Sunday, March 27, 2011

A few points for contemplation and discussion

Hello again!  I know - you're shocked that this post is in such close proximity to the last.  There are some things I'd really like to share, though!  The following topics have been on my heart, lately, and God has addressed them in very clear ways.  I'm in awe of the timing and clarity of these answers, and thought I'd share with you all!

Fasting: This is something I'd seen/heard about others doing through various groups in college.  It was never something I felt called to do, though.  Plus, my-mother-in-me had me convinced that it was not a nutritiously smart thing to do.  Recently, however, I've been looking for things to challenge and grow me spiritually.  A family member mentioned that he'd participated in a 5-day fast and how much it had strengthened his faith and changed his perspective on life (and food) in many ways.  So, I started considering it, and mentioned it to a friend.  As it turns out, she had been planning on fasting sometime in the near future, but wasn't sure when or how long, or if she'd even have the strength to do it on her own.  Me bringing it up was a clear push for her to go ahead and do it, and I believe the fact that she'd been planning on it was my call to participate, as well.

Tithing: Because I'm not actually a member of the church(es) I've been attending in the recent past, I've been wondering where my monetary offering should go.  I was recently reminded, however, that the money is God's money and He will use it for the good of His kingdom no matter where I give it.  Then, in church this morning, it was announced that the next few weeks will be a campaign to get the church out of debt.  Normally, people (including myself) groan at stewardship messages.  The fact that this had been on my heart, however, really drove it home that God can and will use my money no matter where it goes, AND He gave me a clear picture of where it is needed right now (in my little part of the world, at least).

Contentment: Lately, I've been hearing from various sources that it's dangerous to be content in life.  According to these sources, if you're content, there's nothing in your life that can only be handled by God - if you're content, you're not really relying on God to take care of the "unknowns" in your life.  This is some of what the Bible says about contentment, though:   

  • Philippians 4:11-12 - "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
  • 1 Timothy 6:6 - "Now godliness with contentment is great gain."
  • Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"

So, I think being content is perfectly acceptable and to be admired, HOWEVER we shouldn't become complacent.  Here's some of what the Bible has to say about complacency:

  • Zephaniah 1:12 - "I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem's darkest corners to punish those who sit complacent in their sins. They think the LORD will do nothing to them, either good or bad."
  • Revelation 3:16-17 - "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." 

I think it's very easy to confuse these two words, and we should be careful not to do so.  Being content with life (what we have, where we are, who we know, etc.) is very different than becoming complacent in our faith (i.e. thinking we don't need to show God's love to EVERYone around us, not living like Christ outside of going to church on Sundays, living by our own power rather than by faith in God's, etc.).  May we all be content with the life God has granted us and be able to fight the complacency that can so easily accompany the blessing of this contentment.

I hope this didn't get too deep for you all.  : )  I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of it!

In Him,

P.S.  Charlie's appointment/shots went very well yesterday!  He weighs 10 lbs. (5 more than when I got him), and it a healthy kitty!

Favorites of the day:
not having to go somewhere else (or having to pay) to do my laundry
crossing things off my to-do list(s)

Friday, March 25, 2011

You may find this very surprising...

I’m going to make you wait for the surprising news till after I tell you about something else:

I just returned from a lovely trip with my alma mater’s band on their tour to Denver.  As you may already know, I was invited along to play French horn (and serve as the videographer), and I took the challenge.  Though this tour was different than any other I’d been on (different people, different director, different places, etc.), it was still very enjoyable and nice to get away for a bit.  Here are some of the highlights:

Pen/pencil wall at Pioneer Village

Ole's Big Game Steakhouse
We also had dinner at Casa Bonita.  Our table was under a gazebo right next to the cliff/waterfall.  The diver came over to chat on more than one occasion.  : )

Room all to myself!
We performed four concerts at various high schools, spent lots of quality time on the bus, and frequented the hotel pool and hot tub.

Scott's Bluff
Chimney Rock
Lake McConaughy

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

The unusual/surprising event in which I participated last night was…

speed dating.

Now that you’ve startled those around you with a gasp of shock at this news, let’s discuss it a bit.

While to some this may seem to be a way to meet people out of desperation, I can honestly say that I just wanted to take part in this event to 1. see what it was like and 2. say I’ve done it, and I feel like this is the most opportune time in my life to do so.  Meeting a “potential” was considered a bonus, in my book. : )

As it turns out, there was a pretty poor turnout for this particular speed date.  Not many people signed up in the first place, but also, a couple of the guys didn't show up.  SO, we were left with 5 (I was expecting 15+ based on previous events).  For those of you who aren't familiar with speed dating, the process goes as follows:

1. Sign in and receive check-list and name tag (with your first name and a number).
2. Find table with corresponding number.
3. Sit at the table and wait for men to arrive.
4. When man sits down, write his name and number (found on the name tag) on your checklist.
5. Chat for four minutes, or until the whistle is blown.
6. Wait for next man to sit down and repeat steps #4-#5 until you have spoken with all the men there.
7. Go through your checklist and circle “yes” or “no” next to each man’s name/number.  “Yes” means you’d like to correspond with him again.  “No” means you would rather not.

It was an interesting experience and I’m glad I can say I've done it, but I probably won’t participate again (unless someone else wants to try and needs a wingman).  Needless to say, I’m glad we were refunded half of the fee – due to the lack of gentlemen.  : )
So, there you have it.  I’d love to hear from anyone else who has tried this form of dating or anyone who has an opinion on it at all!

Hope those of you who’ve had a break this week have enjoyed it!  Too bad it wasn’t very spring-y…not here, at least:

Stay warm,

P.S.  Charlie has his first appointment at the vet tomorrow - gotta get some shots.  By the way, I feel like he hit some a growth spurt while I was gone.  No little kitten face here, anymore!  Anyway, send happy thoughts his way in the morning.  : )

Favorites of the day:
shopping with my mom (and using a new coupon on a purchase I made a couple weeks ago!)
goodies from Grandma
the latest episode of “The Office

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Announcements, announcements, announcements!

Once again, if you're like me, you just sang the title of this post in your head.  I only ever knew the "announcements" part of that camp song, and I'm not even sure where I first heard it.  There's way more to it, though - check out this video.  Kinda strange, actually, but I'm still ok with the chorus.

Anyway, I'm here to reveal the reason I've been practicing French horn lately.  I know you've all been waiting on pins and needles to know...  : )  So...without further ado:
I'm going on tour with my alma mater's band!  Wohoo for college trips and hanging out with great friends again AND for playing in a large ensemble.  I miss it more than I realize, sometimes, and am so thankful to have been asked to come along on this trip!

I'll be partaking in a somewhat unusual event when I get back next week.  I'll tell you more about it afterward.  : )

In other news, my adult trumpet student came to his lesson tonight excited to tell me that he'd not only practiced what I asked him to, but he also learned "What A Wonderful World" on his own and wanted to play it for me!  I'm so proud of him!  

Ok - that's all I've got.  If anyone else wants to share their spring break plans, feel free to do so in a comment!


Favorites of the day:
unexpected compliments
fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies
spring weather

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"There she is..."

If you’re like me and live life sort-of like a musical, you just sang the Miss America theme song in your head at the mere mention of “There she is…”  And if you’re not like me, at least that gives you a hint as to why I titled the post as such. 

Last weekend, my boss at Harris Music Studio had the privilege of hosting Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, during part of her time in Lincoln.  For those of you who don’t know, Teresa was Miss Nebraska before winning the Miss America competition.  She’s 17 - the youngest Miss Nebraska ever and the youngest Miss America in 70+ years.  She had a tiny bit of downtime while she was here, so was kind enough to sign some autographs at the studio!  Since we didn’t know how many people would show up, a few teachers, including myself, volunteered to help with this event.  My job was to write down people’s names and anything they wanted Teresa to sign to them with her autograph.  Since she was in a different room down the hallway from where I was standing, there were a few kids who just brought their autograph books/papers up for me to sign, thinking I was Miss America.  haha! 

Also, since some of the kiddos had no idea what they wanted her to say, I was left to suggest some inspirational anecdotes (dream big, always be yourself, music is awesome, etc.).  At one point, I jokingly quoted Justin Beiber’s new song and suggested, “Never say never.”  Of course, this idea spread like wildfire and rekindled everyone’s Bieber fever.  I hope Miss America wasn’t offended – it may have seemed as though a good percentage of the kids wished they were at a JB concert.

Of course, I also got a signed photo and a picture with her!  What a great young lady representing our country in this way!

By the way, I just made these granola bars:
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used cashews)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
3 TBSP light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
3/4 cup raisins (I used all cranberries.)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9″ baking pan with foil and coat well with nonstick cooking spray.
Toss the oatmeal and walnuts on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the coconut, puffed rice, and dried fruit.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

They’re still cooling, so I haven’t tried them, yet, but they sure smell yummy!  I found the recipe on a food blog (which you should check out! Click here), and it was adapted from Ina Garten (of the Barefoot Contessa)’s original recipe, which I’d happened to see her make on her show recently.  Her recipe can be found here. 

Mmmk – I’m off to practice the French horn.  I won’t tell you why, yet.  You’ll find out soon enough!  : )

Enjoy the sunshine!

Favorites of the day:
nearly 25% in savings on my grocery bill yesterday (thanks to coupons and in-store sales!)
Pillsbury cinnamon rolls

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Charlie's Latest Obsession...and other short stories

Hello, hello!  Hope your week is going well - mine is!

Just a few things to share:

First of all, I made this for supper tonight, and it was delicious!
The recipe can be found here.

Secondly, I have a quick story from subbing yesterday:
The jr.-high girl who asked me if I had a boyfriend last time I was there asked yesterday, "Has your knight in shining armor found you, yet?"  I laughed and said, "No, but it's ok."  She exclaimed, "What?!  No, it's not!  What's wrong with the guys you meet?  Seriously...(exasperated sigh)"  I have to say it boosted my self-esteem a bit (and put a smile on my face), even coming from a sweet seventh-grade girl.  : )

Additionally (thank you, 16 years of school, for teaching me how/when to use transitions), I have some Charlie-isms to share.  I feel like a crazy cat lady/helicopter parent, but I also know that many of you enjoy hearing about/seeing my little one.  Those of you who don't can just stop reading right now.  : ) 

As I was rearranging some craft supplies, Charlie decided one of my drawers should be dedicated to him.  I let him stay for a little bit, but in the end, I needed the drawer for other things. I promised him the next box that comes to the coop.

Here is a series of "playing in the sink" pictures.  It's still one of his favorite things to do.  I'm convinced he doesn't drink out of his designated water dish, so he can save his thirst for the faucet.

Finally, Charlie's latest obsession.  I don't know if I should really share this, but I'm going to, anyway:

So, the drain cover on our shower comes off pretty in, Charlie has discovered he can take it off all by himself.  He has also discovered the fascinating abyss of the drainpipe.  After he pulled out the human hair ball (not pictured), he is content to stick his paw down as far as he can and clean all the other gunk off the sides of the pipe.  I assume he's trying to help me out with the cleaning, but he hasn't quite figured out how to finish the job.  Instead, he leaves all the residue he finds on the floor of the shower.

This is how I found him...peering down the drain. 

See what I mean about the lack of follow-through?

Now that I've filled you in on one of the dirty little secrets of the coop (pun intended), feel free to share any of the gross/dusty/sticky/stinky discoveries at your house!  You all have hair balls and other gunk in your drains - you just don't have a curious kitty to bring them to the surface.  No judging allowed.  : )

As usual, thanks for reading!

TTFN - ta ta for now,

Favorites of the day:
having an evening at home
Lacey's cookies (find them at your nearest Trader Joe's - also a favorite)