Of course we talked about the dance. I was gauging his purely visceral response to it. I can't see dance from that viewpoint (a decade of training will do that to you), so I appreciated hearing his opinion. We also talked about the difference between CoG culture and PCoP culture for quite a while. Then he dropped me off and texted me at 3:06 AM saying, "I didn't die!" He was even coherent enough for punctuation!

Lisa and I went on a "prayer walk" tonight and included the dancers in our thoughts. I think that night of dance really blessed her, and encouraged her in her own worship even though she doesn't dance. It was so neat to see another friend blessed by this ministry! Thank God she was able to come. And the other Pittsburgh people. And me :-)

08 June, 2006

Things That Go "Bump" In The Night

Yes, it is almost 5 AM on Thursday. No, I haven't slept since 9:30 this morning. Am I crazy? Yes. But, it's weird--the last few times I've stayed up this late I get shaky and my muscles burn and ache and cramp. Nothing...but I did get a cardio workout, I suppose.

I bought Frank Peretti's Monster earlier today on a whim (and a big discount) at the Family Christian Store. I didn't feel tired at 11, so I lounged in bed, listening to The Fray, a band my brother just put on my iTunes. Not bad, not bad. But THEN I had to notice this huge, juicy Peretti novel, thick and unexplored. Ohhhh boyoboyoboy. I'm listening to The Fray for the 9th time, and haven't really absorbed any of the songs. However, I have been caught up in the story of Beck, Reed, and a family of mutant monsters.

I'm still excited about it. How am I going to face the 10.5 hour work day tomorrow? I don't know, but Peretti is the best storyteller alive. I'm dead serious. :-P Dead theology dudes are all good and well, and I'm not saying Peretti has a stellar theology, but his writing packs a punch that (sorry) Jonathan Edwards just doesn't do for me. Maybe some day, but right now Peretti has absolute control of my emotions. Isn't that scary? But, hey, I'm not scared! My faith has matured so much since I read Piercing the Darkness that I'm no longer scared when I put down his book. I can't stop reading...but that's another matter for another time.

*sigh* It's positively dreamy...

07 June, 2006

Another Sunday...My Cat Is Still Alive

I typed some of this "Laedelas's Sunday Summary" last Sunday, but failed to post. Here it is!

My pastor preached today on Ephesians 4:11-16.

  • True friendship involves growth, not just a relating. Development must occur!
    • V. 14-though we remain like children in God's sight by relying on him for everything, we must still mature spiritually!
  • How many ministers are in our church? 2? No! There are about 150 of us--we are all ministers. (v. 11 and 12)
    • the church is a body, Christ is the head. Pastors are just different organs of that body.
  • How are others instruments for God's will in my life? How do I respond to that work, and can I make it easier for them? Or is the whole process part of God's work? Actually I had a good example of how to NOT do this today (Wed). I went to get my passport, and the digital pictures I had prepared weren't up to the standards that no one told me about. I had to pay $15 for Polaroid snapshots, which made me mad. Mom was trying to calm me down, and was telling me truths that I simply did not want to hear. I didn't make it too easy for her to speak the truth in love, and I certainly didn't respond gratefully.
  • How am I an instrument in others' lives? How can I communicate God's will to them more effectively?
  • Speak the Truth in love and receive the Truth gratefully! Even if someone is misunderstanding your message, be grateful and loving! Your message might be wrong anyway :-)
  • Leviticus 19:17
  • James 4 I love this passage! V. 5: "5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? That gives me shivers--in a good and fearful way.
  • Why are we together for a purpose, anyway? (The title of this series is "Together For A Purpose) We are together for our good and to proclaim God's glory.

01 June, 2006

My Cat, Fluffy, My Precious, Princess, Sweetheart, Darling, My Special Cat

I think my cat is dying. She's stopped eating solid food, and is starting to dislike even wet food in favor of milk. Her hair is falling out, and she's got odd growths under her skin, as well as raw sores in her skin. I don't know what to do for her!

This cat is significantly unlike any other cat I'll ever have. Squeaky was the second cat I ever owned, and had a litter of 5 kittens the second time she got pregnant. Two weeks after giving birth, she was poisoned on my neighbor's antifreeze and was put down. My family raised her two-week old kittens using formula in eye droppers and syringes. We took those little kittens on vacation with us so we could keep feeding them every four hours. It was amazing watching their tiny bodies grow and get strong. Since they saw humans as their source of food, they loved us and responded to any sort of affection we could give them. At the age of 8, I was probably clumsy in my affection, but my kittens still loved me. From the moment I saw the smallest kitten, I determined to keep it. She was so small and round! I made sure she ate lots when it was feeding time. As she got older, it became apparent that she'd be the only long-haired cat of the group, which only made me love her more. We kept another cat from that litter, and he became Candy. I named my little girl Fluffy.

Not long after they turned 1 we moved to Pennsylvania, and the cats adapted from suburban life to country living. They caught all sorts of small animals and ran all over the woods. We got two other cats during that time, who promptly had a litter each. All of those new cats were given away, but my Princess and her brother stayed with us as we moved to Carrick. From fields and woods to a 10 square-foot backyard, they rolled with the punches and adjusted. Since we spent so much time on the front porch, they also congregated there and we built homes for them in boxes with woolen blankets and pillows.

We eventually moved to suburbia again, and the cats seemed glad of that. They had a few run-ins with the locals; however, they quickly established their own territory and held it. It was such a pleasure to come home and, at the sound of wheels crunching gravel, see my Precious' round body bobbing up over the hill to greet me. My cats were constantly around when I was outside, and all I needed to do was start singing or whistling for them to run to me. Planting strawberries took hours longer than it should have, simply because my Darling needed my attention during the process. Even when I wasn't outside, the cats would sit on the windowsills and watch my activity from the outside.

As we moved less than a mile away to another suburban house, the cats would wander back to our old house. Candy continues to do this, especially when we leave for the weekend, but my Sweetheart quickly learned that "home is where the heart is," even though her territory was close by. The new house may not have seemed like home at all times, but my Precious was always near to cuddle and kiss. Her age, 12 by now, was never apparent until after the move, and then she declined rapidly.

She no longer jumps up on the porch to greet me, but must use the stairs. She's weakening, and rarely wanders outside of the backyard, even when I come home. She sleeps a lot and is either anxious or in a lot of pain when she's awake. Her brother is noticing this, I think. One morning I went out on the porch to feed them, and she was laying inside her box while Candy was "bathing" her. That's the last time I saw a smile on her face, and such a peaceful one it was!

How can I handle this? The death of a person is quite a different matter, I think, but though this relationship is much more temporal, it still hurts to think of ending it. If Daisy is John's sister, then my Special Kitty is my daughter. Next year she may be just a sweet memory, but right now the pain of losing her is so acute it consumes my thoughts. Oh, Darling, how many times have I cried over you, and you just purr back at me! What will I do when you purr no longer but I'm still crying?