Take a few moments and treat yourself to a bit of honest-to-goodness Patriotism. America, we salute you.
Take a few moments and treat yourself to a bit of honest-to-goodness Patriotism. America, we salute you.
About a month ago, I had an errand to run in Chinatown (long story…). It had been a rough morning, and a rough week. A variety of things were weighing pretty heavy on my mind. I had been thinking about the fact that I was more than half-way finished with my Master’s degree, and feeling very anxious about the future. Will I ever get a job? Where will we live? What if we move back to America and I realize I’ve actually become Canadian, and I spend the rest of my life calling tennis shoes “runners” and eating gravy on my french fries? Plus, I had just finished (read: nearly flunked) a Hebrew exam, which is as good for one’s mood as a barium enema.
Go ahead. Google it.
The bottom line was, I felt like crap. And as I drove into Chinatown, feeling heavy-hearted and anxious and sorry for myself, I told God how discouraged I was. And then I wondered for a moment if I should even bother God with these piddly little issues of mine when there are significantly more important issues for God to deal with in the world. Like men who wear skinny jeans. And then it took me forever to find parking, which pretty much sealed the deal: I was cranky, and God didn’t seem to be miraculously intervening in any of it like I wanted him to.
So, as I hurried grumpily around Chinatown, I noticed a sign pointing to the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. A portion of this garden is free for visitors to enjoy, so I decided to take a stroll. You know…get a little Zen up in me.
After strolling through a mini-forest of bamboo trees and weeping willows, I turned around to leave…but as my eyes scanned the buildings that cropped up above the garden fence, I noticed this:
Can you see it? The letters across the top of that brick building? Here’s a close-up
“Everything is going to be alright.”
I literally stopped dead in my tracks and thought, “Really?” I mean, I know I can be a bit thick-headed, but the Lord has never resorted to a literal neon sign before. Clearly, this little slogan could not be ignored…and, as I said it to myself a few times on the way back to the car, I actually started believing it. Everything is going to be alright.
And then it just got better.
After I got home, I was browsing the internets and I happened upon this little gem:
First of all, this is the most spellbinding and magnificent music video I have ever seen. Secondly, and more importantly, I found myself inspired AGAIN by another basic word of encouragement: “This too shall pass.” I thought of my mom, who used to say this to my sister and I when we hit bumps in the road during high school. “Don’t worry…it won’t always feel this way…this too shall pass.”
Weeks have passed since that day, but I have found myself recalling those two little slogans whenever the anxiety of life begins to overwhelm. These words may not have solved my problems, or the problems of the world, but even still…they make me smile. Mostly because I am amused by how much encouragement I’ve been able to glean from a neon sign and thousands of orange ping pong balls (see 3:02). But also, because it’s great to feel so known.
Can I just say, I was so surprised to log-on to this here bloggie blog and find that (A) I even remembered my login and password, because its been a WHILE, and (B) I have not been totally forsaken by the internets! I was all prepared to make some joke about “oh, its been such a long time since I’ve posted anything…I’m sure BOTH of the people who check this blog have been really sad I haven’t written anything…” But my blog stats told me that I’ve actually gotten between 125 and 200 hits per week for the past few months! So, perhaps instead I should be making a joke about how SOME PEOPLE should get a new hobby and stop lurking around inactive blogs?
Just kidding. Let’s not fight.
Because we should be celebrating! The term is finally finished!!! I usually try to avoid multiple exclamation marks, but right now I feel JUST THAT GOOD!!!
And man, do I need a break. It’s been since the beginning of last summer that I haven’t had some sort of school-related assignment hanging over my head. Yes, I’ve had some “breaks”…a few long weekends here and there, and an epic trip to Hawaii where I was almost able to prevent thoughts of essays and readings and exams from entering my mind. But today, I am really and truly free. I have kissed schoolwork goodbye until next September, and it feels good. Real, real good.
To commemorate the close of the term, Lisa and I enjoyed a lovely BBQ feast with some of our best friends here in Vancouver. Jonny and Esther–our Kiwi friends–hosted us at their lovely home…
And we ate and ate and ate and ate…
And the Adorable Miss Ruby provided the evening entertainment.
We love these friends and feel quite fortunate to have connected with such quality folks during our time at Regent.
After our feast and a few hours of patting ourselves on the back for successfully surviving another term, I thought it would be important to commemorate the end of one class in particular.
For the last eight months, every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00am, I sat in a basement classroom at Regent and learned Biblical Hebrew. And believe me…I am using that word “learned” VERY loosely. At first, taking Hebrew made me feel very cool and scholastic…and I was even a little bit good at it. Learning the alphabet reminded me of playing one of those decoding games that might be printed on a paper children’s placemat at a family restaurant like the Old Spaghetti Factory…except I was not using crayons. And there was no mizithra cheese involved. Which is really too bad, because that would have helped A LOT.
But as the year progressed, things got more and more complicated. What started as a fun decoding exercise degenerated quickly into a sadistic form of torture wherein I felt like stabbing my eyes out every time I opened my book.
Now…don’t get me wrong. From what I can understand of it, Biblical Hebrew is a BEAUTIFUL and poetic language. I mean, if it’s good enough for the Lord, it’s good enough for me. And I actually have deep respect and awe for anyone who can achieve a firm grasp on the language. For me, it was just VERY difficult, and left me feeling VERY dense, which is not a fun way to feel every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00am for EIGHT MONTHS. I just want to be clear that, when I decided to commemorate the completion of my Hebrew experience, I meant absolutely no disrespect to those who speak Hebrew, or to my Hebrew professor, or to the Bible, or to secret code languages of any kind…particularly those on paper placemats. But it simply had to be done, in order for me to release some of the stress that had built up in my poor little brain.
I burned all my notes.
Yes…every page of incoherent notes, every flash card, every verb paradigm written over and over and over again in the hopes that it might actually sink into my brain…it all went up in flames.
It’s amazing what happens to grown men when we’re given the opportunity to watch something burn. But seriously? It felt SO GOOD!!
Call me a pyromaniac. Call me a moron. Call me whatever you’d like. All I can tell you is that this activity was a LOT cheaper than therapy, and accomplished for me a complete sense of deliverance from my Hebrew-induced agony.
So now, I’m 2/3 of the way finished with my degree. I’ve taken Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew…and as painful as they were, I feel I’ve learned enough to successfully utilize the Biblical Language software on my computer, which is good enough for me. For those of you who were hoping I’d be writing some intensive Old Testament commentaries, this blog will have to suffice.
Thanks for sticking with me!
Sorry. I know I recently indicated that I was “back to blogging.” Turns out, not so much. But this couldn’t wait…
OBAMA IS A FROWN-SMILER!
Apparently, it’s the appropriate face for, “I’ve just won the Nobel Peace Prize and I’m not totally sure why…”
1. The other day, while treadmilling at the gym, I was flipping through the channels on my very own personalized treadmill TV. The treadmill TV, by the way, has revolutionized my winter workout…my own TV while I run? Yes please. Even though it’s a little annoying that the “closed-caption” feature is always on. I mean, if I wanted to READ, I wouldn’t be watching TV. But still, treadmill TV = way boss. ANYWAY…I was flipping through, and stopped when I saw Oprah, because I had heard she had made a “big announcement” that day about how the next season of her show would be the last. I was intrigued by this pop-culture milestone, and I was in luck…because JUST when I flipped the channel to her show, she was starting the “big announcement.” It was anti-climatic…and also strange that she made it TWO YEARS in advance. Plus, I’m pretty sure whoever was typing in the closed-captioning had one too many tequila shooters that day, because when Oprah said “I’ve decided that next season will be the final season of the Oprah Winfrey Show,” the closed-captioning said, “I’ve decided that next season will be the final season of the Open Sign Winfrey Show.” I mean…really? Open Sign Winfrey? There are O fans who are MOURNING and SUFFERING right now…and you call her Open Sign Winfrey? So insensitive.
2. Lisa and I put up our Christmas decorations yesterday. We realized that, in our four years of celebrating Christmas together, we’ve purchased just as many Christmas trees. But three of them have been fake. Who does that? Our first tree was real, but a gigantic pain in the chestnuts (if you know what I’m saying, and I think you do). The second one was big and fake and looked quite nice in our former apartment, but was entirely too large for our apartment in Vancouver. Last year, we bought a smaller fake tree, which was a little corny but got the job done. Sadly, we lost it somewhere between then and now…so yesterday, we purchased a new small fake tree from a store called “Amy’s Loonie Toonie Town.” That’s what we call “keepin’ it classy in the ‘couve.” Our Christmas Carbon Footprint is a big one. Sorry, nature.
3. Have you ever encountered the Frown Smile? It’s a face we’ve all seen…smiling with your eyes, but frowning with your mouth. It’s the kind of face someone makes when they say “I just got this new LEXUS, but your ’98 Maxima is really nice, too…” or “we’d LOVE to get together, but we’re really busy…until 2011.”
It’s also a great match for “That is SUCH a God Thing” and “What a blessing!” and “Isn’t that JUST LIKE the Lord!?”
The Frown Smile. Try her on for size. You won’t be sorry.
Six years ago, before Lisa and I were engaged, we were talking about how much we love Thanksgiving. It’s an ideal holiday, really. Everyone is still basking in the “autumn high” of Pumpkin Spice lattes, scarves, and colorful leaves…the anticipation of Christmas is just beginning to build…the weather hasn’t completely gone to crap yet (unless, of course, you’re in the Pacific Northwest, and you’re living from one freezing, windy, apocalyptic rainstorm to another)…and, let’s be honest, it’s a holiday that is essentially centered on food. HELLO.
The one thing we lamented in that conversation oh-so-many years ago was the fact that we never get to celebrate this great holiday with our friends. Of course, we both love Thanksgiving with our families…but why not have both?
And that was the beginning of Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. During the weekend before Thanksgiving, we invited about 20 friends to come over to the apartment where I lived with my friend Mike (who just had a baby! Well…his wife Becka had the baby…and he’s the baby-daddy. Shout out, Elliana Grace!). We asked everyone to bring one element of the Thanksgiving feast, and enjoyed a perfect, candle-lit evening of giving thanks and stuffing our faces. The following year, we expanded PTT into a weekend getaway at Camp Casey (oh, how I miss those SPU fringe benefits), and since then, we’ve been going to a log cabin in Yelm (read: log mansion that is more like a small resort than anything else). It has become a major highlight of our year, and an excellent time of connection for our group of friends. Over the years, newborn babies have grown into kindergartners and first graders, and they seem to love the weekend as much as their parents do.
This past weekend marked the sixth annual Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving, and it was phenomenal. For me, Saturday was a perfect day. A big, relaxed breakfast with a hot cup of coffee…good chats, and lots of time catching up with friends from our Seattle community…a long run on a country road…an afternoon of cooking delicious food…and then eating as much of that delicious food as I possibly can. For the past four years, we’ve prepared the turkey according to a Giada De Laurentis recipe for Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus (but we use a turkey bag, and roast the turkey breast-down for more moisture). This year, I also made scalloped potatoes with fennel, which was a controversial step away from traditional mashed potatoes…but they were a hit. By far, my favorite part of the dinner is this stuffing recipe that comes from a family friend in Colorado. It’s a cornbread stuffing, so it’s got a bit of sweetness…and it’s phenomenal as a leftover. Personally, I enjoy a stuffing that’s not actually “stuffed” into any poultry orifices (or any orifices whatsoever, really), and this one is at the top of my list:
Then, mix in:
Pour into greased 8′ x 12′ glass baking pan, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving was exactly the boost I needed to carry me through the rest of this term. These are wonderful people, and I am honored to share life with them. And the best news of all? My stomach got a nice workout for the Real Deal next week.
GET IN MY BELLY.
So…in that last post, I was all “hey, check out all the latest shots I’ve downloaded on Flickr!” And then my sister pointed out to me that, no, she could not see any new photos since January.
Well…the problem has been resolved. You may now feel free to enjoy hours of fun sorting through pictures of our life. Who says dreams don’t come true?