Thursday, August 29, 2013

7QT - News!!

Aloha Friday Blog Hop

I FINISHED MY THESIS WEDNESDAY!!! The subject was "Pastoral Care (in a Christian Context) for Family Members of Individuals Who Complete Suicide." I cannot believe I'm done. I have now completed all the requirements for my M.Div.

Isn't she lovely? All 49 pages of her! <3 p="">

Finally, after applying at countless places over the summer, I have found a second job! The final interview is tomorrow (Friday) morning at 10:30. The way the lady talked, she expects it to be a quick turnaround (I would assume it will require a background check first, though). The position will be a substitute paraprofessional at Springfield Public Schools. I'm so excited! This will give me the classroom experience they require for substitute I count this as an official beginning for my teaching resume for that beautiful day in the future when I finally become a professor. :)

Below is a link to the e-book that my paper on "A New Testament Theology of Inclusion From the Matthean Parables of Jesus" is published in. There are 5 or 6 other papers in the book (by other writers), too. It is a free download if you're interested! I'm not sure if it is immediately free of if you have to download a chapter and do a survey in order to get the rest free, but you're welcome to find out.

Last week, someone told me about the local damaged freight grocery store. I didn't know we had such a thing! So, I checked it out. There were some items there that I normally buy at the grocery store for significantly less; but most of the items were MUCH cheaper. I got name-brand dog food, cat food and cat litter (the same brands I normally buy) for a total of about $11 instead of about $17. Good deal!

My poor little container garden did not grow as well as I had hoped this year. Woh-woh-woh. I did get a tomato and a "miniature jumbo jalapeno" (it didn't get very big), but that is all. I enjoyed the tomato. The jalapeno needed picked early because it rained so much for the first half of August that the rest of the plant died and the pepper turned I brought it in and decided I would use it in some chili.

I finally threw its softened little body in the garbage yesterday.

I also made chili yesterday. O.o

In case you haven't heard, the ELCA elected a woman bishop to preside over their denomination. I know most 7QTers are Catholic, so that will not be great news, but to me it is pretty respectable! So I decided in honor of the news I would find an Evangelical Lutheran Church to visit. I noticed a church on a road I never drive on the other day that caught my attention, and I thought, "That's the one!" So I looked up the service times and I DO plan to go there Sunday...but then I realized the church's name is Covenant Presbyterian. O.o It would appear I got my denominations mixed up! Oh well. The church looks interesting, and there is good representation of women on the pastoral staff, too (I think ALL the deacons were women), so it fits the occasion.

Since I've become a flaming liberal in several areas lately, I decided I might as well start recycling, too. So I did this week! I figure it is something that doesn't take much is something I can do. I just need to call the recycling center and find out exactly how to do it - do I need to separate recyclables by material? Do I need to take off labels? But I'm excited about it! Here goes my effort to take a little less time from the planet's life.

With that, I fare thee well and wish thee a blest weekend! P.S. I had technical difficulties for my last 7 Quick Takes Post and couldn't link up, so you can read it too if you want! :)

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - wherein I wax philosophical

Aloha Friday Blog Hop

The crow's feet that will all too soon
       characterize my features
       shall find their place in no small measure
       due to the delight that swells my heart
       when even briefly your voice finds my ear.
I would eagerly surrender my body
       to be irrevocably ravaged
       if it would but ensure
       your lasting peace and safety.
At the promise of your benefit,
       I would rush to face my deepest fears,
       my fiercest demons.
       I would unhesitatingly throttle and
       cast them aside.
The most sinister night of my life,
       with its angriest, most malevolent storms,
       would render itself pleasurable
       if I knew your love awaited me
       without reservation at its end.
A few moments of you in your fullness
       would be more than worth a trade,
       not only of all my bleakest tomorrows,
       but those with the brightest potential as well.
       If you desire them, they are yours.
       To you I freely give them; with you I long to share them.
The satisfaction from my best memories,
       my greatest accomplishments so far,
       pales next to the radiant light of
       hopeful expectation I treasure of what lies ahead
       between me and you.
                                                       --My Devotion
Sometimes when I am feeling something deeply the only way I can find relief is through expressing it in some kind of poetry. (I'm not really sure that all of it could actually be considered "poetry"...but it at least seems more cadent than my mind anyway.) Then afterward, when the mood passes and I can function normally again, I either get a sarcastic laugh (or at least a privately embarrassed raised eyebrow, thankful no one else was privy to my lunacy...unless I also happened to be in a sharing mood...), or I turn it into fodder for future fictional endeavors. Like the poem above, for example; I would write a series of fantasy fiction called "The Lifesong Series" and use this poem (probably after reworking it some) to introduce progressive sections of a book narrating the hero/heroine's love-driven quest.

I've mentioned before that sometimes I struggle with darker moods. They sometimes inspire poetry as well. A few weeks ago I was struggling with such a mood, and after I got home from work one morning I simply could not go to sleep until I had penned the following expression of hopelessness:

Is death to be as lonely, then, as life has been?
Bury me on a windswept plain,
where the noise of its blowing might bring me comfort,
where its howling wails might cover the
anguished cries my soul has never dared to voice,
held so long captive by the ethereal bonds of propriety.
I pulled out my phone, typed it in my email and sent it to myself (don't you wish you were the webmaster for THAT email account?!'s scary being me sometimes O.o). So after I woke up, thankfully with a much brighter perspective on my human plight, I had a good chuckle at my twisted alter ego...and again thought, This will be good in a work of fiction someday.
Along the thoughts of anguished affection (revert back to Take #1 above), a friend shared Rick Warren's post on Facebook today that said, "The easiest way to sabotage God's intended purpose for your life is to enter into a wrong relationship." I responded with the following comment: "Confession: sometimes I am tempted to think it might be worth it. Sometimes it seems the more He gives, the harder the battle not to throw it all away. Sabotage: great word choice."

Sometimes I think I am rather strange. One time in ladies' Bible study at my church several years ago we were studying a book within which the main emphasis on womanhood/manhood was how best to suit oneself for one's current or hoped for mate. I made the comment that for some people, marriage isn't their main goal in life, and I remember the leader of that study could not seem to comprehend what I had even said. Basically, we agreed to disagree while I was assured that she would be praying for me to come to my senses and understand that as a woman, I was created to be a wife!

I know all the debates and blah blah blah about career vs. family, etc. I don't think I have necessarily chosen career over family...but I have chosen vocation. And for me, I don't think the primary vocation of my life has been a call to family. At least not thus far (I realize there is still a slight chance that will happen in the future). But the words I expressed above clearly reveal that "love" is a deep longing even in my heart - I who have chosen to pursue work rather than love still want love. It confirms my suspicion about relationships (not necessarily romantic ones, but you know, "home" and "family" and all that) being the crux of what it means to be human. We were not made to be (completely) alone!

While engaging in my philosophical thoughts on the above, and the general vanity of life - you know, the usual cheerful subjects - a Scripture came to mind. "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval" (Romans 14:17, NIV). My thoughts about God and church and His mission in the world have undergone some changes recently, so I often ponder exactly how to carry out His mission in my life in light of these changes. This Scripture says it well. Life can be quite vain, meaningless, and oh so fleeting. And yeah, it's important to enjoy the life we are given (after all, YOLO!). But I think the point of the Gospel is not to focus too much on heaven or hell (things we cannot quite comprehend) or on this life (things that are temporal, fading, and touched by corruption). Rather, God through Christ offers us wholesomeness, peace, and security. Those are not cheap or worthless gifts, friend!

Miranda Lambert. In my book she is one of the greats, right up there alongside Alison Krauss. I love this song, and it feels like it fits this post somehow lol.

On a completely unrelated note, a sweet friend gave me a jar of strawberry jam today, homemade by her! What lovely friends I have :).

Everyone have a most blessed weekend, and for more Quick Takes, check out Jen's post at Conversion Diary!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Livin' Rich

Ever since I heard of a bucket list (when the Jack Nicholson movie came out a few years ago), I have been interested in them, and even drawn up a couple at various times. Earlier this year I was inspired to make a 2013 Life List when I saw another blogger do it, and accomplishing the items on the list has been exciting! So this evening I was updating my list and adding a few items to next year's list, and I happened upon As I read down several of the lists of things people have included on their bucket lists, not only was I struck by many of the same things I would love to experience, but I realized I have experienced many of the things on other people's wish lists.

I've toasted marshmallows over a campfire (and was surprised to learn that there are people who have not!). I've swum in the Atlantic Ocean (or at least in the Gulf of Mexico!). I've made a charcoal drawing, and this year I even experimented with oil pastels. I've been to another country (Mexico, before a passport was needed) and lived in another state. I've been published several times and even contributed to an actual book to be published this Fall (eek!). Rock climbing - check (in Palo Duro Canyon outside of Amarillo). Explored a couple of caves, though I would love to see many more. I've made pottery; visited Washington DC; ridden roller coasters; learned foreign languages and musical instruments; walked, sung, watched a football game, and washed my hair in the rain (all at various times); gotten lost in cornfields; caught fireflies; built snowmen and snow forts; and gone to college (more times than I ever meant to).

Yes, I've read a novel in a single day (though it's been a while). Acted in a play. Addressed a national board comprised only of men. Helped plan national conferences. Been to quite a few concerts. Survived two direct hits from tornados, one an EF-5 (that's one I wouldn't want to repeat...the experience part, not the surviving part). I've been horseback riding, ridden innertubes on a lake and down a snowy hill, sung on stage in front of hundreds of people, and told stories to children while someone interpreted them into the children's native language. In junior high I won the school spelling bee. I've hiked in state parks and gone canoeing. I've driven school and church buses in at least three different states. Read the Bible (twice). Glow-bowling - yes!

I've taught young children to pick their noses when their mothers weren't looking, and I've caught adults picking theirs when they thought no one else was looking.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, though there are still a whole lot of things I want to do, I've had some pretty cool experiences! Occasionally I struggle with existential angst, or even deep, dark depression and excessive misery. But when I stop to think about it, life isn't all that bad! In fact, when I think of it this way, it's even kind-of thrilling.

I look forward to checking more things off my list in the coming months, and if you have never made a life/bucket list, I encourage you to try it too!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Aurora, Missouri edition

Aloha Friday Blog Hop

This week I went and visited my friend Jason's tattoo shop he opened in a nearby town a couple of months ago. I had been meaning to go see it since it opened but hadn't been able to until now. It's called Sundown Tattoo, in Aurora, Missouri.
This is the lobby area just inside the door and to the right.

My friend Jamie, Rick the tattoo artist, and Jason the proprietor.

Me and Jason, in the room where all the magic happens.
Jason, Jamie, and I walked down the block to a local restaurant called Bootleggers for lunch. It is housed in a building that used to be a bank, and all its bankish features have been maintained, such as the teller cage up front and the vault, wherein they now have a microbrewery and make their own beer. Jason tells me they put the beer in a brown jug for you, complete with cork and sealing wax. (No, I didn't sample it.) I had no idea Aurora had a local beermaker! It is a town of about 7500 people. I found that interesting! 
(I never tire of old ceilings like that!)


On the way to the restaurant we saw a couple other interesting things around town. The pharmacy has barred windows.
And lest you think this a superfluous measure, please note that even clothing stores in Aurora sell drugs. O.o
I am pleased to report the good folks at Jakel are bringing "a new standard of excellence" to the town. (Please enlarge the picture to see why I posted it lol!)

And one last stop before our trip to Aurora ended: the town's history museum! It was small, but I love history in any measure :).

This room comprised the whole of the museum.

An amazing quilt. This picture doesn't even do it justice.

Enlarge and read the card with this little dress!!

You only THOUGHT you were acquainted with the dentist of hell....
 I attempted to visit the Brick City art gallery of Missouri State University this week. Unfortunately, though I arrived during posted business hours, the gallery was closed. But I walked the hallways anyway and this caught my eye:

Many evenings I like to watch the sunset out on my second-storey balcony, where my pets like to join me. My cat loves to do a balancing act and walk across the balcony rail. It always reminds me of some old cartoon from when I was a kid, in which these alley cats would dance and sing across a fence all night so no one could get any sleep. I couldn't find a clip of it on Youtube (probably because I can't remember what it was called), but here is a similar one to awaken your own cat-on-fence nostalgia:

Have a great weekend, everyone!!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!