Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So long, Winter!

I had a mental list of indoor projects to do this winter. Afterall, winters in Minnesota last six months, don't 'cha know? There were rooms to paint and chairs to refinish, boxes to sort through and quilts to be sewn. But alas! I blinked, and winter melted into spring before I accomplished anything!

Now all I want to do is bask in the golden sunshine and breathe the fresh, dirt-scented air. Yes, I've caught spring fever...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gallery Night

My friend Jennifer had her first gallery show this weekend. Because we've been friends since she first discovered her love (and talent) for creating art, I knew I had to be at the show, even if it meant taking off work and traveling across Wisconsin in a blizzard. A couple friends and I took off on Friday morning, picked up another friend at the airport in the afternoon, checked into our hotel and got ready for a fun evening in the Historic Third Ward of downtown Milwaukee. After dinner at the restaurant below the gallery, we surprised Jennifer - she had no idea we were coming! It was great to see Jennifer and her paintings in person, and in such a cool venue!

 Jennifer and Sarah:

Lindsay, me, Jennifer, Sarah and Erin: 

Jen and I camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area the summer before our senior year. In fact, I was the first friend that Jen brought to the BWCA with her! That's why I decided to buy the painting that is behind me - it'll have a new home at Cheery Hill in a couple months!

 Lindsay flew in from Denver for the show!

The Gallery Knight... 

The painting on the right with the birds was actually inspired by a dream I had, which I believe was inspired by a painting that Jen had done. She titled it Waking Turbulence. 

I love these paintings from her trips out West:

The Boundary Waters Triptych:

 Two of The Narrows Trio:

This one was inspired by Jen's tornado chasing cousin, Brad:

Just chillin' at Gallery 326:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 3, 2012

As I walked to the end of my driveway to retrieve my garbage can I heard something.  Church bells were chiming "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." This was the first I've heard Christmas music resonating through the neighborhood. Have I just not been paying attention? I paused in the middle of the driveway, under a star-sprinkled sky, to listen. The next song was "O Come All Ye Faithful," followed by "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Thank you, bells, for urging me to slow down. Moonlight spilled over the snowy ground. I looked up to see a beautiful lunar halo and Cassiopeia sitting nearby. I love the night sky: a showcase for God's glory.

When I came inside, I felt lighter, like a burden had been lifted. I'm a little embarrassed that all it took was a leisurely walk to the end of my driveway to get the garbage can. Sure, it's been cold, but that's no excuse for not spending time outdoors. (That's what down coats and long underwear are for!) I must make an effort to be outside, even if it's just a walk around the neighborhood. (I secretly hope it'll snow enough for me to dust off my snowshoes, although I will definitely stay off frozen rivers this year!)

2012 Resolutions

This year, I resolve to be more loving. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." I can't generate love on my own; this kind of love only happens by relying on Christ in me.

I resolve to spend less time online and more time reading God's Word. I hope to observe media-free Sundays and cut back on other days as well. I've pondered the idea of closing my Facebook account. We'll see about that...

I resolve to be more intentional about creative pursuits. Whether it's playing guitar, painting a picture or writing, being creative is good for my soul. I would also like to work on guitar technique. Since my guitar teacher moved, I haven't been playing as much and definitely not working on exercises to improve my technique. My goal isn't to be great, just... better. I'd also like to play with other musicians more often. Playing and singing alone just isn't as much fun.

I resolve to read more. My shelves are full of books I have yet to read. A good friend who's a novelist said that she thought that was a mark of a true reader. I'd say it's at least a mark of a book lover... For years I've been wanting to read The Lord of the Rings. Will this be the year I finally commit to it? Time will tell...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Here, in no particular order, are 11 assorted favorites from the year 2011.

11. Behold the Lamb of God - Advent Narrative by Russ Ramsey

Reading this book gave me new eyes with which to view the Incarnation and a renewed sense of awe this Advent Season. The book is divided into 25 readings, one for every day in December leading up to Christmas Day. I didn't have the book at the beginning of the month, but once I started reading on December 10th, it was hard to stop and pace myself. I read Chapter 25 at 1 AM on Christmas morning. The reader is taken on a journey through the Old Testament to see the need for Christ, to feel the hopes and fears of all the years. I highly recommend reading this book during Advent, or really any time of the year.

10. Stash Chai Green Tea

I am a lover of tea, though admittedly not an expert nor connoisseur. But I do enjoy a good cup of tea and have a cupboard full of different varieties. My former boss is also a tea enthusiast and, this fall, he gave me a bag of Stash Green Chai Tea to try out. It quickly became my new favorite! I prefer an unadorned cup of this tea over spiced cider, though the spices are reminiscent of cider. (Moreso than a black chai tea, I think.)

9. Barton Hollow

I discovered The Civil Wars about the time they released their album, thanks to Under the Radar. I listened to the album, on repeat, for quite some time after downloading it. This also coincided with moving into Cheery Hill, so I think it will always remind me of those first couple of months living on my own. My favorite songs are Poison and Wine, I've Got This Friend and Dance Me to the End of Love.

8. Handmade Books

When my favorite online bookseller and writer announced that she had made a beautiful edition of Kilmeny of the Orchard I immediately placed my order. Good thing, because before the day's end, she sold out! I can't imagine all of the time, effort and love that went into creating these books, but boy are they exquisite. Lanier had a dream and worked to see it to fruition, and that is inspiring!

7. Harry Potter

I finally read (almost!) all of the Harry Potter series and have seen all of the movies. I truly enjoyed the books and have come to appreciate J. K. Rowling with a little help from The Rabbit Room. I know the books are controversial and would never insist that someone read them; everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I, however, choose to see the good in the story of The Boy Who Lived. It is, afterall, not a story about witchcraft, but of love, redemption and sacrifice.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)

6. Fernando Ortega

Fernando came to my church in October for an intimate concert and wow, was it ever a treat! I didn't know much about him until the weeks leading up to the concert when I downloaded his newest album, Come Down O Love Divine. Not only is he a wonderful musician, but a wonderful storyteller as well! I enjoyed his stories as much as his music - that is, immensely.
5. The Curse - Josh Ritter

Ah! This song has been haunting me all year. Well, since The Rabbit Room published this article about Josh. What can I say that hasn't already been said? A song about a mummy is one of my favorites of the year... (I also love Another New World - so chilling!)

4. Foyle's War

I've already mentioned this gem about a detective in England during WWII. It's that, and so much more. It's a lesson in history. I read that it was heavily researched and most of what you see is historically accurate - and fascinating! I highly, highly recommend it. I got the first five sets for Christmas. Yay!

3. Starbucks Whole Milk Lattes

My "regular" drink of choice, most of the baristas know what I'm going to order before I open my mouth. Due to buying a house this year, I gave up on my daily latte, but I still make it in once or twice a week for a treat. The grande whole milk latte is perfect, no sugar added.

2. Love & War & The Sea In Between

What would I do without The Rabbit Room? They've introduced me to so many new artists, musicians, authors and movies. One of my favorite introductions this year was to Josh Garrels. (Imagine my surprise when I also discovered that he's a friend-of-a-friend! She's a childhood friend that I only keep in touch with via Facebook, but still...) Josh is giving away his current album for a whole year! The year is half over, so I implore you to go to his site and download it while you can. Here's one of my (many!) favorite songs from the album:

1. Reading God's Story: A Daily Chronological Bible 

While I just discovered this great project by George Guthrie, it is a favorite find of the year. So many years I've made the resolution to read through the Bible in its entirety. I've failed every time. This is my hope for 2012, but I am going to give myself a little grace - if I don't finish by this time next year, it's okay. (I have a lifetime.) What really excites me about this Bible is that it is in chronological order and there is a study guide that goes with it. I've been wanting to do an overview of the whole Biblical narrative and I think this will help. Lately I've been a bit concerned about the piecemeal approach to Bible study that seems all too common. I want to understand how all the books fit together, to know the general timeline and see the overarching themes. I know it's still December, but I've already started on the reading plan.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Pranks

Pranks on April Fool's Day are just so cliche. ;-) I think that Christmas is a perfect time for pranking. I've always been a prankster at heart and I also enjoy being on the receiving end of a well-executed and good-humored prank. (Nothing nasty, just good clean fun...) I made the mistake of telling a my college roommate, Missee, that pranking was one of my love languages. I forgot I had said it, but she sure didn't...

I had just started guitar lessons around Thanksgiving last year. Before a lesson in early December, Colin, my teacher, said that he had something for me. He said he liked to give his students gifts and handed me a small wrapped package, a little bigger than a CD. I admit it was a little awkward, since it was only my third or fourth lesson. I pulled the paper back to reveal... A Poo Log! (That is, a journal for keeping track of your bowel movements.) For just a few seconds, I thought that this was a sincere gift. Then I realized that somehow Missee had to be behind it! Sure enough, she had contacted Colin, who she had never met, via Facebook to execute the prank. Classic... And hilarious that she could pull it off from North Carolina!

Which brings us to this year. I got one card in the mail today. The envelope had no return address and the postmark was so faint, I couldn't read it. Who could it be from? Anticipation grew as I slit open the envelope. It was from... ME!!?? Yes, someone had taken a photo of myself from Facebook and made a photo greeting that read as follows:

If that wasn't enough, I soon found out that my parents as well as brother and sister-in-law also got one in the mail today. Then a friend texted to say that she loved my card! All I can do is laugh... And say, if anyone got this card in the mail today, it's not from me!

Update: Approximately 10 of these cards went out to my family and friends in my Bible study. Also, a note to the anonymous prankster: Don't underestimate my investigative skills ;-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011