Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blessing your pants off...

"Happy Birthdays to Steve and Valerie!!!! I hope God blesses the pants off your day!" - MOM

That's right - same day. August 28th - Happy Birthday to Val and Dad - wish I could be there to help you celebrate, although I was almost with Valerie as the clock struck midnight last night Texas time. Apparently we were both very tired as EVERYTHING was hilarious at this point. I wish there was a way to explain inside jokes and have them not be lame to the rest of the world, but I will suffice to say that my family are the funniest people that I know and I miss being able to see them on a daily basis.

*If anyone knows why "His skull is on my eye" could possibly be that funny, please let us know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are you seeing someone?

When my cousin Amy was born she brought much joy to our entire extended family. Born with Down Syndrome and a heart condition, she endured much from the medical world. I can still picture the bear that I drew in my 2nd grade class to send to her in the hospital. As she grew older and healthier, Amy also developed quite the quick wit and sense of humor. Her quotations have stopped my entire family in their tracks and given much needed laughter to many situations. Whether she gives sold out concert performances in the backyard or fiercely protective hugs, Amy is an amazing force to be reckoned with.

In one particular phase of her life she became very concerned about the dating and relationship status of each of her cousins. When I was 18 I remember having a brief heart to heart with her.

“Ginger,” she became, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No Amy, no boyfriend.”
She tried again. “Ginger, how old are you?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Nope. No boyfriend.”
“You’re 18, you have a boyfriend.”
Thinking I’d found a loophole I countered back with, “You’re right Amy. Jesus is my boyfriend.”

Amy spun around and looked me squarely in the eye and accused, “Do you think I’m stupid?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. But over the years this conversation has played in my head and made me realize that the truth for Amy and her generation, mine as well, is that young women are still expected to date, got to college, get engaged, get a job, have babies, and live motherly ever after. (And be a working mother to boot.)

As empowered as we might be from a strong women’s movement in the 70’s, the expectation for most American young women is to have it all – education, job, and family. My major concern is not the desire in itself, but instead the stigma that is still felt by single women in their 20’s and 30’s. Rarely do they finish a conversation without being asked, “And are you seeing someone?” I’m personally not offended by the question so much as I am challenged by it. Why can’t that final question be something really exciting like “And are you learning anything new? Or, “Do you have any new adventures in the works?”

I love speaking to and challenging young women to not wait for life to happen to them, but instead to “grab it by the horns” and “suck the marrow” out of it! My true desire is to see young women come to be known by their passions and giftings…and even more importantly, by their identity in Christ.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Flight and the Empress

During our illustrious semester spent abroad in Oxford, England, Dani and I had the privilege of trekking together to at least eight different cities. The two of us made good travel buddies, both wanting to see a lot and do a lot- be it dangling out of the top of castles, buying poetry from crazy old Irish men, or seeing the entire Louvre art museum in a single morning. Now if you've never been to the Louvre before, know this: the Louvre is amazingly, astoundingly, fangoriously large. Picture a giant building. Now multiply that by thirteen. That would be the first floor of the Louvre's four floors. I you tell the truth: it's crazy big.

Now Dani and I had traveled to Paris for Valentines Day with six other girls. As you might imagine, this led to plenty of opinions about what to do and where to go. The first day in Paris, most of the group elected to sleep in and come to the Louvre later in the morning. Dani and I were in the small group that wanted to take as much time as possible to see as much as we could in the museum, so we headed out early. Our goal was to see every wing on every floor. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? No, we soon realized. No it does not. Upon laying eyes on the monstrosity that is the Louvre, Dani and I came to understand how insane we were to attempt to see everything in the Louvre in a week, let alone in half a day. But as we looked at each other that morning, our eyes did all the talking. "Are you in?" "Let's do it."

After buying our tickets, we set off down the first hallway, maps and cameras in tow, ready to face all the art the Louvre had to throw at us. We were completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of paintings lining the walls, ceilings, and stairwells of the Louvre. The next couple of hours melted together in colorful confusion, as countless works of art, statues, jewels, furniture, and pottery blended together in a blur of awe and wonder. Dani and I stopped occasionally to take silly pictures, ask directions, or observe the painters copying the masterpieces that lined the walls. But for the most part, we flew through those corridors, deftly manuevering our way through slow-moving tourists and laughing as our assessment of most of the art consisted of pointing at the passing pictures: Cool, there's a painting! Look, the Mona Lisa! Awesome, a statue! 

But I'll never forget the moment when both of us stopped dead in our tracks and stood mesmerized, staring up at the only painting that had been able to capture our attention for longer than a handful of seconds. The Coronation of the Emperor Napoleon I and the Crowning of the Empress Joséphine in Notre-Dame Cathedral is a mind-blowingly enormous painting, truly worthy of the Louvre; it is over twenty feet tall and more than thirty two feet long. We'd been on the fast track all day, but time stood still in that moment.  "This is my favorite painting...ever," I breathed.

I can't explain the trance that painting put us under, and I don't know why out of the thousands of astounding works of art we'd seen that morning this was the one that stopped us cold. Could it have been the sheer size of the painting? Maybe. Was it because I was amazed to have never heard of or laid eyes on this painting before? That probably played a role. Was I enchanted by the detail of Empress Josephine's gorgeous dress, the rich colors of the cathedral, and the romantic notion or a coronation? Absolutely. It's probably just a combination of all of the above, but something special happened on that morning in Paris. I felt art. I finally understood how it could be something more than a pretty thing to look at. I wanted to step into that canvas and be a member of the scene, covered in paint, living as a part of the art. I fell in love with a painting.

I don't recall exactly how long we were in the presence of Empress Josephine. I know we took a lot of pictures, lingered on a nearby bench, and forgot about the rest of the museum for a while. We basked in the presence of this large, magical painting. And I remember whimpering to Dani: "I don't want to leave it!"

We left the immense Musée du Louvre that morning content in achieving what we could of our goal* and amazed at the experience we'd had with the Coronation of Napoleon and Josephine. We also each walked out clutching posters of a certain painting, fragments of the wonder that we'd witnessed earlier that morning.

*There was one section of the fourth floor that was closed off that we were prevented from sailing through.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I am Michael Phelps.

Like most of the world, I've been pulled into watching the Olympics every night, usually well past 11:00pm. I've never been so motivated at the gym. I went almost every night last week for close to two hours at a time. The television at my rental place is finicky, so I rely on L.A. Fitness to get me through. If you ever want to truly motivate yourself, just watch some of the swimming races while on an elliptical. Are my legs moving or is that a whirlwind? Can't tell, can you?

I think my favorite part of the games have been...well, me. I know, sounds ridiculous, but I'm ridiculous. I can't help but imagine myself as a better athlete than I actually am. For someone who played pretty much every sport growing up, I'm now a certified klutz. I can't do anything without hurting myself. But since the start of the games in Beijing, I've seemed to recover that sparkle. I leap from room to room and walk as though I'm a gymnast headed to my next event. I can barely move today from all the "Olympic-ing" that's taken place.

And while I admit to being committed physically to this process, I would be lying if I didn't happen to commit emotionally as well. You should have seen me as I watched the women's all-around gymnastics competition. I was watching on my roommate's couch, which is suede, not wanting my newly washed hair to get her pillow wet, so I had a kitchen towel draped over the pillow. So glad I had it, because I cried through the entire thing. I hadn't even heard of Nastia's name a week ago, but here I am sobbing "Go Nastia! You can do this. Make us all proud. You've worked so hard for this!" I now speak of her as though she is my best friend. I've been to her website. It's sad. I was telling someone about her crying through the National Anthem and I started crying just talking about it. And don't get me started on those Morgan Freeman Visa commercials. They get me every time.

I don't even remember watching any of the Olympics when they were in Athens or Sydney. Bejing has become my Atlanta. I'm going to be so sad in another week when I have to go back to watching NBC summer programming. Blech. For now I will continue to stick my landings, win the gold by a fingernail, and cheer like the athletes can actually hear me.
*Photo: Winning the gold in ocean running at the Galveston '06 Olympics. Watch out Phelps.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Nobody Likes a Blonde in a Hampster Ball

So I'm into some new things. Now don't you worry, I will always have the Gilmore Girls and the Harry Potters in my life. But here's a taste for what's had my attention for the past month.

Freaks and Geeks

Are you calling me irrational? Because I'll tear your head off, Daniel. I'll tear it off and I'll throw it over that fence.

Yes, it really is as good as you’ve been hearing. It’s a lot more accessible than I thought it would be—it’s certainly not as odd or weird as I was expecting. “Freaks and Geeks” is an amazing blend of the always hilarious and often poignant, and while I wouldn’t say I was a part of either of those groups in high school, it does seem to be a fairly accurate portrayal of most of high school.

Nick: I'm gonna be a Deejay, man. [beat] And maybe a lumberjack.

The freaks aren’t all bad- they are self-aware and care about their futures and aren’t total jerks to everyone, despite hating school and most of their teachers. And the geeks aren’t nerds by any stretch- they just get a kick out of funny movies and Dungeons and Dragons and feel a little awkward at school.

This is one of my favorite scenes of the series. I can’t explain why I find it so simultaneously hilarious and heart-breaking. But here it is; you can judge for yourself. Meet Bill Haverchuck, one of the Geeks. After school he settles down for a little snack and an afternoon of television-watching.

(Freaks and Geeks gets a 10/10 dvd review)

The Twilight series

Of all the things about me that could frighten you, you worry about my driving.

Far from perfect, the Twilight series nevertheless kept me completely captivated from beginning to end as I blazed through all four books in less than three weeks. “Twilight” tells the story of 17-year-old Bella and her encounter with classmate Edward and his family of fantastically beautiful people. Slowly her she begins to have strong suspicions about what Edward’s family really is, but that doesn’t stop her from falling in love with him. It sounds quite clichéd, yes, but the books are well-written and suspenseful, and I definitely recommend you check them out if you can handle fantasy/science fiction plots. I must say though, that despite the fact that author Stephenie Myer is being hailed as the next JK Rowling, these books are no Harry Potter. I skimmed over a few chunks and rolled my eyes at others, but really it’s all good fun, and like I said before- I couldn’t put them down!

Check out the trailer for the upcoming movie based on the first book. And let me know what you think!

(Here's a pretty right-on review of the first book)

Veronica Mars

That might play with the masses, but underneath that angry young woman shell, there's a slightly less angry young woman who's just dying to bake me something. You're a marshmallow, Veronica Mars. A twinkie!

I can’t even begin to tell you how delighted I am to finally be able to call myself a Veronica Mars fan. You guys, this show is amazing. It’s just so funny and lovely and sweet and smart and awesome and clever and….mind-blowing. I love it.

“Veronica Mars” stars the adorable Kristen Bell as its title character, a damaged, snarky, and crazy intelligent high school student slash super sleuth (take that, alliteration!). Formerly a member of the popular kids in school, Veronica Mars is sent reeling by the murder of her best friend Lilly Kane and the subsequent firing of her father as the town sheriff and the walking out of her mom. Each episode has Veronica solving a mystery of the week, while simultaneously working toward unmasking the identity of Lilly’s killer. It’s a wonderful mix of hilarious and gritty, emotional and complicated.

Most credit for the magic of the show, though, must go to the incomparable Kristen Bell. In all her glory:

Really though, what more could you need from a show? Corrupt teachers, sweet father/daughter relationships, rockin’ 80s parties, Paul Rudd, aw-shucks romance, people running around on fire, endorsements for Invisible Children, motorcycle gangs, bugged phone calls, heartbreak, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, false confessions, people watching Sense and Sensibility…. It’s all here!

Now I know this isn't the best quality, but please. Press play. It’s pretty great.

Why you should be watching Veronica Mars:

Did I mention that I want to be her?

(For some really eloquent thoughts on Veronica Mars, click here.)

And that's what's been grabbin' my attention lately! Won't you tell me if you've watched/read any of these things? Or if you plan on doing so in the future? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Modern Proverbs

I decided that my post yesterday was about as exciting as an episode of "Dharma and Greg". I'm stuck using the library computer (1 hour limit per day) and by the time I had checked e-mail, bank accounts and the like - I was left with the water bottle story.

I've been going through all my old journals trying to pick up the most important tidbits I've learned over the last 10 years of my life - which includes a ridiculous prom (maybe that can be my next post), moving to Houston, starting college, working at camp, mission trips, heart-aches, the move to Arizona, the gift of some shiny poetry...and on and on. So far the list looks too short for a full decade, but I'm hoping to add to it as I add to my years. Some are anonymous quotes, some are Biblical principles, some are words of advice from mentors, and still others are truths I've come to claim and believe for my own life.

In no particular order:

1. Everyone has bad days at work.
2. God says, “Know ME” and not “Know Thyself.”
3. God-esteem over self-esteem every time.
4. It is not good to be controlled by anything.
5. Live above reproach.
6. All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial.
7. It is better to be anything deprived rather than God deprived.
8. There’s no benefit to anyone else when I try and appear perfect.
9. Why Abram? Maybe, simply, because he would GO.
10. We are not those who shrink back, but those who believe and are saved.
11. Gather experiences, not things.
12. Fear is not a valid excuse.
13. Singleness is not a condition or something to be endured.
14. Advance until you hear “stop”.
15. God is pleased with you BECAUSE he is pleased with his Son.
16. God cannot love you any more or any less than he does right now.
17. When reality and expectations don’t match up...all that’s left is disappointment.
18. God speaks to us in different ways. Listen for your story.
19. Open up your hands.
20. The type of bait you use determines the fish you will catch.
21. Quiet tension is not trust, it is simply compressed anxiety.
22. Comparison is the thief of joy.
23. Enthusiasm covers a multitude of sins.
24. Life is neither the candle nor the wick – it is the burning.
25. Eating ice cream for dinner is totally fine and completely worth it.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I spent most of the weekend at work helping pull of quite an event. Although the 114 degree weather threatened to keep us completely uncomfortable, we successfully presented a new preschool curriculum, promoted our kids to their new grades, opened a youth building, and hosted a party outside complete with slip-n-slide, dunk tank, painting, and snow cones. I was preparing to head to work at 11:00am on Saturday morning and had just pulled out of my neighborhood when the inevitable happened. I went to open the nozzle of my water bottle with my teeth and instead pulled off the entire lid. 12 oz of water dumped all over me filling my cup-holders and soaking my clothes. I'm impressed that I didn't scream. I calmly went upstairs and threw my clothes in the dryer, changed into my now warm clothes and entered back into the 114 degree heat.