October 29, 2008

Bought the shirt. And the cd.

My ears are still ringing slightly. Allen and I just got back from going to Atlanta to see Great Big Sea live. It was approximately 6hrs round trip and worth every bit of it. If you ever get the chance they do a great live show. We popped in their new cd on the way home and realized that it isn't just a slick production job. These guys really are that good.

October 25, 2008

Finally a weekend at home

Allen and I have been pretty busy these past few weeks. In the past six weeks we've barely had a weekend free, and August wasn't exactly boring either. As much as it's fun running around seeing and doing I'm realizing again just how nice it is to be home. For one thing Allen and I got out our kitchen timer (thanks Flylady) and gave most of the apartment a good once over. It's still not done. We're probably going to hit it again before the day's over, but things have been rinsed, washed, thrown away, hung up, organized, and wiped. Not things that anyone has much time or energy for in the midst of running hither thither and yon. And there's supper in the fridge to boot -homemade vegetable soup and plenty of spaghetti and meatballs. Now that I have the rest of the afternoon in front of me I think I'm going to make pancakes for lunch. Yummy.

I love how peaceful a freshly straightened apartment feels.

October 20, 2008

Officially fall

Well when we got home last night the apartment was cool enough to warrant us turning on the heat, and we haven't run the AC all day today. I'm guessing that means it's officially fall in Birmingham, Alabama.

Captivating: Chap 2

I'm really having a hard time writing this review. I spent 4 years learning how to write what essentially amounted to book reports with all the fixings, and now I've got writer's block. Anyway, let's see if I can get this out.

I suppose the easiest way to start would be to say that in many ways I found this chapter refreshingly true. In a world that often stresses both the practical and the impossible (think size 2 jeans perusing the latest in 5 min recipes) it's good to hear that beauty is at the core of God's nature and therefore essential to the Christian life. And I agree when they say that beauty is at the core of every woman's essence. As I went through this chapter I could see how with regards to my relationship with Allen so many of my moods (playful and otherwise) are prompted by the question "How beautiful do you really think I am? Can my beauty really hold your attention? Are you really as drawn to me as you say." In that way I found their insights very helpful. It's always nice when someone comes along and make explicit what you've only vaguely grasped.

However, that brings me to my main problem with this chapter (and I suspect their writing style in general). I wish the Eldredges would bring more Biblical commentary to their arguments. I know that a lot of people find anecdotes encouraging and illuminating, but I for one feel that most of the quotes and anecdotes simply take up room that could have been better used in further exploration of Scripture. I think one reason this is such a problem for me though is that there are cases where I really don't agree with their anecdotal evidence. For instance, the cite Arwen riding to safety with Frodo as an instance of women wanting to participate in their man's adventure and even as evidence that women are necessary to their man's adventure. What nobody mentioned what that in the book Glorfindel, not Arwen, was the one riding to safety with Frodo. I suspect the change from book to movie was made more to appease the but-kicking feminist demographic than to acknowledge the sort of desire the Eldredges describe. I could go on about what Arwen did do and what I think that means especially when considered in light of Eowyn's character, but there's really no reason to make such a major digression. Needless to day I wish the Eldredges would spend less time with stories of dubious utility.

Overall, I liked this chapter. Despite its weak spots it's a good starting place for people curious about how beauty (feminine and otherwise) fits in a Christian's life.

October 19, 2008

the waves they shape the beach

Allen and I just got back from a long weekend at the beach with his folks. We had a lot of fun even though the youngest had to stay behind for fear of starting the week out behind at university. Aaron is a lot more of a beach bum than Allen, so he and I ended up going out on the beach building sand castles and goofing off in the waves. We ended up building our castle out on a sandbar (how cool is that?), and all these people kept stopping to ask us what we were doing. I remarked to Aaron that if we were 8 and 10 people wouldn't have to ask to know what we were doing. I suppose some people just don't expect to see two people in their mid-20's out in the middle of a sandbar mounding up a huge pile of sand and enjoying themselves hugely.

October 8, 2008

Captivating: some thoughts (Chap 1)

I have a bad habit of either only reading the first chapter in books of this kind or reading them so fast that I quickly lose their sense. So....I'm going to try and post notes on each chapter just as a sort of personal exercise. However, I would love to hear your feedback on the book and what I say about it.

I picked up Captivating (by John and Stasi Eldredge) just to see what it was about, and since then I've read the first chapter. Overall, I think their introduction to the subject is good. Women do desire beauty, a hero, and their part in the adventure. I admit that I'm not sure I see the point of heading downstream in the Tetons at dusk with your two small boys in tow. Just yourselves.... maybe. I still say that's something more like reckless. With small children in tow, just for the heck of it, that almost sounds like negligence. However, that's not the main point, and it's gotten enough chat for now.

I appreciated the point they made about women who serve. I think it's true that in the church you see a lot of tired women who feel guilty that they aren't giving more. On the other hand I think it is part of a woman's nature to serve. I think that by and large we really do enjoy planning events, cooking meals, and caring for children. We enjoy the relational aspects of service, and I think we enjoy the implication that we are needed. I think the problem comes when we feel that as women our worth comes from how many meals we've taken to the sick or how many noses we've wiped in the nursery. Just consider how that sort of assumption must hit the woman who is sick and is visited with meals because she can't cook for her family, or all the women raising young children or working long days who end up giving minutes of service to another woman's hours? It can be a bit devastating. So I appreciate her point, but I'm not sure it's the service that's the issue as much as the attitudes and assumptions surrounding it.

This brings up a related point. We all seem to have issues with the Prov 31 woman, and I don't think Stasi is any exception. No matter how much women have been beat over the head with that chapter we have to remember that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that we can't just dismiss the Proverbs paragon because various people have made her to smile superciliously at our messy kitchen. Stasi says of that passage:

We're all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, "The Proverbs 31 Woman," whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When does she have sex? Somehow she has sanctified all the shame most women live under, biblical proof that yet again we don't measure up. Is that supposed to be godly -the sense that you are a failure as a woman?

And yet I say that we must come to terms with our bad experiences with Scripture badly applied and seek to learn from this woman. I would even go so far as to say the Prov. 31 woman is the anti-gen to the tired, discouraged church worker. Consider where it says "She laughs at the days to come." If you're tired and discouraged your only laugh is hopeless because tomorrow stretches in front of you as weary and full of unfinished tasks as today. When you can truly laugh at tomorrow because it holds no dread that is a beautiful and courageous thing. Once I really started thinking about that verse I lost my fear of Prov 31 because I knew that if I ever managed to get there I'd be joyful and fearless. If I thought I was there and was discouraged and scared that meant I'd better try again, because I was missing something.

Throughout the rest of the chapter I mostly nodded my head. It is important for women to be able to feel and create beauty. Women do need a sheltering masculine heart to flourish as women (either as daughters or wives). We do (or did) have a crush on Aragorn -the man with a vision and the courage to see it through.

Verdict: looking forward to chapt 2

October 7, 2008

You might have lindy fever if...

you come home too tired to cook, clean, or otherwise be a productive member of society but still decide you're not too tired to go dancing for a few hours.

Guess who did that? Guess who is now totally wired from learning a new charleston routine? Guess who will likely be grumbling about stiff legs tomorrow? Me. So maybe it was a special workshop featuring solo charleston. So maybe I've been craving some more solo charleston moves. I still think I'm a little insane.

October 6, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

Well, I'm winding down a very good birthday. Here are a few snippets from my day:

Busy day at work means more tips for me.

Selecting birthday flowers from the freezer of a local flower shop.

Mint tea from the grocery store.

Coming home to find the birthday banner up and Allen in the kitchen baking me a spice cake.

Reading birthday wishes on my Facebook wall.

Opening my present to find a really cool shirt with a hamster on it proclaiming "Books Rule!"

Having a birthday jam at lindy hop class.

Lots of charleston.

Coming back for cake, cards, and lots of candles.

Hot Buttered Rum

It doesn't get much better than a mug of hot buttered rum topped with freshly whipped cream. Goes equally well with board games played by firelight or apple cobbler and a good book.

Recipe (adapted from one by Emeril Lagasse.)

Recipe (serves 6):
1/2 stick salted butter
1 c succanat (dehydrated cane juice)
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
boiling/hot water
dark rum
freshly whipped cream*

Cream together butter and spices. Scoop 2 tbs of the batter into a mug and add approx 6 oz boiling water. Stir until dissolved and add 1 1/2 tbs dark rum. Top with freshly whipped cream. Leftover batter can be stored in the fridge for later.

*I whipped a pint of heavy cream with approx 1/4 c zylitol and 1/2 tb vanilla extract.

October 4, 2008

Heads up for Christmas

Our church just put out a new Christmas album that is currently available for pre-ordering. If you've never heard Red Mountain Music I really do encourage you to check them out. Not only are the arrangements lovely and listenable, but they include a few tracks not normally seen on Christmas albums. "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" isn't song you see very often in Christmas albums, but once you've heard it you can't hardly imagine Advent without it.

On a more personal and less "no seriously you should get this" level I'm excited because now I've got a Christmas album that really expresses the Christmas our church lives out together. It's classic Christmas with a twist, and that twist is the rhythm of Red Mountain expressway bringing you to worship, the smokey tang of bar-b-que as you turn the corner off University, the rattle of train tracks just to the North. It's timeless, and it's local. Just like God's church everywhere.

Stuff happens

You that part of marriage where they other person hears the words that came out of your mouth and totally mis-translates or mis-files them? We've been doing that today. I'm saying "no seriously I want x to happen." Somehow that seems to translate into "we're both tired; it's been a long week; we'll get around to it." By late afternoon we're both tired and frustrated because x just isn't going down in a way congenial to us both. Then, just when we start getting x together, George (one of our parakeets) hops into the dish water. Allen keeps the little guy from drowning, but then we have to rinse him off. He (George) is getting ticked off and nippy, and I'm snuggling him in a towel to try and keep him warm. Despite all this our apartment looks waaaay better than it did earlier today, and I even got a nap. Allen was right. We have had a long week. This wouldn't be such a huge deal except that I really want us to carve out Sabbath time on Sundays where we can just not worry about dishes, the bathroom, laundry, etc. This is doubly important because Monday evenings we have host my in-law's community group and anything not done during the weekend has to be done either before or after I get home from work. Allen helps, but he also has a full time job to do. I don't, and it's my responsibility anyway no matter how much Allen doesn't mind helping. And! Monday is my birthday. Somehow I didn't relish the idea of running around cleaning toilets on my birthday.

October 2, 2008


So apparently our lindy hop instructors want me to help out with class some weeks. Going along with that Jered (one of our instructors) asked me to come do a lindy hop demo with him at a local university. Two words:



Yeah, we do some pretty upbeat dancing at class considering that pretty much all of us are beginner to intermediate, but for this one he really cranked it. About halfway through the dance I was starting to drag. I really wanted to just sit down and say "nuh uh, no more," but I made myself keep going despite my burning throat and lungs. From what I heard we seemed to have done a pretty decent job. At least I didn't disgrace myself first time in the spotlight so to speak. It didn't help that I'd just been to the chiropractor hours before and gotten some myofacial work done on my abdomen. Guess what muscles a good Charleston uses? Guess how much Charleston Jered wanted to do? Yeah, sore abs. Still, Allen and I really had a good time dancing and seeing people we hadn't seen in forever. I just hope I'll feel like walking tomorrow.

October 1, 2008

The wasted life

The wasted life is the life without a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.
~John Piper

dancing and hiking

I realize it's been a while since I last posted here. That's sort of how it goes I think -some weeks are three a day feasts, and others are barren as the Kalahari. A lot has been going on lately. Allen and I went to Southern Belle Swing Bash in Atlanta. Then, two days later, we drove up to Amicalola Falls near Dahlonega, Ga in the north Georgia mountains. Both times the gas situation got a little bit sticky, and there were a couple times we weren't sure we were going to make it back the interstate/an open gas station before we ran out. Fortunately the shortage in Birmingham area is much less pronounced. Both excursions were thoroughly enjoyable. I learned a lot and got to dance a lot in Atlanta. Allen and I are still sort of feeling our way into the camping rhythm, but we had a lot of fun doing that as well. I grew up mostly traveling with an RV. Allen grew up mostly not traveling and very rarely camping at all. Going from that to tent camping together has occasionally been a little rocky as we bump up against our assumptions, expectations, and ignorance. The weather was about perfect though for early fall camping. I'd get a little chilly at night while we eating supper, but that sleeping bag kept us toasty. Even we were ahead of the spectacular fall color that drives people up into the mountains, I really enjoyed seeing the first blush of fall on the mountains. There was a feeling of being on the very cusp of the seasons. Very enjoyable.