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Sunday, January 31, 2010

I can...but I won't.

Tonight, I began the 11-week Beth Moore Daniel Bible study during my quiet time. Several years ago, I studied the book of Daniel in-depth with my small group. We memorized twelve verses from the text, one from each chapter. Our main source of supplementary information was a commentary written by James Montgomery Boice. I hold the book of Daniel near and dear to my heart, as it's one of the first books of the Bible that I studied inductively.

Fast forward a few years, and it's time to dig back into Daniel. While God taught me so much during that first go-round, He's got even more to teach me now. Tonight, it is self-control.

Self-control and discipline have always been seemingly untouchable for me. For the formative years of my life, it didn't matter much, as I walked a straight and narrow path. Then, when I hit my twenties, I began to take little (and some big) detours from this path. Sometimes, that wasn't a bad thing, as I escaped the shackles of legalism that controlled my life. But, in the process, I also caused myself a ton of heartbreak by dabbling in a friendship with the world, and seeking to glorify myself and my personal desires.

I'm finally back on a fixed path (not necessarily an easy one), and I'm learning what it means to choose to live obediently---not because it is required of me, but because Christ transformed my heart. And, in that, I must not only exercise restraint with my choices, but also realize that my choices shouldn't be driven by self-glorification, but by the pursuit of holiness.

Paul says in both 1 Corinthians 6:12 and in 1 Corinthians 1o:23 that "everything is permissable, but not everything is beneficial/constructive. Everything is permissable, but I will not be mastered by anything."

So, basically, as a sanctified believer, I have the freedom to make simple choices about where I go, what I do, who I engage, etc. But while I am covered by both my sins and my transgressions (Psalm 32:1), I have been empowered by Christ to make wiser choices about where I go, what I do, who I engage, etc.

Beth said on the video tonight, "I can...but I won't." I am saying tonight, "I can...but I won't." Sometimes, the first step is to say it aloud. Isn't that what they teach you in AA? "Hi, I'm Mary Anna. I'm a self-aholic."

"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way." Daniel 1:8

He could have. But he didn't.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Friday, January 29, 2010


Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking, if God had not made them a pleasure, as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire

1) How do you take your eggs? Soft-poached

2) How do you take your coffee/tea? For coffee, black. For tea, two Splenda and sometimes a splash of cream.

3) Favorite breakfast food? Grits

4) Peanut butter: smooth or crunchy? Crunchy

5) What kind of dressing on your salad? Balsamic Vinaigrette

6) Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke or DDP

7) You’re feeling lazy, what do you make? Bowl of cereal. Or, I call Amy and beg her to go to Miyako with me for some SUSHI!

8) You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? Hawaiian

9) You feel like cooking. What do you make? Baked chicken with green beans and creamed cauliflower.

10) Do any foods bring back good memories? Cheese grits remind me of Christmas

11) Do any foods bring back bad memories? Eggplant reminds me of a really mean ex-co-worker I once traveled with to Amsterdam. I could say her name, and many of you would groan, but I'll exercise restraint.

12) Do any foods remind you of someone? Sugar cookies remind me of Mamaw

13) Is there a food you refuse to eat? Squash.

14) What was your favorite food as a child? Pizza

15) Is there a food that you hated as a child but now like? Green Beans

16) Is there a food that you liked as a child but now hate? Pretty much any processed food that comes in a box and can be found in the freezer section.

17) Favorite fruit and vegetable: Nectarines. Bell Peppers.

18) Favorite junk food: Ice cream

19) Favorite between meal snack: Apple & peanut butter

20) Do you have any weird food habits? I like fruit and raw vegetables at room temperature, not refrigerated. I find the fruit or vegetable loses its flavor when too cold.

21) You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? Lean, grilled meats, vegetables, fruits, and I cut out sugar.

22) You’re off your diet. Now what would you like? Pasta!

23) How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? I like a strong spice level, but not extremely hot spices.

24) Can I get you a drink? Red wine, or a cold beer.

25) Red or White Wine? Depends on what I'm eating, but if I'm just sipping, I'll always choose red...unless it's a hot summer night and a front porch is involved...then it's a cool, crisp white.

26) Favorite dessert? Ice cream.

27) The perfect nightcap? A bowl of crunchy cereal with 2% milk.

And now, it is your turn to share!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Twas the Night Before the Blizzard

'Twas the night before the blizzard,
when all through the Knox;

Not a creature was stirring,
not even a Fox.

The snowboots were sitting by the door with care,
In hopes that Frosty would soon be there.

The roommates were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sleeping late danced in their heads.

And Mary Anna in her bed, with Uma's whirring rap,
Had just settled down for an overnight nap.

When out on the lawn there fell such a smatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the blinds and and peered through my lash.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But long icicles, and the most snow in a year.

With the weather forecast so accurate and right,
I knew in a moment my Friday was white.

More rapid than rain, the school closings they came,
And I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Sumner! Now, Davidson! Now, Williamson and Smith!
Off, Grundy! Off, Cheatham! Off, Trousdale and Wilson!

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now stay home! Stay Home! Stay Home all!

The chatter of cold held tight in my teeth,
And the steam of my hot tea encircled my head like a wreath.

I had a smiling face and a full breakfast belly,
That shook, when I laughed, as I watched the tele.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to relaxing,
But then decided, I better work on my taxing.

Then laying my finger aside my nose,
I ran outside, and froze my toes!

I sprang into the snow,
to my roommates gave a whistle,

And out the door they all flew,
like a speeding missle.

But they heard me exclaim,
as my snow angel was in sight,

"Happy Snow Day to all, and to all a lovely white!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sew What?

Because it's a slow night in the blogosphere, because I like lists, and because I've still got a little Las F in my blood, I give you five tools for keeping your wardrobe looking brand new:

Sewing Kit
It should include the basics like neutral-toned threads, needles, safety pins, and a few buttons. If you really want to get adventurous, throw in some hem tape. There's no reason you should throw out a perfectly good shirt because it's missing a button, or ship out a pair of pants because of a raveled cuff. And, you don't need to be a seamstress to effectively doctor your garments. Remember...it doesn't have to look pretty, it just needs to be functional.

Rit Dye
I've got a pair of pants in my closet that are a rich shade of burgandy merlot. After a season of wear and wash, they start to look a bit tired and faded. For a few bucks each year, I make them brand new again by dying them back to their natural shade with a bottle of Rit Dye. All you need is a cup of salt, your kitchen sink or washing machine, and about an hour to perk those pants right up! Rit also works extraordinarily well for dark jeans and black pieces that seem to fade out fast.

Lint Shaver
I was given a black sweater coat for Christmas one year while I was in college, and it's still a winter staple...especially now that sweater coats rotated back in style. The coat is wool, and habitually forms lint balls on the undersides of the arms and on the backside. Invest in a battery-powered lint shaver, and spend about ten minutes on your knotted sweater. Not only is lint shaving rather satisfying, I promise your sweater will look brand new.

Cedar Blocks
This fragrant wood not only initiates nostalgia, but it also repels moths. Protect your winter coats while they hang in your hall closet during the off season. Hang a few cedar blocks (you can buy them with a hanger hook) among your clothes, and when winter hits, you won't be caught with holes in your pockets.

Mesh Bag for Delicates
If you can't spend the time hand-washing your bras, you can at least give them a little extra support while they're in the spin cycle. A mesh bag will keep your delicates from twisting around and getting hung on other garments inside the washing machine. In addition, you can throw in scarves, shoestrings, lingerie, pantyhose, or any other unmentionables you don't want to snag.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If You're Into It

Flight of the Conchords sing a song called, "If You're Into It." Bret croons to his new girlfriend, Coco, and Jemaine provides accompaniment on both vocals, a toy piano, and the Bell Lyre, a.k.a. the portable glockenspiel. It's rather inappropriate, but if that doesn't bother you, it's hilarious. Otherwise, keep reading.

I digress...

Here's what I'm currently into:

My Berlitz French Phrase-a-Day desktop calendar
Today's entry is "Etes-vous celebataire?" That means, "are you single?" Interesting that the French word for "single" borrows the latin root, "calibatus," meaning "celibate." Just sayin. Anyway, this was an entry from last week:

It's been hanging outside my office, and has become a commonly uttered phrase around the marketing department.

My Hello Kitty stamp
I found this while digging in the Dollar Bin at Target. From time-to-time, Tar-zhey will carry cheap Sanrio items, and my inner elementary school girl takes note. When I was in fifth grade, I belonged to a Sanrio Club, and we met on the concrete steps out on the playground. I think the club lasted for about three days and then we disbanded. But it was fun carrying around my Kerokerokeroppi clipboard for a little while. Obviously, I didn't quite leave Sanrio in the past, and can now stamp Hello Kitty's head on my PPS routing sheets.

My Daily London Fog
It's really a tea latte, and while I stray from the original recipe, it sure is better than any pathetic Starbucks creation. I take one part hot water, add 1/4 part sugar free french vanilla creamer, two Splenda packets, and one Bigelow Earl Grey tea bag. I love spending my morning with the Earl.

The "Sia" station on Pandora
Pandora is customizable, internet-streaming radio. I don't know how I'm able to listen at work, but that must mean my computer somehow reaches around our company firewall. Big Brother has banned Pandora access from all company computers. So, I'm not that I'm complaining. I'm digging the "Sia" station right now, featuring the likes of Zero 7, Kate Earl, Feist, Mazzy Star, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Amiee Mann, Thievery Corporation, A Fine Frenzy, Cat Power, Fiona Apple, and Frou, among others.

Dried Mango Slices from Trader Joe's
Siebe brought a package of these flat orange beauties to our Bible Study retreat. It was like instant obsession, and now I'm hooked. Chewy, sweet, and satisfying. I imagine dried mangos will be on the banquet table when I get to Heaven someday.

Whomever is the genius behind this Redbox contraption may as well be my idol. I'm pretty cheap, so their one dollar price-tag on new releases suits my fancy well. And, there are five Redboxes located within three miles of my house, making it convenient to rent the mindless droll Hollywood pumps out these days.

Shady Lady Palette from The Balm
Santa (a.k.a. yours truly) stuffed my stocking with this nine-shadow palette for eyes at Christmas. The tones are woodsy and earthy...just the way I like my men (in case you forgot).

I'm excited about someone and something on the horizon. Hopefulness feels good.

Dead Sea Nail Buffer
My sister-in-law, Brittany, got accosted at the mall a little while back by a kiosk salesman, pimping the "Dead Sea Nail Buffer Block." She reluctantly gave him her hand, and he got her fingernails shining like glass in no time. She mentioned that she almost bought one for me for Christmas because she knows I like to do my own nails, but the little bugger cost 30 bucks. So, my sweet brother, Ben, got online and found the same thing for pennies on the dollar, and gave me one for Christmas. I love this little gem, and it really does create a blinding sheen, much better than the drugstore buffers. My fingernails shine like the top of the Chrysler Building!

Running a pen out of ink
I prefer certain types of ink pens. I must be my father's daughter, since my Dad asked me for two boxes of his favorite gel pen for Christmas. Today, I sent a green Uniball Vision, fine point pen to the office supply graveyard, i.e. my trashcan, as it ran out of ink. And, I found the experience strangely satisfying, as if I saw something through to fruition. That's not all... The retiring of one pen means that I get to select a new pen out of my pen cup. The possibilities in my pen cup seem endless, and I chose a red Uniball Vision Elite.

It's the simple things in life, folks.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Tonight, I tried to empathize over a piece of pepperoni pizza, but realized instead I will never truly understand.

Tonight, I felt helpless when my Mom mentioned her tooth pain.

Tonight, I practiced kindness from the heart, and not just from the mouth.

Tonight, I accepted an invitation to be a bridesmaid in a sweet friend's wedding and gushed at her newly purchased wedding dress.

Tonight, I produced my copy of Dave Ramsey's self-published, first edition, autographed, Financial Peace, and commented on the "David Koresh" glasses he wore in his book jacket photo.

Tonight, I giggled as one roommate crushed, and one roommate crashed.

Tonight, I learned a bit about Southern Germany, and things associated with rocketry.

Tonight, I got that giddy feeling one can only get when in very special company.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Cats

I'm back from a relaxing and quiet weekend at Rock Island State Park with my Bible study girls, and I already want to go back. There were only four of us that went, as Steph was sidelined by the plague at the last minute. Sadness. But, while we missed her, we had fun, nontheless.

We arrived to an empty park on Friday night around nine, and our check-in instructions were taped to the Park Ranger station window. As we rolled back into the park to the cabin area, we noticed that no cabin was occupied. Must be a slow month for Tennessee State Parks. Anyway, as soon as we got the car unloaded, we realized we weren't alone afterall...

These little buggers were peeping in on us, mewing, wanting some attention...err...food.

While we slept, they must have rallied the troops, because these lovelies were up to greet us at the crack of dawn. I'm thinking they were drawn by the smell of bacon grease...

Here's our lovely Cabin #9. I was totally impressed with how spacious, clean, well-decorated, and furnished our Rock Island Retreat was, especially since we stayed in that train wreck of a cabin at Standing Stone State Park last year.

Saturday morning, the four of us trekked out for some nature and hiking. It only took about ten minutes to get my camera propped up on top of my car so we could have a group photo in front of our cabin.

Front: Mandy, MA. Back: Molly, Siebe

Our first stop was to have a look at Twin Falls, just downstream from the Great Falls Dam. I'm not so sure why the water was a greenish-gray color. Not exactly appealing, yet still pretty darn gorgeous.

After our stop at the Falls, we did some hiking in the park. At one point, we stopped on a bridge overlooking a babbling creek. Mandy decides she'd like to balance beam, "Dirty Dancing" style, over the creek. Needless to say, that didn't quite work out...

Along the trail, we saw quite a bit of water roaring through the gorge, including these whitewater rapids.

After a few hours of hiking, we returned to our cabin and wolfed down some PB&J out on the picnic table in our backyard. The cats swarmed and surrounded us, and it kind of felt like we were in some twisted horror film, and we were about to be eaten alive by rabid cats.

Later that afternoon, I went to the kitchen to close the window, and saw this:


It poured rain on the drive home today, but it was worth the weekend of praising the Lord with my Sisters.

Friday, January 22, 2010


This dragging week is almost over, and my weekend is just about to begin! I'm traveling to Rock Island State Park tonight to retreat with my Bible study gals. It should be a time of learning, fellowship, relaxation, and laughter. And, if the weather holds out, a little hiking too! I'm so excited!

While I'm gone, I will be sans internet and phone service. And, I couldn't be happier. So, I'm breaking the 31-day NaBloPoMo Challenge on Saturday. You won't hear from me tomorrow. Secretly, I need the break. January's been a long month. But, hopefully I'll be refreshed and back in the blogosphere on Sunday. Until then, happy weekend to you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Say Hello to My Little Friends

Do you hear the crickets? I do. They're the sound of me staring at my computer screen, unable to come up with anything worthy of a blog post. So, I'll let my friends do the work for me tonight.

Practicing Creativity
My dear friend Courtney is a card crafter. She recently released a set of photopolymer stamps for purchase. And her artsy creations are always featured in card magazines. Check her out!

The Adventures of The HandyGraham
A college friend of mine, Graham, is one of the best "handymen" in Nashville, and he's making his livelihood on fixer-uppers. He's even been given several Nashville Scene awards for his services. But, a little over ten years ago, I sat alongside him in our Journalism courses. The kid knows how to write too and has some very interesting insights on life.

The Pioneer Woman
While I don't know Ree personally, I do know that I want to be her. She's a reformed city girl, now married to a cattle farmer and the homeschooling mom of four kiddos. She cooks, she bakes, she writes, she decorates...and she takes photos to prove it.

Big Mama
Her name is Melanie, and she's a mama from Texas. I love reading about her daily shenanigans and her delightful comments of witty self-deprecation. And her daughter, Caroline, is such a ham. I'm pretty sure she's my alter-ego. I love it.

Helen is a French pastry chef living in South Carolina. Her food photography is some of the finest on the internet, and I guarantee you'll drool. Check out her polenta croutons from Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bitter Grace

On my lunch break today, I swam upstream amidst the downpour, to the Nashville Public Library. My goal was to pick-up a History Channel documentary on the twelve apostles for our Bible study retreat this coming weekend. So, I'm bebopping along, listening to my high-heeled boots click along the marble floors and echo off the lobby walls of our gorgeous downtown library. I looked good today, and I don't mind saying so. My hair was bouncy, I had on dangly earrings, and my sapphire blue satin top shimmied as I walked. Let's just be real....I strutted across that library, and I knew I was being noticed.

After conducting my library-related business I sashayed back across the marble floor, and made my way to the exit. I must of had momentum when turning the corner, because in a mere second, my foot slipped out from under me and I took a great fall. Thankfully the only people who saw was a young mother and her toddler, but I was still mortified, nonetheless. What's with me and my ability to walk lately? Do other people have these issues?

My name literally translates to "Bitter Grace." Mary, meaning "bitter," and Anna, meaning "grace." Are Mom and Dad prophets? Did they know they would raise such a clumsy daughter?

If you would like further evidence of my spazziness, let me take you back to January of 2006. I was one of the few females employed at a technology firm in East Nashville, and I was constantly fighting against perception that the PR girl was just around to "look pretty."

On Friday afternoon, I'm sitting in our conference room with about fifteen other men, including our company President, Vice Presidents, and my boss. Another female coworker was in the room with me, and she was sitting right beside me. The room was silent as our President spoke, training us on a new product the company would release a few months later.

I'm sitting in an old, rickety, rolling office chair with only four legs at the bottom forming an X shape. I assume this chair was built in the seventies, before the days of safety codes and product standards. It's nearly impossible to find a rolling office chair these days with any less than five legs for stabilization.

So, I've got my legs crossed, and a stack of paperwork in my lap. I lift my hand, and the top sheet of paper flutters away, and down to the floor. I lean over to pick it up, legs still crossed, and my female coworker does the same. She realizes I'm going to get to the paper first, so she straightens back up. As she does, her right leg extends behind her, and she accidentally kicks one leg of my chair.

The chair shoots backward, and I shoot forward, onto the ground. My legs are still crossed under me, and one foot is tangled in the chair. My chin has a burn rash from where it hit the carpet. And the worst part is I can't get up quickly enough.

Now, picture a silent, serious room, full of men with big egos, and a 24-year-old girl, trying to prove she can hang with the big boys, but instead, flails like a fish on the conference room floor. I've never been more embarrassed in my entire life. Except, maybe, since the time I accidentally walked into the men's restroom at Outback when I was eleven years old. Forgive me for not knowing the difference between "sheilas" and "blokes."

I'll be honest, though...I've told the above story many times to many people, and it's never failed to illicit peals of laughter from my audience. It is funny. On my way home from work that day, I called Mom and told her what happened, and I cried...but I laughed too...just like you are right now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

But, Perfect Love Drives Out Fear.

I laid in bed the past few nights, unable to sleep. I didn't get a lot of rest this past weekend, and as a result, I've been really tired this week. But when I lay my head down on the pillow, I can't seem to turn off. My brain is moving 90 mph, as I mentally review my "to do" list. But really, there is something a bit more threatening going on inside my head, and it's called fear.

While I do understand the personal source of my fear, I feel unable to conquer its presence in my life. Ultimately, a fear translates to a lack of faith in my God and His plan for my life, so clearly I've got an issue to confront.

I spent some time tonight referring to my notes from Beth Moore's Esther Bible study I completed back in the Spring. In week five, we learn that Esther makes the decision to approach the King to ask for clemency for her people and to expose Haman's evil plotting. The magnitude of risk in even approaching the King was high, especially for a woman. And, to publicly stand up against her manipulative enemy? Esther had a right to be feel daunted.

But as Mordecai reminded Esther in 4:14, "who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" It's simple, really. Christ conquered death, gave me eternal life, and intends for my life to reflect His glory and power. Who am I to be fearful of my circumstances?!

So, I will seek wisdom from His Word, and put my fear at bay. Beth says that the most frequent command in the Bible is "do not fear." Here's just a sampling:

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me." Isaiah 49:16

"But now, this is what the Lord says---He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel; 'Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'" Isaiah 43:1

"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood." Isaiah 54:4

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Sonship." Romans 8:15

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

Monday, January 18, 2010

Remembering Dr. King

In my sixth grade gifted enrichment class, my teacher asked us to write a paper on our hero or heroine. For reasons that I'm still not sure of, I chose Martin Luther King, Jr. Afterall, what does a 12-year-old white, upper-middle class, white girl have in common with a middle-aged, Baptist preaching, black man? On paper, not much. But even as a sixth grader, I understood the significance of equality for all, and just how ugly society can become if there aren't men and women like Dr. King to stand up for the validity of all of God's creation. I am excited and honored by Dr. King's legacy to our country, because he fought not only for African-American rights, but human rights for all. I remember him today with pride.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

And the award goes to...

Award Show season is officially underway, and while I could care less who wins what, I love feasting my eyes on the gorgeous dresses! Tonight, actresses sashayed across a soggy red carpet at a rainy Golden Globes. I had to make myself narrow it down to my top ten favorite dresses, but I left room for five honorable mentions.

10. Her Twilight character was fashionably minded, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Anna Kendrick knows how to pick an award show dress. Her intricately beaded Marchesa gown lends itself to the A-list Hollywood players.

9. If your dress boasts sequins and a belt, you're guaranteed to make my best dressed list. Paula Patton's Kaufmanfranco creation is sure to score high on the critics' lists too.

8. Ginnifer Godwin has good consistency in her red carpet choices, but she's not afraid to be daring. Not many people can pull of a pixie 'do, or a dress that makes a statement like this Vionnet cobalt number.

7. America's favorite administrative assistant, Pam...I mean Jenna Fischer...traded in her cardigan and oxfords for a 1920s flapper-style Halston gown. It suits her slim figure well. But I did see Jim on the arm of Emily Blunt. I hear they're engaged. That's just wrong.

6. Who says that comedy and glamour don't mix? I'd like to high-five Amy Poehler for her chiffon Jay Godgrey choice, but that probably wouldn't be very ladylike. The floral touch at the shoulder is nice.

5. I'm not sure if Penelope Cruz has ever looked anything but elegant on the red carpet. She's not afraid of classic black and lace, and I imagine she floats across the pavilion in this dress from the Giorgio Armani Prive Collection. It's hard to tell from the photo, but adorning this dress is 69 carats of Chopard diamonds. Seriously.

4. Young Hollywood has a new face, and it's Kristen Bell. This Jasmine di Milo satin frock gives a girl curves in all the right places, and shows off her fabulous gams. And it still manages to exude class and style.

3. I'm not ashamed to admit that I want to be Tina Fey, with all of her quirkiness. I probably wouldn't have chosen this Zac Posen dress for the red carpet, but she somehow pulls it off. I think I can hear Gene Kelly "Singin' in the Rain."

2. I squealed with Glee the first time I laid eyes on this dress. It's clearly Oscar de la Renta and has the tulle skirt to prove it. Lea Michele has a long career ahead of her, so why not bust out a top designer dress on your first red carpet run?

1. I love, I love, I love. Sand is a difficult color for success, but this classy lady, Jennifer Morrison, wins the evening. The dress is made by Puerto Rican designer, Luis Antonio, and satisfies my deep desire for ruffles. Lots of ruffles. Look at the way she's got her hand on her hip. She knows.

Honorable Mention - As a woman ages, it becomes a bit more daring to wear bold jewel tones, like the royal purple Bottega Veneta dress worn by Sandra Bullock. But she knows that her big night needs a big dress. Nice job, Sandy.

Honorable Mention - Old Hollywood never goes out of style. Toni Collette glams in this Elie Saab beaded, art-deco gown. She's golden.

Honorable Mention - She's nuts, and her bosoms are a bit in your face, but Mariah can still pick a win with a Herve Leger dress. Girl's got an hourglass figure like the opening credits of Days of Our Lives.

Honorable Mention - Here's that sequin thing again. I can't help it. If it sparkles and glitters, I'm attracted like a moth to a flame. This Stella McCartney dress is a step outside the box for her, and I'm digging it's edge. But, Anna Paquin, the shoes have got to go.

Honorable Mention - Eggplant is a safe choice, but that doesn't mean it doesn't impress. Rose Byrne's Lanvin column dress is elegant and chic.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Practical Provision

I love it how God is a God of everday miracles. You might remember the shipping issues I experienced earlier in the month. Well, a solution has been provided.

CERI is going to allow me to write them a check and they will buy winter clothes, toys and school supplies for Marina and Veronica. And better yet, they will hand-deliver the goods, and take photos of the girls receiving their gifts from me.

So, what am I going to do with the box of clothes and toys I have on my hand already? I'm looking for a family with two preteen girls that might be in need of some warm clothes. If you know of anyone in need that might benefit from these, please let me know. There are two sets of clothes (sweaters, pants, pajamas, etc.), toys and school supplies. The clothing sizes will fit Girls size 12-14 and/or Juniors 0-2.

Thank you, God. Thank you for loving two orphans in Moldova, and loving two little girls in Nashville.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Tonight, God answered my prayer, and I am joyful, and so very thankful!

"Wait for the Lord and keep His way. He will exalt you to inherit the land." Psalm 37:34

"Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:6

"The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest." Psalm 85:12

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cereal Eater

Sunday nights at my house while growing up were cereal nights. The four of us would arrive home from evening church, and pour ourselves bowls of crunchy bran and puffed rice just in time to watch Life Goes On and America's Funniest Home Videos. Cold cereal was part of my childhood, so why shouldn't it have a place in my adulthood?

I was eating a bowl of Corn Flakes tonight, and I announced to my roommates that I could eat cereal everyday for the rest of my life. I'm not so sure I'm willing to stand behind my statement in a court of law, but I sure do love cereal. So, I got to thinking... Why do I love it so much?

Mom tells the story of when I was a baby, standing in my crib in the wee hours of the morning, calling out, "O's!" She would go to the kitchen, fetch me some Cheerios, and then return to bed, knowing she'd scored another couple of hours of rest. Cheerios are still my favorite. They taste like home.

Memories hang around in my head of Ben and I fighting over the last bowl of Kix, or the toy in the Golden Grahams box. I remember the awe of the Wheaties box, especially the ones featuring Michael Jordan. They were going to be collector's items one day, so we delicately removed the bag of cereal, and carefully pasted the tabbed top back in place. Empty Wheaties boxes collected dust on my brother's bedroom shelves for years.

Certain cereals are synonymous with members of my family. Dad always really liked Crispix. I thought Crispix were kind of boring. Grandpa ate Raisin Bran. And my Granny liked All-Bran. Bran must be a right of passage into old age.

And then there are those cereals that hold a special place in my heart...

--Frosted Mini Wheats satisfy my inner 6-year-old and 70-year-old at the same time.
--I will neither confirm, nor deny, that I used to suck the cinnamony-sugar off the little pieces of "bread" in Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
--Christmas would fail to be Christmas if there wasn't a bowl of Chex Mix lying around getting stale.
--Cookie Crisp are better eaten dry.
--Is there really such a thing as a Grape Nut? They are break-a-tooth good.
--It's worth eating the stale bits in Lucky Charms for the rainbow of marshmallows. You take the good with the bad.

So, what are your favorite cereals? Favorite sugar cereal? Favorite adult cereal? Favorite healthy cereal? Cereal that brings back memories?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Social Baptist

A friend of mine shared a really funny story today, and reminded me of the wide-ranging diversity within the body of Christ. Over the Christmas holiday, she brought her new boyfriend to a Baptist church one Sunday morning. The boyfriend was raised Catholic, and is not a current church attender. It just so happened, that week was Communion Sunday. In the Catholic tradition, members approach the altar, sip wine out of a chalice, and tear off a piece of bread to eat. In the Baptist tradition, round trays of miniature capsules of grape juice are distributed, as are tiny pieces of unleavened bread.

As the trays were being passed, my friend noticed that her boyfriend had a puzzled look on his face. The service ended, and later in the day, her boyfriend questioned, "how is it that Catholics drink real wine, and Baptists don't, yet they serve the grape juice in little shot glasses? I looked around and everyone in the sanctuary is throwing one back in unison."

Anybody else sensing the irony here? Especially considering Baptists are so polarized in regard to alcohol consumption. To a casual observer, Communion Sunday at the Baptist church looks like nothing more than a bunch of frat guys on a Saturday night.

Due to the nature of my current life circumstances, I am not at liberty to commentate concerning the relationship of alcohol and Christianity. But someday, I will have things to say. Lots of things. That is all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eau de Granny

I've got nothin' for you tonight, folks. Nothing.

My only point of inspiration (if that's what you want to call it) came while at work today. I walked past an older woman, and noticed that she smelled like, well, old woman. Why is it that when a woman turns a certain age, I guess about 60 to 65, she begins to smell like an old woman? Do they sell a perfume called "old woman"? You know the smell...powdery and cloyingly floral...and of mothballs.

Truth-be-told, I'm perplexed tonight concerning matters of the heart. I'm moving forward through my uncertainty, albeit blindly. I'm standing in the middle of a seesaw, balancing two opposite reactions carefully, desperately trying to find some middle ground. Do I merely exist with passivity, or do I go out with passion? Do I choose to wait, or do I move? Fight or flight? I just don't know.

Monday, January 11, 2010

If you can't say something nice...

For book club in January, we are reading A. J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically. In a nutshell, Jacobs, a self-professed Agnostic with Jewish roots, decides to follow every rule in the Bible literally for one year, in an attempt to discover why the Bible is culturally relevant. On Day 70 of his journal, Jacobs invokes Psalm 34:13, "keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking lies." In his attempt to follow this passage literally, Jacobs has the following to say:

"The Bible has at least twenty passages condemning gossip. In English editions, translators use words such as slander or talebearing or unwholesome talk or evil tongue.
This means I can't join in when my coworkers discuss a certain boozy actress who scribbled obscenities on a bathroom mirror, or the rumor that a news anchor is about to ditch his wife for a younger woman...
The problem is, if you really want to be biblically safe, you should go much further. You should avoid almost all negative speech whatsoever. Here's how one of my Bible commentaries defines evil tongue: 'This refers to any derogatory or damaging statement against an individual--even when the slanderous or defaming remarks are true--which if publicized to others would cause the subject physical or monetary damage, anguish, or fear.'"

Courtney and I were sitting in her office today discussing gossip, after which, we just finished gossipping. After a brief review of Jacob's day 70 journal entry, Courtney and I decide at 1:23 p.m. to abstain from "gossip" for one day. This is not only defined by exchanging information about someone, but also by elminating any negative speak of others. We laugh, and within minutes, we fail. Do you know how hard it is to keep your tongue from evil, even when you're not deliberately gossipping? And, let's be real. A lot of people we're around on a daily basis act the fool. There's a lot of temptation afoot.

Here's how the rest of the day unfolded:

1:47 p.m. Courtney and I are working on an event, when I comment about the loveliness of the author. Courtney looks at me in disgust and says, "whattttttt?" I snap my fingers and tell her that I set her up for failure, and we laugh...because we both share the same feelings toward this author's countenance.

2:19 p.m. Courtney and I walk upstairs to the cafe, and I see a hanging image of soup over the hot bar. I ask her if I'm allowed to say "that soup looks gross." She says no, because "someone made that soup, and your comment might hurt them." We ponder over this one for a few.

2:23 p.m. We pass a co-worker on our way back downstairs and we ask his opinion on the matter. He feels as though we are allowed to criticize soup, as we are criticizing the inanimate object without reference to the person that made it. As we turn to leave, Courtney reminds him that it is guaranteed that we won't talk about him on our way back downstairs. This strikes us all as rather hilarious.

2:29 p.m. Again, we pass another co-worker. It's someone that Courtney and I both have a strong distaste for. We look at each other in silence. Courtney looks at me and says, "tough day to start this no gossip thing."

During our pledge, I realize what a failure I am at keeping up with the rules and regulations. No, seriously, I suck. And, praise the Lord that He sent His perfect, sinless Son to die for my sins, so that I may live wholly and eternally. I don't have to measure myself to a scale of deeds and misdeeds. I am saved by grace, so that I can't boast. What freedom from the shackles of legality! Now, this serves as my foundation, but with freedom comes much responsibility. It is my job as a follower of Christ to ascribe to Psalm 34:13, because the acceptance of His grace changed me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Etsy Betsy Shopper

I'm way late to the game on this one, but I have a newfound love and it's name is Etsy. A craftier verson of ebay, Etsy is a site that sells homemade goods from thousands of different sellers. I haven't actually ever purchased anything...until today.

In preparation for my trip to Paris in April, I've been looking for a stylish and lightweight messenger bag. I found hundreds on various sites, but was turned-off for several reasons. Either the bags were made of Italian leather and cost hundreds of dollars, or they were outfitted with cheap iron-on graphics, a la high school, or they were built instead to tote laptops. Alas, Etsy came through for me, and I bought this chic, handmade canvas messenger bag. It's exactly what I was looking for. I also bought a birthday present for my sister-in-law. Done and done.

My Bible study kicked off our new year tonight, and we met at my house for some grub cooked by yours truly. I made cornflake chicken, roasted roma tomatoes, creamed cauliflower (a.k.a. fauxtatoes), and Siebe manned the sauteed green beans. For dessert, I made a spiced pear pie, and it was delicious. I so enjoyed all of the food prep and cooking, and still plan to make it my full time job someday. Someday.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday by Numbers

2 hours slept-in
200 calories burned waxing the hardwoods
1 boxed-up Christmas tree
119 degrees inside my steamy shower
19 degrees outside my front door
Billions of snowflakes and flurries
11 minutes waiting in line at the grocery store
3 trips to my car to retrieve groceries
14 frozen containers of homemade chili
6 peeled pears
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 pie
2 loads of laundry
3 movies
3 lazy roommates
11 p.m lights out

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bad Date, Good Company

When my roommates and I made plans today to see a movie after our already planned dinner outing, I knew it was going to be fun to write about afterward. However, I didn't count on a below average meal and a subpar chick-flick.

Since Wendi moved in, the four of us haven't been around to hang out collectively. We tried during the holidays, but sychronizing our calendars failed. So, our meal out tonight was to officially celebrate the new Fox on Knox.

We've been wanting to try Whiskey Kitchen, a restaurant just off the Gulch that opened in early Fall. WK sits in the same location as the now defunct, Agave Tequila Lounge. And, it's definitely a step-up in regard to decor and ambience. Think dark, woodsy, masculine. Just how I like my men. I digress...

Anyway, we were seated at a four-top cafe table, and perused the menu for winning entrees. Despite throwing around a few phrases including "truffle oil" and "fire-roasted," the menu was comprised mainly of glorified bar food. Hamburgers. Chicken Sliders. French Fries. Fish-n-Chips. Wraps. You know the drill. Wendi and I ordered burgers, Amy a veggie wrap, and Arica fish-n-chips. My burger was good, but not any more special than a burger I've eaten elsewhere. And Amy's veggie wrap was a sorry sight for eyes...and soggy, at that. Arica had the clear winner, but can you keep a restaurant open on one entree?

The service was less than stellar, too, but by this point, my expectations were rather low. The only redemptive factor to our experience was our time spent hypothesizing as to why the odd couple at the booth adjacent to our table were fighting. Not that four single girls take delight in that kind of thing...

After leaving, never to return, we hopped over to Green Hills to see Leap Year at the theater. The last time I was at this Regal, I took a dive into a pool of butter. I won't lie and say that the threat of an encore didn't haunt me, especially as I was wearing the same pair of heeled boots. My steps were deliberate this time.

I settled back into the seat, enjoying the previews, and anticipating a good ol' fashioned sappy and predictable chick flick. Well, it was sappy and predictable...and pretty all-around terrible. There were holes all through the plot line, and the dialogue was atrocious. And, I have to wonder if Hollywood is running out of unique scenarios for romantic comedies. How many movies have you seen in the last year where a couple pretends to be married as to create advantage amidst their current plight? Too many.

I left the theater disappointed. I paid ten bucks for the good stuff, and all I got was lousy street crack.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


About 1:45 this afternoon, my co-workers and I were sitting quietly at our desks working, when Big Brother came over the loudspeaker to make an announcement. Due to the inclement weather, we were being sent home at 3 p.m. A chorus of yelps were heard throughout the marketing and merchandising department, including my own. I think I lifted my hands in the air and said "testify!"

Three minutes later, an email rolled into my inbox. It was a meeting invite to Matt and I from my boss. The meeting titled, "budget revisions," was set for 3:30 p.m., thirty whole minutes after LifeWay goes on lock-down. I hollered over my cube at Matt, and told him to check his email. What the heck?

He walked over slowly, and looked just as dumbfounded as I did. We said things like, "can you believe this?" and "why would he do this," and "is this a mistake, and "a meeting of this nature could last hours." About that time, Nathan walked past and I yanked him into my office. Swiveling my computer screen around, I exclaimed, "you've got to see this!" Nathan, of course, laughed. He thought it was hilarious that I was so happy to get a teensy bit of a snow day, only to have it yanked out from beneath my feet.

I picked up the phone and ordered Courtney over. She saw it and gasped. How could this be??? Courtney said, "surely not. He was probably in the bathroom or something when the announcement was made."

I looked up at Matt with desperation and said, "what are we going to do???" He said, "let's go talk to him. C'mon." As I stood up from my chair, I glanced at Courtney and said, "oh, we can't! He clearly wants us to stay." "You're right," she commented. "You don't want him to think you aren't committed."

"Well, at least give him a call and ask him what this is about," Matt said.

I picked up the phone, and dialed my boss' number. "So," I said casually. "Tell me about this budget revision meeting this afternoon."

My boss laughed and said, "April fools." Puzzled, I looked up as Courtney and Matt are rolling on the floor with laughter. I'm confused....were you two in on it? About that time, Nathan waltzes by laughing, and I walk over to my boss to demand an answer. He's already outside his office doubled-over in laughter. Courtney and Matt tell him that they almost got me to go over to his office like the Spanish inquisition.

I've been going on and on about the weather all week long, so they thought they'd pull a fast one on me. Well, it worked, and it was hilarious. But it's on. They don't know who they're messing with.

Courtney and I are probably even. After our big interoffice Thanksgiving lunch, I placed all of the leftover rolls in Courtney's desk drawers. She didn't find them until about a week later...and I heard her scream down the way when she finally did. By that time, they were crumbly and hard as a rock.

Matt and I are definitely even. I've tormented him since day one. See here.

I have an understanding with Nathan. It's called, don't mess with him and he won't mess with you. Unless you count the time that I jammed Twizzlers into his phone cradle or hid his chicken biscuit...

And my boss? He gets a "Get out of Jail FREE" card." Why? Because he's my boss.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

God of the Airmass, God of the Orphans

Courtney and I were dining at our favorite Mexican joint today for lunch, and yakked of the cold weather that's blanketed our fine state. With a pitiful look in her eyes, Courtney says to me, "Do you know who I feel really sorry for when it gets so cold out?" Sympathetically, I nodded. I knew exactly who she was going to say. As I opened my mouth and stated "the homeless," Courtney simultaneously said, "my dog." We both sat there a minute and burst out laughing. Sweet Courtney. I love her, and her little dog too.

Speaking of the weather, I think I have a problem. I am to embarrassed to admit how many times I refreshed weather.com today in my browser window. By noon, I'd almost given up hope of a work-cancelling snow day tomorrow. But then something miraculous happened. My browser refreshed, and a new alert appeared:


This so-called "arctic airmass" could be the insurance I need for a day off work. I quickly alerted Nathan and Courtney to my discovery, and was met with skepticism. Nathan wondered, "what is an arctic airmass anyway?" Well, Nathan, an airmass is a large volume of air defined by its temperature and water vapor content. Arctic is an adjective describing the thermal characteristics of the airmass, classifying by its source region. Hence, Antarctica.

Weather.com, you speaketh love poetry to my soul.

After work today, I drove to the UPS store to mail a package to an orphanage in Moldova. I sponsor two Moldovan orphans through Children's Emergency Relief International. I began sponsoring kids with CERI in 2005, when the Nashville-based partner organization, Sweet Sleep, began building beds for children in orphanages. Through Sweet Sleep, I was able to buy my two girls, Ana and Angela, wooden bed frames, mattresses and bedding. CERI allowed me to correspond with the girls through letters, providing a Romanian translator, and also allowed me to send clothing and gifts to the girls. About a year ago, my first two girls were removed from the orphanage and placed in a permanent home with a family. I was so joyous to see the system at work! Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and contributes heavily to sex trafficking. Victory for two girls!

Soon after, I was assigned two new girls, Veronica and Marina. Aren't they lovely? They're holding the clothing and toys I sent them for Christmas last year.

Last year, I was able to send the box of goods to CERI in Texas, and a mission team took the items over and delivered them to the girls in person. CERI set me up to do this again in right before Christmas, but at the last minute, they ran out of room in their suitcases. So, I need to ship the box of goods myself.

Now, back to today. I arrived at the UPS store and lugged in the 13 pound box. I filled out all of the customs forms, itemizing every piece of clothing and toy in the box. The UPS employee measured my box, punched the numbers into the computer, and then formed a frown on her face. She looked up at me, grimaced further, and said, "I've got bad news." In my mind, bad news was anything near $75 for shipping. I anticipated a $40 tab, but would've bit the bullet and paid the $75 anyway. I braced myself for the worst, and it got worse. "To ship UPS to Moldova, it's going to be $511," she said. My mouth hit the UPS counter, a la Roger Rabbit. She continued, "Or, we could make arrangements to send it USPS and that will cost $178." I shook my head in disbelief. After a minute or two of subdued panic, I thanked her for her help and walked out the door with the box in my arms.

I'm going to get in touch with CERI and Sweet Sleep tomorrow to see if there's some way I can get the items packed for a team trip. But mostly, I'm going to pray. I know God wants two Moldovan girls to have warm sweaters, new jeans, clean socks, school supplies, and even a few toys this winter. I don't know how He will work it out, but I know that God takes care of the birds...so he'll certainly take care of Veronica and Marina. Please join me in praying for His sovereign solution.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snow Day To-Do List

Take heart, citizens of Middle Tennessee. Meteorologist Mary Anna Brown is monitoring the weather minute-by-minute, anticipating the snow "event" headed our way. The following paragraph, straigh from weather.com, is sweet music to my ears:


Considering the last time my employer shut down due to inclement weather was in 2002, I'd say it's a long shot that we'll be closed on Thursday. But I'm wishin,' and hopin,' and thinkin,' and prayin'. I'm plannin.' That's right, I'm plannin.' Here's my snow day to-do list:

--Sleep until I wake up (which is, unfortunately, not what it was when I was 12).

--Romp around in the snowy yard in my pajamas (because I'm not getting out of them) and Kroger sacks over my slippers. Please refer to the snow that visited our home in March of 2008 (photographic evidence below).

--Remove the ornaments from my pre-lit Christmas tree, and then throw the tree in the garbage (as the entire upper-half of the tree failed to light up this year).

--Pluck my eyebrow. Yep, two have become one. Divorce proceedings are in order.

--Clean the crystal chandelier in my bedroom. I've noticed the three inches of dust for months, but I've been too lazy to get out the step-ladder.

--Survive on leftover Christmas Chex mix, because it's the only thing I have left in the pantry that's edible. And I'm not as prepared as the other Tennessean's who went to the grocery for snow rations.

--Take a nap, as I "slept in" until 6:30 a.m.

--Lament to my roommates that I don't have a boy who will roll around with me in the snow.

--Watch a Full House marathon on ABC Family and tear-up when DJ and Steve break-up.

--Look at my matted, greasy hair in the mirror, and decide to brush my teeth instead of showering.

What is on your snow day to-do list?

Monday, January 4, 2010

The ol' ball-and-chain

I've finally put my finger on why my blogging of 2009 stalled. It's called, my j-o-b. I spent eight precious hours at work today doing someone else's bidding, when I could've been frolicking all over the world enjoying life. And, creating memories and interesting experiences to blog about.

I don't hate my job. I even like my job. And, sure, my job puts a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on my plate (and a lot more). I'm so, so, so thankful for that. However, if I'm not living life to my full potential because of this eight hour ball-and-chain, is it really worth it?

Herein lies the issue. It's getting late and I don't have anything to blog about. And this is day one of being back at work. I've got 19 workdays left in January. It's going to be a long month. Thanks for sticking with me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

They Were Lovely Because He Loved Them.

On my way to church this morning, the Jonny Diaz "More Beautiful You" song came on the radio. It wasn't the first time I'd heard this song, but I cranked it up loud, as I knew the Lord wanted me to absorb it's words.

It's the New Year. No one, and I mean no one, I know doesn't have some sort of resolution regarding their personal health, including myself. Lose weight. Work-out more. Eat better. Get more sleep. Take vitamins. This goal intensifies dramatically among my girlfriends. Especially my single girlfriends. Why is that? Because we want husbands, and we believe that if we can just somehow change ourselves, then we will finally be wanted.

I'm in a really good place right now, but I won't lie and say that I don't deal with my own demons in this area. I've bought into the lie that my own betterment is the key to snagging a guy...even though I am secure in Christ's love for me. I constantly worry about being rejected, unloved and alone. How I can teeter back and forth on God's Promise to me? I just don't know.

As if Mom has a sixth-sense for these things, I got an email from her today. The subject line said "you" and inside she told me she saw some recent pictures of me on Facebook and that she thought I was "soooooooooo pretty." Thanks, Mom. Thank you for understanding that your daughter needs to be told these kinds of things by her Mother. Thank you for teaching me to say these things to my own daughter one day, as I know she will struggle with being good enough too.

Arica shared a passage with the roommates yesterday from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. The JSB is an illustrated book of Bible Stories for children, but it's written in contemporary language, like a Message Bible. She opened to the Creation story, and read to us the following passage:

So God breathed life into Adam and Eve.

When they opened their eyes, the first thing they ever saw was God's face. He whispered their names to them and taught them who they were.

And when God saw them he was like a new dad. "You look like me," he said. "You're the most beautiful thing I've ever made!"

God loved them with all of His heart. And they were lovely because He loved them.

And Adam and Even joined in the Song of the stars and the streams and the wind in the trees, the wonderful Song of love to the one who made them. Their hearts were filled with happiness. And nothing ever made them sad or lonely or sick or afraid.

God looked at everything He had made. "Perfect!" He said. And it was.

But all the stars and the mountains and the oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved His children. He would move Heaven and Earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened, whatever it cost Him, He would always love them.

And so it was that the wonderful love story began...

How beautiful is that?! And how true! Think how our culture would change if we women embraced God's love for us, and we started telling the other women in our lives how much they are also loved for just how they were created!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Post-Christmas Cheer

Christmas came again today for the Foxes on Knox. We gathered together this afternoon and opened our stockings together. Filling my stocking is a tradition I began back in 2004 when I moved into my first post-collegiate apartment in Cool Springs. I was living alone at the time, and I came back to an empty apartment after being home with family over Christmas. It was depressing. So, the next Christmas, I filled my stocking and wrapped presents for myself, all before I left for home. When I returned after the holidays were over, I had a second Christmas to cheer myself up. I feel that if you are single around the holidays, you need a little extra love in your life, and if that comes through the personification of Santa, then so be it.

Emily's last full day in Nashville was today, and we celebrated her one last time this morning with a pancake breakfast. Emily's old boss asked us to gather around Em and lift her up in prayer, and he referred to us as her "spiritual sisters." We're a good lookin' bunch of girls, eh? Can you believe we're all single? I know, right?

This evening, Arica, Kaylan and Bethany initiated me into the Chuy's cult for dinner. Chuy's is a Texas-based Tex-Mex chain that has arrived infamously to Cool Springs. We got there early, so our wait was only an hour-and-fifteen. The floodgates opened after we arrived, and the wait slowly crept to two-and-a-half hours for those latecomers. The chips and pico were superb, and I had some yummy baja tacos. Not so sure about all of those crazy Texans, though...

I'm tuckered into bed right now, Uma's zhuzhing happily, and I've got a book date with Salt. Aren't you jealous of my single gal rock star lifestyle? I would have a hot mug of tea in my hand, but our electric tea kettle died today. We're going to have a memorial service for it tomorrow if you'd like to attend.

Friday, January 1, 2010

1000 Pieces to my Utopia

Here it is almost eleven p.m. and I'm dangling precipitiously on the edge of the first day of the year, a.k.a. the first day of my NaBloPoMo. I better be careful not to fail before I even start. Fair enough, I've been working on a 1000 piece puzzle that my roommates broke out of the box yesterday. I only invested, oh, about five hours on it today. Several hundred tiny pieces of foliage? No match for this puzzle sleuth.

As I worked this gorgeous puzzle today, I couldn't help but wish I was the little old woman inside the brightly lit, warm home, with the little old man sitting beside her. The tiny sign inside hung over their heads proclaimed "God Bless." There is a chimney for roaring fires in the wintertime, and a hammock for naps in the spring. There is a golden retriever on the front porch, a lazy cat, and plenty of woodland creatures, including a five-point buck peeping carefully out from the tree line. I imagine there is probably a big grille out back for hamburgers. And, two adirondack chairs, side-by-side on the front lawn, perfect for gazing at the flowers, or the reflection of the mountains on the lake. This is my utopia, and I dearly hope one day I arrive.

So, as it is the first day of the year, resolutions, or goals, or whatever you want to call them, are in order. In 2010, I would like to:

a) add a new knitting stitch to my arsenal;
b) blog more often (duh);
c) learn a working knowledge of French;
d) read and inductively study the book of Isaiah (I began this about three weeks ago);
e) grow and gain discipline in my prayer life.

Also, in conjunction with Pete, I will be reading through the 31 chapters of Proverbs on a daily basis in January. Set Free Church on Skid Row reads through Proverbs each month, and this exercise is reminiscent for me of my time studying the Bible with the homeless in L.A. I will share some of my Proverbial insights this month, and I challenge you to jump on the bandwagon with me.

Lastly, I will refer to my January 1, 2008 post (which borrowed from my January 2, 2007 post) regarding the year ahead:

Discover and manifest the woman God created me, on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.

This is not simply a resolution for 2010, but a statement for how I will live my life...to infinity and beyond!

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