Monday, September 29, 2008
And my view. Let me tell you about the view. If you stand still enough at my desk, you can actually hear the angels singing. "Aaaaaahhhhhhhh." It's incredible. Two of my cubicle walls are windows, facing west and southwest, toward Pike's Peak. It's divine. Today, I actually watched four little horsies munching on grass on the wildflower-dotted hillside below the mountains. I'm pretty sure tomorrow I'll see Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood playing Ring Around the Rosie under a rainbow. It's that good. Here's a very bad picture of my view, which will hopefully help you see it slightly:Gina, my neighbor, and I heard many times today: "What did you do to get this spot?" and "Don't you feel guilty?" I feel a little guilty. But I'm pretty sure I'll get right over it.
I'm so happy in my little cubicle of heaven. I abhor working indoors in an office. I think perhaps I should have been a manual laborer working under the sun, except that I'm extraordinarily wimpy. But being indoors makes me very sad. Being indoors surrounding by oatmeal and gray cubicle walls makes me even sadder. But my new cubicle is making me happy as a schoolgirl on the first day of school, wearing her new black patent leather shoes.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
From highway 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek, we took off on a side dirt road that was much quieter than the highway and got us right down in the aspens. They were fluorescent with color.
Being that it was a Bray family outing, we stopped for several photo shoots along the road.
Here's my lovely parents.
Today reminded of me how much I love Colorado. I love that I live somewhere that I can drive 45 minutes, or just 10 minutes, and be someplace that reminds you of how alive you are and what a breathing, dynamic planet we live on. It is extraordinary. It also reminded me of how much I love my parents. Thank you for the wonderful day, Mom and Dad!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I just watched Survivor Gabon, so I thought it would be appropriate to post a Friday Video from Brian Fellow Safari Planet. That's one fuzzy bug.
Friday is packing day at work. We're moving to a new floor, and Oh My Goodness Gracious, you won't believe my cubicle. It's phenomenal. I'm going to handcuff myself to it. Pictures to come.
There are some people here at work this week from the Canada board of directors, and they are all reading my book together. So they had me come downstairs to meet them and sign their books, and one even wanted her picture with me. One man, who has been on the board for 25 years, said he and his wife are reading the book for the third time together. Weird, huh? Just a reminder of God's grace to use anyone. I mean, honestly, what in the world could I have to say that could benefit them? God is gracious.
But had I known that was going to happen, I would have showered today.
These last several weeks, I've felt challenged to pray with faith for Mike's job situation. I'm going to pray that he'll get a job in October. Will you join me? He's applied for about 2,074 jobs in the past several weeks, so there's plenty to work with.
A friend asked if God had "given" me this date of October, like a word dropped into my head. No. But I have felt the challenge to have faith and pray in faith. I'm a skeptic in my core, which is why I am an editor and not a marketing copywriter. My strength is questioning, not believing.
But several Scripture passages have come to mind lately: Luke 11 tells of an annoyingly persistent neighbor who came a' banging on the door at midnight for bread, who got what he wanted because of his boldness in asking. Jesus concludes, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Luke 18 tells of a widow who refuses to take no for an answer from a judge, and keeps pestering him until he gives her justice. "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?" Now this is talking about justice, not a job, but the purpose of the parable is "to show them that they should always pray and not give up."
The term used for "give up" could also be translated "turn coward," "lose heart," or "faint." I have certainly been turning the coward, far too afraid and faint of heart anymore to believe God for any good thing. But I'd rather be the persistent widow than the coward. So this is me trying.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Yesterday on our rattlesnake-church adventure, Mike used one of the scenes from the movie to explore the character of God, perhaps the first time any Weird Al clip has been used in a spiritual illustration, but hopefully not the last. Watch this, and especially pay attention to the ants.
God may not be exactly like Raul, though he seems like a fun guy. But how much are we like little ants, putting all our energy into creating these intricate little tunnels: our tidy lawns and career goals and expectations and security nets. And along come circumstances, that in effect shake our lives up and destroy all we've worked so hard to build around ourselves.
That seems a bit sadistic to suggest that God would take our tidy little ant-tunnel lives and purposefully jumble it into a muddle of sand and disoriented ants. But in my own life it seems that God doesn't want me most to be comfortable, but to be holy. Not to be just happy, but to be joyful. Not to be satisfied, but to be devoted. Not to be placated, but to be thirsty for Him.
For this world and its tunnels are just so much sand to be blown swiftly away. It is temporary, while other things are eternal.
I don't say this lightly, self-righteously pandering about spiritual statements like so much air. I say it knowing more well than I wish what it means: I may never own a little garden that grows tomatoes. I may never wear a frilly apron, baking cookies on a street of Small Town USA. I may never be settled. In short, I may never get what I want.
But what God assures me I can have if I seek it instead is Him and His hope.
I'm reading the biography of Amy Carmichael, a woman whose devotion in difficulty I admire, but cannot necessarily relate to. I long one day to say in truth along with her, "'And only heaven is better than to walk with Christ at midnight over moonless seas.' Praise him for the moonless seas--all the better the opportunity for proving Him to be indeed the El Shaddai, the God who is enough." I say it along with her now, as a child, still fearful and unsure.
I'm also reading the new book of a good friend, Amy Nappa. She urges me gently to forego the "guaranteed disappointment" of misplaced hope in this world and instead:
"Learn, you and I, to bypass the easy hopes of temporary circumstances and instead embrace what I call the difficult hope of complete dependence on Christ alone for every emotional, spiritual, and physical need. To accept that Christ alone is the true hope of the heart for thirsty women...like me, and like you. To say to ourselves, as the Woman at the Well once did, "I know that the Messiah is coming into my situation, into my heartache, into my desperate need, into my family relationships, into my career problems, into my legal problems, into my financial circumstances, into every moment of my life. And when he comes, he will explain everything to me." ...If we can determine to place our trust in this difficult hope of intimate moments with Jesus, we can find eternal purpose in our temporary longings and heavenly peace in any earthly circumstance."
Sunday, September 21, 2008
We decided to give a particular church a chance, particularly for its small groups, although its service isn't exactly what we like. So I grudgingly trundled myself off to church this morning. Grudgingly because when I naively picture the church I will settle down in and raise children in, I picture this quaint Little House on the Prairie church where old farmers in plaid pat you on the back as you enter and women in denim jumpers offer me fried chicken and dumplings after church. This is not quite that church.
As we exited I-25, we didn't get very far on the off-ramp before we were in a traffic jam....a big jam of people all going to this one church. So we sat bumper to bumper for about 15 minutes on the I-25 off ramp. Then, being that Mike and I are brilliant, we saw a pull-off for a walking trail. We said, "hey, we'll just park here and walk the rest of the way." I wondered why more brilliant people hadn't thought of this.
So purse in hand and dress shoes on, I hopped down the path. Before long we noticed that between us and the church was a gulley, a barbed wire fence, a railroad track, another barbed wire fence, and fields of cacti and brambles. We walked a ways down the trail to find a place to cross (because I refused Mike's offer of belly crawling under the barbed wire fence in my white top). I stopped at the fence and reminded Mike of the "closed door" prayer, and wondered if this was a sign. He scoffed.
We jumped the fence, jumped the rails, jumped another fence, and headed up the hill to the church through poking and scratching brush. The hill turned out steeper and scratchier than planned. We finally trudged up to the church parking lot about 20 minutes later, sweating, puffing, with allergic hives breaking out all over Mike's legs, and with Mike sneezing madly.
We entered the church, now significantly late. And what did we see but a closed sanctuary door, and a sign saying "Service Is Full." We went down to the "cafe" area and it too was full. We went across to the overflow building. It too was full. There's nothing to convince you of a closed door like a closed door.
So we did what any sensible couple would do: Hiked the 20 minutes back to our car, bought a pumpkin spice donut at Dunkin Donuts, and walked at Ute Valley Park. Feeling the husbandly duty to "wash me with the Word," Mike asked what my favorite characteristic of God was. I responded that this week it is His surprises, mystery, and unexpectedness. He seems always to be throwing our plans and expectations off and surprising us with something we were never looking for. Mike's answer was the same.
We discussed how the two of us seem to sometimes choose silly, not recommended paths in life. How it makes life difficult. But how it's always an adventure. At this point on our walk, we had decided to taken a less travelled path that descended into a game trail and finally plopped us out onto a rock outcropping.
We scrambled up the rocks, trying to find a real path when Mike suddenly screamed like a girl. Like a really big girl with a deep voice. And simultaneously I heard the loud hiss of a rattlesnake's rattle. And simultaneously I saw Mike jump, arms flailing, several feet in the air. We ran like little screaming pansies in the other direction. I thought it was quite funny, being that I was behind Mike and not the one in imminent danger of death.
At this point I, still in my church dress shoes, started to get a painful blister on my foot. So Mike in the ultimate act of love, traded shoes with me. I put on his sensible hiking shoes he'd worn to church, and he donned my cute black flats. They made his legs look very nice and slender.
On our way back to the car, we reflected on how this day was very much like our lives. Unpredicatable, unconventional, difficult, but always a fun adventure. And we learned these things from it:
- Mike does not want to pursue a career as a snakehandler.
- I don't want to attend a church that involves traffic jams and hives.
- If at all possible, a girl should choose to marry a man with the same shoe size and pants size as her. (This has helped me out of numerous situations.)
- What a loving husband I have who would rather be seen in public wearing women's dress shoes than allow his baby to get a blister.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Watch this video.
Don't text and drive. I don't want to die. A new study shows that you are more impaired while texting than driving while high or drunk. One of my more terrifying experiences of late was driving with a girl who was texting. Now I know to just call a cab.
If I see you texting, I'm going to throw the moldy cucumber I just found in the bottom of my fridge at you.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Mike and I watch our Shakespeare volume lean further and further each day, waiting for the day it will come crashing spectacularly down on Giraffey. Our droopy Shakespeare led Mike and I into new depths in our marriage today. We finally made it to that time in the relationship when we admitted, English majors that we are, that we didn't really read many of his plays that we were supposed to and that we don't really like him all that much (though he is, of course, far better than most of the drivel that is written, including my own drivel.)
The real allure of Shakespeare for me is simply the mystery and romance that surrounds the dusty volumes. Like this, one of my favorite quotes from Mr. Huxley in Brave New World: "You know about God, I suppose?" "Well," the savage hesitated. He would have liked to say something about solitude, about night, about the mesa lying pale under the moon, about the precipice, the plunge into shadowy darkness, about death. He would have liked to speak; but there were no words. Not even in Shakespeare.
I've been thinking, being that it is fall, la saison d'idylle, about mystery. O, mystery. For all its irritating impishness, it makes life delicious.
Every man has forgotten who he is...All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality...only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
When my life is neat and tidy like a well kept room, my mystery is gone. I am living at a dead level, a doldrum. But that awful instant, and oh it is achingly awful, when I awake to all that I am, all that is, and all that could be, namely to mystery, it is ecstasy. Aching miserable ecstasy, but alive and electric all the more.
Remembering this, that the ache is my life, what separates me from dusty dead bones, is a comfort. My ache is the supernatural spark in me.
No longer must I defeatedly repeat with Kappus, Durch mein Leben zittert...ein tief dunkles Weh. (Through my life there trembles a deep dark melancholy.)
Instead, I sigh, I revel, I chant with St. Augustine the truth of the mystery: Our heart is restless until it rests in you. I repeat with the psalmist, Say to my soul, I am your salvation. (Proverbs 35:3)
Hints come to me from the realm unkown; Airs drift across the twilight border land, odored with life; whispers to my heart are blown that fill me with a joy I cannot speak. Yea, from whose shadow words drop faint and weak.
~George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Come, all you who are thirsty, Come to the waters;
And you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I'm afraid I've become this person. I'm always like:
- "When I lived in Longmont, I had a really good cheese shop, better than any cheese here, sooooo....."
- "At my old work, we had parties every day, way more than you ever have here, soooo....."
- "I used to live near Boulder and they had a meadery, way more mead than you have here, soooo......"
In my defense, the cheese shop was really incredible. They had parkas for you to wear in the refrigerated cheese vault with free samples of cheese from every place you can imagine. And the meadery gave you 10 free mead samples, and it's the best mead I've had. And at my last job, they had chocolates like every day. So you see, it's really just about the free food.
By the way,
I feel I should update you on the special edition of my book, since I made it sound all non-legit and stuff. Apparently, it is legit, and the publisher is donating a dollar to Compassion's Global Food Crisis Fund for every book sold in the next couple months. Wow--how rude of me to have mocked charity! And in other coo-coo-ca-chew book news, I just heard from this church who is doing Hope Lives the next 5 weeks. They have 50 small groups doing Hope Lives. Now that's Coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I breathe best in the mountains, my true home. We did various of my favorite things: Ate gooey crepes at Crepes a la Cart. Read lots. Biked from Frisco to Dillon. Sat silently at the Dillon Marina. Hiked to the top of a huge mountain with a huge view. Bought a huge pretzel and our favorite bread (lemon mint white chocolate) from our favorite bakery (Styria) at Oktoberfest.
I/we also reflected a lot on where we are and where we are going. It's been a rough couple of years. Here are some verses from Isaiah 40 that comforted me:
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
I notice that it doesn't say that I don't have to walk or run anymore, though that sounds nice. But my strength will be renewed if I hope in the Lord. The Lord is everlasting, and doesn't grow weary and forget our cause. But no one, including us, can fathom why he does or does not do certain things.
We read about Joseph. A man who probably felt very forgotten, living years wrongly imprisoned. But God hadn't forgotten him; he just had bigger plans for him. Neither Mike nor I are nearly as wise or godly as Joseph, but we do take a bit of heart that we never know what God has planned. We simply have to wait, take heart, and have faith.
We can know that we aren't forgotten and when we hope in the Lord, we will soar.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I hope you enjoy this video on a rainy Friday.
Guess what...My book Hope Lives has a special edition! What does that mean? I have absolutely no idea!
Mike just stumbled upon this selling online. Christian Book Distributors has a new special edition of my book. All this seems to mean is that there's a yellow ribbon on the front of the cover that says "it starts with me." I'm sure they didn't reprint the books to put that ribbon on--so is it digitally added? How weird. I hope there's special features like the uncensored chapters where I cuss lots.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
But it's no biggie, because he's the prime minister, so he's got time. According to CNN, he said, "Somebody says as a prime minister, I have time, but I should not do such a thing like that. I said, 'No, I checked the constitution already. There's no obstruction with that.'" Notice he doesn't agree with the time issue, just the constitutional issue.
You know, being prime minister is really pretty simple. You know, cut a few ribbons, elect your brother-in-law as top official, appear on Ellen.
But what's best about this is that he was the host of this cooking show, "Tasting and Complaining" for 7 years. It's like if Emeril were president. Or better yet, my favorite complainer, Anthony Bourdain.
I so want to see in Decision 2012 Anthony Bourdain go up against Rachael Ray for President. Now that would be a fun (and dirty) fight.
Speaking of World Leaders Who Make Questionable Decisions...
I guess it's good to be king, even of a impoverished country with the world's highest AIDS rate.
To celebrate his 40th birthday and the 40th anniversary of his country, Swaziland, King Mswati III threw a lavish celebration that "officially" cost $2.5 million, though others say it cost up to 28 million dollars. That's a third of what they spend on health care each year, in a country where the life expectancy is 31 because of AIDS and 1 in 5 people depend on international food aid.
A party that cost $2.5 mill in a country of 1.1 million people, that would be like if Mr. Bush had a party that cost 693 million dollars. If it was more like a 28-mill party, that would be the equivalent of a 7.7 billion dollar party in America. and a shopping spree to Dubai for his 13 wives? And 20 brand new BMWs to drive to the party in?
But I have to say, I do love his outfit. I think our presidents should totally give speeches bare-breasted. I'm picturing Mr. Bourdain in leopard already. And it's fun, in a way, that he's the last absolute monarch of Africa, my last link to Coming to America, you know? And kind of fun in a way, I guess, that he chooses his brides from 40,000 topless virgins. But it's very unfun in another kinda way.
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See that link on the left? It shows who follows my blog. Just click on "Follow this blog" to become one of this elite group. Hurry! Hurry! You don't want to miss out on this special deal, just for you!
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Each September, Colorado sends out a warning blast of cold, reminding you she's still in charge and your time of yellow skies and blue nights is coming to an end. Her chill is an icy finger slap to the face, reminding you of lost high school pep rallies, knee socks, and displaced dreams.
So since my friend Chris Martin conspired with Nature this morning against summer sunflowers and cheer, I'm going to have to ride out the storm with him. He's fuel, but also good medicine, for the melancholy soul.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Monday, September 8, 2008
I've come to a very sad phase in my life: I don't know to whom I can quote Clueless anymore.
I used to make sure I was well buffered at all times by a entourage of Clueless girls such as myself. Most of the phrases we commonly used, and I still use gratuitously to this day, have their genesis in the glorious pop icon of my life: Cher. These sayings make up the fabric of my psyche. All things in life can be expressed through Clueless quotes.
Consider these examples:
- Dee, I'm outtie=I'm leaving.
- I'm totally buggin'=I am really bothered by this.
- Where does she find these barneys?=She has bad taste in men.
- We can certainly party with the Haiti-ans=I believe in immigration.
- Wait a minute, I love Josh!=I've just had an emotional epiphany.
- He's a disco dancing, Oscar wild readin', Streisand ticket holdin' friend of Dorothy=He's gay.
- I had 2 bowls of Special K, a handful of popcorn, and 5 peanut butter M&Ms=I ate too much.
- And my buns? They don't feel nothin' like steel=I haven't been keeping up with my Buns of Steel videos.
It's a real concern.
(By the way, my husband just started his own blog: www.coloquats.blogspot.com)
Sunday, September 7, 2008
- Barack Obama would be the coolest name ever for a president.
- A McCain/Palin White House would be the prettiest White House yet. You've got McCain's hot wife and Abercrombie sons and "gorgeous golden girl" of a daughter. From watching his very melodramatic biography video at the convention, I see he used to be attractive too.
- Barack is never gonna give me up.
- McCain's daughter has this cool blog that makes me feel like I'm part of the campaign entourage.
- Barack is black (but unfortunately male); Palin is female (but unfortunately white). If only a hispanic female or an Asian hermaphrodite was running, then I'd know how to vote.
- Palin's husband is a speed racer and could be in the Alaska Man calendar. (And she, of course, could have been Miss Alaska.)
- I like Michelle Obama's voice. She should read for books on tape.
- Cindy McCain is a woman with style. She's like an older, posher Sandra Lee.
Had Clinton won the nomination, my choice would have been easy, because Billy-boy as First Lady trumps any other pro any other candidate could have put forth.
So, how's a girl to decide who to vote for? Cookies.
Each election year, Parent's magazine has a cookie contest. The candidate's spouses submit cookie recipes and the public votes. Those who have won the cookie contest have also won the past four elections. McCain won, but I wanted to find out for myself, so I made Cindy McCain's Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies and Michelle Obama's Shortbread cookies.
Shortbread cookies and oatmeal butterscotch cookies both happen to be some of my favorite cookies, so it's a hard choice.
Cindy's cookies were good. Heavy on the butterscotch chips and oatmeal. A nice, basic cookie. With so much butterscotch, though, I think the sweetness could have been helped by some raisins or something else to play against them, and I would have used less oats.
Michelle's shortbread was also good. A bit fancier, in that they call for amaretto liquor, lemon and organe zest, and cake flour (things I'm not fancy enough to keep in my pantry, so I had to buy them). They also called for a 17x12-inch pan, something I also don't have. I left the nuts and dried fruit off the top, because that sounds gross and dried fruit burns if you cook it that long. The cookies were good but also very basic. The zest and amaretto were hardly detectable, which is sad after spending $12 on a bottle of liquor.
So I'm afraid I have to side with Mrs. Cindy McCain. Both were good cookies, but one didn't stand out more than the other. And because Cindy's didn't ask me to buy liquor or zest lemons or use a pan few people own, she wins. Just put raisins in them if you make them.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I've been saying for weeks, maybe months, "I'll do that when I get back from Haiti." Now I find myself with no barrier, once again, between me and my uncertain future. I'm going to have to start exercising, reading, cooking, and all kinds of idealistic things.
I'm thinking maybe I'll just fly to Roatan, Honduras this weekend or something so I can get a much needed mental break.
In honor of mental breaks, here's a picture of an incredible spot we discovered this weekend in RMNP. We had to scramble up a tall rock outcropping, but it opened up to some of the most beautiful views I've seen of Morraine Park and the mountains.
Here we are, Greek goddesses that we be, at the 2008 Athens-themed Parker Adventist Hospital Banquet.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
In Rwanda, since the horrific events of the 1994 genocide, marriage hasn't been so popular. After the brutal killings and rapes of so many, the people were demoralized and began living with their partners, rather than committing to marriage.