Friday, February 26, 2010

Songs to Share #2

Happy Friday! I'm so glad this week is coming to a close. I just want this week to be over and to be able to sleep in tomorrow. I wish I could say that I have no homework over the weekend, but I have to: write a speech about plate tectonic boundaries (which is fun for me, actually), study for a geology lab midterm, study for a geology lecture midterm, and finish my observations of the vampire text I have chosen to write about for English class.

I finally remembered to do my 7 Quick Takes, which is a cool little thing hosted by Here is my first for the month of February. It is related to the last one I did in January, so if you want to listen to the songs I chose then, click here. I actually wanted to do this last Friday, but never finished it on time.

Since I am incredibly lazy today, I am going to regurgitate what I wrote the last time:

One of my favorite things about movies is the music. I probably listen to movie scores more than any other genre of music. Ask my sister or my friends, and they will probably tell you that they have jumped in my car only to hear strings and woodwinds playing instead of rock bands or whatever is on the radio. If my friend Katie Ann gets in the car, I pull whichever movie score was in the player and swap it out for something we can sing along to. She prefers words and singing along, and I like people to be happy. It's not that I don't enjoy singing or rock bands, etc. I simply have more fun listening to movie scores and instrumental/orchestral type things.

Remember, this was no easy task choosing just 7 songs. They are in no particular order either, but I can watch all of the movies over and over without ever tiring of them. :)

"Guardians at the Gate" by Audiomachine. This is trailer music for and not actually in the movie Avatar

"Returns A King" composed by Tyler Bates, from 300

"Optimus vs. Megatron" composed by Steve Jablonsky, from Transformers

"A Postcard to Henry Purcell" composed by Dario Marianelli, from Pride & Prejudice

"Jack Sparrow" composed by Hans Zimmer, from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

"National Treasure Suite" composed by Trevor Rabin, from National Treasure

"Eptesicus" composed by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard, from Batman Begins

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This is college dorm room recycling, at its finest. We just let the pile get bigger and bigger. At least once each day, one of us would say, "We need to take the recycling. Like NOW dude." Today, this is what the pile looked like. You can barely see the blue bin that is for the recycling. You can't even see the pile of plastic bags that we keep to use for trash bags, that's how much stuff is in this little nook.

Look at it now! It is beautiful and clean. We also rearranged some things. The trash bags are next to the can (what a novel idea) and the fridge is closer to Jade's side of the room.

On the way to taking the cardboard behind the building, we played freeze out and didn't wear jackets. On the way back to our room, we pretended that the concrete was lava. Don't step on it!

I love college and being silly.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: Morning Reflection

It is such a beautiful day outside! Happy Sunday to you all. I know, I's Lent so no cheerfulness.

But I can't not be happy when it is this lovely outside. I can't wait for winter to officially pack up and leave.

Here is this Sunday's Sabbath Sunday post. It is just a reflection from a little daily prayer book that I wanted to share. You can read it here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

For the Love Of...

For the love of...mud! Check out my hidden foot. I am extremely glad that I invested in a pair of cheap muck boots.

Actually, I trek through this for the love of horses.

This is a close-up of Wild Fire. Remember him? If not, check out his first mention here and here. He is 8 months old now and has manners! Wild Fire is such a sweet boy, except for that time he stepped on me while "elbowing" me into the mud so he wouldn't have to step in it.

This is Albert. For a while his name was Runt, but the shift leaders decided that he was more intelligent and awesome than his name suggested. Someone suggested Einstein as name change. I thought Albert was more fun...and easier to spell for some folks! He is around 6 months old and is the nicest little guy ever. He's a ham too.

This is Treo. He's like a little dog, following me around when I walked around the field. I brought him inside earlier, but he didn't want to walk through the mud. We played tug-o-war. He let me win when I found a less mushy and less quicksand-like path.

As much as I dislike the messiness and potential to lose a boot with each step, I enjoy that squishy noise. I just hope it dries out! This was the first weekend that I came to the barn when it was nice (and light enough) outside to bring my camera along. I like to think of this wonderful weather as God giving us a raise, literally.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just Dust

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

I love that Lenten phrase. Someone asked me why, saying that it was rather morbid. Yes, yes it is bleak and not very happy.

But that's life isn't it? It has its moments when all you see is bleak and unhappy. Simply put, life just sucks sometimes.

I feel now, more than I ever have, that Lent is truly the time to recharge. To simplify. Rid myself of the blackness and darkness inside so as to make way for the Light and the Truth to come and occupy every square inch.

I see this Lent with different eyes, a different heart, a different mindset. Losing someone I loved right before Ash Wednesday really brings those words into clearer focus. All we are is dust, and that is what we will inevitably return to. We must be mindful of ourselves. We can't let things go to the wayside because we say we will have time to do that or this later on. Sometimes, we don't have time later.

Inside our dusty selves, lies a soul that yearns to be fed, to be more than just dust. What can I be doing to feed and nurture my soul? What are you asking of me God?

Now is the time to look inside and talk with God. Now is the time to simplify and to pray. We should always pray outside of and in addition to the "big liturgical days/seasons", but I feel that Lent is especially the time to discover more about ourselves in preparation for the gift of love that is to come at Easter. It is a wondrous love, a healing love.

And so I leave you with this little spur of the moment scribble in a notebook:

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. Take pity on me, the grieving. Hold me in your arms and keep me from falling apart. Heal my hurting heart the way only Your love can. Help me remember that I am dust, and to dust I shall return. Amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


No Sabbath Sunday post today. This afternoon, I went with my mother and sister to take our dog, Duke, to be put to sleep.

What started off as a not-so-good weekend with the rescheduled retreat turned into one of the worst few days I've had in a long time. Saturday morning we found out that Duke had an untreatable form of cancer. Simply removing the tumor would only cause the cancer to spread faster.

We brought him home to be with the family for just one more day. Doped up on anti-inflammatory pills, Duke rested comfortably on the towel covered couches. You see, we thought his incessant licking was to tell us that hey, these glands need to be drained. It turns out that it was the tumor inside his hind-end, that caused him to lick incessantly, trying to make the pain go away. When he started bleeding all over anything he sat on, we knew that this wasn't just an ordinary thing.

He was treated like a king. Then again, he always was. We loved on him, fed him an extra slice of cheese with his pills, took pictures with him. You couldn't really tell that he was sick. This morning he went outside and did his usual patrol around the yard. You see, he has always protected my family from scary rabbits and skunks, the mailman and UPS guy, and anyone who drives a white pickup truck.

I'm going to miss that way he looks like a seal when he throws his head back to "talk." I'm going to miss his unique dog had or will ever have his characteristic earthy/dirt/mountain man dog aroma. I can still smell him on my hands and sweater from this afternoon.

I'm going to miss his gruffs and little grunts when he wants to go outside or play with me on the couch. I'm going to miss his helter-skelter run across the tiled floor because he hates walking on tile. I miss his rough and calloused paws scratching my arms, his deep and playful brown eyes, his bad case of dog breath.

I miss playing with him in the yard, squishing my toes in the grass while he gallops around me in circles. I miss waking him up when he dreams so vividly that he shakes the bed while he catches those bunnies in his sleep. I miss his bark and subsequent howl when I pull up in the driveway, the vigorous shaking of his tail when he sees us coming.

My Grandpa found Duke while he was hunting in the mountains. Duke, ever the shy but curious boy, followed Grandpa around. He ate Spam over the fire with him, and then jumped in the truck when Grandpa left. So he came home to live with us. At Grandpa and Grandma's house, he was able to roam around the archery range and play in the lake. He loved running after the four-wheelers and coming into the shop to visit with people. He also loved to play in the cow pond and come back from his daily romp caked in Tennessee red clay.

When my family got our own house, Duke came along with our cat Tinkerbell. For awhile it was just the two of them, and then we added to our menagerie. He was still the Alpha but he was a good big brother. Animals aren't just pets in my house, they are legitimate members of the family. Duke was like the big brother to not only me but my sisters and the other animals as well.

Taking a pet to the clinic for euthanasia is a first for any of us in my family of five. We've had pets before, but we always moved too far away to take them with us so they stayed with others, or they ran away from home and never returned.

Today was so hard. We waited for a long time to be admitted to a room. We sat on the floor with him when the vet came in. We brought his brother Rocky along. I held Duke's paw and the others rubbed his head and belly while the vet administered the drugs. Duke left this world with a smile on his face and dirt between his toes. I hugged and kissed his body goodbye, knowing that he was already running around up in Heaven with Mama Dog.

If you're going to say that animals don't go to Heaven, please don't bother saying that. I know otherwise. God sent my family an angel named Duke, and He called him home today. A pure and good spirit such as Duke's was a blessing for the past 10 years. I am thankful for the time we had with him.

I love you Duke. Thanks for being my dog and my friend. May your memory be eternal.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Reasons Unknown

This weekend was supposed to be the Confirmation retreat for our youth who will be making their Confirmation in just a few weeks. However, this funky winter weather changed our plans. Actually, God changed our plans for reasons we still have yet to understand.

I had to bust a move out of my Spanish class early (with permission of course), hoof it across campus to the parking garage, and pedal to the medal all the way down the interstate on a Friday at 4 o'clock when everyone and their brothers decided they wanted to leave work. When I got to the church 10 minutes later than I wanted to, everyone was there waiting on me. I threw my stuff into a car, and then we were off.

Everyone was excited and giddy: people like me and the youth leaders who have been to the retreat center multiple times, the adult drivers/chaperons, and especially the kids making their Confirmation and their first trip up to Eagle Rock.

As each mile passed the further we got to the mountains, the snow got progressively thicker. With each mile I had a sinking feeling that this trip wasn't going to happen after all. When we got to the meeting point at the foot of the mountain, the owners came down and met us, and said that going up the mountain was too risky. The steep, mountain-hugging road was a sheet of ice.

With our excitement balloon deflated, we turned around and headed for the church. So now we wait and reschedule at a different facility. Those of us that have been there before are pretty bummed about that. Eagle Rock is such a peaceful place. You can feel God's presence everywhere up there. It is one of the best places to have a retreat for those getting ready to make Confirmation. The positive thing is that we will have the retreat, and there are other facilities out there!

What we all know is that God had many reasons why we didn't go up that mountain this weekend. For reasons unknown, we are grateful and also a little sad. But like the good little youth group that we are, we will keep on trekking. Our little balloon doesn't have a hole in it, so it can be inflated again.

Interestingly/funnily/ironically enough, there is no precipitation in the valley...for right now anyway.

The two pictures are the only ones that I took of "this weekend." I usually take almost 200 pictures at every retreat.

Oh, and I just realized that this is my 100th post. It is sooo cheerful! Thanks for reading with me this far. I just write what I feel and share what I love. Glad you are all a part of it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Today would have been my Grandma Diane's 67th birthday. It has been 2 long years since she passed away. I do miss her very much, but she is in a better place compared to the pain and hardship she lived through each day.

Would she have told you, me, my Mom, or my aunts that she was hurting? No. She was that kind of tough old lady. It was tough for her to give up cigarettes and beer after she lost her first leg, but she did it. And one would think that after the loss of her second leg only a few years after the first, she would be content to stay at home and be taken care of. Nope, not my Grandma. She continued to work!

The one thing I regret in my life (excluding silly, trivial things) is not showing her and telling her how much I loved her. I remember holding her hand for the last time in the hospital, saying goodbye to her when she couldn't say it back. God do I miss that lady.

Happy Birthday Grandma! I love you and miss you. We all do.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Conflict is Good?

I had never really given much thought to the idea that conflict could be a good thing, that is, until I heard Pastor Steve's reflection on this past Sunday's Gospel passage. Since I did not go home at all, I had the pleasure to be able to go to the Tyson House Episcopal-Lutheran Ministry worship service. The usual pastor was on vacation, so Pastor Steve was the special guest.

I did not even know what the readings were for that Sunday. Usually I attend Mass at St. Thomas so I know what will be read later that night at Tyson House. On a side note...the first time I went to Mass and the Tyson House service on the same day, I realized that readings were essentially the same ones. How cool! Of course Episcopalians, Catholics, and Lutherans are similar in many ways, but even having the same Sunday readings was a nice surprise!

Anyway, enough with the bunny trail. In the Gospel this past Sunday, Jesus went into the temple, and said, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." Those who heard him speak were amazed. Then he went on to say, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place." Then the people in the synagogue went after him, trying to hurl him down the hill.

Wanting to throw him down the hill! Jesus certainly stirred something up, causing conflict. Yet, the funny thing is, he did so knowing that the outcome wouldn't be a nice one. Pastor Steve went on to say that even Jesus recognized that conflict was good and useful at times. Conflict is a way to open doors, hearts, and minds to what might have been ignored for forever. I wish I could remember more of Pastor Steve's points because they were all very good, but alas my mind has inconveniently forgotten some of them.

There are different kinds of conflict. For me it varies from the trivial to facetious to important: Batman or Superman shirt this morning? laughing or not laughing when someone trips/falls/slides across the ice? not studying or studying? standing up for myself and my beliefs or folding and being silent? arguing or just leaving the issue alone? There are many things that create conflict, and there are many ways to respond and act. Pastor Steve repeated several times something along the lines that the kind of conflict that we are most frightened by is the kind that makes our heart pound, our hands sweat, and our entire body shake.

We've all been taught that starting conflicts is a negative thing. Being a part of conflict isn't fun either. But until I realized that Jesus often created conflict merely by trying to bring others to the Father or was at the very center of another man's conflict, I always thought that it was a bad thing. It can be good when used for good. Jesus knew that, and what He did forever changed the world and me.

At the end of the last conflict...with his heart pounding, his hands sweating, and his entire body shaking, Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross and died. His death brought salvation to the world.

Makes you look at conflict differently, doesn't it?

Monday, February 1, 2010

One Small Step...

The recent "storm of the century" in the East Tennessee area was less than what most people had expected it to be. The snow/ice/slush that froze over made the roads bad enough to where I did not go to the barn for chores or even go home for Mass this weekend.

This morning I logged onto the Internet hoping that my email would be chock-full of announcements saying CLASSES CANCELED. However, the powers that be in the university decided that it was okay enough to have class. Sure, the roads were fine for professors and commuting students to come in, but once you leave your car or the dorm, you actually have to walk around.

This, my friends, was no easy task. Ever since Saturday afternoon (that was when I finally ventured out of my room...for food no less), walking has been a challenge around campus. I have almost busted my butt or face several times now. I find myself and others muttering very inappropriate things as we almost succeed in sliding/falling to our deaths...or at least the embarrassment would be just like death.

Each step is precious. Oh how I had forgotten that! I am reminded of that Apollo mission quote, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Well that is not true in this instance. Every step could be your last. Each step taken is a potential ticket for a one way trip to meet the icy ground. Walking around seems to me to be like preparing myself for a nerdy martyrdom.

I could claim that I don't want to walk to class, but being the nerd and good little student that I am, I cannot skip class. I want Spring to be here now!