Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dance Camp

John and I spent last weekend at a fantastic folk dance camp. We went last year, and this time was even better. It was fun to see again all the people we had met last year. We had dance classes during the days, and learned Balkan dances and Vintage dancing, such as the cross-step waltz and galop quadrilles. I loved all the classes. Each evening was a dance party where we danced the night away. Each party had a theme, and here's a picture from Vintage night:


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tamburitzans


Two nights ago I drove to Nederland, TX, between Beaumont and Port Arthur, to watch a folk dance group from Duquesne University. The Tamburitzans are one of the best folk dance groups in the country, and I have hoped that they would come to the area ever since I heard about them three years ago. I have seen a lot of folk dancing, but I was thrilled by their show. From the costumes, to the music, to the choreography, to the energy and charisma, everything was stellar. If I was four years younger, I would be seriously tempted to go to Duquesne just to dance.

At my current advanced age, I will have to be content with going to Texas Camp. Tomorrow Katie and I will be driving to Bruceville, TX for a four-day camp. We will spend our days learning Balkan and Vintage American dances, and our nights dancing to the wee hours of the morning.

Today, my grandparents and aunt are visiting, and we're having Thanksgiving dinner today because Katie and I are leaving tomorrow.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Holocaust Museum

I went to the Houston Holocaust Museum recently, which was a very sobering experience. It's not the sort of thing you can say you enjoy, but it's interesting, and it's important to remember what happened, I think. The museum was a lot like a memorial. There weren't very many artifacts, and those that were there were the kind you'd have at a memorial. There were children's shoes found at Auschwitz, stones from a crematorium, and a boxcar outside just like the ones used to transport the Jews. The museum had a lot of signs to read that told the story, as well as lots of old photographs. There were a few videos that showed Nazi propaganda, the Warsaw ghetto, and stories of survivors.

It was all pretty overwhelming because it was so horrific. Two things really struck me. One was the amazing power of propaganda. It caused millions of people to believe it was right to systematically murder an entire innocent people group. It boggles the mind.

The other thing that struck me was how the Jews endured such terrible things when they’d done nothing wrong. It made me consider whether I’d be able to stand up for my faith in the face of torture and death if I had to. I have such an easy life, that the things I complain about are really nothing at all. The situation was different for the Jews because they were being attacked because of their very identity. There was nothing they could change or any faith they could recant to get off the hook, but it still made me consider the similarity to persecution against Christians.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Campout, Part Two

Papa was in Boy Scouts growing up, and, every so often, he pulls out some camp song or wilderness skill. So, on this trip, we learned rope making and semaphore. Here, Seth and John are testing our rope splice.

This longhorn was at one of the Johnson sites. He was comfortably lounging next to the fence until Seth poked him. It's impressive how quickly an animal that size can stand up. It did put him at a better angle for picture taking, though.
This is where the vultures roosted. We came upon the tree when we were out walking. There were about three dozen birds in it that all took flight when we came up.
It was a busy weekend.

Campout

This past weekend, we went camping at Pedernales Falls State Park. We'd never been there before, but it was one of the nicest state parks we've been to. We spent Friday visiting the Lyndon B. Johnson sites nearby, and then on Saturday we explored the park. We spent the entire morning clambering around on rocks at the falls, and then there were a couple of expeditions to other points on the river in the afternoon. We had beautiful weather all weekend, although it was rather chilly on a couple of mornings.




We're not quite sure how this cute little guy managed to get into the dumpster, but there he was! We also spotted armadillos, deer, and vultures at various times.

Fun Shopping Trip

The truth is, I like shopping...some of the time. I don't like it as a form of entertainment, but when I'm looking for something in particular and I actually find it, then it's fun. This trip was especially fun because I had a bunch of coupons and gift cards to redeem.

This "dancing tea light candle holder" was free at Bath and Body Works

when I bought a bottle of oily skin foaming facial wash. I hope it works.


Oh, and I stopped here:



for my free hot dog. (Hmmm, maybe my face wouldn't be breaking out if I didn't eat junk food. Oh, well, I don't do it very often.) Then I got Olay lotion ribbons body wash with aloe extract (???)


for $2 off at Walmart. There was a quick stop to get more cash,


and my most exciting purchase: a new optical mouse! No more old-fashioned, troublesome rollerball for me. ($10 off at OfficeMax)

I was quite pleased with this too: a lovely bread tray on sale at Macy's. Final price after using gift card: $0.81.

Yippee!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Man Judges By the Outward Appearance

John and I have had a lot of dance performances this fall, which has given me the opportunity to observe the power of a costume. I've danced in ethnic costumes quite a bit, and it's a lot of fun, but I had a costume this fall that was particularly, well, cute. I don't have a picture of it handy, but it looked almost exactly like this. I pretty much looked like a china doll in it. It's not that I'm really that cute, but it was just the outfit. Well, it was amazing to me to see how differently people treated me when I had that costume on. It was like I became a different person when I stepped out of the dressing room. Complete strangers would come up to me all the time and give me a hug or ask to take my picture, even before the dance show. I'm really not very outgoing and I'm easy to overlook in a crowd, but not with that conspicuous outfit on! I met so many people just because of my clothes. The incident that topped it all was when a woman came up to me with a camera and a little girl of about three. She said to me, "Would you mind if I took a picture of you with my daughter? She thinks you're a princess!"

And the moral is: Your clothes say a LOT, so dress wisely.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Texas Celebration

For those of you who don't know, (and who haven't already read Katie's recent post), our family does an annual celebration of a different country or culture. It includes food, costumes, reports, and study. This year was historic Texas.

My parents, stolid and grim.
Becca, shown, made the poster on the upper left. Laura did the one underneath it. Seth did the one with all the graphs on the right, and I made the horns.
The feast! From right to left: chili (which, unfortunately, you can't actually see), chili with cornbread on top, grits with green chiles, corn fritters, sourdough biscuits, and gravy. Not shown are the cowboy cookies, which were absolutely fantastic. The cowboys.
The pampered chef.

Texas Day

My family has the tradition of "visiting" another country for a day by decorating, wearing costumes, having food from that place, and studying it beforehand. This year, we didn't really "go" anywhere because we did historic Texas. It was a lot of fun. Here's our table, with the children's posters and the life-size longhorns behind it.

Laura decided she was going to be a cowboy, so that gave us four "couples." The cowboy boots even made her taller than Becca!



Monday, November 6, 2006

Passionate Love

I just read about a woman who later became the wife of a Muslim terrorist. As a young person, she was full of piety, often staying up all night reading her Quran. When her family found her in the mornings, she would be on her prayer mat with the book in her hands, having fallen asleep reading.

That woman was chasing a lie, but how fervent are we, who have the truth?

If we love God, we will love his Word. When a man and a woman are in the first excitement of love, anything that keeps them apart becomes merely an annoyance which must be tolerated. The necessities of life pull them apart at times, but their desire is always to be together, and one is never long out of the thoughts of the other. This is the kind of passionate love that Christ, our bridegroom, wants from us, his bride. Do we tell our lover that we're too busy, or too tired to stay up and chat? Do we go to a movie, or watch such-and-such show, and never think to invite him to sit with us and share our thoughts? Do we stubbornly try to solve all our problems ourselves, when nothing would please our provider and protector more than to bear our burdens on his own, strong shoulders? God forbid! Instead, we should hunger and thirst for fellowship with him. Embrace every opportunity to grow deeper in relationship with him. Passionately desire to know what he wants from us, and how we can please him more.

Remember your first love.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Starstruck

I went to a Brad Paisley concert last night, and it was a time of great music, and also great people-watching. I enjoy concerts, but I'm certainly not the type that jumps around and screams. I usually try to ignore the people who are jumping around and screaming, but I observed something at this particular concert that I couldn't ignore. In fact, it has given me great cause for consideration.

It was during the song, "When I Get Where I'm Going." If you haven't heard it, it's a beautiful song about the joys of going to heaven. Anyway, lots of people started raising their hands and swaying to the music...exactly like the people at some church services. Even though the song was about heaven, I'm extremely doubtful that those people were praising God. They were the same people who were drinking beer and screaming their lungs out when Brad Paisley appeared on stage.

That led me to ponder several questions. Was I observing idol worship when the people raised their hands in an attitude of praise? Or, was it merely an emotional response to the touching nature of the song and the excitement of the moment? If the latter, then what is the case in so many church services? Are the people worshipping God, or is it just an emotional response to the music and the excitement of the moment?

I don't think I can answer these questions, but it's something each person should consider in their worship of God...and in their conduct at concerts.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Revolution, by George Barna

"Millions of believers have moved beyond the established church, and chosen to be the church instead.

"Research by renowned pollster George Barna points to a hidden revolution--one that will impact every Christian believer in America. Millions of committed Christ followers, looking for more of God, have stopped attending church on Sunday mornings. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? And what does this mean for the future of the Church?

"In this groundbreaking book, Barna examines the state of the church today-- and compares it to the biblical picture of the church as God intended it to be. He documents how and why a new brand of devout 'Revolutionaries' is abandoning the local church building while attempting to become the Church that Christ commissioned us to be.

"This Revolution will challenge you with
-the staightforward biblical guidelines for the Church
-7 core passions of a Revolutionary
-a daring redefinition of the church as we know it.

"Maybe you're afraid of the changes to come. Maybe you've been waiting for this moment to arrive. Either way, THE REVOLUTION IS HERE."

-From the back.

I just finished this book recently, and found it very inspiring. The back doesn't really reflect it so much, but it talks a lot about how people in and out of the church are desiring to take their faith seriously, and are not depending on programs or pastors to do the work of ministry. It has made me want to live more whole-heartedly for the Lord.

The seven passions mentioned on the back are: intimate worship, faith-based conversations, intentional spiritual growth, servanthood, resource investment, spiritual friendships, and family faith(i.e. not relying on Sunday school teachers to bring up your children in the faith). I know I'm not where I'd like to be in these areas so it's been kind of a wake-up call for me.