Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Ok...did you hear? It SNOWED in Dallas tonight!
Sleet & snow... big puffy cotton ball snowflakes. Not for long, maybe 30 minutes or so. And winter has arrived. A little weird, because the leaves on the trees were red and gold like fall finally just this weekend and then whoosh, in comes the snow!

The front moved through during the day today. As I was on my way to my 1 o'clock class I distinctly remember thinking, wow, it looks like snow. And then I thought how silly that was... I'm in Dallas and at that point in the day, the cold front hadn't made it all the way in, so it wasn't cool enough, but still... East Coasters... we just know when the sky looks like it's gonna snow.

This could turn into one of those mega posts about all I've done since November 20th... which, frankly was a lot!
I got to go to Virginia for Thanksgiving week. Spent some great time with the pastors, staff and friends from church one day. Got some clarity from my "God-squad" about some decisions I was trying to make... and was finally able to decide... No more Greek for me! I'm changing my degree program to a 2 year program (that will probably take me 2.5 years) rather than 5+ years. FABULOUS! Not because of Greek. It's kicking my butt, but the overall time commitment to learn the languages, other classes needed and the length of the program. I really don't need everything in that degree plan. So, now I'm probably going to fall into the Master of Arts in Christian Education, concentration in Women's Ministry and pick up some creative writing, dramatizing Scripture and other classes that interest me.

I have 4 more class periods to attend this week and 3 finals to take next week and then I get to go to PA and enjoy a chilly Christmas they way it should be.

This 50 degree weather but seeing Christmas lights and decorations everywhere is the weirdest thing. Cold tonight, but it will warm up again tomorrow. Does a Texas Santa wear a Hawaiian Shirt to deliver gifts? Surely he doesn't need his warm red suit...

Still no job... applied to several places... keep praying. I'm managing financially for about another month or so, but after that... well, the stage is set for a Divine Intervention. Looking forward to how He'll supply and am totally enjoying the rest while I'm waiting!

I made a DELICIOUS recipe from a friend tonight. My roommate & I loved it and so did the guys who live in the apartment below us. It's called Taco Soup but it's more like Chili. So I'm going to call it Taco Chili. And it's super easy!
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 can CRUSHED tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can whole kernel sweet corn
1 can navy beans
1 can Bush's seasoned black beans
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing dry mix
1 can mild Ro-tel (tomatoes with green chilies)

Dump everything into a big pot. Drain only the fat off the meat. Pour the entire contents of all the cans, juices and all, into the pot. Add the seasoning mixes along with everything else...don't add either to the meat while it' browning.
Heat until it's hot and serve it up! Mmmmmm, delicious! Quick! Cheap! Great for a cold winter's night! The girl who gave me the recipe said it's great for a crock pot meal because the flavor gets better the longer it simmers. Either way, it's great.
We had it with Frito's Scoops, shredded cheese and sour cream... like the Virginians taught me to eat chili. So good...

Official countdown to PA: 14 days!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Avery, Drew & Aunt Kathie playing with the camera on my computer...too much fun!

I know, I know...
Where have I been? Not blogging, that's for sure..

Ok, so here are 10 things I'll bet you didn't know happened since the last time I posted...
#1. Shame on me for taking so long to let you know, but we found out a long time ago that my dad's biopsy came back clean. Apparently his doc didn't believe the test, so he had it sent to Johns Hopkins for a second opinion... same response. No cancer. And for this, we praise the Lord.

#2. Halloween happened. An old friend from high school in PA (Dan Dries for anyone who knows him) lives in Dallas now, too. We recently found out the connection, then he got married the beginning of October... They invited me to their Halloween party. I went for a little while. He lives literally 10 minutes away. 1,500 miles, 10 years... and they live 10 minutes away. How weird is that? Had a fun time. You're dying to know... Martha Stewart. It was cheap, easy to throw together and non-offensive and not in the spirit of my least favorite holiday ever.

#3. (These may start to happen out of order) I just got back from 5 glorious days in Albany, NY visiting Matt, Amanda and my sweet Avery & Drew. It was so much fun! One night, me & the kids ("Me-and, who's Me-and?") made a blanket tent using Avery's Rose Petal Cottage. We all climbed inside and read lots and lots of books with just a flashlight. Drew kept insisting we were hiding from monsters, I insisted we were camping. The whole trip was amazing. Completely in perfect timing (which I'll mention in a minute) and the only draw back was the freezing cold temperatures this newly-converted Texan could hardly handle. We went to see Madagascar 2 together and that was fun. When we drove around, the kids pointed out every yellow car or school bus they saw. "Yellow car, mom" Drew (2) is talking and can have a little conversation with you. He loves his cars and trucks and trains...but he still loves to snuggle and cuddle. I don't care if he never outgrows that! It was great. Made me never want to leave. I lost it at the airport. So much so that the security guard at the metal detector got teary eyed at me. Mercy.

#4. The reason the trip was so timely was because even though it was planned 6 weeks ago, it was timed to perfection. I lost my job on Wednesday last week. Not for being an idiot or a slacker, but a long story that can be considered down-sizing, or my boss finding a different business model or whatever. Bottom line: it totally stinks. So I'm looking, and with the search for a new job comes a thousand decisions... how many classes to take next semester? Work part time or full time? Do I really want this 4 year intense degree that might take me much longer than 4 years to complete? I just don't know... I've sent my resume to several places, applied at a few online things, but in my heart, I want back in ministry. I miss it. So, join me in prayer for just the right job at just the right time and that God would make it clear about my decisions.

#5. I'm in the middle of 2 weeks break. First week is Reading Week. A week set aside for us crazy grad students to catch up on papers, projects, reading and for this girl, Greek... but particularly for this girl.. VISITS! Some amazing, precious friends got me a plane ticket to Manassas for next week. It will be so good to just hang out there for a while. See my friends, pastors, church family (though I won't be there for a service)... I really can't wait. hhhmmm, I wonder how cold it will be in VA?

#6. Some great friends from college recently told me they are in the interview process for a job in Dallas! I don't think I can say who it is, but OH MY WORD, if this happens, I will be in awe. The most difficult part about being here is being so far from home, establishing all new relationships and not having someone who has known you longer than 4 months and just KNOWS you and GETS you. But college girlfriends were with you then and through the journey of becoming who you are... a little taste of heaven, that's all I'm saying. Hope it works out!

#7. Hhmm... running out of ideas. OH... just last night we found a GIGANTIC dead roach in our kitchen. Now, we're not dirty people. This thing apparentl got drunk on the pest control juice, walked into the middle of the floor and died. But when we saw it, we didn't know it was dead. Nearly had a heart attack. Called a boy to help. Errr... small mistake. Apparently, jumbo roaches weaken even the strongest of men. So, after we realized it was dead, and after I psyched myself up for it, I scooped it up using a dustpan and brush. Y'all. It was huge. Like those nasty fake bugs you can buy in stores. Or like bigger than a nasty black cricket. I don't know where it came from, but I sure home it doesn't have any buddies.

#8. A couple weekends ago we had an open house in our apartment. Just our floor, and only 4 apartments chose to participate. Jennifer & I share a love for the TV show "The Office" and we didn't want to be too girly. So, we had like an Office party. We had dvds of the series playing and we made a jell-o mold with yellow jell-o and a stapler (something they occasionally have done on the show). Our theme was Pretzel Day after an episode in season 3... It was so much fun! Lots of people stopped by, got to meet a bunch of new faces. And it was one of these meetings that led to one of the most embarassing moments of my life. Sit back and enjoy a good laugh.
So, these 2 guys walk in. One was a-hem, handsome. That's all. But he also looked familiar. So, in the midst of trying to place him, mixed with Lord only knows what and my roommate Jennifer introducing herself to the other guy, I find myself introducing myself to this guy and I said (no lie): "Hi, I'm Jennifer... wait, no... she's Jennifer!" Y'all. Oh My Word. Gets worse. I then realize that the handsome fella SITS in front of me in Theology class. He just usually wears glasses and is dressed up, he came here looking entirely different. Have you EVER heard of such a thing?! Kill me now.

#9. I didn't vote. There, I said it. Aaahh. Public confession is good for the soul. Don't hate me. I just didn't and I have no excuse.

#10. Well, I just don't know another thing to tell ya... God is good. He is faithful. He has called me and HE WILL DO IT. He has set the divine stage for the God-show. There is no other option than to trust that He will continue to be more than enough.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quick Update...

hey there...
Just wanted to let you know I talked to my dad today.

He'll have the biopsy results from yesterday's test on October 17th...so now we wait...

And the little surgery today went well. I guess they didn't actually replace the battery, they replaced the whole thing?! anyway, he was at home this afternoon when I spoke to him...

Thanks for praying... check back later to hear the latest...

love y'all...

Monday, October 6, 2008


So, today (10/7) at 2pm Eastern time, my Dad needs your prayers. Several weeks ago, there was a blood test. Today there will be a biopsy. He'll get the results on 10/17.

Tomorrow, he has to have the battery changed in his pacemaker/defibrillator. General anesthesia, it's a surgery.

Big deal.

Big week.

Many prayers.

Big God.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Friday, October 3, 2008

Destination: Albany, NY

There are some pretty great people who live in Albany. Like the greatest brother of all time, his fabulous wife, a little 4 year old princess named Avery and her sweet sidekick, 2 year old Drew. For crying out loud, the child will be 2 on Sunday! Seriously... time goes way too fast.

So, I've been kicking around the idea of going to visit them during our 2 week November break--oh, yeah, you heard that right. Nov. 17-21 there are no classes for "Reading Week"--a week to catch up and get ahead, and then the following week is off for Thanksgiving.

My wonderful parents want to see me at Christmas, so they bought my plane ticket back in May, but it's only for 2 weeks and I will have to take a road trip to VA for a long weekend to visit my ODBC family... don't know if I'd sanely make it to NY at Christmas... and, quite honestly, I like having them all to myself.

Then, I couldn't justify the money... so I prayed about it... knowing that God had the ability to provide for my trip, but not knowing if He would. His blessings have been so ridiculously abundant to me the past few months, I certainly don't "deserve" more.

So, I prayed, checked airfares, waited... almost charged it, changed my mind... waited, checked airfares... then one day earlier this week, God specifically answered the prayer. I was absolutely amazed. Then, today... I went to buy the ticket and the fares at Southwest had shot up like another $100... so I checked out Northwest airline at nwa.com that my sister in law highly recommended... Round trip to Albany November 14-18th... dirt cheap. Well, it would be rather expensive dirt, probably a couple of truckloads, but you know what I mean.

So in 42 days I will be Albany bound...for 5 glorious days of Eachus-ness...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Scientology Report...

As promised... keep in mind, the assignment was not necessarily to research a world religion, but to visit a religion that has no ties to Jesus or Jehovah God and ask the important questions of life and write an observation of the visit.

I called the Buddhist Temple in Dallas in hopes of setting up a meeting with them. The phone was answered by someone who spoke very poor English. I simply stated my reason for calling. He asked me to hold on a minute and laid the phone down. I was still able to hear everything going on in the background. There was indistinguishable talking for no less than 3 minutes, after which the phone was picked up and placed back on the base without further words spoken to me.

I looked at the other religious institution written on my paper and cringed as I dialed the number to the Church of Scientology. To my absolute surprise, a delightful voice answered, “Thank you for calling the Church of Scientology. This is Ann, how may I help you?”

I rather nervously stated my simple request to schedule an appointment to come in and ask questions. Ann was delighted. She asked when would be good for me and I had the feeling if I would have suggested 2am she would have obliged. She explained she would be the one I speak to first when I arrive and she hoped to answer all of my questions. After hanging up the phone, I felt so at ease about the situation. Instead of attempting to recruit a classmate, I thought I’d be ok to go alone.

The morning of the appointment, I made a mental list of the big things I was looking forward to asking Ann. I tried to imagine what I would want her to ask me if the roles were reversed. When I arrived at the Church of Scientology, I immediately wanted to turn around and go home! I was later told the building is a 1930’s era estate that the church has occupied for some time. The parking lot was unkempt and there was a canopy-covered sidewalk that led to the entrance. It felt a little like a cross between a nightmare and the opening scenes of a horror movie.

I walked into the entrance and was greeted by a man sitting at a table piled high with pamphlets and literature he was assembling into some form of mailing. I was then directed to a small desk area right off the entrance where Ann greeted me. Every available inch of wall space was displaying Scientology literature, L.Ron Hubbard books, seminars, or the like. I particularly noticed one poster that equated psychology with foolishness or something to that effect and quickly made a mental note to avoid discussions of my undergrad degree in psychology!

Ann allowed me to ask a few questions first. I basically wanted her “testimony.” She became a Scientologist in 1992 through the encouragement of her son. He had taken part in a course, had enjoyed it and wanted her to pay for a second course. She agreed and really noticed a difference in him, so she decided she “had to get some of that for herself,” too. She said she loved it from the beginning and as her face lit up, she said, “It works. It really works.” So I asked, “What works?”

Ann informed me that Scientology’s purpose is to remove the impurities from inside each one of us to “be a better you.” With what I would learn in Scientology, I would gain the tools to search inside myself and others and remove those things which emit negativity. When we’re filled with positive thoughts, positive things happen to us.

I asked her if she believes in God. She emphasized that personally, yes she believes that God exists, but God is not needed to be a Scientologist. In her understanding, we are created in the image of God and what that means is that as God has the power to create, so too do we have the power to create. She also wanted me to know that “Mr. Jim of Mr. Jim’s Pizza is both a Baptist and a Scientologist, he’s a good Scientologist,” she told me.

I asked her about heaven. She’d asked me earlier if I believed in God. I did not deny the Lord, but simply stated that I’d been raised in a Christian home and still attend a Christian church. The truth, just not all of it. When I asked her about heaven, before she answered, she asked what I believe. I told her that I believe that at the moment I die, my soul with be in the presence of the Lord. She said Scientologists don’t believe in a heaven or a hell. They believe they will be reborn into a new being. I asked if she was conscious of her past lives? She explained that she personally was not, but could one day work toward knowing that, depending on how far she advanced in Scientology.

Then, she told me a story about her grandson, Dale (the oldest son of her Scientologist son) who at 8 years old told her he used to be a grandpa in another life. She went on to say that he assuredly stated he had been a black man living in Mexico and he knew he was a grandpa because there were kids around him and he was reading a paper. She asked if he could tell her what the paper said (thinking she could get a time frame) and he laughed and told her he doesn’t read Spanish in this life! She said, “So it’s real. A child doesn’t just come up with stuff like that on his own.”

We then took a tour of the main floor of the area we were in. There was a literature rack full of program workbooks ranging in topics of Marriage, Personalities, New to Scientology, etc. There were children’s books as well as a number of DVDs that could be purchased.

We then walked to a seminar room. Ann explained to me that this was the room where many of their workshops took place. There were some charts on the walls and a handful of books on a book shelf There was even a lectern with a uniquely shaped cross on the front. It was a cross like in Christianity, but each quadrant had an extra “L” shaped piece adjacent to it. It caught my eye, so I asked about it. Where a cross has everything to do with why I am who I am and why I believe in Who I believe in, the cross in Scientology represents the eight levels of mastery. Ann couldn’t remember them all, but some were mastery over creation, over self, and others.

Next, we walked to a chart on a wall that expressed the different stages of Scientology. There were about 30 grades in all. Ann informed me that I would start at the Purification Ritual. She told me I would take some vitamins and sit in a hot sauna and be removed of impurities inside. Impurities get inside from illnesses and surgeries. She weirded me out a little when she mentioned that she’d noticed a scar on my chest and asked if I’d had heart surgery. I told her I had and she explained all the negative energy that very likely came inside of me during that operation could be removed with the Purification Ritual. And, she stated, “It’s not good to leave it in there, it’s better to get it out.”

The lowest level was a Grade Zero. That’s as far as Ann had achieved in her 16 years in Scientology. Her status as Grade Zero meant (as indicated on the chart) that she could speak to anyone about anything at any time. Higher levels indicated being free from the effects of suffering, being free from different levels of brokenness. Midway up the chart was a level called “Clarity.” If one achieves the Clarity level, he is no longer impacted by negativity or evil. He has been completely released from all negative energies from within.

Our next stop was at a display where there was an “e-meter.” An E-meter is a way of measuring one’s emotions. It is a blue electronic device with gauges and needle measurement boxes on it and it is attached to two metal cylinders. The Auditor has been trained to interpret the subject’s emotions to indicate what level of emotions a person is in. Ann didn’t really go into why it’s necessary, other than to know what needs to be improved. And she really wanted me to try it. But, I didn’t think it was a good idea.

Finally, we saw a roped off office space dedicated to “LRH.” LRH is the familiar way they refer to Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. His office looked like any nice office space. It was his personal office space for use when he was in the Dallas area when he was still alive. At this point, I asked Ann if LRH had discovered or invented Scientology. She thought for a minute and decided he had discovered it, in conjunction with other great thinkers and researchers and was able to put several pieces of the puzzle together until they realized they had something and needed to make it a religion.

Ann invited me back to watch an information video, to attend a seminar, be audited or to attend a church service on Sunday morning. She was so pleasant to talk to, her demeanor so filled with joy over the idea of “being a better” her. Over and over she kept trying to sell me on the fact that “it works, it really works.”

I left after visiting for a total of 30 or 45 minutes and my heart was so burdened. I’ve often heard that the Enemy is the Counterfeit Christ…and feel like everything they’re working and searching for fits that bill. From the symbol of a cross meaning nothing of a Savior to working toward a far away goal of being free from inner negativity.

Ironically, later that night, I attended the DTS Women’s Retreat and during a sweet time of small group prayer, a woman was exuberantly sharing how prayer sustains her. Her face lit up as she said, “It works, it really works!” Perhaps my ears were more attentive, since hearing it so often earlier that day. The stark contrast of the source of that joy broke my heart.

Since our meeting, I often think how things might have been different for Ann. What if her son had received Christ with such joy and shared that good news and example of a changed life with his mother? How different their lives and eternities would be.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Can you believe it's OCTOBER today? What in the world? I wonder when fall will arrive in Texas. It's supposed to be a little cooler today. Maybe we're on the the way. I realize I probably won't see much snow down here... or temps in the teens... and I've never been anywhere but PA and VA in the winter months. So, gearing up for the holidays in 60-70 degree weather might be odd... like you know, Santa in shorts and a Hawaiian t-shirt...but I was wondering today about fall...

Fall is like my most favorite season. I love the crisp weather and though some people deny they experience the phenomenon, I like when it smells like fall outside. Not people burning pumpkin spice candles, but when you're outside and it's like 55 degrees and the sky is clear the wind is blowing and you can just smell that it's fall.

Aaww... reminds me of a poem I had to memorize in 4th grade. Let me see if I can find it online:


October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."

George Cooper [1840-1927]

P.S. Never blog that you think it will be an easier homework week. Ever. Lesson learned. I'll be living in the library tonight.