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Friday, November 30, 2007

Last Post...of November!


Last post of NaBloPoMo! 30 days of blogging! Bless you, faithful readers, for sticking through the rambles, the mobile blogging, the thoughtful and the boring.
So...will I be blogging tomorrow?? No go, Hiro! ;)

It's Friday!

Anyone else out there ready for the weekend?!

Wanted to send a few quick links your way before heading out. Hope you enjoy, and Happy Friday!

The public library in Florence (Alabama) has a pretty cool display.

Meanwhile...the Librarians' Internet Index. The Web site is updated every Thursday morning.

Also...an article about the Universal Digital Library.

And...what I would give to live in New York! Check this out...

New York University will be offering a new Masters Program in Archives and Public History, beginning next fall. NYU officials say the program will combine two existing certificate programs in archives and public history in an effort to recognize "how a rapidly changing global and technological environment is affecting the work of public historians and archivists." The curriculum will offer students "a theoretical grounding" in topics including memory, heritage, commemoration, historic preservation, and "the role of the archive in humanities scholarship." Students will work collaboratively with NYU's Division of Libraries in the areas of digital librarianship, preservation, and collection development. In addition, the program will take advantage of its location, by fostering a "close involvement with New York City's array of archival and public history institutions." The application deadline is March 15.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Movie Recs.

Just wanted to share a couple of movies I saw and loved this week...

The Pursuit of Happyness

I've heard great things about this one for awhile but just never got around to seeing it. So so inspiring and now on my list of favorites.

Chalk

A bit less inspiring but a must-see if you've worked in a school. Or maybe it should be a requirement for teachers to see before working in a school.

Enjoy!

Read Jason's Blog!

I want to put in a quick plug for my husband's blog...his latest post, in particular.

We heard a great "On the Media" episode while driving down the Natchez Trace on the way home from Alabama, and I meant to blog about it right here!

But...I forgot. (blushing now)

So I'm really glad he remembered because it's all about books and literature and technology that affects those things and....Well, just read his blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fellow Bloggers

Well, NaBloPoMo is winding down, and I'm having trouble coming up with post topics this week! So I thought I'd borrow one I've seen around and let you know how I got my "blogroll."

Charlotte-My cousin
David D.-Worked with at APR
David M.-Blog friend with shared literary interests
Diane-Blog friend with shared literary interests
Fort Worth Quadruplets-Read about this amazing family in the newspaper of all places!
Fred-Our dog ;)
Heather-Blog friend with Alabama connection
Iliana-Blog friend with shared literary interests
Jason-My hubbie
Jen-Friend from the University of Alabama
Jess-Friend from Southwestern
Julia-Friend from high school
Kelly-Blog friend with shared literary interests
Kenny-Worked with at Clear Channel
Kristy-Blog friend with Alabama connection
Maggie-Friend from library school
Mike Cope-Admired minister
Rosie-Friend from Southwestern
Supabloggasuprememama-Blog friend with Alabama connection
SWBTS Bloggers-List of bloggers at Southwestern. Some good stuff on there!
Tesney-Friend from the University of Alabama

It's interesting to see how different people use their blogs...what things they focus on-books, kids, random thoughts, cartoons, funny stories. I'm almost always inspired, amused and/or entertained by reading y'all's blogs, and I'm challenged to be a better blogger myself. (I know...lots of progress needed in that area!)

So, if you're reading and blogging, and I don't have your link on the side, please let me know! Otherwise, keep up the good posts, everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Remembering Five Years Ago

My mom is really on my mind today because she passed away on this date five years ago. Not trying to bring anyone down. :) I just wanted to share a (fuzzy) picture as well as part of an e-mail I got yesterday that made me think of and appreciate her more than I already do. I hope y'all have good moms as well. If yours is still around...just remember what Bear Bryant would say..."Have you called your Mama today?"

Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street; she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks; she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. Nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space.... not even death!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Shopgirl and Catching Up

Thanks for the comments on previous posts, y'all! I've been out of commission lately between driving from Texas to Alabama and back for Thanksgiving, planning for a presentation at work and watching the Tide play poorly. Anyway, it's good to be reading and posting again!

A few quick links to get you started on your Monday...

Here is a link to the (apparently free) SirsiDynix archive for the Social Bookmarking webinar and others.


And...a pretty cool turkey day story. Hey, we're all still eating leftovers, right?!

Meanwhile...Steve Martin's Shopgirl is a novella, so can I get by with a shortened review?

The story is a simple one, told in the most straight-forward manner imaginable about three people who are leading relatively small lives. But I loved it.

Martin made me care about the characters by giving me a peek into their day-to-day lives over the course of about a year. We delve into their emotions as well as their logic--not too deeply, just enough to understand them and sympathize with their situations.

I knew I had to read the book after seeing the movie, and, of course, the book is better. :)

In keeping with the shorter theme here, I've only included two favorite quotes. There were many more, but most of them came at the end of the book, and I didn't want to give anything away. Enjoy!

Favorite quotes:

In Los Angeles you can live in the tiniest apartment in the tiniest cul de sac with a 1/4 in your address and twenty minutes after placing an order a foreigner will knock on your door bearing yam fries and meatless meatloaf.

Whatever his thought process was, whatever he told himself was the right thing to do, was false. Because his logic is not based in any understanding of her heart, and he continues to misread her.

Photo Essay

We are happy to be back in Texas, even though we had a great time in Alabama! Here are some of the highlights...


Fred meeting his friend Bella...and getting pretty frisky with her.



Freezing our tails off at a Deshler game, which the Tigers won...so it was worth it!



Playing lots of chess at Coldwater Books, our favorite hangout in Tuscumbia. This was the first time Jason and I played in person (not on Facebook). He still defeated me soundly.




And this was just for fun...and a little meanness. :) Roll Tide.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back in Texas

Thank goodness for mobile blogging! I have been away from a real-live computer for most of the week, so I'm looking forward to catching up on all of YOUR blogs tomorrow (and doing a bit of work too-haha). Also trying to resend a pic of Jason and me outside Reese Phifer Hall.

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We Made It...

All the way to Vicksburg. Staying at Motel 6 because of the fluffy fella and trying to type with my fingers crossed for the Tide!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things I Learned on My Thanksgiving Vacation

You never have enough time for a "good" visit.

It is fun driving those little motorized carts at Wal-Mart.

It is strange going back to your old high school to watch a football game for the first time in almost 10 years.

It is nearly impossible to get fly paper out of Bichon fur.

I really love holding my new baby cousins.

Fred will not be getting a brother or sister (4-legged or 2-legged) anytime soon.

Turkey and dressing really is awesome.

I will never get tired of Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving song.

It doesn't get any easier to say goodbye to home.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve Thoughts

I just can't get enough of that Snoopy...

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, everyone!

We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice.

-Minister William Brewster

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fred Hides Out

Vacations are fun, but they are also tiring, even for Fred, who likes to hide when he realizes we are heading out. He knows he is about to be relegated to the basement, with only Alabama Public Television to keep him company! (Sorry the picture is dark...look closely to see him!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tuscaloosa Visit

Didn't Victor Hugo say "The more things change, the more they remain the same?" (In French, of course.)

I don't think he's ever been to Tuscaloosa.

So much seems to have changed in the three short months we have been gone! Alabama Public Radio has changed around the schedule, the offices, the people. Parking spaces have disappeared all around campus. ACA has spiffed up its library. The city now has a Barnes and Noble as well as a pretty cool football coach (despite last weekend's dismal appearance). And strangely enough, the "Naughty Donkey" is now the Wickles Wicked Bean. What is that?!

Good to know, though, that a few things remain. Heritage House still has the city's best coffee. Dreamland appears to be thriving, as does our home church. And Reese Phifer stands strong.

Anyway, despite the changes, all is still right with the world. Now time for pizza and Charlie Brown!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Being Home

Having a great time so far. In fact, I took pictures to document our great time (playing chess, eating Mexican food and just chilling). However, I'm having some issues with those right now. Will try to get some of these soon.

In the meantime, enjoy a little wisdom of Pooh...

I have a house where I go
When there's too many people,
I have a house where I go
Where no one can be;
I have a house where I go,
Where nobody ever says "No";
Where no one says anything--so
There is no one but me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Home Sweet Home Alabama

We had a great trip, but, as you can see, I am crashing at Dad's. Tired of driving and of seeing Bama lose. Roll Tide anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Problem of Pain

I finished reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis this morning. This is not an "official" book review, but I did just want to post some thoughts on it. I have now read all of Lewis's work, and this one would be in my top five favorites of his.

I love that he takes on such a difficult question like If there is a God, and He is good and almighty, how can there still be pain in the world? Similarly, Why do bad things happen to good people? I love that he doesn't give trite answers, that he works through questions like these logically, step-by-step, and it's hard to imagine arriving at any conclusion other than his. Great thinker and apologetic.

But the thing that stood out most to me personally in this book is the idea that God could be trying to get our attention through pain. I had read the famous quote from him that "God whispers to us in our pleasures...but shouts in our pain." I never really understood that, though, until I read his full argument.

We "have all we want" is a terrible saying when "all" does not include God. We find God an interruption...Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as He leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call "our own life" remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him.

Wow.

So, as a creation of God, I am not supposed to find true fulfillment in my marriage, family, career, hobbies (as good as those things might be). But, honestly, isn't that where many of us look for fulfillment? If that's the case, might God have to take away one of those things to turn our attention to Him? Lewis then goes on to discuss God's "divine humility" where He accepts us even when we come to Him because we have nowhere else to turn.

If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is "nothing better" now to be had...It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts.

Heading into this Thanksgiving season, I just wanted to share this wonderful book/author with you. I am thankful for Lewis and all of his work that has blessed and inspired so many. I am also most thankful that God "shouted in my pain" a few years back and forever turned my attention to Him.

I just never could have expressed that as eloquently as C.S. Lewis. :) Now...what are YOUR thoughts on the "problem of pain"?

Meanwhile...I'll be posting from the road tomorrow because we're heading home for Thanksgiving! Please keep us in your prayers!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Are You Social?

Recently, a question came across the SLIS listserv about social networks (Facebook, MySpace, etc...) and their usage in libraries.

As far as I know, we currently have no policy in place regarding these; although, in my experience, Christian librarians tend to keep an eye on the content of many web sites, these included.

Here is an article about creating a social software policy.

So, what about your library? Any policies/thoughts regarding these networks?

Similarly, what's your take on social bookmarking? My husband has really gotten into del.icio.us, but it hasn't attracted me in the same way Facebook and Blogger have. I do see a lot of potential positives, however, especially concerning professional development, resource sharing, that type of thing.

Anyway, here's an article about that as well!

One more week to Thanksgiving!

Better Late...

Well, Jason and I finally finished our Charlie Brown Halloween puzzle last night. I'm glad to get the ironing board back, and I think Fred will be glad for us to quit saying "Got another piece!"

Meanwhile, I'm almost finished with The Problem of Pain, and I'll try to have some quotes and thoughts on that tomorrow.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It Ain't Over 'Til...What?!

Why is it that I keep getting hooked on television shows only to find that they have terrible series finales?


Last night, Jason and I finished up "Star Trek: Enterprise." (Hey, no judging--it's actually a pretty good show--and Scott Bakula doesn't look too shabby in his uniform--haha.) Anyway, I have really enjoyed this one, and I had high hopes for its finale.

Biggest disappointment since "Alias."

In fact, we no longer speak of the last episode of "Alias" in our house. The only reason I'm bringing it up now is to support my point here.


With both shows, I was left with this feeling of "What?!" and a desire to throw things at the television. In fact, I've also been tempted to just make up my own ending to replace the one the otherwise clever writers botched.


Just to be clear, I don't believe all tv shows, movies or books have to have a happy ending or a neatly-packaged wrap-up where everyone finds a soul mate and saves the world. However, the final show should be consistent with the rest of the series, and it should be worthy of the audience that has tuned in faithfully for years.

Good examples--Felicity, Gilmore Girls, Newhart, The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Bad examples--Seinfeld, The Sopranos and the afore-mentioned Alias and Star Trek

So, there's my vent for the day. What are YOUR best/worst finales?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blog Reading Level

cash advance

This Blog's Reading Level

cash advance


No wonder I'm not getting many comments! (Thanks, Maggie, for the post idea!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Manic Monday

It's just another Manic Monday...so I thought instead of complaining, I'd do a Monday acrostic of things I'm loving in life right now. Plus, I'm still having a bit of blogger's block. Anyway, here you go...

My new drawer organizers came in today, and I love them!
Only one week of work left before the Thanksgiving break!
November...pumpkin spice lattes, leaves, turkey--what's not to like?
Dinner is prepped already--BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots
Apples--Pink lady & honeycrisp=perfect blend of red & yellow.
Yelling for Alabama football...even though we didn't win Saturday. :(

Monday Musings

Just wanted to share a few things to get your Monday started...

Our dean of libraries wanted the faculty/staff to take a look at this article. I loved it! And it was so relevant, I think. Hope you like it, too.

Meanwhile, there's been an interesting discussion on the SLIS listserv lately about cell phone policy in the library. My colleagues have everything from a zero-use policy to pleas for vibrate-only to a bonafide Society for HandHeld Hushing (SHHH). heehee
We at Southwestern don't really have a written policy (as far as I know), but we do unofficially encourage patrons to use their phones in the snack areas (separate rooms) or outside. And, surprisingly, we hardly have any problems.

Here are a couple of articles about cell phones in general:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16182667
http://tinyurl.com/39fmh7

What's YOUR cell policy?

Also, Alabama becomes the first state to choose a Bible textbook.

And, finally, David asks..."How would you cope if you had no way to use the Internet for a week?"
I actually don't have Internet access at home, so I'm usually without it every weekend anyway! I would miss it, but I think I would just look at it as a welcome break from all the electronic "noise."
My husband, on the other hand...Sheesh!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nothin' much to say

Well, this is my first case of blogger's block during NaBloPoMo.

So...we had a fun weekend hanging out with friends and their dogs, cleaning house, checking projects off the to-do list, going to an awesome church service and just lazing around!

That's all she wrote!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fred Yunioshi

Yesterday morning I accidentally trapped Fred in our laundry room. This (trapping him in small spaces) has only happened a few times but does occur because he's always under-foot.

Anyway, I have noticed that every time this happens that Fred has this expression on his face that looks just like Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

For those of you who haven't seen this incredible film, Mr. Yunioshi is Holly Golightly's upstairs neighbor. He is an artist who is always being disturbed by her late-night shenanigans. And there is one scene in particular where he and Fred have the same perturbed expression.

Sorry to be a bit of a blogging slacker, but I don't have pictures to prove my point...yet. I'll work on getting those a.s.a.p.

In the meantime, happy weekend!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dallas-Studying & Sushi

It was an exciting day, career-wise. I headed to Dallas with three of my co-workers to attend the Southwest Area Theological Library Association conference. Fun stuff...talking about information literacy, technology and how to work with educators and administrators to use that technology to improve that literacy. As I said, fun stuff.

Also fun was trying out Sushi Zushi. Not being a huge sushi person, I don't think I would ever have chosen this place on my own. However, that was where the group was having lunch, so I jumped right in. :)

The picture below is of me eating my cucumber and seaweed salad with chopsticks. I've tried to use chopsticks ever since my second-grade best friend brought a pair back to me from China. Today was my first success!

I also ate (with my chopsticks): a dumplin, tofu "boxes," California rolls, fried shrimp and fried vegetables (including fried sweet potato). Quite tasty!

Here's to new skills--both culinary and literary!

And...happy weekend.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Feeding the Fish

When we first moved out here, I was lamenting leaving behind Alabama's rivers, lakes, ponds, swimming holes and various other bodies of water for what I perceived as dry, dry Texas. However, there are actually some nice lakes and trails that we're having fun discovering out here, and the state has been seeing record amounts of rain this year.


My favorite watering hole, though, would have to be the tiny fish pond right here on Southwestern's campus. There are park benches, a gazebo, big rocks that let you stand right up next to the water and lots of fish! The seminary provides the food, and this is what happens when you feed the fish...


First they notice...

Then they congregate...



And, finally, swarm!



You can't see the hundreds of tiny fish fellows in the pictures, but it's a lot of fun watching them as well. (I've been wondering how they handle the colder weather, but we haven't really had any yet!)


Overall, I love having lunch with my husband, sitting outside, feeding the fish. Granted, it's not the same as spending the day on the Tennessee River, but it's a pretty nice consolation prize.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Borrowed Book Report

I "borrowed" this book review from my literary blog because I just enjoyed the book so much that I wanted to be sure my many, many readers would receive this recommendation. ;) Hope you enjoy it!

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

My aunt loaned me her copy of this book recently with the disclaimer that she thought I was finally ready to read it. She had expressed hesitation about my doing so before now because my mother's death was still so present in my memory.

In three weeks, it will have been five years since my mother died, and there were times during this book that I thought I still might not be ready to read this yet.

I say that as an introduction because, for those of us who have lost someone close, it is a difficult book to read. But that is precisely what makes it a good book. Through Joan Didion's clear descriptions, you are able to feel much of what she felt when she was faced with her husband's death and her daughter's serious illness.

She revisits places in her memory, juxtaposing them against her current grief. She lets you know what it feels like to be emotionally raw, to grieve, to mourn, to know the difference between grieving and mourning.

“Grief was passive. Grief happened. Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.”

She humbly and honestly presents the irrational feeling of responsibility that I know I had when my mother died. If you have not gone through this, it doesn't make sense to think "I could've stopped that heart attack (or brain tumor or car accident)." If you have gone through this, you know exactly how she feels.

Referring to Emily Post's etiquette, she gives you practical insight on how best to approach someone who is grieving, on how to help get them through the day.

I had a hard time choosing favorite quotes for this because I wanted to include half of the book. I give it a high recommendation but with my own disclaimers. For those of you who have never lost someone close to you, read this to help you understand how the rest of us feel and to help you prepare for the time when you will lose someone. For those of you who have already been touched by death, read this to know that you are not alone. But I agree that you should not read it too soon. Give it a few years; then you might be ready for your own year of magical thinking.

Favorite quotes:

Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.

Confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames.

Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be. What I felt in each instance [of her parents’ deaths] was sadness, loneliness (the loneliness of the abandoned child of whatever age), regret for time gone by, for things unsaid, for my inability to share or even in any real way to acknowledge, at the end, the pain and helplessness and physical humiliation they each endured...Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it…We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind.

Any answer he gave could exist only in my imagination, my edit. For me to imagine what he could say…would seem obscene, a violation…We imagined we knew everything the other thought, even when we did not necessarily want to know it, but in fact, I have come to see, we knew not the smallest fraction of what there was to know.

I notice that I have lost the skills for ordinary social encounters, however undeveloped those skills may have been, that I had a year ago…I also notice that I do not have the resilience I had a year ago.

I did not want to finish the year because I know that as the days pass, as January becomes February and February becomes summer, certain things will happen. My image of John at the instant of his death will become less immediate, less raw. It will become something that happened in another year.

The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

My aunt loaned me her copy of this book recently with the disclaimer that she thought I was finally ready to read it. She had expressed hesitation about my doing so before now because my mother's death was still so present in my memory.

In three weeks, it will have been five years since my mother died, and there were times during this book that I thought I still might not be ready to read this yet.

I say that as an introduction because, for those of us who have lost someone close, it is a difficult book to read. But that is precisely what makes it a good book. Through Joan Didion's clear descriptions, you are able to feel much of what she felt when she was faced with her husband's death and her daughter's serious illness.

She revisits places in her memory, juxtaposing them against her current grief. She lets you know what it feels like to be emotionally raw, to grieve, to mourn, to know the difference between grieving and mourning.
“Grief was passive. Grief happened. Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.”

She humbly and honestly presents the irrational feeling of responsibility that I know I had when my mother died. If you have not gone through this, it doesn't make sense to think "I could've stopped that heart attack (or brain tumor or car accident)." If you have gone through this, you know exactly how she feels.

Referring to Emily Post's etiquette, she gives you practical insight on how best to approach someone who is grieving, on how to help get them through the day.

I had a hard time choosing favorite quotes for this because I wanted to include half of the book. I give it a high recommendation but with my own disclaimers. For those of you who have never lost someone close to you, read this to help you understand how the rest of us feel and to help you prepare for the time when you will lose someone. For those of you who have already been touched by death, read this to know that you are not alone. But I agree that you should not read it too soon. Give it a few years; then you might be ready for your own year of magical thinking.

Favorite quotes:

Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.

Confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames.

Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be. What I felt in each instance [of her parents’ deaths] was sadness, loneliness (the loneliness of the abandoned child of whatever age), regret for time gone by, for things unsaid, for my inability to share or even in any real way to acknowledge, at the end, the pain and helplessness and physical humiliation they each endured...Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it…We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind.
Any answer he gave could exist only in my imagination, my edit. For me to imagine what he could say…would seem obscene, a violation…We imagined we knew everything the other thought, even when we did not necessarily want to know it, but in fact, I have come to see, we knew not the smallest fraction of what there was to know.

I notice that I have lost the skills for ordinary social encounters, however undeveloped those skills may have been, that I had a year ago…I also notice that I do not have the resilience I had a year ago.

I did not want to finish the year because I know that as the days pass, as January becomes February and February becomes summer, certain things will happen. My image of John at the instant of his death will become less immediate, less raw. It will become something that happened in another year.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Which Superhero Are You?

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but...
You are Robin
Young and acrobatic. You don't mind stepping aside to give someone else glory.



(Keep scrolling...and scrolling...for the rest of my results!)



















Robin
87%
Spider-Man
85%
Hulk
80%
Supergirl
75%
Wonder Woman
70%
Superman
65%
The Flash
50%
Green Lantern
45%
Catwoman
40%
Iron Man
35%
Batman
25%


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Monday, November 05, 2007

Church Rushing

Jason and I are in the process of finding a new church home here in Fort Worth. We've narrowed down the field significantly, but there are lots and lots of churches here! In fact, on some Sundays, we've been going to two services (early and late) just to get in a few more visits.

And it's been really challenging so far! We have visited several places that we really like, and, of course, there have been those where we just knew immediately that we didn't fit. I don't know when we'll end up making a decision.

In the midst of all this, it struck me that finding a new church has been a bit like going through rush. For those of you unfamiliar with the system (at the University of Alabama anyway), there is a tradition called "Rush Week."

The prospective members (all female--they do it differently in fraternities) briefly visit all the sorority houses on the first day. Then, as they narrow down their choices, the visits get longer and more personal each day until they've found the house where they fit. (Or, they figure out the Greek system is most definitely not for them--which is what I did. I hope I won't reach that conclusion when it comes to church, though!)

Anyway, we also visit a church more and more often, going on Sunday nights, to small groups, talking with the church leaders, things like that, as we get to know the members a little better and see how we "fit." So, that's a surface likeness.

However, the more I thought about it, the more similarities I began to see. So, here is a bit of compare/contrast...

We're greeted at the door where we hear unfamiliar songs in the background. We will pay dues (I mean tithes). We're served refreshments (coffee for churches, iced tea for Bama sororities). We have meetings and weekly mixers (no alcohol at churches, though--grape juice is as stiff a drink as you'll get). We're all dressed up. We see friendliness in abundance. (Hopefully, at churches, that friendliness is a bit more sincere. Kidding.)

And, as I talk with different people on campus, I get questions that are eerily similar to the ones I got almost 10 years ago when going through rush.

"Which church do you like so far?"
"Have you joined yet?"
"Do you think you'll pick my church?"
"So, what do you really think of the First Self-Righteous Church?"
(Just a Ray Stevens tribute--not a commentary.) ;)
"Can you believe Doctor X or Socialite Y goes there?"
"Have you heard what they are doing there?" (Both good and bad)

OK, before you get worried, that's where the comparisons end. I truly believe people here at the seminary and at the churches we've visited want us to feel welcomed and to find the place that is best for us.

Which brings me to another point, though...

What do you look for in a church?

Here are a few things that stand out to me in these visits...

-Friendliness
-Sincerity
-Worship style
-Style of speakers
-Places for us to serve/ministry opportunities
-Opportunities for us to be equipped (classes, conferences, small groups, etc...)

Again, we haven't found our "home" just yet, but we are still looking. I'll let you know when we make any decisions.
And I'd love to hear tips from any of you who have had to go/are going through this church-hunting business! Pray for us!

ESP?

David asks this week "Do you have ESP?"

I would love it if I did have ESP because I would try and make my fortune by betting on sports. Unfortunately, I have neither ESP nor ESPN.

Sorry for the corny Monday humor! :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday Fun

What I'm doing instead of ironing today. Thoughts on church hunting coming tomorrow!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fred loves fall!

Fred had fun checking out our pumpkin. I'm not sure what he'll think once I roast the seeds!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Best American Short Stories of 2006

I love a good short story, so you can imagine my delight when my dear aunt gave me a collection of the best American short stories of 2006. The cherry on the top of my short story sundae was the editor—Ann Patchett. She is one of my favorites, so I had a feeling that this collection would be a worthy one. And, boy, was I right!

Patchett says in the introduction, “They are better than novels I’ve been reading. They are more daring, more artful, and more original.”

Amen, sister. Of course, in any group of anything, you’ll likely find something you don’t like. (Did that sentence make sense?) However, the majority of these stories were just lovely. I had no luck in trying to pick a favorite, in fact. Some were heart-breaking, others witty. Some were simply strange, but they were all intense and thought-provoking. Stories ranging from the escapades of a wannabe tattoo artist to a contented, curse-prone cowboy. A bizarre account of random speakers at an artist’s funeral, a beautiful glimpse into a young girl’s first kiss, several incredible perspectives on marriage, family and death. Other than the Bible, where else would you find one book that covers this range of material?!

(From the Foreword)
“Because they can be consumed in a sitting, we tend to think of short stories as the equivalent of literary bonbons, small bites to satisfy a small craving or to fill a little space in the day. Short they may be, and yet the work of digesting a good story is anything but quick.”

I expected to read through this collection pretty quickly. However, I generally found myself reading the first half of a story on the treadmill in the mornings and the second half as I waited for my husband to emerge from the library in the afternoons. This meant that I have been reading the book for awhile now, but I really had time to “digest” some of these stories. What a treat! (Much like the afore-mentioned sundae.)

So I will join Patchett and ask you to get behind the often-unappreciated short story as well. She explains in the introduction that the short story needs a publicist because “It does not go out and get you. It waits for you. It waits and waits and waits.”

But if you’re waiting for a good short story to come along, wait no longer. I would wholeheartedly recommend this collection. And, while you're reading, go ahead and enjoy that sundae.

Favorite quotes:

From Once the Shore...
“Maybe going somewhere else was an act of remembrance, of where you were from. A world of mirrors in which you witnessed a countless number of things that could have occurred at home or anywhere. And maybe, just maybe, that in itself was worth doing now and again.”

From The Ambush...
“There was something nightmarish about the dusty green gloss of the camellia bushes, deep, deep cover where our sniper lay and waited for us. Every day, he drew us in as if by a poisonous charm; every day, we dove from the trap and crawled for cover, as round after round of fire cracked over our heads.”

From Refresh, Refresh...
“My father wore steel-toed boots, Carhartt jeans, and a T-shirt advertising some place he had traveled to, maybe Yellowstone or Seattle.”

From After a Life...
“A woman accepted anything from life and made it the best; a man bargained for the better but also the worse.”

From A New Gravestone for an Old Grave...
“Viktor paused and contemplated his grandparents’ graves. They evoked in him a peculiar timbre of grief—grief not over what he had lost but over what he had never had. A baser, more selfish form of grief. The kind that permitted him only to mumble a self-conscious good-bye before turning back up the path.”

DFW Dining

Jason and I never seem to have a shortage of places to eat, no matter where we live. Although, there is occasionally a shortage in the eating-out portion of our budget. :) But lately we've tried a few noteworthy places, and I thought I'd share the top three.

Wild About Harry's is a place we kind of happened upon while drooling over the Macs at the Apple store in Dallas. It's right next door, and we were intrigued by the delicious smell of the homemade waffle cones. They also have great coffee and custard, but my favorite thing on the menu was the veggie dog--any way you want it. Nice.




Freebirds World Burrito is, so far, the best Mexican food we have found here in the metroplex. It's similar to Qdoba, but Jason was excited that Freebirds has refried beans (and a bit more variety in general). Not to mention they are sporting the name of the second-coolest Skynrd song and a Statue of Liberty riding a motorcycle hanging from a ceiling. And as if all that weren't enough, they also encourage you to make foil art out of your burrito wrapper. (That's an elephant, if you can't tell. Roll Tide.)








But the hands-down winner is...

Chapps Cafe

Ah, Chapps...our friendly neighborhood burger joint (except I don't eat the burgers). I think I've mentioned Kincaid's in a post before. It is a Fort Worth staple and quite tasty. However, Chapps is half a mile from our house, and the atmosphere is a bit quieter, more hole-in-the-wall but not gross. They have sports going on the TVs. Jason loves their burgers, and I've gotten addicted to their grilled Cajun chicken sandwich, along with the Cajun fries. The heat/taste balance is absolutely perfect. But if I'm feeling like something spicier or less meaty, I go for the Cajun fries with the works. Same yummy spices, but throw on jalapenos, cheese, bacon bits, and, as my brother says, it makes you want to slap your grandma. Throw on a vanilla malt, and you're good to go.

We've gotten in the habit of picking up Chapps on the way home on Friday nights...and sometimes returning for lunch on Sundays. And when we eat there, I tend to reminisce about it for the rest of the night. Seriously. If you come visit us, that's where we're taking you.

OK, so that's my morning ode to food. Tell me about your favorite places!

And I wish you all a happy Friday!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I know you've all been anxiously awaiting to see Fred and me take on the Star Wars roles of Princess Leia and Yoda. So, enjoy!





We had no trick-or-treaters, but we still had fun dressing up, watching Van Helsing and eating Hershey Bars. (Except Fred did not partake of said Hershey Bars...as far as we know.)

Fort Worth School Tackles the N-Word

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran this story today, and I'd love to hear some other perspectives on it.

Just to start off on a sidenote, I wish the article had been more clear about how the teacher used the n-word and in what contexts. I'm not advocating the use of the word, but it was hard to tell if the usage was truly excessive without more details.

Mainly, though, how do you deal with this when you are studying, teaching and/or reading novels by Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner and others who used terms that are now deemed inappropriate? I know Maggie dealt with this issue recently in the summer reading challenge, but I think the topic takes on an extra significance when you are talking about teaching a novel to kids, even when those kids are high school seniors.

And, again, I'm not trying to push for the use of the word, but something inside me cringes when the immediate reaction is "take the book out of the curriculum" or "pull it off the shelf." I tend to want everyone to pause, take a step back and see if we can still see a book's literary worth without condoning certain language or practices. Can we find creative ways to teach it and even discuss issues surrounding these offensive words, or do we have to be so sensitive that we can't even bring up a topic like this in a class?

So, that's what was running through my head as I read the article this morning. How about you? Any thoughts?

Read from the beginning...