Feb 28, 2013

Flowers Fade Friday: Storing Up

Many years ago I was in the regular habit of memorizing God's Word. In those precious, transition years right after college I met weekly for a Bible study with a group of girls and our amazing leader, Amy. During this season, Amy strongly encouraged us to memorize the Word... to store God's Word up in our hearts... and we took her up on her challenge. Over the course of a few months, each of us girls memorized a whole chapter of Scripture. We all chose different passages and it was truly amazing to listen to each young woman memorize and then recite an entire chapter of God's Word. I can't remember everyone's passages, but a few stand out in my mind...

Kristin memorized I John 1 and 2. 
Sarah memorized Romans 8.
Allison memorized Ephesians 1.
I memorized Psalm 16.

We had a preschool-esque sticker chart, and we would add a sticker each week that we memorized at least one new verse in our chapters. At our Christmas party, Amy invited some of her girlfriends over and asked us to recite our chapters to them. It might sound juvenile or like we were showing off, but it was exactly the opposite. There is power in the Word of God, and to hear this group of women in their young 20s joyfully reciting verse after verse of Scripture was so beautiful.

And then life happened, our group eventually went our separate ways as girls moved, got married, had babies, etc. and my memorization discipline grew weaker and weaker. Sadly, it's been years since I've memorized a passage of Scripture or even a few verses...

But I'm convicted. I need to change. My lazy years of not memorizing the Word are covered by the grace of Christ, but my future years are clothed in the strength of Christ to work diligently to store up His Word in my heart. The words of the Psalmist encourage me...

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! {Psalm 119:10-12}

I'm starting with Romans 8. It's one of the best passages of the Bible and so clearly paints a picture of God's extraordinary love for us through Christ. I've seen people use their lockscreens on their phones to memorize Bible verses, since you see your lock screen so many times throughout the day. I was able to find an already-made lockscreen with Romans 8:1 printed on it. But when I searched the web, I was only able to find a few lockscreens with other verses from Romans 8. I thought about giving up on the idea of memorizing on my phone and resorting to the index cards that I used in the days of old, but then I realized how easy {and fun} it would be to make lock screens myself. I already spend a tremendous amount of time reading and creating on my phone. How easy would it be to use my filters and my photo text apps for God's glory? Take a pretty picture. Edit. Add a verse to the photo. Save as lockscreen on phone. So easy.

I used the pre-made design for Romans 8:1 and, after a few days of memorizing it, I made a new screen for Romans 8:2. I had just taken some pictures of the gigantic grapefruit that ripen in Arizona's winter months and I added the words... "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." I've had it up on my phone for a couple weeks now, and I think I just about have it memorized (I also try to repeat verse one and say them together). I'm excited to move on to verse three.


I am excited about this little artistic memorization adventure. I am eager to obey God's command to store up His Word in my heart. I'm not one of those people who tries to predict the end times or prophesies gloomy messages of forthcoming persecution for Christ's followers, but I do know this... the world {and the Western world especially} seems to have a growing disdain for God and His commands. Our country is increasingly pluralistic and demands an "open mind" to everything except the Gospel. I don't know when the end will come. I don't know if or how the Church will be persecuted in the future, but I know that if extreme persecution comes in my lifetime, I will have God's Word, His truth and His promises, etched on my mind and stored in my heart.

Feb 27, 2013

Austin {your unofficial city guide}

This past weekend I ventured to Austin, Texas for the first time in years. This trip was a long time in the making. My sister, Katie, moved from Seattle to Austin this past August and ever since then we've been trying to plan a sisters' trip to visit her. You see, my sister's childhood best friend {Whitney} is conveniently married to the brother of my childhood best friend {Sarah}, so they are sisters-in-law. If you made a map of everyone who is related either by blood or by marriage in my hometown it would look very confusing and possibly illegal, but I promise no cousins are married that I know of. Anyway, since the fall we have been hoping to do a "sisters' trip" to Austin to visit Katie, but it kept getting postponed. Finally, like three weeks ago, we all got the go-ahead from husbands, bosses, etc. and booked our trip for this past weekend. Very last minute, but very fun.

But in some ways, this trip to Austin has been in the making for even longer than this past summer. I haven't been to Austin since I moved away from Texas in 2007. Every time I go back to Texas, I obviously visit Fort Worth where all my best friends live. But a couple years ago I started wondering "Will I ever get to visit the fabulous city that is Austin, Texas ever again?" Because when I fly into Fort Worth for a whirlwind weekend with besties, it's never really convenient to travel three hours down the freeway to another one of Texas' amazing cities. But then sister became an adventurer, moved to Austin on a whim, and solved my problem of missing the Lone Star capital.

So I got to spend this weekend in a city I love with girlfriends I adore. Our schedule was packed with visiting some of my favorite places {Kerbey Lane, Amy's Ice Cream, Mozart's, Zilker Park, Salt Lick, Tyler's} and exploring new places as well {Rainey Street, Mount Bonnell, The Driskill Hotel, South Congress}. Follow the links if you are planning your own trip to Austin!

Another highlight of the weekend was finally getting to hug two of my long-time blog friends, Meredith and Ruthie. Meredith met us for dinner at Hula Hut, and we were having so much fun that we convinced her to stay up late and go to Gourdough's for donuts with us, even though she had a 6am flight the next morning. {You've probably figured out by now that all I do in Austin is EAT.} Ruthie met us for brunch on Sunday morning at Kerbey Lane which satisfied two desires for me: to devour Kerbey Queso and to touch her bump. Mission accomplished.  I seriously wish all the new friends I made when I moved to Arizona and started blogging two and half years ago lived in my city, so we could see each other all the time. But, instead, they live all over the country and I'm thankful to see them when I can, even if it is not often enough! The awesome thing is that my sister has become friends with both Meredith and Ruthie since moving to ATX, so at least she gets to hang out with them regularly!

Kerbey Lane

Salt Lick BBQ

Hula Hut

HEB... heaven on earth!

Mount Bonnell

Zilker Park and Barton Springs

I'll be back next week with a couple more updates. I sadly forgot my big camera {which I realized when I noticed how easy it was to go through security at the airport... no huge camera bag to deal with}, but I have plenty more iPhone pics to share. I love Texas. The end.

Feb 21, 2013

Flowers Fade Friday: The Wise and the Weak

It's crazy to think I've been on this PhD endeavor for almost three years now. And I am seriously counting down the weeks until this semester is over... my lack of blogging lately is one sign that this school term is killing me. Or at least it's wearing me out and taking all my time. However, I am also learning more than I've probably learned in the past year altogether, and I'm hoping all this hard work now will make my dissertation much, much easier to write. Nonetheless, I am tired and slightly overwhelmed and reminding myself that I only have 10 weeks until this semester is over.

Not only do I feel a bit worn down by the academic aspect of what I do, but I've also felt a bit discouraged lately by the whole spiritual aspect of graduate school as well. There are times at school, when I listen to godless rhetorics and read about feminist methodologies, where I just feel lost. What do you say or do when so many people so firmly believe that which is not true? What do you say when no one around you sees the world as you do? They see political problems and policies that will fix all wrongs. I see sin and a Savior who will fix all wrongs in the kingdom come. They see empowerment as the answer. I see surrendering to the loving and good God of the Universe as our only hope. They see striving for change and building knowledge as the most noble endeavors. I see my faith in Christ and my love for Him and others as the only real pursuits worth my time.

And yet...

I am called to be in grad school. Without a doubt, I know I am supposed to be in academia. The university often feels like a dark and oppressive institution where very few people believe in Christ, and yet it impacts generation after generation of students who go out and shape and influence our world, for better or worse. So what do I do when I am sure of my calling, yet I flounder for the words to share my faith or speak out against the lies I hear at school every day? And if I do speak out, how do I do so with equal parts of truth and grace?

And this is where I Corinthians 1 has been ministering to my heart this week. God knows. He has always known that He would send His children into dark places where knowledge is privileged over love. Where the wise of the world would try to shame or silence those with faith. He knows. And He is with me...

God will give me the words when I need to speak truth and He will tell me when to be silent as well. He will protect my mind and heart from believing lies. He will give me opportunities to love unbelievers with the love of Christ. And in the end, God's wisdom will reign supreme and His love and justice will blot out the lies that circulate through my school and throughout the whole world. I rest and I labor in that truth and hope.

Feb 20, 2013

The Bribe.

I don’t talk about my teaching much, but today, I must. Because I was bribed. And it must be documented.

For those of you who don’t know, I teach undergraduate writing classes at ASU. It sounds like a drag, but it isn't  For the most part, I’ve been blessed with the most amazing students during my three years teaching here. I can count the number of “problem” students I've had on one hand. Most of my students are hard workers, decent writers and responsible human beings. I seriously can’t complain, especially since ASU is considered a “party school.” My students are a zillion times better than I thought they would be based on rumors I had heard about ASU.

But today we hit an all-time low… or high… depending on how you feel about the hilarity that is college students trying to bribe their teachers with candy.

Two nights ago I was reading through my students’ drafts for conferences I was holding with them the following morning. I got to one draft to sadly discover it was only one and a half pages long even though I had asked my students to write at least 3-4 pages. I very nicely, but firmly, wrote a comment on the paper about it being incomplete and about how I can’t give good feedback if my students don’t actually write a full draft. Then I gave this student half credit on the draft. Most professors would have given a zero, but I was feeling gracious.

When this student’s group came to meet with me at a table in the library lobby the following morning, the slacker student, before even sitting down at a chair, firmly placed an AIRHEAD in the middle of the table. The student did not say what it was for… but in the back of my mind I was like “Am I being bribed or appeased with candy right now?! This is amazing… but you should have brought me a Blizzard or anything better than candy from your middle school concession stand.”

A few minutes later the student mumbled some kind of apology about not finishing the draft. I said I was disappointed but we would do our best as a group to give feedback on the mere (pathetic?) page and half that had been written so far. Meanwhile, that awkward Airhead was still sitting on the table between us.

When the conferences were over, all three students got up to leave, but the Airhead remained.

It was a bribe to be sure.

I picked it up and looked at it. I considered throwing it away. Then I considered eating it as a pre-lunch snack. I also pondered that maybe this slacker student actually hates me and had poisoned the candy. Then, finally, I returned to the idea of eating it and opened the wrapper.

I don’t think I’ve had an Airhead in 15 years and I wanted to remember what they taste like… poison or not.

I was sorely disappointed and thankful that my middle school days are over. The slacker should have brought chocolate…

And I did NOT change the grade, of course.

But I did eat an extra sixty calories of sugar as my mid-morning snack.

Feb 19, 2013

The Problem with Brits {or my thoughts on Downton}

*Warning: this is a semi-spoiler alert. I won’t name specific characters, but if you haven’t made it through Season 3 of Downton Abbey and you plan to in the future and want to be surprised, you should probably stop reading right about… NOW.

-So Season 3 ended with yet another death. Ugh.

-Can I just say I knew it was going to happen? The first second they showed that aerial shot of the car driving down the lane, I knew something was wrong. The scenery was hauntingly beautiful, and whenever it gets “hauntingly” anything around Downton, you know someone is probably about to bite the dust.

-But on this specific scene, I just knew. Long before it showed how carelessly he was driving. Long before it showed the truck coming from the opposite direction. Because if they were going to give us a happy ending to Season Three, there never would have been a car scene. There would have been a hospital scene where the family rushes in to admire the newborn and the babe is held up victoriously as the long awaited heir of the Abbey. That, my friends, is how it should have happened. But then they had to show that stupid car and the melancholy dirt road and they dashed our dreams of ever being happy watching Downton Abbey again.

-So what’s up with British actors anyway? Where is their longevity? Their steadfastness? Their commitment? Where are the Jennifer Anistons and the Kelsey Grammers of the UK? Who wants out of a popular, award-winning show after three seasons? Get with the program, people. Ten seasons or bust… at the very least.

-Speaking of steadfastness, were Jessica and Dan so overwhelmed with the filming of Downton that they had to get out? The seasons are SIX episodes long! Did this give them no other time on the side to pursue other projects? I realize they are long episodes, but I have to imagine that it is less demanding to film six 1-2 hour episodes than twenty-five {or more} 42 minute episodes of an American season of television. I mean in the history of Downton Abbey, Dan appeared in 25 episodes {over THREE seasons!} and Jessica appeared in only 20. Sounds like an overwhelming amount of work. Good thing you got out when you did.

-I was pretty mad about the ending. So mad, in fact, that when those annoying PBS people came on screen and started to ask for my money, I couldn't even get myself up off the couch to turn off the TV. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because after about five minutes of the annoying fundraising pitch, sweet little Angela Lansbury’s face popped up on the screen and cheered me up instantly. How can you be mad or sad when Angela is smiling at you? Answer: you can’t. This lady rocks. Think about… Murder She Wrote. Mrs. Potts on Beauty and the Beast. Bedknobs and Broomsticks. PBS knew I would need encouragement and they provided it in perfect form. Angela Lansbury for life.

-Then I tweeted something about Angela cheering me up and she retweeted me!  I mean it’s technically her PR account, and I doubt she actually did it herself, but it was her official Twitter account nonetheless. This is what I wrote in response:

The end.

Feb 10, 2013

Lovely Little Things {or my weekly fruit intake}

If you are one of those people who gets angry when people Instagram their food, I strongly encourage you to stop reading this post immediately. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Hello birds and boots. I threw a nesting shower for my friend, Jordan. Details to come. 
The party was fantastic, but I was so tired afterward that I plopped myself down on the couch for a 
few minutes before finally surrendering to a three hour nap in my bed.

Hello toddler photos. We are so blessed to live by my cousins and their sweet children... including two year old Tyce, 
who got a hold of my iPhone and snapped some very attractive eating pics during dinner.

Hello fruit. This is the segment of the post where I show you the healthy food I've been eating this week.

I'm on a serious kick lately kick recently. These were gifted to us from our friend's backyard.

Hello truth. And now comes the part where I admit that despite my fruit intake, Micah and I have been eating out way more than we usually do. I convinced him to take me to free pancake night at iHop, 
and then we each "accidentally" ordered take out for dinner on the very next night.

And we've hung out with some of our favorite friends lately, which has included gorging ourselves on 
Rudy's BBQ and snacking on ice cream at the Phoenix Open.

The end. Next time I might post non-food related photos, but I can't make any guarantees.

|Linking up with Lisa Leonard and Hello Hue|

Feb 4, 2013

Quirks: Tom's

I got my first and only pair of Tom's long before they had been seen on the feet of any hipster or high schooler. I first learned about Tom's WAY back when they were featured in the Real Simple 2006 holiday gift guide. I thought they were cute and liked the mission of the company, so I asked for {and received} them for my birthday the following year. Army green Tom's. In my closet. Since 2007.

But here's thing thing. I never wear my Tom's. I think this is for two reasons. One... I think they look weird on my feet. My feet are slightly wide and since Tom's are narrow, it's a strange combo. Secondly, I don't dress casually very often, so Tom's rarely seem appropriate for my outfit. I should correct that... I dress casually all the time... in my sweaty gym clothes and my sweats at home. But I don't really have a "casual" look other than that. When I dress up, I dress up for reals. Therefore my strange-fitting Tom's sit in my closet collecting dust for months on end.

However, this weekend we went to the Phoenix Open golf tournament with some of our friends. We went last year as well and I made the mistake of wearing shoes that were uncomfortable to walk around in. I didn't want to make the same mistake twice, so I pulled on my Tom's Saturday morning, thinking they would be comfortable for the day's events. It was maybe my 10th time ever wearing them.

Moral of the story... when I finally took my little canvas shoes off 12 hours later I think I could see a faint bruise on the top of my right foot. I'm pretty sure my granny chic feet were yelling "What the H are these?! Give me pointy toe flats pronto!"

Tom's and I don't get along. Maybe I'll pull them out and give them another try in 2014.
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