Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Let me not seek . . . apart from Thee

Tonight I attended Pendergraph Women's Ministry which is an organization for any women involved with the life of the college: wives, students, professors and professor's wives. My readers know that I am quite interested in seeking out female fellowship, and this gathering turned out to be just the sort of thing I adore.

You wear nametags and eat chocolate dipped strawberries and cucumber dip and register for a door prize and sing praise and worship and all the women in attendance act as if they know you. Tonight the meeting was "Ask Anything Tuesday" (which is a knock-off of Dr. Mohler's radio program, for those of you who are fortunate enough to live where that program is aired). I just love that sort of thing, and I knew full well going into it that I would most certainly ask a question (come on, now, wouldn't you??). There were 6 ladies, 2 of whom I know (sort of -- I'm new, so I don't know anyone very well at all!), and a couple others I have seen in the bookstore. I just love Carol Orrick and Gretchen Wright (the latter for obvious reasons), so I just sat enthralled with the wisdom of these ladies. I was a bit preoccupied with their poise and beauty, admiring them for all the good things they are. Several of them greeted me warmly (I was so thrilled that Mrs. Orrick remembered me from when I met her last fall!), and I was basking in the golden glow of such a truly feminine evening.

And I realize the tendency that my heart has toward idolatry. . . don't you do this? My heart is inclined to the creature, not the Creator. Tonight I read in Valley of Vision: "Let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee." I added in my own journal: "Let me not seek notice apart from Thee." Any of you who think and feel like I do know that it is so dear to our hearts when someone we admire takes notice of us. But friend, do we not have the undivided Notice of the most Beautiful Being of all? My prayer is that the knowledge of the Holy One making note of me will capture my imagination, and keep me from ever quite getting over it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Diary of a Weekend

It is my first chance to write about the great weekend I had (that's what happens when you share a laptop with your husband who is in Seminary), with visitors from "home", a passport for my palate, and a barrel of monkeys with laughs besides. Here is a little journaling:

Friday night: 2 of my sisters (Emily and Abby) arrive with 2 of my friends (Misty and Shea) from Illinois. It is well after 9pm, their projected arrival time. My friend Ke
vin (who lives here) has come over, and we all catch up over coffee, red pepper bruschetta and artichoke dip with pine nuts. It is very loud, and funny and fun, and I am thinking that our neighbors are probably hating on us. At about 12:30, I propose we go to Krispie Kreme, which is an idea met with great enthusiasm. The hot light is unfortunately not on, but all the better for our waistlines (for those of you who know, is it not an entirely different food when they are hot off the belt?). Kevin took a bunch of great pictures, which you can see here. Sadly, I forget to bring a camera, but it turns out it doesn't matter. We go back to campus at about 2:30, and I stay with the girls at the Legacy Center where we stay up talking until about 4.

Saturday morning: I had really wanted to go to breakfast at a cool place called Sari Sari which serves Filipino food, but specializes in Latin American breakfast on the wee
kends (I'm not sure the connection). My friend Grace meets up with Josh and Misty and I to try the "brecky" and WOW! So very good! Mine was corn tortillas with beans, fried eggs, cheese and chilis -- yum! I did somewhat envy Misty and Grace's eggplant/pesto burrito, but mine was just what I wanted. We stopped by the bookstore I work at, and then (sadly) I had to go to work at my other job. Fortunately, it is at a nice mall, and the girls shopped while I worked.

Saturday night: after a good nap, we are all up for a bit of dinin
g adventure. After surfing around a bit, we find that a myriad of ethnic dining experiences are located on Bardstown road, so the 4 of us (Misty and Shea, Me and Emily) get dressed up and set off in the rain. I knew the "country folk" would enjoy seeing the coolness offered in the street that is Bardstown road, so we drove all up and down before settling on an Italian restaurant (a less adventurous choice, to be sure, but still quite wonderful). We share a salad of tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil, and then dig into our pastas (or risotto, if you are Shea). My mouth still waters at the thought of the spinach stuffed tortellini with walnut creme sauce! Everything was very very good, but we began to develop suspicions that the whole place was just a front for the mob. I'll try not to say much about it, in case it's true, but I think it just made the whole experience more authentic for us.

Later Saturday night: we want coffee and dessert, so we go to a Latin restaurant where I am rather delighted with the cucumber floating in the ice water. We each order a different dessert, and play "If I could have a restaurant, what would it be?" (try and see if you can guess mine. Here's a hint: it combines the food I like with something else I really love. Maybe that is too sketchy, but I'm interested to see if anyone guesses). I enjoy my apple-goat cheese "cigar" which comes with caramel sauce in an "ash tray" to dip it in. YUM!

Sunday: the girls join us for worship at our church. After the service, we try the buffet at Sweet Peas which is unbelievable! The best part was the salmon cakes with sweet pea sauce. Oh my soul! (I just realized how much I have been describing food in this post. . . well, it was really good, okay?).

The girls left pretty quickly after that, and Josh and I fell into our typical Sunday afternoon routine (me: laundry and reading, Josh: reading and watching tv -- I know it seems like those 2 things are mutually exclusive, but they are not for him!)

Thank you, Jesus, for such an overwhelming blessing of precious friends and delicious food!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Concerning Lent

Even though I am a Baptist, I choose to honor the 40-day season of Lent. I have done so for the past 8 years or so. I do this not to earn merit (Ephesians 2:9 says "Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.") but rather to set apart these special days as a time of sober reflection, and in faith, giving up anything in my life upon which I have become dependent.

Last year it was coffee and all coffee drinks and desserts. The year before, chips. I have also given up pop, peanut butter and sweets.

Yesterday I prayerfully considered what the Lord might ask me to give up in order to grow closer to Him. My mind ran over my diet and I was surprised that for once in my life, I couldn't think of anything I was eating too far out of balance. I mused over my beverages of choice, and once again was pleasantly surprised to realize that my intake was largely healthy (mostly water with a little coffee, tea and soda). What then, is my vice?

Television? No, I really don't watch hardly any. Besides, I widely dislike what is on, so it would be too easy to sacrifice! Shopping? Ha! It's hardly a sacrifice when you have little money to spend. Reading magazines? Again, if you don't buy them, it's pretty easy not to read them.

Hmmmm. . . what do I foolishly waste too much time doing? Bingo! Blog surfing.

I realized that I was spending a minimum of an hour a day reading and commenting of blogs. I could try to justify this by saying that I was just keeping in touch with people (which is true) or that this activity is a source of exhortation (also true, for the most part), but the bottom line is, it is time I could be investing in other more profitable ways.

So there you have it. I am limiting my internet use to 10 minutes a day. Starting Wednesday, I'll actually set a timer and put it by the computer. I figure I'll still be able to check most of my friends' blogs once a week or so. So if you suddenly get less comments from me, it is not because I am ticked off or something, I'm just being careful with my time!

Can I do this? Oh my goodness. Only in this selfish, shallow world I live in, can such a question be posed. I dearly hope that my time away from the computer screen will be time spent with my Jesus, Who gave up all for me.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I Love to Be a Lady!

I so rarely stop and reflect on my femininity. Often, I am disgusted with my gender, or irked, or embarrassed. I sort of try to slink back in the shadows and stay away from controversial gender-laced discussions. If I think about it (and one cannot be too careful not to think about oneself too much) I don't think I am a "girly-girl" or a "tomboy", but rather I try to be neither, just to be. It does no good and brings the Father no glory to contemplate "I'm the kind of person that -- ", so I try to steer clear of those discussions, knowing my own inclination to drift into pride (the Valley of Vision says "O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man's creaturely power and goodness, when, if Thou didst not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate. This, by bitter experience, Thou hast taught me concerning myself.").

However, I think I miss out on "glorying in weakness" in the manner the Lord would have me do if I do not enjoy the fact that I am a woman! Two evenings spent this week have taught me to just to do just that! On Monday, I got off work early enough to go to the "Dedicated Divas" class in the rec center. I was a little hesitant, because I was afraid of two extremes: super fit women making me feel like a idiot or a piece of cake workout that would make me wish I had gone running. I was pleasantly wrong on both accounts. It was a splendid little class with soft music playing when I walked in (I was sort of worn out from work, so it was soothing) and some just regular girls in shorts and t-shirts like me. Our darling little instructor was such a great combination of cool/sweet/gentle that it put everyone at ease as we did some cardio and pilates. The 45 minute class flew by and I was feeling all stretched and peaceful when the instructor asked for prayer requests and led us all in prayer. WOW! I have never been in a fitness class where they pray together! It was such a blessing. I was so glad, as I left my class, chatting with the other fun girls around me, that I was not one of the sweaty guys in the weight room! :)

Then this afternoon, I had over a couple of girls just to fellowship and talk and eat and watch a movie ("Ever After" -- okay, I know SO girly!). At one point, when we all were mentioning what Elisabeth Elliot books had changed our lives, I couldn't believe my own happiness! I have had so many blissful times with precious girls in my life from the past and present, and I was reflecting on what a good gift they are to me from my heavenly Father. As C.S. Lewis says in The Four Loves "For the Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you' can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another!' The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others." Is that not true?

So, thank you, Lord, for making me one of the fairer sex. Thank you for opening my eyes to the blessings you give me merely in letting me be woman!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Time for Valens!"

Are you aware how MANY people say "Valentimes"? And not just children! A host of adults think this is the correct pronunciation of the holiday, perhaps misunderstanding the name to mean "It is time to give out valens". Blessed little Junie B. Jones does what she can to correct this error, but I have known children who continue to say "Valentime" even after reading the book (hee hee, Lauren).

I bring this up not to mock the poor, unsuspecting misspronouncers of the wo
rld, but because I truly think it is unbelievably hysterical. In fact, mispronunciations are some of the funniest things of all time to me, and I've been known to laugh so hard that I tumble to the ground. Hearing someone seriously say "that's a good dill" when they mean "deal" somehow makes my knees give way. I nearly bit it the other day when my co-worker Bill mentioned that people around here often drop the "L" out of things and then demonstrated this by saying "can I put you on ho'd?"

Misspellings can be nearly as funny, particularly when they make hilarious new words when read aloud. Often
misspellings just make me cringe (and I'm a horrid speller), but sometimes when I read what kids wrote, oh my word! I utterly love to decipher it! For example, on my fridge right now I have a fantastic drawing of two people (well clothed) standing happily by a tree. The artwork is labeled "Adom and Ave". Precious! One night at church I sat by Stevie (age 6, learning to read) and Heidi (age 12, extremely bright). They kept passing back and forth a paper to one another with lavishly illustrated insults. I could not contain my hysterics! The best part was that Stevie was sounding out every word in his little messages. What resulted was something like this: "Hide neds the pope" (Heidi needs to poop), to which Heidi responded "Stevie needs the Pastor." (I realize now that I just burned a bridge to any children sitting with me during church in the future because I let these things continue, but you just can't quash genius like that!).

Maybe I'm the only one with this sense of humor, but somehow I doubt it. Holla back if you have a good mispronunciation/misspelling story!

Oh, and Happy Valentine's day!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Plethora of Praises

I have so many things to blog about, I didn't know how to tie it all together (I somewhat frown upon scattered writing -- even though I am quite prone to do it myself), so I decided to write them in a series of thanksgivings to the Giver of All Good Things.

1. Topping off the list of blessings this weekend, was my short trip to Illinois. I drove up Saturday morning with my little sister Abby as my only passenger (bless her heart, she never asked to stop and use the bathroom -- now that's fortitude!). I was able to see quite a few dear friends at their day of Upward Basketball. Any of you who know me well or have read my blog for a while know how much I love the children in my life. It was so precious to see so many of them, hug them, talk to them, hold them on my lap, see their smiling faces surprised to see me. Going into the trip, I was excitedly thinking about how great it would be to see everyone and catch up with old friends. For whatever reason, it didn't dawn on me how sad it would make me. I found myself getting teary over and over. I wept a bit walking up to the McCurdy's to see Anna (who was sick). And on the way home, it all broke loose. I sobbed and sobbed like I hadn't done in weeks. In fact, I haven't cried like this since the last Sunday at Calvary when I walked through the basement at church and thanked the Lord for His tremendous blessings He'd poured out on me there. Why on earth did I think that a short visit like this would be fun and easy? Driving away was like having an organ ripped from my body. And since I was all alone, I just talked to the Lord about it. A praise song came on the radio, and I just wept and worshiped for a few minutes. My far-away friends who are reading this, please know that your children are still so dear to my heart as they ever have been. The Lord gives and takes away, blessed be His Name!

2. A LONG phone conversation with my dear Christen on the way home. I am not much of a phone-conversationalist, because I always feel like I am bothering whoever I call. But Christen is a great talker, and she didn't mind at all! It was wonderful to catch up with her, to talk about what we were reading, to hear her be so real about struggles she is going through. It was such a timely blessing from Jesus to be able to talk to her for so long.

3. A gourmet dinner hosted by Kevin, my friend from LifeWay. Josh and I joined Kevin and a cluster of his friends for a wonderful Sunday dinner. One of these days, I'm going to blog about the hospitality we've experienced here (it blows me away!!), but for now, suffice it to say that it was warm, comfortable, well-prepared, thoughtful and delicious.

4. Starting a prayer journal. I love journals. I've had this pretty little one sitting on my bookshelf empty and begging me to start writing in it for several months now. Today, I grabbed it off, and took it to church with me, meaning to take notes in it, but (and this is so silly, I hate to even write it, but I do hope you'll understand), the only pen I had with me wrote in blue, and I just didn't want to start my lovely journal with obnoxious blue ink! So I took notes in the bulletin, and brought the journal home still unmarred. While I was doing my laundry this afternoon, I brought it downstairs (with a black pen), meaning to write prayer requests in it. I was suddenly filled with inspiration, and I began to write out my prayer. I used to do this in high school, but I have so rarely done so in my adult life. I'm so excited! What better use for it than to simply to write my adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication to the Maker of the Universe?!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Homes "cool"

Today my new friend Kevin asked me if I had been homeschooled. My initial reaction was to hesitate a moment until he told me that he, too, had been homeschooled. Why is that? Why would I hesitate? I certainly wasn't going to lie, I just wasn't sure how vulnerable to be about this part of my history. Once I realized that Kevin and I shared that background, we easily fell into conversation concerning our experiences. But it leaves me to ponder: of what am I afraid? I loved being homeschooled, and I loved homeschooling my sisters, and I intend to homeschool my children someday, if I am blessed with that opportunity.

So I decided to would blog about it. The majority of my readers are either home
school moms, former homeschoolers, both, or at least in some way interested in the topic. The title Homes"cool" is an expression invented by my sister's friend Shea to be used in situations where people express "Boy, you don't seem like a homeschooler to me!" :)

Part 1: Is homeschooling not mainstream enough yet to merit an explanation? Certainly in the Christian circle I now live in it is, but even so, the tiny percentage of adults my age (Kevin is the first I've met here so far) that graduated from homeschool, attended college and now are engaged in further study has not quite yet produced a generation that "proves it works". Can I be the lone reed, then, to encourage you, my homeschool mom friends -- you are doing an awesome job! I wouldn't trade my past for anything. I am confident that I received a quality education (and these wer
e in the darker days when the curriculum choices were rather slim), and even more importantly a real love for learning that made me hungry to read and learn -- and continue to do so. Kevin and I agreed that freedom to read and pursue self-motivated studies was the biggest educational perk to our learning system. One thing he said was "I'm sure I wouldn't have read nearly as many books as I did if I weren't homeschooled." So let your kiddies READ! Let them pick what they want to read and give them ample time to do so. I think too many modern homeschoolers are constantly being rushed to one activity to another to ensure that they are socially fulfilled, but meanwhile they are hardly ever home! (sorry, I'll get off that soapbox now.)

Part 2: Why is there still this idea floating around that homeschoolers grow up socially deprived? I guess I thought that idea would be put out of its misery when those pioneers went off to Harvard and Yale in the 1980's. And certainly I would hope people would realize otherwise if they met me or any of my fabulous former homeschooling friends! If homeschooling i
mpacted me socially, it was to tie my social world to my siblings, which is a blessing beyond measure! I tell you, I would not know my darling sisters as dearly and closely as I know them now, if not for sharing an roof all day long like we did. I was certainly self-centered enough as a teenager to not seek to build a relationship with them -- imagine if I had been away all day! They would have been virtual strangers to me, rather than bosom friends. Clearly, other people have close relationships with their siblings without this being their background, but I know myself and a huge part of what knit us together was mom reading out loud to us all, and doing my math at the kitchen table while Emily ate cheerios in her high chair.

In conclusion, I want to submit that education is the responsibility of the parent. They must answer to God for their choices in raising their children, this choice chief among them. I support my friends who have chosen not to homeschool, or to stop homeschooling at a point -- I know you want the best for your kids! But let mine be a voice crying in the wilderness -- "Prepare the way for the generation of socially adjusted, well-educated, sibling-loving homeschoolers!"

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Best Time to Read

When this icy-cold weather blows in, it doesn't take much to keep me in with a good book! I've been thinking about reading lately, and how people make time for it (it can easily be swept away, unless you are full-time student and your job is simply to read. . . read: Josh). I guess I'm thinking about this because even though my responsibility schedule is wiped quite a bit cleaner than it used to be, I am actually finding less time to read books.

This may be due to the excessive time I spend blogging and e-mailing (I just miss my friends, that's why!) or because our new apartment is so tiny I spend way more time making it just so. However, I have been able to find the time to read my Bible every day, as well as pour over one of my booklist books each night before bed. Josh and I are both big bedtime readers. In fact, I can probably count on one hand how many nights we've actually slept with all the li
ghts off, because we usually fall asleep reading, and one of us just takes the other one's glasses off! :)

Click here to read when the Mahaney family reads together -- I just love it! Please tell me what you are reading, how much you like it, and when you find the best time to read!

Finally -- here is the sign hanging on the back door of the bookstore where I work. It says "Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier." Is that not the truth??

Monday, February 05, 2007

Even More Memories.

Thank you for strolling down memory lane with me. I am having such a hard time with this last batch, deciding which wonderful portions of my life I should include! Thanks to the Father above, Giver of all good gifts. . . including our beautiful memories!

35. Birthday parties for C.S. Lewis (both years), which you can read about here.

36. The musicals we did in our youth group in high school -- "Let's Go to the Rock" (in which I had one of the le
ad parts, and had to "rap" a song with Chad Edgington), and "Who Me?" (in which I starred as the evolutionist science teacher, and horridly sang a solo. . . and otherwise attempted to harmonize with Mandy on the other songs). Boy, do I wish I had some pictures of those events!

37. Meeting Valerie Tripp, the American Girl author. I read her first book when I was 8, the same year she wrote it. 20 years later, I had the honor of introducing her in front of the huge gathering of American Girl fans! She was delightful!

38. Planting a functional and gorgeous garden behind my little apartment in Illinois. I hope whoever lives there now appreciates my herbs!

39. A fun-packed weekend at Donette's in Normal my freshman year of college. She and her roomies (Melissa, Heath
er, and Mary) were helping me mend my broken heart by inviting me to all their "girl's nights out". Those memories make me want to bust out singing Alanis Morresette. Remember, Nettie?

40. A road trip to Atlanta with Josh and Anna (first year I was married). The reason we went there now seems rather shallow and wasteful in my mind, but it was one of the best times ever! And we think we saw Al Gore. :)

41. My college graduation. . . this may sound proud, but I was so happy to graduate Magna Cum Laude, because it was a goal I had set for myself in the beginning (all gifts from His Hand!). My family, friends and teachers were all so warm and encouraging to me on that day!

42. Cherry pie making with Anna and Misty from start to finish. Step #1: pick the cherries from the Hewitt's trees (r.i.p.). Step #2: pit the cherries while watching "The Happiest Millionaire". Step #3: make th
e world's best cherry pie for the 4th, complete with Anna's amazing pie art -- one year it was D.C. with fireworks overhead, I believe.

43. Hearing my sister Emily sing her gorgeous T.I. song "Come Home." She has such a sweet and perfect voice, and I was just so proud of her!

44. Catching the bouquet in my brother's wedding when I wa
s 18. Janet (my sis-in-law) threw it right to me on purpose, and that was sort of the start of our really tight friendship. I love that Janet!

45. CEF trip 2006. What a lot of hot days (sounds fabulous right now) working so hard outside and swimming, and hiking and killing ugly trees (we were supposed to). And an abundance of merry-making and all-
around silliness in the evenings. Pictured here are the cap-gun bandits.

46. (If you went to MBBC, don't kill me for putting) Lice Fest '99. It truly was one of the most horrible thing I'd ever gone through at that point, but it was such a tremendous time of growth for the girls in the dorms. I remember Sarah came in and "disinfected" my room one night while I was working security -- little did we know that Lysol doesn't do a thing to Lice! (but thanks for the thought, Sar).

47. Pretty
much every moment of ri"donk"ulous craziness with my sis-in-law Kari. One time stands out, especially, when she came to stay with me while I was student teaching in Ft. Atkinson (little shout-out, Mark!). She is terrified of cats, and the Z's had a big one, Zumba, which I had to sort of hide from her, because she really is so petrified. Kari also likes to CLEAN, and we decided to totally organize the Z's kitchen and front room, but Kari goes a bit far (I'm sure you're shocked, if you know her) and was pitching tons of stuff! It looked GREAT in there, afterward, but I honestly don't know if the Z's were able to find everything! Oh my word, make me die laughing! That girl probably threw away their bills and things! I can't believe this psycho is going to be a mother! (I'm so happy!)

48. The relief and peace that came after I humbled myself and made things right with a girlfriend of someone very close to me. I had held a grudge against her in my heart for over a year, and I didn't really want to mend things, but the Hound of Heaven sought me out, and wouldn't let me just leave it alone! Thank goodness!

49. All the Bible studies at Kirby's house in high school. I trace my theological growth straight back to that humble abode. I am so grateful that Kirb invested in us that way, teaching us to see and savor Jesus Christ and adore His Word as our final authority. I can still quote the Bible Creed (holla back if you can, too!). Kirby was such an excellent balance of challenging friend and encouraging authority to us, which few kids ever have -- and it made a world of difference to me, and my walk in grace.

50. Okay, mush-ola, but I think I have to put my first kiss. The first person I ever kissed was my husband, Josh! If you can stand the details, read on: I had never kissed anyone before, and we had been "courting/dating" for about a year, and I decided I was ready (he had been for a while) when he told me he loved me. I was 21 years old, which seemed so old at the time! Still, I hold it as quite a precious thing that he was the only one I ever kissed! :)

Well, a million more memories flood my mind, and a million more are waiting to be made! To all of my new friends and readers (Grace, Kevin, etc.), I look forward to building memories with all of you!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More Memories

Thanks for the response to my first round of memories. I was afraid no-one would want to read them all, because there were so many! I've been praying that this round of memories would be encouraging to my friends.

18. My first and second graders learning the Baptist Catechism
Click the link to find what my friend Sandy posted about them, as well as watch the video clip of my precious little flock reciting the first 10 questions before the Berean class. I will always look back at that group of kids as so dear to my heart!

19. One summer before I went back to MBBC, Misty and I had a last minute fling together, but she had been working on her house and was wearing daisy dukes, so we went through the drive through at Fazolis (it was new then), and picked out a movie to rent. Lo and behold, for a mere 50 cents, we rented a New Kids on the Block music video (do not be confused, I am not that old. NKOTB was super over at this point). There was no grace for that sort of foolishness at our colleges, so that was our big wild fling before school began!

20. Fantastic and inexpensive trips to visit my cousin Rachel and her husband Scott in Orlando. Reading and running on the beach, shopping and eating out at the Japanese steak house -- so fun!

21. My cousin Sarah had the world's biggest wedding 2 summers ago, at which all of my aunts and uncles (there are 9) were in attendance, and we had a huge family reunion on the occasion of my Grandma and Grandpa's 65th anniversary. The beauty of that weekend was the common bond all of us shared in Christ. It warmed us to one another immediately and continues to be our tie that binds.

22. In high school my sister Anna and I were serenaded by the quartet in "The Music Man" after a local high school performance. We were walking on air that night!

23. Reading st
acks of books at the pool last summer with my sisters. Every Monday we'd go to Rantoul and I'd read in the shallow end while they dived, slided and swam (and read).

24. With Emily, Misty and Shea playing "If you were a Mermaid . . . " which is a game I invented to be played only in just the right setting. I'd be happy to describe my mermaid to you, if you'd like.

25. The whole fantastic 10 days at Word of Life camp last summer. What a gorgeous vacation, and a precious blessing to be with our beloved teens and members of the church body!

26. A million quiet snowy days of homeschool in Wisconsin, listening to my mom read aloud to us in a sun-washed cozy front room -- this is what brought to life my love of read-aloud.

27. My girl pa
rty hosted by Steph, Jill and Misty right before I got married. The spread of veggie fare still holds a record in my heart as does the girly fellowship!

28. Both times I received correspondence from Elisabeth Elliot, I cried. 1st time: autographed book, personal letter and h
er favorite reading list. 2nd time: her husband wrote that they had read my blog!

29. One day at the Maranatha salad bar line, Dr. Corrick (of G-Knee's blog fame) told me that Mr. Licht, my favorite teacher of all time had referred to me as "his best student".

30. The day the Lord purged me of my horrid pride and showed me via a landmark sermon (at least in my life) by Pastor Joe about David's sin in numbering the people, and how our pride is "touching God's glory".

31. All the P.E. track meets with my darling homeschool P.E. classes! I miss those gooder-than-gold children and their appreciative and encouraging mothers, too! Another wonderful P.E. day that stands out was the day that only 8 kids came, and we ran and ran on the track (I was trying to see how far they could go) and those darlings just gave it their all, and Augusta (age 6) ran 2 whole miles straight!

32. Going boating with Josh's family that first summer we were dating. It was such a good trip where I bonded with his siblings and parents.

33. The last night in Illinois, Janet carried down a basket
of clean laundry for us, and in the basket was Schmader-cakes!

34. Mandy's idea to trick and drench the teen workers at Camp OUTT (I just knew I couldn't get through this list without another Camp OUTT memory!). That was the best ever, all the kids helped us trip them, and then chase them down and get them good! I love those guys!

The final 16 are still to come. . . hope I can narrow it down!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fifty Wonderful Memories

In honor of my fiftieth post, I am listing 50 wonderful memories of my life. I will do them in several parts. These are in absolutely no order, and will probably be too random to be in any way all-inclusive.

1. The day my mom told us we were having a baby brother or sister (Emily). Anna and I jumped up and down on our beds half the night in excited anticipation.

2. A snowy nig
ht last January when I found a bosom friend in Christen Taylor over hot tea and leftover Panera Bread.

3. Playing kick-ball with Josh's family and my sisters at the school across the street. Neislers versus non-Neislers!

4. Leaving our w
edding amidst hugs, sparklers, bubbles, snap 'n' pops and people handing us cards with money in them. We'd never felt so loved!

5. When the 3rd Lord of the Rings came out at midnight, and the theatre was so loud and exciting. Misty jumped up and shouted on the part when Aragorn jumps over the side of the boat.

6. Holding my neicelet Schmader-Cakes for the first time. She was the most darling baby I'd ever seen, and I was overjoyed to be an Auntie!

7. Super Bowl 29 with my dad. Game began at 6:00pm, gates opened at 11:00am, we arrived at 9:00am. Then we
left during the 3rd quarter because it was such a blow out, and we went to a nice restaurant. :) (Only my dad! Hurry up and wait!)

8. Abby (my sister) c
rying and crying at my wedding. I realized how close we'd become that year after I was out of college, and the precious gift of friendship I shared with my sisters.

9. The first time I finished reading The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, and how my heart was overjoyed and my mind was overwhelmed at those precious words "the term has ended, the holidays begun. . . "

10. The night I stayed up until 3 am finishing Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth
Elliot, and I bowed my head and worshiped our Great God of Life and Death.

11. There are so many Camp OUTT memories, but one that stands out was the day Mandy did the obstacle course and the kids had to get gummy worms out of the sick wading pools. That was such a great day! And such a great summer!

12. My going away party at Blue Kangaroo Books. I was so honored and blessed by all the people who came by to hug me and say goodbye. It opened my eyes to how many people I knew and loved from those clubs and that job.

13. New York City trip with Misty, Shea and Emily. I can't imagine a better fun-packed 4 days. We walked the length of Manhattan, watched a Broadway show, ate at "21", saw the Met and the Guggenheim, and scarfed down a million pretzels with spicy mustard.

14. When I won the freestyle dance at the PowWow. I couldn't beli
eve it when I looked over and the Native American guy was imitating me. Then he chose me as a finalist, and after I danced my guts out, and they held the feather fan over my head, I WON! I'm sure I'll tell my kids someday. :)

15. The precious last Wednesday night at Calvary with all the kids, and counting our AIDS orphans offering (over $370 total!!) and the teens and the parents blessing Josh and I upstairs with prayer and a goodbye party.

16. Being in the King and I with DLO. Abby, Emily, Nancy and I and a lot of their friends were all in the chorus, and sang "Getting to Know You". I met my friend Stephanie K there, and bonded with all the terrific "head children". I got to be the mother of the twins, as well as the one little special child with lines who reads the goodbye letter to Anna.

17. When I was 11 and I was scared of losing my salvation, I spent multiple terrified nights in a row "praying to be saved" as the Lord opened my eyes to more and more sin in my life. One night I confessed all to my parents and my mom prayed with me. Relief is one of the best feelings in the world, I found, as the peace of God stole over my small body and I was able to rest.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Magical Mishmash

I have started and restarted this post a million times at the risk that I might be controversial. I mean not to be. Please don't think less of my walk in Christ for what I share that I'm so excited about! That said. . .

I am SO excited about the release of Harry Potter 7!!!!! (for those of you who don't know, the final tome in the popular Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling will be released on July 21st)

When I lived in Illinois I ran a Harry Potter club for kids of all ages, and it was so delightful, and now I miss them and their enthusiasm and imagination. They were wonderful kids, and I shared with them something that you can share with people who like the same books as you do. Tonight was their club meeting and I am just thinking about them all discussing the upcoming event with such zest even though it is months away! Do you know the common bond you can have when you've discussed all your favorite parts and characters together? Make no mistake. I know where I'll be at midnight on the 20th!!

Part II, friendship. Today I had my eyes opened to the potential friendship all around me. I had sort of already become accustomed to being "reached out to" because I was new, and already feeling like I found my friends at each place (from the "past"? Andrea and Jason, Grace and her man. Church? Bill and Beth, Brett and Rachel. . . work?). And it was that last part that I was getting too comfortable with. Yesterday I LOVED work because everyone I worked with was being so funny and we all gelled and did different stuff and today a LOT of people didn't work and so we were SUPER swamped and I was having a bad attitude about some people not working (Read: my new friend Theologian Kevin). But the Lord showed me the need to show myself friendly no matter who I am working with, and I was so thrilled to find someone new I really hit it off with!

I am by no means in the typical situation because I work with all wonderful Christian people, but I guess my application here is that the Lord was showing me that He wanted to bless me with adding to my life because I was willing to open it!