Monday, June 30, 2008

Mishaps and marriage

Notice the title isn't "Mishaps IN marriage." That's an important distinction to make...Moving right along.

One of my dearest friends (Lauren) got married this weekend, and I was honored to be in her wedding. Since our first class together in 6th grade (Coach Coulter, Social Studies!), we have remained friends, though tons of good times and lots of notsomuchgood times.

Lauren and I traveled together a lot as part of the youth choir and youth group at our church during high school: Mexico, Costa Rica, Florida, Brazil, etc. We would always find ourselves together in the neatest places/most romantic locations which inevitably prompted us to ask, "Why can't you be a boy right now?" For example, getting caught in the rain on the beach. Romantic? Yes. With your best friend? Notsomuch. I am delighted to report she now has a great guy to be with in all of those romantic places.

In addition to being a bridesmaid at this wedding, I also served as one of about 3 photographers, shooting various stuff throughout the weekend. The camera I was shooting with died, numerous times, despite my best attempts to keep the batteries charged. So I shot most of the good stuff with her Nikon, which she then took on her honeymoon. This means I don't have a big chunk of the pictures I took and most of the ones I really liked. Here is one (I had every intention of putting more up, but the darn thing is so slow to load. Click here to see the Facebook album).

With the obvious "marriage tie-in" completed, I have to come clean about my mishap (there were several, I'm sure, but this was the biggie.)

As the happy couple was about to head out, we were all lined up getting ready to see them off, sparklers in hand. As mentioned, I was also a photographer that night, so my hands were doing double-duty. Apparently in my sparkler-carrying-camera-shooting fervor, I failed to notice I had caught something on fire. My flip-flop. On my foot.

I'm not sure exactly what happened (did I step on a spark? Did someone leave a hot sparkler on the ground?) I only know the outcome: Lots and lots of heat on my foot, a charred black hole in the sole of my flip flop, and me - hysterically screaming as I threw the shoe across the road. So long to the happy couple. Enjoy your sparkler-less honeymoon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bed-time gets earlier and earlier....

I wish someone had warned me to live up the days of staying up till 4 am and going to class at 8, with very little ill-effects. Now that I am not in college, I feel like my body has aged remarkably fast, at least in terms of bed-time! Midnight or so wrecks me now for a few days, if I have to get up for work the next day. Friday nights are still somewhat palatable, but any other night and oh boy, I need to be in bed early!

Monday I was treated to dinner here and a Durham Bulls game, where they played (and lost to!) this team. I had a great time, but it threw my bed-time out of whack. Thus, it is Wednesday and I am due for a nap! (That could also be attributed to the nachos from Moe's I just ate, which make me feel fat, lethargic and happy the rest of the day. Where's a DP when I need one?) Although I'm tired, I enjoyed myself, so thanks :)

Also, last night I got to watch part of an Indian movie, courtesy of my friend Madhava, who is from India. It was Bollywood at it's best, believe me. I had no idea it was a musical, nor that all Indian movies are - apparently - not complete without 5-6 songs and dancing. As I thoroughly enjoy musicals, I enjoyed it :) Plus, it was just entertaining. I didn't stay for all of it though. Again, bed time called. Nothing like a bubble bath and my pillow to make me happy!

Tonight will not be an early night though. I am meeting with my mentor after church, then have to come home and pack for my weekend at home. My best friend is getting married in what could prove to be one of the most unique weddings I've been to/in. Should be a fun, but also exhausting, weekend. Come on Saturday morning. I'll need to catch up on my sleep, for sure, by that point!

Hope all my faithful readers are having a good week ;)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Musical Monday: I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

If you've been reading my blog for very long, you know the Lord is a developing a heart for the nations in me. I have become more and more aware of how little the Church is doing to relieve the sufferings of people, both spiritual and physical. While only God can heal people spiritually, He has given us as Christians the tools to share the Gospel message with the world. He has also blessed American Christians (in particular) with an abundance of wealth and resources that we have failed to use for his Kingdom. We are SO wealthy and well-connected, and yet, we - as the Church - have done very little and stretched ourselves very little to relieve the suffering of people in Jesus' name.

This thought-process has given me a greater appreciation for Bono, the lead singer of the band U2. Bono is a huge advocate of helping the "least of these" as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 25. Where does this drive to serve others come from? It comes from a very Christian understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what our responsibility is as Christ-followers. In this interview by Christianity Today, Bono gives a clear explanation of the Gospel in a way that is authentic, understandable and challenging.

He was also interviewed by Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church and gave some great answers, relating to faith and action.

"Bill Hybels has convinced me of the importance of the church as the moral force and practical infrastructure for solving the world's problems. Open the doors of your church and make them an AIDS clinic. Your charity is important, but your passion for justice is needed. I’m asking for your voice and for you to give permission to fix these problems that are fixable. It’s not a burden, it’s an opportunity…it’s an adventure!” - Bono interview with Bill Hybels of Willow Creek

That being said, today's (the FIRST Musical Monday post) is about U2's song "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Some people seem to think Bono is saying he hasn't found in Christ what he's looking for. I disagree. I believe he has found fulfillment in Christ, but is continuing to search for the coming kingdom on Earth, and since that has not yet been realized, he still longs for something that he hasn't yet seen. In light of his passion for justice and clear understanding of Christ, I believe his continuing struggle to find something has more to do with Christians and our actions than with the person of Christ. Anyways, here goes. Let me know your own thoughts!

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing fingertips
It burned like a fire
This burning desire

I have spoke with the tongues of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I believe in the Kingdom Come
When all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well, yes I'm still running

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of all my shame
all my shame
You know I believe it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why my dog is like a child.....

....but not in one of those creepy "I spoil him rotten and treat him like a baby" kind of ways.

As a single female with a dog, I often get made fun of by certain people for "thinking my dog is my child" (Shout out to the guys at the office). Let me be clear: I am aware that having a dog is not like having a child. I do not see my dog as a substitute for a child. I do not dress my dog, nor do I allow him to sleep in bed with me. There are clear distinctions, as he is a dog. I am aware of that.

With that being said, I think it's time to admit that those things people often think are so precious that their child does are in fact, common traits my dog also has - I'm just saying.

1) Singing a lullaby to my pup put him to sleep when he was little when nothing else would. His "favorite song" happens to be "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins. It was the only thing that got him to sleep the first week I had him, when he slept in his crate at night.
2) Bribes work really well for him, especially food treats or toys. Unlike many dogs, he's not a people-pleaser, but a self-pleaser. Give him a treat and he's yours. No treat? No response. It's that simple.
3) Toys never remain in his toy basket for long. If I vacuum and put them all up, once the vacuum cleaner has been put away, you can bet he'll drag all his toys back out, just for the sheer joy of having them within eye-sight.
4) If I have guests over, and Ben needs to be put into another room, he will most assuredly throw a temper tantrum to avoid being removed from the "action." This usually includes laying down, rolling onto his back, biting, kicking his legs, growling and resisting all attempts to forcibly move him. Cue treats and watch him happily comply (see #2).
5) When he needs to use the bathroom, he gets really antsy and won't leave me alone until we go outside.
5) When Ben is hungry, he gets obnoxious and wants to hang on me and play all the time. This especially happens at bedtime.
6) Benny lives and dies by a schedule. If we do not go for a walk/run/trip to the park after I get home from work (between 5-6) he goes nuts. Cabin fever sets in from the hours of 1-5 every day, no exceptions.
7) When it's bedtime and he wants to sleep but my light is still on, he puts his head under the bed-skirt to block the light from his eyes.
8) Like having a child allows you to go places you wouldn't go alone (out to eat, to the park, etc), having a dog validates me so I don't look like such a loser as I would sitting by myself those places. He's a great companion. (If I do actually still look like a loser, even with dog in tow, please don't tell me and destroy that illusion of coolness I have going. Thanks)
9) When the kids start crawling and make their way into whatever room you're in, only to lay down behind you - touching you - as you cook or put on makeup, know that this is something Ben also does. He is most content when he has a paw on me and is touching me, even when I keep moving away. He will follow.
10) He greets me happily every morning with a "smile" and a lick (I know the kids don't lick, just give kisses. This is Ben's version). He even loves me with morning breath and nasty hair. Gotta appreciate that unconditional love!

What does your child do you think is so completely adorable? What does your dog do that is a very human trait? I'd love to hear and compare :)

Anyways, if you think I am completely nuts after reading that, go back and read the disclaimer at the beginning. I still expect the insults, though. Let the mockery ensue.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lookie, lookie

Check it out:

Do you know what that is? No?

That is MY article on the front page of Baptist Press, in case you couldn't tell. I'm pretty excited. This might be the most coverage one of my articles has gotten.


(PS - If you want a link to the article to actually read it, rather than just looking at the pretty picture, click here.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Long time gone...

I have been out of town for a while/busy/exhausted/lacking anything brilliant to say. Therefore, in honor of my return-post after a long hiatus, all you're getting is a fun little questionnaire that I stole from a blog I, I mean read.

Plus, it's still early and I don't want to think too much before the coffee hits my brain.

1. What is in the back seat of your car right now?
My kayak, the kayak pump, an umbrella, a decorative frame for my office and more miscellaneous crap.

2. When was the last time you threw up? It's been a few months. I don't really remember.

3. What's your favorite curse word? I don't cuss. Sorry, "boring" answer but I don't really see any use for it. People know when I'm mad without the language :)

4. Name 3 people who made you smile today? Like I said, it's still early. But I'd say my dog Ben would be the only genuine smile I've done yet...

5. What were you doing at 8 am this morning? Heading for work.

6. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Editing an article I just wrote.

7. What will you be doing 3 hours from now? It will be 12:30, aka lunchtime. That means you can find me at Moe's with mis amigas.

8. Have you ever been to a strip club? Um, nope. Don't really see why I would.

9. What is the last thing you said aloud? "Do you want me to send a head-shot with the article?"

10. What is the best ice cream flavor? This stuff I bought from Wal-Mart is killer! White chocolate mudslide or something like that.

11. What was the last thing you had to drink? Cup of coffee with 2 squirts of French Vanilla creamer and 1 packet of Equal

Why is there no #12?

13. What was the last thing you ate? We grilled out last night, so grilled chicken, asparagus and terriyaki squash. Oh, and some Moose Track's from Stucchi's ;)

14. Have you bought any new clothing items this week? Technically, within the last week I went crazy with shopping. I was at H&M last week and bought 3 new dresses, a new tank top, and an adorable yellow Audrey Hepburn-esque jacket.

15. When was the last time you ran? That word is generally not in my vocabulary, unless I'm chasing the dog. He runs enough for the both of us.

16. What's the last sporting event you watched? Was I forced to watch sports at small-group on Sunday? I don't remember. Obviously I don't pay much attention...Oh wait! I think I watched some baseball game at a restaurant recently to avoid awkward conversation.

#17 is missing too...

18. Who is the last person you emailed?
My boss. I sent him the aforementioned article for his review.

19. Ever go camping? Yeah! I love camping. I've even been backpacking, which is way more hard-core than our family camping trips. To give you an idea of the Crane family "roughing it:" Water and electricity at the site. Air mattress at night (usually in the van for me, depending on how much Daddy is snoring). Baby back ribs for dinner. Ahh...the good life.

20. Do you have a tan? Kind of. More like remnants of a nasty burn from Memorial Day.

What the heck? Did someone just go through and delete all these? I know you, valuable readers, are sad about not getting to see answers to 21-23, because I have not gotten to see the questions. My apologies.

24. Do you drink your soda from a straw?
When possible. However, I don't have a supply of straws at home for my stash of DP.

25. What did your last IM say? Who uses IM anymore? Google chat, all the way.

26. Are you someone's best friend? Hmm....I don't actually know. I have several really close friends, but not sure if they would consider me their best friend. Interesting thought.

27. What are you doing tomorrow? Tomorrow: Work, lunch at home, walking Ben, going to Beach Music Festival at North Hills with Steph and Teran, et al.

28. Where is your mom right now? Working somewhere around the greater Knoxville area.

29. Look to your left, what do you see? My new office, all to myself. It's complete with lots of cute bargain finds to decorate my shelves, along with some of my travel mementos. Also, my door, with the window where I watch people at the copier.

30. What color is your watch? Silver. It's so cool. It LOOKS like a watch with hands, but it's actually digital. It takes me forever to read the "real kinds" so I went for a fake that looks real. Psych.

31. What do you think of when you think of Australia ? Hottieswithaccents AND Iwannago.

32. Would you consider plastic surgery? Um...notsomuch. Unlike my freshman year roommate, I see no reason for a boob job or Brazilian butt-lift.

33. What is your birthstone? Blue something....Is that horrible that I can't really remember?

34. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thu? Really depends on how lazy and fat I feel like getting from that meal. If it's super greasy and I'm super tired, drive through. If I'm feeling a little healthier, I usually go inside.

35.How many kids do you want? These days, thinking 4 - 2 biological kids and 2 adopted.

36. Do you have a dog? Yes. He is nuts and I love him.

37. Last person you talked to on the phone? House-guest, aka Steph. She needed to know where to leave the little terrorist in the apartment.

38. Have you met anyone famous? Depends on your definition of famous. Movie-star famous? Notsomuch. However, I have met some well-known (Big Wig) people in Southern Baptist life....that's right. Don't be jealous.

39. Any plans today? Lunch with the girls, dinner and church tonight.

40. How many states have you lived in? 3: Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina

41. Ever go to college? UU! (clap) UU! (clap)

42. Where are you right now? My office.

43. Biggest annoyance in your life right now? Money, or lack thereof. Housing decisions for the next year. I know that's 2, but get over it!

44. Last song listened to? Surpisingly, I couldn't tell you. The juke-box in my head must be down. I can hear some weird psychadelic music coming from Courtney's computer though.

Eh, I give up. Who cares about #45 anyway?

46. Are you allergic to anything?
Dogs, cats, trees, weeds, grass, mold, pollen, dust-mites....The environment, basically. I would be doing a lot better if the creepy guy at the allergy shot place wouldn't have kept hitting on me. I would have actually finished the shots and not be suffering now. Oh well, I deal with it.

47. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? I do enjoy flip flops right now. However, I am also thoroughly enjoy my black peep-toe pumps, which I am currently sporting.

48. Are you jealous of anyone? Let's just leave it at "yes." I'm working on contentment.

Ok, I don't quite give up. It wouldn't be logical to have these 2 questions NOT right after each other. Mabe 49 never existed and someone just cannot count this high.

50. Is anyone jealous of you?
Probably. I don't mean that in a conceited way, just in a I've-been-so-blessed-people-in-Africa-would-love-my-life kind of way. I'm learning how to share that with the less fortunate.

51. What time is it? Wish it was time for lunch, but I guess it's just time for oatmeal. I'm so flippin' hungry.

52. Do any of your friends have children? Yup. I am getting into that stage of my life now....*sigh*

53. Do you eat healthy? It's a work in progress. I do good enough that I scored well on my health exam last week. Thank you, Guidestone for that freebie :)

54. What do you usually do during the day? If you had asked me a few months ago, I'd say "Craigslist and office games." Now, I find I'm kicking the CL addiction and office games were forcibly removed from my life, so I'm actually being quite productive.

55. Do you hate anyone right now? Nope. That wouldn't exactly convey the love of Christ now, would it?

56. Do you use the word 'hello' daily? Yeah, either on the phone or sing-songy in person.

Gracious. Counting and including all numbers cannot be this hard.

58. How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
24. I feel like that will be a good age. I'll feel....validated, settled, mature. Ha, I didn't say I would BE those things - Just feel them :)

59. Have you ever been to Six Flags? It would be a travesty if my answer was "no." I think we're actually planning a Rockin' Rollercoaster Roadtrip for this summer if my friends are still game!

60. How did you get one of your scars? The scar off the corner of my eye is where my brother pushed me into a coffee table when we were little. Thanks bro. Love ya ;)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Making Money, Making Dresses

I'm in the mood to make stuff: Namely, money and clothing.

With rising gas prices and a suspiciously low bank account, I am looking for ways to increase my income "easily."
1) Something I had looked into in the past has come back around - being a secret shopper for various businesses. This involves me either eating out and getting paid for it, shopping and getting paid for it, and giving opinions and getting paid for it. Sounds right up my alley, doesn't it? The trick is timing and scheduling. How many of these assignment can I do in a week to make some money and not severely screw up my schedule. With plans to start classes in the fall, working on my Master's in Intercultural Studies, in addition to my full-time job, I need to be flexible so my 2 main priorities here don't get short-changed.
2) Also, I am going to start spreading the word about dog-sitting. I used to do this in high school and made decent money, and I think I am pretty good at it! I'm reliable and trustworthy, love animals and have experience with a lot of different kinds (horses, dogs, cats, turtles, and guinea pigs, to name a few). So, those are 2 options I'm looking into.

Also, I am currently wearing a very cute yellow sundress from Old Navy, which I have no idea how to pull off. Let's be honest here, I tend to appreciate things that fit, not so much feeling like I am wearing a sack or a lampshade. Unfortunately, the style of this dress is just that. It's a trapeze dress.

Mine is yellow, with a little white and green design on it. Unfortunately, I can't seem to pull it off like this model does! So, I have it cinched at the waist with a belt today. I started looking for directions on how to take it in, so I can still use it, but will feel less awkward about wearing it. That led me to patterns for various dresses to make....I used to sew (I use that term loosely. Purses and pajama pants were top notch, anything beyond that was a little trickier) so I feel like I could maybe a) take my dress in to my satisfaction and b) make some cute dresses for summer. With Raleigh weather approaching 100 this weekend, cool comfy clothes are a must!

If that doesn't work out, maybe I'll just go on a shopping spree at Forever 21 next week while in Indianapolis.....Wait, that messes up my goals all-together. I'd be spending money on clothes I could make. *sigh* That's not good.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

If it's God's will, it's God's bill

Hello friends! I just wanted to share a really cool story of how God is working in my life! Although this isn't brand-new info, I thought it was worth sharing on here.

I believe the Lord has called me overseas. Specifically, I am feeling called to Western Europe, Spain in particular. Though this isn't nailed down, that's the area I believe the Lord has laid on my heart. When the opportunity presented itself to go with Southeastern as part of a study/mission trip on a trip to Amsterdam, I got excited. The trip is approximately 2 weeks, and it will be a combination of studying and learning about how to reach 1) Post-modern thinkers and 2) Western Muslims. After morning classes, the group will go into the coffee shops (the ones where they actually drink coffee, mind you!) and engage the people in conversations and hopefully share the Gospel.

Sounds great, doesn't it? That's what I thought. Plus, I would do some reading/papers and get class credit. The only problem was the cost, nearly $3,000. I asked the Lord for guidance on whether or not I should be trying to do this trip, and asked him to provide the money if it was his will.

Fast-forward a few days. I ran the idea of doing our next spring magazine on reaching a post-modern culture by my boss, and he really liked the it. When he asked why I wanted to do that topic, I suggested him sending me to Amsterdam to cover the trip, research, etc. for the magazine. He said OK. Just like that, he said "yes" to sending me to Amsterdam to work and report for the magazine. The only stipulation? We have to have a good photographer to go with us too, because if he's sending me, he wants some good shots.

Wow. I know the Lord provides, but this is such tangible evidence of that! If that's not God opening a door for me, I don't know what is!! I am so grateful for this opportunity that has been handed to me, and just praying now our next photographer is amazing so we can BOTH go to Amsterdam and see this all come to fruition.

Anyways, all I have to say is the Lord is amazing, and I am amazed at how clearly He is at work in my life.

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever." ~ Hebrews 13: 20-21.