Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hope for Haiti

"A father to the orphan,
A healer to the broken,
This is our God.

He brings peace to our madness,
And comfort to our sadness,
This is our God.

So call upon His Name,
He is mighty to save,
This is our God.

This is the One we have waited for.
This is the One we have waited for.
Jesus, Lord, & Savior...
This is our God."

-Chris Tomlin

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spiritual "Grub"

Lately, I've been hooked on the ABC show, 'Brothers & Sisters.' It's a Sunday night ritual. Every week, I work hard all afternoon so that at night, I can unwind for a few hours in front of the TV. First, an hour of 'Desperate Housewives,' followed by 'Brothers & Sisters.' I can usually count on two hours of simple entertainment. Not a lot of thought, but that's the beauty in it.

Tonight's episode was different. It not only made me think; it stopped me in my tracks. The character, Kitty, played by Calista Flockhart (aka, Ally McBeal), has been living with Stage 3 Lymphoma. Although it is a fictional show, the realities of cancer are anything but fake. The painful looks of fear, the family's attempt to find normalcy amidst a growing monster, and a desperate plight to fight the uncontrollable are not only realistic, but emotionally heart-breaking.

At the end of the show, Kitty's husband (played by Rob Lowe), decides to step down from his campaign for governor in order to spend more time with his wife and baby. He said something that really stuck with me:
"So many of us go through our days so focused on the goal in front of us, that we forget what's important is right next to us."

I often fall guilty of this quote. I usually consider my drive, work ethic, and ability to self-start a few of my best qualities; however, they sometimes get me in trouble. I get so focused on what I need to do, that I forget what's important. Hobbies that I enjoy. A good book. My family. My relationship with Christ.

There's no doubt about America, people like to be busy. We fill our plates and run through life distracted and blinded by what we think needs to be done. The problem is, we are filling our plates with the wrong 'food.' Food that seems important at the time, yet, will never leave us truly 'nourished.'

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" (John 1:5).

God shows His face in the most unexpected times. Times when the conditions aren't always right. It's not surprising. Born in a stable. Conditions were far from "right." Died next to two criminals on a cross. Conditions were not right. I believe God often chooses the 'unexpected' times to teach us lessons of His grace and peace.

Today at Orchard, Alice Shirey taught about making the Bible and its scripture a routine part of our lives. Keeping with the food metaphor, she said something that really stuck with me.
"If you only choose to have one spiritual meal a week (referring to church), you have an eating disorder."
He is God and He is always there, I just have to look.

Tonight, I'm looking extra hard.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thank you FlashBackRecovery!

782. 782 files lost in the blink of an eye last Wednesday night. 782 lesson plans, units, activities, worksheets, Power Points, college essays, Masters research, resumes, cover letters, wedding photos, and lists. 782 files and three times the amount of time, energy, and investment. 

782 files lost...

...and, yesterday, 782 files recovered!

Recovered thanks to the guys at FlashDrivePros. Although the website for the company declares a hopeful 94% success rate, to be honest, my hope was dim. Maybe because it sounded too good to be true. Maybe because Best Buy told me I might as well throw the broken and 'crushed' flash drive away. Maybe because I heard horror story after horror story from people with similar experiences the next day at school. Whatever it was, I was not hopeful. But, I had nothing to lose and for $99, it was worth a try.

FlashDrivePros was the best $99 I've ever spent! I sent my flash drive in Thursday and received my files, all 782 files, on Monday afternoon! The process is so smooth, the people I worked with were extremely helpful, and I now have my files saved in three different places! I had no idea anything like this existed, but I will be sure to spread the word!

My vita and credentials, Master's Prospectus, wedding pictures, and teaching career are saved thanks to FlashDrivePros. 

So thank you, all, who listened to my cries for a time machine, or those who shared similar horror stories.

P.S. I am now looking at alternative forms for saving my information.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gone in a 'Flash'

I believe I may have experienced my first panic attack last night. Beau was gone brewing with the guys and I had plans to get a lot of school work done before my nice, three day weekend. I baked a Tombstone pizza, put on my sweats, and settled in my chair for some unit planning and grade updating (sounds great, I know). My plans for second semester were coming along nicely and I was loving the fact that my weekend 'to-do' list was becoming noticeably smaller.

That is until I decided I was thirsty.

Who knew that the sudden quench for a glass of V8 Splash would end any sense of accomplishment, glory, or confidence? Who knew that the simple brush of my leg on my computer screen would send my laptop tumbling to the floor? Who knew that my computer would land just perfectly on the carpet...just perfectly on my entire teaching career, aka, my flash drive.

I immediately went into panic mode. I gasped. I screamed. I cried. I picked up my broken vessel, the piece of plastic that stored my wedding day slideshow of pictures, my Masters Prospectus, my entire semester of units, worksheets, handouts, and tests, and attempted to bring it back to life. How could something so small, store so much, and suddenly leave you unable to reach it? How could my files just disappear? How could I be so stupid not to back them up???

I desperately searched our desktop computer, looking for anything that might resemble old files, stored data, pieces of the last three years of my life. It seemed everything I found that I had backed up was unimportant. I could piece together just that...pieces; however, knew my winter break work of new unit design was long gone. Vanished.

Beau was gone. I was home. I proceeded to do what I always do in a predicament. First, I called Beau. Crying hysterically. Next, I called Mom. Crying hysterically. With blue and pink plaid pajama pants, a hooded sweatshirt, and blood-shot eyes, I drove like a madwoman to Best Buy to see if the Geek Squad could give me a glimmer of hope. No dice. No hope. Just a shrug, a 'sorry, there's nothing we can do,' and a piece of broken plastic.

Today, I went to school on three hours of sleep. I arrived at 6:30 AM and was able to salvage a few important files from my recycling bin (good thing I'm not an avid recycler). I vented to my students (who were very concerned), tried to be optimistic, and started retyping the documents I needed to start next semester (which happens to be Tuesday). The loss of sleep is actually affecting my mood in a positive way (or maybe that's from the 'Pants on the Ground' song I can't get out of my head). I also have one glimmer of hope. Hope in the name of

For $99, there is a 94% success rate of retrieving data from a broken flash drive. I will forever be indebted to Ryan, the owner of the Washington company, if he fixes it. His website says he can repair "flash drives broken in two, run over, or soaked in a washing machine cycle." My flash drive is still intact, just a little looser than normal. I tucked little USB in a padded envelope and sent it by priority mail to the West Coast. I will know within 2-5 days if my files were found. I will be on pins and needles until then. Until then, I will also struggle with the decision of starting to redo what I've worked so tirelessly on. Do I risk sacrificing productivity this weekend to hear good news or work to recreate files only to find my files restored? This will be the tune of my weekend.

Wish me luck. Say a little prayer. And a little advice...back up your files :/

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Great Date Night

"Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do - or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so."
~Stanley Crawford

I love unexpected date nights. The last few days, it's been bitterly cold outside. The type of cold that you can feel to your bones. With the holidays, it seems Beau and I have been traveling nonstop: family Christmases, last minute shopping, get-togethers with friends, and Holiday parties. It's been really nice to see everyone; however, the constant eating out, spending money, and snacking on Christmas goodies has been getting to us in more ways than one!

This weekend, we made a pact that we were going to hibernate. Stay in, pile on the blankets, be creative with the food in our pantry, and catch up on some much needed downtime.

Last night was exactly what we needed! Beau had the wild hair to make homemade pizzas, so we went all out. Homemade crust, caramelized onions and baby bella mushrooms, homemade tomato sauce, roasted red pepper, salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, pineapple, and sauerkraut. Yes...sauerkraut. I decided to try it.

We poured some wine and decided to drag the pizza-making process out as long as possible (we realize we won't always be able to do this). We had fun playing with our pieces of dough and decorating our personal pans. It wasn't until they were in the oven that we realized our mistake... a thin crust in a personal deep dish pizza pan might not bake properly! Our perfectly looking prebaked pizzas turned into what Beau now calls, "The Deconstructed Crust with a Free Form Pizza Patty!" Sounds great right? Well, it tasted good; however, looked like we dropped it on the floor, picked the remains up with a spoon, and ate it similar to a calzone. Definitely not for an episode of Iron Chef, but we laughed about it for hours!

Let's just say the laughing didn't least for me. Beau and I decided to test our marriage with a game of Monopoly. We have quite a history with the game. We've only played three or four times; however, it usually ends in disaster. Beau's game plan is simple: attempt to buy as many properties as possible, whether he has money or not. He will teach our future children the 'entrepreneur's version' of Monopoly and I will teach them the 'play it safe and smart' version.

Wanna guess which strategy held out in the end? Not only did I annihilate Beau, who had almost every single property mortgaged, but I ended up with more money than I'd ever made in a game of Monopoly. I won, fair and square, and will rub it in my man's face for days to come! He's been a pretty good sport; however, it's weakened his ego a little bit. I can already tell.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm trying resolutions this year...

Resolution: 1. the act or process of resolving; 2. the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones; 3. determination; 4. the mental state or quality of being resolved; firmness of purpose.

I love making lists. I have lists for weekly meals and groceries. I've started a list of Spring projects and cleaning. And of course, I have my massive weekly to-do lists. So, as I sit here this morning on my final day of Winter Break, I have decided to add one more list to the mix. A list of 2010 resolutions. Now that I have a blog, these resolutions will not only be published for the knowing world to see, but they will stay secure on a place where I can re-visit them a year from now to see how I did.

Here's what I've come up with so far...

1. Be better about acknowledging special occasions – it’s about time I start keeping track of birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones
2. Do a better job of sweet, unexpected surprises for the man that I love.
3. Pray & read the Bible more
4. Read and complete a different book ‘for fun’ each month – First on the list??? Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games
5. Decorate the back wall in my kitchen
6. Stop biting my nails – keep them long enough to get a manicure
7. Finish my Master’s!
8. Start a garden in the summer
9. Stop spending money on 'little things,' and save for 'big things.' I want a new camera, we need a lawn mower, and I'd love to start a 'travel' account!
11. Call a different good friend once a week – just because…

12. Keep blogging

And of course, I must mention the likely additions on everyone's list this year: devise and stick to a workout plan, eat better, pay off debt, and enjoy life!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Some Bubbly at the Bourre`

I think last night might have been my favorite New Year's Eve ever. 14 of us, Chris & April, Jordan & Kelli, Starbuck, Julie, Heiney & Danielle, Jeff & Krista, Mike & Lynette, and Beau and I met at the new Roux Orleans in Waterloo. Our dinner was three hours long! Appetizers included crawfish beignets, entrees included chicken parmesan and prime rib, and I finished the meal with an amazing creme brulee`.

After dinner, we went downstairs to the Bourre` Lounge. It's a beautiful bar/lobby in the old Black's Building in downtown Waterloo. It was fancy. They had a band, Sugarfoot, that started playing at 10. They were some of the regular worship band members at Orchard! They were very fun. Luckily, Julie, Jordan, and Chris had an urge to dance, so we cut a rug on the dance floor a good part of the night.

It was so cold out (well below zero), so I and my fellow skirt wearers were just fine staying warm in the same place all night. It wasn't until Chris P. decided it was a good idea to brush elbows with Darin Beck and get us bottle service. Our party became VIPs for the rest of the night!

I took a lot of pictures!


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