Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to Toilet Paper a Car

How to Toilet Paper a Car:
1. Find toilet paper (or have it given to you)
2. Distract friend whose car you wish to decorate
3. String the equivalent of 4 rolls of toilet paper over, under, and through (if possible) their car
4. Act nonchalant when you re-enter the building
5. Watch reaction when your handiwork is discovered
*Wait three years before repeating for best results

In the summer of 2006, I met my best friend, Holly, on a crazy night filled with gelato, turtle races, playgrounds, getting pelted with rubber balls, toilet papering a car, and four-square. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

For three years we have encouraged, supported, prayed for, admonished, sharpened, amused, cried with (the crying would mostly be on my end), surprised, calmed, questioned and loved each other. Holly is my closest friend (followed by my Focus roommates)…and in two weeks, that will be forever altered.

On Monday, we had a going away party for her at our church (and yes, it involved toilet papering the same car). You see, Holly is going to be going on a 2 year trip to Southeast Asia. She leaves for 2 months of training in Virginia in less than 2 weeks. I’ll get to see her briefly in December when she’s home before leaving the country.

Yes, I am sad to see her go. But God has much bigger plans for Holly than I could ever imagine. :) I’m thrilled to participate in ministry with her as a prayer partner. I’m excited to see how God will use her in the months and years to come as she reaches out to people who need to hear about Jesus and the Gospel. Please pray for her as she prepares to follow God’s calling to the harvest field.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Factual Friday: Moving!

Fact: I will be occupying my third desk at my company’s office, fourth desk total.

It’s moving day! I am going to be on a new contract at work so that requires relocating me from my desk at the navy base back to our company office in town. I will pack up my things today and truck them over to my new desk at the Willows office. The last time I was working at that office, I never actually had my own desk. I shared two other ladies’ desks at different times since we knew I would be coming on base. Maybe now I can actually get a name plate and business cards!

When you work in the world of government contractors, nothing is a guarantee. It’s kind of like life in general. James reminds us in the Bible that we do not know what tomorrow will bring and that our lives are short in the grand scheme of things, merely vapor (see James 4:13-15). I am not guaranteed my next breath, much less tomorrow. This should be a freeing thought! God has everything under control so I have nothing to worry about, right? Now if only living that belief were as simple as that. :)

So as I relocate and look forward to working on a new contract, I plan on embracing the uncertainty and newness of the whole experience. I like the company I work for and they have worked hard to make the transition as smooth as possible. With God in control, I truly have nothing to worry about. I’m looking forward to settling into my new space and learning the ropes. Now all I have to do is pack up my desk...

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end...”

Soli Deo Gloria,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recent Happenings

Much has been happening in life lately and I thank all of you for hanging in there with me on this ride. :) I’ve been busy but I’m glad that at least my weekly Friday posts have kept me posting and in contact with you. And I apologize in advance for the disjointedness in this update post.

This past weekend, I went to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. with my good friend and Focus roommate, Alisha! :) We had a blast! I went last year so you can look in the blog archives for my summaries from then but this year, I will not be as extensive in my detailing of every speaker as that was too much last year and I never actually finished. Instead, I’m hoping to provide captioned photos and selected quotes from the weekend. Hoping to accomplish that sometime next week so be on the lookout!

We had an absolutely wonderful time. I had not seen Alisha since we graduated almost two years ago! Despite some difficulties getting to D.C. (silly flat tire), we finally got the chance to hang out and catch up. We even got to talk to one of our other roommates while we were together. Saturday night, my boyfriend, Dan, joined us and we went out to dinner near the hotel and walked around before hanging out in the hotel lobby. On Sunday, we rode Metro up to Rockville and joined Dan for services at the church where he and I met. After a relaxing lunch and wonderful conversation, we dropped Alisha off at Metro so she could go home to take care of some homework.

Dan and I continued the day by driving into Washington, D.C. and walking around. Parking near the Jefferson Memorial, we walked down to the Capitol, exploring different spots along the way. I have experienced so many new, previously unseen gems in that city since we started dating and exploring it on our walks. Then we grabbed a quick dinner at Union Station before walking back and spending some time at the Jefferson Memorial watching the planes come in to land at Reagan.

I love getting mail and on Monday, a nice little package came for me from book publisher, Thomas Nelson. If you missed the badge on the right hand side of the page (on my blog site), I am now a book review blogger for them. It means that I can request a book, read it, write a review, and then post it here and one other website. And I get to keep the books! My first one is “Redefining Beautiful: adj. - What God Sees When God Sees You” by Jenna Lucado with Max Lucado. Look for the review soon as I finish the book that is! :P

The county fair is this weekend and yours truly is entering some items! Previously, the only thing I’ve entered in the county fair was the speech contest. This evening, I will be taking a few carrots that I’ve grown and a rug I made out of t-shirt scraps to be entered into the Garden and Home Arts categories respectively. I’m so excited! The rug scraps actually came from most of the t-shirts I acquired while at the University of Maryland. My mom’s friend is going to help me make the shirt fronts into a “quillow” (quilt that folds into a pocket to make a pillow) but I didn’t just want to throw out all the extra fabric. I found some really easy instructions online to make it that just required the scraps and scissors, no sewing! I finished it last night and can’t wait to see how it does at the fair. I’ll keep you posted!

So that’s a brief snapshot of what’s been going on the past week or so in life. I know it’s not much of a philosophical post or one that required much deep thought but I felt that I had neglected the personal aspect of my blog recently. I hope you enjoyed the update!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Factual Friday: Fall

Fact: Fall officially starts on Tuesday!

At 5:18pm this coming Tuesday, September 22nd, the Autumnal Equinox will occur and with it the official ushering in of fall. :) My favorite seasons are fall and spring. My mom once pointed out to me that that’s half the year but what can I say? I love both of them!

One thing I like about fall (and spring, too!) is the color palette that God paints in during this season. Changing leaves, flowers and pumpkins bring rich burgundy, burnt oranges and vibrant yellows to the forefront. Piles of leaves in front yards are kaleidoscopes of color. The cool greens and warm temperatures of summer give way to the warmer colors and cooler temperatures of fall.

Fall also means getting to take out the sweaters and jackets. I love bundling up in a beautiful sweater and enjoying the cooler weather. I’m also looking forward to curling up in front of a fire in the fireplace and breaking out the apple cider. Yes, I know I could do this anytime of the year, but I think there’s something magical about apple cider and fall. What are some of your favorite things about this new season?

I hope you enjoy the beginning of fall! And as we enter a season of thanksgiving, remember to give thanks to God for who He is and all that He does, seen and unseen, in our lives.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


“We were made for something better
Something better than this inconsistency
So while you wait to respond to what’s really going on
Under shame, under doubt what the whole thing's all about
Sing to me

It's like a rollercoaster, 100 miles fast
Spins you round in circles till you want to collapse
Makes you so excited you can't wait for your second chance”

~“Rollercoaster” by Kendall Payne

Welcome to the second half of September! :) This year just seems to have flown by with all the ups and downs and adventures that have happened along the way! Speaking of ups and downs...

This past Sunday I got the chance to ride one of my favorite rollercoasters. It’s not the newest, doesn’t have the latest technology and isn’t very tall but I enjoy it. The Avalanche at King’s Dominion is bobsled-themed, with each car bearing the name and colors of different countries, and the ride down is entirely gravity-powered. It’s the first ride that my boyfriend and I rode at the park and at the end of the night we returned to ride it again...4 times! (Did I mention it wasn’t the most popular either?)

It’s pretty easy to see how life can be compared to a rollercoaster ride. With all its twists and turns, ups and downs, life is just plain unpredictable. Even when you think you can see the path (or track) ahead, it will often throw you for a loop and take you in an unexpected direction. And each person experiences it differently. Some throw their hands up over their head in wild abandon while others hold on for dear life, screaming at the top of their lungs. Not knowing what’s up ahead can be both exhilarating and frightening.

Someone (three guesses who) reminded me last night of a few verses from Matthew 6:
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 find myself very easily falling into the pattern of worrying about the days ahead and what I need to get done. I’m not saying that good planning isn’t wise and that to-do lists are evil, but it’s when I start to “plan” for what I cannot control that it becomes unnecessary worry. But God tells me not to worry! I am to seek His kingdom and righteousness and everything else will fall into place. Yet, as a fallen human being, I continue to fail and return to my bad habits. How often do we all focus on the unknown and worry about where the money or time or resources will come from, taking our eyes off of Christ and His providence? Praise the Lord for His marvelous and abundant grace!

So while I plan and pack for the Values Voters Summit this weekend with my good friend and one of my roommates from Focus, Alisha, I will try to put into practice the habit of relying on and trusting God for the things I can’t control. Because that’s the best rollercoaster ride I could ever be on.

Now...where did I put that to-do list? ;)

Soli Deo Gloria,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

“Candle on the Water”

I haven’t seen the Disney movie “Pete’s Dragon” in a long time, but there is one song from it that I remember and love. “Candle on the Water” is sung by the lighthouse keeper’s daughter as she tends the light and looks out to sea, waiting for her love to return from his journey.

“I'll be your candle on the water
My love for you will always burn
I know you're lost and drifting
But the clouds are lifting
Don't give up you'll have somewhere to turn

I'll be your candle on the water
'Till ev'ry wave is warm and bright
My soul is there beside you
Let this candle guide you
Soon you'll see a golden stream of light

A cold and friendless tide has found you
Don't let the stormy darkness pull you down
I'll paint a ray of hope around you
Circling in the air
Lighted by a prayer

I'll be your candle on the water
This flame inside of me will grow
Keep holding on you'll make it
Here's my hand so take it
Look for me reaching out to show
As sure as rivers flow
I'll never let you go
I'll never let you go
I'll never let you go...”

This past Saturday, the Point Lookout Lighthouse had its monthly open house so my boyfriend and I went to check it out and walk around the park. We were actually able to climb up into the housing where the light would have been. The view was amazing. I soaked in 360 degrees of beautiful Southern Maryland landscape and weather and we watched the birds and boaters that were out enjoying it as well.

Then my boyfriend pointed out to me the reason there was a lighthouse there. As I watched where the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay meet, he asked if I could see the shoals. It was then that I noticed the waves breaking offshore, near the point. While sailors would want to reach land, they would most definitely not want to reach it by hitting those shoals! (Since it’s supposedly haunted, there’s even a story of a sailor that drowned when his ship hit the shoals still haunting the lighthouse.) The light would have been a ray of hope as well as a beacon of caution to those approaching. It showed them the safe route, guiding and guarding them against the dangerous perils that were hidden to their view.

How much more will God do this for us! He knows the way in which we are traveling and where the peril lies. All we have to do is keep our eyes on Him and trust in His knowledge and unfailing love. He knows where the shoals in our own life lie and how to navigate around them. And as the end of the song says He will never let us go.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we’re promised any easy life. Far from it! Jesus said that we would have trials and tribulations. But it’s in those storms when the lighthouse became most important. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” The light always shines brightest when it is darkest.

My prayer for you today, friend, is that this would give you hope. Maybe you’ve been in a storm for a long time and have lost sight of the hope that the Light offers or maybe you’ve been in calm waters for long enough to forget the importance and necessity of the Light. I’ve been in both places and God had something to teach me each time as long as I was willing to listen and seek Him. Whatever the case may be, I pray today that you will look to Christ to guide your path and light the way.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Factual Friday: September 11th

"I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." – President George W. Bush

I don’t think anyone needs a “fact” or reminder of what we remember today as a country. Just about everyone remembers where they were when they heard the awful news. I was in eleventh grade and in between Physics and Calc when we found out something had happened. My mom came to the school to see if I wanted to come home. Living near a military base, a nuclear power plant and Washington, D.C. meant that anything was possible. The base went under lockdown and my dad couldn’t leave. Friends had parents that worked in D.C. and some that worked at the Pentagon that they couldn’t get a hold of. It was a scary time.

Last year, I was on night shift at WeatherBug and when I got home and sat down to watch TV while I ate breakfast, I turned to one of the news channels (probably MSNBC or CNN) and found that they were playing their coverage from September 11th in real time at the same time it had occurred that morning in 2001. It was surreal and sobering to watch again.

Several country songs came from this tragedy, a way to process the events through music. Most know Alan Jackson’s song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and many are familiar with Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”. But one of my favorites is one by Daryl Worley called “Have You Forgotten”. The last time I heard this song on the radio a couple of weeks ago, my eyes welled up. I’ve pasted the lyrics below for your consideration.

“Have You Forgotten”

I hear people saying
We don't need this war
But I say there's some things worth fighting for
What about our freedom and this piece of ground
We didn't get to keep them by backing down
Now they say we don't realize the mess we're getting in
Before you start to preaching let me ask you this my friend

Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire and her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell
And you say we shouldn't worry ‘bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

They took all the footage off my TV
They said it's too disturbing for you and me
It'll just breed anger, that’s what the experts say
If it was up to me I'd show it everyday
Some say this country's just out looking for a fight
Well after 9-11, man, I'd have to say that's right

Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire and her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell
And we vowed to get the ones behind Bin Laden.
Have you forgotten?

I've been there with the soldiers who've gone away to war
And you can bet that they remember just what they're fighting for

Have you forgotten all the people killed?
Yes, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten about our Pentagon?
All those loved ones that we lost
And those left to carry on
Don't you tell me not to worry ‘bout Bin Laden

Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten...

But in all things, God is sovereign. In ALL things. God is not weak or absent simply because men chose to reject Him and sin. God is ever-present, not just in tragedies to comfort the afflicted and mourn with those who mourn, but He is present in our everyday lives as well. It’s hard to remember sometimes when we are faced with mountains or storms and we take our eyes off our Sovereign God. And yet, still He reaches out to us, wanting to bring us to His side, to draw His Bride to Him.

On a day where we remember the events of the past and look to the future for hope, may we not forget the One that our hope comes from.

Soli Deo Gloria,

P.S. Just noticed that this week’s theme seems to be memories, based on this and yesterday’s blog updates. :) I’ll try to come up with something different for next week, promise!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book of Memories

My friend, Holly, recently posted a blog entry about memories based on coins she found in her pocket. This past weekend, I had an encounter with some very beautiful, life-affirming memories of my own.

For a while now, I have wanted to scrapbook. I always loved looking through other peoples’ books, allowing them to tell me their stories with pictures. My small group leader at the Focus on the Family Institute had one for each of her four boys, an idea that I loved. What really struck me was the joy the boys got from these books, eager to show anyone who would pay attention and allow them to show off the memories of their lives.

Several years ago, I had purchased some scrapbooking supplies but never really made use of them. But now, with a Creative Memories consultant for a best friend, I have started my first album! I decided that one of the easiest places to start would be my semester at Focus on the Family, the exact reason this blog was started. I figured I would have plenty of pictures to work with and lots of memories to use for the book.

So I poured over the catalog Holly gave me and made a wish list of items I wanted (for more than just one album!) then pared it down to what I would need to do the Focus album. We put the order in and waited patiently for the materials to come. In the meantime, I picked up a tote bag to cart my supplies around in. And then my order came! It was like Christmas opening that box and examining each of the items I had ordered. The beautiful green album, the earth tone pages, the was very exciting!

That was about a month ago and this past weekend, we finally had the chance to sit down so that she could help me get going on my book. I used Snapfish (which I highly recommend) to print off the 300+ photos that I brought with me to work with at Holly’s house. We spread our supplies out on the dining room table, set up a tool station on the island in their kitchen and got to work. Holly coached me a bit to get me started then let me run with it when I was a little more comfortable.

As I flipped through over 300 photos that spanned three-and-a-half months of my life and two reunions, I reminisced about the memories those pictures represented.

The first page in my album has two pictures. The first is of me and my roommates in Dr. Dobson’s office. God blessed me with the opportunity that semester to work with Dr. Dobson’s research assistant, Paul Batura, a wonderful author in his own right. I was absorbed with doing reading and research for Dr. Dobson’s upcoming book, “Bringing Up Girls”. Paul was a wonderful mentor and supervisor and had invited me to bring my roommates up for a tour of the executive wing at Focus on the Family. The photo is from that tour after we had all had our pictures taken sitting at Dr. Dobson’s desk, a fun bonding experience for all of us as roommates and friends.

The second photo looks like a postcard image of the International Building (where the Institute is housed) at Focus on the Family covered in inches of snow. We had just returned from our Summit (end of semester) retreat in the middle of a snowstorm. The snow was beautiful and undefiled. The whole world seemed to breathe a sigh and be at peace in the blanket God had provided. Of course, the arrival of 88 students and their teachers in the parking may have disturbed the silence a bit, but it was a joyous arrival. Thank goodness my roommate, Bethany, was from Michigan! After clearing snow off her car and helping other (warmer climate) students clear theirs off as well, we got ready to head back to the apartment when she looked over at me mischievously and asked if I’d ever done a donut in a car. I can’t say ‘no’ anymore. We proceeded to go to the back of the parking lot and do a few donuts before we left. :) I’m glad I have that memory with my roommate.

I could spend pages going over the photos in my scrapbook and retelling the memories behind each one: the funny faces my roommate Alisha made, what happens when you play with blue icing, Air Force football, exploring Colorado Springs, the surprises we pulled on each other, and many more. The memories contained there are immense and it’s hard to imagine fitting such a watershed time in my life into only a few pages. But I think it’s about more than just the photos and words on the pages I create. It is truly about the entire experience. A large part of it is remembering God’s grace and His work in my life that semester, especially through the girls He had me rooming with. I actually had the opportunity to talk to one of my roommates in the midst of the creative process one night about what I was doing. I have been able to relive some of those memories and recount some of the stories behind those photos as I piece together my album. It is truly more than just photos and paper and ink.

So while I can’t recount all of our adventures and lessons from the semester in this small space, hopefully soon I can show you my scrapbook and let it tell the story. After all, that’s what the scrapbook is for now, isn’t it? ;)

Soli Deo Gloria,


P.S. If you’re interested in checking it out, the Focus Leadership Institute has a new name, new look, and new webpage! You can find them at Don’t forget to tell them I sent you! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Factual Friday: "Green"

Is it really Friday again already? Wow, how the week has flown! So...ready for Round Two?

Fact: Ted Dekker’s next book, “Green”, was released this week...and my name is the first on the Family Christian Bookstore pre-buy list. ;)

Ted Dekker is one of my favorite authors. I still have a ways to go to read ALL of his thirty-some-odd books but I love the ones I have read. The books that I first picked up that began my introduction (and addiction) to Mr. Dekker were the Circle Trilogy (now, the Circle Series): Black, Red, and White. And now the Circle will be complete with the addition of Book Zero: Green. Check out the website for the book here: I pre-ordered the book on the first day that I could (back in July) and will be picking it up today!!  I recently introduced my boyfriend to the Circle Series and he has torn through all three in about a month. Since I read them several years ago, it’s been a great joy to see him experience them for the first time and it has helped me to get reacquainted with the plot.
But the works of Ted Dekker extend far beyond just paper and ink. I was fortunate enough this past June to be able to attend the second occurrence of The Gathering in Franklin, TN. The Gathering is based on an event in the Circle Series and is a day-long experience in the world of Ted Dekker. Fans gather from around the globe to relive the stories told by Mr. Dekker and to have the chance to hear him answer some of their questions. The experience was amazing and the book signing at the end of the day where I got to meet Ted was the cherry on top. I’m hoping to be able to go next year as well to see what else Ted has up his sleeve.

I have known some people that I have introduced to Ted’s books who couldn’t even make it through one. There are others who have devoured his books in a matter of days and spent weeks processing their responses. And there are still others who have never heard of Dekker much less read his books. But they have read the Story he tells.

For you see, while Ted has written many books, there is only one Story worth telling. It will take the form of many plots, but the Story is the same. Dekker weaves the tale of a not-so-distant land with pools of color, a scabbing disease, and Elyon. Lewis told it in a land called Narnia with the lion, Aslan. Tolkien spun it in Middle Earth, ruled by the Ring, rescued by a Hobbit. In the Bible, we see a land tarnished by sin and a Savior who loves His people enough to sacrifice His life for them. Each one a tale a loss, love, separation, sacrifice, and redemption. Each one pointing us to the Creator who longs for His Bride to return to Him.

Where are you in the Story, my friend? Are you still separated from the One who desires to draw you to Him? Have you even met Him? He loves you deeply, dear one. He gave His life so you could find life in Him and rid yourself of the disease. So come and lose your life for Him. Dive deep.

Soli Deo Gloria,