Posted by: deerharas | December 1, 2010

Come Thou Long-Expected Blog

Merry Christmas, y’all!  Looking back, I’m trying to remember any official celebration of Advent.  I think I might have had a chocolate calendar one year as a child.  🙂  However, as this year’s 12/25 draws near, I want to make every effort to “let my heart prepare Him room.”

I plan to accomplish this in two ways.  First, I am working through an Advent devotional entitled “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”  I was drawn to the book primarily due to its title (a favorite carol of mine), but primarily I appreciate the range of voices represented in Guthrie’s collection, from Luther to Keller.

Second, I plan to reflect on Christmas music.  I tried and tried to wait until post-Thanksgiving to delve back into the holiday genre, but the moment I got the pre-release download of Jill Phillips & Andy Gullahorn’s new Christmas album, I made a worthwhile exception.  But, as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” tells us, “Christmas time is here …,” which means, with full respect to Thanksgiving, I can now unabashedly listen to any and all holiday tunes.

So, for every day leading up to Christmas, I would like to highlight one of my favorite songs and in the process also some of my favorite albums and artists.  Today I begin with the first track off perhaps my favorite Christmas album.  Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken contribute their modified interpretation of “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (Charles Wesley, 1744) as the first track on “Your King Has Come.”  Their slow, stripped-down version allows for just enough pause to drink in Wesley’s sound and solid lyrics.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

You can go here for the song in its entirety, the whole album actually.  Enjoy friends!  We’ll explore another tomorrow.


Well, it’s over.  12 weeks of training culminated in Sunday’s “Monster Dash,” Jayme’s first half marathon and my third.  If I had to sum up the morning in two words (alliterative, of course) those words would be “awesome” and “awful.”

Saturday night I got an email from the race coordinators informing all participants that “due to circumstances beyond their control,” there had been a last minute course alteration.  Instead of beginning in Grant Park and heading south along the lakefront and back, we would instead be running north and back.  I looked at the new course map and was actually pleased; it appeared that there would be a bit more variety and better scenery as the race would still begin in Grant Park but wind up past Navy Pier and up to Lincoln Park before turning back south.

I mentioned in my previous post that Jayme and I had a somewhat audacious half marathon goal for our time.  The hope was to break two hours.  Which, looking at our training long runs wasn’t out of the question, but also was a bit of a stretch.  Especially considering that we walked some on those runs.  But, what fun is a goal if it’s not somewhat out of reach?  🙂

In an effort not to get caught behind people running a slower pace and thus having to play “dodge and pass the runner,” we lined up in between the 8:00 minute and 8:30 minute pace corrals, meaning if anyone was getting dodged or passed, it was gonna be us.  🙂  Also, this put us closer to the start which allowed us to cross the starting line around 30 seconds after the gun went off.

One of the best things about running over the past two years has been my watch.  I love my Garmin.  I don’t have GPS for my car, but my GPS watch can tell me exactly how far I’ve run to a hundredth of a mile.  I appreciate not having to be dependent on the course’s mile markers, especially considering that #1, they were off, and #2, there were no time counters anywhere on the course.

Despite the lack of usual race amenities, the run as a whole was great.  Optimal running weather (temps in the high 30s, mid 40s) and not very windy except right on the lake.  I had some great tunes* thanks to your fabulous suggestions.  I timed my playlist at exactly two hours so that as soon as “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” came on, I’d know it’s time to end this thing.  🙂

We kept a pretty good pace most of the race, despite two bathroom breaks.  I was so proud of Jayme!  Man, that girl pushes me to the limit.  Honestly, the whole race was hard for me.  Come mile 9, I wasn’t sure I could keep it up, but Jayme was fast and steady.  I don’t know; there’s something about the Hufstedlers and competition.  🙂  So I plodded along beside her, my spirits lifting around mile 11 when we passed the two hour pace group.  According to my watch, our overall pace was decreasing and decreasing to where it looked as though we’d make our goal with room to spare.

At mile 12 Jayme nudged me, a huge smile on her face.  “One more!”  Or so we thought.  We picked up the pace a bit, anticipating only 1.1 more miles of pain.  The last stretch of the race spiraled through Grant Park, making it impossible to see the finish line.  As we were nearing the end, Jayme nudged me again, this time asking how much further.  According to my watch, we had exactly a quarter mile left.  And let me just say, at this point in a half, every hundredth of a mile is huge.  After a couple minutes had passed with still no finish line in sight, she nudged me again.  “WHERE is the finish?”  Looking at my watch, which at this point said we had run 13.2, I had to respond, “I don’t know!  We’re supposed to be done!”

13.44 later, we were done.  And I was NOT a happy camper … or runner.  After grabbing our bananas and chocolate graham crackers, we went to chat with the people at the information tent.  It turns out that the last minute course alteration was due to Obama’s campaigning for Illinois Democrats in Grant Park the day before.  Their choice was either to cancel, shorten, or alter the race course.  They went with alteration, knowing that the last 1.1 mile would in fact be closer to a mile and half.  Grrrr.

The mental anguish of that last “1.1” miles doesn’t irritate me as much as the fact that Jayme and I really did meet our goal, but our “official” time doesn’t reflect it.  According to the race results, we ran a 2:00:47 and 2:00:46 respectively.  We’ll call that our “ultra” half marathon time.  🙂  The amount of time it took us to run an actual 13.1 mile half marathon was 1:57:55.  And for that, we’re pretty proud.

Overall, it was a pretty good day.  I love that I got to spend so much quality time with one of my favorite people both in training and racing.  Lots of memories with that girl … add this one to the list.

*Race day playlist for all interested parties: 🙂
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor (Great start to any race)
Impossible Soul – Sufjan Stevens (Took up almost a quarter of my playlist, but worth it for the auto-tune alone)
Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn & John (If the whistling doesn’t get you pumped, I don’t know what will)
I Want You Back – Jackson 5 (Tracy’s pick for our VB warm up playlist senior year … never gets old)
Gasoline & Matches – Buddy and Julie Miller (Evidently the line is “You and me are gasoline and matches” and NOT “You and me against a leaning mattress”)
Roll Away Your Stone – Mumford & Sons (A banjo song I can run to?  Yes please.)
B.O.B. – OutKast (Commence rap/hip hop segment of race)
Quiet Dog – Mos Def (Simma down, simma down, simma down, simma down now)
Rude Boy – Rihanna (A hard choice between this and “Please Don’t Stop the Music”)
Toxic – Britney Spears (Commence guilty pleasure portion of the race …)
Jesus Is the Only Answer – Bela Fleck (More banjo!  And African harmonies!)
Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson (Ha … what girl hasn’t screamed this one at some point)
Sometime around Midnight – The Airborne Toxic Event  (I’m a sucker for the slow build …)
Keep the Car Running – Arcade Fire (Right about this point I was wishing for a car to come and get me …)
Lisztomania – Phoenix (So happy, so poppy)
O Valencia! – The Decemberists (Sad story, but peppy tune)
Elevation – U2 (Randy, be proud!)
Let’s Hear It for the Boy – Deniece Williams (Every running playlist needs some 80s pop)
Single Ladies – Beyonce (Makes most people wanna dance … makes me wanna run)
They – Jem (Gah, the beat on this one …)
To the Dogs or Whoever – Josh Ritter (Fun, fun)
Telephone – Lady GaGa (Okay, this song makes me wanna dance, too …)
Angst in My Pants – Sparks (FABULOUS running song … I always put it on the last minute of my interval workouts)
You Make My Dreams – Hall & Oates (More 80s cheese)
Whip It – Devo (Loved it since 7th grade …)
Cousins – Vampire Weekend (Could there BE a more appropriate running song for Jayme & me?)
It’s the End of the World As We Know It – R.E.M. ( … and I feel FINE!)

Posted by: deerharas | October 27, 2010

It BETTER not be this windy come Sunday morning …

… because if it is, I might just quit before I start.  I am officially putting in my request for cool (not cold), non-humid, but especially non-windy weather for Sunday’s half marathon.  Jayme and I have a rather audacious goal, and weather cooperation would be rather helpful.

But you know what else would be helpful?  Music.  And that’s where you come in, friends.  I am officially soliciting suggestions for good running music.  If you’re tagged in this note, it’s either because I respect your musical tastes or I know you’re a runner … or both.  So how ’bout letting me in on your running playlist must-haves?

And don’t worry, Stacey … “Hungry Like the Wolf” is already on there.  🙂

Have you ever felt haunted by a word?  Maybe haunted isn’t the right term … pursued, perhaps?  Some of you might remember the closing credits of Sesame Street in which an announcer announces (imagine that) the letters and numbers that had “brought” that day’s episode.  Each sketch somehow features these numbers and letters.  Count counts to seven.  Bert and Ernie list everything in their house that starts with “p.”  You get the idea.

Well, if my last few days were an episode of Sesame Street, the recurring theme would be the word “hope.”  I am in a season of waiting.  And for a person who’s oftentimes all about instant gratification, waiting is not fun.  At all.  Tom Petty sure got it right … the waiting IS the hardest part.  Actually, I would argue that disappointment after a period of waiting is even harder.  The past few months have been filled with untold amounts of stress as I have sought to discern what’s next.  Next year, next month, next week, next day.  It’s certainly not a comfortable place.  Especially when possibilities emerge and hopes rise only to have them dashed.

And there’s that word.  Hope.  A few days ago I was reminded of a verse in the Psalms concerning hope.  A friend shared it with me last summer in relation to one of my crazy crushes.  Newly single herself, she exhorted me with Psalm 39:7 … “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you.” I’ve come back to that one several times since then, occasionally with a guy in mind although it speaks to so much more than that.  It speaks to my tendency to put stock in very transient things.  The prophet Samuel urges the Israelites to “not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty” (1 Sam 12:21).  They had put their hope in a king rather than Yahweh, the true king, the only one worthy of hope.

The same day I remembered Psalm 39, hope popped up again in an unexpected place.  I was looking up a verse someone had half quoted to me in the context of a conversation on suffering.  “Though he slay me …”  His point was to say that no matter what befalls us, God’s glorification is paramount.  Yes, God is good to his children, but true love for God is demonstrated in our preference for him even when we don’t feel his goodness.  Though he slay me, I will endure?  I will still love him?  I will what?  I went on a hunt for this elusive apodosis.  It turns out that the verse reads, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15a).  Job proclaims in the midst of his extreme suffering that no matter what the circumstance, his hope was in the Lord.

Yesterday in the midst of a significant disappointment, another hope verse came to mind.  Proverbs 13:12 muses that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Um, duh.  I definitely was feeling the heart sickness.  My hope had been deferred.  And while I think expressing grief and mourning is natural and even good, this experience of disappointment prompted some introspection.  Perhaps had I invested my hope in God and not this particular possibility, I wouldn’t be facing the same heart sickness.  Because a hope in the Lord does not disappoint.  It may not turn out as I would prefer, but what else in the entire world is worthy of hope?

This morning as I was remembering a particularly difficult circumstance the Lord graciously brought me through a few years ago, an old school David Crowder lyric intruded upon my thoughts.  “Be all my hopes, be all my dreams, be all my delights, be my everything.” Yes, Lord.  Because a hope in the Lord is never deferred.  And delighting in him brings life.  For what do I wait?  My hope is in him.  Though he slay me, I will hope in him.  Be all my hopes.

I suppose of all the words to haunt me, hope is a pretty good one.

Posted by: deerharas | June 29, 2010

Taking suggestions …

Well hello, friends.  It’s been awhile.  And while I would love to recount some of the more interesting aspects of the past three months, I think for now I’ll break back into the blogging scene with a little solicitation for advice.

I love reading.  I have my dad to thank for that.  Without fail he read to me every night as a child.  Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain Bears, Ramona Quimby, Roald Dahl … some of my best memories are of bedtime story time.  To quote Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.”  Yes, Kathleen Kelly, I concur.

Unfortunately, higher education seems to beat the love of reading right out of me.  It was that way in college, and grad school followed suit.  However, it’s that time again.  Schoooooool’s … out … for … summer!  Schoooooool’s … out … FOREVER!!!  Which means reading’s back in.

And that’s where you come in.  I need suggestions.  I am audaciously attempting to read nine books before August 14th in hopes of winning a raffle for a $100 gift card to Borders.  Hey, just by signing up I got a free dinner from Noodles & Company.  🙂  Out of the nine, I have to read one biography, one book set in a different country, and one novel.  The rest are my choice.  I am particularly looking for biography suggestions (preferably not 900 page biographies on John Adams or Herbert Hoover, as intriguing as those recommendations are 😉 ), although I am anxious to hear your thoughts on any worthwhile books.

So how ’bout it, friends?  What should I read this summer?

Posted by: deerharas | March 24, 2010

Así, Así

Last night at small group my friend JC greeted me with “¿Cómo estás?” Not often do I get to flex my almost non-existant Spanish muscles (two years in high school and two semesters in college, but sadly not much retention), so it’s always fun to attempt conversing with JC, Judith, or Victoria. Mostly they laugh. To answer JC, I responded with one of the few Spanish phrases I know (and can pronounce) … así, así. I immediately remembered the entrance of said phrase into my Spanish vocabulary, and funny enough, it wasn’t in class.

So I’m the “crush” girl. And I have been as long as I can remember. We’re talking preschool; I vaguely remember a boy named Derek sharing his chapstick with me and some sort of kissing incident behind an umbrella. 🙂 In elementary school I had age inappropriate crushes on boys in the youth group, in middle school it was the orchestra boys, and in high school it was the athletes. My sophomore year I developed quite the infatuation with a particular soccer player. He was tall with broad shoulders, and we had the same lunch period. I was always keenly aware of his whereabouts, and, in true girl-crush fashion, would talk about him incessantly with my lunch table friends. I even gave him a nickname based on the time he left the cafeteria each day … 11:37. (I still have friends tell me they can’t see that it’s 11:37 and not think of me. 🙂 ) So after months of crushin’ on 11:37, I finally got up the nerve to ask my Brazilian friend Renato, who also played soccer, to feel out the waters for me. Kind of a more mature version of the “Do you like me? Check yes or no” note. After a few days Renato brought me back the equivalent of a box checked “no.” Obviously not wanting to hurt my feelings, he was hesitant to give details. But after some prodding on my part I got the gist of the conversation that evidently went something like this:

“Hey, what do you think of Sarah Reed?”

“Uh, así, así.” (I can envision the hand gesture.)

Now I’m not sure if 11:37 actually used Spanish or if that was Renato’s translation, but either way the words are tattooed on my brain. I suppose it’s good he didn’t say “Muy mal” or something worse, but to be thought of as only “so, so” in the eyes of your crush is … well … crushing.

It turned out that the guy already had a girlfriend anyway, and that maybe he wasn’t the best guy for me to date as well. In fact, I’m pretty grateful that several of my crushes throughout the years never moved beyond crush-stage. Rejection is never fun in the moment, but I can honestly view most of my unrequited crushes as divine protection from some potentially BAD relationships. I tend to get a little tunnel vision when it comes to crushes. I see something great and overlook a lot of not great, and I KNOW I’m not the only girl who does this. It’s a lot easier to see the not great once you realize your interest is not reciprocated than in the midst of a relationship with a person. But I’m rambling now … this was just meant to be a fun reminiscence on the origin of perhaps my least favorite Spanish phrase. Goodnight, friends. Here’s hoping you are all muy bien and not just así, así.

Posted by: deerharas | March 19, 2010

If you want a friend …

Over Christmas break, my mom and some of her small group friends organized a mother/daughter get together, and as part of said get together I was to come prepared to answer two questions:

1) What is something your mom did that you will NOT repeat when you’re a mother?

2) What is one quality that you most appreciate about your mother?

On the way over I asked her if she was nervous about the first one.  Her response was, “Should I be?”  Actually the first question was a lot more difficult for me to answer than the second.  I ended up retelling two dance anecdotes involving a wrong colored pair of tights (pic to come) and lack of a ponytail holder at a critical moment.  Neither were true criticisms, only humorous incidents.  However, as difficult as it was to come up with an answer for number one, I knew immediately how I would respond to the second.

My mother is probably the most selfless person I know.  She makes countless sacrifices for the benefit of family, friends and even strangers.  From her patient love for children with special needs at school to her sacrificial love for her own children at home, my mother is a natural caregiver.  She volunteers at church, at the library, and at nursing homes.  She plans trips all over Texas to see the cousins run in meets/play games/act in plays.  She is a giver.  And as the daughter of such a giver, it’s easy to be a taker.  My mother certainly models selfless love for me, but being giving and other-centered isn’t always the easiest task for me.  Her example has doubtlessly been influential, but getting through to this fundamentally selfish girl sometimes requires words.

Yesterday I was griping to a few friends (And as a side-note, can I just say that I have the BEST friends?  Those who indulge my ridiculously long and rambling story telling tendencies have my undying gratitude.) about some disappointments; basically I was being pouty and completely inwardly focused.  As I listened to the words I was speaking, my spirit just hurt.  Not because of the disappointment, but because I realized how little I had been thinking of others lately.  How little I had been praying for others lately.  How little I had been serving others lately.

This epiphany (which wasn’t really an epiphany at all, considering this is nothing new to me … is it possible to have a recurring epiphany?) began to sharpen as I recalled a phrase oft repeated in my home growing up.  Whenever I would complain to my mom about friends, either the quality or lack of, she would say, “If you want a friend, be a friend.  Find someone who needs a friend, and be a friend to them, Sarah.”  Of course that wasn’t fun to hear, but it was wise.  And selfless.

And while my issues yesterday didn’t concern friends, the same principle carries over.  Rather than inwardly focusing on what I don’t have, I have the opportunity to throw myself into the service of others.  Whether that be through listening, praying, or even just being faithful in schoolwork in preparation for a future of service to others, there’s plenty to keep my mind off self.  Because being a friend is about the other.

Posted by: deerharas | March 14, 2010

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow …

Here’s something I’ve learned over the past 20 months: There is an inverse relationship between the amount of reading/writing assigned in grad school and the amount of reading/writing I try and do for fun.  Blogs have become very few and far between, and I don’t remember the last novel I finished.  Spring Break is on its last leg, and sadly, I haven’t made much time for either this week.  I did catch a couple concerts (Magnetic Fields & Andrew Peterson) as well as a couple movies (Up in the Air & The Hurt Locker), but today I’m attempting to at least churn out a blog post.

There’s a chance this may be my last Spring Break ever.  I doubt it, but it’s a possibility.  If I pass a kind of important test here in a couple weeks I get to graduate on May 8th.  What’s next, you ask?  I have absolutely no idea.  My life is more up in the air now than I can ever remember it being.  And while for the past several months this has been an area of almost crippling stress, I am rounding a corner of hope and even excitement these days.

I don’t really consider myself a fearful person.  There have been several times I felt like God prompted me to step out in faith and do something uncomfortable.  Whether it be as simple as initiating a difficult conversation or as extreme as moving across the country not knowing anyone, each faith step, while certainly not easy, was graced with the peace that surpasses all understanding.  It was in the midst of one of those “faith steps” that a friend off handedly made a comment that has stuck with me for years.  She said something about how it was easier for her and me to trust the Lord because we had continually experienced his faithfulness.  I was seventeen at the time, so maybe that wasn’t saying much.  However, standing here ten years later, I have a deeper appreciation for the truth of those words … at least the latter half.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more beaten down than in the past year.  I moved up here a little over a year and a half ago to pursue the “next step” on a journey of faith in which I hoped to become better equipped to serve the Lord in whatever situation I might find myself.  College professor was the line I would give anyone who asked.  And that may very well be the final destination, but my grad school experience has really been discouraging in that regard.  My passions are teaching are writing.  It would seem reasonable that academia would be a sensible career path, right?  Well …

Last spring I attended a panel discussion on pursuing a PhD.  These are the two quotes I remember:

“A PhD is not a ticket to teaching.  You have to love the scholarship.”

“It’s really hard to get into a PhD program.  It’s really hard once you’re in a PhD program.  It’s really hard to find a job once you have your PhD.  It’s really hard to like the job you get with your PhD.”

Anyone else want to run in the completely opposite direction?  Those statements wouldn’t be so intimidating if they weren’t confirmed by my experience in the program.  Don’t get me wrong; I am so thankful for the time I’ve had here.  I’ve learned so much and been challenged in innumerable ways.  I’m a better thinker, writer, and overall communicator.  But I’ve also learned that to excel in this program takes endless hours of library isolation, which I’m just not so sure I can do.  I have to be around people and feel like I am making a tangible difference in their lives.  That’s not to say that those who devote themselves to research and writing for the benefit of biblical scholarship are not making a difference; I am indebted to them.  You are indebted to them.  But perhaps that is not to be my contribution.

So with that suspicion creeping into my mental forefront, I began to fear.  Why was I here?  Did I seriously take out thousands of dollars in student loans for nothing?  Did God really lead me here, or was this entirely my own initiative?  The pangs of doubt and constant questioning led to an almost complete lack of motivation as I faced the most difficult semester I have ever experienced.  I thought last spring was tough, but this past fall was indescribable.  I love that my program emphasizes a canonical approach to Scripture, but Hebrew and the Old Testament in general are NOT my strong suits.  Call me Old Testamentally challenged.  And while I loved everything I was learning last semester, I struggled.  113 pages of writing and untold pages of reading will do that to you, I guess.  Being back in NT classes this semester has been a breath of fresh air, but it’s hard to forget last semester’s barely salvageable difficulties.

But back to the fear.  May 8th should be a day of celebration, but I had begun to fear it.  All I could see was either 1) not being able to find a job or 2) hating the job I found.  Those were the only two possibilities I could fathom, which is utter ridiculousness.  It wasn’t until I got an email about a ministry related position opening that something began to shift in my thinking.

I still have no idea what’s next.  Which is scary.  I wouldn’t say, as my friend quipped so long ago, that it’s easy to trust.  But I can say that He is faithful.  Has been, is now, and will be.  A couple Sundays ago we had a guest preacher at Parkview who spoke on faith.  I don’t really remember much of his sermon, only a brief anecdote he shared toward the end.  Just before we sang my favorite hymn of all time (based on my favorite Scripture of all time) he explained how formative it was for him to sing it in the church he grew up in.  As a little boy he stood beside eighty and ninety year old Norwegians proclaiming, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and even then he knew the truth of those words.  This predominately elderly congregation had earned the right to say no.  No, He isn’t faithful.  But they sang passionately about the enduring faithfulness of their God that they had experienced over decades and decades.  That is the most encouraging message I’ve heard in a long time.

Somehow I had forgotten.  I had let the hardships of the past year reduce my vision to the here and now, rather than looking to the past with gratitude and the future with hope.  I am faithless, but He is faithful.  It’s just who He is.

So rather than living in the doubt and depression of the past several months, I am choosing to remember who God is and what He has done.  It’s that remembrance that brings the “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”  Perhaps you can join me in this proclamation:

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Posted by: deerharas | February 14, 2010

14 Songs for February 14th

I realized a few days ago that Valentine’s Day was fast approaching and unlike previous years (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) I had no V-Day blog just itching to be posted.  I figured I had better get on that.  So with no real “relationships” thoughts to share this go around, I thought I’d do a throw back to my early blogging days and share my 2010 Valentine’s Day playlist … the annotated version.  🙂  So here for your (hopefully) listening pleasure, I give you 14 love songs I’ve loved this year:

Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
I had heard the original a few times, but didn’t fall in love with it until XRT played the Swell Season version on their Friday Feature featuring (haha) Van Morrison.  Gah, what a GREAT SONG.
I wanna rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in those days of old
And magnificently we will fall as we sail into the mystic

You Make My Dreams – Hall and Oates
Daryl and John are definitely hit manufacturers.  I must admit, I’m a little partial in light of one such hit (Sara Smile) despite their misspelling of my name.  This song, however, stood out this year thanks to the Ferris Bueller-esque scene in 500 Days of Summer.  Who doesn’t want to break into song and dance along with that hook?
Well well you (ooh ooh ooh ooh)
You make my dreams come true (you ooh you you ooh ooh you ooh)

The Book of Love – The Magnetic Fields
I found this band thanks to a lovely little independent film back in 2004.  I am thoroughly amused by the often quirky and cynical lyrics of Stephin Merritt.  This song, however, is just simple and beautiful.
The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it it is just really dumb
But I, I love it when you sing to me
And you, you can sing me anything

Father and Daughter – Paul Simon
This one’s a long favorite, spanning back to when I surprised my then elementary-school-aged brother with a trip to San Angelo to see The Wild Thornberrys Movie since it was no longer playing in Abilene.  This song made sitting through an hour and a half of Nickelodeon animation totally worth it.  I was reminded of it again a few weeks ago in the grocery store after witnessing a simple moment of affection between a father and his young daughter.
I believe the light that shines on you will shine on you forever
And though I can’t guarantee there’s nothing scary hiding under your bed
I’m gonna stand guard like a postcard of a golden retriever
And never leave ’til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head

Heart of Gold – Neil Young
I heard a cover of this one recently which brought the harmonica heavy original back to my musical forefront.  🙂  The opening lines are particularly poignant and while he’s basically lamenting his own inability to sustain relationship, I am particularly drawn to them these days.
I want to live, I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold
It’s these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

Unfailing Love – Jimmy Needham
This one’s fun.  My church recently did a series on love, relationships, etc. … all that “yucky love stuff.”  A member of the praise team sang this song at the end of one of the services, and I don’t think there was a single girl in the place that didn’t want to shout “Yes!” after the soulful climactic “Be … my … wife …”
You’re my unfathomable, precious, unimaginable joy
And you’re exceedingly exciting and abundantly more than I can ask for
With your hand in mine we will pass through time and space
And every second, every minute, every hour of every day I’ll say …

One Day – Matisyahu
Not your typical love song, I suppose, but an eschatological hope for new creation to me has love written all over it.  And it’s just an awesome song.
All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There’ll be no more war
And our children will play
One day, one day, one day

Low Rising – The Swell Season
I looked up synonyms for sexy (because I just feel awkward using that word … I know, I’m silly) and was given the word “toothsome.”  Yeah, not so much.  There’s just something about this song, though.  Hansard’s resolve toward restoration from the depths of relationship hell is just captivating.
I wanna sit you down and talk
I wanna pull back the veils and find out what it is I’ve done wrong
I wanna tear these curtains down
I want you to meet me somewhere tonight in this old tourist town …

When It Don’t Come Easy – Patty Griffin
I was introduced to this song via the opening act of a Waterdeep show I caught last fall.  I wanted to cry at the beauty of such a love that endures and pursues despite sometimes being one sided.
But if you break down
I’ll drive out and find you
If you forget my love
I’ll try to remind you
And stay by you
When it don’t come easy

Love Vigilantes – New Order
How did I not know this song until this year?  I heard Sam Beam cover it last May and didn’t realize it wasn’t his own until I heard the original playing in a Gap dressing room.  His slow version is more in tune with the song’s tragic ending, while the upbeat original somehow manages to highlight the unexpected twist of events.
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

Let My Love Open the Door – Pete Townshend
I re-fell in love with this one thanks to Steve Carell’s rendition in Dan in Real Life.  I especially like the Sondre Lerche cover (whom Jayme and I got to see last fall .. even though he didn’t play this one).
When people keep repeating
That you’ll never fall in love
When everybody keeps retreating
But you can’t seem to get enough
Let my love open the door … to your heart

Head Over Heels – Tears for Fears
Hmm … not much to say on this one except I never get tired of it.  It’s the keyboard intro … and the concluding la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.  And maybe I get the whole unrequited love thing.  🙂
Something happens and I’m head over heels
I never find out ’til I’m head over heels
Something happens and I’m head over heels
Don’t take my heart
Don’t break my heart
Don’t, don’t, don’t throw it away

Good Things – BoDeans
Even though it came out in 1991, I only found this one this summer … thanks to XRT.  It’s my official “crush” song, despite its improper grammar.
No, no, no
Don’t pass me over
No, no, no
Don’t pass me by
See, I can see
Good things for you and I

Don’t Forget Me – Neko Case
Again, didn’t realize it was a cover until I heard the original in a “This American Life” segment on amnesia.  A nostalgic plea to a lover long gone, Case’s rendition beautifully captures the ache of a relationship for which memories are all that’s left to grasp.
Don’t forget me
Don’t forget me
Make it easy on me just for a little while
You know I think about you
Let me know you think about me too

Okay friends, how ’bout you?  What’s your favorite love (in any sense of the word) song of the past year?  Of all time?

Posted by: deerharas | January 24, 2010

S is for …

I have great people in my life.  I actually wrote about a few of them several years ago in this blog.  Over Christmas break I got the chance to visit four in particular who made the list then and to this day remain unshakably some of the best people in my life.  They’re my “S” girls.  Sarah, Stacey, Sydnie and Stacey.  My friendships with them span from 20 years to almost eight.  Two are in Texas and two are in Oklahoma, but despite time and distance, each friendship endures.  So here before it gets too crazy with the start of a new semester, I want to take the time to share why I love these incredible friends.


Sarah and I began our journey together in the church nursery.  Although we’ve known each other our whole lives, it wasn’t until elementary school that we became friends.  Before that I thought she never said a word, and she just didn’t like me.  In fact, in first grade as I walked into Sunday school one morning, she told the other girls, “There’s Sarah Reed.  Nobody talk to her.”  We’ve come along way since then.  🙂  We bonded one summer at G.A. camp and grew closer with every youth group event from Disciple Nows to ski trips.  We grew up together.  Her friendship was a constant I could depend on through the awkward middle school years and on into high school.  I moved away for college, but we stayed close; Sarah made the five hour drive to visit me a few times, once with both our moms in tow.  That’s another thing: her family is my own.  Before Daniel came along, my best experience of brothers and sisters was the time I spent with Sarah, Holly, Ben, and Neil.  Our families have remained close throughout the years, and while I don’t get to see Sarah very much these days, on those occasions when I do, we always pick up right where we left off.  This break I got to see my beautiful friend with a shiny new addition to her left ring finger.  This summer my Sarah Kaye (oh yeah, we have the same middle name, it’s spelled the same way, and we’re both named after our aunts on our mom’s side) is getting MARRIED and I get to stand up alongside her to witness it.

So here’s to Sarah, “who shares my name, who has always been there and always will be, whose family is my own, who is beautiful on multiple levels.”


Although she doesn’t remember me, I met Stacey on my first tour of OBU.  She was working the front desk and gave my family a tour of WMU.  The next year she was my RA, and the following year we were RAs together.  I have such fun memories of her whether it be zipping her up in my suitcase, making countless trips to Ted’s, or making interesting use of touch lights.  I remember in my RA interview being asked what quality I appreciated most about my RA, and without hesitation I mentioned Stacey’s ability to listen.  To this day, I think that’s what I appreciate most about her.  Rarely does she offer a solution to my problems, but she has a way of just really hearing what I’m saying.  We see things the same way; I often feel like no one in the world could really comprehend my way of thinking except her.  We actually only knew each other for a year and a half before she graduated, moved away and got married.  Since then we’ve traveled to the Little House on the Prairie 🙂 and Chicago, back when I was first considering Wheaton.  Thankfully, she married a pretty great guy and then had some pretty great kids (3 … wow), and one of my favorite things about visiting Texas is visiting the Lucases (hmm … not quite sure how to pluralize that one).

And here’s to Stacey, “who was more than my RA, who I never want to leave when it’s time to leave, who (along w/ Randy and Molly & now Matthew and Callie) are my first family of friends, who I can talk to and feel like I am really understood and affirmed.”


Another RA friend.  I met Sydnie my sophomore year (her freshman) when as an RA I had to escort a workman to her room to fix something.  I noticed that on her “info sheet” posted outside her door that we shared the same favorite scriptures (Lamentations 3:22-24) and that she liked the Abilenian worship leader Jeff Berry.  I thought to myself, “We could be friends.”  And friends we became, but not until the following year.  Sydnie took Stacey’s old RA position, which meant we shared the second floor divided by the lobby.  The great thing about Sydnie is how easy she is to be around.  I don’t care what I’m doing, I just like her there.  She was with me when I fell down the stairs in the GC, with me for hours in the ER, and with me through six weeks of carrying my bag to class and my tray in the cafeteria.  We both like to talk, so there’s always a story to share, but she’s the kind of friend you can just be silent with as well.  Over the course of our friendship, she too met a boy, got married and had a baby.  I was the “first friend” bridesmaid a few years ago and got to meet precious Margot this Christmas.  I love my Squeegee Beckenheim!

And to Sydnie, “who was an authentic friend for six of the hardest weeks of my life, who I can sit comfortably with in a silent room, who I can laugh with, cry with and pray with.”


The last of my “S’s,” I met Stacey just after the aforementioned ankle breaking of my junior year.  She was the small group leader of a Bible study my friend Amanda had invited me to.  Stacey’s passion for the Lord and enthusiasm for life was infectious.  I was constantly challenged to know and love God in deeper ways, and that group (which lasted in slightly different forms for three years) contributed as much to my spiritual growth as anything else.  Stacey invited me to lead a youth discipleship group, which further contributed to her discipleship of and investment in me.  And while I still very much look up to my sweet friend, a point came when we were no longer teacher and student, but rather peers.  I can tell (and have told) her anything and everything.  She has spoken more truth and encouragement into my life than perhaps anyone else, and no matter what happens we are tied together with an unbreakable spiritual bond.  It’s kind of bizarre the way God works between us sometimes, from scripture brought to mind, to calls to fast, to visions for life.  Who in the WORLD would have thought that something like Saturdate would have ever come to pass?  Yep, “We’re the kinds of folks who will always live right around the corner from something big.”

To Stacey, “who is my lifetime accountability partner, who is so much more than an accountability partner, whose passion inspires me, who I can tell (and have told) anything to, who shares my struggles and my strengths, who is a witness to my life and allows me to be a witness to hers.”

P.S.  (Is it weird to have a P.S. in a blog?) The quotes are from the blog I wrote almost five years ago.  I didn’t reread it until I had already written about each one, which only goes to show that the friends they were then, they remain to this day.  Much love, my precious S’s.

Posted by: deerharas | January 10, 2010

2009: Yet Another Illustrated Year in Review

A couple years ago I began a tradition that has since become one of my favorite blogging endeavors.  2007: An Illustrated Year in Review and then 2008: Another Illustrated Year in Review were my versions of the classic “Christmas Card Letter.”  So here, once again, I offer a not-so-brief synopsis of the past year.  It’s illustrated, so no pressure to read it all … feel free to just scan the pics, which are my favorite part of the blog anyway.  🙂


After looking back at last year’s concert list, it looks like this year I almost doubled the number of shows attended.  Granted, this was my first full year in the area, which made a big difference considering Chicago’s plethora of concert opportunities.  It also didn’t hurt that I won tickets to five different shows thanks to a local radio station.  93XRT has fast become one of my favorite aspects of Chicagoland life.  From “Saturday Morning Flashback” to “Breakfast with the Beatles” to “Live from the Archives,” XRT plays a wide spectrum of music across decades and genres, expanding my musical horizons at every turn.  Thanks to their online giveaway contests, I managed to score free tickets to David Gray, Bob Dylan, Don Henley, The Swell Season, and Pete Yorn/Phoenix/Flaming Lips.  Not too shabby.  🙂

All in all, I made it to 21 shows this year:
•    Fiction Family – The Union, Naperville, IL
•    Death Cab for Cutie (Opening Acts: Ra Ra Riot & Cold War Kids) – The Aragon, Chicago, IL
•    Neko Case – Chicago Theatre, Chicago
•    Iron & Wine – Schubas, Chicago
•    Ben Harper & Relentless7 – The Vic, Chicago
•    Counting Crows – Grant Park, Chicago
•    Blitzen Trapper – Empty Bottle, Chicago
•    Fleet Foxes – Metro, Chicago
•    Over the Rhine – Lincoln Park Arts Festival, Chicago
•    U2 (Opening Act: Snow Patrol) – Soldier Field, Chicago
•    Waterdeep – The Union, Naperville, IL
•    Sondre Lerche – Schubas, Chicago
•    Wilco – UIC Pavillion, Chicago
•    David Bazan – Lincoln Hall, Chicago
•    David Gray – Reggie’s Rock Club, Chicago
•    Bob Dylan – The Aragon, Chicago
•    Randall Goodgame – Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church, Elmhurst, IL
•    Don Henley – Rosemont Theatre, Chicago
•    Ray LaMontagne – Auditorium Theatre, Chicago
•    The Swell Season (Opening Act: Rachael Yamagata) – Auditorium Theatre, Chicago
•    Pete Yorn, Phoenix & The Flaming Lips – Allstate Arena, Chicago

A few of these were repeats (Ben Harper, OtR, Waterdeep, Randall Goodgame, Ray LaMontagne, Flaming Lips), but I was fortunate to check several unseens off my list as well.  I saw some pretty amazing shows this year, which makes a favorites list difficult, but I think I can narrow down to a top three:

A friend got in on the fan club pre-sale and scored field tickets for their first stop on their US 360 tour at Soldier Field.  That show sold out in a matter of minutes, prompting a second performance the following night.  I’m not the die hard U2 fan that Randy is, but I couldn’t help but get caught up in the immensity of the night.  Whether it was the structure of the stage (which you can see in the bottom picture) or the 60,000+ people in attendance or the sheer force of Bono’s presence, everything about the night was BIG.   They played almost every song I could imagine, including “Bad,” and their visual effects were beyond compare.

The Swell Season
“Who are they?,” you may ask.  Well, if you haven’t seen Once, stop what you’re doing right now and go watch it.  Winners of the Oscar for Best Original Song of 2007, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova collaborated post-film to form The Swell Season.  They released a new album in October, further developing the musical chemistry that endeared so many to their movie.  Thanks to XRT, my fellow Once appreciator Sharon and I were able to witness their incredible giftedness somewhat up-close and personal.  They played for nearly three hours, which included a double encore.  Glen performed “Say It to Me Now” sans mic & amps, his passionate voice and well-worn guitar more than making up for their absence.  And while his presence and storytelling carried the show, Marketa’s timid yet accomplished style shone through continually.

Neko Case
A couple years ago a friend burned me a copy of Fox Confessor, at which time I was unconvinced as to the greatness that is Neko Case.  However, enough people whose musical tastes I respect were fans, so when I heard she was playing at the Chicago Theatre, I figured I’d give her a chance live.  From the moment she opened her mouth with the lilting “Maybe Sparrow,” I was mesmerized.  She exuded confidence without pretension, obviously comfortable in her own skin, her nonchalant “People Got a Lotta Nerve” as case in point … “I’m a man, man, man, man, man, man-eater; so don’t be surprised, prised, prised when I eat ya.”  Most profound stand out lyric of the night: “I want the Pharaohs, but there’s only men.”  Neko gets my vote for best concert of the year, and Middle Cyclone gets my pick for best album.


Fabulous people come to visit you when you live in a fabulous place!  This year I was incredibly blessed to have both friends and family visit from Texas and Oklahoma.  Jack and Carlee came up for their spring break, in which my birthday happened to fall, so it was great to celebrate with them and Jayme.  We did lots of fun touristy stuff and watched the last scene of Moulin Rouge about fifteen times (right Jack? :))  Jay came up to get Jayme at the end of the semester, and we made it to a Cubs game, which they won, so we got to sing the famous “Go, Cubs, Go!”  A few days later one of my Oklahoma besties made good on a promise she made me the first week I moved up here.  Our long weekend included Bahama Breeze, Trader Joe’s, the Mag Mile, meeting IL friends, the unveiling of the new modern wing at the Art Institute, a Ben Harper concert and LOTS of catch up conversation.  My old roommate was in Chicago for her summer vacation, which allowed me to meet her boyfriend (now fiancé) and make yet another trip to the Art Institute.  Another OK friend vacationed up here as well, and I was super pumped to see Psycho with her in Grant Park.  Jack made another trip up, this time with HIS kids.  We visited the newly monikered Willis Tower and walked about twenty miles, playing Rook every chance we got.  At the beginning of the semester I got to see Kaye for about two hours before she had to turn right back around and fly back to Amarillo for school.  And surprise, surprise, my MOM came to visit me in October!  When I entered to win Don Henley tickets, I told her that if I won she had to fly up and go with me.  She agreed, thinking what were the chances?  Haha, evidently they were pretty good.  I got four whole days with my momma filled with TWO concerts (another favorite of ours: Randall Goodgame) and a trip to the Shedd Aquarium.  She sat in on a couple of my classes, after which she said she understood what her special-ed kids must feel like.  🙂  It was SUCH a great time for us, a definite highlight of the year.


Don’t let the smile fool you; it was a hard year.  Beyond hard.  Last spring semester was a real challenge, but it pales in comparison to this past fall.  I was enrolled in all Old Testament classes: Introduction to Old Testament Exegesis, Hebrew Exegesis of Genesis, Old Testament Theology, and Old Testament Criticism.  There are plenty of good things I could say.  I had EXCELLENT professors.  I was challenged to look at the Old Testament differently and am a better person for it.  But I was overwhelmed.  One of my two hour classes ended up being more work than than any four hour class I’ve taken, and it didn’t help that I had that professor for another class as well.  I wrote a total of 113 pages over the course of the semester.  The work load had a paralyzing effect, and I struggled with motivation more than at any other point in my life.  I came face to ugly face with my own insufficiency and made it through SOLELY by the grace of the Lord.


Sorry, no pics here.  At the end of last spring I lost my nanny job due to the mom losing hers, so this summer I had to find alternate employment.  I tutored one test prep student in the spring and picked up a few more tutoring hours at the beginning of the summer, and while I would have loved to pick up more, there just isn’t the same demand for ACT tutoring in the summer.  So I cleaned.  A friend had worked for a company off and on for a couple years and recommended me to her boss who gave me a job for the summer.  I mostly cleaned houses and one small business.  It worked well with my schedule and paid okay, but I was very happy to see the fall roll around.  After I successfully passed my Hebrew competency exam over the summer, I convinced my old Greek and Hebrew prof to let me TA for him, which basically consisted of grading quizzes every weekend.  Another professor asked me to be the tutor for the Greek 101 classes, which was an absolute blast.  Some weeks I got paid to do homework, but when students showed up, I felt like I was doing what I was made to do.  I also did some more test prep tutoring in the early fall and continued to work at Bath & Bodyworks occasionally.


I am realizing more and more how much of a goal oriented person I am.  If I don’t have a tangible goal out in front of me, it’s hard to maintain motivation.  So this past spring I decided to begin training for the Chicago Half Marathon.  Having run one before (not to mention a full), I opted for an intermediate training plan and set a somewhat audacious goal.  I hoped to break two hours, but ended up at 2:08:16.  Still a PR, but it was a disappointing race.  It was muggy and boring, and I had gone to the U2 concert the night before.  I had hoped to run with Jayme, but a never-ending cough at the beginning of the summer prevented her from training.  We did get to run a 5K together this fall, however.  I pretty much love running with that girl because she pushes me to do better than I ever could on my own.  Jayme got third place in her age division, and I got second in mine, crossing the finish line together at 25:46.


I was so blessed to find a good roommate when I moved up here last summer.  Emily had just finished the program I was starting but was staying one more year to finish a supplemental degree in Historical and Systematic Theology.  She was a valuable resource to me in terms of academic advice, not to mention being a great movie partner.  She moved to the city at the beginning of the summer, however, so in the span of two days I helped her move out, moved myself across the hall into her old room, and moved my new roommate in.  Then I had a Hebrew midterm the next day.  Kristi is a friend from church, and I have loved living with her as well.  She puts up with my crazy schedule and the books often strewn about the living room.  Both these girls are great concert pals as well!


When I left Oklahoma, I couldn’t imagine having friends like the ones I was leaving behind.  And while no one can replace those friends, I am overwhelmingly blessed by the friendships I have made up here.  Most of my classmates are married men, and while I certainly consider many of them friends, it’s not like we hang out on the weekends.  Angie is my Exegesis kindred spirit … I am SO thankful to have someone who actually understands what I’m going through in this insanely difficult program!  I’ve been attending Parkview Community Church basically since I moved here, and the 20 somethings group has really grown in that span of time.  I love the diversity of our group and all the people I have met as a result of going.  Kristi’s my room-friend (when your roommate’s actually your friend too), Jill’s my grading/concert buddy, and Sharon, while not in my grad program, has become my grad school kindred spirit.  From the second we clicked over a love for alliteration, I knew we would become fast friends.  Her friendship is truly a gift from the Lord; I don’t think I could have made it through the last semester without her.  Marshall and Susan allow us to meet at their house for small group (and occasionally let me crash for dinner) and I have been consistently blessed by their hospitality and wisdom.  And while I guess she’s technically family, Jayme is more and more a best friend with every passing year , and I am so thankful to have her living only a mile away.

So that’s 2009.  Until next year, friends.

Posted by: deerharas | December 25, 2009

Stockings and Snow

Just wondering:  In order for it to be a “White Christmas” does the snow actually have to fall on Christmas Day?  If not, I don’t think I’ve ever technically had a White Christmas, but if so, I can at least remember two.

Five years ago my grandparents chose to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in Corpus Christi, Texas, the destination of many a summer vacation for our family.  With so many fun memories accumulated there, they couldn’t think of a better place to make a few more.  So it was decided … we would have Christmas that year on the beach.  And while we weren’t exactly expecting to go swimming in the ocean, we certainly didn’t expect snow.  But it came.  To the Gulf of Mexico.  Lots of beautiful snow fell and blanketed the beach as if personally commemorating the beauty and rarity of my grandparents’ union.  I don’t think anywhere else in Texas got a White Christmas that year, but my family got to be a part of “The South Texas Christmas Miracle of 2004.”

I was planning to get up and go running with Hurley (parents’ 115 lb. dog) yesterday morning, only to wake up to my mother’s voice asking, “Um, do you run in the sleet and the snow?”  Peeking out the window, I recognized an all-too-familiar Chicago scene, albeit a bit more rare for Abilene.  Thankful for the extra rest, I happily answered that no, I did not intend to go running in this weather.  Instead, I spent a fun morning with my mom doing last minute shopping before joining my dad and brother at the movies.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve watched as many movies over the past two days as I did the entire fall semester, which, considering that would be three and a half, says more about the fall semester than the past two days.)  Unfortunately the weather prompted several Christmas Eve service cancellations, perhaps a wise decision considering that on the way home from dinner we skidded, coming just inches from hitting a truck.  We opted to stay home today as well, rather than venturing out on I-20 to make it to Dallas for a Reed-side Christmas lunch.  It’s unfortunate considering I don’t see that side of the family but once a year, but it’s also nice to have a day with nothing to do but read and watch movies and play games.  And that is what we intend to do.

But first on the agenda for today were stockings.  I love that I am 27 years old and I still get a Christmas stocking.  And it’s always awesome.  My mom finds the most random and useful items to put in our stockings.  Last year I couldn’t wait to show off my new purse hook that keeps your purse off the restaurant floor by allowing it to hang from the table.  Whether it be nail polish, gum, pens, lip gloss, magazines, every little treat is a definite day brightener.  And while my purse hook is pretty fantastic, it can’t even compare to a particular stocking stuffer I received seventeen years ago.

I don’t remember a single thing I got for Christmas in 5th grade.  By this time I no longer believed in Santa Claus, but even though there were no younger siblings to convince of his existence, my parents still went through the Santa motions.  I got up that morning to see whatever it was that Santa had brought (like I said, can’t remember) and then moved on to the stocking.  After I had emptied it of its contents and was no doubt relishing in all the preteen girl goodness, my dad asked me to check inside the stocking one more time because he thought there might be something else.  So I stuck my hand down far into the toe where I felt a small piece of paper.  I pulled the paper out and read “Santa’s note” scrawled in my dad’s handwriting:

“Dear Sarah, I hope you enjoy all your presents.  Your real present, however, will come later this summer: the gift of a new life.  Love, Santa”

I was dumbfounded.  When I was a little girl I used to call myself a “lonely child” instead of an “only child.”  I think I figured that by 5th grade, however, I was probably too old to be getting a baby brother or sister.  I was finally going to be a sister, and I was just a little excited.  We drove to Dallas later that morning, and I made sure to bring along the baby name book and suggest names the whole way there.  I got my “stocking stuffer” seven months later.  Joseph Daniel Reed was born July 12, 1993.

So this Christmas morning as I look out at the snow, I am reminded of that White Christmas five years ago when we celebrated fifty incredible years of my grandparents’ marriage.  And every Christmas morning as I dig in to my stocking I am reminded of that last three person Christmas before Daniel came.  Merry Christmas to each of you, and may you likewise be blessed with special Christmas memories!

Posted by: deerharas | December 17, 2009

113 Pages

Yep, I just added them up.  I wrote a total of 113 pages for my classes this semester, and that is NOT including bibliographies.  Now I realize that for any of you PhD people out there, this may seem like small potatoes, but let me just assure you that for me, it is not.  Those are 113 very large potatoes.

I share this information with you, honestly, to elicit a little sympathy.  Earlier in the week I was at 90-something, and when I told this to my mother her response was, “That’s it?  You are ALWAYS writing.  I thought you would have written 2000 pages.”  2000 pages!  My Bible is not even 2000 pages.  Obviously that was NOT the response I was looking for.

So I just submitted the last fifteen and a half of those 113 pages, and with that begins Christmas break.  I’m actually leaving for Oklahoma here in a little over five hours, so I should probably get to packing and then sleeping, perhaps.  Oh, my poor little neglected blog, how I’ve missed you.  I promise to do better by you.  I have lots to say.  🙂

Goodnight friends!

Posted by: deerharas | October 21, 2009

This Run’s for Jack

Okay, Tracy, this update’s for you.  🙂

So I have been blog-absent the past couple months, and for good reason.  You know you are crazy busy when you feel guilty sleeping/working out/taking showers/putting on makeup because by doing so you’re neglecting homework.  However just today I turned in the last of my three 3000 word papers to complete (along with 1000+ pages reading and 10 hours of Hebrew translation … yeah, came up a little short on those) my TWO HOUR A-quad class.  Yes, two hours.  Two hours of just as much work if not more than any four hour class I’ve taken in my program thus far.  But that is not what this blog’s about, so we’ll desist with the axe grinding.

Actually, as much as I felt overwhelmed with the workload in that class, I’d have to say it’s one of the best I’ve ever taken.  Probably the closest to my hermeneutics class in undergrad, it’s given me a lot to think about.  And write about.  So hopefully that will come soon.

But on to this blog.  This blog’s for Jack.  So for the past year I’ve worked part time as a test prep tutor, helping high school students improve their ACT and SAT scores.  This summer I was assigned to a wonderful family that I immediately clicked with over a mutual love for running.  It turned out that Sharon had lost her husband to Melanoma four years ago and had since started a running charity to raise money for Melanoma research and awareness.  Teams raise support and then run in marathons and half marathons all over the country, and in the fall, the charity sponsors a local 5K race called “This Run’s for Jack.”  One afternoon tutoring session, Sharon came up with a handful of old race shirts and a stack of brochures, encouraging me to run this year’s race and anyone else I could convince as well.

Over the summer I had trained for the Chicago Half Marathon in September.  Training went well, although it took up a lot of time.  However, race day was kinda sucky.  It was hot (for Chicago in September) and humid, and the course was really boring.  I’m not a fan of there-and-backs, and running one alone sans music is really not fun.  I didn’t meet my goal, although I did beat my first half marathon time from a few years back.  Anyway, I was glad to see the day come and go and was thankful for the added time in my schedule … remember the whole guilt trip for working out?  🙂  But the thought of a 5K was appealing; workout-wise, it’s good for me to have goals I’m working toward.

So I ran a couple miles here and there, just figuring the 5K would be a fun race.  I convinced my cousin to run with me, knowing that she’d push me come race day.  However, the week before I got a message on Facebook announcing the results of a 5K some friends of mine in Oklahoma did.  They did a great job, a couple of them placing in their age divisions.  And here’s where my competitive spirit raised its pretty head.  🙂  One of these people who happened to place, I happened to have dated, and suddenly I happened to want to beat him.  I told my cousin as much, so that was our goal for race day.

So fast forward to race morning.  My plan was to get up early and take a pre-race shower.  When I told my roommate this, she looked at me like I was completely ridiculous.  What is the point of showering right before you’re gonna get sweaty and gross, you might ask.  I’ll tell you the point, friends.  It’s hot water.  It’s a miracle waker-upper.  And it doesn’t hurt to look clean and put together at any gathering with potentially available physically fit males, either.  🙂  So the whole shower thing was the plan, but at 7:11 that morning I woke up to a text message from Jayme asking where I was.  The late night scary movie with the roommate the night before proved to be my undoing as evidently I had slept through my alarm.  Frantically I raced around, throwing on clothes and grabbing a piece of cinnamon raisin bread and some gatorade as I head out the door, however forgetting my super-fantastic GPS watch.

Anyway, we fortunately made it to the race site with time to spare, and Jayme was able to pick up her packet with no hassle.  And then we raced.

Glen Ellyn in the fall is incredibly beautiful.  The course meandered through neighborhoods with elegant old houses and trees with leaves of every fall color imaginable kissing in the middle of the street.  Without my watch to tell us how far we’d gone and how much time had passed, we were left guessing until we saw the clock at mile one.  I was a little worried because I thought we’d started too fast and didn’t think I’d be able to keep up that pace.  We ran up some difficult hills and made up some time on a fabulous long downhill just before rounding a lovely little lake.  We circled back to the park where the race began and strided in that last .1 of a mile.  And let me just tell you how thankful I am for my speedy little cousin, because we finished over two minutes under our goal.

And as if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that we placed!  Jayme got 3rd in the women’s 20-24 division, and I got 2nd in the women’s 25-29.  So it was a pretty good day for us; now if we can just convince our family to run in the Amarillo Turkey Trot with us on Thanksgiving Day … 🙂



Posted by: deerharas | August 23, 2009

So I don’t get Alzheimer’s …

Did you ever see that episode of Friends where Rachel is determined to finish a crossword puzzle on her own?  She tells Chandler, “You know what we should all do?  Go see a musical.  And you know which one we should see?  The 1996 Tony Award winner.  Do you happen to know the name of that one?”  Of course, this was before Google made crossword puzzles completely conquerable for anyone with internet access, and while I refuse to cheat via search engine, I am not beyond soliciting a little assistance, a la Rachel’s tactic.

Friday night was a slow one at B&B, so I ran over to Potbelly to pick up a Reader.  After skimming the upcoming concerts (of course), I opted for the crossword puzzle.  I’ve never been really big on crosswords; they always seem daunting and obscure.  It’s a little discouraging when you know maybe two or three words out fifty, so I was fully prepared to give up after a couple minutes.  However, when I read the clue for 39-across (the worst song of all time, according to Blender), I was hooked.  For some reason my mind latches on to useless trivia like this.  Hebrew verb paradigms, however, just don’t seem to stick.  🙂  Anyway, I was more than thrilled to write in “WEBUILTTHISCITY” with a pen, no less.  There for awhile I thought I could maybe finish it completely on my own.  But alas, I am stuck.  And while I won’t Google, I will solicit input from those promising not to Google as well.  🙂  How ’bout it, friends?  Wanna help me finish my crossword?


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