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Monday, July 28, 2008

Refreshing Times

So, I've been on vacation for the last couple weeks, and it was great!

One of my favorite things was getting to eat at a place featured on one of my Favorite Food Network shows, "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives." My brother, Kris, lives in Northern California, and over Christmas we watched an episode featuring a place called "Taylor's Automatic Refresher." He said it looked familiar to him but had never eaten there.

So we planned a day to go see Napa Valley and eat at this place which is located in town of St. Helena. It was soooooo goood! It was a walk-up and order place with lots of covered picnic tables for you to eat at...but this burger place had a complete wine list of course (it was Napa Valley)! It was funny to see people with delicate wine glasses outside eating burgers.

Here is a picture of my meal....and it was amazing! The burger was huge and messy, but none was wasted! It was worth the drive and fun to eat at a place featured on the show.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Pope and a....Prayer?

So I had a friend tell me about a recent family vacation. They were out in California touring a wax museum with their two little kids, one 10 and the other 6.

The Pope was on the corner of one of the halls. As the parents rounded the corner to see the next exhibit, the mom hears the older brother exclaim, "Canyon, what are you doing! Stop that!"

Her first thought was, "Oh, please let my son not be peeing on the statue."

She swooped around the corner to see her 6-year-old standing sharply at attention.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America....." he was reciting with all the emotion he could muster.

She busted out laughing. When she asked him what possessed him to do it, he said, "I knew he was important for some reason."

Norman is #1 in My Book

I lived the first 18 years of my life in Marlow, OK. Since coming to college at OU, Norman has become home. I love Norman, and I am not alone. In fact, Norman was recently ranked the 6th Best Small City to live in by Money magazine!

Cities were ranked on factors such as crime, job growth, cost of living, housing affordability, school quality, art and leisure options, safety, medical care, diversity and other ease-of-living criteria. (I think the University of Oklahoma football has a little something to do with it too--Go Sooners!!!!)

I agree it is a great place to live! Here are some of my favorite things about Norman:
  • OU Campus. It's my alma mater...what can I say! It's a beautiful campus and I love the atmosphere on game days.
  • Great Food--Bison Witches, Tea Cafe, The Service Station, Red Horse Grill, Sweet Basil...to name a few!
  • Boyd Street: I love Boyd not just because of the BSU. I love driving down Boyd in the fall with all of the overhanding trees covered in their fall leaves.
  • I feel safe here. There really are not many truly "bad" areas of town.
  • Not too big and not too small. I like the size and "feel" of Norman.
  • Did I mention OU Football???

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dumbest "Boy" Moments

I've had several of you ask, so here is the list. I would list them all, but there is no way you all would read all of them. I'll hit the highlights for you. (I can't believe I am subjecting myself to this.)

I think I'll go in chronological order....

1. It was sixth grade and I was in love for the first time. He was two years older and could sing like an angel. (It's true, his voice hadn't really changed yet.) Somehow I convinced my gaggle of girlfriends to also fall in love with him. We would literally wait on the playground for him to get out of class early and walk to the cafeteria. One weekend, Danielle Arnold had a slumber party. The details get fuzzy here...I blame it on the sugar high....but somehow we ended up calling him on the phone. For the next 4 hours we tell him how in love we are. All the while, he is trying to get us to tell him our names. There is a whole lot more story that happens, but for time I will say this: He found out who we were, and I was the only one who went to church with him. Even to this day, whenever I see Randy Brown, I internally turn into a idiot 6th grade girl. Some things you never recover from emotionally.

2. So I started out on the wrong foot when it came to "love." Sadly, my techniques didn't really improve much over time either. Fast forward to about 8th grade. This time I had a crush on the cutest guy in our class, Chad. He kind of resembled teen heart-throw Chad Allen--maybe even cuter. I am in my "Gifted and Talented" class and we have to write a book for a contest. I, like all good writers, ground my fiction tale in reality by basing my characters on actual people I know. Unlike good writers, I didn't know you should change the character's name.

10 of My Dumbest Ideas/Moments Ever

(This is just a list, not a ranking of "dumb to dumber.")

1. Multitasking--usually a good idea--right? Not when you are blow drying your hair and also cleaning the toothpaste out the sink. Water + Electricity= Bad, bad idea.

2. Permed hair with bangs. I can't bare to look at most of my school pictures from about 4th grade until junior year of high school. I looked like a poodle. And I am not kidding.

3. Riding standing up in a truck bed as it goes off-roading across a field. (Reference July 4, 2007 at Project Impact.)

4. Making a "mixed tape" of love songs for my 10th grade crush. Just thinking of some of the songs on there makes me blush now. Thank you, Jesus, for rejection. Truly. For you curious critters who want to know some of the songs, here is a list of popular songs of the time. (I actually have a lot more dumb stories involving the male species. Maybe that is a post for another day.....sigh.)

5. Playing basketball. I've often admitted I am clumsy and un-athletic. I did at one time optimistically try playing basketball. I even went to BB camp. My most common mistake was "walking." That hand-eye coordination gene was mutated in my DNA. At the end of camp I managed to make a basket. My reward--I was taken out of the game. At least I ended my BB career on a high note.

6. Speaking of high notes....I was also in choir in middle school and participated in ensemble competitions at state. Look, I can only sing in one key--off. Thankfully my skills at lip-singing kept me from too much humiliation.

7. Using a brand new "exacto knife" to cut cardboard for a project. The dumb part was I was setting cross-legged on the floor with shorts on and no solid surface under the knife. My dad had just said, "Be careful--that thing is sharp." Immediately I replied, "I know, Dad!" Then slice. It didn't hurt. I quietly went to the bathroom to see how bad it was before telling Dad what I'd done. It was bad. I still have a scar on right thigh.

8. Washing my cell phone. It was in my pocket. I washed my shorts. End of story...and of cell phone.

9. Ordering a "chicker finger basket" at Cate. I don't really think it was that big of a deal. I said chicken wrong ONCE and people won't let me live it down. I also thought chihuahua was actually pronounced "chick-a-wa-wa" thanks to my Dad (he was joking and I didn't know). Okay, so that was a little more dumb.

10. Not going out with Josh Newby for ice cream after church. We were saved on the same night at Falls Creek was back in middle school. He was a year older than me but we grew up in the same church. He was popular, athletic, and voted best looking in his class as well as Homecoming King. He was really quiet and almost shy. I still remember where we were standing and the words "I can't" coming out of my mouth. Ugh. Dumb, dumb dumb. Maybe I should have saved this one for my top 20 dumbest boy moments post......

Monday, July 7, 2008

Eulogies For The Living

Do you know that "eulogy" simply means high praise? Today we only think of eulogies in respect to death. Back in college we had a speaker at Spring Break ask the question of why we wait until someone is gone to tell them what they mean to us?

He actually pulled a guy from the audience and had him lay down like he was dead. Then he asked some friends to come speak a few words of eulogy over him. Then he had him stand up and them say the same things looking into his eyes. Even in that simple form, the impact was huge.

The speaker's point is that we shouldn't wait until someone dies to tell them what they mean to us. It does no good for them then. Those words we speak in death would better be used to encourage those friends and loved ones in life.

It is in loss we realize what we have, and in heartache we know how much we have truly loved. So, I want to let loss remind me to love now, in the present.


MORE THAN YOU'LL EVER KNOW

Something brought you to my mind today
I thought about the funny ways you make me laugh
And yet I feel like it's okay to cry with you
Something about just being with you
When I leave I feel like I've been near God
And that's the way it ought to be...

CHORUS:
'Cause you've been more than a friend to me
You fight off my enemies
'Cause you've spoken the Truth over my life
And you'll never know what it means to me
Just to know you've been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you'll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you'll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah

You had faith, when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn't think I could find the strength to sing
And all the while I'm hoping that I'll
Do the kind of praying for you that you've done for me
And that's the way it ought to be...

CHORUS:
'Cause you've been more than a friend to me
You fight off my enemies
'Cause you've spoken the Truth over my life
And you'll never know what it means to me
Just to know you've been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you'll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you'll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah

You have carried me
You have taken upon a bruden that wasn't your own
And may the blessing return to you
A hundredfold, oh yeah...
A hundredfold, oh yeah...




Loss Again

This weekend was something. Two losses of people within my circle of friends. Two dear Christian brothers going to be with the Lord.

I am still overwhelmed by how much grief has changed me these past 2.5 months. It is hard to explain how much more I empathize with those who are going through a loss. And it's even harder to explain how their loss brings my own loss of my Dad back home to my heart fresh and new again.

Yesterday as I discussed this with friends, a quote came to mind. This quote has been a favorite of mine for a long time, but it seems to come back to me in times like this.

"A great many things in God's divine providences do not look to the eye like goodness. But faith sits before mysteries such as these, and says, 'The Lord is good, therefore all that He does must be good no matter how it looks. I can wait for His explanations.'" -Hannah Whitall Smith from "The God of All Comfort"

It brings some comfort in knowing these losses were not a surprise to the Almighty God. He knew the number of days each of these people were to live on this earth. Not only did He know, He rejoiced in seeing those He loved so dear.

He has purposes far above my understanding. It doesn't numb or remove the pain knowing this. But it does encourage me to take my weary, beaten-up heart to Jesus; to rest in His strength and security; to hide in His safe tower; and to wait for His explanations.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

There we saw the giants. (Numbers 13:33)

"There we saw the giants." (Numbers 13:33)

As the children of God approached the promise land, they sent out spies to check out their new home. And what they found were giants.

Since about August of last year, it seems that giants in the promise land of my life have stalked me relentlessly. Probably more than not, I have run and fled in the face of such monsters. I took on the role of one of the "spies" who said things like, "We can't attack...they are stronger than we are." (v. 31)

I wish I were more like Caleb and Joshua who saw God instead of giants. "We should go up and take possession....for we can certainly do it." (v. 30). "Do not be afraid....because we will swallow them up" (Num. 14:9).

The Israelites faced giants as they were moving forward in serving God and following Him. When they turned back to the wilderness, they found no giants. This is an interesting point.

If I am to move forward, giants will come and block my path. Unless I overcome in faith, my life will be consumed by the giants I face. However, if we stay and fight, we will always emerge victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ.

Paul said it quite well: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Cor. 4:8-10).

I think I fail to experience this divine principle because I expect it all without a struggle. I surrender to the giants. Or expect them to step aside without a fight. Nothing worth having is easily gained. There is no such thing as "generic brand" fruit for the Christian.

The cost of our redemption was everything God had to give. It did not come cheap or easy. Difficult times--the giants of our lives--are the schools of faith and character. They are the marketplace of redemption.

Matthew Henry said, "We can depend on God to fulfill His promise, even when all the roads leading to it are closed. 'For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through Him the "Amen" [so be it] is spoken by us to the glory of God' [2 Cor. 1:20]."