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Pip and Phoebe

Okay, you know if I’m actually going to write a whole post about my cats, there must be nothing going on. And by that I mean not only activities in my life, but also nothing going on in my head.

But I simply cannot go another day without blogging. I must talk about something. I was just browsing a couple of other blogs, and I felt deeply disappointed that I didn’t have anything profound to say to day. But, oh well.

So I have these two cats, Pip and Phoebe. Well, they belong to my whole family. They are sisters, and they are beautiful. We had to buy them together, which turns out to have been a good thing.

I would like to point out that I did not name these cats—at least not directly. I wanted to name them something like “Arwen” and “Eowyn,” or perhaps after characters in Narnia, like “Jewel” and “Fledge.” My parents rejected these. But then they said, “What about the girls in your book?”—meaning, of course, “Found Phoebe,” which is soon to be available for purchasing. And I said, “Phoebe” (of course) “and her friend’s name is Lunissa, but she goes by Pip.”

Thus the cats were re-christened. (The names they came with were atrocious. Honestly.)

Some people are not “cat people.” Due to allergies, or bad experiences, or a dislike of animals in general…but I love my cats. And what’s fun is I like them for different reasons.

Phoebe is a baby. Seriously. She will periodically walk around the house meowing incessantly. She rarely sits on anyone’s lap except my mom’s, and she is very jumpy. When we first brought her home, she hid under beds and couches for the whole first week. We thought she might not make it. But eventually, she came around. And now, she is so affectionate, she purrs almost the minute you touch her.

Pip is the “older sister;” she is bigger and more maternal. She doesn’t purr as quickly as Phoebe, and she doesn’t like to be held very much. But she is affectionate, and she has this itty bitty meow she does when she wants some affection. She’ll jump up on the chair behind me while I’m sitting at the computer and beg for attention. She’s also most likely to curl up in bed with me on mornings I sleep in (or days I stay home sick).

Right this minute, my dad is playing with both of them, which they love. And my parents are arguing over who loves them more. But the truth is, it’s just so nice to have other animal life around. My cats are funny and sweet and skittish, and I’m glad they are here. Even when they run away from me. Y


Trials and a New Toy

So, I got a new phone last week. It’s pretty cool. It’s one of those ones you’ve seen on Verizon commercials, where they play music for someone. Yes. It plays music. It is very cool. I do not have any kind of MP3 player yet, so I’m enjoying the three songs I’ve downloaded. I’ve spent the better part of my free time this week just exploring the coolness of my new phone.

I love when I get something new, and the newness is part of its appeal, and I spend many hours admiring my new thing—whatever it may be: a haircut, a pair of shoes, a CD…. I am also not one of those people who see in evil in new technology. Take the internet, for example. The internet has become something of a tragedy, at least morally, because of i-porn. Yet the ease of communicating with people all over the world, and the amount of knowledge contained on virtually any and every subject, makes it a worthwhile tool.

Technology is like anything else man-made: it has the potential to be used for good, and an equal (perhaps some would argue greater) potential to be used for evil. Telephones—and cell phones—allow us to talk to people all over the world. But they also interrupt our lives with sales calls, and keep us occupied when we ought to be focusing on the world in front of us instead of the person on the other end of the line (*ahem! Drivers! ahem!*). Still, I know that I would have been pretty lost these last few years if I hadn’t been able to communicate—by cell phone—with my best friends from college. Who all live several states away.

Even though I have been pretty occupied with my new “toy,” and enjoying it very much (my default ringtone is the chorus of David Crowder’s “Turkish Delight”!!!) I still have had other things on my mind this week.

One is, I recently had the most challenging day of Lent so far. I was at my Pregnancy Care Centers job, working, I might add, on a major database transfer, because we are switching programs, when we decided to take a tiny break and go take a peek at the yard sale that was going on just around the corner and up a flight of stairs from our office (which you may remember is located in the same church building where my dad works). I was looking around at all the stuff—typical yard sale stuff: stuffed animals, old happy meal toys, mismatched glasses and plates, etc. Then I saw the table of—you guessed it—books. I was immediately drawn to it, thinking surely it couldn’t hurt to look and see what they had. I hadn’t brought any money up with me, so I didn’t get anything—then.

But there was a book called “Colourful England” with pictures of old buildings (my boss showed it to me) that I wanted to come back for. She offered to spot me the money to get it, anmd I should have let her, because when I came back to get it, I ended up with an armful of books. Fourteen, to be exact. (But I got them all for $3.00!!) And as I’d stood there, pawing through the bins, glancing at the titles and occiasonlly the back blurbs, I suddenly got a sense of what it was I’d committed to for the Lenten season.

I bought a boxful of books that I cannot read, not for another twenty-eight days. I thought for the first couple of weeks that this would be no big deal, because even if I was giving up books, there were still movies to be watched. And there were always things to read in magazines, and in articles online; I hadn’t given those up. But being at that yard sale was a challenge: it was like making dinner for everyone, and tasting a tiny bit to make sure it was okay, but not eating any yourself.

I was challenged again, later that night, at the Chinese Church. It was, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, and I brought a little book to help them understand who he really was and why we have a day to celebrate him. I consulted with God on the way there if it would be okay to read it to them. But once there, I asked if anyone else would be willing to read it to the class. Several of my students took turns. (This was very hard for me because I love reading books like that to kids, and you know how children read.) When I had to help Stephen pronounce an Irish word (“shillelagh”) a couple of my kids reminded me that I was not supposed to be reading books.

Just before Lent started, I had been reading “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” to the PCC kids. They were a little dismayed when I told them of my vow to give up reading books for the next forty-seven days. So that later, on the same night I’ve been describing, I asked if anyone else would like to read a chapter to the class. No one did. I asked them if they still wanted to hear some of it. They did. I asked them if they thought it would be okay for me to read a few pages to them. They did. So I read a chapter. I’m not sure if I ought to feel terrible about this; after all, it was only a chapter, and it wasn’t for me, it was for the kids.

But reading is so…part of me. I had to remind myself this morning of why it was that I gave it up in the first place. I’m not going to exaggerate and tell you that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done; it’s not. Even though I am surrounded by books that I would normally have no qualms about snatching up and reading for several hours, it’s been nearly no trouble at all finding other ways to fill up my time. I have a sneaking suspicion that quitting the TV would be much harder, and that worries me just a little.

Well, this post is long enough for now, even despite the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve written. If you happen to see someone reading, perhaps you could offer up a quick prayer for me, that I’m learning what I’m supposed to be learning through this time. Thanks! 


American Opinion

Okay, so I have to confess something: I watched American Idol tonight. And any post of mine that would start with such a trivial bit of culture surely can’t be deep. For some reason, my parents have begun watching it this season, before we watch Lost.

The show gives me a stomachache.

First of all, I’m not a huge fan of competition. I’m just too soft-hearted, I guess…I always feel bad for the losers.

Ironically, shows like that always bring out my inner Critic. I may not know a much about music as an industry insider, but I know what I like a much as the next person. Fortunately—or unfortunately, however you look at it—so does everyone else.

The problem with—or beauty of—a show like American Idol is that everyone gets a say. And it must be nice, really nice, to get paid big bucks just for being mean to everyone. *ahem! Simon. ahem!*

But what it comes down to, really, is opinion. Personal preference. I mean, there’s a certain amount of technique and talent that is taken in to consideration, but at this point in the show really all the bad singers have been weeded out. Now the judges just sit there and say, “I didn’t like that song,” or “You kind of bored me,” and crap like that. Yawn.

Then the rest of America gets their say. That really is a matter of personal opinion. Popularity contest, that’s what it is. Ehh. I’m not invested enough in the show to have a favorite, anyone in particular I’m rooting for. I just think it’s interesting that really it’s all about what you like. Isn’t that what America is all about?



Today, as you may or may not know, is Ash Wednesday. The first Day of Lent.

Now, when I was growing up, my churches never really did much with Lent. I was never encouraged to give up anything. I think it was generally considered a Catholic practice. It wasn’t until College that I ever really even paid attention to this season on the Church calendar. My freshman year, three friends and I all decided to give up sweets. That’s a pretty popular choice these days. It was hard, and I remember we had trouble with grey areas like sugary cereal and pop-tarts. But we did it.

I had one professor at C of O who was particularly in tune with the practices of the church, whether ancient, modern, contemporary, or postmodern. My senior year I took his class on Christian Worship and the class was divided into groups (were we in the same group Brianne? I completely forget!) to prepare and provide a Lenten service, one group a week. Again, prior to that, I’d never really paid a whole lot of attention to Church seasons, least of all Lent.

At the beginning of this year, I was reading a book I got for Christmas. It was Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God. (Yes, the same Lauren Winner I got to meet and hear at Jubilee as I discussed in my last post.) She writes from a background in the Jewish Orthodoxy and mentions how they use a calendar of seasons to guide their worship. Most churches don’t seem to do this as much anymore…but her current church, which is Episcopalian, does. It was one of the reasons she was drawn to it.

There is a chapter in GMG where Lauren relates a conversation with her pastor just before Lent. He asks her what she is giving up; she tells him she’s going to fast on Fridays. He then asks her to give up something in addition: books.

When I read that, two things happened to me.

One was, I think my heart stopped. I was dismayed beyond words at the thought of giving up something like that.

The second thing was, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit.

Now, if you’ve ever felt this kind of nudge, you know what I mean. It’s a kind of spiritual elbow to the ribs. I’ve felt it before; it usually accompanies something I really don’t want to do. Something I feel I shouldn’t have to do. Something I could probably justify not doing. But when you get that nudge, there’s really only a couple options: obey, or disobey.

I know from past experiences with the said nudges, that if I do the thing I don’t want to, if I obey, it is usually to my benefit. It might be hard, even painful, but good comes out of it.

So I began by telling my family I was giving up reading books for Lent. They responded with surprise, even a little skepticism (as I said, we never did much with Lent) but eventually encouragement. I told Brianne; she too was encouraging but also a little surprised. If you know me at all, you know I read. If you know me well, you know I devour books. I read all the freaking time. I always seem to have a book stashed somewhere—in the bathroom, in stacks by my bed, in my purse….

But I know that God is not just calling me to give up reading because it takes up so much of my time. I know it has to do with obedience, and keeping my love of books from becoming idolatry. So I will be obedient. It is nerve-wracking, quite frankly, to realize that I will not be picking up and reading any book at all (except the Bible) for the next 47 days. Especially after I bought all those books at Jubilee. I already have a considerable list accumulating of books to read when Lent is over.

It sounds crazy, even to me. But I don’t share this story to say “look how holy I am,” I share it so that you can participate by encouraging me. This will be a challenge, I know, and it’s only day one. You can pray for me, that in the absence of my reading God will show me what he wants me to learn, and that I won’t just fill it with something else. Like TV. Even though I did just get season 4 of MacGyver.

Books are a big, dare I even say HUGE, part of my life; but God must be bigger still. I look forward to this time of Lent with anticipation and trepidation both; who can say but God how I will emerge? What will God teach me in the next 47 days, about discipline, obedience, and grace? Well, when I find out, so will you!