Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Final Day

The last day of 2010 - what did this year bring for you? How do you want 2011 to be the same? Different? If you had a great year, I hope 2011 brings more joy and happiness your way. If 2010 wasn't so great, I hope 2011 is filled with moving forward and many new beginnings for you. To ring OUT the last year, here's one of my favorite songs, which in it's own right is amazing. This Sing Off Acapella version is outstanding as well. If you don't know the lyrics to this song, Google them. And if you are wishing for a better 2011, this song is my hope for you. Happy New Year, and goodbye 2010.

Fix You - Coldplay, as sung on The Sing Off

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 11-14

More catchup on the Countdown! Here are days 11-14!

JTR – Dave Matthews Band, live at Folsom Field
You don’t have to like Dave, but you can’t deny this band is insanely talented. Their live shows blow me out of the water. This song in particular blows me away – once you get to the instrumental part, you’ll see what I mean. Carter is a beast on the drums – and who Brady is aspiring to be someday :)

And So It Goes – Billy Joel
Just a beautifully-written song. Sung by David Archuleta of American Idol a few years ago.

All I Wanted – Paramore
I couldn’t really choose just one Paramore song, but I’m really in the mood for this rock vibe right now, so this song wins. Other favorites are Turn It Off and My Heart. A great example of young musicians who really get music. So sad to hear they are breaking up :(

Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
This song is so interesting to me. So many time signature changes, interesting guitar tuning, it's just simple and complex at the same time which I love. And the lyrics are great, too! This live version in the rain is amazing!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 7-10

I've gotten SO BEHIND! Posting during a crazy Christmas weekend didn't happen, so here are days 7-10 in the countdown, all in one post. ENJOY!

September – Daughtry
I generally like Daughtry, but this song stands out because it reminds me that I don’t want to live with regrets in my life. No matter what happens or what I do, I’ve seen good come from it, I’ve grown from it, I’ve lived because of it, and that makes it all worth it in the end.

What Can I Say – Carrie Underwood
While I don’t love Sons of Sylvia or the guy’s voice, this duet is powerful. I also heard this for the first time at Carrie’s concert and it was insane. She is definitely one of the most powerful singers around.

iPad Christmas – North Point Church
Just watch it. Pretty amazing sound from “fake” instruments.

Shake Up Christmas – Train
What a fun song! So much better than other “contemporary” alternatives for Christmas (If I never hear “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime” again, it will still be too soon.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Letter

Here's our version of a Christmas letter - what we've been up to in 2010! Merry Christmas!
(Click on the image to expand, then click on it again to make it even larger!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 6

Yesterday got away from me! So today will be a double-post day :)

I love Paramore, but this version is incredible. It’s so different from the original song, and the piano parts are outstanding. I know they aren’t actually playing this live, but it’s so fun and different, I just love it! 

Brick by Boring Brick –Michael Henry and Justin Robinett

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 5

The first time I heard this song was at Carrie’s concert a few weeks ago, and it just grabbed me. So simple, so heartfelt. Anyone who has ever been on the short end of heartache knows what this song means.

Someday When I Stop Loving You - Carrie Underwood

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 4

I love One Republic – they are incredibly talented. These guys, though, do a superb job of taking an enormously popular song and putting a spin on it that at the same time retains the key elements of the song and creates an entirely new R&B piece. I know some of the high notes are just a bit under pitch, but come on, it's pretty darn good. Harmonies are just terrific, and they arrange all of the music themselves! If you like their sound, go to YouTube and search for "Committed The Sing Off" - they have some really great stuff!!

Apologize - (One Republic), as performed by Committed

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 3

I could not get this song out of my head after the first time I heard it, and the story of how it got to be popular is awesome, too. She didn’t need a big record deal for the world to hear her music – just one well-timed circumstance. I love the haunting melody and fresh lyrics. “You’re gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul….” Now that’s great writing! I would write songs like this if I ever actually finished one :)

Jar Of Hearts - Christina Perri 

Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 2

Here's Day Two of the 2010 Music Countdown. Post one is here.

When I close my eyes and listen to this song, I always see the same vivid image. A young woman in a simple, flowing white dress and dark hair blowing in the breeze as she walks toward a young man whose smile is so big he almost can’t believe he’s so lucky to marry her. The sun is shining, and there is a small gathering of friends and family, but they don’t notice any of it – just each other. 

I have no idea why I see this same thing every time I hear this song, (well besides the fact that the song is called MARRY ME!) but I hope someone somewhere gets to experience what I see it in my head, because it’s simple and beautiful, just like this song. 

Marry Me - Train

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Music Countdown, Day 1

I love music – anyone who knows me at all knows this. I sing it, I play it, I dream it, I live it. I take for granted things that come naturally to me, but I’m trying to be more aware and appreciative of that lately. Sadly, though, I am largely embarrassed by what my generation considers to be “music”.

I am ALL for creativity – don’t get me wrong. But seriously – Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Willow Smith, Justin Beiber, Kesha….oh excuse me….Ke$ha....the list goes on and on. The “music” is all. the. same. Techno beats with endless monotone nonsense rhymes being autotuned to the point of losing any raw vocal inflection. Instrumentation done purely by computers. How is this music?!?! 

And I don’t know what is worse: the fact that people who are devoid of any talent whatsoever have become these pop icons, or that extremely talented artists, like Lady Gaga, feel the need to sell out to the pop industry through songs that in no way express their true talents. And what message does this give future generations? Kids, kids – don’t worry about learning to play an instrument, to write songs, or develop vocal skills! Simply wear less, lip sync more, and the fame is yours!

Well, thankfully this world is not completely devoid of originality and creativity in music! It might not be on the radio when you turn it on, but it is certainly out there – you just have to look for it. I am grateful for interesting artists and great musicians who are truly talented. So to ring in the new year, I bring to you my 2010 Music Countdown. Here’s what I’m listening to these days. If you find yourself feeling the same things I do, take a listen to any one of the songs I post today through the end of the year – and enjoy!

Use Somebody: King's of Leon, as performed on The Sing Off 

While I don't love Kings of Leon, Paramore does an acoustic cover that is fantastic. Then, I heard it on NBC’s The Sing Off, and I’m truly a fan of the song now – this is all A Capella! Amazing! A great way to kick off the Countdown!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho: Part Three

This post is a follow-up to Ho, Ho, Ho: Part One and Ho, Ho, Ho: Part Two.

I have to wonder why are some families so quick and ready to embrace the tradition of Santa, yet unwilling to live in the faith of Jesus Christ? How is it any scarier to believe in Santa, who clearly does not exist, than to believe in Jesus, who has been proven to at least have existed? Why would anyone want their children to believe in something that ultimately doesn’t exist and not want them to experience faith in one who does? I honestly think anyone who can allow their children to believe in Santa, even the most stubborn atheist, in their hearts are longing to believe in a Santa that does truly exist.

I think these people should look at the parallels between Jesus and Santa. Both are believed in all over the world; both have a small group of close followers who are present wherever they go (Disciples/Reindeer); both have the ability to know your thoughts and actions without being present; both require faith in the unseen; both have beards (at least our perception of them does!), both spread joy; and both are celebrated at Christmas time. Seems to me that whoever “invented” the idea of Santa was perhaps taking the idea of Jesus, dressing him up in a fat suit, and stuffing him down chimneys and into our homes.

I know a lot of Christians who debate whether or not their children will or won’t believe in Santa. My children will definitely celebrate the tradition of Santa. But more importantly, I will use that belief, that faith, to help them form and understand what faith in Jesus looks like. They will know the true meaning of Christmas, and when the time comes, their faith in Santa, I believe, will help solidify their faith in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho: Part Two

This post is a follow-up to Ho, Ho, Ho: Part One.

When I was in fourth grade, my classmate started hinting at the notion that Santa was not real. I didn’t want to believe it – but it planted the seed of doubt in my mind. Then I noticed the wrapping paper and handwriting of Santa was the same as my mom’s. Then I started planting the seed of doubt in my sister’s mind….if I was going down, she was coming with me! 

Ultimately, I had my first taste of making a choice about my convictions: stand by my beliefs, or question what I knew was truth. My faith was tested and tried. I attempted to bring others (i.e. my sister) into my doubt and hesitation. I was teased and mocked for my steadfast belief that Santa did, in fact, exist. It was up to me to decide if I would allow that seed of doubt to penetrate myself and others, or if I would remain steadfast in my convictions.

To me, belief in Santa is very much akin to belief in Jesus Christ. Now hear me on this: I do think it’s important to make a clear distinction between faith in Santa and faith in Jesus when a child gets to a certain age. Otherwise, the kid just might lump Jesus in with all other fictitious characters (Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Santa, etc.). And I do realize the outcome (Santa not actually being real) isn’t comparable to the outcome of Jesus. But how can we expect a child to understand faith in the unseen, joy in multiplied gifts, and the desire to do good works? How can they understand the concept of what faith produces if they have never experienced it? And how can we expect them to remain steadfast in their convictions when the pests of this world try to invade their thoughts and change their ideas? 

The answer: Santa. To deprive a child of experiencing the joy and faith of believing in something they cannot see actually deprives them of forming their first ability to experience the joy and fruit that comes from faith in the unseen and a desire to do good, even when the world tells us not to.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho: Part One

When I was growing up, I LOVED waiting for Santa to bring our Christmas presents. Sometimes, due to traveling, we had to write letters to Santa to get him to come early, but he always came. Without fail, every year, he faithfully brought our gifts. Oh the joy of waking in the morning to find our gifts had doubled overnight. To wait expectantly with anticipation, knowing he would deliver the goods, but curious to see just what exactly he would bring. Hopeful anticipation.

You can’t see Santa, but your belief that he exists will produce a much larger yield of presents than unbelief. You have faith that if you just believe in him, he will gift you with the desires of your heart. Your desire to do good and be good will in turn allow you to reap the good you have sown in the form of gifts that bring joy to your life. If you are good at heart, Santa will deliver. Why wouldn’t you believe in Santa?! Why wouldn’t you believe…

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lofty Glances from Lofty People

I would like to think my life experiences have made me a more compassionate, understanding, supportive person. Far too often I think Christians are prepared to deal with sin and brokenness only to a certain degree. Once you cross that line into the "really bad" sins, you are met with judgment, condemnation, anger, and even people turning their backs. It's too much to deal with real life situations, so we either try to take too much into our own hands, or we turn away and run.  The "judgmental Christian" might be a stereotype, but behind every stereotype is some truth. Well Christian readers, I have a challenge to extend to you; one that has been heavy on my heart:

What would it look like instead of crucifying people for their "really bad" sins, we loved them even when they don't deserve it? What would it look like to reflect the grace and love and mercy of Jesus instead of the whispers and gossip and ridicule? What if we stop making their issues about us and how they offended us? Not everything is about you; you just aren't that important. Let's get back to being Jesus and not just bible-thumping and banging people over the head with Jesus. Let's forgive and love. Let's take our grievances before people individually and before the cross. Let's show compassion, because we must remember this: we all have a part in how people change, for better or worse. And our response to a person who is struggling will either help bring them closer to God changing their heart, or will push them further away from the truth. You aren't responsible for changing them, but you are responsible for leading them to or away from God. Let's be kind and gentle, not arrogant and lofty. Afterall, tomorrow brings a whole new set of troubles, and tomorrow it could be you. Jesus abandoned the people who have it "right" to go search for the one lost sheep. So if it's Jesus you are looking for, stop looking in the mirror and start looking at the very people you think have it all backwards. That is where you will find Him.

I challenge you to think about people who have come to you for support. Do you think you truly helped them, or did you simply spew advice and bible verses until they either felt so bad about themselves or so turned off from Christianity that they left you alone.  There is a time for calling a person out in love, for rebuking the sin. But sometimes, the best and only thing we should do is put our arms around someone and walk through the fire with them. We are so afraid of getting burned, too, that we forget fire also refines.

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." Eph. 4:31-32 

She is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction
She is trying
But the canyon's ever widening
In the depths of her cold heart
So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She's another two years older
And she's three more steps behind

Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even knows she's going down today
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people

Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

She is yearning
For shelter and affection
That she never found at home
She is searching
For a hero to ride in
To ride in and save the day
And in walks her prince charming
And he knows just what to say
Momentary lapse of reason
And she gives herself away

If judgement looms under every steeple
If lofty glances from lofty people
Can't see past her scarlet letter
And we never even met her

He is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How May I Help You?

It will never make sense to me why companies believe the best place for their non-or-barely-English-speaking employees is in customer service. I understand that many people who immigrate to the United States have not had the educational opportunities that we do here in America. I don’t fault them for something they can’t control. And customer service positions don’t typically require any form of higher education, so it seems logical to use these people to fill customer service positions. But it is so frustrating for me as a consumer when I call a customer service line and can’t understand a word the person on the other end is saying to me. Or I order food from a waitperson who clearly does not understand what I am ordering or asking about. My impression of the entire company lies in the hands of someone whose words I can't even decipher. I'm usually tempted to ask to speak to someone who can be understood more clearly, but I suppose that would be insulting or discriminatory. 

It's even worse when the customer service representative is clearly from this country, but due to his or her slang, poor speech skills, or drawl, I STILL can't understand the person! So let this be a reminder to anyone who uses vocal communication in a professional setting: please speak slowly, clearing, and in English!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


When my good friends Missy and Tommy were pregnant with their triplet girls, I found out one of the names of the babies. None of our friends knew, but I did. And I think I rubbed it in - one of these friends eventually said, "Enough, we know you know!" Which led me to yell in the middle of a restaurant, "I LOVE KNOWING!" And it has become a running joke ever since.

Well, I started thinking about it and you know what? That really is indicative of who I am as a person. I really DO love knowing.

I love knowing stuff. I kind of hate the process of learning, but I love to know things and feel intelligent ( I just misspelled "intelligent"....wonderful).

I love knowing people. I mean REALLY knowing them. Not the person they try to be or want to be, but the person that actually exists. It's only something that happens with a few people, but I love knowing who people really are and for them to know who I really am - the good, bad, and ugly.

I love knowing every line of every episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

I love knowing why things happen. I love knowing why or how things have occurred in my life, and what is going to happen in the future. This is kind of a problem since life is one big mystery, and becomes an issue for me in the way of anxiety. When I don't understand or know why something is happening, or what might happen in the future, I get really, really anxious.

So while I was looking at loving to know things as a generally positive thing, it actually causes a lot more stress in my life than if I would just be content to sit back, let God take the wheel, and know that I don't get to know everything....and that's ok.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Boy!

It's a couple days late, but I wanted to wish my little guy a happy second birthday! He is so funny, strange, crazy, stubborn, sweet, and irritating all at the same time :) 

We were happy to have another unseasonably warm birthday party for him on his actual birthday this past Sunday. Thank you to all our family for visiting us on Brady's special day :)

I can't believe how the time has gone so quickly. My prayers for his next year of life include patience, health, and for the year to go SLOWLY!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Blessed are the poor
Blessed are the weak
Blessed are the ones
Who can barely speak

Blessed in your hurt
Blessed in your pain
Blessed when your teardrops
Are falling down like rain
Blessed when you're broken
Blessed when you're blind
Blessed when you're fragile
When you have lost your mind

Blessed when you're desperate
Blessed when you're scared
Blessed when you're lonely
Blessed when you've failed

Blessed when you're beat up
Blessed when you're bruised
Blessed when you're tore down
Blessed when you're used

Blessed when you're heartbroke
Blessed when you're fired
Blessed when you're choked up
Blessed when you're tired

Blessed when the plans
That you so carefully laid
End up in the
With all the
trash you made

Blessed when you feel like
Giving up the ghost
Blessed when your loved ones
Are the ones who hurt you most

Blessed when you lose your
Own identity
Then blessed when you find it
And it has been redeemed

Blessed when you see what
Your friends can never be
Blessed with your eyes closed
Then blessed you see Me

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blog Gone Haywire!!

The background of my blog is all weird....stay tuned, I will try to get it fixed soon :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's Ovah!!

It’s over! Months of running and training are finally done, and I did it. I ran all of the 13 miles in 1 hour and 55 minutes, much faster than anticipated. And the weather was GORGEOUS! And even though I’m ready to not run for a long, long time, after all that hard work it feels like I should keep it up instead of just letting myself get all soggy again. I’m too sore right now to think about extra movements :) but I am planning to run the Race for the Cure 5k downtown this Saturday! Three miles is NOTHING!!

 My thoughts about the half-marathon:
  • Des Moines is a really beautiful place when you are forced to look around and not just whiz by in a car!
  • Your body can do things you never thought it could.
  • Running is very much a mind game.
  • I will be forever grateful for Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” for getting me through mile 8 when I hit my wall. And for Greenday for ending the race with me!
  • It was really strange to be running and running for what felt like forever until my legs wanted to fall off and then….I just stopped. I got to the finish line and all of a sudden the thing I was trying so hard NOT to stop just stopped.
  • The body types and ages of people who could run well amazed me. Some people who look like they should be really good or fast are not, and others who you’d never guess could run a mile were right up front.
  • Some people can run crazy fast. Just about 15 minutes after I crossed the finish line, the first marathoners were finishing their race. That is CRAZY fast!!
  • Go to the bathroom before you start running.
  • Don’t drink too much while you are running. One girl did, and it wasn’t pretty….
  • If you are there to watch a runner, maybe consider the fact that they will probably run faster than expected, and be at the finish line a few minute early. Just sayin’….
  • I can’t imagine getting to 13 miles and being like “well, I’m halfway there!” Marathoners are crazy….
  • A giant HILL at 11.5 miles?? Not cool, Des Moines, not cool at all….
  • I got passed by a guy who looked 80.
  • I passed a guy who was wearing a t-shirt that said he’s run a marathon in every state….twice!
  • And last but not least – the Des Moines Marathon web site needs a MAJOR overhaul. At midnight the night before the race, Joel happened to notice something on the site that said you had to pick up your registration stuff BEFORE Sunday morning or you couldn’t race. I was devastated – all that work for nothing! I had read the website, registered early, and read the emails they sent to me. Nothing anywhere said I had to pick up my stuff before race day, except for this one buried page on the site. Thankfully, we e-mailed someone right away and they let me know I could pick up my stuff in the morning. Geesh, talk about total panic!
What an accomplishment for this non-running girl to complete this race. When I said I wanted to do it two years ago, I think I was mostly kidding. At that time I couldn’t even run one mile, and the most I had run before that was 4 miles during Miss Iowa training. And honestly, until I crossed that finish line, I had my doubts whether I could run the entire race or not. People were dropping like flies during the last mile. But I pressed on, and am so glad I did. What goals are you going to take steps toward tackling today?? Get out and do it!!

Update with official results: I finished 938th out of 4,369 half marathon runners, and 328th out of 2,522 female participants. My official 10k time was 53:10, and my half marathon time was 1:54:11, placing my rank at 79th for females ages 25-29, whatever the heck that means!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just A Dream

I have a confession to make: I am a dreamer. Most people probably don’t know this about me because my life seems so ordinary, regular, and put-together from the outside. But for as long as I can remember, I have dreamed. I would daydream for hours; I would lay awake at night dreaming up scenarios or situations. Sometimes my overactive imagination isn’t a good thing, but I also think life would be boring without it. My mind is random, spontaneous, and chaotic – if you know me very well at all, you know this….just try to have a conversation with me for two minutes and you’ll see what I mean :)

Well, the last few weeks at church have been about dreaming. Sermon series’ about dreams, purposes, fulfillment, etc. always hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel motivated and driven for a minute, but then the weight of life’s disappointments hits me in the face. It’s all stuff I need to hear, but sometimes wish I could continue living in my little oblivious bubble, just barely content enough with life to get by. But then these sermons happen, and it stirs in me what I have been pushing down since I was oh, probably fourteen or so. And the only thing I can think is, WHY.

Why is God doing this to me again? Why can’t He just let me be happy with my nice little life with my nice little family and my nice little house? Why isn’t that enough for me? Every once in awhile, I get this feeling like maybe something more is supposed to happen, so I slowly, cautiously start pursuing it. Well, last time that happened, a week later I found out I was pregnant…so that was a pretty clear sign to me that I was barking up the wrong tree. Brady is a huge blessing and a wonderful distraction, but I feel sometimes like that is all life is for me: one giant distraction from what I’m really supposed to be doing, whatever that looks like. And when the distractions go away or minimize, I am left with a giant hole where my purpose is supposed to be.

And then God surrounds me with some of the most incredibly talented people, kind of like dangling a carrot in front of my face, but never getting to actually eat it. And I see the dreams, aspirations, and goals of some of them and I feel so encouraged and discouraged at the same time. I have more obstacles and complications to pursuing my dreams than a lot of them do. And I begin to feel like my dreams are too big, too unattainable, too silly. And the fear of failing is always there, always present. I would rather not try and wonder what could have been than to try my best and fail.

I know the motivational verses: God won’t give you more than you can handle, everything works together for good for those who love him, do not worry about tomorrow, worry is fruitless, trust the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength, lean not on my own understanding….(I’m sure I’m butchering these, but memorizing scripture is NOT my forte!). I know all these things, and yet I can’t help but worry. Worry that I’m missing out on my purpose. Worry that if I don’t let go of the control, I might never find it. Worry that I’ve already missed the boat. Worry that maybe what I would like my purpose to be isn’t what God has called me to be. Worry that I’ll never figure it out.

But I still dream – even if that’s all it ever becomes, just a dream.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall Time

Hello total blog abandonment! 

What has been going on in my world? Everything and Nothing! Life feels stressful, but I'm not sure why really. Maybe it's because this fall has been and continues to be jam-packed on the weekends. Between out-of-town weddings, races, birthdays, family mini-vacations, pumpkin carving contests, church activities, football games, etc., I think the rest of this year is just booked. Thankfully, my weeknights have cleared up now! I have a love/hate relationship with being busy.....if I'm not I get bored, and if I am I get stressed.

So, T minus five days until race time. I am so ready....for it to be over! I am looking forward to accomplishing this goal, but man have I been unmotivated to run the last few weeks! It's even been unseasonably warm lately - mid to upper 70s and even the 80s - and so pleasant for outdoor running, and yet I think I began the "tappering" part of training oh....three weeks ago! Well regardless, Sunday is Go Time, whether I'm ready or not.

I'm hoping I can stop feeling so stressed and enjoy this wonderful fall we've had so far - because soon enough, it will be winter.