Friday, December 31, 2010

Tolkien at Year's End...

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
-- J.R.R. Tolkien

The last day of the old year.  A time for reflection and resolution...

Spent some time with someone a few nights ago and was reminded of the wonderful gift it is to be friends with a person who can always answer the question, "so what are you reading?"  So few people read nowadays, and finding a Tolkien lover is an added friendship bonus :)  Our bookish convo reminded me that winter is possibly the best season for enjoying tales of hobbits and elves and kings, so I am taking my Tolkien down from the shelf and revisiting those old friends...

I am praying that my relationship with the Lord in 2011 will be one of renewal and restoration -- I am trusting that some of the "frost" of the past year has not damaged the deepest roots of who I am in Christ.  Currently, I'm reading 1 John.  Five chapters.  Immense truth.  This year, I want to rediscover my King :)

Happy New Year, everyone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Got my first spray tan last night.  It was hilarious and, thankfully, not like the episode of Friends when Ross goes in for his spray-on tan.  Thankfully, mine was not a spray booth; mine was actually applied by airbrush by a lovely woman named Michelle at Island Tan in Columbia, SC.  I highly recommend Michelle, as she takes away any question of whether or not to count "Mississippi-less-ly" or not.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Grades Are Finished.

The three sweetest words of any semester. 

And now, to celebrate grades being uploaded, faxed, copied and completed -- and in an attempt to continue teaching even AFTER my courses are finished, I pass along this epic wisdom for the ages.  Office-style. 

Enjoy, my friends. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Careful of the Icy Patch

The fact that someone on youtube made a montage of "the icy patch" clips from Muppet Family Christmas absolutely MADE MY DAY :)

Here's to family, old movie memories, and being careful of The Icy Patch!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ridiculously, Fabulously Asinine

"You'll read it.  And then you'll read it again. 
And then you'll hug it." 

-- the ACTUAL words to a radio advertisement I heard today for a recently-published novel.

It was so ludicrous, I couldn't help but adore it.  In all its ludicrous-ity-ish-ness.   I mean, really.  REALLY.  What an asinine way to advertise a novel.  Sigh. 

"Hey honey, I bought you this book -- it's so good, you're gonna hug it."

...whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

I read Psalm 84 the other night, and I was struck by the beauty of the word "pilgrimage" -- the newer translations don't use it (they favor "highways" instead). That small difference captured my attention, and I found myself journeying on a mini-pilgrimage through the translations, haha.  I read and re-read Psalm 84 in the NIV... the NASB... the ESV... the Living Translation... Sigh.  The beauty of scripture never ceases to amaze me, and I live with such bounty -- all the various translations, all the places online to read it!  It's incredible, as are the truths in this Psalm.  The bold, italicized verses were my favorites this time around...

Psalm 84 (NIV)

For the director of music. According to gittith.[b] Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
 1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
   LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
   LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
   they are ever praising you.[c]

 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
   whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
   they make it a place of springs;
   the autumn rains also cover it with pools.[d]
7 They go from strength to strength,
   till each appears before God in Zion.
 8 Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
   listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield,[e] O God;
   look with favor on your anointed one.
 10 Better is one day in your courts
   than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
   the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
   from those whose walk is blameless.
 12 LORD Almighty,
   blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brew Me a Cup

Brew me a cup for a winter's night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I'll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.
~Minna Thomas Antrim

Friday, December 3, 2010

Doing My Part

Today on facebook, one of my friends posted that she was super-excited to be going on a date with her husband.  Apparently, folks, married people go on dates.  Married people with older children go on dates.  But married people with young children do NOT go on dates!  As someone who is unmarried but a lover of great dates, I feel that we, the single people of America, must put an end to this travesty. 

Therefore I declare this Christmas ... drumroll please ...

The Christmas I Give A Little Time to Help Married People Go On Dates.

 I googled "free babysitting coupons" and found a snazzy-looking one at this site:

I'm printing some, adding a few Christmas cookies, and attempting to do my part to Help Married People Go On Dates this Christmas :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oaky Afterbirth

Michael Scott: [after sipping wine] That is sort of an oaky afterbirth.

Jim Halpert: What was that?

The Office, "Dinner Party" episode, season four

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I may not be in love.  I may not be anyone's Mommy.  I may not drive the flashiest car, live in the nicest part of town, go on luxury vacations, or have the metabolism of a 15 year old gymnast :)  I may, despite my best efforts, hurt people I love.  I may struggle with "letting go" -- I may forgive "too easily" (for you, A). 

I may get bossy when around my sisters; I may laugh too loudly at crass jokes and secretly feed the cat that hangs out in my parents' front yard (even though my Mom has "expressly forbidden" the feeding of stray cats).  I may cry at movies at which no one else cries (for you, C).

I may not look the way I'd like or act the way I should or be as strong as I dream of being. I may fight when I should flee, flee when I should fight, and leave best friends in awkward situations to fend for themselves (ask Jiggers about the walmart trip in college). 

But tonight, I'm just so extremely thankful -- for this abundant, merciful, and love-filled life I've been given.  I am not deserving.  If only I could give this day to someone who didn't have a good day today.  I wish I could wrap up the comfort found in a loving family, a cheerful home and a deep sense of belonging and gift it to someone who doesn't have any of those things. 

If that "someone" is you -- I'm praying for you tonight.  You are not forgotten.  May you be ridiculously and extravagantly blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth...

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. -- Psalm 145:8

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -- Psalm 34:18 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Catching a Fly Ball

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base. 
~Dave Barry

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happiness Is...

I'm putzing around my cozy little apartment, talking to my sister A most of the morning, unpacking Christmas decorations, cleaning the kitchen ... and this song popped into my head!  I couldn't honestly even remember what it was from or where I'd heard it, so I googled (I'm in love with google) and it's from the play You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown!  The neat and nostalgic thing about THAT discovery is that my college theater group put on that show my junior year and they did an AMAZING job.  It brought back a lot of memories, which made an already good day even better :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spiced Orange

Possibly one of the most delicious smells in the world.

PS.  My Bath and Body Works soaps came today. FAST!!  And they're all wonderful -- my favorite is the "spiced orange" (aka, the title of this blog) and "winter candy apple."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Was Not a Silent Night

This morning, a colleague of mine was in charge of chapel, and one of the songs he played was this one -- "Labor of Love," by Andrew Peterson.  The holiday season hasn't really begun, and already I can feel myself getting busier and busier, focusing on things and dates and deadlines and prices instead of quieting my heart and focusing on being thankful for what Christmas allows me to remember about my Savior...

There are a thousand Christmas songs, but this one touched my heart this morning.  I am attaching the youtube video, as well as the lyrics, so that you can hear the beautiful vocal talent of Jill Phillips, but I'm not a huge fan of the actual images in the video -- I don't know that they coalesce the way I'd like them to with the lyrics.  I suggest playing the video so you can HEAR, but I would read the lyrics while listening, rather than watching the video.  Enjoy the vulnerability and beauty of this song.

"Labor of Love" 
-- written by Andrew Peterson, sung by Jill Phillips

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Being a Woman Who Loves to Talk

Do you not know I am a woman? when I think, I must speak. 
~William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Women speak because they wish to speak, whereas a man speaks only when driven to speech by something outside himself - like, for instance, he can't find any clean socks. 
~Jean Kerr

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soap and Cookies

One of the perks of being single is being able to splurge on the small luxuries that big families can't always afford.  For me, yummy-smelling soaps are the best kinds of little luxuries.  Bath and Body Works has some of the best scented soaps for the holiday season.  Check them out here...


And if you google "bath and body works shipping codes," you'll get hooked up with a code that allows you to have 20% of your entire order and save $3 on the usually $5.99 shipping cost.  So you can get the 6 soaps for $20 deal delivered to your front door for ... drumroll please ... only twelve cents more!!  My total yesterday was $20.12 and I'm excited to get my Christmas-y smell-y soap-y-wonderful-ness in a few days.  :)

The only thing better than a yummy-smelling soap is something yummy-smelling that is actually edible -- and my favorite website for holiday baking and Christmas cookie-making is the one and only:!

The thing I love about is that readers can rank recipes -- so I only ever use the ones that get five stars and lots of reviews -- and they also do a "cookie countdown" for the month of December.  Each day, they'll email you a new Christmas cookie recipe :)  I've found that has WONDERFUL recipes that are very easy to follow.  I highly recommend!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Card Confessions

Last year, I worked delightedly for several hours (for several days) making my yearly Christmas cards.  They were beautiful and lovely and homemade with love. Then, I got discouraged over the time it would take to write personal messages in each card, and before I knew it -- Christmas was over.  I never actually sent aforementioned homemade cards.  Sigh. 

I will not go into the multifarious ways that Christmas Card Fiasco 2009 is a possible symbol for my life, haha, but let me just say -- with my fist raised high in the air --

This Year Will Be Different!  I Will Send My Homemade Cards!  I Will Post This Declaration On My Blog So That I CanNOT Fail Myself Again!

Haha.  Sigh.  Okay.  I feel better now.  Back to The Grading of The Papers. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010


The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there. 
~Ellie Rodriguez

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. 
~Charles Dickens

It's only a week and a half until I leave the cozybutsometimeslonely lodging of my little apartment and head towards the hustle and bustle of another M Family Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad's.  It makes me smile just thinking about it -- the laughter, the drama, the cooking, the smooshing into a very small house and fighting over the remote control... ahhh.  Family.  Good times, good times.

My family is big.  And loud.  And passionate about almost everything.  Addendum.  Some of us are passionate about SOME topics, and some of us are bored to tears by said topics.  Which is part of the magic of my family -- there's always something to talk about and almost always someone who will listen to you talk about it.  Or argue with you about why you should be talking about something else :P

Home is a lovely blue house with a beautifully landscaped yard and an American flag always waving from the front porch.  

Home is a blue/white/yellow kitchen, a dining room with a picture window, and a bird identification book always close at hand.

Home is feeling the heat from a freshly poured cup of steaming coffee and seeing the sleepy faces of my family wandering out to the back porch, which has somehow become the unofficial gathering place for starting or ending each day when the whole family's in town.

Home is where the most beautiful, gracious woman in the world answers to the name of "Mom" and leaves little chocolate bars on the pillow when she knows you're coming home...

Home is where a smart, laughing salt-and-pepper headed man steals kisses from her when he thinks we're not looking and always makes sure there's enough coffee in the pot for "one more cup."

Home is where sisters live :)

Happy homecoming to all the weary travelers tonight.  May you know the truth and peace of being HOME -- wherever and with whomever that home exists.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Unzip Your Pants!

I'm sitting outside of Starbucks, sipping some deeeelicious coffee and grading some faaaabulous papers (love my students!) and I'm thinking about making wise decisions. 

I would like to be wise.  I love owls.  I love glasses.  I love men who wear sweater vests.  A love of wisdom seems implied.  Haha

In all seriousness, though, a wise Word once said that faith without works -- or for the purposes of my thoughts today -- "knowledge" without action ... is dead. 

So today I celebrate the extremely small step of  realizing what needs to be done ... and then doing it. Since my mom and dad practically drove that expression into the proverbial ground of my childhood, I know they'd be proud to know I'm living it today.  Well, technically, yesterday and today.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Oh, and the title?  Well, it's a sister-thing, but suffice it to say -- if your pants are too tight and they're giving you a tummy ache, you gotta unzip.  There's just No Other Option.  In life, sometimes you've gotta suck it up, let go of whatever's holding you too tightly, and do the right thing.  The cool thing is, whether in a real-life-pants-situation or a metaphysical decision-making situation, "unzipping" offers nearly-instant relief.

(for sisters A and G)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Like a Wink and a Smile"

When I was eighteen, my very littlest sister and I were best friends. We'd take long walks around the neighborhood together, and I'd ask her not to forget me when I went away to college. She was eight and would promise me with total sincerity that she'd never, ever forget me. And she didn't. All through my first year of college, my little sister would draw me pictures and send me letters covered with stickers and drawings of girls in pretty dresses. When I came home for Christmas, I slept on the floor of her room and we'd whisper secrets to each other.

"Our" song was Harry Connick Jr's "Wink and A Smile" -- we'd sing it to each other and try to figure out which one of us was the Wink and which one was the Smile... Every time I hear this song, I think of that sweet, smiling, little-girl-faced sister who captured my heart so many years ago; baby B was my little soulmate.

This past Saturday, a tall, strong Pennsylvanian boy asked my baby sister B to be HIS soulmate.

She said yes.

Congratulations to my beloved sister and her new reason to smile :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

... and the world must know how wonderful, how wonderful you are!

My sisters and I sing snippets of our childhood to each other.  Yes, we sing.  Randomly, and without regard for where we are, if we see something that reminds us of our childhood -- BAM.  The singing dorkiness erupts and the laughter follows. 

This morning, while wishing my sister A a fabulous happy birthday, I was reminded of this song.  (Probably because I was singing it to her.)  

Happy Birthday, A.  Share your glory.   

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is a Noble Soul...

“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” -- Eliza Tabor

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sisters, Sisters

Yesterday, life threw a little Crazy at me.  I think that's at least one of the reasons God gave me sisters.  Because sometimes, you need someone who knows you, loves you, and can do things for you when you just can' deleting the Crazy from your electronic world.  I love you, A.  So very much.  Thank you for keeping me grounded in the reality of His sovereignty, even when life gets a little, well, Cuh. Razy.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nailing Jello to a Tree

There are much easier things in life than finding a good man.  Nailing Jell-O to a tree, for instance.  ~Author Unknown

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lessons Learned from Pooh-Bear

Honesty consists of the unwillingness to lie to others; maturity, which is equally hard to attain, consists of the unwillingness to lie to oneself.--Sydney J. Harris

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit. "No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."
-- Winnie the Pooh

Very, very recently, I have been struggling painfully with honesty.  Having always surrounded myself by close friends who have integrity and authenticity, and having grown up in a home where honesty was always given and received in love, I have been muddling through circumstances recently that have me puzzling over basic premises of relationship.  I don't really know what to do when someone doesn't tell the truth -- no -- how to even KNOW when someone isn't telling the truth.  When someone says one thing, but acts in another way, I don't know when to give grace and forgiveness and when to walk away.  I feel confused; as a Christ-follower, I want to treat people the way that I want to be treated.  I want my life to be one that offers grace and forgiveness.  But where does grace end and foolishness begin?  It's incredibly distressing to realize that I can't tell the difference between authenticity and manipulation.  It's horrifying to think that I trusted someone absolutely, and now I'm finding that I was absolutely wrong to do so.  

Maturing means not lying to myself.  As much as I want to believe that all was rosy and bright before the recent storms, I can't distance my mind from knowing that I am seeing more Truth now that I did for all those months.  

My pastors are preaching through Jonah, and a few weeks ago, Kyle said something along the lines of "It's in the storms of life that we behave as we really are; the person you are in the storm says a lot about who you are in the calm."  That's probably a bad paraphrase, but I'm thankful that I know the One who walks with me through every storm.  I hope that I can reflect Him truthfully in my actions and words, and my prayer is to figure out this complicated marriage of wisdom and grace...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hot Date

Tonight I've got a hot date.  I'm heading out right now to shop for the ingredients for chili (hot), pick up a new coffeemaker (makes hot), and buy some firewood (crackling hot).  Can't imagine a more enjoyable October evening!

I'll try to post a picture of my hot date -- go Phillies!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Love Affair with Nat...

If I was told I could only listen to one artist for the rest of my life, it would take me approximately .09 seconds to ask for Nat.  When I was a little girl, my sisters and I would listen to his Christmas album in our basement in the middle of July. Even if it was 95 degrees outside and we wore bathing suits and sunburns, hearing one song from that album would inspire us to tell my mom the basement "smelled" like Christmas.  In college, Nat King Cole introduced me to an era of music that felt immediately like home to my old soul.  Here is Johnny Mercer's "Autumn Leaves," sung by (if the link on the title will work) the velvet genius of the one and only Nat King Cole.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect synthesis of emotion, lyric and melody.
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer, Music by Joseph Kosma

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Inspired by a Friend's Epic Mountaintop Adventure...

Was reminded of this poem when a friend described his experience on a mountain in Ecuador.  His exact words were, "it's absolutely true that the eye never gets tired of seeing."   I loved that thought, and his words reminded me of the last line of this sonnet.  Hooray for google, the magical tool that helps me remember sonnets long forgotten :) 

Here is John Gillespie Magee's beautiful sonnet, "High Flight":

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Eyes

It's October -- my favorite month :) 

One day a thousand years ago, I heard a song titled "Girl with the October Eyes" and today, while I was walking across campus, I thought of Allen Levi's song again.  I remember hearing this song in college and liking it, but when I googled the phrase "girl with the October eyes" this afternoon and read the lyrics for the first time in almost a decade... well, let's just say that I FELT this song in a way I couldn't possibly have when I was nineteen years old.  Levi is a beautiful guitarist; I wish I could capture his sound as well as his lyrics. Enjoy. 

"October Eyes" by Allen Levi

A box full of letters from over the years
Colorful cards from the past
Postmarks from places and days far away
A time to sort through them at last

Dulcimer music, a chair by the fire
A dark, rainy December day
I'll visit with friends through their handwritten words
Then reluctantly throw them away
'Til the one that I found
From the girl with the October eyes

In the picture the sky was cloudless and blue
She had that old laugh in her eyes
Blue jeans and flannel and braids that I knew
Like an angel dressed up in disguise

Last time I heard, she was far from the South
She's married with children, I'm told
But here there's a college girl, smile on her mouth
A smile that has never grown old
On that face that I've found
Of the girl with the October eyes

Do I save this letter or throw it away?
Save the warm smile for a cold rainy day?
Bury the memory, or let it remain?
Do I feed the fire with this long-ago flame?

Sweet reminiscence of a day way back when
I catch myself smile at her face
I'm sure that in ways we were children back then
But still it was quite a nice place

There's a girl in a baseball cap looking my way
Over a decade it's been
For a moment the memory comes back to life
And I think I hear laughter again
As I take one last look
At the girl with the October eyes

Monday, October 18, 2010

Known and Loved

The poem I posted yesterday has been one of my favorites for a long time.  Recently, though, I've had to make some difficult and heart-rending decisions, and I've found phrases of this poem echoing and re-echoing in my head.  In culture, I think it's expected that we view ourselves as unique, even as the demands of popular culture insist that we are connectedandsimilar to everyone else.

Most people want to feel known by others, and I think we desire even more to be loved by someone who (to use a cheesy Avatar reference) "sees" us.  I wonder if this is a cultural thing  -- but for many people I know, to be known deeply, seen authentically, and THEN loved seems to be the most sought-after way of doing relationship.

The speaker in this poem loves "the pilgrim soul" in his beloved; for me, the phrase has always conjured images of pioneers and ships and travel -- of people unafraid and courageous, even as they are different or set apart.  Although his beloved is "old and gray and full of sleep," the speaker is reminding her that she has alwaysalways held a spark of life for him.  To him, she is the Only.  Many have "loved her moments of glad grace / and loved her beauty with love false or true" but HE is the one who has seen her "pilgrim soul" and has "loved the sorrows of [her] changing face." 

Being loved authentically and sincerely and through time and life and sorrow -- who doesn't want that?  I could go into the beauty of Christ's love here, but I won't :)  Suffice it to say, I think part of the reason my soul has been feasting on this poem lately is because I am feeling, through these darker times, the love of Someone who knows me.  Sees me.  And loves me.  Pilgrim soul and all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blog Title by Yeats

When You are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

-- William Butler Yeats