Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My hometown

A question has been haunting me since last night about 10:30. Okay, maybe “haunting” is a strong word, but it’s certainly been on my mind.

Our women’s discipleship group is going through Beth Moore’s “Stepping Up” study on the Psalms of Ascent. I’m working a little ahead because I’d like to be through it before we go to Israel (if, in fact, they decide they can play nice for long enough for us to visit).

Anyway, I was filling out my workbook, and there was one question I was unable to answer. It asked how God is using me to make a difference in my hometown. I stared at it for a good while, and then I just left it blank. It was the last thought on my mind before I turned off the lamp and the first thought when my feet hit the floor this morning.

We’ve lived in New Brockton for almost three months. Bethany Baptist Church has felt like home for quite some time. Our trailer started to feel like home as soon as the cardboard boxes thinned out. But I don’t feel as though I can call a place “my hometown” until I connect with a certain number of people outside the church. Remember, this is coming from a girl who grew up in a town, population less than 5,000, for about 15 years. Elba was definitely my hometown, and I want New Brockton to be.

I would think one of the best ways to become part of a place is to work there. However, I have a wonderful job 45 minutes away. Another way – have kids in the school system. Not even close to achieving that. Get involved in some sort of organization or volunteer? Maybe there’s an idea, though time must be invested wisely.

So as I follow God’s direction, I’ll pray for New Brockton like David sang for Jerusalem in Psalm 122 and try to be a blessing where God has me.

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
“May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cooking tip

A piece of advice from the cooking expert: When you think you're going to get creative with your vegetables and roast any type of winter squash (in my case, acorn), follow the recipe. If it tells you to brush a butter and honey mixture on the squash, don't spoon it on or pour it.

Who needs the Food Network when you have me, right? I certainly don't.

The yellow meat part was actually pretty good, but nibbling around the burnt black stuff was not easy. Circled in pink is an actual piece of squash.

Join us here next time for more trial-and-error cooking with your host, Bethany Akridge.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmases past and present

Our Christmas was great! We got to see almost everybody within a two-day span. Some of our most interesting gifts were three Muppet Movies, two bicycles, a Hebrew translation guide and a fish cooker. We also finally got us a big cooler (an essential for every married couple) and some tray tables (an essential for every married couple with a very small kitchen table).

But the best part of this Christmas, of course, was reflecting on what it meant for Jesus to come to Earth and give us hope for a life spent with Him. The second best part was being with people we love, especially each other. We treasured last Christmas, too, but let me illustrate how much this year differed from last year...



Christmas 2007, right in the throes of chemo







Christmas 2008, feeling much better


Today, I'm back to work, and it's been pretty quiet in the office. Tonight, we're going out with the Elbians, so I'd better enjoy the quiet while I can.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas tidings

According to weather.com, today's high in my neck of the woods is 45 degrees. The rest of the week will be in the 70s (the high 70s, even). Even though I've lived here most of my life, Alabama weather never ceases to amaze me. Good thing I don't have stock in Christmas sweaters.

Here are a few photos from the weekend. First was the youth Christmas party at Chris and Jill's. The highlight of the night was flour bomb capture the flag. Some of the playas are pictured below. Notice the guy in the gray shirt, Skeeter, and the redhead, Julie, standing near me. Their hands are together because they stopped fighting over a flour bomb just long enough to pose for the picture.


And then there was the choir cantata on Sunday, which went very well. Loved it, but glad it's over! In the bottom picture, I'm really not that white. It's the flash, I promise.



I thought you might also like to see the Christmas cards I made to hand out at church and work (excluding the choir members, who got different cards and spiced tea bags).



Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bethany B.C. Christmas Spectacular!

Pretty good name for a choir cantata, huh? Thanks, I just made it up. Actually, our cantata is by Travis Cottrell, and it's called "Everything Glorious." Don't Christmas cantatas make you feel all warm and fuzzy, joyously ushering in the Christmas spirit?

Well, this is not your typical Christmas cantata.

Some traditional Christmas carols are thrown in here and there, and it's certainly enjoyable, but this cantata does not let "warm and fuzzy" get in the way of a clear message of why Jesus came and Who He is. Lots of worshipping, danceable music and celebrating the hope that only our Savior brings -- what could be any better than that? How about all those things and a solo by Gunter Akridge? You really want to be there. Just tape the TROY bowl game and come on.

If you're going to be in the area, just print this ticket and bring it with you. Or don't. You know we'll let you in.
**Update** Yes, I'm in the cantata, too. I sing alto and move around a lot. I also sing backup on Gunter's solo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Big, BIG Apple

The exciting news is that Gunter registered for his Israel class yesterday, and I booked our plane tickets to and from New York this morning!!!

Apparently, that was the easy part.

The hard part is finding out where to stay the two nights we'll be there, what to do and how to get around. I thought we'd just pick a reasonably priced hotel near JFK Airport and go from there, but I've read some comments that it's a sketchy area (Jamaica). I've also read that the Metrocard Fun Pass is a good way to go for a few days of riding the subways and buses, as long as it's during daylight hours.

In addition to going to the Brooklyn Tabernacle on Sunday, we'd like to just hit a few of the highlights -- the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, etc.

We sure could use some advice from you if you've spent anytime in New York. Obviously, it's a little outside my area of expertise. Let me demonstrate.
New York City:
...versus my world:




Um...help?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Back in their day

Ever wonder how graphic artists and publication layout people practiced their trade in the days before computer programs? Probably not. But, if you'd like to be enlightened, this is a pretty neat Web site:

The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies

Of course, this spring chicken is amazed that people actually used tools like these. I've heard stories about placing lead type, pasting and drawing by hand, all hard to imagine.

I was not born an artist, but ironically, I get paid to design, and I love it. My tools of the trade are a mouse and computer screen. Ask me to paint or draw a straight line, and you'll have an absolute mess.

My how things change -- for the better!

Monday, December 15, 2008

By the way...

Trying canned, microwaved asparagus will make you never want to eat asparagus...ever...again. That probably should have been common sense.

Tomorrow, our department is having lunch together at Beef O'Brady's. Eating out will make it all better.

Seek FIRST, not last

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

With all the rush and distraction this time of year can bring, I thought I was doing so well. I was careful to avoid going overboard on gifts and to get things checked off the list early. We didn’t have as many parties to attend this year, and I had determined not to get worked up over little things.

I thought I was doing so well…Until this morning, when I let the self-generated pressure of the week hit me all at once. Too much thinking while getting ready on Monday morning will do that to a girl.

I am a planner, but every good quality has its mirror pitfalls. I doubt good planning means trying to work the whole week out in my mind before it’s really even begun. Interestingly, Jesus says in the very next verse:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

At least twice in the last two days has the Holy Spirit brought Jesus’s words to my mind, certain ones he used on Martha:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary…” Luke 10:41-42

This morning, those words came as I drove to work, right after showing Gunter a touch of the same resentment Martha used on Mary.

What a stark contrast from Sunday to Monday! We spent last night worshipping and rejoicing as we performed our Christmas cantata at a church in a town nearby. But as soon as we were on the way home, the to-do list started creeping up on me.

What’s silly is that my to-do list is not so daunting. It just becomes that way when I get the necessary stuff or the stuff that would be good to do mixed up with the “only one thing necessary,” according to the One who knows.

It happens so easily when I seek last rather than first.

So I followed Dr. Akridge’s orders to “chill out” and spend a little time with God on the way to work. How different everything seems when I talk with Him rather than talking to myself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Final clue and answer

Clue #6: I would consider many places on Earth to be beautiful, but where we're going is the only place on Earth God ever called, "the Beautiful Land." (Daniel 11:6)
Give up? In March, Gunter and I are going to Israel.

Gunter is taking seminary classes through Liberty University's distance learning program. The president and dean of the seminary, Dr. Ergun Caner, a former Muslim, will lead the tour, and Gunter will get class credit. We'll spend 10 days in Israel. Click here to see our basic itinerary.

Oh, and the icing on the cake... We'll meet our group at JFK airport in New York City on a Monday evening. Anyone who knows Gunter well has heard about (and has probably listened to) the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. How could we be 12 miles away from the Tabernacle and not visit? Furthermore, how could we be one day away from Sunday and not attend a service?!

In light of the circumstances, we're going to try to fly up maybe on the Saturday morning before, attend a Sunday service (or maybe multiple services?) and stay in New York until we meet the group on Monday evening. So many dreams-come-true rolled into one.

Nervous, elated and clueless would describe how I feel right now. So, considering neither one of us has ever been to New York City or Israel (and I've never been on a plane for longer than 2 hours), we'd appreciate all the advice we can get.

Clue #5

It's home to the lowest point on Earth (1,300 feet below sea level), as well as the body of water with the highest salt concentration.



Check back after lunch today to find out the identity of the mystery destination!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Clue #4

It's a civilized country, but people there don't always act civil toward one another.

Clue #3

Yesterday, Shelia got it right on her second guess. Super-sleuths Jill and Joni found out from one of Gunter's Facebook groups. Keep the guesses coming! Just two or three more clues before I reveal the answer.

Clue #3: It's a good thing I like olives...and grapes!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clue #2

At this point, Gunter and I only know a few words of the language(s), not enough to communicate.

Clue #1

Even though some of you already know where I'm going with my passport, and the rest of you aren't losing sleep over it, let's play a game, even if only for my own entertainment. Over the next few days, I'll post clues about my destination in March. If you guess correctly, I'll recognize you on the blog, but I won't post your answer...to prolong the fun, you know. So if I don't get any guesses, I'll just pretend that I didn't post them. ;-) I'll also include a small piece of a photo and show more of it with each clue.


So without further ado, clue #1:


By the time we get there, we will have crossed eight time zones.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It has come to pass(port)

Getting it has been on my to-do list for years. Using it has been on my to-do list for as long as I can remember.


Today, I applied for my first passport. Gunter has had his for several years, from his two mission trips to Honduras. I’ve been meaning to get mine for quite a while so I’d be ready, just in case anything came up. I wanted to be sittin’ on go in case I needed to got the opportunity to leave the country.

My day has come, all of a sudden and stampeding over me like a herd of crazed orangutans. (Found out about possibility of trip overseas on Tuesday before Thanksgiving, signed up and sent in deposit one week later.)

So I went to get my passport, and, as is customary anytime I’m faced with official paperwork, I hit a few small snags. (No, I didn’t get deported. Small snags.) There I was, thinking I was completely prepared. Filled out my application online and printed it out. Paperclipped it to my birth certificate, driver’s license and two perfectly sized color photos – 2” x 2”, head and shoulders on an off-white background, 1-1.38” from the top of my head to the bottom of my chin. Checks already written to the U.S. Department of State and the county clerk’s office. Lo and behold, the clerk’s office only takes cash and money orders.

So, I made a bank run and safely steered my way back around the precarious court square. Lady working in the clerk’s office also called to my attention that I was supposed to apply for the passport card or the passport book, not both. I assumed the passport card went inside the passport book, so I needed both. You live and learn.

Apply for passport – Check. Prepare for new experiences and trip of a lifetime – still working on it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Deck the halls!

We didn't actually deck our halls, but we did decorate our den last night. I started to deck the hall with three Christmas ducks Benjamin gave me a couple of years ago, but Gunter warned me that they were bound to be kicked over where I had placed them.

The fact that we made a spot for the tree was quite a feat in itself. We decided at least one piece of furniture had to go to make room. You should have seen Gunter lift our recliner over his head and carry it down the back porch steps toward the storage building. I helped...a little.

Though my photography skills are lacking here, I'd like to show you Gunter's favorite ornament. It's Santa walking three pigs. It earns a place of prominence on the tree every year. Much like Daddy's cloth snowman the RAs made him before I was even born. It's become a running joke that Mom is going to steal the snowman and get rid of it when he's not looking.

We also have a set of silver martini glasses we received at a church ornament shower. We hang them faithfully...on the back of the tree. So, what kind of strange decorations does your family cherish every year?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Late Thanksgiving wrap-up

It's been a while since I've updated (if you don't count that little fuss earlier today), so here are just a few photos from Thanksgiving, which was great, by the way.

We spent Thursday evening with the most Dye's (Dad's family) that have been together in one place in a long time. Here's me with the two biggest cutups, Cousin BB and PawPaw. There's no telling how many photos BB posed for during the course of the evening. I'm still waiting on the date he promised me to Dairy Queen.

Here are Aunt Lee, Mom, Gunter and my "little" brother Benjamin at Aunt Sally's house. Notice the punch fountain on the left. It could not compare with Aunt Sally's fried rice and wonton -- the highlights of any Dye family gathering.

We missed out on the Bailey family Thanksgiving this year, but we did get to eat supper with the Bailey girls at the Chicken Shack (home of the best fried chicken the world has ever known) on Wednesday night. Here are Aunt Pam, Dear Grandmother and Mama.
After an almost sleepless Thursday night, my feet hit the floor at 3 a.m. on Friday for some long-awaited Bailey girls Black Friday shopping! Aunt Pam and Cousin Courtney were rewarded for arriving in Montgomery at 5 a.m. with a combined $310 in free merchandise from Sports Authority. The slackers (Mom and I) got there about 6 a.m. We had a fun, though rainy, day. Came home with some great deals and no black eyes or broken bones.

Saturday, my "twin" and her husband hosted an Iron Bowl par-tay for the youth. Here are a few scenes from that shindig:

I believe Blake is laughing at all the Auburn fans on the right end of the couch. But Pastor Tony wins the trash-talk award for the day.


We played some fast and furious ping-pong as that fourth quarter didn't look to offer much excitement.

So, there's my Thanksgiving wrap-up. I'd love to talk about how truly thankful I was, but this post is long enough already.

A lesson learned

Just an FYI...

When the U.S. Postal Service says they can't guarantee that an overnighted letter will actually arrive overnight, they mean it. Even when you paid $16 on Tuesday morning to get a letter to Virginia overnight, it's not guaranteed to arrive there by Thursday morning. Instead, it will take its sweet time.

Just thought I'd give you a heads-up...In case you ever try to overnight any letters to Virginia, spend your 16 bucks on something more beneficial.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Call me Old Mother Hubbard

I’m not a mother, and I’m not that old, but like Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboard is often lacking. In no way am I suggesting we go hungry. Goodness, no. We have more in our pantry right now than so many unfortunate families have in a month. What I mean is, I don’t always stock well.

I’m actually better than I used to be. I cringe to think about it now, but I used to make a Wal-Mart or Winn Dixie trip almost every day of the week. Talk about planning ahead. I’d decide what to cook ‘round about lunchtime and get the specific ingredients I needed during my lunch break or on my way home from work.

When I realized how much time and frustration I was wasting, I began to limit my grocery trips to once a week, twice if absolutely necessary. But even now, I still only buy what I will cook that week (on average, two meals) and maybe a few frozen dishes for lunch.

I guess when just two people make up a household and don’t always eat at home, it’s tough to buy in bulk. One, it’s hard to make decisions in advance and two, food goes bad before we eat it. I kid you not – when we moved from our house in Andalusia, a bunch of our canned goods had expired…CANNED goods, supposedly non-perishable. At the Akridge house, the non-perishable perishes.

So if I find out at the last minute that I have to prepare a covered dish or have people over for supper, I must make an emergency trip to the grocery store. Two days before Thanksgiving. Because not only did I not have any food to contribute to an impromptu get-together at my house last night, but I didn’t even have anything to drink!

We try not to drink a lot of soft drinks, so I don’t buy them for home. Our sweet tea tastes more like dishwater, so I don’t have tea on hand, either. So what do you get to drink when you come to my house, unless I get to the grocery store? Water, water with Crystal Light flavoring or sometimes milk. One day, I’ll write a book on hospitality.

I do have a few staples in the pantry, not because I planned it that way but because I forgot I had them and needlessly bought more. If I were to stock up with commonly used food, I guess these would be on my list:

Frozen chicken breasts and ground beef
Frozen vegetables
Frozen pizza
Cream of mushroom soup
Cream of chicken soup
Shredded cheese
Uncooked pasta
Spaghetti sauce
Nestle Instant Breakfast
Vegetable oil
Canned corn
Moore’s
Dry onion soup mix


Okay, that’s a good start. What would be on your list?

Monday, November 24, 2008

A cord of many strands

Since I have no time today to post anything else, here's my latest Alabama Baptist Article. Hope it encourages you as much as it encouraged me.

Guntersville youth ministries cross denominational lines

Youth ministries in Guntersville are breaking down barriers — starting with those between churches. Especially during the past two years, unity has not only become the spiritual norm among the city’s young people but also the breakthrough to reaching them.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pining over prose gone by

Reading is marketed to children as a way to be anywhere and do anything by way of a book and their imagination. I grew up on Reading Rainbow. Can’t you just hear the theme song now?:

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high
Take a look, It's in a book
A Reading Rainbow

I can go anywhere
Friends to know, and ways to grow
A Reading Rainbow


I can be anything
Take a look, it's in a book
A Reading Rainbow
A Reading Rainbow

I suffer from literary breakups. I get into a novel, develop an emotional attachment to the characters, feel the highs and lows of their experiences, and then, “The End.” It literally takes me a few days to get over the separation.

I finished a book Wednesday evening. Last night, I reread the last two chapters, just to savor the happy ending one more time.

Like a series of short-lived relationships, what better way to get over the last book than to start a new one? It helps me move on with my life. I started a new one yesterday.

Gunter is somewhere shaking his head right now, repeating his take on fiction: “It’s not real.” “It never happened.” “They don’t exist.”

I know, I know. *sniff*

Maybe it’s the “highs” I’m addicted to. Same thing that draws other people to movies, video games and more destructive habits I won’t mention. I have no desire to escape my life by living out another’s, but I do love a good story.

Time also aids in the attachment. Reading is one of my favorite activities, but I hardly ever devote time to it. I might spend months reading the same novel, here and there when I have a spare minute or while I’m in a waiting room. So by the time I’m done, these characters and I have been together for quite a while.

Maybe it would be safer if I’d stick to non-fiction. Biographies are okay because they’re still stories. I’m not big on what I call “how-to” books. I know they can be used to improve our lives and open our spiritual minds. But I tend to be such a rule-follower (as if I must remember and act on every point), they’re just too much work! I read for leisure, not for labor.

Can anybody else relate to the pang of book breakups, or am I just crazy emotional imaginative and sensitive?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The secret to happy Sunday evenings

I have this problem with Sunday evenings. Round about 3:30, I hit a slump that I sometimes can’t shake until Monday morning. Maybe it’s the weight of the week to come and the knowledge that my happy weekend is waning. Maybe it’s that the sun goes down and I lose that Vitamin D energy.

Or maybe it’s that I’m supposed to rest on Sunday afternoons…meaning no work to keep me busy…meaning that I conk out as soon as I get still...and then as the clock strikes 3:30, I attempt to snap into a chipper, alert state for choir practice, discipleship training and church. If you’ve ever woken me up from a nap, you understand why waking up and coming in contact with people 30 minutes later is a dangerous thing for all parties involved.

To my credit, I’m a morning person. I’m neither mean nor delirious when I get up in the morning. At least I don't think I am.

But the later in the day I fall asleep, the scarier it becomes to wake me up. It’s like Dr. Jekyll becomes Mrs. Hyde. I lash out and don’t even remember what I’ve said or why. After several occurrences last week, I decided I will avoid falling asleep on the couch like the plague because it’s a real detriment to my marriage. And that pretty much means not sitting down at all after about 6 p.m. Sometimes what I say is not necessarily mean but just bizarre. Even after 2½ years of blessed matrimony, Gunter has not gotten used to it.

Back to Sundays. I believe I have discovered the secret to a happy Sunday evening – Diet Coke. It’s as simple as that, my friends. It’s already solved my problem with staying awake in meetings, and now it has become my secret weapon to battling the Sunday evening slump.


Allow me to recount what led to this discovery. Gunter and I had lunch with the Dyes at The Mellow Mushroom yesterday, and everybody knows the greatest drink with pizza is Diet Coke (just like you can’t eat fine Mexican cuisine without sweet tea). So, I downed one Diet Coke at the restaurant and brought home a to-go cup. Gunter had a seminary test to take, so he spent the afternoon at church, and I was left home alone with the sun streaming in the windows...under the covers in bed…reading. With the aid of my handy-dandy Diet Coke, I didn’t come close to nodding off. Miraculous!

So maybe one successful Sunday afternoon is not enough to deem Diet Coke my secret weapon, but it’s a start. And don’t worry, I won’t become an all-out addict. Secret weapons must be used sparingly or they wouldn’t be secret weapons.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Scan results

A quick update... Gunter's CT scans were clean as a whistle! And his blood work looked great.

I'll be working out of town today, so I probably won't get to post your comments until Monday.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Online photo sharing

I realize I'm way behind on this technology. People have sent me invitations to view their photos online through such-and-such site, order prints, etc. Today, my aunt sent me the link to a site my cousin Kim is using to post photos of church events...what a brilliant idea!

Wouldn't it be great to have a site where I and all my church homies could upload and share photos?! If any of you are up on this technology, please help me out. Here are some questions I have:

1. What service do you use? The sites I've seen are dropshots.com and snapfish.com.

2. What do you like and dislike? I haven't tested either one of these much, but it seems as though one benefit of DropShots is you don't have to have an account to view photos. If this also means various people can upload to one account, this is a plus.

3. Is there any way to share actual files, as in downloading JPEGs from the site after they've been uploaded by someone else? We use an FTP server this way at work, but I'm not so sure these photo sites have the capability. Maybe if we could ID who uploaded which photos, we could just request certain ones from each other.

Thanks for your help!

Monday, November 10, 2008

CT scan, check

Just an update...Gunter is done with his CT scans, and everything went fine. He was rewarded for being such a good sport by eating lunch at Moe's with his buddy Adam (a.k.a. AdamAnna, when with his other half). I'll try to let you know the test results by Friday morning.

In other news, we had a great time at TROY's homecoming Saturday. We started the day early by judging the parade and spent the rest of the day socializing with some of our favorite fellow washed-up has-beens alumni, one cool college student and some of the best college ministers turned marriage counselors there are.


We're thinking next year, we might even participate in alumni band. Or at least Gunter will. Does one semester of marching, one semester of concert and one semester of symphony give me enough points to be considered an alumni band member?


Here's us at the game. I can't believe I didn't get raccoon eyes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Homegoing

Gunter and I will be in Troy for homecoming tomorrow. Anybody else?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

50 words kids think you don't know

Mom tore this article out of the October 2008 AARP magazine. I thought it was hilarious! It also made me feel not so out-of-touch.


*The terms, definitions and usages published in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this Blogger. This is merely for entertainment purposes.

Let’s make a game out of it! See how many you can define before looking at the definition, and leave a comment about how you did. (By the way, you won’t see all 50 because I left out “Britishisms.”)
Online
crackberry: nickname for a BlackBerry, the addictive phone, e-mail device and general digital gadget
google: to use a search engine, especially Google
vlog: a Web log of video entries
webisode: a video short produced specifically for Internet viewing

Text message decoder
BFF: best friends forever
IDK: I don’t know
LOL: laughing out loud
OMG: oh my gosh
ROFL: rolling on the floor laughing
TMI: too much information

Fashion
bling: sparkly jewelry, often gaudy
tatted out: covered in tattoos
tramp stamp: a tattoo on a woman’s lower back, designed for viewing between low-riding jeans and short T-shirts
scooby doos: good shoes
soul patch: a small tuft of beard under a male’s lower lip, usually with the rest of the face clean-shaven

Love
baby mama: the mother of one’s children, usually not a spouse
boo: boyfriend or girlfriend
cougar: an older woman who dates younger men
cupcaking: engaging in a public display of affection
flirtationship: a prolonged flirtation with an acquaintance, not involving physical contact

Friends
brodown: boys’ night out
bromance: a close but platonic relationship between two men
frenemy: a friend-enemy, someone close to you who often hurts your feelings or competes
noob: a newcomer, especially one in online gaming
peeps: people; one’s closest friends or family

Music
crunk: a hip-hop genre
disco nap: a short nap before a night out clubbing
emo: a softcore punk genre and its subculture of angsty teen fans
mash up: to take elements of existing pieces of music, usually of different genres, and combine them in a new song; also the resulting song

Actions
check vitals: to monitor one’s e-mail, cellphone, voicemail and other electronics
floss: to show off your wealth, often in a car
friend: to add as a contact on a social networking Web site
jump the shark: to have peaked and now be on a downward slide
rock: to manifest greatness
talk smack: to speak negatively or belittle a person, often in the heat of competition

Affirmations
fo’shizzle: certainly
obvi: obviously
totes: totally

Descriptors
the bomb: an ultimate favorite
off the chain: the bomb
ridonkulous: beyond ridiculous
sick: extremely cool
tight: fantastic
wack: unjustifiable

The end
badonkadonk: an attractive derriere

Sadly, I knew what “badonkadonk” means, but I had never actually seen or heard “derriere.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday update

I feel as though I’m behind on blogging, even though it’s only been 4 days, so I’ll just offer a brief update in bullet points.
  • We have completely vacated our former residence and are now full-fledged Brocktonites…Brocktonians...By the way, what do you call citizens of New Brockton? I need to know, since I are one.
    We still have quite a bit of unpacking and settling in to do, but at least you can move around our main living areas now. The place is smelling less like cardboard boxes. There’s a clear path to the couch and the guest bathroom, so I think you’d be safe coming to visit.

    We have a cute gray storage building in the back yard, complete with shelves Gunter built himself. Now I have a place to stack all those empty pots, evidence of plants gone by.

  • Speaking of moving (I’m as ready as you are to stop speaking of it), I’ve also moved offices at work. By “office,” I mean the kind with no ceiling, window or door, a.k.a. “cubicle.” I like a change of place, and this new cubicle has lots of storage space. I’m getting used to the new sounds and the brighter lights. So, I’m in store for more finding places to put things. I might even bring some d├ęcor from home that I no longer have room for. I miss my next-door neighbor already, even though we’re still right across the hall.

  • I have spotted a couple more brown, six-legged intruders at home, but their demise was swift and unmerciful. Unless they hide well, we've been pretty clear of them.

  • This week, I’ve been dealing with a different kind of critter, namely, a tiny green lizard living in my car. I would say trapped in my car, but he doesn’t act like he wants to leave. We first spotted the puny reptile on Sunday morning, sunning on the back seat. We tried to catch him, but he disappeared somewhere under the driver’s seat. Gunter and I agreed that I would not drive the inhabited vehicle until the lizard was apprehended, for fear that if he crawled on me, I would injure myself and others on the road. I’m not afraid of lizards, despite how it sounds, but I am afraid of things crawling on me.

    We figured the lizard was dead by now – no water, varying temperatures – but he proved tougher than our estimations. He reappeared twice today as Gunter was driving, managing to escape the first time. Apparently, Gunter’s compassion ran out and the second time…death by umbrella. Sad story, I know.

  • I attended my very first Bethany Baptist Church trunk-or-treat and fall festival/barbecue this week. Had a blast! I wish I could show you how cute some of the kids’ costumes were, but I have a policy against posting other people’s kids’ photos on the Internet without permission.

    Instead, here's a view from our "trunk" -- Bro. Milford is trading us his half-eaten Crunch bar for one of our Tootsie Rolls. He said he didn't bite off the Crunch bar, so I ate the rest.

    What’s a fall festival without a good ol’ fashioned hayride? And what’s a good ol’ fashioned hayride without shivering in the cold, being tackled by phantoms in the woods, dogs hitching rides and broken glow sticks on little boys’ heads?

  • Started my Christmas shopping Saturday! As is tradition, Mom, Grammama, Aunt Pam and I enjoyed the Pike Road Arts and Crafts Fair. As always, it started out chilly and ended up hot. As always, paley got just a little bit of sunburn. And as always, I got some great ideas for gifts I’d like to make but likely will not get around to (and would probably end up spending more than I would have had I just bought whatever the item was). Gunter says people will begin to not want our gifts – and I say, what’s so bad about that?!

  • Today was a new experience, the first time I’ve ever voted without incident. I get nervous every time. Usually, I have to fill out more than one ballot because the machine won’t take mine the first time. “What if I don’t draw the little arrow right?” “What if I mark the wrong one?” “What if they don’t have me on the list?” “What if I get in trouble because they think I’m cheating off the next guy’s ballot?”

    Regardless of who wins each race, I’ll respect those God places in authority over me, and I’ll agree with my pastor, “I already have a King, and His name is Jesus.”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's that time again.

It's almost time for Gunter's 3-month scans at the Cancer Center. He'll have a CT scan Monday, November 10, at 10:30 a.m. We'll meet with Dr. D for the results on Thursday, November 13, at 3:30 p.m.

We can't take good reports for granted or assume that this one will have the same result as the last couple have. The likelihood of a recurrence is highest during these first two years, but we can't trust in statistics. Instead, we trust the One who gives and takes away, and who is altogether good, no matter how He chooses to direct our steps. (Job 1:21)

Life can seem so overwhelming when we focus on circumstances, but when we fix our gaze on Him, it's amazing how the scenery changes.

Of course, it's not so hard to trust God when there's nothing else you can do. We have absolutely no control over whether that cancer reappears. It's tougher to focus on Him when we're in the midst of circumstances we (wrongly) feel as though we can control.

That's something I've been realizing lately. Anything I focus on other than God becomes an idol in my life. It's been a while since my relationship with Him has been just that -- me and Him, without me rationing my attention to a bunch of worthwhile pursuits. But it's so romantic how He always calls me back, reminds me to seek Him first. Every part of my life hinges on that.

Ahem, back to Gunter's scans. Please say a prayer for us as we approach scan time again. We'd like to set up permanent residence here in happy remission. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We're going to appreciate this...

Has anybody ever been to the Red Owl Plantation restaurant in Midland City? Our church gave us a gift certificate for a meal there for Pastor Appreciation Month. They must know eating out is one of our favorite hobbies.

Some of our friends went there for their anniversary (the day they found out they were having twins), and they say the food is great. We Googled it but couldn't find much on it. I almost don't know how to act when that happens. I thought the Internet was supposed to know everything!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Correction

The "bedsheet" for our screen actually turned out to be a tablecloth, with may or may not belong to a church member. (Shhhh! Maybe she won't notice.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gunter Akridge, a.k.a. MacGyver

You can already hear the theme song playing in your head, can't you?
So the other day, Gunter calls me and asks, "Know where I could get some spandex?"

Hm... I'm not sure what my answer should be to a question like that.

Let me back up.

At any given moment, Gunter has these brilliant ideas bouncing around in his head...mostly about what we need at the church in the form of sound equipment, screens, lights, etc. He hardly ever buys anything because that sort of stuff is high as a cat's back expensive, but he does have some great ideas.

One of said great ideas is getting a rear-projection screen in the sanctuary for the choir. (Due to the layout of things, a front-projection screen won't work.) From what I hear, rear-projection screens cost like, $900. So that's pretty much a no-go.

He noticed the church we visited in Destin had a screen for the choir made out of a stretchy material, which turned out to be spandex and lycra. He found those online for about $300.

Setting out to make his own screen and frame, he was on the hunt for spandex. Calls and visits to several local fabric stores were none too fruitful.

The final result? This money-saving MacGyver of a man made a rear-projection screen from some thumbtacks, a BEDSHEET he found upstairs in the church and a borrowed/donated projector. Allow me to calculate the savings:

$900 > free

And there you have it. Gunter Akridge, saving God's money, one bedsheet screen at a time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleanting question

(Yes, I typed, "cleanting." Ever seen Diary of a Mad Black Woman?)

Anyway, for you housecleaning pros, I have a question... What is the best way to get a shower curtain liner clean/keep a shower curtain liner clean? I try to spray and wipe it when I clean the shower, but it's just not working for me. My current method is buying a new, cheap one every time it gets embarrassingly nasty.

Any advice, (law-abiding) Martha Stewarts?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Valuables

Heather at And Now I'm a Grown-Up tagged me, so here goes... I'm supposed to list six things I value and six things I don't value, but I'm changing the number to five because I just like the number five better and because I can't help but expound a little on each. These are in no particular order.

Things I value:
1. True love, the kind that reaches beyond my loveworthiness. I am left speechless every time God reveals a small glimpse to me of the depth of His love, and when I see a glimmer of that love in other people. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so I'll write more later. My heart beats fast just thinking about it.

2. Time with family. I'm finally coming to grips that so many things I devote my time to don't matter as much as others. I know certain obligations are necessary (such as my job and housework), but their value is often much less than the reward of investing time with special people. I spent Monday evening with my Dear Grandmother (pronounced deer grand-MU-ther), and my heart sure does miss that time with her and with many others. I've got to make time. Got to.

3. Wise counsel. I love that when I'm wrestling with something, a thoughtful talk with one of my trusted advisers brings clarity. I'm often irrational, and I'm so glad when someone brings me back to reality.

4. Laughter, the sincere, honest kind. Life can be so funny, no matter the situation.

5. Meaningful experiences. I know this is about as broad as I could get, but this could include meeting someone new, fond memories from childhood or doing something well.



Things I don't value:
1. Excessive complaining. Of course, I whine sometimes, and I like when people feel free to vent to me. But there is something good about everything and everyone. I couldn't imagine hating everything about life and wallowing in pity 24/7.

2. Insincerity. I'm fairly naive, so if someone doesn't like something I've done, I would really rather know it up front. It bothers me when I'm not sure where I stand with someone. Sometimes I wish I were a mindreader!

3. Depression. I hate when people are down (I'm talking an extended period of time and can't shake it sort of down). I don't like the fact that sometimes there is nothing I can say or do to pull them out of that rut.

4. Being lost, as in on the road. I get that way from time to time, and it makes me especially nervous when I'm headed somewhere I have to be at a certain time.

5. That pesky afternoon slump. Some days, it's not bad at all, but then other days... It's that hour or two in the afternoon when my brain won't work and my body is ready to shut down. Then comes the second wind, and everything is much better.


So there's my list. I won't tag anyone, but if you'd like to participate, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shoo, flu!

Got my flu shot today. I can’t believe it’s been a year already!

Gunter was taking chemo at this time last year, so germs were a big concern for me…not so much for him, but I was a germaphobe, and I knew it. I could be mean about it.

I remember, someone brought her sick baby to work one day, and I almost had a panic attack. I could have given a piece of my mind to a couple of women who never washed their hands on the way out of the bathroom, their next stop the company breakroom. I kept Lysol, Clorox and Germex in business.

Funny, last year was my first time to ever get the flu shot and my first time to ever get the flu. Gunter and I both had it, though our cases were mild. Apparently, we got the strand not covered by the flu shot.

I went to the doctor the same day I started feeling bad and filled two prescriptions for Tamiflu by that afternoon. We sick folks were in good company. One pharmacy in our town ran completely out, and the wait at Wal-Mart was 3 hours long.

Now that chemo is over, germs just don’t scare me like they used to. No big deal. But I got another flu shot because I know that somewhere, someone with an at-risk loved one is nervous about flu season.

From someone who’s been there, please be considerate this flu season. I’m not insisting that everyone should get vaccinated, but if you get sick, do all you can to prevent your germs from spreading. A little sneeze here and there might not mean a lot to most of us, but it means an awful lot to others…maybe even the person in the very next cubicle.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Destin-y's child

I had the most wonderful weekend in Destin! Just to let you know how good it was, it all started out with a massage at Serenity by the Sea (sponsored by one of my company’s vendors), and it just got better from there. My conference was even kind of fun, the highlight being our free night. Chick flicks aren’t my favorite, but they can be an awful lot of fun with the right crowd…and those girls from work are a fun bunch.

Gunter finally has a break between seminary classes this week, perfect timing to get away for a weekend – no work, no schedule, no unpacking, no roaches. We ate out, we shopped, we napped, we laughed. We didn’t actually set foot on the beach, but we did look at it from The Back Porch (see the view above, which is not my picture). It was a little too cloudy, windy and October for me to be in a sit-in-the-sand mood, and I was simply too lazy to get out there.

I almost dreaded coming home because I knew lots of cardboard boxes and household chaos were waiting for me, but I was glad to only find two dead roaches upon our arrival. No signs or mice or live roaches. Just like their little creepy legs, things are looking up.

Gunter also finished putting a pantry together for me last night, so now we’ll have a place to keep our food besides a cardboard box. I like that idea because access to food is very important.

So I didn’t want to make you jealous of my pantry or my beach trip, but there’s your weekend update. Hope yours was wonderful, too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Critter update

The exterminator has already paid us a visit. I feel much better. I'd rather find roaches lying on the floor than flying at my face.

Close encounters of the worst kind

The plot thickens.

I seriously considered not writing about this because:
1. I don't want to seem ungrateful to be living where I am, and
2. I don't want to gross you out more than I have.

So please know that neither is my intention.

I thought I'd be writing today to celebrate mousetrap victories, but no such luck. Gunter did set some traps yesterday, but no dead rodents yet, unless you count the one under the bathroom wall.

Gunter posed the question last night as we were on our way to bed if mice were really what we were dealing with or roaches. What happened a few minutes later persuaded me to believe it’s both. I think they’re in cahoots.

We killed 4 roaches within about 15 minutes. (By “we,” I mean me screaming bloody murder and Gunter actually doing the squashing.) FOUR within 15 minutes – that ought to be some kind of record. Roach #3 was caught climbing over my bare foot, headed up my pants leg.

Did I overreact? If you call being reduced to a whimpering child overreacting, then yes, I guess you could say I overreacted.

Oh, but Gunter is ever so patient and gentle with me. He only hesitated for a moment when I asked him to get up at 5:30 this morning and check the bathroom before I went in there. But even as caring as he is, I doubt the refusing-to-brush-my-teeth-without-him-watching-for-roaches bit will last much longer. Or the waking up several times during the night just to make sure there’s not one on the bed.

Maybe it’s not just an outstanding show of Gunter’s patience. Maybe it’s that he didn’t want me to evacuate the premises at that time of night.

Okay, so I’ve learned my lesson about washing dishes promptly and sweeping every two hours. I’ve heard mice and roaches are common issues for mobile home dwellers. So if any of you out there have fought this battle before, how did you cope? What’s the best way to get rid of these pests, or at least keep your sanity? I’ve heard a few stories…Maybe I should just ask “Mule” Kelley to stake out the place with his BB gun.

Funny, the roach invasion began immediately after we talked about hosting FCA Bible studies in our home on a regular basis. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but could this be an attack to make me want to head for the hills instead of being used by God in the place we sensed He had for us?

I’m headed to Destin for a few days on a work trip, so creepy critters, here’s your last chance to get out. Because when I return, I’ll have “a new attitude,” just like Dear Grandmother says. No more Ms. Nice Guy.

And don’t get greedy. Your gluttony will be your undoing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Home new home

We moved Saturday! Here is the moving card I made (address covered), which I may or may not send out to announce our new address. I just got inspired one day and had to make something, necessary or not. I’ll probably just e-mail it, because if you’ve ever seen anything I’ve printed and tried to cut myself…it’s not pretty.

Back to moving. The helpfulness of loving people never ceases to amaze and humble me. Would you believe that several of our church families gave up their Saturdays to load our junk and unpack it at our new place? AND some of our new neighbors had lunch waiting on us when we got back! I know so many more would have volunteered their time had they known we were moving, but it all sort of happened so fast.

So our first few days have been interesting.

I realized that I have so much more left to do (and buy) that I anticipated, but it will all get done in time. Lots of time.

I suffered from a small stomach bug our first two days there, which got in the way of unpacking and made me want to go home, but I was home.

We also discovered that we are not living alone because we’ve found evidence of some four-legged freeloaders. One of them didn’t fare so well because his remains lie in state somewhere underneath a wall in our bathroom. The other decided to check out our kitchen stuff during the night. How he got on top of our island, I’m not sure, but I am sure he was there.

Bring on the mousetraps! For the first time in my life, I will not put up a fuss about killing small, furry animals. Their cuteness met its end when they pooped on my countertop. (I guess this means no one will want me to bring a dish to Family Night Supper tomorrow.)

All whining aside, my 45-minute drive to work this morning was not bad at all. Travis Cottrell, Rick and Bubba made it go by so fast.

I’m so glad to finally be in Brockton! We’re thankful for God’s provision and pray He uses us (and our abode) always for His glory.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Crossover into new life

I absolutely did not do this ministry justice. I wish I could have shared every story from each changed life. God has even used this ministry to change the lives of many observers, including me.

Opp’s Crossover Ministry guides men away from addiction, toward Christ
By Bethany Akridge
September 25, 2008

In four years, Crossover Ministry in Opp has given 120 men the opportunity for a new life — in more ways than one.

With its headquarters in a former funeral home, Crossover goes beyond most drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs to provide men not only the keys to a new life free from addiction but also a new life in Christ free from sin.

“People don’t have addiction problems. They have sin problems,” said Todd Sasser, Crossover executive director. “If you get rid of the sin problem, the drug and alcohol problems vanish.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The view of my den

Home should be a warm, inviting retreat to relax and spend happy times with those you love. (cue hysterical laughter)

This is our den (living room, if you're not from LA), covered with boxes. Some are full, and some will be soon. Notice how close they are to the ceiling. Our dining room is somewhere behind this imposing wall, also littered with boxes. Our hallway and guest bedroom look much the same. I'm really looking forward to making our new crib look like this on Saturday.

And for the record, I am no longer excited about storage buildings. They cost too much, and comparing prices and delivery options among dealers is more of a hassle than ordering them online.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Great things are in store...age.

In the process of checking items off my moving to-do list… Yes, I have an actual moving to-do list programmed into my PDA. (It’s the hand-held electronic calendar thingy you might see me pull out of my purse and tap on at any given moment – in the middle of a conversation, during the announcements at church…Hey, somebody’s got to keep up with this stuff!)

Anyway, in the process of trying to get things checked off yesterday, I browsed for storage buildings online. We have a shed at our house now where we keep various garden tools, our weedeater and all the empty pots of plants I’ve killed. When we move to the trailer, we’re going to need somewhere to keep all that stuff for the three times a year we actually use garden tools.

You know you are no longer a child when you get excited over shopping for storage buildings. Actually, I don’t know that I was so excited about storage buildings. I think what actually excited me was the realization that you can actually buy a storage shed for less than $500…and the fact that I’m one obsessive step closer to checking an item off my list. Because when you can order a storage building online and have it shipped directly to your local Lowe’s…this was going to be easier than I thought. Until I realized that somebody would have to assemble the thing once it arrived.

Nonetheless, I was so excited that I printed off a few pages of storage buildings to show Gunter over lunch. Then, I couldn’t even wait until we got to the restaurant to start talking storage buildings. He reminded me that we need to pick a place to eat first, so restrained myself until we got our sweet tea, chips and salsa. (Is it just me, or do Mexican restaurants have the best sweet tea in existence?)

He pointed out that we should probably buy one that will last us a while, maybe not the $400 one.

So I don’t think Gunter is quite as anxious to get our storage building search behind us, but he rarely is. What a complement his patient, laid-back self is to my full-speed-ahead, act-immediately-or-tragedy-will-strike tendencies.

A few years ago, I would have never believed I would go to Lowe’s on my own free will, much less be enthused about it. Just one more sign of old age.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Punctuation Pride

To all my "word nerd" friends out there, happy National Punctuation Day!

I know what all of you non-word nerds are thinking, but I beg to differ. You might not realize it, but punctuation is important and even FUN. Punctuation allows us to write in a way that is actually read like conversation. And misunderstood communication is a very dangerous thing, my friends.

Show me a sentence written with correct punctuation, and I'll show you someone whose credibility has just gone way up.

So, in celebration of National Punctuation Day, go hug a hyphen, embrace some ellipses, praise a parenthesis, brag on a bracket and commend a comma. I could think of a million more, but I just get nerdier by the minute.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jake's ark

Here is one of the neat stories I've covered since I've been working for The Alabama Baptist newspaper again. Jake is just an example of regular people using their talents to build the Kingdom and help others.

What can you do with 2,920 Popsicle sticks?

Jake Perry can make Bible stories come alive for the fifth- and sixth-graders at Zion Hill Baptist Church, Andalusia, in Covington Baptist Association.

Perry, a carpenter by trade, used his skills to make a scale model of Noah’s ark out of Popsicle sticks, wooden dowels and toothpicks. Based on biblical measurements, each foot of the model ark represents 75 feet of the real, full-sized Noah’s ark. The model’s finished size measures 6 feet 3 inches long, a foot and a half wide and 8 inches high, and it is complete with floors, staircases, cages for the animals and even a tiny clay oven.

To read the rest of the story and see a full-length ark photo, click here.

After party at BBC

The fifth quarter Friday night was GREAT! I was pretty nervous because when it comes to youth, you never can tell how many might show up or what their response might be once they get there.

Oh, me of little faith.

God certainly taught me a lesson this weekend. I have trouble believing I’m here as a willing tool to let Him work, not to work something up myself and hope He’s pleased. I tend to focus more on my own performance than His power.

So sometimes, He just takes the situation into His own hands and does His own wonderful thing without much help from me -- like the 60 YOUTH that hung out at our church Friday night. 60 might not seem like such a big number, but it is when your normal crowd is 10-15.

I’m certainly not bragging. I’m just so thankful that God brought them so they could hear the gospel. This Friday night, we’re hoping for even more.

And by the way, I was still wired at 1 a.m. Here are some photos from the weekend.





We attended our first New Brockton football game as fans! I even invented my own Gamecock walk and crow for the occasion. Here's "Blee," doin' his thang.

Mary's probably going to hate me for this. But it's just too funny not to post. She's holding one of the ropes for human foosball.




And here's how we spent most of the rest of the weekend. We stayed at our new crib Friday night and spent most of Saturday cleaning and putting in shelf paper. This moving stuff is taking way more time and effort than I anticipated!

We've moved in one comforter and a blanket, some dishes and a few knick-knacks. That down, the rest of the house to go!