Posted by: deerharas | August 2, 2009

My Life According to Derek Webb

RULES: Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to a bunch of people including me. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think! Re-post as “My Life According to (BAND NAME/ARTIST)”

1. Are you a male or female?
She Must and Shall Go Free

2. Describe yourself:
Saint and Sinner

3. How do you feel:
Thankful

4. Describe where you currently live:
Somewhere North

5. If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
All Across the Western World

6. Your favorite form of transportation:
Bus Driver

7. Your best friend:
Better Than Wine

8. Your favorite color is:
Ballad in Plain Red

9. What’s the weather like:
Marvelous Light … okay, so Steve Hindalong wrote it, but Derek sings it pretty well.

10. Favorite time of day:
The Very End

11. If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
In God We Trust

12. What is life to you:
Faith My Eyes

13. Your current relationship:
Nobody Loves Me … I’m not bitter 🙂

14. Looking for:
A Love That’s Stronger Than Our Fear

15. Wouldn’t mind:
A King and a Kingdom

16. Your fear:
Standing Up for Nothing

17. What is the best advice you have to give:
Love Is Not Against the Law

18. If you could change your name, you would change it to:
Mockingbird … I don’t know; this one is hard.

19. Thought for the Day:
Love Is Different

20. How I would like to die:
Daring Daylight Escape

21. My motto:
This Too Shall Be Made Right

Posted by: deerharas | July 31, 2009

His Easter Basket’s Never Empty

It’s story time, y’all.

A few weeks ago my mom told me about a girl from our church, just a couple years older than my brother, who had recently given birth to a baby girl.  And while babies are incredible blessings and worthy of celebration no matter what, one can’t help but anticipate the obstacles facing this young single mom.  Remembering this brand new mommy as a little girl, my mom wanted to send her a letter, or rather send her baby a letter, in hopes that she would someday know just how special her mother is.  So rather than me retelling the story, I asked my mom if I could share her letter here:

Dear Kennedy,

I must tell you this story about your mother.  It is a memory I have treasured in my heart for many years.  Sixteen years ago I had a little boy named Daniel.  We were so excited when your Great Grandpa Dalton Stewart chose Daniel to play Baby Jesus in the Christmas program.  He seemed like the most perfect little boy, but after a few months we found out he had cerebral palsy.  He had a hard time walking, so he used a little walker to help him get around.

Even as a little boy he wanted to do what all the other kids were doing.  So when I read about the Broadview Baptist Church Easter Egg Hunt, I knew we would give it a try.  This was Daniel’s first egg hunt, so I carefully explained what would happen when we got to the playground at church.  He was ready and so excited about finding the hidden eggs.

The Easter Egg Hunt didn’t last long.  There were probably about 20 little children racing around the playground filling their baskets with all the eggs they could find.  Everyone was having a great time.  Did I say everyone?  Well, not everyone.  I was kind of sad watching Daniel.  By the time he spotted an egg, someone else would claim it, so his Easter basket remained empty.  It didn’t seem to bother him, though.  He kept trying.  I knew then what a special little guy he was.  He didn’t give up.  By the end of the hunt, Daniel had not found one single egg.

Now we get to the good part about your precious mother.  She, being the sweet, giving angel that she is, noticed the little boy who had trouble walking.  She saw that his Easter basket was empty.  This touched her precious heart, and do you know what she did?  She gave Daniel all the Easter eggs in her basket.

I will always remember the huge smile on Daniel’s face as he accepted your mom’s gift.  Daniel is 16 now and through the years people have shown him many acts of kindness.  It was this Easter egg gift that will mean the most.  Daniel has not had to go through life with an empty Easter basket, because of people like your sweet mother.  We will always remember her and thank God for the way she blessed our family.

We ask God to richly bless you and your precious mom.

Lynn Reed

It’s true; there are several stories of those who have reached out in kindness to my brother throughout the years.  I think this one is my favorite.  And I’m thankful it gets to live on another generation.

Posted by: deerharas | July 10, 2009

Where are all the snow cone stands?

I moved to Illinois toward the end of last summer, evidently too late to realize its total lack of what, to me, is quintessentially summer.  However, as the weather grew warmer this year (relatively speaking, that is) I began to notice a strange absence of the little booths gracing almost every street corner in Texas and Oklahoma.  Where were all the snow cone stands?  I thought surely I just wasn’t looking hard enough and if I was just more alert in my day to day commutes I would certainly stumble upon one.  Nope.  Nowhere.  Not a single stand was to be found.  I lamented this fact one night at small group, whiningly asking the same question, “Where are all the snow cone stands in Illinois???”  J.C., ever helpful with the advice, piped up to tell me that there was one at Oak Brook mall.  Not exactly around the corner, but I filed that tidbit away for a hot and humid Illinois day.

Well last week that day came, and coupled with the need for a Clinique run, I head out in search of whichever store was having “bonus week.”  Lord & Taylor it was, so with face-wash (and cute tote-bag) in tow, I set out for my highly anticipated snow cone … the first of the year.

Let’s just say I should have waited for Texas.  I paid $3 for the most pathetic excuse for a snow cone I have ever tasted.  I could have rustled up a better one myself with a block of ice, a knife and some grape kool-aid.  There are plenty of reasons that I absolutely love living in the Chicago area, but when it comes to snow cones, Chicagoland has a lot to learn from the south.

So here is my perhaps not-so-humble attempt to explain to my northern friends the supremacy of the southern snow cone … you don’t know what you’ve been missing.

1. An excellent snow cone needs excellent ice.  Not just any ice-shaving machine will do.  If it’s something you’re supposed to turn with your arm, it’s no good.  You need a machine that will produce something the consistency of actual snow, and usually this requires a motor.  Only then will you get the most even distribution of syrup throughout the cone, which brings me to #2.

2. An excellent snow cone needs excellent syrup.  Now this one can be a gamble, no matter where you are.  A good indicator of superior syrup is the number of options available.  Oddly enough, it seems that the more flavors offered, the better the syrup quality.  And don’t be put off by strange flavor names, either.  If you find yourself at a stand advertising “Pretty, Pretty Princess” or “Ninja Turtle,” you know you’re in the presence of true snow cone creativity.

In addition to these, I would add the necessity of a styrofoam cup (I know, I know … I’m a bad environmentalist) and a spoon straw.  A good top is a must; this can be accomplished using anything from a funnel to the end of a ladle.  Some stands in Oklahoma put in gummie bears which can be a delightful addition.  Really, it’s not that hard, guys.  And there’s a wide open market up north.  🙂

Photobucket
(me & my brother at our favorite Abilene snow cone stand)

Posted by: deerharas | July 4, 2009

And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.

As I type this I am on a plane heading to Texas.  I haven’t been home since Christmas, so needless to say I’m a little jazzed.  The plan was to use these couple hours to get through at least one more chapter of assigned reading for my Christian Theology intensive class coming up in a few weeks.  (I’ve read/taken notes over 3 … out of 37.)  However, as the plane began to take off and I looked out my window to see Lake Michigan just beyond the Chicago skyline, I was just a little overwhelmed.  I always try to pick a window seat whenever I fly because how often is one privileged with such a view?  Skyline, lake, clouds, Midwestern farmland, whatever … I soak it in.  As we ascended further into the immaculate brightness of clouds that wouldn’t allow me to glance out the window for more than a couple seconds, my heart began to sing the words of a chorus I haven’t thought of in years.

And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.

As soon as the pilot gave the okay for electronic devices, I pulled out my laptop to find the song that upon playing sounded like an old friend.  As we rose above the clouds I could once again look out my window and sing (albeit silently … although I may have been humming; I’m not sure) along with Chris,

“Oh praise him all his mighty works,
There is no language where you can’t be heard,
Your song goes out to all the earth,
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah”

This beautiful meditation on general revelation then called to mind another song, this one a bit more in recent memory.  Last Sunday began a sermon series on animals at my church in Glen Ellyn, and at the close we sang one of my favorite hymns.  It’s just too good to only quote a line or two, so you get the whole thing … best lines bolded.  Perhaps you can worship along with me as you read or even sing.  Happy 4th of July, friends.  The Lord is King, let the heavens ring.  God reigns, let the earth be glad.

This Is My Father’s World

This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas
His hands the wonders wrought

This is my Father’s world
The birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white
Declare their Maker’s praise

This is my Father’s world
He shines in all that’s fair
In the rustling grass, I hear him pass
He speaks to me everywhere

This is my Father’s world
Oh let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the Ruler yet

This is my Father’s world
The battle is not done
Jesus who died shall be satisfied
And heaven and earth be one

This is my Father’s world
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King, let the heavens ring
God reigns, let the earth be glad

Posted by: deerharas | June 19, 2009

Two Reasons I’m Thankful for Summer Hebrew

This time last week I was driving to Aurora with Sharon for a celebratory Sonic slush.  Occasion?  I was done with summer Hebrew.  Even though I was iffy on the grammar/syntax portion of the final, I figured I at least passed (although a couple days later I had a dream to the contrary).  After four weeks of classes, four days a week, four hours a day, I was totally deserving of a cherry lime slush w/ extra real cherries.  And it was Sharon’s first Sonic trip.  And it was happy hour.  And it was great.

Now that the class is over, and I’ve had a week to somewhat relax (except for the whole working three jobs and leading small group), I’ve noticed a few positive changes in myself as a result of summer Hebrew.  #1 – I am a workout fiend.  #2 – I am a morning person.

For number one I can thank Hebrew vocab.  Every day in class we had a quiz focused heavily on vocabulary.  For each class we had about 40 words to memorize (assuming a base of 200), so that by the end of the four weeks we had memorized over 600 words.  So almost every day after class, I would go home for a light lunch before heading over the SRC to kinesthetically learn vocab.  I’d hop on the elliptical for an hour which was pretty much the perfect amount of time to learn 40 words.  With a quick review the following morning before the quiz, I was usually pretty prepared.  So thank you, vocab accountability quizzes, for contributing to my fitness.

For number two I can thank Hebrew homework.  Okay, so to make a long story short, I am not so great with Hebrew.  I took three semesters in college and did okay, so I figured even four years later I didn’t need to start completely over.  Well, I did.  Instead of beginning again in first semester, I jumped back in at the second and was way behind.  I played catch up all spring, never really catching up.  So going into third semester this summer, I was a little apprehensive.  The first night of homework we were assigned, I didn’t finish.  I stayed up late, got up early, and still didn’t finish.  In the following days and weeks I got faster at translation, which helped, but there were still several nights that I would be too tired to finish.  I figured that if I got up really early the next morning (and considering my class STARTED at 8:00 this meant REALLY early) I could work much more efficiently than late at night.  And I did.  But that meant several mornings of getting up at 5:00-ish, even a couple mornings before then.  All of that to say, that even after a week of no early morning obligations, I don’t think I’ve slept in past 6:30 a single day.  Which is CRAZY for me, because I am such a night person and have been since childhood.  My parents had a terrible time of waking me up in the mornings.  “Five more minutes,” was my early morning anthem.  I think I even had a pair of pajamas with the phrase written on them.  However, on those rare occasions that I have gotten up early, I always love it.  Early morning runs, early morning prayer, early morning road trips, whatever.    I love, love, love early mornings.  It’s just the waking up part that I hate.  So for the past week I’ve been trying to go to bed decently early so as not to alter my new early morning wake up inclination.  So thank you, Hebrew homework, for giving me a reason to get up in the mornings.

Ha … I thought I was back to blogging at the end of the semester, but Hebrew sure kept me from it.  I can’t actually give all the working out credit to Hebrew; another post on that is soon to follow.  The mornings, though … all Hebrew.  How long is it supposed to take to form a habit?  21 days?  Yep, got that one down after week three.  🙂

Posted by: deerharas | May 29, 2009

Standing the Test of Time … and Distance

Because I couldn’t have written it better …

Posted by: deerharas | May 24, 2009

There’s an app for that.

I am not what you would call technologically advanced.  I don’t have DVR; I still record things on VHS tapes.  I don’t have a GPS; I still print off MapQuest maps.  (Well, in all honesty I do have a GPS watch for marathon training purposes, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) Nor do I have an iPhone or any comparable electronic device.  My simple cell works fine.  Nothing against the iPhone folks; I just have no desire to be that connected.  It’s bad enough having internet access at home (which I enjoy, don’t get me wrong).  I know myself and how much time I waste on the internet already; I certainly don’t need it everywhere, no matter how convenient it might be at times.

After last weekend, however, I can tell you that if ANYTHING was going to pull me into the iPhone camp, it would be this application.

Last Thursday one of my very best friends in the world made it up for her first Chicago visit.  I’d basically been looking forward to this since the second I left Oklahoma, so you could say I was a little excited.  About two weeks out, I started leaving countdown comments on her Facebook wall, things like: “In x number of days you’ll be here … and while you are here, we are going to: (fill in the blank).”  Things like run down Elm St. (as in Nightmare on) or wait hours in line for Ben Harper.  Some things we got around to (Ben, of course) and some we didn’t (not so much with the running 😦 ).  I suppose that just means she’ll have to come back.  🙂  Anyway, considering our mutual love of all kinds of music, I knew she’d love XRT (the only station I’ve ever heard play Indigo Girls), so listening at every chance definitely made the countdown.

I was right.  She loved the eclecticism as much as I do.  Seriously, I think I might go into mourning whenever I move out of XRT range.  The second day she was here we were driving somewhere when this fabulous cover of “Stand by Me” came on.  We both looked at each other like, “Who is this?!”  And that’s when it happened.  Stacey pulled out her nifty little iPhone, held it up to the speaker, and seconds later informed me it was John Lennon.  Now my question had turned from “Who is this?!” to “What did you just do?!”  Alright, all of you are probably WAY more in the know than me, but at that moment I was incredibly amazed.  No more dangerously scribbling down lyrics on whatever napkin or receipt happens to by lying close by while driving in order to Google them when I get home.  If I had an iPhone, I could just press a button!  No telling how many more songs she Shazam-ed over the course of her visit.  Not only is the app great for identifying songs, but it stores them for you so you can remember to download them later.  On our way to church we heard another great cover … “Is this Stevie Nicks singing ‘Crash’?!”  Shazam?  Sure enough.  That morning my pastor played a snippet from Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble.”  She totally would have tagged it had the clip lasted longer.

While I have no desire to know if the bird I’m looking at is a Red-faced Warbler, I wouldn’t mind knowing who’s on the radio.  A couple days ago I was on my way to the bank when I heard another fantastic cover.  And here’s the deal with covers: it doesn’t matter if I scribble down lyrics or not; I know the song already.  It’s the voice that eludes me.  What would I even Google?  “Pancho & Lefty / Scratchy-voiced cover?”  Thankfully XRT graciously informed me it was Steve Earle.

Well, I have yet to jump on the iPhone bandwagon, but if I ever do, we’ll all know why.

Posted by: deerharas | May 8, 2009

Time for a New One of These …

Geez Louise, it’s been a month since I last posted.  Let’s see, I don’t know when I’ve researched more, written more, stressed more, cried more, and slept less than in the past month.  To use my roommate’s term, this semester has been the perfect storm of classes, work, and procrastination resulting in the culminating hurricane that was the past two weeks.

But it’s over.  Clem and Clem are off my chest.  (Okay, I couldn’t find the YouTube clip, so this will have to do … scroll to the quotes.)  I can actually go grocery shopping, work out, and paint my toenails!  I have a super fabulous week ahead of me before my summer school class begins the following week, and I am feeling pret-ty good.

I hope to write a lot more this summer because #1: I enjoy it, and #2: it’s a good skill to develop … even on a blog.  Hmm … maybe I’ll even do a series or something.  There are thoughts simmering, friends, but considering I just took my last final yesterday I’m not quite ready to dive into the whole thinking coherently thing.

Anyway, all that to say that after my finals/papers induced hibernation period, it’s good to be back.

Posted by: deerharas | April 8, 2009

The Trickle Down Effect

This week I went to the library.  I really love libraries (case in point here); I take after my dad that way.  Anyway, I particularly love the Wheaton Public Library.  It’s ranked #8 in the nation (serving populations between 50,000-100,000), FYI.  I often study there rather than the Wheaton College library due to it’s comfortable chairs and scenic view overlooking a downtown park.  I also am a big fan of their DVD selection.  They have almost every TV show imaginable on DVD.  My So Called Life?  Check.  Faerie Tale Theatre?  Check.  (Remember The Frog Prince with Robin Williams and Teri Garr? Classic!)  Anyway, I was unpleasantly surprised this past week when I learned that because of budget cuts, the library will no longer be checking out movies for free but rather renting them for $1 each.

Well, if there was any doubt in my mind concerning the floundering economy after that, today certainly cleared it up.  I went to work this afternoon (my primary and favorite of my three jobs) only to learn that my boss had been laid off from her job the day before.  Being that my job is basically to play “mom” in her absence, and seeing that there is no longer a need for her to be absent, I too am left without a job come this summer.  I take that back; I technically still have two other jobs.  However, neither is dependable when it comes to getting hours, and one only pays minimum wage.  I was so thankful for the nanny gig; I really liked the family, they paid well, and the hours were convenient.  Babysitting jobs are pretty lucrative here in the ‘burbs, but I doubt that I will find another family needing my services with kids ages 10 & 13 … no changing diapers for me!

So looking toward the summer, I am once again in job hunt mode.  My heart goes out to those in similar or worse circumstances.  I can’t imagine working full time and the rug suddenly being pulled out from under you.  It’s one thing to lose your job; it’s another to have to find one in a climate such as this.

That being said, I am officially taking suggestions for summer work.  And don’t say swimming lessons instructor … I’ve already done that, and it was NOT for me.  🙂

Posted by: deerharas | April 5, 2009

Hosanna

Hosanna.  It’s a churchy word.  Perhaps you’ve heard it today, being Palm Sunday and all.  I’ve never really liked the word, mostly because I identify it with some really cheesy praise choruses.  I’ve heard it as an exclamation, like “Glory!” or “Hallelujah!”, and I figure most people don’t even know what they’re saying.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that I developed an appreciation for the word, and over the past couple days that it has become my own cry.

I wrote last about my upcoming impromptu trip to Indiana for the Andrew Peterson Resurrection Letters Easter tour.  Back in October, however, some friends and I heard him play a free show a tad bit closer (only about 30 minutes away) promoting his latest album entitled “Resurrection Letters, Vol. 2.”  He played through the album in its entirety with a short commentary prior to each song.  One song he entitled “Hosanna” and went on to explain how the word is a transliteration from the Hebrew meaning “Save us, now.”  This is what the Jews proclaimed, quoting Psalm 118 as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Andrew mused that this simple word serves a dual purpose.  First, to cry out, “Save me,” is to admit that I need saving.  But it is also an acknowledgement that Jesus is able to save.  Both confession and praise.

Fast forward to this past Thursday.  As I arrived at the church where the concert was held, they handed out bulletins (okay, maybe I should call them programs; I can’t escape my “churchy” roots) with the order of service, or “set list” if you will.  After a few songs from each of the artists involved with the tour and a short intermission, the show entered into a progression of hymns and songs sung by Andrew and Jill as well as readings crafted by Andrew, tracing the last week of Jesus’ life.  Beginning with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, Jill sang “Hosanna” from her album Kingdom Come (which I’ve written about before) followed by Andrew’s song of the same title.  I want to share the words here, since as of late they have become both my confession and praise.  Hosanna.

I am tangled up in contradiction.  I am strangled by my own two hands.  I am hunted by the hounds of addiction.  Hosanna!  I have lied to everyone who trusts me.  I have tried to fall when I could stand.  I have only loved the ones who loved me.  Hosanna!  O Hosanna!  See the long awaited king come to set his people free.  We cry O Hosanna!  Come and tear the temple down.  Raise it up on holy ground.  Hosanna!

I have struggled to remove this raiment, tried to hide every shimmering strand.  I contend with these ghosts and these hosts of bright angels.  Hosanna!  I have cursed the man that you have made me.  I have nursed the beast that bays for my blood.  Oh, I have run from the one who would save me.  Save me, Hosanna!  O Hosanna!  See the long awaited king, come to set his people free.  We cry O Hosanna!  Come and tear the temple down.  Raise it up on holy ground.  Hosanna!  We cry for blood, and we take your life.  Hosanna!  We cry for blood, and we take your life.  It is blood, it is life that you have given.

You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent.  You have carried to the grave the black stain.  You have torn apart the temple’s holy curtain.  You have beaten Death at Death’s own game.  Hosanna!  O Hosanna!  Hail the long awaited king, come to set his people free.  We cry O Hosanna!  Won’t you tear this temple down, raise it up on holy ground.  O Hosanna!  I will lift my voice and sing: you have come and washed me clean. Hosanna.

Posted by: deerharas | April 1, 2009

Indiana, here I come!

Well, I just made an impulsive decision.  On Thursday I’m planning to drive four hours to (not to mention the four hours back from) a city I’ve never been to – heck, a state I’ve never been to – all for the purpose of preparing my heart for Easter.  I’ve been debating for weeks the practicality of such a trip but finally decided that the pros outweigh the cons.  The closest stop on Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letters tour is Terre Haute, Indiana, and I just bought my ticket.

This isn’t the first time I’ve crossed state lines for an Andrew Peterson show.  I had been keeping a close eye on his tour schedule for years, but he never seemed to play shows anywhere near me.  However, a couple years ago he toured just outside Wichita, KS, and at just a couple hours away from me, I was not going to miss it.  I was willing and prepared to go by myself but at the last minute convinced a friend to come along (on a school night, no less).  And even though we were an hour or so late, it is still one of my favorite concert memories.  (You can read about it and see pics here … yeah, that’s me with blonde hair.)

Part of the lure of the Kansas concert was the shared stage between Andrew and another favorite of mine, Jill Phillips.  So when I received an email today saying that Jill was also playing on Thursday, that was pretty much the clincher.  So … anyone  up for a show?  Here’s a little foretaste to lure you in.  🙂  All of this to say that I am incredibly excited to worship alongside Andrew and Jill and celebrate the risen Christ.  May your Easter be filled with joyful celebration!

Posted by: deerharas | March 29, 2009

Looking forward to …

I LOVE having something to look forward to.  In fact, I often find that I enjoy the looking forward more than the actual event.  Strange, huh?  I think I get a little depressed when there aren’t fun things on the horizon.  The next six weeks or so are going to be pretty tough, school-wise.  However, I am comforted that interspersed throughout and beyond there are several things to be excited about.  So starting with today, I am looking forward to:

  • A coffee shop concert tonight w/ Angie
  • No work this week (lots of time for homework)
  • Finishing up w/ my current ACT student next week.  (It hasn’t been a bad experience; I seriously can just use ANY extra time for school.)
  • My DC road trip w/ Jayme.  We are both visiting high school friends.  Granted, high school was two years ago for her, so it’s not quite the reunion it will be for me and Tracy.
  • Easter
  • The sold out Death Cab show
  • Sitting 2nd row at Neko Case
  • My Hebrews Exegesis paper presentation.  This was supposed to come just before the Neko Case concert, but got pushed back one day.  So I’m sure I’ll be stressing the whole concert rather than enjoying the relief having finished something significant.  Regardless, I really am looking forward to writing and presenting my paper.  It’s over Hebrews 12:1-2, which is one of my very favorite passages.  I’m sure I would love it even more if I felt like I could give it the time it deserves.
  • My paper presentation being over!
  • The Franz Ferdinand show the week before finals … yeah, you can see where my priorities are!
  • Finals being over! (Notice I am NOT looking forward to finals.)
  • The Iron & Wine sold out show at Schubas
  • A Stacey weekend including Ben Harper!  She’s been promising for awhile now, and signs are looking good for a Chicago visit.  Oooh … and Bahama Breeze!  They closed down the OKC restaurant before I got a chance to go, but supposedly there’s one up here.  I’ve been waiting on her to go since August!
  • Having only one class this summer.  I am really looking forward to not having to pick which classes get my attention and which go back burner.  I’ll be in the last of my Hebrew pre-reqs, and let me tell you, it’s a good thing.  Unfortunately, as much it’s needed not to be so, Hebrew has suffered the back burner shame this semester, and honestly, it needs a little love.
  • Having an actual summer.  From June 13th to August 25th, I am free, Free, FREE!  Granted, I will need to make as much money as possible in this time span so as to hopefully not work as much during the school year, but it will be a nice break from the tyranny of assigned reading, papers, and tests.
  • The births of various children.  I am not an aunt, and my brother is 15, so I don’t anticipate becoming one anytime soon.  I do, however, have a few friends that are expecting babies #1, #2 and #3 ranging from any day now to mid-August.  I can’t wait to welcome Mystery Baby Kelley, Lily Grace Lucas, and Baby Boy Davidson into the world!
  • A summer trip to Texas.  I haven’t been home since early January, so I am excited to visit family and friends and perhaps see a couple of those babies.
  • U2 in September!  Yay for my friend Kristine getting in on the pre-sale.  Row G on the field … that has to be close, right?

Hmm … notice a theme, anyone?  You can’t blame me; I haven’t been to a concert since January, so I’m perhaps a little overexcited.  Not a lot of time for blogging these days, but this was a much needed break.  Hope all is well with all!

Posted by: deerharas | March 12, 2009

Mark your calendars!

For years I have been waiting for a certain television show to come out on DVD.  It seems like every show imaginable (case in point: Alf) has its own DVD set, but for some reason or another, Designing Women has yet to come on the scene.  The delay supposedly has something to do with music rights, as the show made liberal use of all kinds of tunes, especially Motown hits.  Well, much to my delight, I received an email this morning informing me that in just a couple months I will be able to bring Julia, Suzanne, Mary Jo and Charlene home to live with me forever!  Season 1 releases on May 26th, and I could not be more excited.  The writing is incredibly clever, right up there with Gilmore Girls.  🙂  And unlike any other show I’ve seen, Designing Women addresses tough and timely issues like AIDS and domestic abuse with sensitivity and intelligence.

So, to celebrate the show’s upcoming release, I leave you with a few of my favorite clips.  Enjoy!

The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia:

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough:

Battle of the Sexes:

Marry Me, Bill:

High School Reunion:

Posted by: deerharas | February 22, 2009

Another “Tag, you’re it!”

These “all about me” memes are certainly making their rounds these days.  But rather than telling you my “gangsta name,” I thought I’d latch onto another and share fifteen life changing albums.

Stand by Me Soundtrack
This is the first album I can remember loving.  As I child I remember dancing around to “Mr. Lee” and giggling at the humor of “Yakety Yak.”  My greatest accomplishment as a first grader was perhaps the mastery of the “Lollipop” finger/cheek pop sound.  I credit this album with planting the seeds of my music obsession.

George Strait – Greatest Hits Volume Two

That’s right, a country album.  I wouldn’t be a Texas girl without it!  And while country is certainly not representative of my overarching musical tastes, my list would not be complete without old school George. No music evokes memories of childhood visits to the grandparents in south Texas like this.  Of course the double entendres of “The Fireman” were lost on me as a five year old, and I remember picturing a literal blue man whenever “Am I Blue” would play.  My favorite (to this day) is “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.”  I still sing out just a little bit louder when he gets to “Sweet Eileen’s in Abilene …”

Wilson Phillips – Wilson Phillips
Another childhood album.  Man, me and my mom wore this tape (yes, a cassette tape … long before iTunes or even CDs) out.  I still know every word and what song’s supposed to play next.  I would definitely categorize this one as a guilty pleasure; however, I embrace it wholeheartedly.  I felt much more mature than a third grader whenever I listened to them.

James Taylor – Greatest Hits
If the Stand by Me soundtrack planted the roots of the obsession, James Taylor pruned the emerging plant.  I don’t remember when I started listening to this album … and it was a literal “album”; my parents had the record.  Even as a child I knew there was a qualitative difference between this and the other music I enjoyed.  Something about the acoustic guitar intro to “Fire and Rain” still stirs my soul.  I didn’t wear this record out; I just broke the record player listening to it.

Nichole Nordeman – Wide Eyed
Enter my Contemporary Christian Music phase.  This album was a jem.  I listened to her words and felt they were my own.  Her sincere desire to know God despite doubts and questions was liberating for me.  She didn’t offer pat answers but was honest about her own faith struggles.  Nichole Nordeman ministered to me through her music, and she was the first.

Caedmon’s Call – 40 Acres
I had a hard time picking which CC album to include.  My freshman year in high school I got their self titled album on blind faith because I liked the song “Lead of Love.”  Little did I know what inspiration result from that one purchase.  I don’t know that I would say 40 Acres is their best album, but it’s probably the most personally impacting.  Remember “Shifting Sand”?  I still resonate with each lyric.  And “Faith My Eyes” was my going to college song.  Gah … and “Table for Two” continues to speak truth and wisdom into my life.

Andrew Peterson – Carried Along
Another hard choice on which album.  I went with his first.  I fell in love with Andrew my senior year in high school the moment I heard “Nothing to Say” on the radio.  I can’t help but be quiet and still upon hearing this incredibly personal and poetic praise to the Lord of creation.  Again, I bought the album for the one song, and have since bought every album he’s released, never being disappointed.

Jill Phillips – Kingdom Come
I also found Jill in high school after especially resonating with her song “Steel Bars.”  She picked up where Nichole Nordeman left off in terms of musical discipleship.  Again, her honesty captivated me.  With every song I sensed the struggle, yet was challenged and encouraged by her tenacity in perseverance.  “Kingdom Come,” her masterful reworking of several hymns, has become my Sunday morning staple.

Ben Harper – Diamonds on the Inside
And then comes Ben.  A friend introduced me to his music while in college, and I am forever indebted to her!  This album certainly reflects his self proclaimed “Folk/Rock/Reggae” eclecticism with songs ranging from the Marley-esque “With My Own Two Hands” to “Picture of Jesus,” reminiscent of Paul Simon.  “Blessed to Be a Witness” wins the day … and the album.

Pieces of April Soundtrack

Bless you, “Pieces of April” for introducing me to Stephin Merritt and his haunting voice.  Besides being one of my all time favorite movies, I think this album emerges as my all time favorite soundtrack.  From the start I was captivated by the quirky instrumentation and odd arrangement of sounds. When I play this album, I somehow feel like I have a more interesting life than is the case.  And I can’t help but smile every time I hear the line, “I know Professor Blumen makes you feel like a woman, but when the wind is in your hair, you laugh like a little girl.”

Damien Rice – O
I just love the sound of this album; it’s strikingly intimate.  It reminds me of my last apartment … my beautiful deep red wall and the ugly, yet cozy, brown carpet.  His music, too, is haunting … evocative and penetrating.

Derek Webb – Mockingbrid

For thirteen years I have loved this man’s work, the wisdom he so artfully conveys through his music.  On this album you are consistently challenged to question what you’ve always believed, not for the sake of deconstruction but for a strengthening of faith that leads to good works.  Jesus is exalted, and His teaching revered.  Everyone should find himself somewhere on this album, and hopefully walk away changed.

Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams
This album makes me want to fall in love.  Pretty much any Jack Johnson album is good for background music, and if you parse through his lyrics you’ll find some good stuff.  However, “Better Together” may be my favorite love song of all time, replete with its clever quips on real aspects of partnership.  And Banana Pancakes!  Who doesn’t want to stay in bed on a rainy day with someone they love?  “When the whole world fits inside of your arms, do we really need to pay attention to the alarm?”

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
I was first drawn to Wilco because I knew Derek Webb was a fan.  It’s taken me awhile to get on board, but after giving this album several listenings, call me a seaman … or seawoman, I guess.  This album is good on a level beyond my appreciation.  I know I don’t get it in its fullness, but that makes me like it even more.  I feel like this album has opened up new avenues to other artists that I might have previously written off but now have come to love.

Over the Rhine – The Trumpet Child
What to say, what to say.  I don’t want to waste my time with music not as good as theirs.  Who else could have coined the phrase “sexy cocktail hour stubble”?  I want to BE the girl with dahlias in her hair.  I listen to this album, and I truly thank the Lord for gifting this woman and this man with their ability to write and perform music.  Every listen fills me with a hopeful expectation of what is to come.  Whether that be for the Trumpet Child to blow His horn or the chance to share the thoughts I’ve long been entertaining about the one with whom I’ll someday read Shel Silverstein in bed.  Everyone I share this album with becomes a fast fan.  It’s impossible not to; they’re that good.

Hmm … time for tagging.  If you’re tagged I have some interest in hearing what albums have most affected you.  Tracy, you’re not on Facebook, but consider yourself tagged, my friend.  I especially would love to hear your top albums.

Posted by: deerharas | February 17, 2009

In Search of the STOF Man

I liked my last boyfriend for three reasons.  He was older, taller, and smarter than me.  Granted, he was only older by a few months, taller by a few inches, and smarter by, well, I didn’t ever ask his SAT scores, but I am fairly certain they were better than mine.  (He never did beat me at Connect 4, though.)  Obviously I valued more than those three characteristics, but it was a running joke I shared with friends at the time … my three “non-negotiables.”

Anyway, I was pretty amused to happen upon a similar list in the book I’ve been reading the past couple days.  Rachel Toor dedicates a chapter of her memoir, “Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running,” to her search for the ideal man who in her opinion is STYF: Smarter, Taller, Younger, and Faster.  She acknowledges the difficulty of defining smarter, but goes on to explain, “I need to be with someone whose mind zigs and zags in ways that enchant me, whether by listening to him talk about Penrose tiles or by watching him pack a moving truck.  Likewise, I want someone who wants me because he likes the sounds my sentences make on those rare occasions when they sing.”  I could not have said it better myself.

Taller is pretty self explanatory, but younger was a surprise.  Being in her 40s, Toor feels younger men are more comfortable around strong women.  She muses, “Show me a fellow who can articulate why he hates everything Hilary Clinton stands for but would never think to call her ‘opinionated’ and that’s a guy I’d like to date.”  Younger men for her aren’t patronizing.  Being that I’m nowhere near 40, and most of the guys she’s referring to as younger than her are still older than me, I’m sticking with my initial desire … older is better.  Bring on the maturity!

The title of the chapter in which this STYF discussion occurs is “Speed Goggles.”  As opposed to beer goggles.  For Toor, this one attribute has the potential to override the previous three.  “I find out that someone who seemed stupid, old, and short can still run a 2:30 marathon?  Come on over, big boy.”  Considering I am nowhere near the runner Toor is, I don’t think it should be very hard to find a guy faster than me!  And while I wouldn’t rank this trait at the top of the list, I’m happy to tag it on at the end.  I would love a running partner, someone better than me willing to condescend to my level, making me better.

Toor conludes the chapter by writing, “I’ve given up on trying to find a STYF man; he’s proved as elusive as an ivory-billed woodpecker.  Plus, I’ve come to accept that I’m not everyone’s cup of decaf skim chai: I don’t cook, and I’m kind of mean.  At this point I’d settle for an interesting running partner who pushes me to keep up and never calls me ‘opinionated’; someone who teaches me new things and knows the value of a semicolon.  If that’s still too much to ask, maybe what I really need is a dog.”

Well, I’m not dog shopping yet.  I don’t really cook either, but I’m not mean.  And I’m too young to give up on the dream of, in my case, a STOF man.

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