Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The night of wonders

Tonight I hung out with Jeff and Noemi and it was a blast.  

First, we went to Trader Joe's.  They heard me say this line probably a few too many times: "I love Trader Joe's!!"  Seriously, if you haven't been, you need to go.  We don't have one in Kansas City (please, oh please, TJ's...get the hint!).  Okay, so, here are the pictures I took to show the treats I got for my sisters, who are stuck in KC without a TJ's nearby.  These will come in my suitcase to San Diego, then home to KC!  Disclaimer: I'm not ACTUALLY in love with Trader Joe's.  I don't worship it.  I'm exaggerating.  It's cool, but not THAT cool.  AND, the apple rings & CLIF bars are for me...not that I won't share...I guess the CLIF bars are kinda for Suz too.  :)


I haven't seen this flavor CLIF bar anywhere else (it's my favorite!)

I was on mission to get Liz some of the great sauces they have.  This is "potsticker sauce".  I bought 2 jars. =D
Of all the things Suz could have asked for, she wanted "scrubby things!"  Let me tell you, this brings excitement.  It really does.

Okay, so then we went to eat Tapas from Spain.  SO yummy.  Beef tenderloins with bleu cheese on top.  YUM!

And THEN! we went to a chocolate lounge.  We sat in the restaurant, decided we wanted some warm chocolate cake, but were clueless as to how to find it.  In steps Noemi's hand-held GPS.  She typed "chocolate" in it, and we found Ethel's Chocolate Lounge 0.4 miles from where we were!  Then it spoke Romanian to us, telling us where to turn, etc.  Noemi translated. :)

I asked the guy who worked there if there was a real Ethel, and he said Ethel was the grandmother of the owner...and by owner he meant the CEO of Mars, Inc. which owns the stores.  And I thought it was a local joint.  Oh well, I was still happy with the brown and pink rooms!



Go eat some chocolate!  You know you want to.... =)

Yumminess

A rainy, cloudy day with nothing to do.

A comfy, puffy, red arm-chair.

Soft blankets just out of the dryer.

Pride & Prejudice

A cup of sweet black tea.

And a kiss on the cheek.

Going Fancy


This is my outfit today. Sometimes I get cute clothes (at least, I'm hoping these count as cute) and put them all on, and then feel way too "done-up". You know, kind of like someone is going to stop me and be like: "Hey! You're faking! You're not stylish...you're....Annie!"

heh.
I look kind of like the giant from Timbuktoo in this picture. Pardon the pose and please just look at the new clothes. :)
In other news, I dropped off another college application at the post office this morning! I have now officially applied to Wheaton College (IL) and Westmont College (CA). We'll see what happens! I should know by the end of December the decision from both those colleges.
I feel like I've been constantly on the move. Rachel spent the weekend in town, and we had a marvelous time. It was her birthday! Noemi had us over for the most fabulous dinner and cake.


I've been shopping (strange, I know) and having time with friends and, um, more time with friends.
Let me explain a bit of the shopping: I wear jeans a lot. Like, every day. Once in a while I wear that one skirt, but I mostly wear jeans. And, I only wear one pair of jeans. I have jean shorts, but the time for those is over (we mourn, we mourn). This particular pair of jeans that I have been wearing all the time were bought over a year ago at a Banana Republic Outlet in Tacoma. Combine the fact that they were actually too short for me, had faded, and were about to have a HOLE, it was past the time for new jeans. Finally, last night, the new jeans were gotten! Yay!! You see them modeled above, in the picture of today's outfit. Ah, new jeans for a great price.
And, I got skinny jeans for $13. I've never had skinny jeans, and never really expected to have them, until my friend got some and they were cute, and I saw co-worker of mine pull off the amazing skinny jeans+heeled short boots+cute jacket look.
I'm off to Wheaton for a financial aid meet. Fun.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Next Four Years OF MY LIFE

I still don't know where I'm going to college.  

It's true.

"But Annie," you say, "you just visited Wheaton!  How can you still not know where you're going to college yet??"  

Well, people, the real cold truth is that Wheaton was great, and I know I would love it if I went there, but I'm not convinced that's where I belong.  It might be, but I just don't know yet.

I met teachers (during that hour of meeting professors I found out that both Anthropology and International Politics sound quite interesting to me), ate in the dining hall (which is in a building named after Todd Beamer), spent the night in a dorm, tried their ice cream at the late-night cafe, hung out with college girls, answered 562 different people about what other colleges I was looking at and what I was thinking of majoring in, took a campus tour (our guide Rachel was really good...she just about had me convinced), and visited classes (Anthropology, International Politics, and Revoluntionary Europe).  Anthropology sounds so interesting to me, and this class was on "Orientalism" (prejudice against and pre-suppositions about Arabs).  International Politics was all about the UN, which turned into a debate amongst both the real class and the visiting Connectors about whether or not military force should be used to bring in humanitarian aid.  *Cue "oooh"s and "aaaaah"s*  Getting into real college stuff now!  =)

Revolutionary Europe was taught by the stereotypical History professor, who kindly had extra packets made for us Connectors.  I'll admit I wasn't as impressed by the lecture as I was by the name of the class, but I blame that on me not really understanding which section of Revolutionary Europe we were talking about.  Something about German Nationalism; only, did Germany have a revolution?  I was a little lost, and like to think that had I not been quite so lost, I could have enjoyed the class a little better.

Oh, and, they have fancy technology thingys.  The professors can make the projector screen retract up into the ceiling at the push of a button from their desk.  I'm easily impressed.

Then, I watched a group of current students answer questions from our group of would-be-classmates.  It struck me that this is the real deal, and in just a year or so I'll be an actual adult-ish college student!

I decided that I really want to visit the other colleges I'm looking at.  Wheaton's dorms and campus are really nice, and I don't want to pick a college, show up, and find that I'm surrounded my miserable walls.  It would take a toll on me.

Then I had a wonderful time over Thai food (that was OH so yummy...I think that was the best Thai food experience I've ever had) reconnecting with a teacher from last year.  Miss Wagner (who is no longer Miss Wagner anymore, even though we all still call her that) was an amazing teacher, and I loved just getting to sit and talk with her.  She made me laugh, and she gave me some good perspective on college.  I could use a little more good perspective on the college drama, so if you have some dish out, please mash on the comment box.

That last sentence was filled with sensical nonsense.  Right.  

A Photojournalistic Approach

So, some of my dearest friends in the whole wide world are the Petersons (a clan that I am not related to).  I was just hanging out with them today when their dad announced he was hoping to take some family photos to send to friends in Bangladesh and such.  I became the appointed photographer.  

This one below is an exact replica of a picture they have hanging on their wall from like ten years ago.  


Many more pictures to come!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Goodness of God

He is kind.  And He is oh, so sweet.  Jesus has taken my hand and shown me good things in ways that blow my mind.  Absolutely blow my mind.

Tonight I met up with an old friend who began to spill out how the Lord had been so good to her, and had truly met her.  We talked about that realization that hits when you experience the touch of Christ after hearing about it for what may have seemed like a long time.  The similarities to the way God is moving in each of our lives is quite something...we both ended up working as "stage hands" in our respective ministries, and LOVING it.  

Friends, when I moved to Kansas City in June, my heart was in desperate need of something...be it rest, be it peace, I just knew I needed JESUS and I needed Him RIGHT THEN.  You see, last year was really, really, really hard for me.  There are ways my heart still feels all twisted up inside about everything, and those ways only really come up when I'm forced to face it (like being here visiting Chicago).  Suffice it to say, I was really looking forward to being refreshed by the Lord in Kansas City.  I was ready for my heart to have some peace.  And some rest.  To be free.  It ended up feeling a bit like a rumbling plane, beginning to barrel down the runway and smoothly begin to soar.

The soaring portion of it all is really because of the way Jesus met me.  He has refreshed my heart and poured out favor on me like nothing else.  I've received it, been blown away by it, been unbelieving of it (to which I felt a gentle reply: "Annie, I do good things for you.  Be okay with that" =)  I can.not. believe. the way Jesus plugged me in with TheCall.  It feels way too good to be true.  I love all the new friends I'm making, and I love being at the House of Prayer.  Going to church every Sunday is practically therapy.  It's like I could jump for joy and scream inside: "I'm with other Christians!  I'm surrounded by people who LOVE JESUS!!!!"

The nature of all this favor has surprised me, though.  The nature being the way that so much of it is physical.  It's really drawing outside the boxed lines of a "spiritual" relationship with God.  It's the part where He meets you in the way you didn't even know you needed to met.  It's the punch line where He gives you something good to show you just how GREAT He is.  

When I think about the way Jesus has been so faithful to meet and take care of my heart in the last four months, the words SWEET and TENDER come to mind.  Jesus is so sweet to us, to me.  I can't believe He met me like this.  I just can't believe it.  He is SO good, and SO faithful.  I want to say here: "Actions speak louder than words" because Jesus' actions towards me have proven those words "good" and "faithful" to my little heart.  Sometimes God calls to just soak in His love.  To spend some time trusting that He loves you because that's who He is...not because of what you do.  Sometimes His love is arms wrapped around you.  Sometimes it's a reassurance that He's right beside you.  Sometimes it's wind beneath your wings, causing you to soar in joy.

So, I want to shout it here on my blog.  I want to shout it inside me, I want to shout it to the world, I want to shout it to you.  Jesus is GOOD.  He is GOOD.  And that four-letter word hardly seems to come close to truly encapsulating or explaining this God who has met me with such sweetness, tenderness, and care.  I love Him.  And I encourage you to love Him.  Love Him with everything...with your pain, with your joy, with your success.  I promise you, He will show Himself to you.

PSALM 63:3    
"Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You."

Vacation

Here I sit, under a blanket, watching Pride & Prejudice, and eating granola.  I'm practically on vacation!  

Yesterday I visited school, reconnected with friends, had dinner and talked (have to update each other on our totally non-existent love lives!), tried to shop (without finding anything), and then went home.  

I stayed up way too late, tried to submit a college application, then slept a bit until getting up to "preach" in chapel.  It was my little speel, ten minutes long, about TheCall, and why abortion is such an important issue right now.  I showed them the promo video:



And then I sat in on classes.  I'm glad I'm done with high school.

I really want to write something substantial.  I do hope to post my college essay later, because it became one of those things you write and look back and think "yes" and then a few weeks later you read it again you're thinking "still yes".  But I don't want to post it yet, in case they find my blog and think I stole it from someone.  Just seems wiser to wait.

Tomorrow I visit Wheaton...I haven't been there since my sisters were in school.  I love hearing OJ's stories about all the fun he had there, and they make me want to go there...but I am still keeping my options wide open.  I want to be near a really alive church.  I know when my brother was at Stanford, they found a church that they LOVED.  And, if I went to the Northeast, there is a JHOP Boston, and I know people in New Jersey...  I'm applying early decision to the Christian colleges, so I should know by the end of the year if I get accepted at those schools.  It's getting exciting!! :)  I still need one more essay topic, though.  Any ideas?  Suggestions?  It could be about anything...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Adventures in Chicago, Day 1

Well, I made it.  I'm here.  And it feels...well, let me say that I feel like Templeton from Charlotte's Web trying to find adjectives to describe what it feels like to be back in Chicago.

The drive yesterday was long, of course.  I learned more about D-Day (Pegasus Bridge), tried to get my parents to listen to Merchant Band, ended up listening to it myself mostly on my iPod, Tweeted like I would never ever be able to tweet again, and finally made it home.

I guess I'll have to tell you later about what a shock it was to partake in Chicago driving again and the shock of the spiritual climate of the city.  I must go meet friends!  WAHOO!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Are you SERIOUS?

That's what I said to Amy today when she asked over g-chat: "girl, today is Sat and you haven't blogged since Tuesday. Are you alright?"
Where have I been?
Honestly, I'm not even sure myself. :) Have I mentioned my life is crazy?

Wednesday was quite the day actually. I put on Lizzie's raincoat and green silk scarf, felt put-together, drove the fun new minivan around, dropped Ariel at pre-school then took Judah to the pet store "Wha's a FERRET?", then to Target (to buy coffee and California Pizza Kitchen for OJ), then took him home, fed him, went to work at the office for a little bit, put my [Lizzie's] raincoat and scarf back on, picked up Ariel from pre-school, dropped her off at home then went back to work. Did I mention I felt productive?
Thursday...I watched Glorie. I'm pretty sure we took some pictures, but I'm pretty sure they're on Lizzie's camera, which makes me pretty sure I can't put them on here.

Somewhere between then and now there was a couple boxes of mac & cheese, some work at TheCall office, a few naps (none of them my own), a zoo trip, and two gallons of Sea Sparkle blue paint.

Sorry I can't put up pictures right now...but I'll try to soon! The zoo trip was quite something. Lots of walking. Standing under a leopard, and trying to decide whether the hippos were fighting (an idea which the people around us vehemently opposed...because why? why would it be such a foreign concept for two wild animals to fight? nothing in all creation FIGHTS? WHAT? Sometimes I worry about our world and their ideas...) or kissing ("because they were friends" as OJ explained so simply to Judah).

Two or three sleeps until Chicago...not sure yet which, but that basically sums up my life right now. Do I have everything I need? How do I pack for Cali AND Chicago? I need to go SHOPPING in Chicago... Who do I see when? How many bags of groceries can I get the McDowell's stocked up with before I leave, so as to make their life as easy as possible? Paint? Before I leave? YES!

And I should probably be sure to eat some mac & cheese between now and then also... You know, for moral support. Or something.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Please Laugh...

Because it's kinda funny

A Long Story about My Day...aka This Might be Boring for You

This morning began fine.  It wasn't a June Cleaver morning or anything, but it was fine.

We ran into a sort of quandary in terms of how to work the mornings.  I feel like one of the places I'm most helpful to my sister who constantly has a newborn-induced sleep deficit is in the morning, when the other kids wake up.  Since I'm all the way downstairs and can't hear Judah and Ariel, Suz or OJ calls my cell phone to wake me up.  Personal alarm clocks, they are!

So, this morning I came up to them and felt immediately that we HAD to find something to do.  HAD to...or else I might go crazy.  It was just one of those mornings.  I believe I felt that way because I was coming off of a productivity-high from yesterday.  Yesterday was a beautiful day.  I walked with Judah over to Glorie's house, then watched them both (including playing outside), and while they were napping, cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, and then after they were up, they stayed happy while I came after than to re-organize every toy and book they touched and I straightened up more.  Then we had a lovely rest of the day and I went shopping late at night (which you've already heard about).  Do you remember that show Supermarket Sweep?  That was me...I grabbed the cart and raced around...grab a bag of grapes here, a jar of molasses there.  It was intense.

Back to my original point.  I was looking for an activity to do with the kids, and I thought of an aquarium.  Well, Kansas City only has an aquarium in their zoo.  The good news is that the zoo is free in October and November to KC, MO residents!  Yay for ruthless publicity stunts that actually benefit us!

**Side note...I come from Chicago which has the only permanently free zoo in the country.  Props to them for that.**

But, it was raining outside, so..the zoo wouldn't work.  Plus, when I told my sister about it, I found out that she has already planned an outing with my parents while they are here next weekend.

I kept thinking.  I remembered!  Tuesday morning prayer meeting!  It was 8:50...We needed to leave at 9:50.  The kids were sticky from waffles.  I dunked them in the bath, then got them both dressed.  Stuck them in front of Little Einsteins then went downstairs and jumped in the shower myself and went for the casual-but-I-hope-I-still-look-cute look.  9:50 passed as I raced around putting on their shoes and getting a makeshift diaper bag put together.  We ran out the door, got to the car, opened the door, and Ariel's seat was gone.

Then we stood there for a minute while I looked back and forth trying to figure out what to do.

Her booster was in OJ's work van from picking her up from pre-school the day before, and he had that van at work with him right then.  I hung my shoulder for a second and came back inside.  That meant we couldn't go anywhere (I had been secretly planning to take them to the pet store to blow off some more can't-sit-around-the-house steam).  

Then, I lifted my shoulders up and declared "WE WILL WALK!"  We had to go...had to get out of the house.  (Mind you, it's only 10 o'clock in the morning.  Why was I so determined to get out?)

So, I prepared for that.  Should we just walk or should we walk to Lizzie's?  I called Lizzie...Glorie, because of waking up unnaturally early, had to be in bed at 11, no questions asked.  Then I remembered.  The double jogger is sitting in the garage taken apart, and I don't know how to put it back together again.

Then we stood there for a minute looking around while I figured out what to do.

Meanwhile, Suz was having a less then serene morning of sleep, since the kids and I kept barging in to ask questions or give updates on our plans...she graciously tried to explain to me what she could remember of putting the stroller back together.  I tried, but it didn't happen.

For a second, I was tempted to give up and spend the morning at home. [Cue Shoulder Droop]  But NO!  WE WILL WALK! [Cue Shoulder Ascension]

So we used the umbrella stroller, each kid taking turns in it.  We did indeed walk to Glorie's house to play with her for about twenty minutes before Liz stuck little cookies in each of our hands and sent us off.  

ADVENTURE TIME!  On our way home, we spotted a beagle running around.  We spent half a block trying to lure him to us, but he just ran around excitedly.  Eventually, we got him near and I grabbed him and called the owner.  We waited on the corner and pet him until his owner came with her five year old son.

Don't worry, I explained to the kids to never, ever go after a stray dog without Mom or Dad or Annie with them.  The lesson moved on to not going after big, large, mean dogs and how I would only go after nice dogs, like beagles.  Then we passed a very angry Doberman that really helped the message get across.

Then we came home and had a party with smoothies, a new VeggieTales, and chicken nuggets.  Judah took a nap, I ran to get the booster seat from OJ, Suz took Samuel to the doctor, Ariel went to Wendy's house to make cookies and learn ballet.

THEN...everybody came home and we all dashed out to....GET A CAR!  We have a van!  A 2003, white, Toyota Sienna, and it is FABULOUS.  We fit comfortably.  It's immaculate.  It's warm and cushy, and the seat belts work.  

After the deal was done, we left the older silver van in the HyVee parking lot and all went off to Fuddruckers to have a celebratory dinner.  Let me tell you that the particular restaurant we went to was...ahem...less than hopping.  Everyone looked sad, and it made me kinda sad to watch all the other people.  Eventually we finished, pushed the kids back into the car, picked up the old van and headed home.  There is a comfy, safe van sitting in our garage.

And we are doing wonderfully, thank you.  :)

Mommy? Me, no...

My days are filled with children.  Children, children.  And dishes.  Lots of those.  It's like an internship, practically job training.

What makes my dishes different from most of my friends' dishes is that they are filled things like bottles, and binkies, and bowls where the yogurt was only half eaten.

I am almost convinced that I am currently becoming just about as prepared for physically taking care of children (only the Lord can judge the spiritual side of things) as anyone who doesn't have their own could possibly be.  My life right now is as close as it comes to the real thing without, um...the real thing.  I mean, for real?  How can you get closer without the real thing?

Last night I went grocery shopping.  At 9:30 PM.  Because, we were desperate...and you can't have kids wake up without milk for cereal...so I did all the grocery shopping (+newborn diapers...I think the checkout ladies thought they were for some newborn of mine...) last night, making it out of Target four minutes after they closed last night.

Sometimes, it's one little one.  Like right now, Judah is running around playing with his cars while I write this.  His little overalls and brown long-sleeved polo along with this dimple-smile and Brooklyn accent make my heart MELT.  Sometimes, it's holding Samuel...I changed his diaper last night while he screamed and screamed because he just doesn't like it.  :(  Sometimes, it's just two or all three...taking care of Glorie and the others...when's one's nap...when do naps need to be over in order to do what we have to in the afternoon...  Feed them, clean them, don't let them take their juice in the living room.  

Diapers?  Nothing...  Let's talk about breakfast and lunch, malt-o-meal, mac & cheese and dino nuggets.  How about bath for them, both dressed, then Little-Einsteined so that I can take a shower and dress...all in one hour, ten minutes.  How about car seats and waterbottles...ice when they want it, bubble juice when Pellegrino is added.  Kisses on the hurt toe that somehow magically make it feel all better.  Singing to them at nap time.  Knowing that Glorie doesn't want me to hold her while she drinks her milk...so I put her in the crib to let her finish it.  When she says "B Dress!" that means she wants the soft side of the blanket against her and the silky side on top.  Judah loves Z-bars...but don't spring too much new food on him without Daddy being around.  Ariel loves to play ballerina and adores having one-on-one time with you.  Movies: The McD's prefer Little Einsteins, no matter what the other choices are.  "Beeb" is the movie Babe in Glorie language.  If you hear Ariel or Judah singing about arpeggios, they got it from Aristocats.  Oh, and don't forget how the word "erroniously" got into Ariel's vocabulary.



I'm just saying...all this experience is quite thrilling.  I am getting so much good knowledge, and I am getting to know these amazing kiddos.  I am thankful that Jesus put me here, helping my sisters with their kids.  Love them to pieces!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coming up...

My life is going 100 miles per hour right now.

My parents will be here on Wednesday.  Then, I go back to Chicago with them.  I visit ten days there.

Stop right there.
I'm visiting Chicago.  VISITING being the key word.  I've been pondering what it will feel like to go back and see some of the people I love most in this world, but feel like I'll be going "home" in a few days.  I have seriously settled myself down in Kansas City.  And this will be different.  I was pointing this out to my sister the other day...that this will be the first time I'll be there feeling like I'll be going "home" to somewhere else...and she pointed out: "And COLLEGE is just around the corner!"

Anyways, Chicago people!  I am SO excited to see you!  Get ready!

Then, I'm flying to California.  I haven't been there in a long time!!  I'm going for TheCall on November 1.  And then, I'll be back in Kansas City.   Back to my sisters, back to my bed, back to those babies.  Oh my goodness, two weeks without my babies.  What am I going to do??

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Glorie Update

Here is the video I promised of the first time we visited Baby Sam...is it cute or WHAT?

video

Honestly, I'm the one who needs the Glorie update.  She has been really sick for five days (praise the Lord her fever finally broke last night!) and I have been consumed with McDowell-baby land...I feel like I haven't seen her at all!  When she and Lizzie picked me up this morning to watch her for the day, I was reminded of just how sweet she is!  She bounded back to the swings behind our house, her curls bouncing up and down in the sunshine, and was just her sweet self.  










And, she has totally grown so much since I was last with her...she's speaking more fully, repeating more words clearly...she's just more of a girl! that I can actually talk to!

Have you noticed that I don't do this every week?

Raise your hand if you can't believe I missed the Song of the Week installment TWO DAYS after getting the new Merchant Band cd.

Well, you're right.  The song, however, is not from the cd.

Anti-climactic, I know.


We've sung it in church over the past few weeks...  There are some songs that are just different when you're singing them in praise than when you're just listening to them, and this song might be one of them.  I hope not, though...I hope as you listen it grabs your heart and makes you want to sing.  :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Instrument

I play the piano.  I promise, I do.

But, I haven't played in a while.  Like, really played.  I had this performance in the spring:

video
And since then, me and the piano have had a little bit of a disconnect.  We haven't gone through much separation anxiety, and there's been no weeping.  But...I do miss it.

I kind of miss my piano dreams more than the actual playing I've been able to do in my history.  I miss the thought of practicing enough to have a few beautiful pieces memorized and flawless to play for people.  I miss the way I wanted to be so good and have my technique refined... 

Maybe I miss playing on beautiful pianos, and I miss playing in a place where it is so appreciated.  Our piano at home in Chicago is actually a very nice piano.  It is an upright Steinway that was the piano on a Navy ship... my Grandad acquired it off the ship somehow (I'm guessing it was a ship he served on), they stripped off the battleship grey paint, had it (many years later) re-constructed inside, and it is now a beautiful wood with a really nice sound.  

The other factor is music school...for the past three years I went every Saturday to music school for 3-5 hours.  I got to sing in large choirs, perform with small choirs, and play on beautiful pianos.  Every week, I got to sit and touch perfectly tuned ivory keys that ran right into the shiny black walls of the uprights in every classroom...and then, once in a while, I got my hands on a baby grand.  The cake topper, of course, was the once a year I got to play the Concert Grand you see in the video.  That piano is beautiful.  You can't see into the body in the video, but when the lid is lifted, the inside is all a gold color with knobs covered in red fabric, the keys are perfectly light and weighted at the same time, and the resonating sound it puts out is fabulous.

Dreamy.

Beyond the actual instruments, and even though I complained about it enough (I'm serious...I probably complained EVERY WEEK), there was a part of music school that was very rewarding. (Yes, even in theory class, which is the bane of most music students' existence).  There was the sense that what you are doing with music is SO IMPORTANT.  Now, I totally recognize that there is a part of this that is very damaging, and I often have not looked favorably on this all-consuming part of the music that many people put their lives into...  But I'm just saying that it was nice to have the classical music I played be important to someone.

I think the piano is wonderful.  I couldn't and wouldn't want to devote my entire life to the study of it, but I love having it on the side.  I wish I devoted a little bit more time to it, to develop it further and be able to keep playing for a very, very long time.

Part of not having developed to the point I want to is my own fault.  I've never been a big practicer...so, especially now that I don't have a teacher, my playing has definitely fallen by the wayside.  :)  

Oh, piano.  Are we friends?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

P.S.

Spiritual issues are of more importance than "political issues".  

My post below is the way it is because I see the issue of abortion as more of a spiritual issue than a "political" one.  

The laws and the people we choose to make those laws play such a huge role in it, though, so I believe that it is important how we make our voting choices.  

The post below is written primarily concerning the legal issue of abortion and why it is spiritually important.  I want to say that for every person involved in abortion -- the doctors, the nurses, the mothers, the children who survived -- there is absolute healing, forgiveness, and restoration in the person of Christ.  Fall into Him.

Some issues are MORE important

There are so many ideas swirling in my head right now.

I have been wanting to write this post for a long time.  On Saturday, I got the new Merchant Band cd, and there is a song on there that has basically made me start swirling inside (not in anger, just in passion).  I listen to it a couple times a day, and it just pushes me to want to write this all the sooner.

I must preface.  There is one God.  He dictates right and wrong, and His laws are perfect and they are absolute.  I realize that my views will make no sense if the reader doesn't understand that I fully believe that there is only one right answer.  Jesus Christ is the only way to God...the only way to heaven.  Some would call it intolerant to claim that the way you have decided on is right for everyone else.  I say that I am responsible before God for whether or not I stood for His truth.

Preface #2: I am not writing this blog out of concern for our economy, or foreign policy, although those things are very important.  Part of what I want to say, though, is that there are things that are MORE important.  I'm writing more out of the cry of my heart as I hold my five-day-old nephew and know that that are forty-eight million babies like him that are dead partly because our country chose to not stand for righteousness thirty-five years ago.

Some say it's wrong to be a one-issue voter.  When I hear that argument, I can't get away from the way I feel that problems in ideology aren't the root problem.  Spiritual problems, issues of the soul, are really at the root of the ways we think and act.  Because of this belief, I can't imagine that someone like Obama who is so wrong on an issue like abortion can be trusted with everything else.  It's not because he couldn't figure out how to do things right, or have good advisors who can give him smart ideas about how to deal with Iran...it's because he's wrong in such a VITAL way, that I can't imagine trusting him with other issues.  {Not that I think McCain is necessarily a Christian, but at least he stands for LIFE and has, more importantly to me, chosen a running partner who understands the reality of this issue}

Abortion IS a vital issue.  Proverbs 6 says:

There are six things that the LORD hates,
   seven that are an abomination to him:
 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
   and hands that shed innocent blood,
 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
 a false witness who breathes out lies,
   and one who sows discord among brothers.

Life begins at conception.  God told Jeremiah:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,and before you were born I consecrated you;I appointed you a prophet to the nations." [Jer. 1:5]

These "festuses" are not groups of chemicals that are formed by evolution or purely physical things...God says that HE is the one who forms us in the womb.  When an abortion is performed, a life and body that God was in the midst of knitting together is destroyed.

Having established that abortion takes a life, and that God hates when innocent blood is shed, the questions obviously move to the state of things now...  How does God see it?  God is perfectly just and mind-blowingly merciful.  He HATES the shedding of innocent blood.  How can we expect him to sit back and not respond?  

FORTY-EIGHT MILLION BABIES.  God knew each and every one.  Can we really expect Him to remain silent?  God's judgment is as real as His mercy.  We cannot forget it.

So...what should we do?  Pray.  Ask the Lord for mercy.  But I think we can also understand that mercy might look different than we could expect.  I believe it will be His mercy if He turns the hearts of our nation to want to choose righteousness.  Shaking, however, can also be mercy...it can be God's way of giving humans a chance to choose Him.

But on the political side: I believe it's more important for us to vote on the issue of abortion than on energy independence or homeland security.  We are responsible before God for what has happened in our country.  Whoever we elect will answer to God for the decisions they make.

I want to point out that this isn't at all about our nation being a Christian nation or making everyone be a Christian.  I hope that as many people as possible will choose Jesus, but it's not about forcing people to.  I'm writing about the reality that we are ALL accountable to God for our actions, whether we are a Christian, a Buddhist, the President or Chief Justice of the United States, or the President of Peru.  A nation doesn't have to be a Christian nation to be responsible before God for the choices it makes.  It is a reality that everyone will stand before this God, the only God, the God of the Bible (who is NOT the same as Allah, or Buddha, or Krishna) and answer to him...everyone will at some point acknowledge that Jesus is Lord...hopefully that point will be before their time on this earth is over.  You don't have to be a Christian nation to be guilty before God for making choices that don't match His precepts.

And we are guilty.  We are.  On OUR watch, millions of babies have been killed.  

I understand the argument that even if we outlaw abortion, they will happen illegally.  I want to say that outlawing abortion is about more than making sure women don't make the choice to have one performed.  It's partly about honoring God...our country, our courts, our President, need to make choices that honor God.  Not doing so will have terrible consequences.  We damage ourselves when we choose to live in rebellion against God.  It is partly His mercy that leads Him to judgment...because we send ourselves down such a terrible path when we try to walk apart from Him.

It's not that I love McCain...I don't. I wasn't excited that he was the pick.  But I know that we cannot elect Obama.  We cannot because he is so wrong in his stance on issues of paramount importance to God.  The shedding of innocent blood cannot go unpunished.  

Please don't think that I am curled up on my couch, in fear of Obama being elected, and believing that if only we can keep him out of the White House, our world will be perfect again.  Definitely not.  I don't think McCain is perfect.  But I think it will be a terrible reality check of the desperate place our country is in if Obama gets elected.  Sin will be around until Jesus comes back, but our choices STILL MATTER.  

There is much more to say.  About adoption as part of the solution, about the issue of Proposition 8, about whether or not peace really is possible.  But I think this is long enough.  I hope I've expressed these ideas clearly.

Please click HERE and visit Merchant Band's myspace page and listen to the song "Standing in the Gap".  I remember the onething conference where the LIFE prayer was begun after the dream.  Now, I work for TheCall, and my mind is constantly reminded of this.  Our next gathering is November 1 in San Diego.  There is a 40 Day Fast going on right now focusing on praying for the election, and for breakthrough in California.

Please let me know what you think...I will probably write again about stuff like this...

Jesus, I plead your blood over my sins and the sins of my nation.  God, end abortion and send revival to America.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Coolest Kids on the Block

Kids #1 & 2 (Marcus and Tim):

I think Merchant Band has the coolest cd names ever.  They are my favorite band, so I'm probably biased but still...  The World Can Wait:



The world really CAN wait...I think it's a good title.

But then... Let the Weak Speak.

You have to admit.  It's pretty cool.


Kids 3 & 4 (Brandon and Beka):

These are wonderful people.  Here's their blog.  They are full of passion and fun, and I was so excited to get to know them in DC.  I want to share with you a slideshow of them: Click Here!  They re-took their wedding pictures (they've been married for two years), and ever since I heard they were doing it, I waited very expectantly to see them!  I just had to link to it, though, because I love that song in the background.  Beka and Brandon wrote and sing that song, and I think it is wonderful.  They are AMAZINGLY talented.  I also love these pictures because of Bekah's wedding dress story.  On the left hand side of their blog, you can click on links to read/watch their love story.  I heard it in person a month or two ago, and it stirred my heart in a very special way.  

One of the coolest parts for me was the story of Bekah's dress.  She explained how she saw it, and looked for it, but needed the Lord to provide it!  She found one on eBay, then had the Lord encounter her TWICE in dreams to release her to buy it.  As they were telling the story, she ran into her room to pull out the box of mementos that go with the story, and she pulled out the picture of the dress that she had seen and ripped out of a magazine.  As it was passed around, I got excited, and a little more excited, and when it finally got to me...I was amazed.  It was the exact picture that I saw maybe two or three years ago (probably somewhere in the middle of sister-wedding-world) that I looked at and thought that it was the perfect dress, and that I would remember it until I got married, and try to find it.  I've remembered it, and, there it was.  Good choice, Beka!  ;)  Just kidding...something about the whole story-connection-thing encouraged my heart.

So, all that to say...enjoy the pictures AND the music.  Make sure you really enjoy the music.  Oh, and, Beka is herself an amazingly talented photographer.  Like, amazingly talented.  There is a flickr feed embedded on the side of their blog, also.  Oh, AND...that couple whose pictures are at the top of the feed are two other super fun friends I've met here.  They also have an unbelievably amazing love story of the way God pulled them together.  I'm telling you, those fairy tales flow like water round these parts.

So maybe those first couples ones aren't actually kids.  These ones are...
Kids #5, 6, 7, and 8:




Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Simplicity of Joy

I have to admit that it's easy to find my heart getting disconnected from the reality of the return of Christ.  Today, however, I was reminded of just what a wonder this marvelous plan of His is...

It began with Ariel asking me a simple question about the devil.  One of those questions where the answer is "I don't know" but you can use it to lead to talking about other things.  I began to tell her about how we don't have to worry about the devil because Jesus beat him forever.  This, of course, led her to ask more questions like how the devil would someday be dead forever.

THEN...

Then I explained to her about how a long time ago, when he was in Mary's tummy, Jesus was on earth with us.  Then he died and rose again and isn't dead anymore.  But, He's in heaven.  He's with us in our hearts, but He is in heaven.

THEN...

Then the wonder happened.  Then I told her that someday soon Jesus will come back and be with us again on the earth and when He comes, He will make the devil go away forever.

The thing that left me in awe was Ariel's reaction.  As I told her that Jesus was COMING BACK the most glorious, joyful smile spread across her face.  Her gasp of excitement sparked a charge in the conversation.  Her eyes brightened, and her huge smile lit up the room and my heart.  

A child's simplicity.  She doesn't know the details of the Trinity.  She hasn't studied commentaries.  She can't even read the Bible for herself yet.  Yet the joy, the realization of how wonderful Jesus is, already floods her heart, and she pours out that amazement that has already captured her gaze with no reserve.

It's that simple.  Jesus loves us.  We love Him back.  He is COMING.  And that is mind-blowing, freeing, hope-bringing, and simply WONDERFUL.

Life with a New Baby

I may be a little bit unqualified to write this since
  1. Baby "Ike" has only been home for, oh, about 8 hours
  2. I'm not his mom
But...I do live with him, and I feel as if I can quite confidently say that having a baby around is like nothing else.  

His little cry is a lot like, um, a squeal.  His legs are the very DEFINITION of "scrawns."  Here's him in the coming home outfit I bought him:


I think it's so interesting how his little feet and hands are all wrinkled.  I wonder what he's thinking about when he scrunches his eyebrows while he's asleep.  I love the way he just curls up into a little ball when you snuggle him.

I held him while I ate dinner today.  I held him while I listened to the new Merchant Band cd.  I held him while he birped.  I held him when he was awake and I held him when he was asleep.   

This little mister.  He's stolen my heart.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Mitter



These pictures of me have a bit of an element of mad scientist hair.  Just saying.  And I look really tired (which I am) and my hand is gargantuantly big.  Other than that, we're all good.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

New Little Man

Samuel Eisenhower McDowell

Born 10/2/2008. 2:19 pm. 8lb 14 oz.

He's amazing! His little face is so sweet...

I took Ariel and Judah to Target earlier today, and they each got a little toy to bring their new brother. Judah kept wanting to put his directly in the warmer and I kept having to tell him that the baby wasn't quite ready for it yet. :) We all visited, everyone is doing great, and the kids are quite taken with the new baby.

When Judah was born, I was the only family out there are there was something so special about bringing Ariel to the hospital and meeting him at just a few hours old. This time, it was all of us, and it was SO fun to be altogether. I have the cutest video to post (once I can snatch the camera from Liz) of Peter holding Glorie over the warmer and teaching her how to say "Baby Sam".

I am so thankful, that I did have a very special moment this time around, and I think it was just the Lord being kind to me. :) I was the only one with Judah when we got the Picture Message that anounced that he had been born! I showed Judah the picture (which he asked to see again later) and then got to talk with him all about baby brother, and how excited he was to see "brother". I got him all handsomed up in a cute outfit, and we talked about how Judah could share his hat and his cars with the baby once he was big enough. Judah decided that Samuel will like McQueen and Dinoco. Lizzie came to pick us up because Mom was out with Ariel in the car. This is when two very hilarious things happened:
  • I left the house with Judah without his shoes. I didn't notice. I then went back into the house, locked the door, and came out. When we realized he didn't have any shoes on, I realized Mom had the keys. Poor kid went the whole night without shoes
  • Judah's carseat was in the car Mom had (which left before we found out there was a baby!) We would not, however, be deterred by this. Liz brought Glorie's old carseat (aka the one she came from the hospital in) and we put Judah in that. So, the two year old rode in the ifnant car seat facing backwards all the way to the hospital. We prayed for protection and Liz drove carefully.

Let's see...other interesting parts...

Judah insisted he didn't want Lizzie to pick us up to go see the baby...because he didn't want to wait. I asked him if he just wanted us to walk, and he said yes. Then I tried to convince him that it was actually faster in the long run to wait for Lizzie to drive us in the car.

On Suzy's part, I think it was pretty much a dream labor. Fantastic!

Then, OF COURSE, we went to Chick-fil-A. How could you not?

I am so excited to be living with them as this little man is finally here! It's so amazing...you wait nine months and then all of a sudden, there's a REAL baby. Like, a real one. That you hold. And he cries. And has a name like Eisenhower (which I LOVE! I told Suz me and him can be history nerds together). He's REAL. I love him.

*I'm sorry I don't have a picture to post at the moment, but Suz and OJ took my camera to the hospital with them, and Lizzie has hers. Don't worry...I will proudly show this little guy off as soon as I can!*

Special Day

Today's the day!

As I type, Ariel and Judah are drawing on the whiteboard beside me. They have to be downstairs because I have to get ready, and, well...I'm the only one with them right now! Their parents are, at this moment, at the hospital about to have a baby!!

A new nephew will be met later today, and I am bursting with excitement!! Ariel is still wondering at how small the baby will be, and Judah, I think...doesn't quite get it. But that's okay! He will later!

So, I must sign off, get ready (I'm thinking of wearing my scarf today...woohoo) and take these kids to do something seriously FUN!