Monday, October 31, 2005


It's Monday again. Already. This is remarkable to me.

Anyway, Happy Halloween to all 5 or so people who read my blog. :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rainy Days and Mondays

My trusty morning meteorologist Andy Avalos commented mid-forecast that today was going to be the kind of day that got the Carpenters down--another rainy Monday. Though I admit that I'm succeptible to such environmental influences myself at times, no amount of dreariness can get me down today after an incredible weekend spent in Lake Geneva with the young adult ministry from my church.

I can't really point to any one thing about the retreat and say, "that's what made it so great." It was more just being together and a succession of simple things--non-events, really, like conversations that just beautifully unfolded in the moment, or a story that left me laughing so hard I gasped for breath, or catching out of the corner of my eye a mosaic of wet leaves strewn across the pavement whose artistry stopped me in my tracks, or seeing in others' eyes a thirst for God and a yearning for a tender heart--that exposed me again to the joy of community and the reality that God is at work and will be found by us as we earnestly seek His face.

As the weekend came to a close and the "magic retreat bubble" was about to be broken, I felt just a little bit like Peter when the glory of the transfiguration began to fade away: "Lord, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters..." I love that Luke clarifies "He did not know what he was saying." Driving away from camp, I knew that it had been so good for us--for me--to be there, but beyond that I really didn't know what to say. I knew God had shown up in His glory, but I think it's going to take me a few days outside the bubble to sort through what He's revealed.

I'm headed up to Minneapolis in the morning for work, so I'll have 12 hours in a car with my boss to get started on that.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dinner with the President

A large portion of my job for the last 2 months has consisted of putting together an informational and fundraising dinner for our constituents in the greater Chicagoland area. The day of the event is finally here and the president of my organization has come to town to address the masses...well, okay, the 80 people who'll be gathered in a church gym.

This has been my first foray into event planning, and I've learned some valuable things along the way:

1. That organization is my coping mechanism: when I can put everything that has to do with anything on a list or in a diagram, I immediately feel better about the whole situation. I am so on the same page with Santa on this one. (You know, make a list, check it twice...)

2. That not RSVPing on time messes with a party planner's head and lists and least the more neurotic party planners out there. (Resolved: to promptly reply to all invitations when it is in my power to do so.)

3. That I am really terrible about delegating work and recruiting volunteers.

4. That creating autumnal centerpieces can be an enjoyable and therapeutic experience. (My inner crafter leapt for joy!)

5. That Sam's Club has festive and tasty cakes for cheap!

6. That older people get disgruntled when you don't feed them dinner until 7:00.

7. That when someone from HQ says, "We have this thing thing we'd like to do, and we thought you could help us out; it really won't take up that much of your time" what they really mean is, "We have this huge project, and we're really busy, and no one out here is really sure what you do, so why don't you just take this whole thing and make it happen?"

Even though I am amused by the irony of #7 and the way it has played out over the past couple months, at the same time I am hugely honored to have been trusted by the President's office and Advancement to put this thing together, and am feeling fairly confident going into this evening. It may or may not go off without a hitch, but I can vouch for the fact that there will be 10 beautiful centerpieces that conform to the diagram that you'll find in the manila envelope labeled "Lists and Diagrams."

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Perfect Day

At the risk of gushing too often about the grandness of the current season, I am about to do it again. I love autumn!
On Saturday I had the tremendous pleasure of spending a leisurely afternoon of blue sky and perfect temperature meandering through the arboretum with my camera around my neck and a good friend at my side (or a few steps behind, due to differences in leg length...sorry, Charity.) Even though the season's turning has been adversely affected by the summer's drought, the acres upon acres of trees still held a grand spectrum of hues that took my breath away again each time I thought I'd gained it back. Strolling along the paths, kicking up leaves, I couldn't contain cries of delight, sighs of contentment, and praises to the Artist responsible for the gorgeous canvas all around me. I truly felt like a guest at "October's Party":
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper
We capped off the afternoon by finding a bench that overlooked a lake rimmed in red and orange and gold and green maples, and while the sun sank toward the horizon, I read aloud the first two chapters of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which Lucy finds herself emerging from a tangle of tree branches, just beyond the coats in the wardrobe, into the forest of Narnia.
It was a perfect day.

Click for a Cure

If you've been living under a rock for the past 3 weeks and have somehow missed the memo (or the pink ribbons everywhere you look), October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this is your opportunity to be aware and to do something about it.

In the time it takes you to read this post (about 3 minutes), a woman somewhere in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer. If breast cancer has yet to affect you personally, just wait...the lifetime risk of breast cancer for women in the U.S. today is 1 in 7. It could be your mom, your sister, your aunt, your roommate, your friend...or it might be you.

I am concerned about prevention, early detection, and a cure because I lost my grandmother to breast cancer before I really had the chance to know her; because I know several brave women--including my aunt--who are survivors of the disease; and because for the past two summers I've participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and met numerous women of tremendous courage.

Though breast cancer is a formidable foe, hope exists in the form of early detection and advances in cancer treatments. Call your mom today and make sure she's up to date on her mammogram. Educate yourself on risks and prevention. And please, as you leave my blog today, take just a minute to visit the Breast Cancer Site--click the pink button in the middle of the screen to help fund mammograms for underpriviledged women; it's free and only takes a second. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Watching the World Go By

Did you know that if you stand in one place for a couple hours, watching thousands upon thousands of people run by you, and then you look down at the pavement, it will seem like it's moving slowly in the opposite direction, like all of sudden you've gained the ability to observe the earth's rotation?

It's a strange sensation. I discovered this phenomenon when Allison and I were at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. (I checked with Allison to make sure I wasn't crazy--she said the earth moved for her too.)

Well, that's all I wanted to say. Have some fun with it the next time a marathon or a herd of wildebeests comes to your town.

P.S. Congratulations to Wladimir, debut marathoner, for finishing in 4:49.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Here's Another for M-W

The 11th Edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is hot off the presses. The list of words (and phrases) added in this edition includes brain freeze, bikini wax, and chick flick. Based on my experiences while working on a freelance project this afternoon, I would like to submit the following for edition #12:

Word rage (wurd rAj) n. intense frustration and thoughts of violence against technological devices arising from Microsoft Word's repeated thwarting of one's attempt to perform simple formatting tasks. [Suzanne was overcome with Word rage when the program repeatedly rejected her attempts at accurate paginating.]

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I can now say that I've been to Boston in the fall. And I liked Boston, though at times it felt like Boston did not like me.

I enjoyed getting away and exploring Boston and adding a few new states to my travelogue; I really liked Harvard and Cambridge and couldn't get enough of all of the old brick buildings and quaint independent bookstores; and along the way there were moments of hilarity, rest, solidarity, comfort, worship, and wonder, but in all actuality the trip was exhausting overall and not the carefree bohemian vacation I had hoped it would be.

The weekend was fraught with inconvenience (getting bumped from a hotel right by Fenway to one WAY out in the suburbs accessible only by a combination of subway, bus, walk, and shuttle); difficulty (cobblestone streets, while aesthetically pleasing, do not mix well with wheeled luggage), loss (my cell phone, tragically swallowed up by public transportation), aches and pains (the Freedom Trail, though interesting and quite educational, is the most exhausting 3 miles I've ever walked), and disappointing revelations ("hmm, the leaves haven't really changed here yet either.")

Thankfully, these obstacles were more or less interspersed with moments of wonder ("Hey, look at the fluke on that whale!"), scenes of beauty (an incredible sunset over Boston Harbor, the Portland Head Light shining through the fog); great people (friends of Charity's neighbors kept us for the night in Maine and raised our spirits considerably); episodes of hilarity (we discovered small town police reports are incredibly entertaining); and other surprises that made the trip worth it after all.