Saturday, March 31, 2012

Looking at the List

As the first quarter of this year is quickly passing (and I prepare to jump into the craziness that is Holy Week for a pastor), I thought it would be a good time to check up on how I'm progressing on my 12 for '12 list. While there are only two items I can actually check off as completed (going to Longwood Gardens in PA = #4 and buying a new laptop = #10), I have made some good progress on a few other items. I have completed four new books (#5) and am half-way through a fifth. The Time Traveler's Wife is probably one of the weirdest books I have ever read, but it's at least keeping me interested enough to not give up on it. I have also successfully attempted five new recipes (#6): Butternut Squash Risotto, Creamy Tomato Bisque, Banana Chip Cake, Creamy Carrot Soup, and Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-fry (I kinda cheated and used frozen veggies, but I did make the sauce). After taking that one swimming lesson (#1) I have been slowly getting used to swimming on my own. I admit that I have not been practicing as much as I should. Probably because I don't enjoy it much yet. I'm hoping that changes eventually, although I don't think I'll learn to love it as much as I do running. I have found some local triathlons happening this summer, but I haven't decided on one yet (#2). The one that makes the most sense in my schedule is an ocean swim, and that makes me a little nervous. I'm also still deciding on another race to sign up for, but I am planning to do my third marathon this fall! (It's not on the list, but I'm excited anyway.) And I'm still slowly making progress on my quilt (#7), especially after I got a tune-up on my sewing machine. I have also been trying out a spiritual practice that seems to be going pretty well so far, but I don't think I'm committed enough to it yet to share or consider it one that "works" (#12). Numbers 3, 8, 9, and 11 are the only ones in which zero progress has been made, but I still have plenty of time. The only one I'm a little sad about is the fact that I still haven't touched my piano in forever, but I've been too focused on the really difficult music we're playing in the next wind ensemble concert. All in all, I think I'm doing pretty well. And now I'm off to finish my glass of wine and read some more of my weird book before it's time for bed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happiness = Painted Toenails

It's a little ironic that I'm writing this post on one of the coldest days of this month so far, but I'm excited that it has been warm enough at other times this month to bring out my flip flops and bare toes from their winter hibernation! And of course with their re-appearance comes the desire for some colorful adornment. I had planned to take care of this early last week but just never got around to it. So when I was in Maryland this past weekend visiting friends and family, and my four-year-old cousin wanted to paint my toenails I figured, why not? Though she regularly has colorful finger and toe nails, thanks to her mom, I don't think she actually does much of the painting. I was aware of this going into it, but they are toenails after all. No one is looking at them that closely. (Believe me. No one wants to get close to my stinky gross feet.) Aside from my having to wipe away some drips and globs, she actually did a decent job with only a little help. And I was pretty amused and pleased with her (totally self-sufficient) choice of two alternating colors. Now whenever I look at my feet I'm reminded of my favorite four-year-old and I smile.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Day Away

I've wanted to visit Longwood Gardens since I lived in Philadelphia, but hadn't yet made the effort. A few weeks ago I purchased a discounted ticket through Groupon and had to use it before the end of this month. I decided yesterday was a good day to do so, and got an early start to my day off to make the drive into southeast PA with my Starbucks travel mug full of coffee. Though none of the outside gardens are blooming yet, there was a lot of land to walk around, and a few cool buildings to visit (the former home of the Du Pont family, who used to own the Gardens, some treehouses built to get elevated views of the grounds, and a chimes tower). And I spent the largest portion of time walking around the seemingly endless rows and rooms of flowers and plants in the Conservatory. The sights and smells filled me with awe for God's amazing creation. The place is a photographer's dream. I'm far from a professional, but I took a ton of pictures and did ok with my little Sony digital camera. It was a successful outing, and I feel like there was plenty to see even though it's still winter, but I would like to go back again in the summer to see the outdoor gardens in bloom and the many fountains running with water. I hit Panera (one of my favorite restaurants) for a late lunch and did a little shopping on the way back. And I came home to a dog who was happy to see me and ready to go for a walk. After that, I spent the evening relaxing with my latest book (The Paris Wife) and a few episodes of Gilmore Girls. It was a good day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Kicks

I first heard about TOMS Shoes a few years ago, and learned that their philosophy was to give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. They also sponsor "One day without shoes" to grow awareness for those who have to go without shoes and other basic needs that those of us who are privileged often take for granted. I wanted to buy a pair as soon as I learned about them, but I believe I was on my limited seminarian budget at the time, so I had to wait. Well now that I actually have a steady income and I was in need of a new pair of shoes appropriate for spring I decided to get some TOMS. While they've expanded their styles significantly (and even sell sunglasses in addition to shoes) I decided to go with the "classic" style. If you're in the market for a new pair of shoes (or sunglasses) I suggest you check them out!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Prayer Share

There are times when the "every day" stuff of ministry can make a girl crazy. And there are times when the "every day" stuff of ministry is really pretty extraordinary when I take the time to notice. A simple cross-mark of ashes, a simple meal of soup, a simple service of prayer. These are just some of the ways I've experienced God, and seen the extraordinary in the ordinary, in the past few days and weeks. I'm been practicing noticing such things, and expressing my thanks to God for them. (#12)
Last week was the annual ecumenical World Day of Prayer, a movement of Christian women world-wide. Though it always falls on a Friday, which is my day off, I think it's an important effort to support and it's nice to have a service that I can just attend. The theme this year was "Let Justice Prevail" and was prepared by women in Malaysia. I heard a great sermon, emphasizing the importance of justice ministries in addition to outreach. And we joined in prayer for peace and justice to prevail throughout the world. The following is part of a prayer we read, from activist and author Alan Paton.

Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong
Not afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
And use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears that
I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for Thee.