What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

31 December 2009

Happy 2010

As I spend my New Year's Eve watching large amounts of Lord of the Rings and making comments about Legolas' hair, I'll also be contemplating my New Year's Resolutions.

Specifically, how I'll decide them on New Year's Day. Yep, my first resolution is to procrastinate in the area of making resolutions.

Check back here tomorrow to see if I've decided anything. And the happiest (and safest) of New Years to you all.

30 December 2009

Six Miles To Go

I'm proclaiming this to the entire universe, in the hopes that the universe will provide me with the needed motivation.

My cycling goal for this year was 800 miles. As of right now, December 30th, I am sitting at 794.

I need six more miles to reach my goal. I live three miles from my office. I think you see where this is going.

Yes! All I need to do is ride my bike to and from work tomorrow, and I WIN!!!

(I don't know what I win; more on that later.)

None of my Business.

I have a long list of things that are none of my business.

You see, putting most of the universe into the "not my business" bucket is pretty close to putting it into "not my problem". A category that I like things living in.

Some might call it laziness. They would be correct.

But it's also emotional protection for me. There are some who get up in arms & extremely involved in Every. Little. Thing. I can't do it; I don't have that much emotional energy. My way is much easier! Michael Phelps doing drugs? None of my business. One of the Bush daughters drinking? Also none of my business. Tiger Woods dallying? Certainly none of my business, and I'll thank you to stop reporting on it, Every Single Network! Private lives of my coworkers? I may need to take my earplugs to work with me.

What is my business? Caring about my friends. Being aware of those around me. Showing kindness. Doing my job without causing a fuss. Loving others. Acting like Jesus.

Turns out there are a lot of things that are my business, after all.

29 December 2009

No thanks, I don't need any.

So, in case you hadn't noticed, public figures are rather polarising.

Of course you've noticed. Things that live under rocks have noticed. The veggies in my crisper drawer have noticed, although they may be more concerned with their own immediate future.

The head coach of the Texas Tech football team is in some hot water. I couldn't even tell you why, because I haven't bothered to look it up. The comments on Facebook are rampant. I've heard ESPN has picked it up.

I'm not a fan. It matters not to me. I'm just amazed that once again, people have joined up on both sides. Some are screaming for the coach's head; others are screaming for the university administrators' heads. (Truth be told, none of said heads would look that great on a spike.) Students are complaining about the player that triggered it all; fans are threatening to change teams; others are wondering why an adult, college student or not, needs his parents to call the school and complain on his behalf.

The coach, when deciding his career path, probably knew that an incident like this would come up. He chose to coach anyway. He chose to do what he enjoyed for a living. (I'm sure the potential for cash and some TV time didn't hurt his decision in any way.)

And he is, no matter how you look at it, a small-scale celebrity. What about those who choose to go into politics? Acting? Professional sports? (Anyone have an opinion on Tiger Woods?)

Geez. No thanks, I like being anonymous. I like it that people don't line up to praise or denounce every word that comes out of my mouth. (I get enough of that with a handful of people at work.) I can't imagine liking it.

And I guess that's why I'm not famous.

28 December 2009

Christmas Eve

Yeah. I mentioned that a cold front came in on Wednesday night, bringing rain, then snow, and some ice.

I still had to go out and buy our Christmas dinner. After giving it some thought, I decided to avoid the massive and panic-stricken crowds (that's what happens when we have snow in Lubbock) that were sure to be at the stores, and instead take my chances with the snow on Thursday.

So Thursday morning, we had to dig the car out, defrost, scrape off the ice, etc, etc, try to help a neighbour who was stuck in the parking lot, and then I went on my merry way. I had no idea, until Thursday, just how helpful it is to have a standard transmission when the roads are icy.

So the store, and the post office, were both as empty as I had hoped they would be. Alas, the same cannot be said for the streets, which had plenty of people willing to drive 5 mph all over them. But hey, I got out, got our food, mailed our packages, and got home without incident.

And since I won the drawing at work on Wednesday, our Christmas dinner was free. Brilliant!

Running & Sliding

I had a couple of amusing runs last week.

(Now, there's a sentence that can be taken a lot of ways.)

On Wednesday evening, there was a cold front on its way in, and the rain came first. I still had to go running, rain and falling temps notwithstanding. So, we bundled up & out we went. It was a pretty slow run, owing to the need to go around puddles & mud slicks. At the end, despite all our best efforts, we were soaked, muddy and cold. And extremely pleased with ourselves.

And I also had to get a run in on Christmas day, when there was still plenty of residual snow & ice from the said cold front, which did manage to arrive successfully Wednesday night. And I wanted to go running in the snow while we still could. This one was equally fun, complete with skirting around icy patches, jumping over puddles, and running in all the fresh (and, in a couple of places, deep) snow that we could. Fun, fun, fun.

Unfortunately, it all ended ingloriously when Chad fell down & injured something. Fortunately, we were very near our house, and as we walked (or hobbled) back home, I said, "You know, I thought I would be the one to fall down."

He said, "Yeah, me too."

27 December 2009

Bah. Humbug.

So, having now reached the full measure of my holiday commentary, let me just delve into Christmases past for my own amusement.

My father is not big on Christmas. He has his reasons for this, but the only years that he actually seemed to enjoy Christmas were the years when he had preschool children in his house.

It's not too well-known that the Grinch has a brother, generally known as the Grunch. Rather than settling near Hooville with his brother (who he couldn't stand, anyway), the Grunch decided to live a life of relative obscurity in Greenfield, Indiana, and raise a family. He tried, he really did, to get into Christmas and indeed all holidays, but alas, when there were no small children to bring him amusement any longer, his Grunch-like ways resumed.

He didn't want to get a Christmas tree. He didn't like singing Christmas carols. He really didn't like having to go to school Christmas programmes. All the normal television was messed up for Christmas. What's more, he didn't always get to take his vacation time during Christmas, and when he did, it was usually too cold to do any projects around the house that he wanted to do, so he was stuck inside playing board games with the Grunch children. Boring board games. He did enjoy watching A Christmas Carol so he could "humbug" right along with Mr. Scrooge, and certainly enjoyed Christmas Vacation, just so he could have a laugh.

So, after being raised by such a Grunch, what's a Grunch child to do? I've tried going overboard for Christmas. I've tried going underboard for Christmas. But we've pretty much settled on this easygoing, lighthearted celebration that Chad & I now enjoy.

But beware; one never knows when I might go Griswold all over my house. Or Grunchy.

26 December 2009

It's too late this year. (Part 6)

Happy Boxing Day!

So, in my quest to share my take on the great holiday debate, I've covered the lazy people (that's me!), and the Merry Christmas people. I'm not going to bother with the mean-spirited, anti-Christmas people. They may exist, but if they do, I don't really want to give them airspace on my blog. I think Charles Dickens already did a nice job of covering them, anyway.

And as for the "What's all the fuss about?" crowd, well, I used to be one of them. Then my Merry Christmas friends enlightened me, thus prompting my move to the lazy group. I am supremely happy there.

So, now let's get to the other December holidays. Since it starts today, I'll just mention Kwanzaa. Happy Kwanzaa! If I were to take the view that Kwanzaa started out as an anti-Jesus holiday, well, I'd also have to take the view that Christmas did, too. I think the celebration of Kwanzaa is fantastic, and if I were ever invited to take part, I would do. So there ya go.

Then there's Advent. Oh, look I jumped back to Christian holidays again! I don't belong to a high church, so I don't do the community Advent activities (hanging of the greens and so on). And I think that's a big reason why I know so many people who are bent on "putting Jesus back in Christmas". If we just celebrated Advent like the rest of Christendom, we could probably rest happily in the knowledge that we were celebrating Jesus throughout December.

Anyway, I also think Advent is great. I did the readings this year, but not the candles; maybe for 2010 we will get a candle and a wreath and Chad & I will do Advent together. Perhaps we'll even invite our friends to join in.

And finally, Hanukkah. There are a lot of Jewish holidays that I think Christians should pay more attention to, and this is one of them. I don't intend to ever celebrate Hanukkah exactly as Jews do, nor do I think I should; that borders on disrespect, to my way of thinking. However, it does stand as a celebration of God saving his people again from those who would destroy them. And in an era when many Christians worry that the world would gladly be rid of us (and some of them would!), it is comforting to look to the Festival of Lights and recall that particular time the the Lord rescued his people. I neglected to buy a Menorah before Hanukkah began this year, and of course it is now much too late. But this is a tradition I would like to give to my children.

Between lighting candles for Advent and lighting candles for Hanukkah, I can see a lot of fire in my future. Happy Holidays, once again.

25 December 2009

Friday Countdown

Eighth anniversary: 7 days
Loop the Lake: 15 days
Vancouver Olympics: 48 days
Austin Marathon: 50 days
First Day of Spring: 85 days
The Great H.O.G.G. Race: 92 days

... And all heaven broke loose. (Parts 2 - 5)

There are a lot of people who I love very dearly who go completely insane between Thanksgiving and New Year.

They are the "Merry Christmas!" people.

You've probably received at least one email from at least one of them, warning you about the dire plot to take Christ out of Christmas. They might list stores to avoid or ways to "win" over the "Happy Holidays" people.

And I certainly respect their right to feel this way, act this way, shop this way, etc. I just wish they wouldn't spill it on me so often. And I get a bit confused sometimes, because I belong to a conservative Protestant denomination that for the first 18 of my life told me that Christmas is not a Christian holiday.

Then I turned 18 and all heaven broke loose. (Yeah, I thought that would be a good title.) It would seem that we have changed our collective mind.

So, at the risk of losing all six of my followers & probably any friends/acquaintances/strangers that may come along, here are my suggestions for keeping Christ in Christmas (broken into three separate posts for your reading convenience).

1. Tone down the gift-giving.

I'm not a parent, but I used to be a kid. And most of my friends are parents. And I have read one article after another in one magazine after another about "How do I keep my kid from being so selfish around Christmas?" And heard my aforementioned friends moaning about the same thing. And hey, I remember making my own Christmas list every year as a kid, too.

Call me crazy, but I'd say the way to keep your kid (and yourself) from a) acting selfish b) focusing entirely on Santa or c) completely forgetting about Jesus is: Don't encourage the opposite. I know a handful of families who have managed to do this. I'm looking forward to trying it myself.

Besides, it hardly adds to our reputation among the world for Christians to go to the store, buy hundreds of dollars' worth of stuff that the kids will play with a few times, then berate the clerk for saying "Happy Holidays".

On the other hand, a "Merry Christmas!" or "God bless you!" in reply, given with a cheery smile and sincerely meant, and certainly accompanied by a "Thank you!", might just go a long way.

2. Bar Santa from the house.

Yep, here's the unpopular one. And I admit if you have children between 3 and 10-ish who have always had Santa, this is probably not a route you will be able/willing to take. But you know the families I mentioned in idea #1? Yeah, they do this, too.

Seriously, I get so annoyed at people who lament a) the condition our country is in b) how sad it is that we don't acknowledge Jesus at Christmas any longer and/or c) how materialistic the U.S. has become, then follow it all up by showing me pics of their kids with Santa. I smile and nod, but inside I'm screaming: You can't have it both ways!!! And I really believe that you can't.

And this one does have some personal experience attached: I was so devastated when I found out about Santa. I held on to believing for a long time-- much longer than kids normally do-- because I didn't think my parents would tell me something that wasn't true. I was really upset when I found out that Oh, yes, they would. I just don't see how I can expect my children to accept that Santa is a story but Jesus is real, when I spend the first few years of their life presenting both as the truth. It works for some, apparently, but I'm not one of them.

3. Really celebrate Jesus.

See? An easy one! Celebrate Advent in your house. Take your kids shopping for needy families, instead of for themselves. Give them money to put in the Salvation Army boxes. Put a nativity scene in your yard (or better yet, your living room). Talk about Hanukkah when it comes around, and what it means for both Jews and Christians. Read Luke 2 & The Gift of the Magi on Christmas Eve. Go to a Christmas Eve service. And so on, and on, and on...

Jesus is not the reason for the season, for the Christian; Jesus is The Reason. For everything. We don't have to put Christ in Christmas if he is already a year-round part of our lives.

May the Lord bless and keep you as you celebrate today and every day.

Happy Holidays! (Part 1)

So I have, once again, heard the opinion of everyone around me. This seems to happen a lot.

And this time around, it's about what we call this special time of year.

You see, some of the PC, or non-celebrating, or just plain lazy among us like to say "Happy Holidays". I'm sure there are even some mean-spirited, anti-Christianity, or just-plain-grumpy people who do the same thing out of the meanness of their hearts.

And in the other corner are the people who will beat the living daylights out of you, or would, if not for fear of being sued, if you don't say "Merry Christmas" at Every. Last. Opportunity.

Then, there are those in the middle, who can't for the life of them understand what the fuss is about but do wish you would just pay for your shopping and move on, so they can do the same.

Put me in the "lazy" group.

You see, in a period of five or six weeks, we have Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas Day (if you are into that sort of thing), the Immaculate Conception (likewise), Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. That is a LOT of holidays in a short time, and I'd like for you to enjoy all of them. Therefore, when I say, "Happy Holidays!" it is not because I don't love Jesus, it's because I love you. And I don't want to take up five minutes of your time listing all the holidays that I hope are happy for you. And those are merely the Christian & secular holidays; I didn't even mention the "other" holidays happening during the same time. (I'll save those for later.)

Therefore, it is with the sincerest desire to not waste any more of your time that I say, Have a very Happy Holiday today. And tomorrow. And twice next week.

24 December 2009

Race Recap

Yep, it's Christmas Eve, there is snow on the ground, I've been baking all day, and all I can think about is how I haven't informed the world about my race two weeks ago. You gotta have priorities, after all.

So! To begin, we were car-free that weekend; the One Car needed to go in for repair, or else it was in danger of becoming the One Heap of Metal. Sarah agreed to ferry us to the race.

Before the race started, one of the board members stopped me to ask, "What size do you want for you 66-Mile t-shirt?" Ah, one of my favourite questions. Why, yes, I will take that t-shirt, thank you! I barely made it this year-- I needed that last race to get me there-- but hey, the rule is that you have to run 66 miles in WTRC races, and I ran 66.25 in 2009.

This is the race where last year I passed a couple of the Marines who were running with us. This year, they didn't run; I think they had a TON of Toys for Tots events happening that day & had to leave early. Regardless, I was just planning to have fun & not worry about my time-- this is a tough course, with the most serious hills we can find in Lubbock.

And, we all know what happens when I have a fun race & don't worry about my time: I set a new PR! Yep, sure did! And, of course, I didn't know it until much later that evening, when I finally got around to putting the race in my running log. Cool.

And, Sarah & I both got a medal, which was really nice. And we got some t-shirts that proudly shout, "I Ran with the U.S. Marines", even though we technically didn't, as aforementioned.

And most importantly of all, tomorrow morning some kids in Lubbock who might otherwise not have gotten anything from Santa will have a few new toys, thanks to the U.S. Marines. Semper Fi.

19 December 2009

Friday Countdown

Man, I missed a week.

Christmas: 7 days (Holy holiday sales, Batman!)
Eighth anniversary: 14 days
Loop the Lake: 22 days
Vancouver Olympics: 55 days
Austin Marathon: 57 days
First Day of Spring: 92 days
The Great H.O.G.G. Race: 99 days

16 December 2009

Make it Meaningful

I don't want to say I'm feeling rebuked right now, because that isn't the right word. Challenged, perhaps. Sad, certainly.

Chad & I strive to be content with what we have, and make good use of our resources. And yet, after reading these two blogs, I feel like we have far too much stuff.

Shaun Groves is a musician who works for Compassion International. He tells people about needy children everywhere he goes, and gives his audiences the chance to share from their excesses (and sometimes, from their too-tight budgets) and bless children who couldn't dream of having a fraction of what we have. Mr. Groves took a Compassion trip to India last summer, and mentioned how he hates to get new stuff after he's been on one of the trips because he has seen the poverty of others. All I did was read along, and I feel the same way.

And speaking of feeling the same way... Trey Morgan just got back from Honduras. He helped stage a banquet for people who live in a dump, searching for scraps of trash to live on.

This comes on top of reading an Unclutterer article about minimalist living a yesterday. While I'm not into minimalism for its own sake, I take the three things together (I did read them within a couple of days of each other, after all) and start to think that I could get rid of a lot of my stuff. And move into a smaller space. And spend less on rent, heat, and possessions. And sponsor as many kids through Compassion or through Trey's connections in Honduras or through Casa de la Esperanza in Mexico or through the Children's Home of Lubbock... as many as we possibly can.

And so with that thought, I share a video that Keely-- and many others-- have shared on Facebook.

15 December 2009

TSO = They're So... um...

Dang! Why couldn't it be TSA? Then my title could be, "They're So Awesome". (Or "Amazing".)I'll have to think about a good "O" adjective. ("Outstanding", perhaps?)

So! After energetically tweeting my enthusiasm for all the world to read all day long on Thursday, we saw the real, live Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Thursday night. Sort of. We were a looooooong way from the stage. But no matter; the sound & light systems worked just fine.

There really aren't a lot of words for how spectacular this concert really was. "Wow. I tell you what, Wow!" That pretty much sums it up. The light show was so uber-fantastic; it was a bit like being stuck inside one of those lightning ball things. You know, the ones you put your fingers on & get the static electricity all going crazy? Those. Only in a wide variety of colours.

There was also some fire, which we could feel the heat of all the way up in the ceiling where we were sitting. Pretty dang impressive.

The singers? Crazy-amazing. Violinists? Uber-energetic. Guitarists? Super-fantastic. Keyboard? Drums? Light crew? Ditto. I'm surprised smoke didn't come off the keyboarder's fingers, she was playing that thing so fast & furious.

So it was getting kind of late, and the lead singer said something along the lines of, "I know it's a school night, but... Wanna hang out?" Of course, the arena screams. "Whaddya say, a couple of more songs?" More screaming ensues... and TSO crashes into "Wizards In Winter". And the arena goes wild once more. I admit it, I screamed & clapped, too.

Come back soon, TSO!! I miss you already, and your CDs don't quite cut it for me now.

Favourite Little Sister

So, my baby sister is 27. Sheesh.

She is beautiful, she is sweet, she is kind, she is hardworking, she is addicted to Stargate. She makes me laugh, she makes me smile, she makes me crazy. I couldn't imagine my life without her.

And apparently I'm responsible for all her brain damage, since when she was born I thought she was one of my dolls, and would carry her around until our mother rescued her from having the oxygen to her brain cut off. Sorry, Neesee!

(Michael Shanks, if you are reading this blog, my sister would like your autograph. Thank you.)

Happy birthday, my favourite little sister.

14 December 2009

62 Days

More accurately, 1497 hours and 48 minutes.

Yep, that's how long I have until the gun goes off at the Austin Marathon. And all I have to say is: Yikes!!

I'm excited. I am so, so excited. Part of me can hardly wait.

Another part of me (specifically, the parts that are still hurting after yesterday's 18-miler) wishes I still had about six months to go.

Next Sunday, I run my first 20-mile training run. I'm torn between absolutely dreading the pain that goes with that kind of mileage, and exhilaration at the fact that I can actually do it. How did this happen? Seriously, I was the fat & slow girl who ran like a duck in P.E. People quacked behind me in the school hallways for four years. (Okay, I still run like a duck. And Chad brings back fond memories by quacking when he runs behind me.)

I've heard (from other runners) that getting into the hard part of marathon training makes you a complete germaphobe. And oh my goodness, is it ever happening to me. I am very much a "rub some dirt on it" kind of girl, but I'm already planning my all-out assault on all germs in my vicinity for the next two months. If you're sick, I'm very sorry to hear it; please stay back 100 yards. Don't even think the word "sneeze" while reading my blog.

No worries, I'll be back to my germ-tolerating self on February 15th. Until then, watch me become ever more crazy. 1497 hours, 42 minutes.

08 December 2009

He lives in you

So I think a lot about creativity.

This is due in large part to my own desire to create things, of course. New baby? I have just the cross-stitch for you. You need a blanket? I'm on it. You have multi-coloured paper, fun scissors, and stamps? One birthday card, coming up. Your door needs a Christmas wreath? No problem.

You want me to draw you a picture? I hope you like stick figures.

This is, after all, the way I show my affection for people: I make them things. I may think you are the greatest person on the planet, but it's not likely I'll ever say so. No, instead I'll cross-stitch you something cute and write a nice card, and stick it in your car when you're not looking. Yeah, I'm that kind of reserved. Sorry, I'm doing my best to be an extrovert.

And being a person of faith, I know the source of all this creativity. The God who made the sky blue and the trees green and the snow white and the flowers in all colours gave the same zest for making things to me. He made us in his image, but that's doesn't mean we are all alike: my creativity manifests itself in crafts. Other people have paintings or music or basketball or working on cars or programming computers or writing or teaching or cooking or acting or dancing... and the list goes on. And it all springs from a God who loves creativity.

You don't have to agree (and goodness knows there are plenty who don't!). But when I see the spark of the creative in you, I see the Lord. And I hope he is shining through me, too.

04 December 2009

Friday Countdown

Redline 4 Mile: 8 days
Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 6 days
Christmas: 21 days
Anniversary: 28 days
Vancouver Olympics: 69 days
Austin Marathon: 71 days

01 December 2009

I'm awake, alert, alive, enthusiastic...

Okay, I'm only one of those things. You may choose which one, if you like.

I took the morning off work, just because I can. And guess what time I woke up? 6:30. Yep, could have slept to 11, but my brain was all spinning again at 6:30 AM. Aaaargh.

So, I have cookbooks to sort through, pics to upload, an apartment to clean, and running to do. I am not in any way going to attempt to do all those things before noon. Also, I keep reading that there is snow outside, but so far it isn't showing its very cold face around here.

So, Happy Tuesday!

The last post of November.

And by golly, I'd better hurry.

I have lots of caffeine in my system, which is the result drinking so much caffeinated tea today, which is due to MANY days with not enough sleep. Man, I love sleep. I'll be glad to have that back.

I always have fun at the tea. I mean, I get the microphone. What isn't fun about that? The centre of attention is a fun place to be for us narcissistic types. :) I can't believe I'm the same girl who used to hide behind people & wouldn't raise my hand in class for fear I'd actually have to say something.

Anyway... speaking of narcissists... yeah. Where was I? The tea. So it's fun for me regardless. I hope it is that much fun for everyone else, too.

Tonight, we had so many people, it took about 45 minutes to get them through the food line. Which put us 30 minutes behind. So, we had to cut a game and some singing. Which was a real bummer.

And... this was my last time. I announced that next year, we need a new chairwoman. It is hard letting it go-- after all, this has been my baby for three years running now-- but it's time for someone with more ideas to get a chance. And this time next year, there is no telling what I will be doing.

I love South Plains. I love the Womens' Ministry. I really, really love the Ladies' Tea. But I hope someone else can take it and make it even better.

And I made Ruth promise that South Plains won't have another five-year hiatus between teas. Because the last gap was much, much too long.