Friday, May 30, 2008

Port-a-Potty Sucker

One of the reasons Mike and I love our apartment is the beautiful view from our bedroom. Then the other day we heard a big truck pulling up outside our window. We ran to the window, and saw the truck unloading this huge dumpster. What in the world would they want with a dumpster outside our window?, we thought. Then several hours later, another dumpster was dumped outside our window. Another few hours, and yes, a port-a-potty became our new neighbor.

So, though once we looked up a green ravine at scrub oaks and the mountains, now we see two fat dumpsters and an outhouse. I was feeling very bad for my pitiable circumstances, when I remembered this:

I suppose my living next to a little green dumpster isn't so bad after all.

Then a couple of days ago, I was lamenting my hard job. Why does it have to be so stressful? Why can't I just stay home and bake muffins? Then I heard this truck hauling a big tank chug up outside our apartment. A man in a yellow vest hopped out carrying what looked like a big vacuum hoze.

He proceeded to non-chalantly suck the contents out of the port-a-potty with his long hose, jump back in his truck, and drive away.

Hmm...Managing Editor of a team of international writers or Port-a-Potty sucker. It's official: I've got to be one of the biggest dingbats around to not be thanking God each day for the opportunites he's given me. Even those that seem like a burden to me (living in an apartment, working a stressful job) would be dreams to others.

Thanks port-a-potty sucker for giving me perspective.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why We Love Mikey

Well, it's official. Now that I'm back from Moab, I have to start writing my next book, which means I won't be carefree, fun Amber anymore, and all my blog posts will be plaigarized. So I'll start my plaigarizing with an email between two of my favorite people: a good friend telling Mike why she lioves him (platonically, of course). I've been meaning to write a post about Mike, but she did it for me. (Beware any email you send me...) Here are some of her top reasons she loves Mike, all of which I heartily agree with:

  • You buy things like the Wii Fit, and you actually use it

  • You hug me every time you see me, and it's not weird

  • You appreciate high quality foods, and you're not afraid to say when they don't meet your quality standards

  • You keep exploring new foods and finding new things you like, which is great because Amber likes so many things

  • You always have deep-rooted philosophically sound thoughts about issues (personal or political or otherwise)

  • You have very stimulating and interesting conversations

  • You dress well

  • You drive well

  • You decorate well

  • You take care of Amber and are a wonderful husband to her

  • You are loyal

  • You put me in my place when I need to be put in my place

  • You put up with my dog even though you don't like small dogs

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What Would a Trip to Moab Be Without a Few Broken Bones?

We just got back from our annual Memorial Day trip to Moab. This year, I convinced my family to be a little adventurous and come with us. They didn't know quite how adventurous it would be...and my mom broke her leg! We were poking around Fisher Towers, and she slipped on the trail.
We still managed to have some fun, and hopefully my mom will still love me. We toured Arches, went to Slickrock a couple of times (still my number two favorite place on the planet), went to an incredible beautiful dinner, and took the loop drive around the LaSals. You can check out some of our photos here:
I love Mike's photo of the Jeep going up this trail at Slickrock-he should win an award for it. Those Jeepers are crazy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Way Fit with Wii Fit

Mike and I decided we want to get way fit using Wii Fit which came out today. First, it weighs you on the balance board (which is a jumping, happy, friendly board) to determine your BMI.

Then it calculates your Wii Fit age. I was 30. Mike was 39. Hee hee. (But he tested himself again, and got down to 30.)

We did yoga and hula hoops and stepping and running. Everyone who peoples the Wii Fit world are the Miis you've created to play other games with. So while doing step aerobics, I'm doing it with Krista and Josh and Jon and Tara and Dad and Jesus and Oprah. (And, yes, my booty is actually a bit sore today.)

It allows you to set goals, so Mike and I have our 2 month goals set. Next time you see us, we'll both be 98 pounds. (Just kidding, mom.)
But now we're off to Moab (hooray!), to gain several pounds in ice cream and hiking muscles before we get back into the Wii.

Random Things

Look, I'm a famous photographer now! Or almost anyway. I took this picture for a post on Compassion's blog. Do you see the way I included perspective and made it a dynamic by including lines that direct your eye to one spot in the picture? Yeah, I'm a pretty hot photographer. Here's a link to the post:

I just had an interview on Moody Radio in Chicago, and guess who will be on the same show tomorrow. Kirk Cameron. I refrained from mentioning when the interviewer brought it up that I used to kiss his poster good night in 5th grade. 

Mike and I saw Prince Caspian last night. I was most happy with the soundtrack. A new Regina Spektor song on it:
And a new Switchfoot song on it:
(But I'm not loving their new long hair.)
And a very beautiful song by Oren Lavie that should become famous:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Brunch with the Ladies

I had the pleasure of being invited to the McMahan's for brunch on Sunday with some of my favorite friends from Group Publishing. We had cantaloupe soup and wild mushroom quiche and chocolate-covered strawberries and champage.

I had breakfast with Becca on Sunday, my college roommate and long lost soul mate. Her hair is now long and curly and beautiful.
On Saturday, Mike and I spent the day with the Swans having Sarah's ideal day and a very archetypal Ft. Collins day: eating cheese and fruit and chicken a la carte, rollerblading the Spring Creek Trail and stopping on our way at the Dairy Queen on College for frozen limeade, then having martinis at Elliot's in Old Town at night. Naturally food-centric as Travis and I were involved.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Here's a video you should watch. Even if you don't agree with her political insinuations, she brings up some good points.

And since this is a bit heavy for a Friday, here's a fun accompanying video for you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Of Donkeys and Anglicans and Elephants and Baptists

You have an interesting view as a fence-sitter.

As an emotional being, I've been too swayed in the past by emotional appeals and too quickly joined a cause or camp. Because of this, I've spent the last several years in quarantine. To restrain my bright-eyed and eager emotion, my intellect has instead taken the lead and kept me aloof--sitting on the fence and observing those around me. A fence-sitter is not a great thing to be; but you get to see some interesting things.

Working as I have for the past several years in two large Christian organizations, I've encountered Christians of all backgrounds, cultures, and traditions. I know fundamentalist Christians and environmentalist Christians; Catholic Christians and Baptist Christians; social activist Christians and Republican Christians; non-denominational Christians and Democrat Christians; Charismatic Christians and Anglican Christians.

Such an assorted bunch can lead to culture clashes, which are sometimes funny and many times just sad. I've sat at lunch tables where people decry the "right-wing fundamentalists" and affirm that these surely are not followers of Jesus Christ. I've sat in meetings where one would scoff at the "liberals," not realizing he was sitting among them.

I've heard it said that you can't be a Christian and a Democrat. I've heard it said that you can't be a Republican and a Christian. But I know both kinds. I've heard it said that Catholics aren't Christians. But I know Catholic Christians. I've heard it said that environmentalists and social activists aren't real Christians. But I know them too.

Perhaps this sounds elementary or even infantile, but your political, social, or worship beliefs do not dictate salvation. They do not even dictate if you are a very "good" Christian or not. "Good Christian" is a misnomer in the first place. Sometimes we can intellectually admit that there are Christian Democrats or Catholics, but with the inner caveat that they're probably not following Christ as faithfully as we are. But the idea of the "good Christian" belongs not to Christianity, but to the Pharisees.

I know I'm sometimes redundant on this topic, but this hurts me. I hate to see it. I hate to see us tear the unity of the body of Christ.

As far as I can see, most times we've picked up one particular banner because we believe in one particular cause so strongly based on our faith and Bible reading. We believe abortion is wrong because God created life and asks that we protect it, so we vote Republican. We believe that God loves each poor and oppressed person in the world and asks us to speak up for them, so we vote Democrat. Both are expressions of our faith in God's truth. And both are the actions of a Christian.

A sponsor called in to Compassion yesterday, concerned to hear that a Compassion-assisted project was being run through an Anglican church. She had heard Anglican churches had something fishy and Catholic-sounding, called "dioces." And was quite distraught to hear Compassion was entrusting the children to something as non-Christian as a "dioces." This particular example amuses me personally, as Mike and I now attend an Anglican church (and we still believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, mind you). I know people who have been hurt by the Catholic church, but I can't claim to know their pain. But I also know Catholic Christians who love God and serve him and believe his Son died to give them salvation. (I have a soft spot for Catholics, as this tradition has given us so many of the great Christian thinkers of our age, such as Peter Kreeft and J.R.R. Tolkien.)

I know Christians who celebrate Lent as an expression of their devotion to Christ. I know Christians who speak in tongues. I know Christians who cross themselves and kneel. I know Christians who worship to music that would fry my ear-drums in 5 minutes. And I know that they do what they do because of their reverence, their belief in an enormous God, their worship, and their love of God.

Remember Paul who shuffled back and forth between so many places and wrote letters back and forth from Turkey to Greece, trying to unify this motley crew into the body of Christ. Trying to help them learn from one another, help one another, and love one another even though the things which divided them seemed so large.

Our shuffling today isn't between the Macedonians and the Thessalonians. It's between the Anglicans and the Baptists, the Republicans and the Democrats, the fundamentalists and the activisits. We are each a part of the body of Christ, a glorious representation of one piece of Christ's plan for his Kingdom. We aren't all the same part. But we can listen, respect, love, help, accept, and learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Culutral Compassion

Here's something I wrote for the Compassion blog yesterday.

And I hope these cars make it in America:

When I lived in Amsterdam, they were everywhere, so we'd play "Smart Car" instead of "Slug Bug." Fun times.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

"On the surface, you're a little plain - but you have many subtle dimensions to your personality. Sometimes you're down to earth and crunchy. Other times, you're sweet and a little gooey."

Oh yeah. Many subtle dimensions. Crunchy. I like it.
What kind of cookie are you?

I found this site searching my name on google. You can find all kinds of stuff googling yourself. For example, searching my name, I found a police log of a report my father-in-law made to the Kauai police on October 19, 2005...I also found a woman who blogged about my book, but who was too afraid to read it because I'm "skeery." Mwahahaha!!!
News: Mike has a job interview on Friday with Compassion for Communication Specialist. He's already phone interviewed for this job, and he'll interview with 3 people. Please pray!
I got 3 book interview requests in my email inbox this morning. Note to self: Antisocial hermits should not write books. A big part of me wants to reply to these requests by running and hiding in a cave.

If Only I Could Find Some Good Hair Extensions

My friend Katy B brought me such joy today. She went to NYC this weekend, and what delight did she experience upon finding that Dave Letterman's guest the night she went to his show was Paris Hilton. The joy continues...Paris has a new line of hair extensions! And novelty dog clothes!

No more do you have to wait to find some good extensions. No more polyester dog clothes.

The denim doggy skirt with heart patches to cover each doggy bum cheek is really my favorite. But I don't know, doggy lingerie would be pretty hard to pass up too.

Hallelujah, America. You've come a long way, baby.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Can Really Taste the Goat

Quote of the day goes to: "I can really taste the goat." (From Iron Chef, of course.) I'm going to say this as often as possible in the next week. But I'm sorry, goat tartar is just wrong.

You Could Be a Part-Time Model
Since I started the week with FOTF, I'll end it with this fabulous video. It goes out to my home girl, Katy B, the most beautiful girl I have ever seen with a kebab. Sorry I'm not smart enough to include it as a video. Watch it Friday morning to start your weekend right.

Super Chic
I'm taking off work tomorrow to visit my publisher, sign my next book contract, and talk marketing. Doesn't that sound chic? "Daahling, I told you, I can only sign my contract in azure ink. Get me a new pen immediately. Tales of your incompetence don't interest me. That's all." (Sorry, that only makes sense in my brain, but it's really funny if you're in there.)

Actually, it'll just be me eating a grilled cheese under a talking animitronic moose butt (I'm serious) with some friends. Less chic but way more fun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Debbie Chavez and Me

I did another radio interview today for Party Divas. And it was an internet show, so you can listen to it. You don't know how much it pains me to share this--it's so embarrassing to listen to myself. Hopefully my mom will be the only one who listens and she'll love me even if I sound dumb (which I do).

Under Recent Shows, click on the first hour of the May 7th show. I come on after about 10 minutes and talk for about 20 minutes. Erk. Don't listen, OK?

On the topic of embarrassing interviews, I've groaned to many of you how the bio for Hope Lives was changed (without my knowledge) to say I've "travelled extensively in the developing world." Double Erk. I've only gone to Kenya in the developing world. (See picture of me traveling extensively in the developing streets of New York above.) Well, I was doing my biggest radio interview yet on Friday with Moody Radio Prime Time America, and they kept asking me about said alleged extensive travel. I shared a story from Kenya, and they said, "so tell us a story from another country..."

The embarassment continues...I just got an interview request for a feature story in a travel magazine--about Christians who travel extensively. Aaaggghhh!!!!! What am I to do? Tell them they can only interview me about Kenya? Tell stories about the poor and needy whom I fed in London and Amsterdam and Rome? I'm so over this interview thing. But today's was fun.

The Hidden Lands

The book that Mike edited in the fall for NavPress is coming out soon. It's called Book of Names. Mike will soon be busy editing the second book in this series.

Here's the web site for the books:

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Genetic Perversion of Me

At least, that's what Mike called Tara today. But that's not the real title for today's post, I just thought it was funny. The real title is:

Hugs From Tara
My sister is a funny person to hug. She's not that into physical affection. And so, being the youngest, annoyingest sibling, much of my life, I have enjoyed trying to hug her, hold her hand, put my hand on her thigh, while she, squirming but smiling, would hiss through gritted teeth, "Stop it!"

You can see it in that picture. Do you see the fist? Her very beautiful face is yet tensed, and I know what she's thinking, "I'll smile for the camera, but please get off of me...Now."

Let the record state that Tara is a much nicer, kinder, gentler, more sympathetic, more generous person than me. She teaches 8-year-olds and kisses puppies and frolics through fields of daises. But she still isn't that into my PDAs. It's the funny hard edge to all her softness.

Here's what it's like: You go in for a hug, and two pincer-like hands will press into your back, quite violently, pressing her sharp collar bones into you, perfunctorily, and then one nano second later, it's over. No surface area of your body will touch other than bony collar bones and sharp pincers. Don't try for more. The pincers will pinch. I once knew a guy who had his eyes put out while leaning in for a longer hug.

There's no point to this blog really; I just like talking about Tara, on of my top two favorite sisters. This could be part one in a long expose on my family's hugging habits, which Mike has actually written a thesis on.

Foux Da Fa Fa

Bonjour, mon petit bureau de chien. Voila le conversation a la park:

(I had a case of the Mondays, so I needed this pick me up. This is the Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand's fourth most popular folk-rock punk duo, or something like that.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Why Does That Kid Look So Scared?

Here's a link to the post I wrote for Compassion's blog today.

Mike and I ran away to Sterling this weekend, so we're enjoying the much more spring-like atmosphere...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Bible Says Some Funny Things

I'm reading Acts right now, and there is a lot of stuff packed in here. I feel like things are whizzing past my head too fast to catch them and examine them. But here are just a few funny things I read in one chapter today. Not funny meaning funny; but funny meaning I don't get it.
  • All the apostles met in Jerusalem to decide if the new believers should be circumcised. They realized: No, grace and salvation are free, not earned by some external action. They wrote a letter with this good news to all the new believers. But before Paul and Timothy set out to deliver said letter, they stopped to circumcise Timothy to appease the Jews. Seems kind of funny. Can't you just picture them delivering the letter? Timothy: "Believers, I have good news for you. You don't need to be circumcised!" Believers: "Hooray!" Innocent Bystander: "Timothy, why are you walking like that?" Ahem.
  • When Paul and Silas were preaching, a demon-possessed slave girl followed them shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved." Sounds like pretty good PR. Was this demon kind of dumb? Shouldn't she have shouted, "These men are liars, come to steal your babies!" Maybe the demon was using reverse psychology...
  • Paul and Silas were imprisoned, but an earthquake caused all their chains to fall off and the doors to open. The jailer became a believer because of this and then washed their wounds in the middle of the night. This is just funny, meaning nice. The man who had probably beaten them wakes up at midnight and gently soothes their aching wounds with a soft washcloth.
  • Finding out that Paul is a Roman citizen, the city officials try to let him out of jail quietly and keep it all hush hush. But Paul doesn't shuffle out meekly like we might picture a humble Christian in the 1st century. Uh-huh. He's all like, "No you didn't!" (That should be read in urban-speak with a wagging finger.) And after his night's footrub from the jailer, he gets his own personal escort into the city. That man had style.