Thursday, December 30, 2010

Places to Go and People to See (or.... My Resolutions)

Last year, I posted my New Year's resolutions for 2010, and I think that posting them and keeping a list of them hanging in my cubicle really helped me do pretty well in accomplishing them.
I've been working on them for 2011, and I think I've got a good start.
Numero Uno on my list is a leftover from 2010 (yes, I have quite a few of those...):
Finish. The. Book. As in THE book. My book. oh broken son. It's a good book, really. And one day, maybe someone other than me will read it.
That's under my "Mental" heading, and it's the only one listed there.
Any suggestions?
Maybe I'll set a goal about reading books or something.
Under the "Physical" heading, I have some repeats that will be on my lists annually until I'm physically unable to do them anymore:
Continue to improve in tennis
and Travel somewhere awesome.
(that last one is my faaaaaavorite resolution every year! Plus, it can be combined with other resolutions, like...)
My next one under the Physical heading is:
See Federer Play!
Yes, I've had this on my list for a long time. Every year, I wait with bated breath, hoping that Federer will say, "I'll be back again next year!" at the end of his speeches. Please do not retire, Roger Federer, until I get to see you play in person. So I printed out his 2011 Schedule, and I'm trying to decide where to go. Some are ....easier (but expensive) choices like Miami or Cincinnati, and some are awesome but expensive choices, like Roland Garros in Paris or MADRID OR ROME OR GERMANY.... Ahhhh, choices.
Next heading: Spiritual
My two resolutions here are:
Read the Bible in one year (my church is doing this, so I've got a schedule and about 300 people supporting me), and
Go on a Missions Trip. yikes. but yes.
My last heading is Social, and the two resolutions under it are repeats from last year
Do something out of my comfort zone (like, go on a missions trip, perhaps?) and
Make new friends ( ♫ ♪ but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold ♪ ♫).
So I've got my work cut out for me, but there are definitely some things that I can do that would check off several resolutions in one fell swoop. But really, this is the year to see Federer. I'm feeling that.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Luke 2:1-20

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
    And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Tis the Season...

Is there anything worse?
Is there anything worse than Ralphie standing in line forever, just to see Santa and tell him (because Santa will understand!) that he wants an
Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas, but when Ralphie finally gets up there to Santa, he can't get the words out -- because it's Santa! --
and then, just as he's about to go down the slide, he remembers his wish and he opens his mouth, and after having everyone in the world tell him that he can't get his beloved BB gun because he'll shoot his eye out, he tells Santa

and what does Santa say?
"You'll shoot your eye out, kid!" with a boot! to the face! that sends Ralphie spiraling down the slide.
So what could be worse?
Maybe, if you're six, and you've never heard of A Christmas Story, let alone watched it, and you inexplicably put BB Gun on your Christmas list, and your aunt finds it (your super cool, super with-it aunt who spoils you rotten and only demands hugs in return), and she laughs and shows the list to your mother, and the two of them hunt you down and find you just to laugh some more and say together, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!" (which, again, means nothing to you because you have never seen the movie).

That might be worse.

Merry Christmas, nephew. You're not getting a BB gun. You'll shoot your eye out, Kid.

Monday, December 20, 2010

When does the self confidence come into the picture?

"It comes with age!"
No, self confidence does not come with age. Self-consciousness shifts to different areas of your life as you grow.
When I was younger I was very self conscious about my appearance and my weight. I basically wanted to fit in and be liked. Although those things are still on my mind, it does not consume me like it once did. As I get older, my lack of self confidence shifts to abilities, talents and knowledge. I want to have self confidence in the things that I choose to do. And this is the only way....
Psalm 118:6-8
6 The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?
Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beautiful Things - A Beautiful Song

Sometimes I'm late to the party, and sometimes, I'm right on time (thanks to others who are totally with it). So here's a song by Gungor, whom I'd never heard of before today, but I will be purchasing their music immediately. Check it out: Beautiful Things:

Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
Galations 2:17-21

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Best (and the worst) Christmas Songs

Now that it's almost Christmas, the radios are aliiiiive with carols.
Here are ones to watch for and either turn up or tune out!
My favorite carol:
O Holy Night - Luckily, there are so many great versions of this song. I love a powerful version and Celine Dion and Mariah Carey have great versions. There's an a capella version by Martina McBride and an instrumental version by some musicians from New Orleans.
Updating an oldie but goodie: Check out Seabird's new arrangement of Silent Night. Love it!
House of Heroes has a few awesome songs:
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
and a new take on Ms. Carey's
All I Want for Christmas Is You
(does anyone else remember back when her Christmas album first came out back in '94 and she did a whole special on MTV with Carson Daly?)
Another awesome new version of one of my holiday favorites: Sent by Ravens' Happy Christmas (War is Over).
I have always enjoyed this song, and the new version really does it justice.
Song I miss the most:
Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey
Back in NJ, the radio station z100 (which was like, the coolest station back in seventh grade) used to play this all the time. Haven't heard it since I moved south.
There are some other songs that are favorites: I've always loved the Bing Crosby and David Bowie duet of Peace on Earth & The Little Drummer Boy, and of course, anything holiday by Dean Martin and Nat King Cole.

Here are the worst holiday songs. The WORST. Do not listen to them. Don't!
That Christmas Shoes song where (spoiler!) the mother is dead. It's like a Nicholas Sparks novel. At first when you're listening, you're like, "This is mediocre," and then WHAM! the mother is dead. or dying. or something.
I'm not linking to that song. That's how angry it makes me.
Mary Did You Know? This is the most somber and depressing thing ever. (I really dislike songs that celebrate the joy of our salvation in a terribly mournful way). And also: what's the point? Here's a trick: start at the lowest register possible with your voice and slowly and painfully sing each word a note higher than the last "Mary, Did You Know...". You just sang the first 4 words of that song.
And the answer is: Yes, she knew. Remember? The angel appeared, told her she was preggers and told her what to name the baby. She knew.
I'm of the opinion that anything sung by the Chipmunks is pretty awful, but this is probably the worst: All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth.
This might be a bit of a person choice, because long ago I did, in fact, have a gap where my front two teeth should have been one Christmas, and my family just had a ball saying/singing this to me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Year End Wrap-Up

Way back when, I posted some of my New Year's resolutions for 2010, and about mid-year, I gave a brief update. Well, here's the final tally:
•Continue running with LJ - oh, no ... that did NOT happen. But that was a conscious descision on my part.
•Run another half marathon -- again, didn't happen due to the realization that running a half marathon makes me a tired and sore girl.  Half marathon?! I couldn't have made the goal a 5K? I did that!
•Travel somewhere awesome -- yes! I went to New Orleans for my birthday. This is one of the ones where I realized I completed the goal after I had done it. But traveling somewhere awesome is kind of always in the back of my mind, so it's a good goal to put down every year.
•Continue working on tennis - oh and how. That's a yes.
•Double money earned on freelance projects -- I ended up doing this right in the beginning of year, luckily. And, by the way, doubling the money wasn't too hard, since I had earned probably $30 on freelance stuff back in '09.
•Take a writing class or attend a conference -- this was the biggie, and the one I focused on the most. Success! And it was lots of fun.
•Finish "the book". You know, "THE" book. The one that I've been working on forever -- this wasn't the year. In fact, I didn't write much in THE book at all. But I did write a bunch of fun short stories, and rediscovered my love of writing. I think I needed a break from THE book, and this was a great year to take a break. In a way, I don't feel unaccomplished on this one, even though the goal wasn't achieved. I'm thinking 2011 will be THE year to finish THE book.
•Read the Bible - check! Not as much as I should have, but a check. And this will be a recurring goal.
•Read Fearless with my girlfriends - yes. At least... we read as much of it as we could take. It just wasn't for us. But if you want a recommendation for an amazing book to study with friends: Plan B by Pete Wilson. Do it.
•Book Club - Nope. Total slacker on this one.
•Poker Night - well, you say no enough times and you just stop getting invited. So slacker on this one, too.
•Something out of my comfort zone -- hmmm... I'll have to think about this one, but I don't really think it happened. I am very much a "stay in the comfort zone" type of girl. I might try again for 2011.
•Make new friends/build relationships with old -- yeah, this happened, but it's always good to keep doing this. (Is it weird this is a goal? I feel like this is kind of a weird goal to have...)
Overall, I'm pretty happy with how I did on my resolutions. I think it definitely helped that I wrote them down and kept them in front of me all year long. On to an even better and brighter 2011!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saving Up Memories

I'm not a pack-rat -- in fact, I tend to throw a lot of stuff out prematurely just because I don't want anything cluttering up my life. But there are some things I've kept through the years -- cards, letters, pictures... I went through this stuff over the past two nights and read through it all, my mind just flooding with memories.
I have tons of old pictures - some really funny pictures from college and the couple of years afterward with my New Jersey girls (these were the days before digital cameras, so I have some really weird pictures that just make me laugh and laugh when I look at them), pictures of the family from when I was little, a lot of pictures of my old dog, Tootsie, and an entire album filled with pictures of me during my awkward adolescent stage (they are awesomely bad and I am happy to share them with anyone -- they are a cautionary tale).
Trish and I went through a letter-writing stage in college and the two or three years afterward, and I kept many of those letters. They are mostly funny, but there's one that is just words of encouragement that was sent to me in the the few weeks before I left for my big Australian adventure.
I have treasures: a card from my uncle to me, written the year he died, and sweet cards from my mother over the years. My mom is really wonderful in this way - she sends me cards with really encouraging or loving messages that make me feel great. I have a card that she gave to me right before I left for Australia that I kept with me the entire time I traveled.
My biggest treasure, though, is a tiny note card from a close family friend, written just a couple of years before she died. I'll call her Mrs. B. so that those of you who know me, know who I'm talking about. She was my mother's friend from the neighborhood, she had a son who was born a month before me and we were each others first friends. I always felt at home in their house and I can still remember the smell of their kitchen (Mrs. B. was always baking pies -- that's one memory I have of her -- always baking). When I was in college, I found out that she was diagnosed with ALS, and my mom and I would visit her whenever I was home on break. We'd sit with her and chat and laugh or talk about her treatment and pray and cry. As the illness progressed, I'd chat while my mom cleaned her house, or painted her nails, or wrote down the details Mrs. B. wanted at her memorial service.
The card is a thank you note from one of my visits with her. In it, she included Jeremiah 29:11-13:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
And then, she wrote about how she knew me before I was born, and how she knows that God has good plans for me. Needless to say, I cry every time I read the note -- because I miss her, and I wish we'd had more time. It's funny, the card moves directly from the verse into her writing, "I knew you before you were born..." and I always read that as part of the verse (every time!), and then I realize it's her saying it to me ... and that's usually when the crying begins. Anyway, she was an amazing woman and I think about her and her family all the time and that card is the thing I hold most dear in my box of memories.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  -Philippians 3:20-21

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sometimes I feel....

Sometimes I feel like I am just going through the motions of life.
Doing what everybody expects.
Participating in what I have committed my time to.
Many times I don't even feel like I am in my own body.
Time to re-evaluate?
I think so.

"But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you."
Psalm 39:7