Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh How He Loves Us!

I'll be lazy with this post. Its a video from YouTube. My laziness is due to pantry bugs I had this past week mixed with the prep for my trip. Fortunately, these are not a sign of my inability to clean but rather due to an infected item from the grocer that was not consumed before the eggs could hatch (eewwwww!!!). Plus I'm packing for my trip (or putting it off since I appear to be Blogging :-) )

This isn't my favorite song, I think the singer is terrible (she reminds me of Amy Winehouse -eyes roll in disgust!-) but I think the imagery of the words is interestingly different to ponder.

For further reading, you can check out Matt's thoughts on it.

p.s. Taylor wrote about it too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Church and Coffee

I've been reading a book (shocker I know) titled "Jim and Casper Go to Church". It is about a Christian (Jim) and an atheist (Casper) who visit various churches large and small across the nation. It is interesting to read their dialog and I suggest you pick up the book (I found it at my local library). Casper's comments can be boiled down to two main thoughts: If the church is so different, why does it look like the world (they visit a church that plays U2 songs and go to worship where the musicians look like American Idol stars) and If the church's message is so special why is it watered down (why, when the pastor could be talking about God and the life changes that come with a relationship with the creator of the Universe is he/she giving us self help tips?).

This morning I had a strange experience. On my way to work, I stopped at the local coffee shop. I parked my car and got out to walk to the store. While I was walking in, a guy waved at me and smiled. It felt like walking in to church almost. Then it struck me, the coffee shop is a similar experience to church. Some days I recognize more people at the coffee shop than I do at church! The barista even knows some of our names (unlike some pastors). Maybe we could even bring a speaker on how to be a better co-worker (a "sermon" I actually heard at a local megachurch). Ta da! Church! I got my coffee and headed to work. On my drive I realized, this morning coffee shop interaction might be the friendliest and maybe even only interaction some people get all day. Upon leaving the coffee shop they are destined to sit at their computers for hours on end leaving only to attend mundane meetings (where they are probably yet again in front of their laptops). This morning coffee ritual is more than just coffee, its interaction, maybe even community.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Coffee Discoveries

Some mornings I would like a coffee but don't want to stop on my way to work, so I grab one of the bottled Frappuccinos I buy at the store. At a mere 9.5 oz I often thought this was a healthier, smaller version of the cafe drinks. Boy was I wrong!!! The other morning I was drinking on and thought to read the label. At 180 calories, 30 fat, 16 chol, 95 sodium, and 20 calcium, it is simply a more condensed version of the others! It also made me think, things that need to be preserved longer usually have more sodium. This could be why the bottled drinks and McDonalds (not really being a cafe) have such a high sodium count. They are created to sit on the shelf a little longer than their Caribou and Starbucks counterparts.

Brand: Carib McD Starbucks Frappuccino 9.5 oz
Calories 190 190 150 180
Fat cont 30 90 40 30
Choleste 10 35 10 15
Sodiums 70 95 60 95
Sugars 34 19 20 31
Calcium 10% 20% 20% 20%
Caffeine 180 NA 95 NA

Monday, July 21, 2008


"A ship at harbor is safe, but that's not what ships were built for..."

Opening the mystery box yesterday morning, I saw our cabin and the many activities we do there. It got me to thinking...some days at the cabin I prefer to relax and pretend to be reading or tanning. Other days (like yesterday) I prefer to be on the boat and let my semi-athletic side show. Yesterday I waterskiied for the second time in my life! I got some mileage this time which was good. Later I went again, this time going in and out of the wake, something I never thought I'd be able to do! Then, on the next round, I surprised everyone (except myself). While floating in the water getting ready to go, I check to see which ski was for saloming (skiing on one ski). I got up, went in and out of the wake, and the dropped one!!! I stayed up for a few feet, but then bit it. Bummer. While skiing, thoughts would flash through my brain...memories of injuries I've heard of or my friends have done, but I had to push those aside. Today I woke up sore, but have determined, it was worth it!

Skiing is kind of like taking risks in life. You might be constantly thinking of the bad things that could happen, but you have to focus on and maybe even emphasize the good! And yes, sometimes things go wrong or hurt. You could sit in your house and never do anything. You'd probably be safer, but you'd miss out on so much. Plus sitting in your house is not what God made you for.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Life is like a box...a Mystery Box

Every summer my old church has a tradition where a child is given a box to be filled with an item and brought back the next Sunday to be the topic of the children's sermon. The pastor calls the children up for the children's sermon and opens the box for the first time in front of everyone. He or she must then give a short object lesson on the surprise item. Sometimes it is easy (like when I graciously filled the box with Life Savers for the first mystery box of the summer) and sometimes it is hard (like when a child brings their beloved stuffed lizard least I think it was a lizard?). It is amazing what everyday items can teach us about God and His love for us.

Today I realized that life is like a mystery box...similar to the box of chocolates talked about in Forrest Gump, you never know what you are going to get, but you know that through it you can learn something about God. Every morning as we open our eyes, we open our mystery box to see the items God has placed for us to figure out more about Him. Its a surprise and just like my church's box, it can be a slam dunk to see God or very difficult.

My mystery box today contained tires. Slowly, over time, my steering wheel has begun shaking at high speeds. At first it only shook a little and only when I was speeding :-/ But recently it has started shaking significantly and most of my highway time. So I though I'd get it checked out. The mechanic knew right away it was probably a balance issue and he was right. My tires were off by 1 ounce and 1/2 ounce! It is amazing what little weight made such a big difference in my driving. So, what did I learn about God? Well, sin creeps into our lives slowly over time. At first it might not seem like a big deal, but all of the sudden we realize it has affected our lives more than we thought! We need to get re-balanced with God. Even a little sin can throw off our balance and make a huge difference. The funny thing is, now that my tires are re-balanced and corrected, I realize what great driving I was missing out on! My ride is so smooth now! Only when we look to the correct way and our Pure God do we realize how off our balance is! We realize what we're missing out on.

Now its interesting to note, my drive became smoother because my tires were balanced, but its still not always easy to drive. I still have to avoid pot holes, inattentive drivers, and you never know what else might be on the road. Its similar to when people become Christ followers. Some people think if you follow Christ your life will become easy..."easy" by the worlds standards. It just becomes easier in the way having my tires balanced makes driving easier. I still have to deal with the crap on the road and Christians still have to deal with the crap that comes with life, but being in balance, being a Christian gives one a "comforter". It is easier, not by the world's standards, but in a different way. More later maybe...

Monday, July 14, 2008

August = Ireland

Well, its almost August!!! I love August because it means I get to see the Covells! The Covells were my college and career group leaders when I was in school. Now, two kids later, they are missionaries in Ireland. Three years ago, Jon and Stacey (Covell) put out a request in their support letter mentioning they needed someone to watch their boys while they were at their yearly missionary conference. This was all very last minute, but I decided to go and Erin agreed to go with me! We bought our tickets at the end of June and headed over to Ireland in August! The boys are great! They were 8 months and 2 then. Now they are 3 and 4 years old (no more nappies-diapers)!!! So big! We went two years in a row and then last year the Covells came here on furlough. This year we get to go back again! They have a new house this year. I am so excited. My favorite thing about visiting them is hanging out in their neighborhood. We make fast friends with everyone there because we bring American Chocolate Chip Cookies, something they are unfamiliar with there but love! We walk to the market every day (we even tried not to one day, but ended up having to go buy wipes) and walk by roundabouts. So fun! :-) Another highlight was two years ago. We got to see Brandon and Kristy coming to Ireland to become missionaries. Usually we see the state site of things: the commissionings, the farewell dinners, and the fundraising. It was interesting to see them go through the process of buying a car, finding a house, and being completely jetlag and exhausted!!!!! We will be gone two weeks, most of the time watching the boys and the rest of the time touring Ireland!!! Touring is fun. We have visited Dublin (we visited Christ Church where Handel's Messiah was first played), Trim Castle (built in 700 A.D.), Galway, and Kilkenney. We just hop a train from their house to Dublin and can go anywhere from Dublin by bus. Even Galway (on the other side of the country) is only a 3 hour ride. This year we might visit the Guiness Factory since we haven't done that yet and go on an overnight trip with Stacey. This will be our first year transferring in New York!!! We try to transfer in Chicago (I've done international flights through there many times so customs is familiar), but it was not doable with this year's prices. I am a little nervous about the big unfamiliar airport, but we're adventurous and will be fine.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Creating Commuter Chaos

While driving in traffic this morning I was once again considering this. I've come to greatly enjoy coasting my way through traffic (not using the gas or breaks when there is traffic), the great gas mileage it is giving me, and the patience I've obtained (it is easier to be patient when you're matter how slow).

But today I had a cynical idea. Could one use the same theory to create a traffic jam? Could one create a jam of rush hour proportions? I guess if you got your buddies together and formed a "wall" across the highway this would work, but could one car cause it? I'm guessing yes. We've seen the minor jams before when someone is moving incredibly slow. I'm guessing you could bottleneck traffic by moving 40-45 mph in one highway lane requiring everyone to pass you in the remaining lane(s). This alone, on a busy enough highway, could possibly create a jam.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Comparing Coffees

One of my favorite summer treats is the iced mocha. I like it from pretty much anywhere. With McDonald's joining the coffee market at a dollar cheaper than the usual coffee places, I decided to see how they compare. All are 12 oz iced mochas with 2% milk and no whip cream. Here's what I found:

Brand: Carib McD Starbucks
Calories 190 190 150
Fat cont 30 90 40
Choleste 10 35 10
Sodiums 70 95 60
Sugars 34 19 20
Calcium 10% 20% 20%
Caffeine 180 NA 95

So there you have it.
McCafe is the worst by far save sugars. But the degree to which is outranks its competitors in other categories makes sugars meaningless. The fat and sodium contents alone are enough to make me run away! Plus, though the taste is comparable, it is my least favorite. The benefit of McCafe is the price. At a dollar less than the competition, it might be worth it. Plus, I can walk to McDonald's, burning 120 calories round trip, leaving 70 to shed off later.

Caribou is my favorite by taste. With its numbers being close to Starbucks' low ones, I am not running away from Caribou yet. The caffeine is what astounds me the most as Starbucks has always struck me as stronger. While Caribou is pricier than McDonalds, they do send out coupons frequently. Another disadvantage is I can't readily walk to Caribou the way I can McDonald's and Starbucks. Though, if I did walk, I would more than burn off my mocha!

Starbucks mocha has a good flavor. It is very rich and tastes like it would be the worst nutrition wise. I am surprised it ranks lowest of the three in many categories! The price is what gets me. This is the most expensive of the three drinks, but I can get gift cards from my favorite non-profit and they get 7%, so I can justify the occasional splurge. Walking to Starbucks I burn 149 calories! Perfect for indulging in the mocha!

Looking it all over, I realize this little indulgence counts for 10% of ones caloric intake for the day! No matter who has the best one, it is still an indulgence and money spent!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Garden

One of my favourite things about where I live is my balcony. It is a fairly large balcony. I have a table and chairs out there, perfect for reading or dining. It faces south so gets great sun all day. Some of my neighbors have gardens in a plot out back, but my landlord didn't expand it this year, so since I didn't have one last year I'm out of luck.

Earlier this year my friend Kari and I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some things for her job. We noticed the plants were being dropped off right then and looked very healthy (especially for their inexpensive price). I picked up chives, strawberries, basil, and a tomato plant. I wasn't expecting much from these little plants, but they've grown and just this week the strawberry and tomato plants are flowering with fruit expected soon! I can't wait! There is nothing like eating food you grew right in your own garden. I'm also surprised they did so well growing on a balcony! Horray! I'm excited. My next adventure will be to compost my own dirt this winter. That may prove tricky.