Sunday, March 7, 2010

Things I Learned While Watching the Olympics

I love the Olympics. Summer. Winter. It doesn't matter. There's something about the unity that comes when dozens of nations come together in one location, all with eyes on one prize. And as I watched countless hours of sporting events on ice and snow, I learned some things.
1. I'm a sucker for the medal ceremonies. Any country. Any National Anthem. I love to see the pride in someone's face when they see their flag lifted above their heads.
2. Every time I see a child singing his or her National Anthem, I get all sappy and teary-eyed. Never fails.
3. Curling is the strangest sport. Ever.
4. It doesn't matter if you train for 4 years, pour hours and hours into perfecting a skill if you disqualify yourself in the first 8 seconds out of the starting block.
5. Sometimes, going to the Olympics isn't all about the medals. Sometimes it's not about hearing the announcers say your name. (They may not pronounce it right even if they DO say it.) Sometimes it's about the journey. And the experience gained. And doing your personal best.
6. I can't tell you how many times I saw someone competing in a distance event on skis or skates who appeared to have their victory sealed, only to lose it in the final seconds. Fatigue, perhaps. Who knows? But what a reminder to us that it's about the race from beginning to end. Not just beginning to "when we think we have it all figured out" or "when we feel we've worked hard enough."
7. Hockey is pretty fun to watch. Even when you know nothing about it.
Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like to fly down a mountain like Lindsay Vonn, or flip around with my feet strapped to a board like Shaun White. But I feel as though I would not come home in one piece. Just sayin'.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It may not look like much to you. All it may say to you is "I'm a pretty amazing dessert." But to me, it says so much more. It says, "Welcome home. How was your day? Oh, and by the way, I'm so proud of you and excited for what is in store for you."

Thanks, mom. I loved it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tour De Christmas - Part 2

I am slowly making my way through Christmas pictures in an attempt to get up to speed on the here-and-now.

For today's installment, I bring you family amazingness with a side of dysfunction and hilarity.

Another family tradition at Christmas time is to go to the Indianapolis Symphony's Yuletide Celebration. In other words: Christmas on steroids. Music, decorations, larger than life people dressed up as various Christmas characters. Yes, please.
Every year, we try to get a family picture, and every year, it takes us 142 tries to get one that is acceptable. With the knowledge that I will not be there to participate in such family bonding moments next year, it was all the more important to get a good one. And, surprisingly, everyone was on his or her best behavior in order to see it happen.

After the program, we always go to Arby's for dinner. I'm not sure how this tradition started, but I love it. We are ALWAYS the only ones there, we ALWAYS are louder than the employees would like, and someone ALWAYS has to ring the bell that says "Ring the Bell if you got quality service." This year, true to form, I rang the bell when we walked in the door, sort of as a way to say, "We're here. Get ready to live."
As we were leaving the Yuletide, someone was standing outside handing out brochures for Yeh-Shen (or something like that). It seems to be a high-flying, kung-fu production. It has nothing to do with Christmas, or the symphony. And we will not be going. This is Bryan's girlfriend, Rachel, holding up the brochure. I think her "thumbs up" says it all.

Santa came too. And got crushed. Poor Santa.

Me, Mariah (Aaron's girlfriend), and Aaron. See why it's so hard to get pictures that are good? And this is super mild. He's not normal, but he's my brother. And I love him.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tour De Christmas - Part 1

Ask any member of my family. I am a sucker for tradition. Anything that has the word "annual" is amazing in my book. Some may say I go out of my way to create it. But, some things become tradition without being planned. Without organization. Such is the tradition of making cookies with my mom. We have literally done it "since before I can remember." It just wouldn't be Christmas without it.

It started as a tradition to send cookies to my grandparents when they lived in Florida. We'd make them every year, and send them in the same cookie tin. Inside the tin was a piece of cardboard with each year written on it. And each year the cookies arrived in Florida, my grandpa would cross of the year and send the tin back. And the tradition continued the following year. It was like a cookie-making tally sheet. Keeping track of all the memories you couldn't fit into a round tin. And it continued until my grandparents passed away.

Now, we no longer send any cookies away in a round tin, but there are some things you can count on in the cookie-making-process.

1. I will (and have, since I can remember) eat dabs of flour. It's gross, I know. But for some reason, I can't help it.

2. There will be Christmas music playing in the background.

3. There will always be at least one battle in which the cookie gets stuck in the cutter, and the cutter inevitably wins. And words are exchanged. The end.

4. I will always "accidentally" make a Tiny Tim cookie, and say "God Bless us, each one!" When he comes off the cookie sheet. Exhibit A:

This year, since next year's cookie baking will look quite different, there were some tears shed. It's one of those realities that sinks in and then you move on from it. Next year will be different. It will be okay. Hard. But different. I hope to make these cookies next year in Uganda. I hope they have Vanilla. I hope my mom can survive without the Tiny Tim cookie cutter because I definitely have it in a tub of "Stuff to take to Uganda."

Enjoy some pictures from our cookie-making tradition. And know they are amazing. So amazing that you cannot have any. That's all. Just sayin'.

Pre sprinkled. Sorry you can't see the final product.

Cutting the last cookie. Sad day. :(

2010 - Done

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It's been more than 48 hours. And I still can't turn away. The earthquake in Haiti has me undone, searching for words to process what has happened. I have missionary friends there, all of whom are safe and accounted for, but as I watch CNN, I'm reminded that not everyone is. Talk of mass burials. Children trapped in collapsed schools. People frantically searching for news of the whereabouts of loved ones. It's mind-numbing. I feel helpless. Sure, I can pray. And give. But at the end of the day, it seems to fall so short. Suffering. Agony. Cries in the darkness.

Even as I type this, the lyrics of a Chris Tomlin song are pumping through my speakers, "Rejoice, oh world. Your Savior has come...born that we may have life." And it's at moments like these that I realize how true these words are. In the midst of pain. In the midst of raw emotion. Yes, even in the midst of death. Jesus was born that we may have life. And I'm no theologian. And I don't pretend to think that this would be some spiritual band-aid for those who are devastated. But I realize that, just as the devastation is great, and the darkness is deep, so too is the hope. Hope in the face of missionaries and aid workers. Civilians who lend a hand, and an entire day to see a neighbor freed from the rubble. And with each rescued one, I hear the words "Rejoice oh world, your Savior has come...born that we may have life," and they take on a whole new meaning.

(image acquired from

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let's pretend it's still December 14th

It's been over a month. More than 30 days since I last visited this little blog to go on and on about things that matter to no one else but me. And I realize I should just move on and begin 2010 with a clean slate. But if you would allow me the space, I feel the need to share my Christmas with you. Really, if you want to know the truth, it's more for me to look back on while I'm in Africa so I have a piece of home while away during my favorite time of the year. But I hope in the midst of my musings that you are reminded, even just a few weeks out, the wonder and mystery of Christ's coming. The life He came to give, and the eternal impact that Silent Night had on so many. So, without further delay, welcome to Christmas at my house. I won't bore you to death all at once. I promise.

This little tree in my room has been part of the decor at Christmas time since I moved to Florida. As you know, Christmas begins in my world as early as possible. And, true to form, my mom put it up the first week of November.

Obviously, this is the Christmas tree. Every year, we say it's the prettiest tree we've had. And we said it again this year. Even though the bottom third of the tree is lacking in the ornament department due to two dogs that shall remain nameless. In their defense, they did not take the ornaments off the bottom. We didn't trust them to leave the tree alone, so we started the ornaments higher. There are many special ornaments on this tree that I will share in later posts.
Funny story about my stocking: My brothers both have their names written in glitter. Strangely enough, my oldest brother still has the same stocking he had when we were tiny. So, why do I have candy sprinkles instead of glitter? Well, my mom couldn't remember exactly, but the original stocking I had as a baby was made with candy sprinkles. And then, about 2 years ago, my mom decided that since it had gaping holes in it, it was time for a new one. So, she threw the original in the trash (GASP!) and started to replace it with one written in glitter. And, naturally, I wanted no part in it. So, old-school style, she used Elmer's glue to write my name and put candy sprinkles on top. It's not the original, but it is mine. And I love it.

Advent is the season where we prepare for the arrival of Jesus. It is a season of waiting and anticipation. And, in our house, as a reminder, we don't put Jesus in the manger scene until Christmas morning. Each time I walk past it, my favorite Christmas song "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" comes to mind. And this year, for some reason, as I looked around me at the world around, I took notice of the affect of Jesus' absence in the lives of so many. And I longed for His arrival in my own life even more.