Monday, January 30, 2012

Adventures in Houston

I wrote this post on the plane on the way home from Houston last weekend, but the week got away from me and I never got it posted. But here it is now.
I’ve never been to Houston or even Texas for that matter. I also have gotten very used to living in smaller towns. The only reason I get on the interstate in Missouri is if I am going out of town. Traffic is rare on the routes I travel, and it never takes more than 10 minutes to get anywhere.

Houston is a very different story. I drove the rental car (a cute little Nissan Versa I really enjoyed driving), and Katherine helped translate the GPS for me. I really think the hotel was less than two miles from the church where the conference was, but we never figured out what the direct route was.

We were constantly getting on various interstates and then immediately getting off. My GPS never really seemed to catch on to where we actually were. But we survived even with the traffic and only turned the wrong way down a one-way street once. Thank goodness the license plates on the car said we were from New York.

We got to explore one of the biggest malls I’ve ever been to that had stores I had never seen. 

 (If you haven't been to a Charming Charlie before, I highly recommend it.)

We spent a couple of hours in Ikea dreaming of decorating houses.

I got to have lunch with Kindra, a good friend from college. We laughed that we went three years without seeing each other and have now seen each other twice in just a few months.

We also drove north of Houston to see a friend of mine that lived next door to me in my freshman dorm. She transferred after that year, so it had been a long time since we had seen each other. She is married and has an adorable four-month-old baby boy. It was so fun to see her as a mom.

And before we knew it we were headed to our separate airports and back home. It all went too quick, but I had so much fun.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Celebration weekend

Last year one of my goals was to memorize Scripture. I knew I needed to have my mind focused on God’s truths and promises and regain control of my thought life.

My accountability for memorizing verses was through Beth Moore’s blog. Every two weeks I added another verse and checked in on the blog. My friend Katherine did the same, and it was nice to have a friend holding me accountable as well.

It was interesting to go back through my verses over the course of the year and remember what was happening during my life during that time. (There were a lot of verses about waiting.) And clinging to these verses is what got me through a lot of the changes in my life over the last year.

Early on I knew there would be a celebration in Houston for those that completed the year with all the verses, but it was a year away and seemed like a long way to travel. But when summer rolled around and it became apparent I would be moving away from Virginia and Katherine would be walking a tough road, we put it on the calendar and insisted we would meet in Houston in January. I think we both needed something to look forward to.

And this past weekend we got to see each other for the first time in six months. It was such a blessing and an encouragement to see her and catch up in person. 

The event itself was great, it was more intimate and personal than the other Beth Moore events I’ve attended. We were sitting just nine rows back from where Beth was speaking.

(Horrible quality but that is Beth.)

Her message was powerful as always and such an encouragement. If you have ever heard Beth, you know that she makes very clear points and often weaves them into a word. This weekend the word was walking. 

Her first point was: “We are all starved for some face to face.” And I thought, that’s exactly it. I was starving for some time with one of my best friends who knows me after months of trying to cultivate relationships in a new city. I needed the time away to really worship the Lord, and He used Beth as a vessel to speak to me face to face.

The last point Beth made was that we have to go out into the word walking in what you know.

Even though I wanted to hop back on the plane with Katherine to Virginia to return to my community there, I know God has me where He wants me and that’s where I’m called to go back. And so I’m here walking with these verses on my heart and mind.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's started

This week kicked my butt.

I knew it was going to be busy, classes start on Tuesday, but I just wasn't ready.

It turns out instead of teaching a class with eight students or co-teaching a class, I am teaching a class of 19 students by myself. While I have a lot of stuff from the previous teachers, it's still a class I haven't taught before, and I've got to have a syllabus, presentations, assignments, etc.

While I took my vacation at Christmas, which was my preference, my colleagues wanted this week before classes off. I'm starting to see the wisdom in that. So I've been the one training a new group of students that are paid to work on the production desk. And they don't know nearly as much as I thought they did. The nights have been long and intense and only a fraction of what is coming next week.

And then there is a side project with several deadlines coming up.

The thing is I don't want to complain about any of it, I know it's coming out that way, but really, I love it. I love that less than six months ago my colleagues were having to teach me stuff and I was learning from the students and now I am the expert establishing the protocol for the production desk this semester. I love that I get to teach a class on editing, which is something I'm confident in. I love the challenge of a new semester and training new students. I love what I do, even when it's stressful and exhausting.

And I have some fun things to look forward to next week that are non-work related, including seeing one of my best friends for the first time in months.

So don't worry about me, I'm doing what I love. Hopefully, I'll resurface when the craziness of a new semester starts to die down.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Movie reviews

In the last couple of weeks, I have watched several movies, including three in the theater, which is very unusual for me. But since I'm actually current on movies for the moment, I thought I'd share my opinions on what I've seen recently.

The Descendants -- I went to see this one by myself as a way to get out of the house one weekend when I wasn't feeling well. I had seen previews for this movie and did want to see it, but I probably could have waited for the DVD. It is interesting but definitely not a feel good movie. It's one of those movies where you don't know who you should be rooting for and who you should hate.

Crazy Stupid Love -- I watched this with my brother and sister-in-law, who claimed it is their favorite movie. It was the night after I had driven all day, and I was exhausted. We started the movie sometime after 9 p.m. so it is a miracle I stayed awake. Every time I started to lose patience with the movie, they promised I just had to stay awake a little while longer to get to one crucial scene. Once I got to the scene, I actually got it and understood why they love the movie. I ended up replaying the movie in my head after watching it to fit all the pieces together. And I really did like it even if I was skeptical for most of the movie.

New Year's Eve -- We tried to go see this on Christmas Day, but the theater uploaded the wrong times to all the various websites and the actual time didn't work for us. But we got to go back on stimulus Tuesday, which meant dollar popcorn and drinks. This is one of those big cast, multiple storyline movies, and I enjoyed it. Seeing it before New Year's actually made it more interesting to watch the ball drop. As far as movies like this go, I think I liked it more than Valentine's Day but not as much as Love Actually.

The Help -- I saw this in the theater over the summer, and I got it from Netflix when the DVD came out and then my mom got it for Christmas. So over a week and a half I saw it three times, and I loved it every time. It is one of the few books I've liked the movie version of.

Midnight in Paris -- I was not a fan of this movie. It was cool to see Paris and remember the week I spent there with my mom and sister, but the movie itself dragged. I struggled to follow the storyline. I read The Paris Wife, which I loved, and the movie had a lot of those characters in it but I still wasn't a fan.

We Bought a Zoo -- I went to see this with my mom and sister one afternoon while I was at home. It might have been the same day I took a three-hour nap (vacation is wonderful). This was a cute movie. The little girl in it was adorable, and it is a good story. I thought it was strange to see Matt Damon in a dad role, but he did a good job. I don't think it's a have-to-see-in-the-theater movie, but it's probably one of the best options in the theater right now. I also have to note that during the movie, there was a kissing scene and a kid in the theater yelled out, "Eeew." The whole theater laughed.

I Don't Know How She Does It -- I read this book several years ago now, and I think I saw one preview for the movie but I didn't even know it was in theaters much less on DVD. Anyway I picked it up at Redbox last week to watch while taking down my Christmas tree. I don't remember enough of the book to compare it very well, but I think it is a hard book to translate into a movie. And it wasn't a very successful attempt. There was a storyline, but it jumped all around and had these weird documentary interview type additions to it that didn't really help. And when is Pierce Brosnan ever in a movie where he doesn't actually get the girl? I don't think that ruins anything for you, but I just kept thinking, why is Pierce Brosnan even in this movie? Plus the daughter is supposed to be in kindergarten but looks like she is 8 years old, which just bugs me. I guess the point is, I'm glad I watched this on DVD and not in theaters, but I wouldn't have missed anything if I hadn't watched it at all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The people you know

I've said it before, but my parents have lived in my hometown for my whole life. My dad moved there with his family in the ninth grade, went away to college and then brought my mom here when they got married. They moved to Nashville for nine months before I was born, but otherwise they have been here.

Since I've spent the last 10 years moving all over the Midwest and South, I forget that staying in one place means knowing a lot of people there.

My parents have more of a social life than I do, and over the course of the 10 days I was there, I attended three parties and a wedding. Very few of the guests at the events overlapped.

And then we would go out to lunch, and my mom would know everyone in the restaurant. Granted, I knew quite a few as well.

My sister and I were at the mall and ran into people, then went to the movies and saw three families we know. The Christmas Eve service at church was packed with people I have known most of my life. Even a trip to the gym, which is located in my old middle school, results in seeing three people I know.

Of course, after 10 days of this, I became a master at explaining my latest move and job in under a minute.

When I was a kid, I used to hate that my mom knew everyone and everyone knew me. But after so many moves, it is comforting to come home to a place where everyone is familiar and there are so many people that love you and care about you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Catching up

Well, my blog went on vacation at the same time I did, but here's a recap of the last couple of weeks.

I managed to take off more time at Christmas than I ever have. I drove home on the 23rd and stayed through New Year's. On my way to Tennessee I got to see some friends and caught up with a few there, but the trip was mostly about family.

Our Christmas was a little different than usual as we did things in shifts. There was only about an hour where all my siblings and I were in the house at once, but since I was in town the whole time I got good time with everyone. We spread out opening presents over a couple of days, making Christmas last a little bit longer.

Of course to me, the best part was spending time with my 1-year-old niece. She entertained us all for three days. Most of the time, we could just sit around and watch her. She has so much personality and is so smart (I know I'm biased but still).

One of the things you can very clearly her say is "It's good." This comes out as a statement but sometimes as a question about something.

She has a December birthday like me, and I spent a lot of time debating what I could give her for Christmas that would still be fun for her in six months since she was on present overload. I convinced my brother and sister to go in with me on this:

She was very cautious about it at first, but she ended up loving it. Of course my favorite thing is her looking out to her people, like a queen:

And here are a few other pictures I got of her with my real camera, not the iPhone:

She looks so much like my sister here.

Sitting next to the sign for the toy store my mom owned.

 Liking the big slide

I love her in this coat and bonnet. My sisters and I all wore something very similar when we were little.

Monday, January 2, 2012

That was quite a year

Well, 2011 turned out to be a very different year than I expected.

This time last year I was spending 30 days listening for God's guidance in my job/career. Though I was trying to be open to what He had planned I had a put the stipulation that I didn't want to leave Virginia.

A year later, I live several states away, but I have a job I didn't even know to ask for. It's been an adventure and a challenge and more fun than I could have imagined. And I'm so grateful God led me here because it wouldn't have happened without Him.

I still miss my life in Virginia and sometimes wonder when (and where) I'll find that community again. My mom asked me the other day what I thought the purpose was in my two years in Virginia. I told her I think God was showing me what community outside the realm of college or my hometown could look like. And how great it can be. Now wherever I am, I know what I'm looking for and that it can be created.

Last year I set some goals for the year, and I honestly think they just need to be my goals every year but here's how I did.

Memorize Scripture -- I didn't do as well with the last few verses, but I have note cards with 24 verses on them. The truths in those verses became very important to me in all the circumstances I walked through this year.

Return to the gym -- On Dec. 31, 2011, I finally finished the couch to 5K program I started in January 2011! It was a start-and-stop thing, but I was more successful than usual.

Monitor my spending and save more -- I did OK with this, cutting out some things to actively save more. But then I moved and my savings account has not looked the same since.

Make better use of my time -- Not sure how to measure this, but the busier I am with work or anything the more productive I am at getting other stuff done, which has mostly been the case for the last few months.

For 2012 I'm keeping my goals simple again, here's my quick list:

Continue going to the gym
Make more of an effort to develop friendships and create community
Trust the Lord with my future while making wise decisions professionally and financially
Cook more and eat healthier