Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Learning to read slow...

As I was going through my list of "blogs to read" recently, I came across this little post. It's interesting to me, because I've never really had problems speed reading with comprehension. I do "hear" things in my head as I read them. I also "see" things in my head as I hear them (as in, when someone's talking, or when I'm writing, I can sometimes literally see the words being typed out in my head).  But I appreciate his point, and speed reading just isn't meant to be done with Scripture. I love how the Bible is filled with so many different literary genres (as I've written about before). Poetry is meant to be musical thing, meant to be experienced and savored, just like the rest of the Word.

One Advantage of Reading Slowly

December 29, 2009  |  By: John Piper  |  Category: Commentary
The fact that hundreds of the pages of God’s inspired word are devoted to poetry moves me. One of the effects is to make me aware that God thinks the sound of language matters.
God has blessed and humbled me with the inability to speed read. I read about the same speed that I talk. I hear what I read as I read it. For years I tried not to. Speed reading consultants (I took their courses—in vain.) say that pronouncing the words, even in your head, turns a rabbit reader into a turtle. No use. I’m a turtle.
So I take heart that so much of the Bible is poetry. It is self-evident to me that poetry is not meant to be speed-read, but ordinarily read aloud. So I would encourage you to supplement your speed with slow savoring of the way things are written to be heard.
Consider this observation about what happens when poetry is read aloud and read well by a person who understands it.
“Even after almost three millennia of written literature, poetry retains its appeal to the ear as well as to the eye; to hear a poem read aloud by someone who understands it, and who wishes to share that understanding with someone else, can be a crucial experience, instructing the silently reading eye ever thereafter to hear what it is seeing.” (John Hollander, Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize, 1)

Monday, December 28, 2009

So the picture quality is poor, but I'm glad the camera captured even a glimpse of how breathtaking this scene was...our Creator is amazing! I'm really looking forward to exploring more of Washington.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

There is, it would seem,  a small problem with being flexible and learning to love and be content with wherever you live: You learn to love it. But life is brief, and being pushed out of your comfort zone rarely feels pleasant at first. There is joy in looking back to see how God has provided in the past, and trusting not only that God is unchanging but also merciful.

Monday, December 14, 2009

26 Minutes in Loring Park

Back when I attended MCTC, I would often venture into the nearby park between or after classes. Because of its location in the heart of the city, it got a lot of traffic and was both a lovely place to watch nature and a fascinating people watching spot. As I was cleaning my room today, I came across a random sheet of writing I did one day sitting on a bench. The style (or perhaps the lack therof) is rather abrupt; quite literally I wrote what I saw as I saw it. It's nothing fancy, just an attempt to capture an afternoon in Loring Park. It brought back all sorts of memories for me, perhaps it will also be interesting to you. 

    Strains of a bagpipe lazily drift over the pond. On my ebony wrought bench, I’m surrounded by birds; some in the water, some pecking at the tiny blades of grass for crumbs from some passerby. A bird dives into the grayish-brown water, interrupting the surface for an instant. A brazen young woman entertains a group of young people on the other side of the bridge while two geese slyly inch nearer, nipping the grass. The lewd girl has removed her belt, clambered onto the overturned rescue boat, and whipped mercilessly at an unsuspecting tree. Certain now that I have no food for them, my pair of geese have ambled away back towards the water. The church bell clangs two. Again I try calling Brian’s cell phone; once again my efforts are rewarded with voicemail. The sun has gone behind the clouds and the gentle breeze has become harsher. A balding man in an old leather coat with a cigarette and his miniscule dog have now frightened my bird friends away. They are followed by a large group of boisterous, drunk, men and women.  My goose stares in wonder as he is “f-bombed” by a large, black man, and then wanders back shyly my way.
    2:07 and finally my calls are answered. Many middle-aged couples lazily meander around the park, passed by the occasional preppy runner or “pretty-boy” biker. A lovely duck out to dry herself in the sun has upset my goose, and the man and his dog have returned. A man in orange and white starkly contrasts with the soft earthy-browns, greens, yellows and blues of the landscape. A woman walks by in a pair of keens. I have changed out of mine from this morning for my boss's sake.
    2:15 sounds the bell! A young brunette and a man in a tie come over the bridge; her unsuitable stiletto heels clicking noisily. Sitting beside me for a moment, a little boy gives me an appraising glance. At a word from his father, a tall, dark and handsome man with a military air, the boy retreats. Pausing on the bridge for a moment, giving me only time to admire her dark, curly hair and tan suede jacket, a woman moves on, followed by a blond biker in a pink jacket. An older man bikes by as well; he however, has a blackbird perched on his helmet as he crosses the bridge. The waterfowl sound like gossipy old women.
    At 2:26, I leave my bench and head to work.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I know how that guy feels...sort of, anyway.

The infamous philosophy paper was completed this morning at 8:50 (due at 9:45).

Monday, December 7, 2009

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

If my posts have of late seemed less serious than usual, it has mostly to do with the fact that by the time I'm finished with homework and studying, my poor brain wants a rest from deep thinking (or thinking at all, rather). For example, today, I've been doing Philosophy homework essentially from 10 AM-8:40 PM, stopping only for meals and the story I will now tell.

At lunch today, I went to check my mailbox. There was a letter and a note that claimed I had a parcel at the reception desk. Intrigued, I walked to the desk and promptly presented the slip of paper to the receptionist, who retreated to the back room to find the mysterious parcel. After several minutes, she returned, with a quizzical expression. "Are you sure you haven't already picked it up," she ventured to ask. (Like I would forget picking up a parcel!) Indignant, but trying to remain polite, I replied in the negative and said I would return at a different time to see if it had been found. Later that afternoon, I received an email saying they had found it and it was ready to be picked up, so I bundled back up and walked over to the school, my curiosity once again piqued.

When I arrived, I was handed a mysterious Christmas-y box, approximately the dimensions of a DVD case, containing Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. So far, I have deduced the following:
1. It is from a Canadian.
2. It is probably not from a girl in residence (we're in the midst of a secret santa exchange, so this would seem to be a logical assumption until one considers that if it were a girl on my floor, she would have had access to my room. Why go through the school instead of just leaving it on my desk?)
3. This parcel was not mailed.
4. This person very much wants to remain anonymous (not only was there no note, it didn't even have my name on it).
5. The very fact that it's Rear Window not only implies it's someone who knows I love Hitchcock and Grace Kelly, but also someone who knows I don't already own the movie. This narrows down the suspect list.
Deduct what you may from all this. I, for one, am too tired to desire a conclusion tonight.   

Friday, December 4, 2009

Having a few minutes between researching my Philosophy paper and editing someone else's paper, I have decided to write.  We're in the midst of quite the blizzard; classes are canceled, the concert is postponed, and I have no excuse to procrastinate on my paper any longer. The buses are still running, but the chances of getting off campus get slimmer with every beautiful flake that falls. So I'm bundling up, not for a long winter's nap, but for the accomplishment of much homework in the frigid prayer room. But first, dinner.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Moral lessons from Monty Python: Now THAT'S completely different.

Mr. Vernon "Hello Madam...(comes in)
Mrs. Long Name "Ah, must have come about..."
Mr. Vernon "Finishing the sentences, yes."
Mrs. Long Name "Oh...well...perhaps you'd like to..."
Mr. Vernon " Come through this way...certainly."
(from "The Man Who Finishes Other People's Sentences"; Monty Python's Flying Circus) 

This is a problem of mine. It recently occurred to me just how arrogant it really is. It's saying, "look, I know what you're going to say, and what I have to say is more important/relevant".  Interrupting is so rude. If I really love other people as I love myself, I'll be quick to hear and slow to speak.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I was silly enough to mention the word "accident" on my facebook, so here's the explanation:
We headed out early on Friday evening to do some errands and go swing dancing. There had been a drizzly sort of snow that afternoon, but the temperature has been unusually warm, so we didn't worry too much about the roads (famous last words).  The sudden temperature drop we got that evening caused snow to melt, then freeze, resulting essentially in solid black ice all over Calgary.

Noticing this, we had gotten of the bus to catch some dinner, hoping traffic would improve. While walking to the bus stop, we saw a car blocking the middle of a 4-lane road. Traffic was moving so slow, we walked (or tried is slippery when you're wearing Converse) over to the car to see if we could help. There, we met a lovely, handicapped old lady who was spinning out every time she tried to move. Being the only licensed driver in the group, and realizing that I couldn't do any better behind the wheel than she was, we decided to push her out of the far left lane into the right lane. Of course she'd be better off there!

There had been an accident right before we pushed her car over; for the moment, we couldn't make it to the next intersection without hitting any cars in front of us. We decided to wait. Further investigation of the car revealed that the best option was to call someone to take our dear old lady home and pick up the car later. The police were called (and her son). All that remained was to wait for them to come, so a friend and I decided we would stay and everyone else headed back to the residence. We learned that she had just come from helping her husband in a long term care facility ( he's had Alzheimer's for several years). So as we sat, making light conversation and trying to calm her nerves, we got sideswiped by an out of control SUV (that hit another car in front of us) then rear ended by another car.

After making sure everyone was alright, we went around and exchanged insurance information with the other drivers. Amazingly enough, (and yes, this is clearly God working) not only was no one hurt, there was no visible damage to the car we were in. The police were called again, this time to report an accident. Since we knew we really needed to stay put, we decided the car would be safer on the sidewalk and moved it accordingly (now the rear bumper is perpendicular to the curb). What could possibly happen to us while we're on the sidewalk? Well...the guy who rear ended us actually ended up getting rear ended himself (twice), so now the side of his car was actually on our rear bumper. After every new hit, we reexamined the car and exchanged insurance information with the new drivers. It was almost comical.

So how does this story end?  Well, I don't really know. For me, it ended when the lady's son arrived and I walked back to the residence to find my friends had arranged not only food and warm beverages, but a game night to make up for the loss of dancing.  But I trust that the God who not only kept us safe but kept the car intact, was in control that night, and that it ended in a way that glorifies Him.

Ah, tea.

I love how people come together over warm beverages, especially this time of year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pecan Pie and Philosophy

- Ham, scalloped potatoes, broccoli and soy milk: $8
-2 pies from Sunterra market ( apple and pecan) = $10
- spending Thanksgiving discussing the nature of beauty and other philosophical ideas: Priceless.

Sweet irony.

Those of you from Ambrose who follow this have, no doubt, already heard this story. Feel free to tune out. For the rest of you, here's my story:
Desiring to deck the dorm with fresh greenery, a few friends and I went out to the Ambrose woods last Sunday. Returning to my room, we had fabulous walnut hot cocoa and made wreaths while Katie dramatically told us politically correct fairy tales; it was a splendid afternoon. It occurred to me that my floor was covered with pine needles and other twigs and greenery. While I wouldn't really mind having such debris on the carpet, I decided for the sake of peace between roommates, I ought to go on a quest to find the res. vacuum.
Discover the vacuum I did, and I proceeded to attempt to use it. (now this vacuum is used by all 3 floors, guys & girls, and is ALWAYS clogged. Always. ) Today was no exception. I was in the act of muttering some curse on the vacuum and it's inability to draw up any sediment when it ate up my phone cord and broke it in two, as if to say, "You think I can't suck? Suck this" (yes, that vacuum is sadistic). The best part, of course, is the fact that after I removed my cord from the vacuum, it refused to work.  Hence the title. The picture is just cool. Who doesn't need a USB vacuum?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

While we're looking at Gap commercials...

They have some fun Christmas remixes (you know. since it's not even Thanksgiving yet)....
-Jingle Bells
-Baby it's Cold Outside (featuring Dwight from The Office)
- Winter Wonderland
-We Three Kings (cool handbells/beatboxing)

It don't mean a thing...

Oh, I love swing dancing. Combining great jazzy tunes with the fascinating social interaction that happens when you dance with someone is really a million dollar idea. There's something about social dancing...I'm still trying to put my finger on it. As reserved and introverted as I can be sometimes, that has to leave on the dance floor. It forces me out of my shell, makes me have to interact and literally makes me learn to follow someone else's lead.

I've always loved how social dancing is an excellent illustration of complimentarinism. Two equally important, but different parts come together to make a beautiful thing: a dance. If both partners did the same thing, it would only cause strife and cease to be a pleasant thing ( people stepping on each other, etc.) It's no shameful thing to follow rather than lead, rather, it's a pleasure to be lead well. It's hard to describe how exciting it is to dance with a guy that leads well.

That being said, I'd love to be able to do this someday, though I consider it unlikely. ;) Guess I'll have to marry a dancer...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I have noticed that most of my recent blog posts have something to do with my history class. History is rather interesting, when you're not being graded on it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Preparing, Pondering, Presenting

There are three main steps I use when writing on a primary source document (like I am right now).
Preparing: This requires reading and rereading the text and annotating...takes FOREVER.
Pondering: identifying key issues; doing background research; developing a thesis...
Presenting: organizing thoughts into a logical presentation.
I'm stuck on stage two. I can write plenty of text, but coming up with a point is difficult.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ever washed your hair in a sink?

This morning, I did. I've done it several times already this semester, on days when the water won't heat up for the shower. It just occurred to me as especially ironic that the pressure is so much stronger in the sink (as opposed to the shower) that it actually makes it easier to wash my long hair.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Keeping me humble...

Oh, I hate giving presentations. Not making them, that part comes easily. For whatever reason, God created me to have a silly exaggerated physical reaction to stress. Regardless of how much I prepare, how good my notes are, how many people are in the audience, stick me in a spotlight and ask me a question and I'm reduced to a quivering, pathetic mess (shakes head). For example, the history presentation I bombed this morning...
But that's ok. In fact, it's wonderful! (especially since I'm not being graded on it...) I need these constant reminders of how I can't do things on my own. One of the wonderful things about God's sovereignty is that I know ultimately, I did my best and as long as I trust Him and obey, everything will work out for my good and His glory. Some may call religion a crutch. It's not a crutch; it's my very life support. Without Christ and His atoning work, I have no hope. I'm a broken cistern that can't hold water, trying to dig out wells for myself in the desert, vainly chasing things that can't satisfy. He is my strength and redeemer. Where am I without Him? Even more pitiful and desperate than when I'm giving presentations. Resting in the arms of an all-powerful, loving's where I long to be. Thank you Lord for being gracious enough to break and humble me so I can see your glory.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's been a long weekend (understatement of the century). Here are some things accomplished:

 (Yeah, it's not quite that green right now)
1. Open House: I worked all day Saturday. We had over 30 applicants, and I got to talk to a lot of people about the school. Not a bad turnout.

2. Apples to Apples in the basement: We're constantly pushing the limits of how many players one can have before the game becomes totally insane. I think our record is about a dozen. It's a great way to get to know people better.

3. Homework: Best described by this...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why I wish I could work on my Mac.

This is the second time I've been stuck waiting at the IT desk this week because my computer can't install needed updates. =P

(sigh) So scenic...

Because of the time change, I can now wake up to the glorious "sunrise over the construction site" without having to get up at an ungodly hour. While this ultimately is a dismal sign of the decreased winter sunlight, immediately, it's a lovely way to start my day. I almost feel like waking up my roommate to see it too...and then it occurs to me that doing so will not be a very edifying thing for her. ;) So I eat breakfast in bed, watching the colors emblazoned across the sky, smiling like a fool to myself because of the beauty of creation.

I really ought to be in bed. Instead, I'm in the book of Matthew...

For some reason today, I was just struck with how interesting it is that we're instructed to " love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind "( Matthew 22: 37). When I think of that verse, I usually think of loving God with my heart and my actions. What does it mean to love God with your mind? I don't usually equate the action of loving with the mind. This may have to do with my separation of the mind (knowing things) from the heart (feeling things), which likely flows from traditional western philosophical notions. But they're listed separately in Matthew too, and I must assume that's done for a reason. Thinking further about it, though, I would find it very hard to love God in only one or two of those capacities and not in all of them. Without being able to at least somewhat understand with my mind glorious truths about God, I couldn't begin to truly love him for them. When I recognize the beauty of God in my mind, that leads me to worship. Knowing that my life is a brief blessing, sovereignly predetermined by an omnipotent and holy God, frees me to live with boldness for the sake of the gospel and love my neighbors as myself (the second part of that commandment). In theory, anyway.
Interesting food for thought, to say the very least.

Monday, November 2, 2009

For those who have asked, here's the link to my Ambrose blog. So far, it's not too interesting.

I've got sunshine...

"Come, my soul, here is a grand feast to begin a dull month with. There may be fogs without, but there should be sunshine within"-C.H. Spurgeon

But from whence does this sunshine come? (yes, I just used "whence" in a sentence...) The quote comes from a devotional on 1st Thessalonians 5:24,  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. What? Sanctify us wholly, (see previous verse) not allowing us to fall from grace, keeping us blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because He is faithful to His promises. "It is not their own faithfulness, but the Lord's own faithfulness on which the saints rely." Yes, once again I agree with Spurgeon on this one. November may be a long, cold, dreary month, but God is still faithful and good.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why I'm taking myself to the Christmas Banquet (and no, I'm not just a shrew)

Bluntly put, it's because on the whole, I'm not impressed with the Ambrose boys. (yes, I say "boys", not "men". Not that I have an opinion, or anything.) Also, in this community, you only attend "with someone" if you're dating, a relationship I share with no one, especially these guys I've known for less than 2 months. Why cheapen what it means to be a couple by casually going with a guy I'll probably never promote over the level of friend? It's silly. Besides, according to Brian, I'm too skinny for anyone to ever love me anyway. ;)

Why then do I still go? It's a chance to attend a masquerade and enjoy a formal social event with friends (not to mention food a step above the usual cafeteria fare)! Of course, since it's a Christian school, there is to be no dancing. (cough) We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

At least I can finish my book.

 I'm presenting in my history class on some writings of this dashing gent (Sima Qian) sometime in the next week or so. He's the Chinese version of Herodotus, and was the first to write out any history of the Chinese people. Qian was so devoted to his work, when given the choice between the death penalty and castration (for supposedly disobeying the emperor), he chose castration. He is credited for saying something along the lines of, "at least I get to finish my book that way". It's a "glass half-full" way to look at the situation. Specifically, I get to talk about the life of Meng Tian, the general responsible for building the great wall of China. Of course, this is especially interesting to me after getting to visit it. This is good, because otherwise, the motivation to do homework is not very high.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rudeness or flattery?

In my Lit. class, we're working on a lot of early English poetry, full of hopelessly romantic ideals and silly notions. So when you run across something like Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 it stands out:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Really, it's quite interesting ( not to mention I'm currently writing an essay about it, so I can't get it out of my mind). It does raise the question, well posed by Charlotte Brontë : Do you prefer flattery or rudeness in love? Or do you hope there's a middle ground because neither are ideal? Either way, this poem, for the period it was written in, leans dangerously to the honest side, with a touch of sarcasm. It's a personal favorite. Well said, Bard.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Recently, I've been trying to help some friends choose meaningful and clever names for their new blogs, which has begged the question: Why "Ramblings of a Reformed Romantic"? While the answer doesn't really need an explanation if you've actually read the blog, I'll try to explain it (she said without a hint of arrogance).

As becomes readily apparent when you read it, my natural writing style does not necessarily follow a logical thought progression, in fact one might call it wandering and random. By definition then, rambling is a fitting description of what I do, often or habitually roaming; wandering; lengthy and/or digressive. The analogy isn't perfect..."rambling" does seem to imply there's no point in the writing. (insert clever joke here)

Reformed is for my firmly held theological beliefs. I love God and long to know Him more. One of the most crucial kinds of knowledge is the knowledge of what God is like in salvation, which I believe John Calvin to have explained very well indeed for a fallible human. I believe God is sovereign and I can cast aside all anxiety in the knowledge that he has foreordained what is it be and it is working out for His glory (so many things I could say here...but I'll leave it there).

And last, and probably least, I am a hopeless romantic. I can be an idealist, a sentimental dreamer, imaginative and fanciful. Going through love poetry for school right now is just about a as good as it gets. ;) By definition, I am person who allows feelings of love to override common sense, though I hope that's not entirely true. A Romantic can also refer to someone who appreciates that period in history, literature and art, which I enjoy greatly.

All in all, a fitting title for my blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

But you can call me Kels...

Growing up, my family shortened my name to the mono-syllabic "Kels". It was totally natural, and I don't mind it at all. I never really noticed that it was a nickname until moving to Minneapolis. Then, through making new friends, I realized that it was a pretty good indicator of when people were comfortable around me. Usually, about a month or so into a relationship, people start using "Kels" when talking to/about me, even if they have no contact with my family or people who use "Kels". I usually never tell people this, because I'm still testing my theory. So far, the data has been very consistent, and as I assume the only people that would even think of reading this have known me for at least a year, I'm not too worried about spoiling the social experiment. How does this relate to the present? (I'm glad you asked.) In the last week, people in Res. have finally started calling me "Kels".

Not totally related, but somewhat interesting: I also answer/have in the past answered to "Kelso", "Ryn-Ring", "Ke-Ru-Shi", "Dawn", "Lady Rosalyn", "YOU", and "Elsie" (to name a few).

Monday, October 19, 2009

After losing blood flow to three of my fingers for about 20 minutes yesterday, I decided to do some research on Raynaud's syndrome to see if there was anything I could do to help prevent the symptoms. It was actually quite interesting. I already knew it had to do with poor circulation, but I was unaware it was related to overstimulated blood vessels; basically, being exposed to cold or stress causes them to constantly constrict, causing the blood to drain from those areas. Naturally then, habits like smoking or caffeine dependencies (here's where it hurts...) aggravate these conditions. So kicking that coffee habit might not be such a bad idea after all.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

3 days after I started, I finished my first blog post for work. Apparently having my writing represent the English department means I'm very meticulous. We'll see if it pays off.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wooten & Writer's block

I'm finding that the vaguer my outline is, the easier it is for me to write. ("Vaguer"? Sure, why not...) So when I'm given a topic and train of thought to follow, it's exceedingly difficult to make my mind cooperate and not just sit around having something remind me of something else, etc...
So I decided to listen to some sweet bass and read some Spurgeon. He spoke a great deal of obeying and valuing the Word and the restfulness of humility, far sweeter than the recklessness of pride. It's best summed up in his closing lines: "The ungodly may ridicule our deep reverence for the Word of God; but what of that? The prize of our high calling is a sufficient consolation for us. The rewards of obedience make us scorn the scorning of the scorner."

I appreciate these lines particularly because a few days ago I was involved in a heated discussion about "relevance" and the Word that seemed to end with my friend thinking that all translations of the Bible are valid; clearly the only reason that I had to protest for staying as close to the original Hebrew and Greek as possible was because I was an English major who would choose that for all original documents. For everyone else, an "easier Bible" (i.e. TNIV, NRSV, The Message, etc.) was perfectly acceptable and recommended; "the other translations are too hard to read and understand". It's an argument from laziness, not to mention illogical! It's saying, "My vocabulary isn't up to 3rd grade standards, and I'm not willing to make an effort to read the inerrant word of God on my own or recognize it as the blessing it is. I'd rather be spoonfed a paraphrased version with a shiny cover." Besides that, unlike any other primary document that's been handed down, this book was inspired by God. Yes, it needs to be translated to be intelligible to those of us who can't read ancient languages. No, there is not one magical formula for presenting the Gospel to all nations and peoples through all history. But it's very dangerous to attempt to "reinterpret" truth, and I fear we don't err on the side of caution as often as we should (not that I have an opinion or anything).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Desiring wisdom and discernment? Walk the Way.

"Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them." -Hosea 14:9

What a great passage to end your devotions with! In a major where I do significant amounts of reading, reading the Bible never ceases to amaze me. The writing is clearly as inspired as it is varied in style; from love poems to historical records and laws to letters of admonishment it flows with the common thread of the Gospel. So many authors, so much time spanned in its writing, yet such unity of mind! Not to mention the role of the Holy often in reading is there a word in season. How many times have you seemed to just turn to a particularly convicting passage at the very time you needed it? (I highly doubt I'm the only person that happens to.)
To relate the passage above to my numerous midterms this week/next week...a common prayer theme this week has been asking God for wisdom and understanding. We need to remember that the knowledge we're trying to cram into our minds is meaningless compared to the greatness of knowing God and walking in His ways. Thank God for study groups who pray together and admonish one another in truth!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

For my friends farther south, this is going to seem ludicrously early. But winter has arrived in Calgary, as evidenced by the snow and hail we've gotten this last week; there are icicles on the trees. Especially with Thanksgiving is this weekend (gotta admit, that's still odd to me), the school has erupted in bizarre mix of midterm stress and festive cheer. Everyone talks of what they're planning on eating when they go home. For the vegetarians, and those of us who generally try to eat much healthier than our cafeteria fare, the prospect is especially exciting. I think the most exciting part will be just getting out of Residence for the weekend. I really do enjoy living in Res, but when you have little mode of transport (or places to go off campus) you tend to just stay in the Ambrose circle for weeks on end. Going anywhere off-campus becomes an event. In the words of Sherlock Homes, " It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important as trifles." I'm quickly finding as a student, being able to find little joys in life is especially helpful.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

An Interview, Bad Recordings of Beautiful Music and Cold Feet (but not in that order)

Frostbite is an experience which will always remind me of Canada. Until moving here last year, I had managed never to get it, despite Minnesota's notorious winters. Honestly, I still haven't gotten it ( the nasty black, necrotic flesh sort) merely its precursor, the aptly named "frost nip". Curiously enough, it's something that once you've gotten it, seems to happen quite frequently and get progressively worse. Last night, I not only frost-nipped (?) my phalanges, but it moved up to the base of the metatarsals. Perhaps someday, I can aspire to this. (WARNING: these pictures are quite gross. Hence why I posted them...)

For those of you who will not be able to come to my choir concert, I will try to at least share the beauty of some of the pieces we're doing. Some of the sound quality is bad, but it's hard to find these pieces period, let alone a good recording of them...
For the Beauty of the Earth
Soon-Ah Will Be Done
Precious Lord
O Lux Beatissima (sound is particularly bad, but the choir isn't)
A Clare Benediction
O Magnum Mysterium
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent (Sorry, the solos great)

And to finally get to the first part of my title, I hopefully have an interview on Monday regarding possible work on campus; pray for me. We'll see how she goes...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On editing and the curious choir conundrum

This morning, I sat through a lecture given by a woman who is one of the top 5 editors in Canada. (which is apparently quite the accomplishment...) She had lots of helpful advice about jobs, but one thing I remember her mentioning was how a good editor knows when to change things and when to let them be; clearly it requires knowing what and who you are working with. (like there...I just ended a sentence with a preposition.) Not actually grammatically incorrect, though widely considered to be, we use things like this in speech all the time.

On a different note, it's curious to me how in choir practice, I can hit a high "a" with relative ease, but when practicing with smaller groups, I can hardly hit a 4 notes below that. It probably has a lot to do with how much more I warm up with the full choir...but it still seems odd.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Thriller. For some reason, that music video/song never grows old for me...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Makin' cider in the basement...

In the residential areas that surround Ambrose, there are many crab-apple trees. These apples, considered bitter and useless to the general population, become ripe and fall to the ground, wasted.
My roommate and I started eating them off the trees in passing, and then began storing them in our room. As we accumulated apples, we began to wonder what we could do with them...this led to our experiments with making apple juice. (which were quite successful, though primitive) Because it's made by boiling the apples (skins & all) the juice ends up being a dark pink color, and has a strong flavor. Yesterday, while making a batch, I ran across a container of cinnamon and some brown sugar...hence the title. While it's somewhat lacking in spice, for being almost entirely free, it tastes fabulous.

(for the record, this is partly why I haven't responded to emails for several days...)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ancient Chinese Proverb say:

I'm studying the roots of ancient civilization for several classes right now, starting "at the very beginning" as it were to try to understand where society has come from and where philosophies began. In my studies of today, I ran across an interesting quote attributed to Confucius, "The master said, 'I suppose I should give up hope. I have yet to meet the man who is as fond of virtue as he is of beauty in women.' ". Amusing that this was written thousands of years ago, but is still'd almost think human nature had something to do with it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My kingdom for a church...

In my quest to find a church family in Calgary, I have so far visited 2 churches:

Richmond Hill Baptist church : The people were warm and welcoming, and it was very inter-generational...and that's about all I can say in its defense. (besides the free lunch) The worship was rushed, almost apologetic, despite the fact that the musicians were quite good. There was very much an air of "we ought to sing something, so here's a song...once we've gotten through all of it we can sit down again, so bear with us". Not attractive. Did I mention that in the middle of the stage was a table with a mixer and baking ingredients on it? My first thought was something along the lines of , "I wonder how he's going to relate this to the parable of the rich young ruler..."; I have yet to be able to answer that. In the midst of his sermon (which was about being "plugged into God") he made a pie. Seriously. Absolutely unrelated to the sermon. I was severely tempted to turn around to see if this was odd to anyone else in the one seemed to think so. Needless to say, I'm not planning on making that my home.

Church #2 doesn't have a website, a friend of my roommate's asked us last night if we wanted to go try out this pentecostal church with him, so we went. In retrospect, I ought to have researched it myself. =) After missing our bus and walking in the rain, we finally arrived at a tiny, run-down chapel. (warning sign #1) Upon entering, we discovered not only did our arrival triple the amount of Caucasians present, but we increased the number of males by %30 and the number of people under 50 by about that much as well. Basically, the church was about 20 old, Jamaican women in outfits reminiscent of the Ascot scene in "My Fair Lady". After 2 hours of drawling choruses, meandering speeches from the congregation using "Praise the Lord!"/ "O, Jesus!" in the place of typical grammatical end marks, speaking in tongues, convulsing, and all that jazz, we deemed it was socially appropriate for us to leave. We had been hoping to find a ride home, but ended up walking back to school. (around an hour away)

All this to say, pray that I can find a good church home. I'll keep looking.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Volleyball, Pride and Prejudice, and Internet Woes

With a title like that, who needs explanation? ;)

Topic 1:
Our Ambrose Lions (women's volleyball) started their season by losing to St. Mary, despite an amazing show of team spirit from the stands.
Topic 2: Tragically, nearly half my floor had never seen Pride and Prejudice, so we decided to promptly remedy the situation. Since most of them haven't read it either, we decided to start with the newer, more brief version. So it plays in the background as I write. "Mr. Darcy..."
Topic 3: Have I complained to you recently about the poor signal strength and downloading capacity of the internet here? Today, I can't even load my gmail. Yesterday, I washed, dried, and put away my dishes before I was able to load one webpage. And as I sit and whine about the "troubles" in my life, I'm reminded of living in Cebu, visiting China, surrounded by such extreme poverty. How shallow and silly my problems seem when compared to real need.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oh, living with girls...

Today, our resident British seminary student came around asking for a "rubbish guitar". One of the girls on our floor was willing to loan her instrument out, but we were all curious as to what he needed it for; apparently, his girlfriend likes to hear him play, and he was going to visit her, so he decided to surprise her. =)
So now every girl on the floor is walking around with a silly smile, wishing their boyfriend was that thoughtful and had such a cute accent. (or wishing they had a boyfriend...)
" Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way..."-Hosea 10:12-13
My prayer, as I (and many of my friends) enter this independent stage of life, is that we do not trust our own way. That we fully depend on God and grow in holiness as we increase in wisdom and understanding.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Musings from my studies...

Philosophy: "Do the gods love piety because it is pious, or is it piety because they love it?" Applied to my life, does God love piety (or holiness) because it is holy, or is holiness holy because God loves it? Interesting it really true, as Plato quotes Socrates as saying, that "the unexamined life is not worth living", or would it be better to "abandon all learning and there will be no sorrow"? Is my professor correct when he says, "when you desire and seek the wisdom of God, you will always receive monotony and frustration"? I do agree with Lao Tze, "tending to the state is like tending to a small fish, poke it too much and it disintegrates", though his famous "the path is where the woods are not" doesn't seem to apply much on the prairies.
Literature: Beginning with anonymous medieval songs, many of which have as many as 20 different translations handed down through history, we compare two main kinds of writing:
"lyric" (referring to a brief, first-person, poem expressing a state of mind or process of perception which is set to music)
"ballad" (epic, dramatic, third-person story sung to a typically illiterate audience)
I, for one, appreciate the deep brevity of this lyric called "Western Wind":
Western wind, when will thou blow,
the small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms,
and I in my bed again!
Perhaps this is merely because I'm still acclimating to Calgary's dry climate, wind and a new bed. ;)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

And so it begins.

I am officially an American in Calgary; unpacked and settled into the dorms. As usual, God has provided exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask for or imagine. Classes start in two days.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oh, sweet irony.

In my packing, I came across an old notebook, in which I had started making a list, "Places to See Before I Die". I only came up with 3 places; India, Canada, and Mexico. Guess I can cross one of those off...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

So long, old friend...

With all of our family going separate ways, we recently realized none of us can keep our long-time feline companion. Ciao, Cleo! Glad to know you're going to a good home.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Music AND Lyrics?

Recently in a conversation with a friend, I made a reference to a lyric that had just been sung, and she looked surprised, and couldn't figure out what I was talking about. Through discussing it, I realized that somehow, she just doesn't notice lyrics unless they're highly repetitive. To be sure, this is not hard to do with some musical genres, (i.e. rap) and it certainly makes listening to songs with good beats and lyrics that you're morally opposed to easier. But knowing what exactly you're singing (or listening to) contributes so much to the music! Not to say you should only listen to songs you know the lyrics to; how else would you learn new songs? But I think we need to pay attention to what we're listening to.
Imagine talking with someone who wouldn't give you a relevant reply; did nothing except smile and nod unless you tediously repeated whatever you were saying...some might call that a one-sided conversation. I suppose that's what bothers me so much about people who listen to music without listening to it. Music just seems like something that needs to be appreciated and valued for both for its sound and its meaning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bite your tongue?

The ability to remain silent can be a virtue, but there's a fine line between reserve and cowardice. When to speak? What to say? It seems easier to just say nothing. Is it fear or wisdom that makes me hesitant? As much as my inhibitions are sometimes frustrating, I'm glad they're there. Without them, I would likely say even more things I would regret.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ok, the pears are making me hungry.

Just some pictures I took recently...

Monday, August 3, 2009

1 down...

I just finished "reading" the first Harry Potter book (Sorcerer's Stone; it was an audio book on youtube) I now almost regret boycotting the whole Harry Potter scene all these years...but the fun that came from aggravating my obsessed friends was worth it. As much as I agree with the Christian world's censure of the series because of the blatant witchcraft, Rowling is a very good storyteller. Though it's not commonly thought of as such in our culture, I believe writing is an art form. After all, what separates classic literature from harlequin novels? What makes a book stand the test of time? Can the incorrect worldview or bad subject matter of an otherwise good author be overlooked for the sake of enjoying the work itself?

"In the presentation of an artwork, there are two people involved-the creator, and the beholder. It is possible for a creator to craft a painting of great beauty, recognized as pleasing by all eyes, and for the creator to claim, in his own heart, all the glory...However, a beholder of the same work, who recognizes God as the source and means of all the pleasing creativity fleshed out through the hand of a man, could respond with praise to God. Praise to God for God's work in creating the artist with such skill. Praise to God for a veil lifted and a truth now seen through a work of art. Praise to God for the grace given to that artist as he was disciplined in the work of his hands. Praise to God that there are people who can express truths in ways that are different from how he is able to express them. Praise to God for his diversification of talent and function within mankind. Praise to God for all the enjoyment He gives us to experience in artistic expression...Both Godly-worship and idolatry can result from beholding the same work."
(The Affections of the Heart in Art-Jason Harms)

That is how I can redeem my reading, or enjoyment of any art form. This is how I'm called to live out all aspects of my life, doing all to the the glory of God. Discernment is indeed important, and sin must be called sin. But choosing to banish all things someone finds questionable stinks of legalism. I praise God for art, and pray that it be used to spread His fame. Can I read books full of witchcraft to the glory of God? Lord, give me grace. I've still got 6 left.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hoping for a ram...

As I was updating my resume today, it occurred to me: I've never had a "real" job before. I've always been asked to work for friends of mine. I've either been paid cash or in some creative fashion. (i.e. my "scholarship" from VAC for being the ministry assistant) No taxes, no benefits. It's worked splendidly. But this time I have no reputation to fall back on, and have to compete for on-campus jobs because they're all I can do on my student visa.
Jehovah-Jireh--The LORD sees.
Am I crazy to put myself into this position? No. God will provide.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Lord gives...the Lord takes away

Yesterday afternoon, a someone stopped by looking for a copy of the church's annual meeting. "No problem", I thought. There had been nearly 30 copies of it lying around the office. (had been being the key phrase...) Apparently when I recycled the extras a couple weeks ago, I neglected to notice the copy in my filing cabinet was missing. So I left my desk to go check in a different cabinet; no luck. So after apologizing and kicking myself internally, I sat back down at the computer to work. Strange...I had been working on a Word document, but it's not open anymore..."Did I save any of the work I've done since lunch?" (Covers face with hands) 2 hours of tedious formatting work, gone.
On the bright side, making lots of stupid mistakes right before I leave this job will make it easier for someone else to fill the position and look really good doing it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

At Last....(not to be confused with the Etta James song)

Yes, even in a weedy lake, kayaking is one of the world's most perfect leisure activities. And considering it's nearly August, I've been anxious to get out on the water. July 17. Better late than never...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tour de Force at the MIA

Combining old movies, art and biking? Whoever thought up this should be promoted. (Or at least get some chocolate. ) It would be worth going just to see the bikes, then you throw in the world-class art institute with it's free admission (and the fact that there's a great pre-raphelite exhibit right now) and there really are few better things you can do with a fine summer evening. Oh, did I mention the free beer? Yeah. There's free beer. And a complimentary rock concert. I love Minneapolis.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Well, that's a first...

I slept in a parked car at a gas station last night. Nothing quite like curling up in shotgun and waking up every hour, on the hour between 1am and 6am to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit. Brushing your teeth and changing in restaurant bathrooms. Consuming large amounts of coffee in an attempt to keep you focused on the road. Road trips are fun. =)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fruit, nuts and chocolate, oh my!

In preparation for our 22 hour drive down to Minneapolis, I went shopping today and stocked up on some foods. Here's what's on the menu:

Though the label "vegan" scares most people away from the almond crunch, I don't know a single person who's tried them and doesn't now try to steal my office stash. (not that I have a hidden stash of food at the office...)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Reflecting on the blessings of being from "the land of liberty"

Don't misunderstand me, I am aware of America's faults. Having lived nearly a third of my life off my native soil has given me a unique view of my country's impact on the world, for good and for ill. The whole of western civilization has much room to improve. That being said, I'm proud to be an American; to bear the name of a country that has struggled for independence from its very beginning. I'm glad to have absorbed that passion for efficiency and quality, for welcoming people from every nation and becoming one people from many. Yes, I'm British and German/French as far as roots go, but it would never occur to me to call myself any of those. I'm an American, free and brave. As a woman, I can decide what to do with my life. I can be educated, work, and live on my own without fear. I will not be forced into an arranged marriage. I have the freedom to go to church where I choose without persecution (going to China showed me just how beautiful and delicate this freedom is). Praise God for America! Mock my country if you will, but my national pride remains. I'll keep my citizenship, thank you.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What fun is communicating merely with words?

Saying "I don't know" while equally expressing it in body language seems to double the impact.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

20 songs that always make me smile...

Everyone's got them; that song that gets blasted when it plays on the radio, the album that gets listened to on repeat endlessly. So here is a non-exhaustive list of some of my favorites ( in no particular order):

1. "When I Fall in Love"-Nat King Cole (actually, any of his songs do the trick)

2. "Three Little Birds" -Bob Marley (yeah, it's a stoner song. But it's not too far from Luke 12:22-30....)

3. "Here Comes The Sun" -The Beatles (most Beatles songs work too)

4."If I Had a Million Dollars"- Barenaked Ladies (couldn't find a good version of the full song, but this was funny)

5."Think"-Aretha Franklin ( a shower song if I've ever heard one)

6."Your Smiling Face" -James Taylor (needs no explaination)

7. "Le Cygne" ( The Swan)- Camille Saint-Saëns (as played by Yo-yo Ma. Anything with a cello just melts my's so lovely.)

8. "Carolina in My Mind" -Alison Krauss (If more country artists sounded like this, the world would be a better place. She's what makes bluegrass palateble. )

9." I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" -Jim Croce (music has a way of making hard things easier to say...couldn't find his original, so pick a cover, any cover.)

10. "The 59th Street Bridge Song"-Simon & Garfunkel (makes me want to dance in the street and dress like a hippie. )

11. "Geek in the Pink"- Jason Mraz (this version is almost better than the album one...either way it's a fun one.)

12. "I Saw the Light" -David Crowder Band (reminds me of singing gospel music down south.)

13. "Turn Me On"-Norah Jones (Love her voice. Can't emphasize that enough.)

14. "What a Wonderful World" -Louis Armstrong (how can you not smile? )

15."Hit the Road Jack"-Ray Charles ( a great dancing song.)

16." 19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)"-Gorillaz (I have my brothers to thank for this one. Who doesn't like giant moose?)

17."Just the Two of Us"- Will Smith (Gotta love a father/son song. )

18. "We Will Rock You" -Queen (it's a guilty pleasure band. I love their vocals and the beats rock. )

19. "Thriller" -Michael Jackson (and no, this isn't just because he's recently desceased.)

20. "Variations"-Andrew Lloyd Webber (sadly, this version is both too slow and bad sound quality...but it's a great song, and there's a cello. 'Nuff said.)