Sunday, November 30, 2014

#161 He is Slow to Speak


In church today we had an awesome Thanksgiving service called 'Thunch'.

It began with food, hence, 'Thunch'.

Personally, I find this is always a great way to start church.

After a short message, our pastor gave an open invitation for anyone to share something they were thankful for this year.  As congregants stood up to share personal stories of God's faithfulness during the year, I felt the tug inside.

The problem was that by the first testimony, I was already holding back tears, and it didn't help that two of the following testimonies started with tears.

I can cry at the simplest of heart warming stories, so considering this was a major PMS day for me, it was no doubt in my mind that if I had raised my hand for the microphone I would have instantly began to stutter and blubber as I gagged on the massive frog in my throat.

It's so much easier for me to write my emotions.  Some people are excellent orators.  They can say absolutely nothing, but the simple delivery of their words mesmerizes (hello, politicians?).  For me, I have found writing to be the best way to convey my true emotion.  If I try to speak without a script, it comes out sounding extremely uneducated, and that isn't even counting the massive number of and's and um's.

That said I have so much to be thankful for, always, but especially this past year.

If you follow my blog, you know I lost my job in June due to my school closing.  Initially, I felt little worry over this.  I knew God had it under control.  I did my part in searching for jobs, and busied myself in the meantime with my blog, other writing projects, exercising, music, and cooking.  After two seemingly sure things passed me by, I started to feel the tug of worry within.  I had two and a half months of unemployment left.  What would I do when it ran out?

Just as my worries began they were squashed when one of my sure things came through and I was offered a job position.

A second thing I have to be thankful for, which certainly would have set me a wreck with tears had I tried to speak it, is restored relationships.  A year ago, my younger brother, Joel, and I were barely speaking to one another.  Our relationship had spiraled from one of best friends who hung out practically every other day into awkward acquaintances who suffered through spending two hours together at monthly family functions.  Today, he and his wife sat with Hubby and me at our church.  At this same 'Thunch' service a year ago, I would have said it was impossible for our relationship to find healing.  But God crafted our broken pieces into a bond more sincere, more loving, and more worthwhile than even a fraction of what we had before.

Sometimes I know I have faith like the centurion in Matthew 8: 5-13.  He asks Jesus to heal his servant and when Jesus asks if he would like him to come to heal him the centurion's response is, "...just say the word, and my servant will be healed".

This story is one of my favorites in the entire Bible because I read it and have instant respect for this man.  So many people today want you to prove yourself, they want you to stand on your head to show your ability, to show your worth.  Yet, this man knew for certain that Jesus was who he said he was.  He didn't waste his time forcing him to put on a show to impress his friends and family, he faithfully asked that Jesus would do what only he could do.

I know what Jesus has the power to do and that I need only to believe he will do it for it to be done.  But just as strong as my faith can be at times, I know lurking behind, hidden in the shadows, is unbelief that the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9 unabashedly admits to have.  Jesus tells him, "...all things are possible to him who believes," and the man answers, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."

Again, another favorite passage of mine, because how can you fault this man for his honesty?  Haven't we all been in his shoes at one point or another?  We want to stand strong in our faith, but that unbelief creeps in and, just like this father, we suddenly need to seek God's help in battling not only the problem we currently face, but also, our unbelief.

Most often it isn't that we haven't taken all the proper steps towards what we want or need.  We apply for the jobs.  We try to say 'I'm sorry' in the most sincere way possible.  But as soon as we've done our part, we expect God to instantly move.  We forget that even when we are waiting, God has everything under control and is simply hoping that we, like the centurion, will look to him and say, "No need to come home with me God, no need to show yourself with a display of fireworks and fanfare--just say the word and I know Your Will will be done in my life."

God orchestrated what job I would eventually find and the timing in which I would find it.  God moved in my brother's heart and mine to prepare us, in his timing, for our reconciliation.  

He did the hardest part!  I needed to only believe.

In all things give thanks.  Give thanks for the things He has done, but also, give thanks for the things that you are believing He will do--because He will certainly do them.

Monday, November 24, 2014

#160 He Went to College

Weekend I’d Forget
Saturday, Hubby and I visited my friend, Megan, at college.  Her college just so happens to be both of our alma mater: Rowan University.  

I have oh so many stories I could tell about Megan, but let me just start with this:
Me and Megan

On the left, we have me with Megan at her high school graduation.  On the right, is Megan with me at my high school graduation.  

Talk about a great way to feel old.

Here are some more fun facts about our lives together:

*I've known Megan since she was four-years-old.  

*I started babysitting Megan and her older sister, Emily, when I was sixteen.

*We first bonded over nail polish and Disney movies.

*I taught third grade at the private school we both graduated from.  She helped out in my classroom during her sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school.

When Megan decided to go to Rowan, I was not only excited because I knew what a great school she was choosing, but also because it meant I would have a reason to go back to my old stomping grounds.

Megan's dorm is in the same building that Hubby stayed in during our second year at Rowan.  It was surreal being in the building again, and we both somehow remembered the rooms as far larger than they actually are.

One thing I love about Megan is that she is incredibly crafty and super motivated.  While I was putting my Christmas tree up two weeks ago, this is what Megan was doing in the common area of her dorm room:


I think the paper towel logs and tissue paper flame was my favorite part.

 Megan and her roommate also cut out amazingly intricate snowflakes and hung them over their couches.


After we spent some time with Megan, Hubby and I visited the bookstore--which is now in a Barnes and Noble.*

*How come everything gets better at your college once you leave?  In addition to the Barnes and Noble there is a cutesy row of shops within walking distance from the college.

We may or may not have spent a ridiculous amount of money on clothing to show our school pride.*

*In our defense, they have developed a fantastic new design for our school mascot: "The Prof", aka, an owl.

After coffee, we headed to my real real old stomping grounds: the music building.

Though I was a member of the orchestra and string ensemble, I have always appreciated the talent produced by the Rowan Opera Company and its directors, Marian Stieber and Jon Garrison.   


Though it would have been a real treat to attend a full production of an opera, with the orchestra in the pit, the "Evening of Scenes" that they arranged was a nice taste of seven different famous operas.  My favorite was the Flower Duet from "Lakeme".   

We decided we wouldn't wait so long to return and are hoping to make it back in the spring to see Mozart's "The Magic Flute".

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

#159 He Endures Music He Dislikes

Weekend I’d Forget

Naturally, Weekend I'd Forget has found its way to Tuesday again.

I'm totally okay with this.

Not really, but I'll get over it.

This weekend was absolutely the best.  Before I get to my positively favorite part, I'll tell you what came in as second runner up: Pie tasting at Johnson's Farm.

Hubby and I went to their first annual pie tasting last year and we were not disappointed.  The $3 admission goes directly to Urban Promise of Camden to help provide meals to 600 individuals.  With that admission fee visitors get to taste every single pie that Johnson's Farm bakes on their premises--and trust me, it is more than just a few.


This year, we also had the treat of tasting meatballs and ziti from Roselli's Italian Market which is located just down the street from Johnson's.  Their sauce was divine, in fact, it was so delicious I literally could have slurped a cupful sans ziti or meat.


My favorite pie is still Johnson's sweet potato pie, though the apple lattice and cherry were tempting me to place them in first place.  Johnson's sweet potato pie has a lighter and more refreshing taste than the typical pumpkin pie--though I still wouldn't pass up a slice of their pumpkin if it was at my Thanksgiving dessert table.

Although the pie tasting was great fun, nothing could beat my Saturday afternoon spent in Hershey, PA listening to the rocking sensational tunes of Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO).  For a few years now I have been wanting to go to one of their concerts and finally Hubby made it happen, in spite of his personal preferences.


If you love Christmas and have never heard of TSO, please, do yourself a favor and immediately buy all their Christmas CDs. You will not be disappointed.

That is, unless you like frilly Christmas music that sounds like it belongs in the seventeenth century.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about traditional Christmas music here and there, but sometimes an electric guitar screaming out Joy to the World is just the right touch to make Christmas come alive.


I was, of course, immediately inspired by their violinist who dramatically ran all over the stage playing his electric violin.  Although, I think for dramatic emphasis he allows his bow to become ridiculously broken of some of its hairs.  There is no way that the style or amount of notes he played would ever make so many hairs come loose from a bow.*

*Note: If you have no idea what I'm talking about--ignore my rant.


It was clear that the members of TSO are not merely musicians, but they are also entertainers.  They knew exactly how to involve the audience and get them hyped for each and every song they perform.


While there were five main performers (two electric guitars, one bass, one keyboardist, and the electric violin) there were also vocal soloists, backup singers, a small strings section, drummer, and another pianist.  I always wondered how one might become a part of the strings section (because, naturally life on the road at Christmastime is clearly one of the things I aspire towards---not!) and was interested to learn that they hire their strings section from the local symphony orchestra.  The group at our performance were part of the Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra.


It was the perfect kick off to the start of the holiday season.  Don't hate me, but my Christmas tree has been up for a week now and my heart jumps a little in excitement when I drive by other homes with Christmas trees that sit beside windows shining proudly for all to see.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#158 He Hangs Things For Me

Weekend I’d Forget

I know, I know, it's Tuesday.

Still I didn't want to forget to post about my weekend, so today it will be short and sweet.

Remember the exciting weekend I had a few weeks ago at Ikea?  After waiting for time, then finding the time to paint the spice racks, then some more waiting for Hubby, he finally put them up for me in the kitchen.*

*I know I could have attempted to hang them myself, but me and hanging things just don't get along.  Unless it is a simple nail and hammer kind of deal, Otherwise, I will end up either ruining the wall, putting fifty holes in the wall, or making everything uneven.  It's a patience problem.


Now all my spices are in one organized space instead of crammed on the tiny shelves over my sink where I would reach for one spice and three others would come tumbling down, usually into a sink filled with dirty dishes.

The only problem is that we bought five shelves and they are already jam packed.*  Yikes.

*Note: I just now realized I cut off the fifth shelf from this picture, but believe me, it's there.

In other news, I got a job!  I am so thrilled, and excited, and ecstatic, and all those other emotions of joy over this opportunity.  But that may be the reason why, occasionally, Weekend I'd Forget might just end up publishing on a Tuesday.

Monday, November 3, 2014

#157 He is a Monkey

Weekend I’d Forget
Halloween 2014 (4)

Halloween has never been a major holiday for me.  In fact, growing up, my brothers and I weren't allowed to celebrate it.  Instead, we celebrated the harvest.  As you can imagine, our heads hung low every November 1st when our friends came to school parading their treasures from the night before.*

As is typical for youngest sibling behavior, Jonathan rebelled and rejected the No-Halloween-Policy.  It started with innocent photos taken in places like Wal-Mart with their skeleton displays.  It led to any spooky-vampire-ghoulish-bloody merchandise Jonathan could manage to get his hands on prominently placed in all corners of the living room during the months of September and October.

At least a month before Halloween this year, Jonathan found a sumo wrestler costume in Target.  It boasted a battery operated fan and that it was one-size fits all which made me instantly believe it would be a complete waste of his remaining $25 birthday gift card.

Yet, buy it we did.  He planned to wear it to his church Harvest festival the day before Halloween and in the days that preceded it my mother and I tried to get him to try it on, fearing it wouldn't fit and we would be stuck with a confused and stubborn Jonathan.

He refused to try it on until the day of the festival, and thank God, it fit.


I think it was the best costume he has ever bought.  People cleared the way for him to walk by.  People he knew belly bumped him.  Strangers asked to take pictures with him.


Ordinarily I don't give out candy in my town.  Since I wasn't raised on Halloween, buying candy for kids I hardly know has never really appealed to me.  However, Jonathan had convinced me to buy him a second Halloween costume.  In exchange, I told him he would come over on Halloween and give out candy.  

Halloween 2014 (2)

As a monkey.

Halloween 2014 (1)

It was quite the realistic mask, I felt like I was hanging out with a cast member from Planet of the Apes.  We found it at Party City when my brother, Joel, put it on to be silly.  Unlike most masks, the mouth moves with it.  Immediately, my husband and Jonathan both wanted one.

At $50 each.

Altogether that's the price of four sumo costumes, people.

Halloween 2014 (3)

I'll admit, it was fun to be a monkey for a few hours, hence why it made it to the prominent place of my favorite part of the weekend.  The most interesting thing I found was the way people treated Jonathan when he wore the mask.  

With the mask on, Down syndrome was not the most prominent thing about him.  With the mask on, people came to the door, laughed or hesitated at his mask, took their candy, and were on their way.  The few times he had the mask off I heard sweet voices saying hello, teenagers calling him 'buddy' and asking gently how many pieces of candy they could take from the bowl he was pushing towards them.

Though I loved the mask on him, I think I like life better with it off.