Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Maintenance of Life

man fixing car
Oh, maintenance is so annoying, isn't it?
One of the bulbs in my headlights is out (and ... that's the least of what's wrong with my car, but that is what's getting fixed today). I bought a new bulb, and, optimist that I am, I really thought that I could figure out how to change the bulb on my own. And if all else failed, I'd ask my dad. Well, an hour later and minus a (probably necessary) screw, my dad and I threw our collective grimy hands in the air and gave up.
So today, I'm lugging my car over to the dealer and I hope they'll take pity on me. I'm prepared to pay, though, so that I don't have to deal with it.
I'm the same with haircuts - I hate scheduling haircuts. I dread the phone call to make the appointment. I don't like making small talk with the person cutting my hair. I prefer letting my hair grow and grow and get all unhealthy, rather than just getting it cut.
Maintenance stresses me out.
I'm hoping that this issue doesn't fall over into my spiritual life, although I suspect it does. What kinds of maintenance do we need to do on our souls? Our hearts? What is our general upkeep, or our tune-ups? Sure, reading the Bible and praying are the easy things: like filling up a car with gas or brushing my hair. But what are those things that I need to focus on every few months to improve my relationship with my Father? Hmmmm... I'll have to get back to you on that.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Feast! of the Unleavened Bread!

Matzo bread
I like to celebrate the Jewish Holy days. Or, at least, observe them in some way, since I'm usually pretty ill-equipped and caught off guard when the day rolls around. Sundown today is the beginning of Passover, the Feast of the Unleavened Bread.
Several years ago, when I was dating a nice Jewish boy, I had the honor of attending Passover with his family. I absolutely loved the tradition, the symbolism, the reverence for history. It was amazing. And basically, from that point on, I decided that I needed to embrace the holy days as a part of the way I celebrate my own faith. After all, my Messiah celebrated these things as a part of his faith.
Passover celebrates the the Hebrews' escape from slavery in Egypt. After suffering through 10 plagues, Pharoah finally got the message from God and freed the Hebrews. They were so excited that they left without letting the bread rise, which explains the "Feast of the Unleavened Bread" and also the Matzo that is eaten at traditional Passover dinners. At the dinner (seder) each individual food holds a meaning. Stories are told, songs are sung. Everything that takes place holds a deep meaning to what happened over 2000 years ago.
It's really amazing and if you've never been a part of a seder, you should totally experience one.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

State of our Health Address

I know, I know: no one wants to be told they're doing anything wrong, or that things need to change, or that we're killing ourselves. But isn't it obvious?

Don't we look different than we did 20, 30, 40 years ago?

Don't we eat differently?

Don't we die differently?
Cheeseburger and French fries, close-up (focus on cheeseburger)
We're only lying to ourselves if we don't find the connection between what we put into our bodies and what is happening to our bodies. I am convinced that diseases and sickness are connected to what we eat in ways that we are not even aware of yet ... and why wouldn't they be? Food is our fuel, and if we're using junky fuel, then our bodies can't do what they're supposed to.
So, it's time to take a long look at the stuff that we put into our bodies: the amount of sugar, the lack of nutrients, the copious greasy, fried, fatty stuff, the lack of vegetables (and please don't think that french fries count as a vegetable. Please.). We need to look at what kids are eating (or not eating) in schools. We need to look at what we're cooking at home. I'm experimenting with new things: homemade cheeseless pizza COVERED in vegetables - and guess what? It's goooood. I need to be learning to cook for myself, so that when I have kids I'm giving them the best foods possible, and not some fried junk from a restaurant. My parents fed me balanced meals growing up, so how did I become so lazy? I'm not sure, but I'm not allowing it go on any further.
For further study, watch this video. Then, when you pick your jaw up off the ground, check out Jamie Oliver's site.
And, mostly: let's be honest with ourselves about what we're doing to our bodies, our children and our futures. If we don't look at it carefully and just get defensive, it really could kill us.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lucky the Leprechaun!

Water Drops Falling onto Leaves
Real conversations with my sister (L J), nephew (Dylan, 6 years old) and niece (Cassidy, 4 years old) regarding St. Patrick's Day:

LJ: Did you know that I'm a little bit Irish, and that means you guys are a little bit Irish!
Dylan: What part of you is Irish?
LJ: (pointing to her nose): This part
Cassie: (to me) What part of you is Irish?
Me: My freckles are Irish.

Me: Grandpa's father is 100% percent Irish.
Cassidy: He's Irish all over?
Me: All over. He's 100% Irish, which means that ALL OF HIM is Irish. He came from Ireland!
Dylan: He's a leprechaun?!?!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Alternative: Horse and Buggy

I shouldn't even write about this, since I'm about 1/10 of the way to deciding to become Amish anyway. I mean ... there are seriously a lot of things that attract me to the lifestyle that I can't even get into now. On to the purpose of this post:

Car accidents drive me crazy.
Road sign in Amish country

I was in a (very small) accident about a year ago, and it was one of the most traumatizing things in my life. It was not the first accident I've been in, nor was it the worst as far as physical damage goes, but emotionally - it was tough. First, because the person who hit me just drove away. So here I was, dealing with consequences all on my own, wondering why... why would someone drive away? What had they been doing? Why me and my car?
I mean, my car is no jewel to begin with. But now, it's smashed in one side, the tires are awful, and yes, it has stayed that way. I don't have the money to repair it (it's not worth the repairs), and my insurance company totaled the car. So for the past year I've struggled with my vanity and drove around my less-than-cute car. And I learned a lot of lessons along the way.
I am incredibly thankful that no one (I suspect ... I mean, the person who drove away didn't seem so hurt) was hurt in the accident. My car was still drive-able, and has been for a year while I save my money for a new car. There's so many blessings to consider in this case, and I remind myself of them often, because I can often find myself sinking into the whole "I feel so sorry for me!" attitude, which is pathetic.
Which brings me to my next point:

Why are there so many car accidents?

I know, I know. There used to be horse accidents, and now there are car accidents, and at some future point it will be hovercraft accidents or whatever. But I hate them. I really really hate them. Deaths that result from car accidents are the ones that I really feel like the people were stolen from me. I don't know how to explain that, since no death is good, but that's just how I feel.

In conclusion: Use horses, not cars.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Beauty....What is true beauty?
I have always struggled with feeling beautiful. I constantly compare myself to others, and have put a lot of worth in my appearance, promising that “perfecting” my outward appearance would make me feel beautiful—Truly Beautiful. Of course with age, you realize that Beauty does not pertain only to appearance. It includes so much more than what clothes we wear or how we style our hair.

Have you ever seen Shallow Hal? Part of me loves that movie. It is funny and has a quirky way of showing that inner beauty is what is most important. Being ugly on the outside can have a funny way of affecting the way people see you on the outside.

I would rather be a loving, generous, kind, tenderhearted, compassionate, smart and cheerful person over looking like a Supermodel; if my body was all I had. Of course if I could have both, I would gladly take them!

We all know looks perish with time—so why is so much emphasis put on how we look. Of course, personal hygiene is important, but what is with all the plastic surgery, hair dye, mani/pedi's and makeup. It is SO much work to live up to the world's standards.
So it all comes back to this....
I am beautiful because I am made in the image of God. He formed me, made me His. When I think about the ALL powerful God, the maker of the universe detailing each part of me—I am in awe.

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

I was happy to read and review this book after receiving a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson Publishers. The aim of this book is to help people find answers to tough questions. The title really says it all: when you're at your wit's end and you're looking for answers, this book offers solutions to help you find your way. The authors tackles tough questions that I identify with, and I hoped to find some great, biblical answers in the pages.
I looked forward to reading a book by these inspiring men, who also penned the Boundaries books. I have to say, I finished the book a little disappointed. Certainly the book is well written and dives right in. The authors provide many colorful examples and stories that are encouraging and interesting. They outline 8 principles that will help readers in their troubles, like pray and seek counsel from wise friends.
I've been a Christian for my entire life, so these are things that I truly believe in and believe they help. But the title was telling me that I would learn what to do when I don't know what to do. I guess I set my expectations too high. It's not that I don't think that seasoned Christians don't need prayer or wise counsel. It's that I think that seasoned Christians have probably already tried this, and yet sometimes we still don't know what to do.
I think this book is certainly useful for all of us facing difficult decisions or rocky times in our lives, but I don't think it delivers on the promise of the title. I would recommend this book to new believers, but probably not to too many others.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

4 Days with Jennie

Taxi Driving Across Brooklyn Bridge

Jennie and I were just talking about fun travel, and we discussed what it would be like if I ever took her "home" to my New Jersey/New York roots. Well, here's what we'd do, if we had 4 days of fun in NY/NJ. Oh, the fun we'd have!
Day 1: meet my friends at Rutgers. My girls from Rutgers and Jennie would absolutely love each other, and what better place than our old stomping grounds? We'd walk around campus, pointing out our freshman dorm and our old apartment building. Lunch at the Grease Trucks, per Jennie's request. Afternoon at some of New Jersey's amazing gardens (it's the Garden State). I'd love to show Jennie the area where I grew up, and our amazing Holmdel Park, popular with cross-country runners throughout the state. Then we'd probably end up back at Diane's house and we'd all have real pizza. Yes, REAL pizza, and some mmmmmmmmmcheesecake. That would be an amazing day. We'd have to stop for gas, just so Jennie could experience the ABSOLUTELY NO SELF SERVICE GAS in New Jersey (it's against the law).
Day 2: Go to my uncle's old diner, the Candlewyck for breakfast, and proceed into Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel. Oh, Jennie! You'd love it. We could spend most of the day around Times Square, shopping. Lunch in the city, maybe even make our way all the way up to Columbia University and sit around enjoying the amazing quiet of the University in the middle of such a busy city. Nighttime: take in a show? Hey - it's NYC, you gotta do it.
Day 3: Take the Staten Island Ferry into lower Manhattan. Explore Little Italy and Chinatown, and view Ground Zero. I would really love to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge - never done it before, and it's one of the most beautiful bridges I've ever seen in my life. You know what? I left Central Park off the list. So, we'd trudge ourselves all the way up to Central Park and watch the joggers. Seems like we'll have time, so a museum? a visit to another borough? We'll play it by ear.
Day 4: Final day in NJ, so we'll skip the city and take the drive down south to Atlantic City, which is the inspiration for the street names in Monopoly. Shopping, sights, gambling. It's also near to some beautiful beaches so I could show Jennie the real Jersey Shore (not the trashiness that reality tv tries to make it, but the beautiful coastline with historic lighthouses and pristine beaches). Go to a great boardwalk at night and people-watch.
All in all, this would be a fabulous trip. We can make it happen, Jennie!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Best. Weekend. Ever.

This weekend, I plan to keep my pjs on, watch a DVD and make yummy cinnamon buns. That is exactly what I will be doing Saturday morning. I can't think of a better plan. It will be great and relaxing, and it will get me...

1950's Style Family Watching Television
ready for my big date...

with a handsome man...

or two....

At the Oscars!
SAUGUS, CA - JANUARY 15:  Dena D'Angelo gives a fresh coat of gold paint to Oscar statues in preparation for the upcoming 75th Academy Awards January 15, 2003 in Saugus, California. A total of 75 old and new Oscar figures are being prepared, ranging in size from 7 1/2- to 24-feet-tall and weighing from 100 to 1,200 pounds each. The Academy Awards are March 23.

Since our first Oscar party last year, Jennie and I have looked forward to the amazing Oscar party at the Clack household. We dress up, watch the show, eat yummy treats, give and receive our own awards, and make out with our dates.... oh wait. Maybe not that last part, since our dates are only with us IN SPIRIT. We choose our fantasy celebrity dates to escort us down the red carpet. I would be lying if I told you that I didn't slave over the decision of who to bring this year. After changing dates more often than I change my shoes, I've settled on two dashing, charming and appropriate men. I'm keeping them a secret until the party. But telling would only make people jealous, anyway.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Like a Lion...

Hello March,

You brought snow.
Portrait of a Lion

Okay then, let's get it over with, because I have a lot of "spring" things I need to do,
enjoy new flowers,
take bike rides with my new bike-riding niece and nephew,
go on lovely hikes with Jennie,
go camping with friends and eat s'mores,
start (ugh!) running again to train for another half marathon,
read outside by the creek near the walking path,
write outside on my sunny balcony,
and take walks in the park at lunchtime.

So, you see, it's time to get this whole "lion" thing over with. Let's usher in that "lamb" part of the month. And quick.
Baby lamb