Friday, December 29, 2006

Giving from the heart of Jesus

I am excited for Passion this year, maybe a little more than the last 2 years just due to Passion Conferences stated purpose of promoting social justice this year. They've taken offerings before, but never did they ask us all to donate towels and socks to the homeless community of Atlanta, and never did they show us up front all they ways we can give and serve our world. This link goes to a pdf file on the Passion07 site telling about those opportunities to give. If you're interested in those ministries, please contribute. But everyone, pray for the nearly 30,000 college students, ministry leaders, and volunteers who will be swarming Atlanta from January 1-4. Ask Go to open all our hearts to be the hands and feet of Christ with the resources and blessings we have been given.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

On Turning 30

In 30 minutes I will officially embark on a milestone, known as turning 30. This year, my birthday will include a trip to the Mass RMV to renew my driver's license. I could have done this via mail or online, but I want a new picture to replace the somewhat bad one from 5 years ago...and I also waited to the last minute, as usual. I guess my excuse is my parent's visit and my birthday's proximity to Christmas, but it really was just poor planning!

This birthday also has me remembering the last one, which included an uneventful dinner at a Japanese hibachi restaurant with a good friend and a not-so-close one. Then a surprise the next day as two great friends arrived in a car full of balloons, birthday cake, and presents at 8am when I just thought we were driving to Nashville for Passion06. One of those friends went to worship God full-time this year, so remembering her on this birthday is special. Passion07 will be full of her memories too as that was the last time we saw each other on this earth.

I'm not afraid of 30. I've done my fair share in this life--travelled to Europe 4 times, played first chair clarinet in my high school band, finished a master's degree, had my nose broken, sang karaoke on a cruise ship, lived in the country, lived in the city, and loved. My life is full of beautiful friends, a loving family, and a mosaic of ministry that I couldn't have imagined. God has plans for my life that are larger than I can comprehend. I'm glad that this year included some great highs and painful lows. My character has been shaped and formed by all of it. I am a better person for it.

To the God who formed me and knows me by name, thank you for this past year of breath. May I walk worthy of every moment of the next.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Space, Peace, and My Aching Back

I rediscovered this week that it's hard to think with people around. I've gotten really used to being alone, controlling my time, and thinking a lot. That's probably why I blog quite a bit--I just need to let out all those things I'm thinking. Anyway, my parents visited for 8 days and I dropped them off at the airport to go back to Pensacola tonight. I'm happy to be able to control my space, time, and tv again. I enjoy having it off more than on, but my mother is a tv addict. I'm also really happy to sleep in my own bed again. My nearly 30 year-old back is starting to react to 8 days on my overly-cushy sofa. I'm going to enjoy my bed for the 3 days before I run off to Atlanta and not really sleep for 5 days. I'm ready to rest up.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Can't Sleep Again

I'm in my cycle of staying up really late and sleeping really late again. I gave myself a pass this week because I was sick, but I think discipline is going to have to reign again. Mom and Dad arrive on Tuesday night, so I know they will be up and around bright and early every morning. That doesn't allow for much late sleeping when you're occupying the same 625 square feet as 2 other people.

I just finished watching Talladega Nights, which was really hilarious to me in its deadpan fashion of horrible redneck humor. I think it is funnier to me after having enjoyed 3 fabulous years on the Redneck Riviera. It was slightly off-color (of course) at times, but the special features on the DVD took the cake. I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

When I was busy not sleeping late last night, I finished up the book Dear Church, which is absolutely fantastic. I read it in 2 days. It's penned by a 20something woman who explores some of our generations questions/frustrations about today's institutional church. The book is well-grounded in research and in touch with thoughts and conversations I've had with a number of people. I passed it off right away to a friend in my church, but I think I'm going to spend more time digging in it and working on each chapter's discussion questions. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Pursuit of Happiness

I was a movie maven this week--I caught 2 flicks and didn't work much at all. Weird, but that's my life now...on to the review!

The first film of the week was The Holiday--an overly-complicated amuse bouche (I've been watching Top Chef too much) that could have really done it for me. Despite Jude Law's obvious eye-candy factor, I was pretty much sick of his and Cameron Diaz' story line after the first 30 minutes. I do not really care about the hot people getting together, especially when it's just SO manufactured. Don't let me get started on Diaz' acting (or lack thereof)...I left this film feeling like I really wanted to see more of the Kate Winslet-Jack Black storyline. There was a unique sub-plot with their characters that I wished Nancy Meyers had spent more time on. Argh. At least I only paid $5 for the ticket...

Compelled by Thursday's Oprah appearance, I went to see The Pursuit of Happyness on Friday afternoon. The film was well-acted, gritty, and heart-felt. It gave me an even greater appreciation for the effects of poverty and desire to serve the urban poor. I would have loved it more if I hadn't been so off-put by the ending. Of course it's a happy one, but the message rang hollow. It seemed very much like the final message of the film was that happiness is found in money. I find that a sorely depressing thought and one that its utterly false. I wish they could have continued the inner monologue of the main character, Chris, and his musings about what Thomas Jefferson meant in the Declaration of Independence concerning the film's title concept. I think that pursuit is never-ending in this earthly body. I think it's what keeps us longing for home.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Vid of the Day

This is a gem of a video--a nice little spoof on the Mac vs PC ads.

ICA, Illness, and Victory

On Sunday, Rosana and I got to enjoy opening day at Boston's first new museum in 100 years-the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). They hosted a 12 hour free open house and it seemed like the whole city showed up. We arrived less than 2 hours after the opening and had to wait 2 hours after that to get in. But the place was worth it. Outside of the art, the building itself is an amazing addition to a somewhat forgotten waterfront in Southie. Check it out.

The rest of the week (so far), I've been sick. It's my first cold in a long time, possibly since last winter. It made me cancel my client yesterday and lose out on a babysitting job. Argh. I spent most of the day laying around yesterday, watching movies and intermittently sleeping. Today I forced myself to be more active, cleaning my apartment, sitting up and walking around more. It helped, but I still have a runny nose and I'm sneezing quite a bit. Much better than yesterday's loopiness.

Despite my poor physical condition yesterday, the capper of the day was a thick envelope that arrived from Boston. It was addressed to Jennifer A. Johnston, Esquire (hehe, who's that?). I opened it expectantly and was pleasantly surprised to discover that my little team was on the winning end of a legal trouncing. The unemployment hearing examiner sided with us on nearly every point of the law. Wow. Very cool.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I was beginning to think that my leap into an uncertain financial future was bunk. I've spent way too long not really doing much and starting to have to THINK about money again. I really hate that stuff--it makes my head hurt and starting thinking about what I need to DO to make it better. The mind races...

Well, I turned the corner as of a couple weeks ago. The money stuff wasn't really happening, but I committed to take that fear captive because I trust that God is my provider. I've had to speak my faith out loud about that over and over again, but the peace is creeping in. I can feel that warmth surrounding me. When my monthly paycheck from the main job was less than expected, I praised God for it and spoke my trust out loud. I can do nothing but trust and move on with His mission for my life, which includes volunteering at Passion07.

This is my 3rd year in a row as a volunteer and that week in January is always huge for me. This is the first time money's been an issue and the first time I had to fly there and the first time I don't have 2 friends to help foot the hotel bill. Of all the years for it to be expensive, it had to be this one. I booked the flight last month when the prices dipped a bit. I did it as an act of commitment. But I've been waiting on the hotel reservation until this week.

I've spent an inordinate amount of time on choosing the right combination of price and location. I'm priced out (and in most cases sold out) of downtown Atlanta, so I researched other areas in walking distance from MARTA. The area most reasonably priced and meeting the MARTA criteria is Perimeter--about a 25 minute subway ride from downtown. (I figure this is OK since that's about how long it takes commuters to get to Boston from here in Quincy and they do it in droves!) I found a fantastic rate at a Hilton Suites--$59/night if prepaid. I waited on the rate until I got my paycheck and...the rate was GONE. I was a little bit freaked. After several more hours of searching, I found a Hyatt Place in the same area for $69/night without prepayment. Perfect. But still that bill for 5 nights left a lump in my throat. How the heck am I going to float that financially without getting into debt again??


In October, I signed up with a babysitting temp service that pays very well. I hadn't yet gotten a job, but signed up for a weekly Friday morning gig that starts in January and runs through May. Then, I got a call at 10am Thursday for a 9 hour job that afternoon/evening. The kids were great and I worked for 10.5 hours. Then last night I SWEAR I dreamt about the name Alexa and I got a call this afternoon to babysit tonight for a family with 2 kids, one named Alexa. Weird. These kids were great too.

These 2 unexpected jobs netted me over $250 for playing and putting kids to bed. All I can say is that is such a blessing! I've never been so happy to work in my life. I've never been so grateful to know that God will provide a way to make the money I need to buy Christmas presents, eat, have a place to live, and volunteer at Passion. I'm understanding sacrifice in a fuller way and it makes all of those experiences that much sweeter. God is building up some kind of character of dependence, faith, and humility in me that I don't really understand, but I know it's for His glory. Lord, just make me look like You.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The World According to Moxie

In lieu of a proper blog, I decided to opine about a new-old beverage I tried tonight. This curiousity is the soda Moxie. Apparently it was the first soda ever patented in the US and it is the origin of the general usage of the word 'moxie' in the English lexicon. It still survives in spotty distribution--one of those places being New England. I've seen this soda on the shelf since I moved back here, but never tried it out. It came up in conversation last week so I bought a 1L bottle of Diet Moxie at Hannaford's tonight.

After putting away the groceries, I made myself a small glass to try it out. The aroma was not promising, but I powered on, trying to conjure up memories of my first Dr Pepper (at a Long John Silvers in Williamsville, NY circa 1986--good times, good times), straining to remember if I was ever hesitant about drinking that sweet nectar. Recalling nothing, I took my first sip. It was all root beer, club soda, and medicine, then WHAM a bitter aftertaste that rivals some porters and most cough syrups. According to wikipedia, the aftertaste is less strong in the diet version--I am VERY glad I didn't buy the regular. This stuff is disgusting. How in the world is it still in business?? Good ol' wiki said it's becoming more popular again because of its mixability with alcohol. I'd rather just go for the straight shot if my only mixer was this stuff. Take my word for it. I think I've ruined my taste buds.