famous fridays: ernie halter

I went to dinner with a good friend of mine last night. We enjoyed sushi: shared the rainbow roll and the volcano roll. I love sushi. At dinner, I learned that this friend of mine, Zach Johnson, had recently purchased a metal detector. Why? Because while throwing snow balls in College Station, his Aggie ring slipped off, never to be found again (several things are wrong with this sentence, the biggest one being that there was, in fact, snow in College Station). But it was found, thanks to Walmart and their shelves stocked with metal detectors.

After dinner we headed over to Mugwalls, met up with Rikki, and enjoyed what we thought was going to be a small concert highlighting local artists. Little did we know that a celebrity was in our midst. Mr. Ernie Halter was friends with one of the other performers, and had driven in from L.A. He has three albums out, has "jammed with John Mayer" and co-written a song with the lead from Lady Antebellum (we learned this from the man himself). He was incredible. He has an acoustic/blues feel to him, with slow beats that beg for listeners to sigh deeply while cuddled up by the fire with a good cup of coffee, as well as dancing rhythms that inspire foot taps and head nods. His sound is rich, and raw, and he belts out his songs like he means every word, and I truly believe that he does. As for uniqueness, on several of his tracks he plays a Ukulele.

So check him out! Here is his myspace where you can hear full tracks for free. I recommend his song Lisa which is inspired by the melody of the classical Fur Elise by Beethoven.


famous fridays: sidney poitier

I know it's not Friday, but I got a little busy yesterday and had to put this post off. I'm glad I did, though, because today is one of my favorite actor's birthdays. Sidney Poitier was born today in 1927. I liked him in the movie "To Sir, with Love." He plays a teacher in an inner-city school, trying to motivate seniors to study and learn, when all they know is to survive. He changes his tactics after a few futile weeks, switching from an English curriculum to a course in "life-skills." His goal was to give these troubled seniors a skill-set that they could use - cooking, changing the oil in their cars, cleaning, sewing, etc. His thought was that by teaching his students how to take care of themselves he would give them self-respect, enabling them to take responsibility for themselves and their futures. Brilliant.

I find myself probably at the end of my schooling, and at the beginning of my life in the "real world." I don't have Sidney Poitier to teach me these things, however. Thankfully, I had wonderful parents who raised me and taught me what they could, but you can only teach so much. Poitier couldn't guarantee success for his students. They had to go out and experience life, and learn, and live. And that's what we do. We leave home. We go experience life. We have to fall, and pick ourselves up again. We make mistakes on our own, and we learn to not make them again. We figure out what we have to do to survive, and we learn what it takes to laugh, and smile. And we grow up.

Today I went to the grocery store and bought my groceries for this week. I boiled a whole chicken, made a casserole of chicken spaghetti so I would have something to eat for dinner this week when I get busy, and then used the leftover chicken to make homemade chicken salad so that I could make sandwiches this week for lunch. Recently I've been thinking about what it's going to really mean to "be on my own," to be alone. It's a pretty big idea to wrap my mind around. I have nothing to relate it to. Today I felt for the first time that I was going to be okay. I've known it in my head, but today my heart felt it. It's funny what a good casserole and a couple of good decisions can do for your soul.

By the way, I get all my recipes from the Pioneer Woman, lately. She makes it just a little bit easier to be on your own.


abraham and running.

If my plans had worked out, I would be exhausted today, tired from finishing my first Marathon. But I'm not. Due to a small injury and a vicious virus, I was unable to run. It's hard to train for 15 weeks and not accomplish the goal. Yes, I'm disappointed. But no, I'm not devastated. I am (almost) thankful. A more accurate description of me would be forced gratitude as I see God teaching me even in something as seemingly insignificant as running.

When I started training regularly this summer, I saw my discipline and my faith grow immensely. It was as if the physical challenge was helping me grow spiritually - helping me step out in faith and trust. So when I completed my first triathlon, I just switched gears and continued my training with a marathon in mind. The discipline continued. I continued making my training a priority in my life because it was so beneficial to my sanity, my high-energy personality, and my spiritual growth. I was so focused that I failed to realize that it was beginning to replace my time with the Lord. Something that was once helpful, had become harmful because I had made it more important than what it was helping in the first place.

I truly believe that God works in everything. God cares about everything. Even running. I believe that my injury was God showing me where my priorities were. When God told Abraham to go to the land of Canaan, Abraham decided to go to Egypt because there was a famine in Canaan. He wasn't trusting God to take care of him. In Egypt, he ran into all kinds of trouble, including pimping Sarah off to Pharaoh as his sister - not exactly honoring her or God. But God was gracious, and in Genesis 13, Abraham took his family back to Canaan "unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning....unto the place of the altar which he had made there at the first: and there, Abram called upon the name of the Lord." He went back to where he had started, where he had heard the Lord calling him.

It is definitely a bummer that I didn't run 26.2 miles this morning. It would have been a bigger bummer, though, if I had continued complacently in my ways, running down a path I didn't want to be on. Thank God I'm back where I started.

This summer training began as an exercise of my faith - a tangible way for me to step out and practice trusting the Lord. I began to rely on it as the foundation for everything I did. My time with the Lord and my relationship with Him is my foundation. Running is an exercise of the faith I have - challenging myself and pushing my boundaries so that I am always reminded that my strength comes from the Lord. Running for you may be some other challenge or passion or goal. For me, running keeps me on track. It's a daily reminder that my strength comes from the Lord, a daily reminder that I can always do more than I think I can, a daily reminder to leave complacency behind and seek to be pushed and stretched out of my comfort zone. This is meaningless, however, when my foundation is not firm in Christ.

I see my set-back as a beautiful opportunity to train harder, stronger, and better - to remember that everything I do must be founded in the Lord. Everything. Even something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again.


famous fridays: ralph waldo emerson

"It's Friday!" The cry of joy all across the world. Some look back, sighing in relief after a long, hard week. Others look forward, smiling in anticipation of a good weekend. Friday. It's either the end of the week or the beginning of the weekend, but rarely do we take Friday as a day in and of itself. I'd like to pause for a moment and enjoy Friday for what it is. It's not Monday. It's not hump day. It's not those long work-days in between. It's 24 hours that I won't get to appreciate again until 7 more days have passed.

So here's a "famous Friday" for you. It only comes once a week. Don't miss it.

Emerson is quickly becoming my favorite poet. I've been trying to expand my literary palate by reading a new poem every day. The anthology, Poem a Day, has helped me accomplish this goal.

This poem by Emerson is about a subject that I often need reminding of - patience. His words are beautifully crafted to highlight the importance of not living in haste. Perhaps Emerson would recommend enjoying Friday for what it's worth as well.

Hast thou named all the birds without a gun;
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk;
At rich men's tables eaten bread and pulse;
Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust;
And loved so well a high behavior
In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
Nobility more nobly to repay?—
O be my friend, and teach me to be thine!


what makes today.

Today is different from all the rest. Do you know why? I'm running again :).

It felt good to put my running shoes back on and take them for a spin. It's funny, because you never forget how to run, but you can get out of your rhythm. It took me about 10 minutes to find my rhythm, but then it was like I had never been off.

Also, I've been listening to new music. Check out Ingrid Michaelson's Everybody.

Another new thing today, I'm cutting out Dr. Peppers. I would say sodas, but I don't drink sodas; I drink Dr. Peppers. Lots of them. Well they're out as of today. Water water water.

I've been reading my friend Cary's blog this month for heart-healthy tips. You should check it out, too!

I also made-over my blog. It needed "spring cleaning." Although, it's not spring yet, I'm highly anticipating its return. And daisies are so happy. Matthew 6:27-34 says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I love that. My heavenly father knows what I need. So I can take these chances day by day.


truth in disguise: dear john

I began a series of related posts last semester titled "truth in disguise," documenting the various and unlikely places in which I discover and learn Truth. Here are the first two if you missed them.

truth in disguise: my favorite song
truth in disguise: my president is black

This weekend I went and saw the highly anticipated film, "Dear John," based off the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Sparks has made his reputation known for writing overly dramatic and romantic stories that leave readers and viewers in tears or some other extreme on the spectrum of human emotions. I actually went and saw the movie by myself, not in a sad "I don't have anyone to see this with" sort of way. Others in the theater may have thought that, though, seeing me walk in alone with my popcorn and drink, staring up at a dozen or so couples scattered throughout the theater. It's hard enough looking for a seat in a movie; try finding one that's equidistant in every direction from enamored and infatuated movie-goers, who may or may not have been there to actually watch the movie. I pressed on, found a seat, and plopped myself down with my popcorn and drink to enjoy the movie.

You would think that I could just enjoy something for what it is, instead of learning from it. That's what I am, though. I'm a learner. Not even Nicholas Sparks can distract me from it. It wasn't what I expected. The movie actually had me guessing, which is pretty remarkable for a "chick flick." Savannah and John met and fell in love, promising each other to write while he was stationed in Germany. The turning point of the movie is when Savannah sends John a letter saying she is engaged to marry another man. John immediately burns all evidence of their relationship, very hurt by her actions and lack of explanation. It's shocking because she has been so sincere in her love for him. I found myself not believing that she actually married someone else. The audience and John are left not knowing who she married for a while, and without the visual evidence, I was thinking that perhaps she had lied about it for some unknown reason. She loved John, no question about it. This news was just a plot twist that would reveal itself in the end. With this news, John was forced to restore his relationship with his dad. Savannah and his dad were all he had, and when he lost her, he went to his father and made things right with him.

John went and visited Savannah after his father's death, and discovered that the man she had married was Tim, a long-time friend who had an autistic son. Tim had been diagnosed with cancer while John was serving in the army overseas, and soon realized that it was terminal. He asked Savannah to marry him, not only because he truly loved her, but also because he needed someone to take care of him and his son. He needed to know that his son would have someone to take care of him when he died. Savannah saw that need, and filled it. She married Tim, taking care of him and his son, and ensuring that his son would be provided for later in life. She hadn't explained herself to John, because she knew that her heart would have wavered and gone back to him, and she would not have been able to do what she knew she needed to do.

One of my best friends also saw the movie. She loves movies, but even more, she loves happy endings. She often hates movies that I love, and vice versa. I don't mind sad endings, as long as something was learned or accomplished (it's the learner in me...it never sleeps). A greater good is always worth it in my mind. Well, she very passionately told me how selfish she thought Savannah was and how she didn't understand what she was doing half the time and how she didn't like her at all. I'm going to have to disagree. I think she was the most unselfish person of all. She gave up her hopes and dreams and love for John for something that was in front of her at the moment. She was waiting for John, but Tim and his son needed her then. She could have refused them and waited years for John, but she didn't. She weighed the cost of hurting John, and leaving Tim and his son in their time of greatest need, and she chose the need in front of her.

She didn't choose the option that was the most romantic or glamorous. She ended up hurting John, but she also ended up sending him to his dying father who needed his son's love. She still loved John, and it was clear that she had never stopped loving him, but she put aside her feelings for her mission. Can't we all learn from this? So often I let my hopes and desires get in the way of my mission. But my Heavenly father knows what I need (Matthew 6:32). And He sees my heart.

John saw her selflessness and anonymously donated money to help Tim live at home until he died. And he waited for her. And when Tim died, John was still there - no bitterness. He saw that her decision had been the right one for her at the time, even if it hurt him for a short season in his life. God sees our hearts. He knows the desires we have, and He will fulfill them at the appointed time. It's our job to be obedient no matter what, though. Even if our obedience makes us forsake our desires for a time. He is faithful. He sees my heart and He is always good.


10 things not like marathon training.

Think of this as a bunch of negated metaphors. Marathon training didn't result in a marathon this year (due to a sequence of unplanned events), but it enlightened me to some truths nonetheless.

1. Marathon training is not like a walk in the park. Pretty self-explanatory. I thought I'd start simple.

2. Marathon training is not like food poisoning, or a sudden onslaught of a vicious virus. Those things are more like the actual marathon itself, I would imagine. Intensity thrown in your face all at once, not a long, arduous and slow climb to a peak where you're supposed to find that "runner's high." I'll let you guess if I found it.

3. Marathon training is not like having a job. In training, you can substitute days if you're not feeling up to it. For example, if I'm supposed to run 10 miles today, and have tomorrow off, I can take today off and then run 10 miles tomorrow, and then add an extra day off the day after that. 2 off days for one. That just doesn't work in real life.

4. Marathon training is not like raising children. Not that I've done this, but I'm privileged to watch friends do this. When I'm done with training for the day, I don't like to think about it for 24 hours until I have to do it again. Try doing that with children. Actually, please don't.

5. Marathon training is not like finishing an entire pizza by yourself. Are you kidding me? Training is hard. Finishing off a pizza is easy. Not just easy, a delight. Training may have enabled me to do this, however...

6. Marathon training is not like baking cookies. There's only one ingredient to a marathon - running. Lots of it.

7. Marathon training is not like grocery shopping. Oh wait. Yes it is. Here's proof that's so poignantly expressed by my dear friend Renee in her recent post.

8. Marathon training is not like studying for a test. When studying for a test, you take the test, and then walk away from the event, leaving all the information behind in the desk you so laboriously sat in while stressfully taking the exam. Or maybe that was just me. Regardless, there is no way anyone could forget marathon training. It leaves an impression - mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.

9. Marathon training is not rocket science. It doesn't take a genius to run.

10. Marathon training is not like falling in love. This last one hits home with me, because for so long I've thought that finding "the one" was going to take some work. My dear mother has always gently scolded me, saying that when it happened, I would just know. Well, last time I checked, "just knowing" didn't take the 18 weeks it takes to get ready for a marathon. So this is something I'm not working for anymore. Not working for, not looking for, and not wasting time waiting for, either. It will find me, I'm sure. And when I know, I'll know, and anxiously waiting will take the same amount of time and space as not anxiously waiting.

Besides, I don't have time for all that, I've got marathons to train for :).

smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you?

All of you "Friends" lovers will understand the title to this blog post. The reference I'm making here is that I currently have the "sexy voice" that Phoebe fell in love with when she had a cold, even kissing Gunther to attempt to re-catch her cold after she lost it.

Any "One Tree Hill" fans? I sound like Brooke Davis (aka Sophia Bush). Who wouldn't want to sound like her?

Not to be confused with who I look like. Apparently some unknown deemed this week "Doppelganger Week." A Doppelganger is a celebrity look-a-like, or to be more exact according to dictionary.com, "a ghostly double of a living person that haunts it's living counterpart." So no, Kristen Bell does not haunt me, and probably never will, but after some extensive research and testing (check out myheritage.com), my celebrity counterpart is Kristen Bell. I can handle that.

The point? I'm not sure there is one, except that I got really sick this weekend, resulting in a hoarse "Brooke Davis" voice and a lot of time on my hands to just sit and rest. And think. And be. And enjoy things like Doppelganger Week.

This is the probably the first of many more blog posts in the next few days (or hours) to relieve me of the doldrums that come from just sitting in bed. Enjoy. Go find your doppelganger.