Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Card


One of the joys this year with my new husband, was sending out Christmas cards. Since we are trying to live on a modest budget, we opted for Christmas postcards. I tried to get to everyone but I'm confident I missed people. If you didn't recieve one and you would like one, just e-mail me and I'll drop it in the mail.

I have also attached the picture and short note for those who just want to view it via the blog.

If you didn't want to have anything to do with our Christmas card...my apologies are extended.



Greetings and love from Georgia,
As we approach this holiday season, we remember the many blessings of the past year. As you all know, we were married on September 24th. We had a wonderful wedding. Many thanks to our family and friends who worked to make the day special. It is a memory we will always treasure in our hearts.
Married life has been a joyous adventure thus far. Laura is adjusting to south quite well, enjoying her sweet tea and grits. She is still working for Press Ganey out of a home office. Mark is busy at CAT in addition to studying. He has been very diligent with his classes despite his busy work schedule. Our church family in Atlanta and the Mennonite Church in Meigs have welcomed us with open arms. We love working out at the local YMCA and grilling out on our back porch. Unfortunately we are unable to return to central Illinois for the holidays, but trust God will bless their holiday season. We are looking forward to holiday time with the Lindberg family here in Georgia.
Please let us know if you are ever driving to Florida or in our area. I-85 is only about 45 minutes away. Visitors are always welcome. We miss ya’ll and love you always.
Love ~ Mark & Laura

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tragic Pet Deaths

"Today we gather together to celebrate the life of..." Death is one of the few certain things in life. Ironically it is a personal favorite of man-kind to try to fight and/or ignore. It seems our own mortality (especially those who are lacking the promise of eternal life) makes people very uncomfortable.

Now many of us will experience death prior to our own. Family members, friends, acquaintances, and of course beloved pets remind us of our own demise.

It is even a greater struggle when these deaths are a direct result of our actions.

My beta fish, Samson, died a tragic death in an unfortunate incident with a garbage disposal. I was replacing part of his water, a traditional method of bowl maintenance between cleanings. I was pouring it into the sink/garbage disposal my hand slipped a bit. Before I knew it, he had followed the current directly out of his bowl.

I tried in vain to retrieve him but my efforts were futile. To insure he wasn't just sitting at the bottom, I flipped the disposal on and my fish met his untimely death.

Another tragic story is when my husband's grandmother was cleaning out her canary cage. Birds can be awfully messy. Grandma decided that vacuuming out the bottom of the cage would be the most efficient least disgusting way to clean out the cage.

Well one thing lead to another and the poor little canary was sucked right into the vacuum cleaner. They quickly shut it off and opened the bag. The bird was dusty but still alive. He sadly though died the next day as a result of the trauma. It truly sucked the life out of him.

Nothing like the tragic deaths of our pets to remind us of our own mortality.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Mark and I attended Victorian Christmas in Thomasville this past weekend. It is a holiday festival with food, song and dance performances, a living nativity, and host of other booths spread down 3-4 blocks of downtown Thomasville.

You can always tell which food vendors are the most popular by the length of the line at their booth. Mark and I enjoyed a bloomin' onion with sweet tea. We were going to get some pita chill packets but decided it wasn't worth the wait. We settled for a corn dog and a sausage with onions and green peppers.

After our meal, we enjoyed a lovely living nativity presentation with Matthew. Our seats were excellent, right in the front row. It was truthfully an accident as we just sat down on some empty bleachers to enjoy our dinner when we realized that soon the show was starting.

We decided to walk down the last block to see what else was offered before heading home. At the end their was the incredibly long line, even longer than the one for carriage rides through downtown. Upon closer inspection, it was a circle about 50 ft in diameter of fake snow.

SNOW in Georgia is as exciting as it gets apparently. Now to a Northerner it looked like pretty pathetic snow cone-ice type snow but to a Southern child, this is as close as they may get. Kids were running around, throwing it, making shapes with their feet etc...

We kind of giggled at the excitement of the people but realized Mark's youngest sister, Rachel, probably hadn't ever seen snow either. Different perspective isn't it?

Well as we still have our air conditioner on as it rather warm outside, it is the only snow we are going to see this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Think your life is rough...read "Dear Abby"

As an advice-columnist addict, I'll admit to gaining a bizarre pleasure reading the issues of others. I'm vehemently opposed to gossip but I do have that inherent human interest in the lives of other people. This fulfills this needs but since the writers volunteered the information and it remains anonymous, I avoid the evils of gossip.

I use this medium as an inexpensive form of therapy. Anytime that I'm worried my life is lacking direction or that I'm in a troubled state, my daily dose of these columns cures me almost in an instant. The concerns many of the writer's have I couldn't have even dreamed of, let alone experienced in my own personal life.

I'll concede many of these people are in these situations due to poor choices on their own part, but not always. Either way it is oddly enticing to read. Most of the issues deal with romantic relationships or issues with children, which of course has mounds of opportunity for disaster.

As far as what I'd recommend for reading the Chicago Tribune provides an excellent daily assortment

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/columnists/advice/

Now I often don't agree with the at least part of the advice given, so don't think I'm recommending this as a source for solving your own personal problems. Rather a study of the Bible will provide far more sound advice.

These are recommended for uplifting entertainment as you realize- "it's really not that bad."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Grilling salmon

As the weather in southern Georgia is beautiful this time of year, Mark and I have taken to grilling out on our back porch. Brats, burgers, steaks, chicken, and yes salmon are among the many delightful foods we enjoy.

Sunday evening is traditionally our "special" dinner evening. Steaks, salmon etc...are reserved for these times. We picked up some salmon at Publix Sunday afternoon and after a brief walk downtown decided to grill.

Salmon is a bit trickier to grill as the fillet falls apart fairly easy. We grill it with the skin on so that it holds together. Our grill is a poorly designed in that the top edge of the grate is level with the top of the grill. If you try to slide things to the edge, they are likely to fall off.

Mark was attempting to flip our salmon over. When he tried move his spatula under it, he accidentally shoved it to the back of the grill. This of course then caused it to fall off, all over the floor of our deck.

I had the privilege of watching him do this and of course got a huge laugh out of the deal. Mark is wonderful with the grill. It just as easily could have been me. I wish I had his shocked faced captured on camera. If I had a video of this, it would have won at America's Funniest Home Videos for sure.

We decided that we weren't going to have any meat and the rice and vegetables looked just lovely. Had we been grilling steak, we could have just picked it up, brushed it off and yelled 5 second rule! Salmon unfortunately spreads everywhere making it a lost cause.

Oh well. Cheers to thinner waistlines and funny memories!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christmas music

It has been a bit chillier down here in Georgia (in the 50's all week) so it has put me in the mood for Christmas. I tried to break out the CD's on our way up to Atlanta on Saturday, but I couldn't find them. Alas! On Monday morning I found them and have thoroughly enjoyed my music.

I promised Mark I wouldn't set-up any decorations until at least Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving is the official beginning of the Christmas season.

We are supposed to be back up in the 70's for the weekend. I don't know if this means I'll lose a bit of my Christmas spirit. I hope not. I figure though a tree and a nativity scene should keep me going.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Keeping in Touch


As I have moved down here to Georgia I'm now reliant on wireless technology to keep me not only in touch with my family and friends but with my coworkers as well. I have my personal cell phone and my work phone. This allows me to keep my lives separate.

Well I didn't use my work cell phone that often except on the road so I could handle the occasional neck cramps. Now that it is my primary phone for work, I find it necessary to invest in a headset. Being the lover of blue tooth that I am, I got one almost identical to the one for my personal phone.

The only real differences are it is silver versus black and that it sits on my left ear versus right. Now this can prove to be very interesting. Technically I can have a headset on each ear. Now I feel really nerdy when I do this, so I tend to avoid it but it is possible.

It's amazing the ways we have developed for people to find us when we sometimes just want to be left alone. Praise God for the off button.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Signs of the South

As a simple Midwestern girl, I recognized my perception of the world was very limited. I think in many ways I was very aware of how little I understood other parts of the country. While nothing I have seen down here is something that I hadn't heard about, seeing it and experiencing are different.

One of the more subtle differences are the signs. Let's begin with street signs. As my husband and I drove down "Lee White Rd" to get to "Dollar Store Road" on which his parents are building a house, we pass numerous cotton fields and pecan trees . He pointed to a place of business that had a sign on the building to discourage trespassing...
"Trespassers will be shot
Survivors will be shot again"

Now this is a place of business, not just some random person's residence.

I'm getting used to the confederate flags hung up on poles in the front of people's yards, as decorative license plates on the numerous Ford-150's that drive around town, or tattooed on the guy's arm in front of me at Wal-Mart. But I still do a double take.

As we drive up to Atlanta, you see the exit for "Peachtree City" and of course their is a Waffle House off of that exit, as there is at every exit on I-85. Now Mark and I are slightly addicted to the Waffle House, so we love how available they are.

But the greatest testament is that the beginning of our journey to Atlanta, we take "Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway." If that isn't a sign of the South, I don't know what is.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Moving, changing your name...the sequence of events

Moving to a new state and changing your name requires a fairly time-consuming process. The order of events in which you make these changes is critical to successfully completing the transition. Everyone told me what I needed to change, what I did not know was that order was critical.

First-Get married, you really can't do much until that is done

Assuming that was a given, here is the order of events

Wait until your marriage license arrives. You will need this to do anything.

Go to the social security office and file for a new card. You must bring I.D., your old card, and your marriage license.

Get your driver's license changed-You'll need to have (at least in GA) old driver's license, your birth certificate or passport, marriage license, proof of residency (utility bill, apartment lease, something that looks really official with your new address on it).

Change your auto insurance to your new state. You will need your spouse's information as well as your own.

Get new plates for your car. You'll need to have your title, registration, proof of insurance, and new driver's license.

Everything else: Bank account, YMCA membership and so on.

It takes a while but eventually you live where you are supposed to with the name you now carry.

Best wishes!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Warranty

In an effort to improve my timeliness, I purchased a clock for our bathroom. Since all it really needs to do is remind me that I am late, I figured your basic Wal-Mart clock would be just fine. Well I hit a deal when I found a red clock that matches our bathroom perfectly for $3.78. Quite the find.

Mark was taking it out of the box to hang on the wall and he noticed the warranty information. How great of Wal-Mart, insure the quality of there products with a warranty. Upon reading the information, the pamphlet informed us to include $5 for processing when redeeming the warranty. The clock only was only $3.78 to begin with!!

I am hoping this manufacture makes other more expensive products that might justify a $5 handling fee for warranty redemption. If my clock breaks, I'm just going to get another one. Three cheers for another American's conspicuous consumption.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mr. and Mrs. Mark Lindberg

Here is another wedding photo :)
mark and I Posted by Picasa

Buying office chairs

As Mark and I set up our home office, we decided this weekend that sitting on extra kitchen table chairs was no longer acceptable. Well Mark had to finish a final for school, so I ventured to Tallahassee Florida, to purchase chairs. Since I'm not very familiar with Tallahassee and we had a lot of Target gift cards, I went to Target right on the north side.

Well these chairs come in some large boxes and I was shopping by myself. They only had 2 left so I put them in my cart right away for 2 reasons.
1. So that no one else would take one and I'd not have enough
2. So they'd take up the space they'd need and I could stuff my other items around.

The first one I put inside my car. The second one I put on the bottom part of my cart. The top of the box was not secured properly so it flopped around. So instead I tried to turn it around. It didn't fit that way. So I had to take the first one out, put it on the ground. Remove chair number 2 and place it inside the cart. I then awkwardly put chair 2 underneath the cart.

(By the way down here in the south a cart is called a "buggy," since I'm still adjusting I'm going to keep calling it a cart.")

I then proceeded to push my chairs all over the store so I could make my other purchases. I used up all the gift cards as I completed my registers. It was quite the successful shopping trip.

Mark, being the wonderful husband he is, helped me carry our chairs upstairs to our apartment. I was quite proud of myself managing the chairs by myself and not falling down once. They are so much more comfortable than the kitchen table chairs.

Well back to work...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mrs. Lindberg




Well it is now official. I'm Mrs. Laura Lindberg. It is a huge pain to change your name but I figure that I am only doing this once, so it is worth it. We had a wonderful wedding and wish to thank our family and friends for all the love and support throughout our engagement and the beginning of our marriage.

The entire planning process and actual day was very fun and reasonably stress-free. It drew us closer as a family and I enjoyed it immensly. I wouldn't want to go back as it is wonderful having Mark around all the time but I will always remember the wedding with joy.

This is Mark and I with my siblings. I miss them very much and each played an important role in the wedding.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Moving down south


All my worldly belongings have arrived in Georgia. Mark tells me that I'm out one lamp and one bookcase that were damaged in the move. Since these were some of the cheapest items I owned (probably why they broke) I wasn't too disappointed. I'm pretty sure we didn't pack them very well.

I'm going to make a little plug for ABF U-Pack movers if you are ever going across the country. I was able to ship all my stuff down for less than what renting a u-haul and driving it down would have been. It was great having Mark + brother-in-laws receive it down in Thomasville.

The trailer was really clean and nice. So simple to use and now I don't have to drive an annoying truck all the way down there.

It's less expensive than full-service movers because you pack and load it yourself. The coolest part is that they don't charge you by weight. Instead it is by running feet in the truck. My move took 7 ft. A lot of movers can pull one on you saying your belongings way more than they do. Or they will quote you for a weight that is way too low. I have no idea how much my stuff weighs. I just know that my sofa is heavy.

You can visit them at www.upack.com. Seriously...long distance moves that you need to do inexpensively, this is the way to go.

I'm off to GA to unpack and set-up our new home. I'll be working on my southern accent.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Can 8-year olds to go prison?

At a recent lunch meeting, my co-workers and I were sharing stories about our childhood. I have a coworker "Mindy" who has a very energetic view of life and tends to succumb to spontaneity.

Traditional marketing practices in the late 60's and early 70's often included sending potential customers free samples via mail of a newly introduced product. I'd venture that many a child was enthralled by these new items as Mindy was. Not really understanding the concept or purpose of mail, daily she would check the mailbox to see if any new samples had arrived.

One summer day a fabulous new item arrived. She doesn't remember exactly what that item was but it was fabulous. She excitedly opened the package and used the sample. Now wouldn't another one be great. She looked around her neighborhood and noticed that every house had a mailbox. They would all have these samples too! She quickly took her bag and proceeded to remove the mail from everyone's box. Now most of it was just worthless paper, which she promptly hid underneath a tree in the backyard.

That evening many neighbors noticed the lack of mail in their boxes. Typically neighborhood gossip help identify the culprit. Being a less than logical honest 8-year old, she quickly denied her crime. The threat of federal prison from her neighbor lady caused such fear in her that she continued to deny her involvement for several days.

Finally after it became apparent this issue was not "going way" she surrendered her bag of mail. The neighbors promptly dumped it out on the table and claimed their mail.

She still wonders...is that neighbor lady right...could I go to federal prison for this?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Here is the picture

Well yesterday I had trouble with Blogger not wanting to upload my pictures. I figured I'd give it a shot today. It worked!! I hope this picture brings a smile to your face. I'd say we are one happy crew.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Doesn't he look happy?

The weekend of July 22-23 my parents and I had the privilege of flying down to Atlanta, GA to spend some quality time with the Lindbergs. Our families are getting along splendidly. So much that part of the Lindberg fam came over to my parents house yesterday sans Mark just for dinner. Some of my cousins and grandparents also came. I had to leave at 7:30 to get back to South Bend but apparently everyone else stayed till almost 10. I'm so thankful that this bond was so easily created. I knew I had a fabulous family, now I have an even bigger fabulous family.

I have included one of my favorite pictures from the weekend. It is Rachel, Mark's youngest sister, and I showing Mark that we love him. He looks pretty content doesn't he?

Ok... so I was going to upload this cute picture of Rachel and I with Mark. But Blogger isn't up for it so you'll just have to take my word for it that it is pretty cute. He has such a loving family that I feel blessed to become a part of.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Avoid Generic Ice Cream

I'll admit that I'm a naturally frugal person. I will look at the display labels at Kroger that inform me of the per unit cost of an item to determine which size gives me the best deal. I've learned grocers have fooled much of the American public that "bulk" hence "bigger" is better. I discovered that I could pay $3 for 1 40oz jar of peanut butter or buy 3 16oz (48oz) jars of peanut butter for the same price. Natural inclination would say that the "bigger" jar would offer the better deal. I also discovered this recently buying 4 quarts versus an entire gallon of Gatorade.

My careful spending has also led me to try many generic items. Many of these things have worked out wonderfully. I've found products I like equally well or even better at a lower price. These are typically your staples or basic items. Items that exist in nature make wonderful generic products. Items that are man-made have a lot more room for error. It is sometimes best just to spend the money for the name brand product.

Below is a list of products I find equally good
Milk-It is really all processed the same way, who cares if it is "Prairie Farms"
Applesauce-Kroger Brand is excellent
Oatmeal-It's basically just oats
Pasta-They've got this one pretty well down
Hamburger

Things that you should just buy the name brand
Ice Cream-FMV Chocolate is more "ice" than anything else
Oreo-type cookies-They have the name brand recognition, just go with it.
Crackers-I'm not up for stale cardboard

Whatever your preference, take a moment to check out all your options. It isn't a good deal if you don't like it. $1 saved doesn't feel like much when you are missing the smooth running of creamy chocolate ice cream down your throat.

Friday, July 14, 2006

How we define ourselves

Working in a Knowledge Management Department and interacting frequently R&D, we are not the "cool" kids of the company. While well respected for our work and contribution, if you are looking for those to spice up your party people from our department are not at the top of that list.

Now we enjoy each other's company immensely and are very content to create our own protected social circle. Hence we are "cool" to ourselves that is enough. We embrace the brainy, data-oriented, researchy image assigned to us.

As we strive for knowledge and understanding, we work very hard to make sure define ourselves correctly. We used to throw around descriptors such as "dork" or "geek" at random, assuming they meant a simple affinity with scientific and technical pursuits at the sacrifice of social popularity.

Last year R&D hired a naturalized citizen from Croatia, whose first language is Croatian. He expressed some concern with the labels we had assigned our team. His unwillingness to adopt them made us question the meaning. Well upon further investigation we discovered what those words truly mean. It is humbling to have a non-primary English speaker teach you your own language.

I have included links to dictionary.com with the definition of each word.

Dork

Dweeb

Geek

Nerd

I can handle the "dweeb" and "nerd" as they match the original intent of our jest. I'm probably not going to use "geek" or "dork" again in the near future. While old habits die hard, I want my message to be clear.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Unblinding Love

As many have accused me in the recent months of having my head in the clouds, I've had numerous opportunities to reflect how love changes the way we view the world. It certainly has it's effects but I challenge the notion that love clouds our vision.

"Love is blind" is a popular expression to convey how often new love allows us to suppress/diminish our beloved's flaws that of course everyone else sees clearly. I challenge this notion. Love doesn't blind me from another's faults, but rather helps me put them in the proper perspective. It's not that I completely miss my beloved's flaws, but rather I focus on the qualities that make him wonderful.

If we examine how the Bible describes love, patient, kind, beareth all things, believe all things, endureth all things, etc...we discover that the focus is on lifting up the person we love. Christ who showed the epitome of love chose to focus on the soul of man not the corruption. He shed his blood and died on the cross to rise again, to cover our faults so that we can experience the love of God. Nobody would argue that Father sees very clearly and his love is certainly not blind.

It is man's corrupted state that assumes reality is only that which is negative. We obviously aren't seeing clearly if we don't pointedly identify the bad. I argue those who only complain or seek the negative have their eyes clouded by sin and selfishness.

Love isn't blind, it just looks at someone the way God does, as a man/woman with an eternal soul.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mixing of tastes

Eating is a pleasurable necessity. In times of financial hardship, food is viewed as a mandatory expense even if it is very primitive. Due to the enormous wealth most American's enjoy, food is no longer about sustenance but pleasure. Food is expected at celebrations of all sorts. To be truly admired, the selection must abound with different tastes and textures.

While all people enjoy some level of variety, how this variety is experienced in a single meal has two variations. We have the separatists and the mixers.

Separatists - People who prefer to eat all of one item on their plate then proceed to the next item. My brother and my fiancee are both separatists . Maybe they'll start with their meat, then the vegetable, then eat their bread and so on. The next item will not be started until the first one is completed. Separatists usually do a very good job of cleaning their plate. Some will only take each item from the serving dish as they are ready to consume it, reducing the likelihood they will dish up more than they can eat.

Mixers-Those who like to combine tastes and textures throughout the meal. I'm definitely a mixer. I'll take a bite of a hamburger then some baked beans followed by a bit of salad. The problem is my eyes are often bigger than my stomach and I take too much. Since consuming all my food does nothing to help the starving children in Uganda, I choose to waste some food before I'm willing to add it to waistline. I love the switching from sweet to salty then back again. I chase pretzels down with a can of Diet Pepsi. Usually having a bit of the pretzel still in my mouth when I fill it with that sweet flavor.

Now separatists can eat casseroles and other pre-combined foods, the foods are then just considered a single item. Mixers, like myself, may like casseroles less because it removes some of the personal creativity behind the combining of foods. I mean frozen pizza dipped in applesauce, who would have thought it could be so good.

However you experience the pleasure of food the only caution is to remember- there can be too much of a good thing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

luke warm pizza and chocolate

Due the craziness of my work life and some mild distractions coming from my personal life, I've decided this week to use my time efficiently and work through lunch. Doing this allows me to come into the office a bit later (because I'm up late on the phone with this amazing guy) and leave a bit earlier (so I can hit up the gym before I talk to aforementioned amazing guy).

We've had several people bring in food to the office. Nothing like spreading the unhealthy eating habits to those you work with. As I type this blog over my "lunch" break I'm snacking on luke warm pizza (I just didn't feel like getting up to warm it) and following it with a few chocolates from the S.B. chocolate factory that my secretary brought in. Now these things are fabulous...I wish I really didn't like them right now. Besides the fact the sugar wacks out my blood sugar and I get a bit lightheaded...it just doesn't sit well with me.

My boss also brought in cheese and crackers yesterday. I love crackers and the brie he had was fabulous. I really need to be stocking up on the fruits and veggies. I ate an apple at 2 out of shear remorse.

The only kudos I can give myself is that I'm not chasing this down with a can of Diet Pepsi for the caffeine boost. I know it is is vicious cycle. If I ate better, I'd feel better, etc...but I'll get there. Probably not for another 89 days but eventually.

Well I'm going to get some pretzels now...catch you later.

Monday, June 26, 2006

knock at my door

Last night while on the phone with Mark (a very common thing for me to be doing if not at work, I had an unexpected knock on my door. Since I wasn't really expecting company and didn't want to interrupt my conversation I quickly sushed and tip-toed over the peep hole.

I peered outside to see a above average height gentleman carrying a red pillow standing in front of my door. I didn't recognize him at all. As I had just come back from a run and wasn't particularly dressed for company, I quickly and quietly returned to my bedroom and spoke in hushed whispers till I was sure he was gone.

This is the most unfriendly I have ever been in my life. Mark wasn't very thrilled at the idea of me opening the door to a strange man (protective side of him coming out :)) so I refrained. I'm not confident that I did the right thing. I just hope he figured out where he was going.

Friday, June 16, 2006

If I wasn't his fiancee...


I'd probably be accused of being his stalker.
This was the comment my co-worker made to me regarding the recent explosion of pictures decorating my office. Mark and I may only have a few pictures together, but I do have most of them placed somewhere in my office. I'll admit this causes frequent distractions at work, yet I'm strangely comfortable with this.

I have included Mark and I's first picture together in the airport at Mo Bay. (Special thanks to Perry K. for this shot).

I'll admit my day hasn't been the most productive. Thankfully I was super productive at work yesterday which will compensate for my reduced output today.

I have to publicly apologized to all of my previously engaged friends who I thought were unnecessarily ditzy during this chaotic time. I'm worse than anyone I've ever interacted with and I hope that they'll find it in their hearts to forgive me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Stories of a 9-year old drama queen

I have a good friend "Jenny*" who has a 9-year old daughter "Carrie*" who is the epitome of a drama queen. She has the big eyes, pouty lips, and lungs to blow the 3 little pigs house down. Carrie is rather opinionated (which she certainly has inherited from Jenny), yet her positions on issues don't always follow the soundest logic. This may be partially a factor of being 9 and the other part for her to be right you must be wrong. Hence she has to pick something completely outlandish.

Recently at soccer practice, the coach instructed the players to find partners for passing practice. Carrie of course is the coolest kid, so patiently waited for her partner to find her. When her intimidating stance failed to draw anyone, she pranced over to Jenny with a sincere pout.

"I can't practice, I don't have a partner". Jenny noted that there were several little boys still left that also didn't have a partner. She less than gently pointed this out to Carrie. "Go ask him over there."

"MOM!!" Carrie whispered loudly. "The only people left are boys and they are all ugly."

Well now how does one even begin to combat that. The coach did so rather swiftly with the "You don't find a partner and practice quickly, you won't be playing." But that really didn't address the crux of the argument. Then again, I'm not sure what would.

Carrie decided she could practice with her eyes "half open" and it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Oh well. Another issue solved in the life of a 9-year old drama queen.

*names are changed because some things are best identified only in person

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pride goeth before the fall

Whenever I'm going to be gone for an extended period of time, my office colleagues fish-sit my beta Russ. I align the experience of leaving children at Grandma's house. Russ of course can do no wrong and he is the most interesting thing there ever was. "Do I feed him enough?" they ask.

When it was time to take him home after my trip to Chicago in March, most of the office was quite sad and protested his leave. After many promises to be good to him, they finally allowed him to come home. To fill the void, Molly purchased her own beta, Willy.

Now Russ was 2 years older than Willy. He was not a spry but certainly had great fish wisdom. Molly wanted to test out the "fighting fish" idea behind the beta. She placed their two tanks right next to each other. Willy being the energized youngster flared his fins and prepared for battle. Russ being well seasoned did little to raise a flipper. Willy continued to circle and attempted to attack Russ. Molly decided that while this live "animal planet" was interesting, it may not be the best way to care for my fish. She then returned Russ to the other office, out of Willy's view.

Willy was very annoyed at this as his hot pursuit was interrupted. Molly comes back 2 hours later to find Willy had disappeared, fish bowl still on her bookcase. Now fish don't typically "wonder off" so she assumed one of our office mates had played a practical joke. After hounding everyone and being met with sincere denials, she began the search of the floor around the book case.

There she found poor Willy flopping on the floor. Apparently in his pursuit of Russ, he forgot he was a fish that needed water. He jumped out of his bowl only fall behind the book case. He was still flopping when Molly returned him to the bowl but his injuries were too substantial. He died a few hours later.

Russ on the other hand is still calmly swimming in his bowl enjoying a great deal of admiration and affection. He is completely oblivious to his predator's demise. Had Willy humbled himself and swam away from the fight, he may still be with us today.

Rest in Peace Willy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Love of my Life

It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the love of my life Mark :). Believing God has called us together, we are anxiously anticipating a September wedding. I want to praise God for his direction in bringing us together. Mark is a wonderful godly man. I could type pages on all the things that make him amazing but I wouldn't want to embarass him.


Hope you all have a wonderful week!
Best wishes
~ Laura

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

FOUND: BLACK DRESS

On my recent trip home, lo and behold I opened my closet and there hung my dress. I'm confident that it was really hiding from me. It was just waiting till I publicly pleaded for assistance before coming home. It is now safely back where it belongs.

:)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

MISSING: Black Dress-Reward offered

DESCRIPTION: One sleeveless polyester/spandex/rayon blend black dress. Typically worn with a bell sleeve light blue rayon shirt. Reward: I'll come up with something, most likely related to food as a sincere thank you.

I've come to the conclusion I'm either losing my mind or at least my clothes. I have this black dress that I wear with a blue top. I was wanting to wear that outfit to church the other day. I found the blue top, but no dress. What complicates this is I only wear the blue top with the dress. The two pieces are never worn independently. I can't even begin to fathom what has happened to the dress. The last time I remember wearing it was the beginning of February. I know I wore home from church that day. I don't believe I've traveled with it anywhere nor left at my mom and dad's.

If you have seen my black dress let me know. It floors me that I've lost this thing. Potentially it is just hiding in my closet somewhere.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Holiday decorations

As the seasons change, we have the opportunity to celebrate holidays. I enjoy celebrations as they are often excuses to spend time with those I love. I struggle though with this "decorating for the holidays" thing. It isn't the putting up of decorations or even taking them down that troubles me. Rather is what to do with the pointless dust catchers during the rest of the year.

Currently in my office I have star ornaments hanging from my ceiling, an Easter egg in a pail on my desk, and a nativity scene by my computer. I could put them in one of my desk drawers along with the Christmas stacking boxes and some packing tape but the drawer doesn't shut without a firm push. So I opt for the eclectic look in my office decorations.

When I took my Christmas decorations down in my apartment in February this year, I then shipped them back to Mom and Dad's house for storage. I don't want to waste what little storage space I have on a fake Christmas tree.

Thankfully with the upcoming spring holidays (Mother's Day, my birthday, etc...) we appreciate the handiwork of God as he revives the earth and avoid tarnishing it with flashing lights. I'm thinking about taking the minimalist approach when it comes to holiday decorating. While Christmas towels may make me appear more domestic, I think using a basic kitchen towel to dry my dishes really is.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

As if money could buy happiness

Last night at the gym, I was looking for a decent magazine to read while using the stair-stepper. Due to my aversion to the trash available in typical "female" magazines such as Cosmo or Glamour, I opted for Money magazine. Everyone is at least completely dressed.

Yet as I turned through the pages, I recognized that a lot of the material was just as evil as that which appears in the fashion magazines. Every article discussed ways to increase cash flow, maximize your portfolio, avoid paying extra taxes etc... Now individually each of these is not inherently evil. It is the focus on the gain which corrupts us. For money is not the root of all evil but the love there of. I find myself in my own inner war after reading this material. "Am I saving enough?" "Should I be pursuing a better job?"

Every time God quietly whispers in my heart "What more do you need? Aren't I enough? When have I failed you?" I'm instantly humbled at my selfishness and lack of trust. God has more than supplied my need. To much is given, much is required. I'm responsible for using whatever I have to his glory.

As Christians it is easy to caught up on the "more is better" mind set that is so prevalent in America. Pay raises are celebrated. Promotions lauded as one climbs the corporate ladder. Those the most admired in society come not from those of strong moral character but those who have the greatest material wealth. We take time away from the ones we love to provide "for their needs." While work is necessary and God warns us not to be slothful or lazy. We can take this charge to a great extreme. Last I checked most children would prefer mom or dad spent that extra hour reading them a story then buying them the computer program that could read it to them.

Success is related to the size of your portfolio. While I will always advocate financial responsibility, I don't want to fall in the trap of constantly looking for more. It is sometimes more difficult to be content when you have more than enough. We forget to be thankful that our needs are met and hence think that happiness will only come at the acquisition of more.

I challenge the idea that America's material wealth is a truly a blessing. Blessings are gifts of God that draw us closer to him and bring glory to his name. God's provision to meet our most basic needs is the blessing. I think all that is above that can easily become our greatest curse.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back in the office

2 weeks...I've decided that I need to make all business trips at least 2 weeks long. I just returned from Indianapolis with a huge stack of paper and an inbox crowded with e-mails. The trip was only 3 days long. I knew I was busy most days and I'm beginning to understand why...all I do is return e-mail and answer questions.

When I'm out of the office for a week or longer, most people find out the answers to their questions through another source. Only 3 days...Especially the last 3 days of the week, people are willing to wait until I return. I should tell people I'm coming back a day later than I am. It may give me a chance at catching up.

Friday, April 21, 2006

To help me see...

As long as I can remember, I've had poor vision. I got my first pair of glasses at four years old. They were horrible large plastic things that made me look anything but cute. I'd post a picture but looking at them may scar your impression of me. Ever since those awful childhood days, I've been very paranoid about choosing the right pair of glasses. It took me about 6 months to purchase the new pair I picked up yesterday. It took me a long time to wear glasses in public. But graduate school and lack of sleep, makes putting the contacts in a daunting task. Vanity quickly takes a back seat.

My prescription hasn't changed much in the past 20+years. I am slightly near-sighted and when my eyes cross I see two of everything. It's this double-vision that causes the most troubles. The two objects move a bit and it gives me a headache. It will drain me of my energy real quick. With a great deal of effort, I usually can force my eyes to refocus. The movement though of my right eye sometimes freaks people out, so I just tend to keep my glasses on/contacts in.

I have had many incidents with my glasses and contacts. When I was 7 or so, I was riding my bike and due to the bounciness of our gravel lane the glasses fell off my face. Imagine my surprise. Since I no longer could see very well and wasn't overally balanced on the bike in the first place, I promptly ran over them destroying my glasses.

When my baby sister was born, we stayed with my Aunt. In effort to help clean my large ugly plastic glasses, she accidentally broke the rim on the right side. My lens would then periodically fall out. This was rather embarrassing as a 6th grader to have the entire class here this light clamor as my lens would hit the floor. With a new baby in the house, it was over a month before my mom took me to get new glasses. I went with wire frames after that.

My baby sister also was the first one to poke my contact out of my eye. I had only had them for 2 days when she deftly reached up with that chubby arm and pushed it out. We were able to recover it from her carseat. After many other similar incidences I'm confident her pointer finger has a magnetic connection with my eyeball.

I'm ever thankfully that we have the technology to correct my poor vision. Otherwise...(sigh) never mind, it gives me nightmares just to think about it so I'm not going to.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Never know how much you own till you move

I'm not moving but my sister is. In order to be a helpful loving sister, I'm aiding her in this task next weekend. As I was home for the Easter holiday, I allowed my car to be filled with random items to take to her new apartment. I get to drive around with the stuff for the rest of the week till I head out there.

My sister has been living at home since last August. Before that she lived in a dorm, sorority house, and small apartment (which she did not supply any of the big furniture). Despite this, she has unbelievable amounts of stuff to move out. You'd think it just be a few things. No, my CRV is very full and it didn't put a dent in the pile of stuff. At times it blows my mind away at how much stuff we "need" to function.

I know when it comes time for me to move it will only be worse. I've had time to accumulate a large variety of things to fill my small 1 bedroom apartment. It almost frightens me. I'm going to strive to be a minimalist but if we look back to my packing issues, I doubt my chances for success.

I highly recommend moving every couple of years. It forces you to get rid of things you don't really need or for that matter even use.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Parasailing and coconut trees

I've never been parasailing. Given my irrational fear of heights this probably shouldn't surprise me. It is not beyond all imagination that I would enjoy it, but I haven't had the opportunity yet. In a recent work discussion about risk and thrill seeking, my co-worker Molly admitted that parasailing was not the experience she thought it would be.

Being slightly directionally challenged, she would frequently lean the wrong direction, pull the wrong cord etc...during her parasailing experience. Usually there was enough space and time that she could correct herself. Usually...

One fateful wrong pull of the cord, sent her spiraling downward right into a coconut tree. Fortunately the parasail caught in the branches to prevent her from crashing to the ground. She had to "hang out" in the tree for a little while, till they could come cut her down.

She walked away with a few scratches and a thoroughly bruised ego. Parasailing sounds fun but the thought of being suspended in a coconut tree diminishes it's appeal.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sandals...not a good idea even if it is April

I love wearing sandals. My toes find them incredibly freeing. They also look very nice with a skirt. As a tall primarily skirt wearer, I find that sandals provide the flexibility necessary to appear fashionably competent.

I typically wear sandals majority of the time from April-October. It is always a sad day when I pack them up for the winter. I should also comment that I get cold very easily. My finger nails and toes frequently turn a disturbing shade of blue when I get cold.

As it is now the beginning of April I felt that it was time to break out the sandals. This weekend wasn't so bad but I was indoors most of the time. My apartment was warm last night so I figured despite the cloudy day I could wear my sandals again. HUGE mistake. It is rainy, cloudy and blowing. My feet are wet and freezing. This feeling has spread throughout my body due to the draftiness of my skirt. Sometimes I begin to shake just enough to make typing difficult.

Oh well, I'll know better tomorrow. I just hope the space heater in my office doesn't blow the circuit breaker again.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Conserving energy

As energy costs continue to rise, businesses are looking for ways to reduce the use of these resources. Hotels with in-room temperature controls face a great inefficiency with the use of energy. Patrons often check into their room, turn on the system and leave for hours at a time. This allows the room to be set at a comfortable temperature while no one is there to enjoy it.

I'm currently in Chicago at the Sheraton. To conserve energy they have attached the activation of heating/cooling system to the deadbolt on the door. This requires that we are in the room before the system can be activated.

I actually appreciate the ingenuity of the system. They have it well marked on both the deadbolt and the heating/cooling unit. A on/off system may make it uncomfortable for the hotel guest during they stay. Yet complete access the system creates a lot of waste.

The only problem with the system is when not all the parties are in the room at the same time. My sisters and mom joined me for part of this trip. My sister often would go out later in the evening with friends living downtown. We couldn't lock the deadbolt lest she not be able to enter when she returned. Yet sitting in the hot room proved to be very uncomfortable.

We were able to resolve these issues with the use of cell phones but it proves that even the most ingenious of systems have their flaws.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Feeding the VCR

Pregnancy comes with a host of physical side-effects (so I've heard). To maintain any level of sanity, expectant mothers need time to rest. Unfortantely if this is child number 2, 3 or 11 the other children in the house make this a daunting task. When Julie was pregnant with her second child, she would shut lock the door of her living room from the inside to rest on the couch while Adam played. With a locked baby-proof living room, she was confident she'd awake if disaster struck.

Julie is a rather sound sleeper and wanted to be assured her 3-year old boy would be entertained while she rested. She covered the entire east wall with paper and posterboard. Markers and crayons created the ideal graffiti experience for this creative 3-year old.

Adam also was a constant snacker. A sippy cup of water, bowl of cheerieos and small PBJ sandwiches sustained him during this time of rest.

Julie would pop a video in the VCR, lay down on the couch to "rest her eyes" for a few moments while Adam contentedly played. As aforementioned, Adam snacked quite a bit. The ever caring child he was concerned the the TV would get hungry. He quietly wandered over the VCR, stuck in a cheerio and ba-da-bing! it disappeared. Assuming the TV had swallowed it and was still hungry he continued to feed the TV his PJB sandwiches.

Julie awoke to Adam asking the TV if it was "full yet." The VCR is no longer hungry as none of us are once we die :).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Perms and highlights...are they different?

In my early twenties I decided I wanted to add some zip to my life, by this I mean changing my hair. I'm not an overly high-maintenance chick when it comes to my looks. I appreciate appearing well groomed and enjoy picking out clothes but I don't tend to spend a lot of time on this endeavor.

I decided that a few blonde highlights would be a lot of fun. As time progressed and I kept re-highlighting my hair, it becomes more and more blonde. If you look at my family picture in the HOME post below you'll see I'm definitely brunette.

I never intended for it to get as blonde as it did. It wasn't till this past October that I finally was sick of spending the money and time. My fabulous hairstylist Melissa was able to accurately match my natural color with a dye to return it to a presentable state.

The Bible says the "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30. Many dear friends (often more jokingly than serious) said that my highlights were not Godly as they promoted vanity and changed the way God made me. Yet this same standard did not apply to the perm. When questioned about this discrepancy few had a good answer.

Perms it seems are considered less "out there" than anything associated with dye. Even though the same to criteria for why the highlights were "bad" applied, many did not possess the same strong feelings towards a perm. Illustrating the dislike of the highlights probably had more to do with personal preference than sound argument.

I do not feel that either is really a problem. It probably goes under the category of not "unlawful but not necessarily expedient." Not horrible to do but probably my time and money could be used better elsewhere.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

just lost my post

Alright I just wrote this beautiful post on spring and the beauty of a spring storm. But my computer did something odd and I lost it. I'm feeling a sudden lost of inspiration so I'll just go with.

"Change comes a surely as the seasons and twice as quick."

Just as the spring storm cleanses the staleness of winter. I long for this change of seasons to renew my tired heart.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Promises Made-Promises Kept

Many years ago (about 8 actually) when I first was convicted by the call of Christ, I remember having many what seem like now silly objections. I made a promise to a dear friend of mine that I would resolve these issues and repent by the time we graduate high school. By the grace of God I kept that promise.

I've always strive to be a woman of my word. I want people to trust what I have to say without a legally binding document. I have not always succeeded in this but it is one my personal "life goals." (If you'd like to know more about my life goals you'll have to ask).

Part of any life goal is an accompanying behavioral action used to help ensure success. This requires I never make a promise that something will happen that I cannot fulfill myself. If I am not physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc... capable of completing a task, I will not say it will happen. If I say I'm going to do something, I will do it (barring unforeseen natural disasters).

Another behavior based action is to enact this life goal is to proactively contact any person to which I'm not going to be able to fulfill their request versus waiting for them to figure out I haven't done it yet. I try to do all of these either in-person or worst case over the phone. E-mail is not a good way to disappoint someone.

So my promise to you is...I'll do my best, via the grace of God, to be a woman of my word.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Home

"Home is where the people who love you live." I received a bit of ribbing that I still consider my parents house "home." It's not that I dislike South Bend or am not content here...but that doesn't make it home.

After the past 1.5 years, one would think maybe my perspective would change. I am able to drive around town and not get lost. I have numerous friends that I enjoy being with. I have a blessed church to worship with. I know where most things are in town. Yet it doesn't possess the feeling of absolute comfort of home. Purdue felt more like home in a few months that South Bend has yet to achieve.

I think it is because the people who I love the most and who love me, don't live here. It's not that I'm pathetically alone here. I have wonderful church brothers and sisters and some great friends. Yet they aren't my family.

My family who I talk to each member of at least once a week. People who I can call, say I'm bored and we'll have no trouble filling the time with conversation. It's ok to cry, be annoyed, or whatever. People I understand so well that I know what makes them happy, sad and so on.

I have attached a picture of my fabulous family. I can't praise God enough for them. We are all so different but we share a common love and devotion to each other that makes me understand why family is so important.



Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Offering options versus giving advice

As a rather opinionated individual, I find it difficult not to share my thoughts. It's not that I expect people to do what I say (even though I'm usually right -just kidding...sort of). It would just pain me to see someone do something because they didn't know any better and I did know better. Yet, it is socially taboo and generally not polite to spoon people advice. Typically as the advice giver you are only dealing with the facts of the situation. Most life experiences are compounded by a emotional and spiritual components that make the intellectually logical, illogical. The advice giver fails to account for these components and is incapable of fully comprehending them due their deeply personal ties to the other person.

Despite these social barriers, people may approach you seeking assistance. Sometimes all they want is someone to listen to them and be a shoulder to cry on. Other times they really do need information. Presenting this information as straight up advice has some inherent problems.

1. You may inadvertently pressure the individual into doing things that are against their best interest. People have weird feelings of guilt when the choose not to follow another individual's advice. They may have very good reasons for not adhering to the advice or maybe the don't. Either way it make an additional right/wrong dilemma that may be unnecessary.

2. As the advice giver, you are maintaining control of the situation. The old saying "Give a man a fish you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish you'll feed him for a lifetime." The same goes with advice. Helping individuals in crisis remember they are competent and capable of making decisions strengthens them for the times they have to make those tough choices on their own.

3. You may be wrong. By telling someone to do something that then doesn't work out so well, you can betray their trust and confidence. This can have extreme negative effects on your relationship hence forth.

Offering different options allows that decision to be made by the individual. It is even fine to share what option you would choose if ask. Yet the choice must always be left to the individual. They should not be forced in justifying their decision. "Why?" is probably one of the most damaging questions to a relationship. You may be really seeking "what" their reasons or motivations were. Using "what" versus "why" eliminates the overshadowing doubt you may have in their response. It encourages the exchange of information without passing unnecessary judgment.

So my advice is...just kidding.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Not sure about pets

After living alone for the past 1.5 years, I've been tediously praying/searching for a roommate. I've had several situations that I thought would work out and then God chose to shut those doors. Many friends/family have suggested I get a pet. Now if you don't know me well, this idea is not going to spark a great deal of enthusiasm.

For starters, I'm don't like the way fur feels or smells. I find it somewhat dirty. Some people are able to still maintain a clean home despite their indoor pets, I'm not sure I'm willing to take that risk.

Secondly, my apartment complex does not allow pets. This actually excited me when I moved in. I believe I said to the rental agent "I don't want pets and I really don't want to live around people who do." Yes this sounds harsh, but the thought of being kept awake at 3:30 every Monday and Thursday morning because the neighbor's dog is barking at the garbage collector really doesn't appeal to me.

I'm also not a pet-cuddle person. Give me a kid or person suitable for hugging and I'm all about it. I love to hug etc...well we'll go with most of the time. Every now and then I get protective of my bubble. Research has shown that the average American woman needs to be lovingly touched 8-12 times per day to promote good health. Yet pets just don't meet that need for me. I don't have a desire to pet them or scratch their head. My brother used to force my hand to pet our dog Bailey at home. I just cannot establish that emotional connection.

Finally, I'm not home enough to be a good pet owner. With my current class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I'm not home from 8 a.m. till 9:30 p.m. The other evenings I often have stuff going on plus work during the day. Also since most of my friends and family do not live in South Bend, I do a lot of travel. What would I do with a pet during my crazy weekends?

I currently do have one pet, he is a fish named Russ. He can go easily 5 days without being fed, he never demands extra attention, and he is a fabulous listener. While I appreciate everyone's suggestions, I'm not sure that a pet will make a suitable roommate for me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In what I know or who I know

One of the most over-used quotes in business is "it's not what you know but who you know." While this saying has a great deal of truth to it, never does it resonate more than in our spiritual life.

The Bible makes it clear that though we have all knowledge, wisdom, and understand unless we love we have nothing. Our works mean nothing unless we know Christ.

When I'm looking for direction in my life, I pray for God to show me which way to go. Often I have a reasonably concrete idea in my head of where that is. I then take confidence in that "I know God's will for my life." It saddens me how quickly have misconstrued the purpose of knowing God's will. God's will for my life is that I love him, that I recognize his Son Jesus as his Savior, and that I do my part to bring others to this wonderful knowledge.

Bible study is a good thing. Knowing how God has worked before and his directions are essential to understanding his spirit. Yet I pray we take confidence in that we know Christ...not in what we know.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Signs of Courtesy

"Service excellence" or "Superior Customer Service" businesses strive to cultivate customer loyalty by providing excellent service. Regardless of industry, it almost always more cost effective to retain a current customer than to attract a new customer. I believe this customer service focus isn't reflective of a more customer-friendly approach to business but rather a deterioration of basic politeness in our society.

It is no longer expected that people are nice to one another. A friend and I ate at Wendy's today. I noted a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with tips for excellent customer service. The list contained a list of behaviors that I thought all of our mothers taught us. The final concluded with "Just Be Nice." It saddened me to think that we've forgotten how to respect each other as people.

Unfortunately a lack of customer service may be a result of a more demanding public versus a failing of the employee. I have seen numerous checkers yelled at for a long wait or their food wasn't done properly. Many were screaming at a person other than the one at fault. Even if the employee did make a mistake, it rarely is justification for extreme fits of anger. I don't need to make others suffer to find relief for frustration.

In our egocentric society, we are continually looking out for "#1" When we begin to see others as living souls, it is naturally easier to show them compassion and concern. I'm not striving for a meaningless "How may I help you?" but rather that I acknowledge that person as a human being. As customers, it would probably drastically improve our customer service if we showed those who serve us a little compassion.

All of us are served by someone and all of us serve others. It is in the environment of mutual respect and compassion that we will all succeed. I recognize that I won't be able to change the mentality of the world but I'll try to do my part and not yell at the Wendy's order taker because my potato was cold.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good thing my office is a casual work environment

Feb 1, 2006. This has been the busiest day in the office for the entire year. Yet I still find a quick moment to share. As I'm sitting in my slightly controversial 10:00 am meeting I randomly have a spastic moment and proceed to spill tea down the front of my white sweater. So much for my effort to look mature and profession. Versus bursting into tears I wipe the dripping tea of my shirt and continue through the meeting with a very large spot on my chest.

Well the day is too crazy to justify a trip home, so I walk out to my gym bag pull out a clean t-shirt. The office is also unmercifully hot today, so I had to remove my boots. I'm sitting my office shoeless, panty hose, dressy skirt and a donate blood t-shirt. Of course Dennis, my Senior VP, decides today is good day to come over to my office just to see how things are going. Good thing we don't have a dress code here. Thankfully, I'm don't have in-person meetings the rest of the day so I can sit here to privately bemoan my stupidity.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Obedience is better than sacrifice

God has called all of us to a life of worship and service. Our purpose in this life is to "Fear God and keep his commandments." As humans we try to complicate this issue. In church we read from I Samuel 15. Saul was charged by God to wipe out EVERY living thing of the Amalekites. This include all people, animals and so on. Instead his army spared f the best of animals and Agag the king. When approached by Samuel, Saul defended his actions by saying the animals were for holy sacrifice.

Samuel tells Saul Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.

Human understanding would have considered it wasteful to pointlessly kill all the animals. They could have stimulated the economy and provided for the needs of his people. Sparing the king may be deemed an act of compassion and mercy.

Our human mind will identify an action that we deem as good and use it to excuse us from executing God's will. After the act is complete, we may openly recognize our rebellion. We apologize and are sorry. While God in hiinfinitete mercy often forgives us, it would have pleased him more had we obeyed in the first place. Sometimes these actions havlife-longet consequences.

I find myself justifying things that I know are wrong. Do I choose to forsake the assembling of believers so I can stay home and "have my quiet time with the Lord?" Do I avoid people who are in need because "I don't want to bnosyey" when I'm really just being selfish?

To the outside observer, I may appear completely innocent or justified. But God knows my heart. He doesn't want me to be sorry later buobedientnt today. I have found every time I've submitted my heart is filled with such a peace and blessing I feel foolish foevery timeme I don't. Yet the Lord loveth whom he chasten. I'm thankful he loves me. Without the Spirit's direction and his holy word I'd be completely lost.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Outward expressions of internal experiences

Poker face, I have an astounding poker face. You can tell the precise quality of my hand by my face. I've always desired the ability to conceal my emotions and not show my hand. Recognizing this was primarily a pride issue, I was increasingly convicted. I realized over the years I could conceal any emotion struggles from others and even deceive myself. Because emotion masking and internal retreat are almost instinctive responses I looked for undeniable, difficult to hide, outward manifestations of my turmoil.

I tend to compartmentalize my life. Currently I'm operating in a dichotomous environment. Emotional investments are typically equally invested in work and my personal life. I can experience great trauma in my personal life and maintain a reasonable about of sanity within my work. On the opposite end, work can be going horribly wrong and my personal life smooth sailing. Of course they bleed into one another on occasion but the separation is really tight.

I usually define the compartments relative to the geographic locations where they take place. Work life is in the office, on the airplane, at a conference center and personal life is basically everywhere else with the center of it being my apartment. You can tell my emotional state relative to these two compartments of my life by the cleanliness of the primary geographic space.

If you walk into my apartment to find dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, and my curling iron still plugged in the bathroom you can venture to guess I'm struggling personally. Whenever I resolve a personal issue I get a great urge to clean. It is if removing the cobwebs from my heart makes me notice them in the corners. Cleaning declares that I've been victorious.

If you walk into to my office and see piles of paper, partially use notebooks, and a warm open Diet Pepsi can you can assume that I'm overwhelmed or feeling a loss of direction relative to my work life.

It's not that any of these places become dirty gross with things involving mold etc...but they obviously need a touch up. So if you ever do walk into my office or apartment and see it in such a state...I don't probably need a reprimand or a sarcastic comment. I probably need a hug.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Learning to Pack Light

Any one who has traveled with me knows that packing light is not my strength. I've discovered that is not because I am unable to decide what to leave behind but my luggage has been too large. I have some very nice pieces of luggage that I've acquired over the years (how I've acquired them is for a later discussion). Many a guy has shaken his head and marked me a senseless girl as I struggle with these large bags on a car trip. More than one as given me the most evil stare as they cram the piece into a small Ford Escort of Dodge Neon.

As I pack my suitcase I equate empty space with me forgetting something. If I don't have to throw my entire body on top of the bag to shut it I have obviously forgotten something. Typically the large heavy bag comes back with 46% of the items unused. I fall into my chair after dragging the thing up the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment.

To rectify this problem I have relegated my luggage to the closet only to be used on long business trips where I'm flying out. All short weekend jaunts are limited to my black tote and Press Ganey duffel bag. It was such a joy this weekend to make one easy trip up the stairs with my bags. I was even able to keep talking on my cell phone and get the mail in this single trip. I used majority of things in the bag, lacking nothing.

Maybe there is hope for my back yet.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Audio Learner

Each of us take in information through our different senses. Some experiences are retained better in our long-term memory influenced by the sense that was used for the intake. Many people say I'm a "visual learner" meaning seeing pictures or examples helps them retain information better than other methods. I discovered in college I'm certainly an audio learner.

Being the nerd I am, I was prone to reasonably large amounts of study time. Yet I found that my greatest study strategy was simply to attend class. I was able to absorb most of the information necessary for the exam or project by simply listening to the instructions.

When cold evening after my night class, I was discussing with myself the principles covered in class. Now I was the only one listening minus the occasional passerby who caught a tidbit of my conversation. It was during this intense personal discussion did I discover I was an audio learner. I said to myself "No wonder I talk to myself so much, I'm an audio learner."

My friends argue that I'm still responding to the little voices in my head but since I'm still only hearing my voice I'm fairly confident that isn't it. My internal conversations are not usually as stimulating as those with other individuals as the element of surprise is eliminated.

Phone conversations are very satisfying to me because of this inclination towards audio learning. The 900 hours of call time since May 2004 with my current cell phone supports this assertion. While I always prefer someone in the room, I compensate for my current status with the cell phone.

Talking to myself also provides some level of comfort. I just never want it to get in the way of personal relationships. Brett said he saw me on campus a while back but..."I was going to say hi but I didn't want to interrupt your conversation."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Busy-Making ourselves feel important

"How's work?"
"Busy"

This common exchange of pleasant statements has sparked my interest recently. When I ask anyone about their school or job, I expect at some point in the conversation for them to reply how busy it is. If they fail to make this statement, someone usually comments "enjoy it while it lasts" implying that it will be busy in the future. If a person is never "busy", they are often considered lazy or useless. Ok...so that may be a little harsh but we feel something is wrong with them if they are getting enough sleep and enjoying time with those their lives. In reality, it may be the rest of us who have got it wrong.

I've heard the acronym BUSY-Buried Under Satan's Yoke. The idea that the mundane and pointless things of life consume our most limited and valuable asset, our time. Modern technology such as the microwave, automobiles, computers etc.... all could be utilized to minimize the amount of time it took to do certain tasks. Instead of reinvesting this time into our spiritual growth and edification, we have increased the number of pointless things we require of ourselves. As this is a societal mindset, the individual who tries to challenge does not receive much for social support. Schools, jobs, and so on are designed to train us to maximize our time for economic development. As if this economic growth is good in and of itself. If we are not contributing our full amount to the greater good, we are considered a leech on society. It is essential we convey our "busy-ness" to everyone so that we are viewed as an equal. If we are not busy, we fear we are missing something.

Now those who choose to not maximize their economic potential in exchange for a less busy life face daily pressures to conform to the mindest. No one says on their death bed "I wish I had completed that report" or "I spent too much time with our kids." Unfortunately our "business" interferes with the things we love the most. If we would slow down and think about it, maybe we wouldn't have to wait till were in the nursing home to relax.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Joys of aging

As I've commented before, Americans traditionally despise aging. It is considered something to avoid. "Young at Heart" and other such expressions only perpetuate the idea that getting old is a bad thing. The elderly are generally devalued by our society. Placed in facilities to await death, they are often the most neglected group of our entire society.

True with old age comes physical deterioration and bouts with senileity. Due to their declining health status, the average American is more forgiving of socially inappropriate actions committed by the elderly. Older Americans are allowed to say whatever they think, act like children, and return to a simpler life without social criticism. I'm not saying that the elderly have it easy...but I'd like to point out that era of life has some finer aspects.

My grandfather has been rather out spoken his entire life. Now that he is 84, he feels it is right to comment on every person he says. Now that is he almost deaf...he makes these comments quite loudly. Our poor musical director was subjected to comments about her size during the entire junior high Christmas program a few years back. Despite my parents and sibling vigilant efforts to quiet him, he continued to make comments. Never did another member of the audience ask him to shush nor did the musical director. All this is taken in stride to "humor the old geezer." Grandfather is also well known in our small time for securing his pallbearers. Ever the planner, he has had his pallbearers lined up for the past 6 years. He frequently forgets who he is already asked, so I'm counting on at least 15 when the day finally arrives.

Grandpa and Grandma now get to ride around the mall in their scooters. Never mind that they have run over the toes of at least 25 strangers and the walls in their house have mysterious holes in the shape of the handle bars. They are free to drive around these new toys wherever they can make them fit. As a 10 year old these would have been as cool as a dirt bike. The scooters of course are compliments of the Federal Government for reaching the age of 70+. Grandma and Grandpa are also enjoying themselves immensely with their lift-chair races.
Ready
Set
Go!
Let's see who can get dumped out first.

Finally, being the patriarch and matriarch of the family allows them to dictate the day, time, meal, and schedule of events of family activities. We know that Thanksgiving is held on Thanksgiving Day, at lunch time, a traditional meal of turkey, corn casserole, dressing w/o sage, pistachio jello salad, rolls, and home made pumpkin pie w/Cool Whip will be served. Grandma calls to remind us of this usually at the end of October. Not that we mind doing the work as they aren't really capable. But it would be nice to try a ham for once.

Overall aging holds some promise. I just home my family loves me enough to put up with my shenanigans when I reach that age.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wishing for sunshine

The weather has been slightly confused in South Bend. The clouds and jet stream think it is late March. It is right around 40 degree and a deep dark grey. We've had approximately 7 hours of sun in the past 3 weeks. I wish I was exaggerating but it's the truth. I'm not a huge fan of really hot weather but I do love sunshine. I'll take the heat (with my central air of course) for a little sun.

Now I'm quite thankful for this little temperature mix-up. I'd be very content to for go some for warmer weather. It was my own foolishness that led me to have temporary amnesia regarding lake effect snow when I took my job in South Bend. It was April/May when I was interviewing for the position and in June I moved up here. Hence beautiful weather. The cold snow we received through most of November and December was not something I bargained for.

This warm spell has provided a bit of relief. I'm contemplating a quick visit to the tanning bad but then again do I really want to hasten the aging of my skin? Temporary warmth and happiness at the risk of skin cancer...I probably can't make myself do it.

I just need to find a hot vacation spot.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My New Year's Resolution-Not to make New Year's Resolutions

Evil, deceptive, pointless, and inconvenient all excellent descriptives of New Year's Resolutions. Now I know for some people New Year's resoluitons are very meaningful, important, and provide motivation to change something that probably needed changed a long time ago. I'm not opposed to personal growth and development, as long as it doesn't cause me great inconvenience.

Every January the Y where I work out member activity almost triples. All those poor souls determined that this year will be the year they lose weight come to crowd my gym. They flock to the gym for the first 2 weeks in January determined to make a change. This makes it very difficult for those of us who are regulars to maintain a normal routine. While a few make it and join our regular ranks, there are two distinct types of New Year's resolutioners who quickly fall off the wagon.

The first type is the "Going to the gym qualifies as working out" types. This group feels that simply showing up at the gym has to burn at least 300 calories. The may swim a lap around the pool then relax in the corner or they will walk on the treadmill at a pace that would even disgust a turtle. They take the elevator to the second floor to use the cardio room. Whatever the chosen activity, more calories are burned on their walk to and from the closest space in the parking lot than during their entire stay. After a few weeks, this group has not only failed to lose weight they have gained 3 pounds from their "reward" at McDonald's on the way home. The whole "exercising thing didn't work" and they quit coming.

The second type is the "I haven't done this in years so I need to catch up." Members of this team work out hard. So hard they borderline kills themselves. Instead of setting a reasonable pace for a 40 minute work out, they sprint for 10 minutes on the treadmill until their entire shirt appears as if they strategically stood under a active sprinkler system. Their breathing is so heavy people's eyebrows begin to raise and the YMCA staff are just praying the kneel over on their drive home versus somewhere on their property. This group hurts for a week and figures they have done enough to count for the entire year and hence returns to their normal activity.

I need to be patient and encouraging to all those who are striving to improve their health. The basic principles of healthy living haven't changed since the beginning of man. Eat right and move. I'm not saying this will turn you into a size 0 super model...but you'll feel better all around. I don't get too annoyed at these New Year's resolutioners. Since you have to sign up for a year membership at the Y, I just figure they subsidize my dues for the rest of the year.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Shopping Cart Growth

As I've matured through the years and watched the average American's waistline continue to grow, I have noted a direct relationship with waistline growth and our shopping cart size growth. During this same time period Americans have witnessed a decline in overall savings. While we may make McDonald's the villain in this story, I believe grocery stores are to blame.

As a single girl living alone, I do not need a lot of groceries. I traditionally look for a basket to do my shopping to avoid over filling my cart with things I don't need. Many American families head off the store and only stop filling their cart with purchases once the cart is full. Not everyone stops causing many items to come crashing down on the dirty linoleum, hence Heinz move the plastic bottles for their ketchup.

A few nights ago I headed to Kroger's, they basket holder was noticeably empty but there were an abundance of large carts. As a child, myself or my siblings were often placed in the grocery cart to do the weekly shopping. There was barely room for two children if you wanted to put any groceries in the cart. Now a days you could bring your 3 kids, dog, cat, and hamster and have plenty of room for the groceries. The idea is that you only bring 1.2 children and fill the rest with unhealthy high-mark up products. Later you come back to buy the more expensive "diet" products to try and repair the damage.

As I paraded through the store I had to discipline myself to only grab the items I had written out on my list. I only wanted about a basket's worth of groceries. I would not let my practically empty cart fool me that I was lacking anything. If we really want to promote better health in Americans, we need to reduce the shopping cart size. If people want to purchase as many goods, it will at least require an extra trip around the store.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My mom-Case example of adult attention deficit disorder

Disclaimer: Nothing said within the following post is meant to slander or erode the perception of character of the subject. The following is for humorous purposes only. Information should be considered partially ficticious and the ramblings of a loving daughter. The following in no way implies a lack of respect, love, or trust between the author and her mother. All claims/beliefs are held soley by the author and are not endorsed by Blogger, family, or Al Gore.


My mother is one of the hardest working people I know. She certainly has two full-time jobs. First is being the mother of our family. The second, one she is actually paid for, is a nurse supervisor in an outpatient surgery unit at our local hospital. She claims that she is only part-time but since I'm confident most weeks she is cutting into overtime...I don't think she really can do that.

Unfortunately my mother has not learned the art of efficiency. She is a self and family diagnosed victim of adult attention deficit disorder. No task is ever complete until 3 more have begun.

New Year's Eve day I sleepily awakened at 10:00 to the sound of clunking on the stairs in our house. It was my mother taking the vacuum cleaner up the stairs to vacuum the living room. Now the vacuum cleaner did make it up the stairs but I'm confident it sat there for the next 7 hours until 5:00 when mom finally decided to vacuum it.

As I entered the bathroom still blurry eyed, I was quickly awakened by the feeling of cold linoleum on my bare feet. The rugs had been removed from the bathroom, placed in the hallway, presumably to wash the bathroom floor, yet the floor was not washed until after lunch. It would only make sense to remove the rugs post filling the bucket with soap and water.

Upon arriving in mom and dad's bedroom I found a dust rag on the bed accompanied by some Christmas knick-nacks. Apparently part-way through dusting the furniture she was distracted. I went to the kitchen for breakfast. Mother was scurrying away making pies and yeast rolls. The pies were for the evening events but the yeast rolls were only her vain effort to bribe me into coming home more. Actually, it may be a very successful effort as they were rather tasty.

The sweet rolls turning out as well as they did is a sheer miracle. At two different points during their mixing Mom couldn't stay focused long enough to add the entire amount of an ingredient. She would answer the phone, sweep the floor, holler at my sister, or some other task that could wait until later.

While scalding milk, she decided that the fax machine needed fixed and to order pictures from Snapfish. Subsequently burning the milk, I'm not sure that pan will ever be quite right again.

Somehow all the tasks were accomplished, the house is in one piece and mom was about to sleep a little bit. I think she'd have more time to rest if she only tried to do one thing at a time.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

French Horn-Junior High Nerd's Defense Strategy

Mugging, armed robbery, battery, theft etc... are all things I hope never to be a victim of. Too many people in society feel that because they are big, strong or an illegal weapon carrier, it is there right to take from those of us who are none of those things. Preying on children makes these acts even more evil. Kids though haven't developed the brains yet to be very afraid.

Many children, especially junior high boy's, will fight back. Maybe they are more manly than your average 30-year old male who will willingly put his hands in the air and hand over whatever they want. I'll give the 30-year old credit for the brains and realize that giving his life for the $50 in his wallet is not worth it. A 12-year old boy doesn't reason through this all the way and figures "it's mine, heck no."

My friend Mike was one of these scrawny nerdy boys in junior high. He played the French Horn in the band. (I'll note he has dramatically improved since this time.) It isn't as girly as the flute, but it sure does not carry the same masculine image as the trombone, drum, or tuba. Mike was very proud of his French Horn carrying it faithfully between home and school every day to practice. He even had a bright red protective cover over the hard case that carried the instrument.

Living in South Bend, he was a huge Notre Dame fan (thankfully he realized the error of his ways during High School and chose to attend Purdue for college). Wearing his over-sized Notre Dame jacket and proudly carrying his French Horn, he was the picture of what makes us want to suppress the memories of junior high.

One day a much larger, stronger man approached Mike and demanded his jacket. Mike wittingly replied "No." As the man reached his hand to forcefully remove the jacket, Mike swung his right arm back and creamed the man's left side with his trusty French Horn. Utilizing the momentum from the first swing, he then took a pass at the man's right side. The man quickly turned and left prior to Mike taking a swing at the lower middle.

Mike straightens his jacket and readjusts his back-pack. Mike and his trusty French Horn proceeded on to school. Makes that French Horn not look so feminine...doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lost my keys

Growing up in rural Gridley, keys are something we always considered optional. You certainly never needed to lock anything. Car keys remained in the ignition, no locks on your lockers, the windows were frequently left open to the highschoo. If someone stole from you say a jacket, they couldn't possibly wear it around town as it would be immediately identified as belonging to someone else. Any one desiring to committ grand theft auto would be immediately recognized as not the owner of the vehicle. Now any local person would likely assume you were just borrowing it.

Hence, I don't usually lock my car in our front driveway and the keys are often in it. Bailey our dog would run off any person who came onto our property, so I want make sure the keys are available in case my brother needs to move/borrow/wash my car.

When at my apt in South Bend, my apt keys and my car keys are on the same ring. So when I get home, I can't get very far without properly removing them from the ignition and proceeding up the 3 flights of stairs where subsequently unlock my door. I then place the keys on the hook in my living room.

It is because of this almost daily ritual I know place my keys in my pocket upon exiting/locking the vehicle. At home in rural Gridley, the socail norms and hence car locking patterns are severely disrupted. So I placed my keys in the pocket of my jacket Sunday night, but didn't wear the coat on Monday (as it was a fabulous 60 degree day) so I didn't have my keys when I went out to my car.

A little mental back tracking I was able to remember where the keys were. One of these days I'm going to be stuck here in Gridley due to the misplaced keys. Not that is an all bad thing but I'm not sure how work would feel about it.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Blest be the tie the binds

As I celebrate the first of the year, I look back upon what 2005 brought into my life. This year is marked by the making of new friends and deepening relationships with people I've known for a long time. The year began with a small celebration of my closest friends. In May, I went to Jamaica. I met people who have forever changed my life. These friends truly are the iron the sharpeneth iron as we grow in Christ together. My closest friends are those who challenge me to dig deeper to into knowing Jesus.

After moving to South Bend where friends in large quanity are not as readily available (especailly compared to Purdue), the quality of my relationships has grown even more important. I'm not confortable keeping relationship surface level. Only those based on Christ truly last...and those last forever.

2006 will bring new experiences with these friends. One of my good friends Carissa is headed off to Mexico on the 4th. In Gridley we sang good-bye to her and another sister who is moving to Chicago. What a church we have that wishes a member God's grace and richest blessings! I truly feel "when we assunder part, it gives us inward pain. But we shall soon be joined in heart and hope to meet again." Other of my friends are getting married (I have 10 weddings I need to attend in 2006), some will have children, and there will be many tears, laughs etc... 2005 was an amazing year and it's all because of how Christ has shown is glory in my life.

I'm so thankful to count those closest to me not only as friends but brothers and sisters in Christ. My prayer is that all my friends will someday soon join the family.

Love and blessings to you all in 2006.