Thursday, December 18, 2008

Redecorating 1600 Pennsylvania Ave

I find it quite funny that the redecoration of the White House causes such a stir every four or eight years. Rumors abound about exactly what color schemes and patterns Michelle Obama will choose for their new home. Others speculate that she might utilize a strategy similar to her husband's:

"The comedian Andy Borowitz suggested on the phone last week, they will follow the template the president-elect has laid out for his cabinet appointments. “That whole team-of-rivals approach,” Mr. Borowitz said, “so instead of one decorator there will be eight: four Republicans and four Democrats, none of whom can stand each other, and he’ll make them each do a room.”

That has reality TV written all over it. HGTV execs must be drooling at the very thought. Check out the whole
NY Times article.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

A dear friend sent me this a while back, and I found it tucked away in some saved emails today. It's a powerful video of testimonies of changed lives put together by Hillside Christian Church in Amarillo, TX.

http://video.stumbleupon.com/#p=9vs13ty1cl

What's your cardboard testimony?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let Me Tell You What He Has Done for Me

I came across Psalm 66 this week. It's a song of victory over struggles through God and a reminder that God never wastes pain. We rarely understand why God allows us or our loved ones to go through painful circumstances, but this passage hints that one reason is so that we may tell of the amazing way God helped us through it, taking the emphasis off us and onto the glorious God who heals in His time.

The psalmist pleads with the reader to "Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf!" (v. 5). He doesn't diminish the degree of the pain but instead focuses on the victorious outcome only through God..."We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance" (v. 12b). What's our responsibility once we're standing in that place of abundance? To share with others how God got us there and offer encouragement to see them through, as the psalmist says in verse 16, "Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me"...not let me tell you how I did this but let me tell you how God did this miraculous thing for me.

This psalm is the basis for David Crowder's "Come and Listen." Check out the lyrics, and hit play on my playlist if you'd like...

Come and listen, come to the water's edge, all you who know and fear the Lord.

Come and listen, come to the water's edge all you who are thirsty, come.

Let me tell you what He has done for me.
Let me tell you what He has done for me,
He has done for you,
He has done for us.

Come and listen,
come and listen to what He's done.
Come and listen,
come and listen to what He's done.

Praise our God for He is good.
Praise our God for He is good.
Praise our God for He is good.
Praise our God for He is good.

He has done for me,
He has done for you,
He has done for us.

Come and listen,
come and listen to what He's done.
Come and listen,
come and listen to what He's done.

Remember that any pain you experience does not come from God; it comes out of this broken world. He allows us to go through things so we might grow closer to Him, learn more about who He is, and tell others about our encounter with the Almighty. You can bet that for any major hurt you experience, there will be a person in your future who'll need to hear the way God fathered you through a similar struggle. I hope to develop this come-and-listen type of faith, and I hope you do too. Grace and peace to you, readers. :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh, What a Beautiful Day!

Yes, that title would be an Oklahoma reference; I'm a musical nerd like that, but today I have reason to be. My semester is finished (only three more to go!!!), we got three inches of snow, I have time to read for fun (finally finished that C.S. Lewis book and the new H.P.!), and Christmas is just around the corner...all is right in the world. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it really was a spectacularly beautiful day, and I just love when God drops days like that into my life.

Here are a few pics from my early morning snow romp..





Then I went on a pre-last-final-exam adventure with Rachel (after having the best cappuccino of my life at Highland Coffees!). We had a mini snowball fight and made a teeny, tiny snowman because we had no gloves and our hands were FREEZING! I like to call him "Frosty the Snow Midget."


It was a great way to cap off a summer and a semester full of Stefanie and Rachel adventures! I'm gonna miss ya, Rach! Bring me something cool from Spain! ;)


And just in case you're still having trouble believing it actually snowed this much in Baton Rouge, LOUISIANA, here's video evidence to prove it: (Warning for the Motion-Sickness Proned: It's a bit shaky because I was just so excited that it was snowing!!!)

video

P.S.: Check out these pics of Mike VI playing in the snow like a good half-Siberian tiger should.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

IT'S SNOWING, IT'S SNOWING, IT'S SNOWING!!!!!!!! I can't think of a more beautiful thing to wake up to than soft, white flakes falling outside my window. It's such a peaceful thing to watch...I could sit here just watching it snow for hours, but I think I might go play in it instead... :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Interview with Yours Truly

Dr. Lisa Lundy, my fabulous former mass comm prof, also writes for Missions Interchange. She asked me to do an interview for their student spotlight, and we came up with this: http://missionsinterchange.com/studentspot.asp. Check it out if you're interested in my thoughts on missions and other random things like whom I'd most like to have lunch with. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Iris to Iris

I came across this song by Building 429 recently, and it really spoke to where I am right now and thus inspired a redesign of the ol' blog. Click the play button on my playlist widget, and check out the lyrics:

"God I’ve always wondered what You look like
Lord I’ve always waited staring at the sky
But the heavens remained quiet
As they drift along in peace
Sometimes they’ve turned to thunder
Still the echoes always cease
How I long to get home
Lord I hope it won’t be long
Till You

Let the skies open wide
Let Your child see Your eyes
Iris to iris
I will be waiting
Let the skies open wide
Let Your children be like
Diamonds reflecting
We will be waiting to shine
Waiting to shine

Chasing after vapors left me cold
Cause obscurity befalls me like a diamond cased in coal
But Your hand has been upon me and Your workmanship is true
And years I’ve spent in darkness made me long to shine for You
All I want is to see Your face
All I’m praying for today
Is that You’d

Let the skies open wide
Let Your child see Your eyes
Iris to iris
I will be waiting
Let the skies open wide
Let Your children be like
Diamonds reflecting
We will be waiting to shine
Waiting to shine

Sing Hallelujah to our God
Sing Hallelujah we are found
Sing Hallelujah for the Savior has come down
Let the skies open wide
Let Your child see Your eyes
Iris to iris
I will be waiting

Let the skies open wide
Let Your children be like
Diamonds reflecting
We will be waiting
Sunset to sunset we will be waiting
Sunset to sunset we will be waiting
Waiting to shine
Still waiting to shine"

I know I can't wait to be iris to iris with the Creator of those sunsets.

A Time for Everything

I do love a good dose of exquisite Biblical poetry. Here's one of my favorites...Eccelesiastes 3:1-15 (emphasis mine):

1
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;


3
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;


6
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;


8
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.


9
What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day Musings

Well, ladies and gentlemen...as you all know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Far too often, I let Thanksgiving pass me by without really taking the time to reflect on what God's blessed me with in the past year, but this year, Thanksgiving's just a little more meaningful. God's been so good since last Thanksgiving, and I'm so honored that He's my Provider. So in old-school first-grade style, here's a list of things I'm thanking God for this week:
  • For all the incredible friends and family God has allowed to journey through life with me and for the encouragement and joy they bring
  • For a comfy place to call my own
  • For a beautiful group of 7th grade girls that has brightened my world and taught me new ways to think of God
  • For giving...and taking away...and knowing when it's right to do both
  • For His perfect timing and protection
  • For continuing to stick by me no matter what life throws at me
  • For amazing role models and mentors who treat me like family
  • For Love that has changed who I am
  • For being my Healer and for curing cancer!
  • For showing me what it really means to grow up
  • For the opportunity to go back to school and study to become a professional nerd (a.k.a. librarian)...something I know I'm going to adore
  • For revealing a little more of Himself each day
  • For helping me realize I'm right where He wants me to be
  • For the cross and the freedom it brings
  • For the power of the resurrection in daily life
  • For His strength
  • For hope for the future
I pray that you can find a few minutes amidst the hectic holiday hassles to thank Him. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you all. :) Now, go pig out, but save some cranberry sauce for me!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Author of It All

Since I was a little girl, I have always loved stories. Any kind of stories, really...mysteries, fairytales, romances, adventures...anything that could whisk me away into another world and open my imagination to ideas I'd never considered before.

Here recently, I've started reading Allen Jackson's TEACH, a book for youth ministry leaders, and he touches on the concept of the Bible as a metanarrative, which in non-English major/philosophy major terms is simply a story about stories. I'm fascinated by this idea that the Bible, which was written by hundreds of separate God-inspired scribes, is such a beautifully-woven collection of these intertwined stories, each of which tells a little more of the larger story of the unfailing love of God and His plan for mankind's redemption. Only one Author could pull that off, and He's written the all-time bestseller (literally).

And the cool thing is...He continues to craft new stories every single day. Every moment of every human life is in His perfect hands, and He's using these miraculous stories of love, joy, peace, pain, and suffering to draw His children, His characters closer and closer to Him. I haven't stopped loving stories, but now that I've grown up, I have more of an affinity for the stories God writes...mysteries, fairytales, romances, adventures...there is no shortage of them. I'm exhilarated by my own story and find each new page more thrilling than the last even if the conflicts seem to have no discernable solution. It's in those times that it's too comforting for words to know that I know the Author of my story and that He knows my perfect ending...and every page and chapter before that perfect ending.

Sure there are times when I want to grab the pen from His hand and write my own version of my story, and He lets me do that every now and then, but He soons let me realize my misgivings and realize that His way is always the best way.

The best part is that I'm not the main character in this story...He is. I'm just a teeny short story in an anthology of God-written stories of every man, woman, and child who ever lived or will live. Each one having love as their recurring theme...the only true Love...one that makes you want to share your story and listen to others' tales of how they found it too. It's exciting to feel a tiny part of a bigger picture, a grand masterpiece. I'm amazed at the way so many of our stories are inter-connected with incredible people coming in and out of your life the way a cool breeze swirls through a damp summer night. He plans every chance meeting, every deep friendship, every love interest, every hurt, every desire, every blessing...all to bring glory to Himself, the Author. We're His creations, His characters, and we should desire to praise our Creator, our Author.

Take a moment to just step back and wonder at the unbelievable way He's written this grand scheme, and I'll leave you with this...a verse from John that's one of my favorites:

"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25)

You and I are those books...those stories. Jesus continues to do miraculous things in our lives every day (small and enormous) so that we might have new stories to tell about His great Love. So take some time to praise the Author of it all today.

I haven't been a little girl for some time now, but
the stories of God never cease to whisk me away while simultaneously opening my eyes to things I've never seen before. Those of you who know me know that I love books...ok adore books, but there's only one that's changed my life. I hope that one day its power and beauty will change yours too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Night for the Record Books

What a wild and crazy night. I've got mixed emotions about the results of this election, but I still don't really understand why so many people are thinking this is the end of the world. There's one thing I do know: God is in control no matter who runs our country, and in case you forgot, God allows those leaders to come into power, and He's never surprised by election outcomes.

And what a beautiful picture of how far America has come since the days of the civil rights movement. I may not totally agree with many of Obama's plans, but I'm so proud that our country has continued to set an example of equality and hard work. I can't wait to tell my kids and grandkids about the night we elected our first African American president. Watching history being written is just nifty. And that John McCain went out with class by giving that inspiring and unifying concession speech.

God is still God, and America is still a democracy, and I'm sleeping soundly tonight...

...although I'm probably dreaming of Bobby Jindal 2012. ;)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Get your butt out and vote!

You bet I'll be practicing my right to vote the lesser of two evils into the Presidency tomorrow! And you better too! Too many people have died to and fought hard to protect and/or establish our right to let our voices be heard, so get out there and be heard!

And just remember, no matter how down things may seem in America right now...we're still blessed to be a democracy. Now, go render unto Caesar's what is Caesar's! ;)

Friday, October 31, 2008

The seasons...they are a-changin'

Please accept my sincerest apologies, loyal readers (all 3 of you), for going so long between posts. This semester is turning out to be crazier than I'd expected, but I'm falling in love with autumn all over again. There's just nothing like that crisp, cool scent of football and crunchy leaves in the air. (Yeah, yeah...I'm a nerd.)

I've been thinking a lot about changing seasons lately. Recently I had the joyous privilege of being Jenn Sloane (Carter!)'s maid of honor, and there's nothing like a wedding to make you think about seasons of life. My best friend is embarking on a new chapter in her journey through life, and that's wonderfully exciting. It's a time of spring for her, full of newness and freshness and beginning, and I couldn't be happier for her and Chris.

I feel like spring is right around the corner for me too...not necessarily in the boy department, but in the new life chapter department. With each day that passes, I get closer and closer to December 2009 and graduation and the opportunity to start afresh in a new town, a new church, and a new life. Don't get me wrong...I'll miss Baton Rouge and Istrouma and all the wonderful people in my life here, but there's this little butterfly in my chest who is very much looking forward to flying away and the freedom that comes with starting over.

Until then...I'm just trusting and growing and enjoying autumn. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Keeping an Eye on Ike

This thing just looks B-A-D. Of course I could be falling victim to the news media's melodrama. Geraldo just gets better and better. He fell in the ocean while he was reporting today. Check it out on Micah and Laura's blog. They're riding out Ike in Houston along with millions of other brave souls. Keep them in your prayers tonight.

Oooh. My lights just flickered again. Please, power, don't go out! It went out for the second time last night, but luckily after I got off work, it was back on again. From what I've heard talking to people, it seems the vast majority of Baton Rouge has power back now. I can't speak for other parishes or the outer parts of EBR. I'm almost positive there's no way my friends in Bayou Pigeon have power yet. I won't claim normalcy around here until all the traffic lights are working again. The traffic does seem to be getting better slowly but surely.

We cancelled PNO tonight because of the tropical storm wind advisory and tornado watch, so I got a good bit of homework done. I finished my encyclopedia question set for reference which probably sounds a lot more boring than it actually was. I had to answer 9 random questions from 9 different sources and then write 2 more questions with the answers to them. It was very detective/treasure hunter-like. Loved it! Fun random fact I learned:
Martin Luther was going to be a lawyer before he decided to become a monk. What changed his mind? He was struck by a bolt of lightning on summer vacation, lived, and decided to devote his life to God's service.

I know I can be pretty blind and stubborn when it comes to hearing God's voice, but I'm glad to say it's never taken a bolt of lightning (It has taken emotionally painful equivalents to lightning though!). Then again, I'm no Martin Luther either. Is it humbling, though, to think that in God's eyes, ole Martin and I have the same potential to serve Him. I have to say that library school is really making me excited about how I can be a little librarian for Jesus. I can't wait. Every bit of the job itself and the opportunities I'll get to show love to clients just makes me giddy. Is it December 2009 yet? :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'VE GOT THE POWER!

I was blessed to get my power back yesterday!!! I cannot tell you how great it felt to sleep in my bed last night. I owe Nichole big time for letting me crash on her couch for the past week, but I loved snuggling up in my fluffy mattress last night.

Nichole and I cleaned out my fridge the other day, and it wasn't that bad. Some nasty-smelling spinach and melted purple raspberry popsicles were about the worst I had to deal with, so that was nice. It also solved the mystery of the unidentified purpleish liquid I found when I got home on Thursday. Take that, Nancy Drew!

I have to say that I am so ready for life to be back to normal around here though. Those traffic lights are driving me insane along with the rest of my fellow Baton Rouge residents. Stay safe on the roads out there, people. It's a madhouse. I can't figure out why it's so difficult for drivers in this city to understand the concept of a four way stop. If you get there first, you go. If you don't, you yield to the person on the right. What's so difficult about that? Grrr.... Things will return to normal soon, I'm sure. I hope that power comes back sooner than they say it will in Broadmoor, Sherwood Forest, North Baton Rouge, and all those other neighborhoods badly hit by Gustav.

Speaking of North Baton Rouge...I took a little trip out there yesterday evening with a chainsaw crew from Istrouma. Of course, I didn't yield a high-powered cutting device (I'm too girly and pansy for that. Haha.). I did drag some limbs and got to have a lovely conversation with the owner of the house. I was amazed and convicted by her joy despite her circumstances. Here was this woman who had a 2 ft. diameter tree on top of her house, and all she could do was praise God for keeping her family safe. She was smiling almost the whole time we were there. We went there to minister to her, and she ended up ministering more to me. Talk about praising Him in the storm. She took that pretty literally. It was quite a blessing.

I'm slowing beginning to feel life falling back into place and getting back into the groove. Let's just pray that isn't interrupted by another hurricane. You hear that, Ike?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Scrambling for Normalcy

Sitting here in Nichole's cozy apartment, I'm currently working on some library science reading and watching college football, and things feel almost normal for a Saturday night in the fall. As soon as I drive down the street though, there are giant trees down on either side of Highland Road, and I'm reminded of just how not-normal things are around here.

Earlier Nichole and I went out to grab some dinner and ran by my apartment to see if I had power yet. No luck. However, it was quite ironic and funny that we ran into Red Cross passing out meals in my apartment complex. I guess that means I'm officially a disaster victim. Haha.

What's ironic is that just yesterday I was out on a trip on a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (fondly called an "ERV") helping pass out meals myself...in the middle of the swamp. I left Istrouma with two ladies from Bloomington, IL and attempted to navigate them across the River and into Iberville Parish. (Like a Mississippi girl knows how to find her way through the bayou! Riiight.) After an hour and a half, we traveled over and under power lines and downed trees and reached our destination - Bayou Pigeon, Louisiana. To give you an idea of just how remote this place is, check out the Google map. Let me just say...that place is bad off. They probably won't get power for another three or four weeks, and they're at least 30 miles of curvy, tree-filled roads away from a Walmart or Shell. It made me feel really grateful for what I have right now.

The whole experience was just such a blessing. Sondra and Jan and I pulled up to the fire department and saw no one around. We had tons of food and were worried that we'd have no one to feed since they didn't know we were coming. Never fear! All I had to do was go up to two houses, knock on their doors, and offer them chili, and the word began to spread. We ended up giving out about 250 meals in that itty bitty town, and I loved every second of it. Those people out there have some big hearts, some awesome Cajun accents, and some strong nerves. I definitely admire them for their courage and good attitudes.

I'm also very grateful to Sondra and Jan, the Red Cross ladies, for taking such good care of me. Maybe I should explain. See...I tend to get motion sickness sometimes, and riding home in the back of the ERV facing sideways and not being able to see the road sure did the trick. I never actually threw up, but I felt nauseous the whole way home almost and had to stop twice. Bless those ladies for being so patient with me. They just sat with me and rubbed my back and put a cold rag on my forehead. I felt like such a pansy! Haha. Even with the nausea, it was an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening day. I'm planning on going back tomorrow (Sunday) and pass out some more meals. Even the mention of Red Cross tends to get a few grimaces from Louisianians, but I have to say that I have a whole new appreciation for that organization now. It may not be perfect, but I'm not so sure any other organization would send relief to back-woods swampy Louisiana like that.

Guess I should get back to my reading. I'm learning how to do HTML, XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript! Aren't you jealous?! ;)

Good night from broken but beautiful Baton Rouge where we're all praying Ike away.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back from Hurrication

Well, I'm back from my "hurrication" as I heard it called in the coffee shop earlier this week by a fellow evacuee. For those of you a little slow on the uptake, that's hurricane+vacation. ;) I drove down I-55 with what seemed like the entire city of New Orleans today, but I got back to Baton Rouge about an hour before curfew tonight and immediately began seeing the damage. The street lights on my exit at Sherwood Forest were blown at 90 degree angles...all of them. One beacon of hope shone down the street though...Cane's was open! God bless Cane's!

Once I made it back to my apartment, I found out I had no power...but no damage either. I did have a lovely purplish, greenish, brownish liquid oozing out of my fridge. Joy. I took the time to Swiffer WetJet it up, and I'll just have to tackle the smelly fridge itself tomorrow. Double joy.

Don't let my sarcasm fool you though. I am SO glad to be back. How glad? So glad that I played "Calling Baton Rouge" in my car as I drove over the Amite River bridge (like I always do...a silly little tradition I have) and belted it out louder than I ever have before. Go ahead and laugh. ;) I know it's been less than a week, but something weird happens to you emotionally when your city is in shambles, and you're hundreds of miles away and helpless. Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but oh well...I'm home. I had a wonderful time with my family these past few days, and it was a much-needed time of rejuvenation, but now it's time to step up and help Baton Rouge back onto her feet. I can't wait.

One last random thought for the night because John McCain is about to speak...

Sarah Palin is my new heroine.

And so is Nichole Maher for letting me crash in her air conditioned apartment tonight. :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lights Out in Baton Rouge

One more finding from WBRZ before I check out for the night...this is a chilly video of just how in the dark Baton Rouge is tonight.

I Suppose I'm an Evacuee

Earlier, I was trying to remember the last time I watched the news all day long, and it may have been as far back as September 11. I have been unable to tear myself away from the t.v. all day. I keep telling myself I need to read for class, but who knows when class will start back. I haven't gotten much information from Baton Rouge, but what I do hear is that there are LOTS of trees down and LOTS of wind damage. I'm not sure what neighborhood this is in, but check this out. Pay special attention to the huge tree that's uprooted. Insane. I just had no idea it would end up being this bad in Baton Rouge. We're supposed to be the place people evacuate TO right? :( I've been searching online like crazy trying to find damage footage, and the more I see, the more I keep telling myself I need to stop looking. This is just bad...I don't know what else to say.

One thing did lighten the mood slightly today. I love any time Geraldo Rivera humiliates himself, and boy did he today. While on the Industrial Canal bridge, Geraldo spotted a "victim" in the water. He proceeded to scream and curse at the policemen around him to rescue the man, who turned out to be a rescue worker himself. Way to go, Geraldo. Congrats on costing Fox News that censorship fine for your cursing. Good job! I'm really sorry if your power went out and you didn't get to see it. Read more of the ridiculousness here.

Props to Bobby Jindal for being the soothing voice of hope and clarity that he was today. The way he has handled things is twenty times better than that other governor-who-shall-not-be-named. I'm proud to call him my governor.

I hope all of you in Louisiana are safe and sound, and I hope the beginning of what could be a long clean-up process goes well tomorrow. Believe me...I wish I could be there to help, but it looks like I might be in Oxford a little bit longer. I'm trying not to let the stir-craziness set in, but it's just not safe for me to come back yet. Be safe, friends, and I'll be home before long. My prayers are constantly with you.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Proverbial Calm before the Storm

You may be relieved to know that I did the smart thing and decided NOT to drive back into the category 3 hurricane just yet...after much anxiety, mind you. It feels so strange to be so removed from what's happening in Louisiana. Who knew living there for a mere five years would make you this attached? Just when I thought I was dying to get out of grad school and move away, here comes a hurricane to remind me just how big of a spot Louisiana holds in my heart.

I keep having tons of Katrina flashbacks, and while I'm glad I won't have to hear the wind roaring and the rain pounding, I'm longing to get back as soon as possible and jump right into volunteering. Sometimes you just don't get to be the first responder, and that's ok. I'm excited about the work ahead and praying that there won't be as much as I'm anticipating.

So to all my friends (and surrogate family) in southeast Louisiana, be safe and know that you are all in my prayers. Jesus has calmed many a literal and metaphorical storm before, and he can calm this one down to a 1 or a 2 before it hits too...if He so chooses.

Now...in other, much happier news...CONGRATS TO JENN AND CHRIS! I am so blissfully happy for you two, and I can't wait for the celebration ahead...even if it is going to interfere with one of the biggest football games of this season. ;) Love y'all!

Also, congrats to my Tiger football team for a sound win over ASU, who turned out to not be so hot, hot, hot after all. In case anyone is wondering, my QB pick for now is definitely Hatch, but I think they're both still finding their wings. Overall, I feel much better about the QB situation and am looking forward to what could be a season that surprises critics in quite a good way.

Praise God it's football season again! GEAUX TIGERS!!!

Goodnight from Oxford. May God keep all of you in Louisiana safe in the coming days.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Not-so-happy Anniversary for Katrina

It sure doesn't seem like it's been three years since Katrina changed life in the Gulf Coast as we know it forever, but it's true, and what better reminder than another hurricane looming in the Gulf? Great. Katrina had innumerable, profound impacts on every industry under the sun and every person within at least five hundred miles of the eye, but I think for me personally it was a time to grow up and a time in which I saw God around every corner.

In the week and a half or so I spent volunteering at the medical center at the PMAC, I saw things I never thought I'd see and heard stories I never thought I'd hear. God opened my eyes to a lot of things about Himself in those days, and when it was all over, I didn't want it to end. Once school started back up again, the PMAC was still an active hospital for a little while longer. I remember being so angry with the administration for making us go to school while those people were still in there...not because they were in our way but because I thought it was a whole lot more important to be volunteering than sitting in class. I rebelled by procrastinating a whole lot school-wise and dropping by the PMAC after class for some extracurricular triage volunteering.

Those days taught me that little old you can make a difference...no matter how small it may seem. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and during Katrina I saw that lived out daily in my fellow volunteers...especially in those refugee volunteers who evacuated New Orleans themselves but couldn't sit idly by and wanted to help too. That sense of purpose was dually intoxicating and humbling, and I loved every difficult, rewarding second of it.

So as I watch projections for Gustav, I'm processing a flood of memories (no pun intended). I got news today that the PMAC is again being readied to be a medical center. Am I ready for round two...if need be? You bet.

If I can make it back into Louisiana that is. I'm taking a much-needed vacation after the crazy, emotional summer I've had and going to Oxford for the weekend. The plan is to try to make it back before Gustav does.

So if you're evacuating from New Orleans and see a little blue Mustang on the other side of the interstate, that'd be me. I'll be the only idiot driving INTO the hurricane. :)

May God see us all safely through another storm if He so wills. As with any storm of life (as I've learned so well), He's always in control.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why I Love Artsy Fartsy Olympic Ceremonies

Tonight I watched the Games of the XXIX Olympiad come to a close while spending some quality time with a few of the surrogate families God has blessed me with in Baton Rouge (shout-outs to the Taylors, the Russells, and the Staples). I don't think I've ever missed an opening or closing Olympic ceremony since I have been old enough to remember them. I'm such a sucker for all that drama, dance, music, and art and how each country uses those elements to create their own unique Olympic celebration with their national twist. China sure did outdo themselves this year, and London will have a tough act to follow. I've never been so amazed by the human feats performed in a ceremony as this one. It also really made me want to get a light-up drum and a high-collar red and gold dress. :)

Opening ceremonies are definitely my favorite. The closing ones just mean I have to wait another two whole years before the next Olympics. Despite the ceremonies' artsy fartsy quality (as my mom fondly calls them), I adore them still. For one, they always remind me of just how huge God is. Some people find the Parade of Nations entrance to be a dull tradition, but I love watching one country after another walking in their cultural dress and seeing the spectrum of skin colors. It's God's handiwork personified on a global level...one nation at a time. God made us all uniquely, and He loves us all uniquely. Wrap your mind around that one.

Secondly, the olympic ceremonies serve as a reminder of what life on this planet is supposed to be like and what God intended it to be like --- harmonious. The Chinese zeroed in on harmony as a theme for this year's opening ceremony, using the character for harmony in various artistic movements (including that incredible moving type act...I'm still in awe over that one). The Olympics has always been a time of putting aside differences for a time of friendly competition, but to me, it's a little bit more. I looked at the Bird's Nest, full of people from every corner of the world, and saw a glimpse of what God must have had in mind for humankind from the beginning (and for that matter...what we'll see in Heaven one day). What do I mean? Why...harmony of course. Harmony that puts aside petty differences in order to glorify a higher cause. In this case, it's the Olympics, but one day, people from every corner of the globe, a sea of multicolored faces, will join together in Heaven, put aside our past lives and glorify the God who made us and loved us all so uniquely. I can't wait to experience that in person one day.

Come to think of it...I'd even be ok with seeing a glimpse of that in person. Anybody up for London 2012? ;) Let's make a trip of it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Fresh Start for the Inbetween

Being a twenty-something is a funny thing. Part of you feels like a genuine adult who's ready to take on the world and stand up and be heard, and part of you feels like a little girl who's all dressed up in mom's heels that are five sizes too big. This crazy stage of life is where I find myself these days. Since I graduated in English lit from LSU in May 2007, I've weathered a few major storms of life, and after taking a long break from the blogging sphere, I'm ready to write again with fresh wisdom that only comes through seeing God work in mysterious ways. Nuggets of wisdom I learned during the past year might pop up here from time to time, but I'll mostly write about the little lessons the Holy Spirit is teaching me in the present...and about those funny, random little oddities of daily life of course! Don't worry...I'm still wordy nerdy witty Stefanie at heart. Some things never change. Wordy nerdy witty Stefanie just grew up a lot since she last blogged her little heart out, so this is my fresh start...a fresh start during the great inbetween of life - the early twenties.