Sunday, January 30, 2011

Awards Season

It's the end of January and we are midway through Awards Season for all things entertainment. Last week we watched the Golden Globes on TV and tonight they televised the SAG awards. In about four weeks it will be the Oscars.

I'm not sure why this is still appealing in any way since I haven't seen 90% of the TV shows or movies nominated, and many of the acceptance speeches lack anything that expresses true gratitude. The whole premise is so out of control. There are hours of coverage before the cermonies to see what people are wearing and it's always a little sickening when they feature some actress' earrings that would pay off my mortgage and then some.

So it was a wonderful reality check when my daughter Caitlin came home yesterday from her first competition for Science Olympiad this year. She's been practicing after school twice a week for months getting ready for the invitational in Lisle this past Saturday. She woke up at 5:30 am (did I mention this was a Saturday?)because she had to be at school at 6:30 am so all the car poolers would arrive in time for the 7:30 am start. The dress for the day consisted of $10 team T-Shirts with science related slogans.

Caitlin competed in four events, including ornithology (study of birds in case you were wondering) for which she was most pumped, even asking for Peterson's Guide to Birds of North America for Christmas. Yeah...that would be in the non-fiction genre case. The competition consists of testing in each event and usually lasts all day.

I said this was a Saturday, right?

The awards ceremony began just shy of 5 pm and lasted less than an hour to honor dozens of kids.

Caitlin, who was not sure if she would even be able to compete because she was sick last week for the third time in two months, took first place in three of her four events.

To celebrate Dan took her out Lou Malnati's, because in Caitlin's mind that's better than any Hollywood soire with Wolfgang Puck in the kitchen. She returned home beaming and clanking (all those medals were crashing against each other as she walked) as she strolled across our less than red carpet and after ten minutes of recap for her brother, sister and myself, set herself down in the dining room and began working on her homework for Monday.

That was more inspiring than any acceptance speech from any seven-figure entertainer.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Lately I've been grabbing some old CD's and keeping them in the car to listen to when there isn't anything good on the radio. You know how all the stations you like seem to have commercials going at the same time?

I know I could use my ipod, but I still feel like something so small that carries over 1200 of my best loved songs on it shouldn't leave the house unless I know it's going to be on my person the entire time. Anyway, I realized I miss listening to an entire CD, 12 tracks in a row, compiled by one artist with an actual theme in mind.

Don't get me wrong, I love being able to download one song I like without having to buy 10 other songs I don't like that happen to be on the same album. But when you take only one piece of a greater whole you miss out on some stuff.

This month I've listened several times to U2's first album Boy. It was a great debut released in 1980 and it captured all the promise of this young band out of Ireland. Some of the songs on that album are still among their most popular, including the first track "I Will Follow." There was a coming of age theme on the album that is lost on anyone who grabs a single track, throws it on a playlist of various other songs and moves on to the next selection in the itunes store.

I love that some of the songs are richer for having followed or preceded another song that touches me and how hearing them all in sequential order brings back memories from when I first listened to the album. When I hear one of those songs randomly, it's still a great song and it might even play really well on it's own. But there's a context in which the song lives and from that place it truly sings.

I was thinking about all this during my devotional time the other day. It's good to grab a single verse out of the Bible sometimes and focus on just that verse. It's good to read one verse mixed in with other verses on the same topic from time to time too. But there's something special about reading the verse in context of the whole chapter and even the whole book. It's more meaningful knowing the verses it precedes and follows.

I discovered that while there's nothing necessarily wrong with approaching the Bible like the itunes store, randomly looking for 30 second snippets of things I'd like to hear at the moment, that I often find it more beneficial to get the whole message.

Because then it truly sings.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I am always amazed how quickly six to eight hours can pass when they are the only hours I have off a week while my kids are in school and my husband is working.

Today they passed in the proverbial blink of an eye. But, I did manage to; exercise, spend time in God's Word, pray, cook and eat breakfast, buy a gift for a friend's new baby, visit the new mother and gorgeous infant son, have lunch with a dear friend, stop by the resale shop and pick up a few items, grocery shop, wash dishes and do two loads of laundry between 8:30 and 4:00.

I also checked email for 30 minutes in there somewhere and talked to my sister in Colorado while on the road (mostly in parking lots as I try never to drive while on my cell phone).

I used to work at the store where I bought the baby gift and a woman I used to work with rang me up at the register. We talked a bit about how our kids were and both of us marveled at how old they had become.. Evidently we forgot when we age five or six years, so do they. Talk of homecoming dances and college. I'm sooooo not ready.

A couple of days ago, this was the conversation I overheard between my twins Maggie and Ryan:

Maggie: "Ry, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Ry: "A football player."
Maggie: "Really?" Pause. "Because I think you'd make a really good clown."

Maybe they aren't ready either.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tree of Life

Well another Christmas break has come and gone and tomorrow the kids return to school after two weeks off. Dan and I both have one more day off of work and we might sneak in a breakfast or lunch date before taking down all the decorations we didn't manage to put away over the weekend. Including the Christmas tree.

Our pastor used a great analogy in church this morning about getting rid of the real tree. Dan and I have always had a real tree for Christmas. I've always enjoyed picking it out, first just the two of us and then as a family with the kids. Though some years it was done hastily in frigid temperatures (spy first tree in line - YES -THAT ONE! Can we GO now?) We've never had a tree I didn't think was "perfect" when we put it in the stand and decorated it at home. I love the smell of pine in the house. I even love the smell in the vacuum cleaner in mid February.

Our pastor was talking about the limited life span of the tree once it's been cut down. How when it's in a stand in your home in January it's anything but "Evergreen." Pine needles fall by the dozens with a mere brush near the outer branches and many ornaments dangle far lower to the ground than where they were first hung.

All because the roots are gone.

Once the roots are cut off the tree stops drawing life from its source and begins to die. Its the same way with the Christian. If our roots are not firmly planted in the Word of God we stop drawing life from our source. We stop growing.

It was a short but meaningful point. In fact, I'm making it my new year's resolution. To be firmly planted with deep roots in God's Word.

And I hope to produce an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 2 Cor. 2:15.