Saturday, December 29, 2012


No, of course I didn't leave a tube of bright red tinted lip balm in the pocket of a pair of khaki pants when I washed them with every other pair of pants I own besides two the night before a week-long trip to Georgia.

I would never do anything that scatter-brained.

Post-script: Don't worry, guys, I survived, and so did my pants. Also, I did something so unlike myself - I didn't freak out! I just took them out of the dryer, put them in a hot water wash again immediately, and hung them to dry.

They no longer resemble red Dalmations and I am not stressed.
The end.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recipe: White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Another family favorite for you tonight.

I don't even remember where my family got this recipe, but it is a fairly recent addition to our repertoire (within the last 10 years or so).  And, I'm telling you, there are not going to be leftovers involved when you take this tart anywhere.  It is a crowd-pleaser for sure.  There was a time when it was unheard of to have only one of these tarts at any family function.  Honestly, though, the always-two-tarts reputation is hard to keep up because the ingredients for this recipe are rather pricey . . .


  • 9-inch pie crust (I use the roll-out frozen kind)
  • 1 lb of white chocolate, chopped (I use most of a 16-ounce bag of white chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 4 cups raspberries, rinsed and divided (I use two packages of Driscoll's - not quite 4 cups)

Illustrated Steps:

1.  Bake crust according to package directions (or recipe if you're an over-achiever) for unfilled pie.

Don't forget to stab the crust with a fork multiple times before putting it in the oven, to prevent it from bubbling.

2.  Place chocolate in medium glass bowl.


and enjoy the little details while you're at it . . .


3.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil - a full boil, not just a simmer.

Also, remember to stir it so that it doesn't curdle on the bottom of the pan.

4.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is thoroughly melted.

If your chocolate hasn't melted and the texture looks kind of like your great grandmother's tapioca pudding, your cream wasn't hot enough.  Don't freak out.  Since you made sure to use a glass bowl earlier, you can stick it in the microwave for thirty seconds and then stir it.  That should do the trick.

5.  Stir 1/2 a cup of Mascarpone cheese into the mixture until it's all smooth.


This is the only brand of Mascarpone I've ever been able to find.  If you live in a larger city, you might have more options . . .

This is not smooth - stir it until it looks just like it did before you added the cheese.

6.  Place half your berries (make sure you rinse them, please) in a single layer on the baked (and partially cooled) crust.


7.  Pour chocolate mixture over berries and top with remaining berries


Isn't it pretty?

8.  Admire it for a few seconds and then stick it in the refrigerator along with the leftover cream, which is a pretty good, if incredibly rich, creamer for coffee.


The tart must refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving, to have the right consistency.  Store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it.
I guarantee you won't have to store any in the refrigerator after serving it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe: Waldorf Salad

With the holidays upon us, I started thinking maybe I could share a few of my favorite unhealthy (Calories don't exist during the holidays.  Wait, you didn't know that?) recipes with you.  I know, I know, I've already admitted to you all that I'm no expert cook, but these are all tried and true family recipes that I know are actually good.
And also?  If I can make them, anyone can.  So, I present to you Waldorf Salad:
This recipe comes from a kids cookbook that my dad's mom gave us girls a while back.  It's one that her girls (and probably Dad too) learned from.


  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsps sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup mayo

Steps (with pretty pictures, of course)

1.Chop three or four large apples, or enough to make 2 cups. (I use Honey Crisp, so they are quite large and I could probably get by with only two and a half, honestly)


Put them in a pretty bowl.


2. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the apples, so they won't turn brown.


Remember to take the seeds out of your lemon before you squeeze it into your apples, or this might happen.


3. Slice enough celery to make one cup (about three or four stalks according to my calculations).


Don't forget to string your celery.


In order to string celery, place your knife right behind the ridges on the outside of the stalk and make a short incision about 1/8 inch long; place your thumb on the outside of the ridges, then pull straight down to the other end of the stalk and you should have pulled off a lot of strings that look like this:

Add the celery to your apples


Mix it all up nicely.


4.  (At this point, you're supposed to add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, but I completely forgot to buy the pecans and it turned out fine without them, so I'll go ahead and say pecans are optional - It's delicious either way.)

5.  Add your sugar and salt (I just give the salt shaker a little shake over the apples and celery and call it an 1/8 tsp).


6.  Whip the cream.  In order to whip cream properly, you should put it in a chilled, deep container.
Also, beating with a rainbow-colored whisk guarantees good results.

Oh hey, did you hear about the chef that got arrested in New York the other day?
He whipped the cream and beat the eggs...

7.  Mix the mayo with the whipped cream, and add that to your salad.  Mix the whole thing gently and chill before serving.

My recipe says to serve it in lettuce leaves, but I just serve it in a bowl and I'm sure it tastes just as good...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sick Day

In college, I always gave myself one day out of the semester on which to be sick.  I'd feel a bug of some sort coming on, and give it one day.  Just one day.  On that one day, I would literally lie in bed and do absolutely nothing until I felt better...all day if necessary.

This actually always worked out very well for me.  Maybe because I rarely get sick.
I do, however, tend to run my body into the ground.  I stay up late, eat on anything but a well-regulated schedule, and sleep with my hair wet more often than I should.  So, eventually, after several months of this sort of treatment, my body would say "Okay, Esther.  Enough is enough."

Turns out, after college, I still need about one sick day a semester, and today?  Today was sick day.
But this time, I didn't feel it coming.  It came out of the middle of nowhere - I jumped out of bed at 4am to go vomit (TMI? Sorry.) and went back to bed, and repeated the performance about three times before I realized this was actually happening and I was not going to be able to go to work today.
It was quite a bummer because I actually really like work.

But I actually really liked today too.  Today I:
drank yellow Gatorade
ate M&Ms (not too many, though)
also ate chicken noodle soup
got plenty of mail (my birthday and Sarah's graduation are both coming up soon)
watched National Treasure 2.

After all these good things, and feeling somewhat better, I debated the merits of going in to work incredibly late, but decided that, just like in college, I needed that one full sick day.

So I stayed here at home where I made Peppermint tea in the morning, using my new kettle, which I'm pretty much in love with.


And drank Chai Green tea out of my favorite mug in the evening.  By the way, if you haven't heard of Chai Green tea, please go hear of it immediately.  Regular Chai has never been something that I crave, but man, this Chai Green business is wonderful!


I put my Christmas Tree up a few weeks ago

I may or may not have shamelessly stolen (*ahem* borrowed *ahem*) it from the unused LOT stash...

And I have these HUGE Christmas lights (also borrowed) hanging all along my living room wall

Seriously, they're enormous.  I've started hanging Christmas and birthday cards between them, and one bulb is as long as the short side of your average rectangle Christmas card!

And, as I said in an email about Lights of Tejas the other day, I love Christmas probably slightly more than your average five-year-old, so my otherwise dreary day was quite cheerfully spent at home.

Stay tuned tomorrow for one of my favorite recipes!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Change is Afoot

This one might be a little rambly.

A completely unedited picture of the view from my parents' current living room window - donkey pen and barn to the left.

What I didn't tell you when I wrote about home two and a half weeks ago, was that, while I was there, my family told me that they are thinking about moving again.
Well, right before Thanksgiving (just accidentally wrote Christmas...?  Don't rush the holidays too much, Esther), they told me they're definitely moving.

Which was really no shock to me, considering our nomadic tendencies.

Long Sidenote: Honestly, I'm quite okay with our nomadic tendencies.  It's amazing how much junk you can accumulate after living in the same place for more than a few years and, considering the amount of junk I have right now anyway, I probably would have been a worthy candidate for Hoarders if my family had lived in the same house all the time I was growing up.

Home is not the only thing that's changing lately:

Baby sister, who used to sit on french fries in her car-seat "to cool them off," is now learning to drive a car.  She got behind the wheel twice in the time that I was at home.

I don't really know why it's so hard to accept, but I always have trouble with little-sister-milestones like 16th birthdays and 18th birthdays and high school graduations and 21st birthdays and college graduations and DRIVERS' LICENSES!
That basically means the powers-that-be think she's old enough to wield a deadly weapon.  I just don't know what to think about it at all.

Also, my Dad, who has had the same profession since before I was born, is changing careers.

He worked for a sign business for many years, and I remember going into the breakroom and watching movies on the tiny, probably 10 inch, TV (most notably, Care Bears, which gave me nightmares, and Black Beauty, which firmly convinced me I didn't want a horse) from time to time.  Also, I remember my fascination with the Coke machine, which distributed glass bottles, and his boss's office, which was filled with the heads of exotic animals - trophies from far-away hunting trips, I suppose.

Then, Dad decided to start his own business.  I vividly remember the time he told us girls for the first time.  I remember we were on the way to Arkansas to visit my grandparents - a long drive which holds many memories for me.  He was driving, so he asked Mom to show us the logo he had designed, and he explained to us why he had chosen the name of his business and even the colors and font for the logo.

The thing I remember most about that trip?
Fear, bunching tighter and tighter in the pit of my stomach as he explained everything to us.
Clearly, he was thrilled to be setting out on a new adventure.  I was terrified because I knew this meant our life would change.

Maybe it was just the thought of no more glass-bottled Cokes or exotic animal heads or movies in the break-room that scared me.  I'll never know what it was, and neither will anyone else, because I kept that fear to myself and let it grow and grow and grow.

Our life did change drastically during that time - we were still adjusting to Baby Sister, we started being home-schooled, we moved for the first time.
Eventually, though, life settled down and the fear loosened it's hold on me.  I don't know that it ever completely left, but I did come to a point where I was fiercely proud of my Dad and the fact that he kept a small business running for more than 10 years.

I wish I could say that fear was unfounded, but it wasn't.  My family has been through some incredibly tough times with the business (in fact, I'm scoffing right now at the words "incredibly tough," because they seem so completely inadequate), but, not for a million dollars, would I go back to that ride to Arkansas and scream and cry at Dad not to do it like I so desperately wanted to at the time.

The one thing I know for sure is that, if we hadn't gone through this chapter of our lives, we would not be the family that we are today.
We are so far from perfect, but I love who we are right now.
And?  I am not afraid of the future.  I know, now, that we can make it through anything.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Quick Bit of Advice for Your Professional Life

If you're trying to get a job, don't set your phone to make your number simply say "blocked" when you call people about said job.

When you call said people and they don't answer (because their phone just says "Blocked"), leave them a voicemail.  10 bucks says they'll call back if you leave a voicemail, and 20 says they won't call back if you don't leave one.

Above all, if you don't leave a voicemail, calling them 8 times a day, beginning at 5:34 in the morning and ending at 10:01 at night is not going to make them call you back, much less answer.

That is all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Home Tour: Kitchen

Remember when I said this a wile back and then never gave you more about my new house?
Well, friends, here is your more in the form of the first installment of my "Home Tour."  Sounds so imposing and fancy, doesn't it?  Well, don't worry.  There won't be many installments since there are only three rooms in my house...

So, without further ado, I present my kitchen, which I love possibly more than a human being should love a room:

When you walk in the front door of my house, you see this.


Yeah, that counter starts to collect junk really easily, so I have to be super careful about what I put there.  Mostly I restrict it to things that I need to return to people.  I'm a champion borrower lately.

Once you come around the side of that counter into my actual kitchen, there's the counter on the left, then my stove and oven against the wall.


One of the most long-standing items on my kitchen "wishlist" has been one of these little straw-holder things.


I looked high and low for one, but couldn't find it anywhere.  Slowly, I crossed everything off the list of things I needed for my kitchen, but still hadn't found a straw-holder.  You'd think it would be fairly easy to find, right?
But no; it is not at all easy.  I looked everywhere I went to get other kitchen stuff and couldn't find one.  Then, one afternoon, I was running into the Walmart in my tiny town - you know, the only non-super, non-24-hour Walmart left standing - to grab some toothpicks, and there it was, just sitting on the shelf waiting for me to waltz away with it.  Okay, so maybe I didn't waltz, but I was happy enough that I could have.

Another one of my favorite things about my kitchen is my fruit bowl.


It sort of came about by accident.  I've always stored my fruit in the crisper drawers of my fridge and have been entirely satisfied with the results.  The only thing I don't store in the fridge is bananas.  I only like them room-temperature.  I would set them on my counter, but that just looked rather unorganized - bananas sitting on the counter, so I decided to get myself a banana tree.  Then, when I went to the store, I had the choice of a banana tree or a fruit-bowl-banana-tree combo.
And the fruit-bowl-banana-tree combo was considerably cheaper.  I don't know, maybe I fell for some sort of gimmick or something, but so far, I have been completely satisfied with it - it just brightens up my kitchen.
Room-temp fruit on the other hand?  Still getting used to that.

Directly across from my stove is my sink.  I have no dishwasher, but, as I love washing dishes, this is not a problem at all.  If there were more than one person in the house, though, problems might arise...


Next to the sink, on top of my microwave, I have all of my cooking utensils and my cookbooks.


One of the best things about working and living at camp is that I can borrow or re-purpose things the camp isn't using anymore.  That little holder for my utensils is a display that the giftshop was throwing away because one of the hooks on the back is missing.  You better believe I snatched that right up, along with two others - one for shoes and one for scarves, which you will (maybe) see soon!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Life Lately

I don't know about you guys, but, while I love words and have really enjoyed having more of them on my blog recently, I've been missing pictures.  It's not that I haven't been taking them.  It's just that I haven't been posting them, so here's life lately, through my camera lens (and some words, because, who are we kidding?  I can't not use words).



I wish I could paint, but I can't, and pictures don't nearly capture them.  I'm still struggling to learn savoring instead of saving.

Perfect Saturdays
Last Saturday and today, I had every intention of sleeping in until ungodly hours, but, both days, I woke up fully rested at 8ish.  I know myself well enough not to jinx that well-rested feeling by making myself go back to sleep, so I've gotten up and stayed up. Side-note: Why in the world can't I wake up fully rested and ready to get out of bed like this on the mornings when I need to go to work?
Last Saturday, part of the reason I got up was because my dear friend Kae stayed at my house the night before and I wanted to get up and have coffee with her before she had to leave to go home.


Kae and I made coffee and went out onto my front porch to sit on the swing and enjoy the cool morning.  We talked just like we always do about life, thoughts, plans, the future.  As is pretty usual for us lately, we started talking about our some-day kids.
Then, I glanced out into my yard, just looking at the way the morning sunlight played on the still wet grass, and I saw our kids there.  For just a moment, as plain as day, I saw my girl with long blonde hair and Kae's little dark, curly haired boy about 4 and 5 years old I'd say, holding hands and running around a tree, their backs to us.
I've never even wanted a girl, but I knew she was mine and he was Kae's.  I'm not saying it was a vision or anything, but it was a calm, beautiful, reassuring little moment.

Getting Ready
Sometimes, a girl just wants to fix her hair and wear a little make-up.  These (somewhat) early Saturday mornings are wonderful for spreading girly implements all over the counter and taking my time to look pretty.


Girl Times
Kae wasn't the only one that visited last weekend.  Our friend Christy was here too.  Christy, Kae, and I have been friends only in our adulthood (translation: not for a particularly long time), but they are two of the six girls that I love and trust implicitly.  We met at Camp (Christy and I in '08, and then Kae in '09) and have pretty much been inseparable since day one.  I was Christy's Maid of Honor and a bridesmaid in Kae's wedding, and, in our world, that means a lot - it means I'm sticking by them and they're sticking by me for the long haul, even through the tough stuff.
The wonderful thing about us is that we can always enjoy time together without any hint of the "three's-a-crowd" syndrome, but we have wonderful individual friendships too.  Christy actually got here on Thursday, so she and I had Thursday night all to ourselves, then I had to go to work for a half-day Friday and Kae got here at about ten, so she and Christy had time to themselves since I ended up working til more like two, then we all went to town to buy things for my Operation Christmas Child box, then made dinner and watched Persuasion together.  Christy left, and Kae stayed the night, so she and I got our time to ourselves too.  It was a wonderful weekend and I can't wait til we all get to see each other again.


The cherry on top of our wonderful weekend?  Christy got a wonderful job.  Christy, you deserve it, dearest, and I could not be happier for you!

Jesus Times
I have been getting back into reading my Bible even when it's hard (blame Leviticus for the difficulty) and it's been so good!


A New-to-me Mug
As long as I can remember, my mom has had this one perfect mug.  It's the perfect blue, and holds the perfect amount of tea (it's a tad too small for the amount of coffee I like - we all have to have our vices, you know), it has the perfect handle, and is even the perfect weight when you hold it. I'm telling you.  It's perfect.
It may sound silly, but that mug is one of the things I miss most about my parents' house (ahem, other than my family, of course).
Well, Saturday  before last, I went to Goodwill with a friend in the afternoon and found the perfect mug!


Okay, so maybe it's not the perfect blue, but it's the perfect salmon pink and I am still so thrilled about it.

I never thought I would be a candle burner, but


I'm obsessed.  That's all.

I went home last week.  Home is an interesting concept for me.  I spent the first twelve years of my life in the same house in a small neighborhood (well, my very first year was spent in a different house, but I have no memories of that house).
It was cozy, comforting, and secure, and to this day, I say I want to raise my family in a house just like that one, if not that exact one.  Probably not that exact one, honestly, because the neighborhood has sadly gone downhill.
When I was twelve, we moved to the country, and then moved back into town a year later.  Since then, my family has moved four times, but always in the country around the same small town.  I've loved all of our houses, but I've gotten to the point where they're just houses.  For years, I really struggled with the fact that we are such nomads.  It was hard for me to imagine having kids and not being able to take them to Grandma and Grandpa's in the same house every year.
My Nana has lived in the same house since my mom was six, and that house has brought such a stability to our family.  I can't think of our family without thinking of that house and I can't think of that house without thinking of our family.
Nana's house and our family are completely intertwined in my head.
But, when it comes down to it, house and home are not synonymous.
Home is my small town.



Home is a dirt driveway in the woods.


And mist rising from the pond in a cool morning.


Okay, eventually my family might live somewhere without a pond or away from the woods or even outside of Nacogdoches, but if/when they do, it'll be okay because home isn't even any of those things.
When you boil it down to it's very essence, home is simply where they are.

Sister Pictures
When I went home, I got the privilege of shooting Sarah's senior pictures (and some with friends, and some with her boyfriend).



She's graduating!
I'm still somewhat in shock over this fact.  I have even gotten a little teary-eyed about it.  My little sister is graduating from college.  She's so grown up!
Sarah, I love you and cannot wait to have less distance between us.

Also?  I got to take Baby to her chemistry class and to Starbucks


I feel like now when we walk into a coffee shop together, it's very possible that the barista thinks we're just friends rather than sisters a decade apart. (Maybe that's just me thinking I look younger than I do...)
That makes me incredibly happy and sad at the same time.

I can definitely wait several more years for you to graduate.

Baby, I love you, you beautiful goofball!
It was so wonderful to talk with you and share my favorite playlist with you.    Please forgive me for ever looking down on your taste in music, because you know what?  I'm listening to James Morrison now.  As I type these words. And I'm actually enjoying it.
I can't believe I just said that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

Inspired by Christine.  If you don't get what I'm doing, see my post and hers.

One day, you'll know all of this - Dad teases me all the time about the list of things he'll warn you about, so I figured I'd get the drop on him (Is that the right way to say that? It doesn't sound right.) and tell you first...

I thrive on sunshine - heaven help you if you have to live with me when I haven't had enough
I like apple peels and bread crusts better than actual apples or bread
I am compelled to leave things the way I found them (When I say things, I mean everything.  This can be a real problem sometimes.)
It takes me forever to hang anything - pictures, curtains, shelves - it has to be absolutely perfectly planned out before I'm ready to poke holes in the wall
I love washing dishes - doing the dishes can cheer me up from the worst mood
I can't finish a story to save my life - I interrupt myself too much
Sometimes (but rarely - I could count the times so far on one hand) I go into hysterics, as in, don't know whether I'm laughing or crying, or why I'm doing it in the first place
I make chocolate chip cookies when I'm stressed
I'm a classically trained ballerina - 4 years of happy-go-lucky lessons and then 6 years of the intense kind - but still such a klutz
Storms paralyze me and make me restless at the same time
I'm not very good at making jokes.  Rephrase that.  I can't make jokes.  But it's pretty easy for me to make people laugh when I'm not trying to be funny
I can't sleep without a heavy blanket on my bed, no matter how warm I am
I love all of my senses, and, as I'm a photographer, you'd think sight would be the one I couldn't live without, but no.  It's hearing.  I literally have nightmares about losing my hearing.
I love Reese's and used to say I'd love anyone who gave me one, but then I decided I say love too much
If you can carry on an intelligent conversation about words or language with me, we are going to be friends
Boredom doesn't exist.  If you tell me you're bored, I will question our friendship
When I grow up, I want to dress like June Cleaver
I don't have a favorite color, or food, or animal, but you can be sure that I will call whatever I love most at the moment my favorite
I want to be a cook like my Dad - the kind who never use recipes and make delicious things from their own imagination - instead, I'm hopelessly bound to instructions
I love to sleep, but cannot get myself into bed  before 11 pm no matter how hard I try
I am always late.  Always.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Featured Friend: Christine

Remember this girl?


Yeah.  That one.  The one that I surprised once on her birthday at the Houston Zoo.

A few nights ago, I ran across her blog on accident.  I didn't even know it existed, and then, suddenly, there it was and I was like "What!?"
So, of course, I went back and read everything she had written over the last 10 months or so.
That's what everyone does at moments like that, right? Just tell me yes, even if it's not...

Anyway, In the process of reading through her archives, I found this.
Now, Christine, although she is a very dear friend, is a fairly new friend.  As in, we didn't meet until about three years ago, so I didn't know about the background of this post.

So, imagine my shock as I'm sitting here reading my story on her blog.

I'm dead serious.  Change two tiny details (a. I was a little older than she was and b. I knew he was cheating when I broke it off, which I guess is not a particularly tiny detail) and everything on that post besides the list could be something I wrote about myself - every detail is true of me and my journey since then.  That, my friends, is the background of "this phase" in my life that I referred to in my last post.
And she probably put it all much better than I could have.

Just in case you're not catching this, I'm going to repeat myself - Christine and I have almost the exact same events that, although they may not define us, have influenced much of who we are today.

Can I just say, I think it's an incredible testament to how much we've both overcome that we've never really talked about this.  We both sort of knew about the relationship of each others' past that held certain regrets and scars, but details didn't matter to us, because our past doesn't define who we are today.  Neither of us dwelt on the past.

You know what else Christine doesn't do?  Shilly-shally.
She jumps in and does whatever she's doing whole-heartedly, and when she makes a decision, she sticks to it.  She is who she is and anyone may know it.
Also? Girlfriend is L-O-Y-A-L.  If she decides she's your friend, she's all in.  She keeps track of your life (in a non-stalker way) and always knows the right questions to ask at the right time to spark a deeper-than-you-might-like, but oh-so-good-and-necessary conversation.  She keeps you accountable whether you like it or not.
I'd have to say, ours is a friendship where she made the decision that we were going to be friends and decided to work on that, then I caught on to the fact that she was a keeper and, boy am I thankful I did.

We've both overcome so much, and Christine, if you're reading this, I love you and am so much more grateful for your friendship now that I know this about you.

Up next?  A "To Whom It May Concern" list of my own.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I couldn't keep this to myself any longer.

This may have just revolutionized the way I look at this phase of my life.

I knew I loved spoken word, but wow.  Just wow.  This hit me so hard when a dear friend showed it to me last weekend.
And it's repeatedly hit me throughout the week, so I decided it was best for me to share it with you guys.

The beginning may be kind of corny (and her name might be kind of corny too), but, man, this girl gets my Jesus-loving, wordsmith's heart:
"I will no longer date, socialize, or communicate with carbon copies of You to appease my boredom or to quench my thirsty desire for attention and short-lived compliments from sorta-kindas..."
"I will no longer get weighed down by so-called friends and family talks about their concern for my biological clock when I serve the Author of time, who is not subject to time, but I am subject to Him.  He has the ability to stop, fast-forward, pause, or rewind at any given time..."

That is all, ladies and gentlemen.

(Now go watch it already!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

On Tolerance (Possibly also known as "Why I Vote the Way I Do")

Inspired in part by this.  (Seriously, please go read it. She's only 18 and has such clear, concise wisdom.)
Partly in response to this.

Terms you need to know:

(All definitions taken from because I don't have a dictionary in my house.  Anyone want to get me one for Christmas?)

Believe - 1a - to have a firm religious faith.  1b - to accept something as true, genuine, or real.

Tolerance - 2a - sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. b - the act of allowing something

Tolerate - 2a - to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction.  2b - to put up with.

Guys, I believe the Bible.
I believe every word of it.  It's been a long journey getting to this point and I've struggled through many a trial to get here, but I'm here now.  I'm here, where I believe every word in a Book written over the course of several centuries by several different people, with all sorts of implausible (wrote "plausible" there first . . . hmmm) circumstances surrounding it.
I don't believe it simply because my parents taught me to, or because I was raised in church or for any other reason except that the Holy Spirit within me has taught me when I felt like I didn't know anything and has reassured me when doubts started creeping in.
I may not be able to give you any logical reasons for believing it.  Who knows?  There may not be many logical reasons for believing it.  (If you're looking for logical reasons, though, I'd highly recommend any of C.S. Lewis or Francis Schaeffer's writings to you.)
I may not be able to convince you to believe it or even to respect the fact that I believe it, but I believe it, every word of it.

Without getting too deep into a discussion of absolute truth here, let me just reiterate the fact that, since I believe the Bible, I believe that it is the truth.  I believe everything in it is true.
Sorry.  Not trying to beat you guys over the head or anything.  Just making sure you're hearing what I'm trying to say.

Being in a creative discipline in college exposed me to a lot of the sentiment expressed here.  I completely understand where people are coming from who say these sort of things.  Okay, maybe not completely, but, to a certain extent, I understand wanting everyone to be happy and to be able to do whatever they want.  It seems like a good idea on the surface, and maybe, as the above link suggests, two men marrying each other somewhere will not have any effects on my marriage in the future, or, in fact on my present life.

But, the fact is, I don't make all my decisions based on how they affect me.  I love other people.  I care about how people's choices affect their lives.

Now back to my original point.  I believe the Bible.  In the bible, I'm told that certain things, homosexuality for one (but only one among many others), are sins.  In the Bible, God tells us that people who sin and don't repent go to hell when they die.

That means they die forever.

Guys, this is a hard thing to believe.  It's a hard thing to believe when it condemns people you know and love and have spent a great deal of time with. When it condemns even people in your family.

But I believe it because it is the truth, and the truth isn't something I can shape to fit what I, or anyone else, may wish it to be.

I realize that people believe things other than what I believe, and probably believe them with equal conviction.  I won't, can't, ignore that, and it pains me to see it.  People make choices, though.  They believe what they want to believe and there's nothing I can do to change that.

So let's talk about Tolerance.  What does tolerance mean after all?  I'm not sure any of us understands what we're saying when we toss this term back and forth.  Sure, you can go to the dictionary and define it like I just did (and you can look up "tolerate" too while you're at it, if you want), but I'm not sure that tidy definition is what we mean when we ask for "tolerance" from everyone or for everyone.

I think what we're looking for is something along the lines of "Love one another."
That's in the Bible.

Or "Do not judge one another."
That's in the Bible too.

I have many friends whom I love dearly and who have very different beliefs from me, and I would hope that they can all attest to the fact that I have loved them and that I haven't judged them, but one thing I cannot do is be tolerant of their beliefs according to the dictionary definition above.
This does not mean I'm going to go around hollering at people that they're going to hell.
I don't think that's very nice.
It does mean that, if you ask me, I will tell you the truth without apology, even though it will be hard for you to hear.
Because I love you.
It also means that I will not be voting for anyone who supports sin in any way.

"The wages of sin is death" is also in the Bible, and I believe it is true.
If I believe something might condemn you to death, I'm not about to vote for it.

Because the one thing I can't tolerate is your death.

Please note that I believe very strongly in free speech, so comment away, but if you comment anonymously, please sign your name at the bottom of your comment.
Also note that I believe strongly in private property and the rights to control it, and, until I am told otherwise, my blog is my private property, so I will be deleting any comments that are hurtful to others.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Regarding My Recent Absence

Well, I guess it's safe to say that I will never have anything like what you would call "regularly scheduled programming" on this poor little blog.  Sorry for the incredibly long absence. There's no real excuse, but here's what I've got . . .

Towards the end of the summer, I got the incredible opportunity to join one of my wonderful friends from camp on a vacation in Florida.

That's right.  Florida.  I was beyond excited.
Jennie and I had earned a week's worth of paid vacation over the summer to be spent in August or September.
It was perfect timing.
(Also, let's just step aside for a moment and observe how ridiculously grown-up it is of me to be earning paid vacation.)

We planned our vacation for the week after the Summer Staff all went home.
Apparently that wasn't perfect timing.

That also happened to be the week that Hurricane Isaac hit Florida.
After much drama and many days of dealing with airlines and hotels, Jennie and I transferred all of our reservations to the next week and made it to Florida.

It was the perfect "recovery time" from the summer.  The basic itinerary for every day there was as follows:

1) Sleep in as late as you want, then change straight into a swimsuit and eat breakfast/have coffee on the veranda while looking at this


Those three boats (or some variation thereof) were sitting still in the the water the entire time we were there.  One cab-driver told us they were waiting for permission to dock and would sometimes wait there for weeks at a time.

2)  Lay on the beach as long as you want and alternate between reading books and cooling off in the water


That book?  It's Bloom, by Kelle Hampton.  I bought it because a) I've been wanting to read it and b) I figured what better place to read it than on the beach in Florida? (She lives in Florida.)
I loved Bloom, but there was another book that I borrowed from a friend at the last minute before leaving for Florida that ended up being way better.  It was a collection of personal essays called Cold Tangerines and it was honestly so good that, by the third essay, I asked why in the world I couldn't have been the one to write it.  Really.  It was just so refreshing and real and hilarious and I could go on and on about it, but I won't.


And yes, that's me in the water.  You should be aware that I am somewhat (no, incredibly) terrified of sharks and that I have rarely, if ever, put my head under the water in the ocean, but I decided, on the last day of our vacation, to swim all the way out to that green portion of the ocean, which, by the way, doesn't look that far out, but was actually very far.  I had been spending a good portion of our vacation looking at the line between the green and blue in the ocean and wondering what happened at that line.  It took forever to swim out there and it turns out that what happened was exactly what I thought would happen - the floor of the ocean dropped suddenly and the water got waaaaaaaay colder.
I promptly freaked out and swam back to shore as quickly as I could.
I have to say though, I was rather proud of myself for getting all the way out there.

3)  Go to the porch when the rain comes and wait it out.  Eventually decide the rain won't go away, and go upstairs to get "dressed for dinner" just like in old-fashioned books and shows.
You see, in Florida, it rains every day at 3 in the afternoon.  I never wore a watch, but I always knew when it was 3pm because the rain would come and chase us to the veranda.  We "waited it out" on the veranda every afternoon we were there, but every afternoon, the rain lasted at least until sunset, so we'd eventually give up on waiting.


Mostly, the rain was just little drizzles and sprinkles, but that's not something you want to be on the beach in, so we'd use the rest of our afternoon to shower and get dressed in normal clothes to

4)  Go to dinner somewhere in town. (Sorry.  No pictures of this event)

5)  Watch the moon rise



Since we were on the East Coast in Ft. Lauderdale, we didn't have a sunset, but we got moonrises and sunrises.  Both were so beautiful!  I caught one moonrise and two sunrises.

The first sunrise I watched was the second full day we were there.  It was a stormy and cloudy one, but breath-taking nonetheless.  I sat on the beach, camera in hand capturing every part of the sunrise - every subtle change in light, every new cloud that appeared, every shade of blue-green-grey the ocean and sky went through - and ended up with a lot of pictures that looked like this:


or this:


All during the sunrise, the boats were covered by this giant mass of cloud and I couldn't help but wonder if they were even aware that the sunrise was happening.  It looked so dark where they were.


Then Jesus sent me such a sweet message in those clouds.  I looked away for a bit, and when I looked back, the sun had broken through and illuminated the boats.


It made me think of those times when you feel like everybody else's life is going well/making sense/coming together perfectly and yours isn't.  Then, suddenly, there's the thing you've been waiting for and who knows where it came from or how it got there, but there it is, plain as day.

After that, I went back upstairs and stepped out onto the balcony to see my boats one more time and somehow, in the time it had taken me to get upstairs, the storm had come, concealing all but the closest boat.


But it didn't touch the shore.  It just came to that boat and it reminded me of that place in Job where God asks "Who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, 'Thus far you may come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop'?  Have you ever in your life commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth and the wicked be shaken out of it?" (Job 38:8-13)

The other sunrise I watched was on the last day - the one we were leaving.  I woke up not much before the sun and sat down in the sand, propped my camera on my knees and click, click, clicked until the sun had fully risen.  I got a lot of crooked horizons, but several good ones as well.



After the sunrise, I turned away to take pictures of the beach/waves/skyline behind me, then turned back to see this little sail-boat making it's slow and steady way toward the sun.  Sailboats always make me happy because they make me think of my Pop (my mom's dad), so that was a nice little present from Jesus.

He really out-did Himself that morning actually.


During that sunrise alone, I took 600 pictures.
I know.  That's crazy.  And, combined with all the other pictures I took during the vacation, it's taken me this long to get them all sorted out and decide which ones I wanted to include on my blog.
(Such a tough decision!)

If there's one thing I've learned from this vacation/absence, though, it's that I love having a blog, and I don't like to take long breaks from it.
Sooooo, you can bet the next time I come back from a vacation with almost a thousand pictures, I will not be waiting to post other things on the blog just because I don't want things to be out of order.

"Regularly scheduled programming" isn't all it's cracked up to be anyway.