Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unexpected joys

I was hoping I'd be in Haiti by now.

The day after the earthquake, I volunteered to go down there with the Air Force, but was told that because of the category of Reservist I am, it's harder to deploy me, but they'd keep me in mind. It's true, I learned last year when working for the Inauguration Committee that the steps of paperwork to get me deployed wrap around the alphabet and go into double letters. They tried to be helpful and send me a powerpoint that explains the process. I thought it was a joke at first.


That's only the first slide. I wish I was making that up. Sigh...

Anyway, word got out that I was looking to help with Haiti, so they asked me to go help at the Air Force press operations office (aka "press desk") for 30 days. I thought about it, at first not wanting to because that's where I worked the last year I was on Active Duty (06-07). But, I prayed about it and decided I could use the money to do something more in Haiti later, so I called them to accept. But then, they just needed me for about 10 days including both weekends. Oops, I already have plans those weekends. Didn't really want to ditch my plans to work night shift at the Pentagon, know what I mean? So, they decide they don't need me that badly after all. Then, later that afternoon, another division wants to know if I can come help them write some award packages. They only need me for 3 days.

It's a far cry from helping the desperately needy in Haiti, but it's better than nothing. That started today.

Enter the weekend plans. My husband is a amateur (ham) radio operator. It's an incredibly nerdy technical and expensive investment-heavy hobby, but don't laugh. If the bomb drops, he'll still be able to talk to people in New Zealand. This weekend is a ham radio contest, where all the hams test out their equipment and try to talk to as many people in as many different places as possible in a 24-hour period. We were going to go out to the Shenandoah to a cabin in the mountains with some of our best friends. The guys were going to do radio/car stuff while we ladies were going to cook, eat, read, relax, whatever.

 

Then the cabin people told John the road to the cabin was impassible because of the deep ruts caused by all the rain. We could park a mile away and hike in. Eeehhh... maybe not. It's supposed to be high in the 20s this weekend with possible snow, not exactly the dream hiking-with-3-days-worth-of-gear type of weather.

Today, while I worked on the award package at the Pentagon, it seemed our weekend plans were unraveling. 

I really was enjoying the award package writing though, so I guess I'm as nerdy smart as John is. It starts with a 3-inch binder full of research and documentation which has already been boiled down to six pages and then four, then two. Now my job is to make sure the two pages reflect the whole of the binder and fit the requirements for award submission. 

It wasn't even close!

But this is the kindof thing I love. Looking at someone else's work, taking it apart and making it better. Throw in guidelines and a deadline, it's almost better than chocolate. I said almost.

Well, as I'm doing that, and our weekend plans are dissolving, one of the other wives' dad came through with another place near the mountains we can go to. And it sounds even better than the first cabin with real bedrooms and real beds. And the best part is we can bring Mocha. The owner who lives elsewhere on the property has a few labs she can play with. Win-win!

So, I'm not in Haiti, but life is good.

I'm going to unplug from the blog for the last few days of January. Join me Feb 1 as I log back into Facebook and see what a month away has wrought.

What are you doing this weekend?


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A little BM for you

And of course by BM, I mean Beth Moore. What were you thinking? This is not that kind of blog, ewww.

I've been going through Beth Moore's The Patriarchs study with some good friends and really enjoying her in-depth study of the narrative that the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (with a little bit of Judah and Joseph thrown in) provide. If you've ever done a Beth Moore study, you know she has you do homework for five days, then you get together in your group and discuss it, then watch a video of her teaching.

The past two days I've brought my study guide downstairs to the computer so I could share this with some people, but not being able to exactly narrow down who I should share it with naturally led me to wanting to blog about it.

{side note- I think I have used up all my good grammar on my writing sample, because all of these seem like uncharacteristically long run-on sentences!}

Right now, we're studying Joseph as he's hanging out in the prison after he interprets the butler and the baker's dreams. And here Beth (we're totally on a first-name basis) points out something that so eloquently states what I've been trying to express about what I'm learning (and then learning again) through my 3+ years of waiting for a baby. So here it is. I hope it gets to the person it's for:

"Let's recall what we were told in Genesis 39:21 when Joseph was thrown into prison: 'The LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor.' Sometimes we can be so busy looking for what is missing in our lives that we miss Who is busily present in our lives. We're looking for God to do us future favors when He's trying to open our eyes to present ones. Remember, God purposes to use every second of a divinely-ordained wait to build us into the individuals our future demands we be. One of the most peculiar and exquisite experience of the faith is realizing that while you haven't seen answers or the way you should take, you've learned how to see the light of God Himself. Right there in the blindness of your circumstances." (emphasis mine)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Choose.OK.Upload.Submit---Check!



Such a short list, but it took me more than 3 months to accomplish. This is my to-do list for applying for a PhD in Communication at the University of Maryland. I intended for it to be done by the deadline, Dec 1, but you remember that post about the organized me being trapped? Yeah, so I got it done by the absolute cut-off, Feb 1.

Today I made that top check mark. I read my writing sample for the billionth time, did more edits, hit save for the last time and quickly uploaded it to UMD's online application site before I could change my mind.

If I get accepted, I'll post the "whole story" of how this came to be, but for now, I'm just sighing in relief that this part is done and hoping I will have a rest of the story to tell.

My hope is ultimately in this being part of God's plan for my life, but I've placed alot of weight on the writing sample. My GRE scores were good, but not even close to the average UMD said their applicants for last year had. I think my recommendation letters were good and will speak well to my academic capabilities. Even my statement of purpose was a good piece that should show them my personality and my resume is a reflection of what I've done so far. But all things considered, I think my writing sample will best show the committee my potential as a scholar, which is why I spent so much time working on it.

I actually started this paper more than 10 years ago! It was a paper on the Dixie Chicks that I submitted for a rhetoric class in grad school. My professor then loved it and gave it an A-, only because I turned it in late (go figure). Since the program I'm applying for is Rhetoric and Political Culture, I thought a paper on rhetoric would be appropriate. But all my references were outdated and the paper was written before the Dixie Chicks' "anti-war" statement, so I had to strip it down to the core and re-research and rewrite it to consider the whole scope of the Dixie Chicks' career. Then I had the good fortune of having someone with a PhD in English and someone else who is ABD (all but dissertation) in communication annihilate it, so I re-rewrote it. (One of my favorite professors in college, Laura Holland, always told us "The Holy Spirit is in the rewrite!" Hallelujah to that.)

That I actually enjoyed the process confirmed for me that I do want to go back to school. Now just to have patience to find out if I am accepted and grace to deal with a "no." If "yes," then, many, many, many more steps to go. Thanks a rhetorical ton to those of you who have helped me and cheered me on so far!

PS: My sister tattle-told on you. Those of you who have been commenting over on Facebook. Here I've been thinking only 2 or 3 people are reading my blog, and she said several people are leaving comments on Facebook, despite my clear and well-written requests that you come over to my actual blog to comment since I'm off Facebook until Feb 1. (sigh) I still love you. Just don't do it again, ok? :-)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What a moment!

Mark it down.

Write it in your journal.

Call your mamma.

You can even write your own blog about it.

Because this is a moment you'll never want to forget.

Ok, maybe I'm being just a little dramatic, but I will tell you why.

I just watched my first football game by myself. Because I wanted to. Because I cared!

This NFL season has sucked me in more than any other. I used to be a fair weather Cowboys fan, and ok, whenever this game is over, then we can watch one of my shows. Then we had these 3 teams with a perfect record. Then one by one they fell. Then it comes down to a come-back quarterback who looks like he aged 10 years over the course of the game against a Cinderella team on their home turf in a come-back city. Oh, the drama of it all!

I may not understand every call or play or rule of the game, but I get the story. It had a story arc that could rival most Oscar-winning screen-plays with heart-pounding action and breath-taking surprises. The characters were believable as they took turns playing hero and nemesis. I know the story isn't even over, but I can't wait to see how it plays out.

I'm obviously not going to start a sports blog, but it was a pretty exciting moment.

Oh, another unforgettable moment you get to be a part of- this blog is about to get its 1,000th visitor! So, I'm gonna try to do the prize thing. If you scroll down to the bottom and the counter says 1,000, take a screen shot or a picture and send it to me, and I'll send you a prize. (If you don't have my e-mail, just leave me a comment and I'll e-mail you.) I'm not sure what it will be yet, but it'll be good!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Organized Me Temporarily Escapes!

Some people say they are a young person trapped in an old person's body (or vice versa). Some people say they are a skinny person trapped in a not-so-skinny person's body.

Me? I think I'm an organized person trapped in a lazy person's body.

Which makes days like today SO gratifying.

I locked the dog out of the kitchen with a bar stool and organized my dish cabinet.

Here's the before:




Here's the after:



I don't think the pictures convey the sheer impressiveness of this, but you'll just have to take my word for it. It's much better now.

Did you notice the magazines kindof folded up and shoved off to the side in the before picture? Those are issues of Cooking Light that mysteriously started showing up to my house in the name of the last owner, but 3 years after they moved. She said I could keep them, so I did and enjoyed using them, but didn't know what to do with them. Then, I got an idea.....

I cut out all the recipes I had used or think I'll use and put them in sheet protectors, and voila!





 My own cookbook!




Ahhhh... now the organized Anna can go back into hiding for a few more years, while the lazy Anna trips over the barstool blocking the kitchen.

Have you done any organizing projects you're proud of lately? Please, inspire us!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For you, my friend, I give you good price

I keep thinking of all these awesome things I want to blog about, but then it gets really late and all my creative juices slow down. So tonight, I'm just going to pass on this awesome deal I learned about on Angie Smith's blog. She's the wife of Todd Smith, the singer from Selah, who I blogged about here.

The deal is a free 8x10 photo on canvas or $55 off any other size at http://www.canvaspeople.com/.

So that's pretty cool, huh? Maybe make up for the fact you're not getting anything original from me tonight?

Oh, ok, while we're on it, another good site with great deals is www.bradsdeals.com. I just got some cool North Face booties for $38 (originally $80) from FinishLine by going through this site.




I also always get great deals on restaurant.com gift certificates through this site. Most of the time, if you go straight to restaurant.com, you can get a $25 gift certificate for $10, which is a good deal. But they have these sales, like 70 or 80% off, so you only pay $2 for a $25 gift certificate, which is awesome. BradsDeals.com gives you the coupon codes for tons of sales like this.

Anywho, enjoy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Stay!"

I was supposed to write this blog yesterday, but I talked John into going to see The Book of Eli instead. It was a good movie, but if you don't like the Bible, you might not like it.

So, let's just pretend it's Monday, because for alot of people it was like their Monday, and let's pretend you have another day off. That would've been better context for this topic, but I think it will still work.

I promised you I'd have some life lessons to learn from my dog, Mocha, and here's the first one I think is blog-worthy.

We have been trying to teach her "Stay." She is really well-behaved and loves everyone she meets, and for the most part, she wants to be within drooling distance of me or John at all times. For instance, this is where she is right now as I'm typing this:



If I'm at my desk, she's usually at my feet, breathing heavily every once in a while, just to let me know she's still there if I want to play. As sweet and loving as she is, she is a little rusty on basic commands, such as Come and Stay.

See, she follows me everywhere. We were tempted to name her Shadow, but it didn't stick. My desk is about 5 feet from the bathroom, but she has to get up and follow me there. I used to have to get up to throw something in the trash, which was about 3 feet away (I'm not a good shot, ok), and she'd get up and follow me there. I put the trashcan under my desk to save her the effort. When I'm in the kitchen, she is at my heels from the sink to the fridge to the pantry, which are all not very far from each other. I'm sure there's a spot that she could just sit in to watch the whole thing, but she chooses to be a participant.

I imagine her doggy thoughts are somewhere along the line of "Whatcha doing? Is that glass of water for me? Is that vitamin for me? Do you need my help unloading the dishwasher? Why are you putting that in the trash, you know I'll eat it? Can I look in the fridge with you? Is this where you keep my carrots? Hey look, we're passing my food bowl, and there's the container with the food. I like food!"

There's probably a lesson there for us being super close to the one we love, not being content to just sit there. But this is a blog about the importance of rest.

I'd like for her to be able to be in the same room with me, but let me get up and move around without investigating every little thing I do. If she could trust that I'm not going to leave her, and that I'm going to give her everything she needs, then maybe she could enjoy being 5 feet away from me for 5 minutes until she can physically feel me again.

But since she's a dog, she probably can't trust the way people do. So, we're trying to teach her to obey. We've heard that some dogs actually do this.

But as people, we can trust AND we can obey. Both are decisions we make. (PS- if you don't like the Bible, you probably won't like this part either) God's ability to take care of us isn't changed by our believing it or not. But our ability to receive from Him is absolutely tied to what we believe about God. And though, yes, sometimes He calls us to get up, get busy, run, work, etc..., He also commands us to Rest.

In fact, a place to lie down is the first thing mentioned in Psalm 23 that God provides for us. He told Moses in Gen 33 that along with His presence, He would give His people rest, as a sign of His favor. He gave us a whole day to Rest, actually built it into the whole Covenant thing (Gen 34).

It's not an either/or type of deal. I believe in order for us to do the work God has called us to, we must also do the rest He has called us to.

And that might mean staying when He's up to something we can't see, trusting that He'll be close again soon, and He will give us carrots when the time is right. (Oh wait, maybe that last one was just for me and Mocha!)

Is there a command you feel God is trying to teach you lately? Care to share?
(Remember to come over to my actual blog http://annasjoyblog.blogspot.com instead of commenting on Facebook. Thanks!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bright Thought

It's amazing how much cleaner I keep my bathroom now that I've replaced all the burnt out lightbulbs.

There's a one-sentence sermon for you.

You're welcome.

Happy Weeeeeeeeeekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Random Bits

Stuff I have learned or discovered or experienced recently:

1) I get very, extremely, very-much-alot uncomfortable when a man who isn't my husband flirts with me. I don't take it as a compliment. I take it as a sign that this guy has no respect for women and no respect for marriage. I wish there was some sign or symbol I could wear that would let everyone know that I am off the market. T-A-K-E-N.

Oh yeah. There is!

This hunk o' rock on my left hand.




(sigh... shaking head...)






2) Pets medical records are protected by some sort of pet privacy act. I never knew there was a privacy policy for pets medical records, but apparently there is. We've been getting Mocha settled in here, which includes registering her w/ our county. I needed a current rabies vaccination certificate for that, so I called the vet who did her rabies shot. But they couldn't release the certificate to me until her previous owners called them and gave permission. Same thing happened the next day when I was at her new vet's office and they needed her shot records. It's a dog, people! How am I going to exploit shot records? Am I going to embarrass my dog by posting how much she weighs? (70lbs, btw, a weight I'm sure she'd be proud to brag about at the dog park)

(sigh... shaking head)

3) Etsy. Where in the world have I been? That site is awesome! I want to spend lots of money and buy everything! I mean, I've seen some of my friends post their Etsy links on Facebook, but never checked it out.  I thought to look for personalized note pads on there this week and found/bought these. Somebody needs to stop me, though. I have many more things I want to get! Have you gotten anything through Etsy? How'd it turn out?

PS. In case you're under the same rock I was, Etsy is an online market for hand-crafted/home-made items such as jewelry, dolls, food, art, etc... or as they say "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Copy Cat

I'm taking the easy way out tonight. Instead of coming up with my own creative blog, I'm gonna send you over to my friend, Daniella. She wrote a fantastic blog today about Haiti, and I truly couldn't have said it better myself.

If you read it, and while you're praying, please pray for my friend Benjy, the one who took the amazing photos of our time in the Philippines. He was born there to missionary parents and now is heading back for a few weeks to document and assist in the recovery efforts.

Thanks.

And I promise I'll have something "super-new!" tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I grew something!

I am not well known for my green thumb. Actually, I am not well known at all, but that's not my point.

My record with plants is 0-3. The previous owners of this house left some plants (along with their big-screen TV and the inspiration for our dog's name), which I proceeded to kill. Well, I just let them die, but not without trying to water them every few months.

So, you will be amazed as I was at the vibrant, living green plants that awaited me on my return from Christmas vacation.



wait for it



scroll for it







Yeah, so I'm pretty sure that means my onions are bad? Should I stick them in a pot w/ some dirt and grow some new onions or should I throw them away?

Help a brown-thumber out, will ya?
(And remember, if you're reading this on Facebook, click over to my actual blog by clicking View Original Post below. I won't see your comments on FB for a few more weeks and my house may have been taken over by onions by then!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Firsts

I had a record breaking day.

I took my dog Mocha for our first run together. She's run with John, but this was my turn to try her out.

It was 29 degrees. That is by far the coldest I have ever ran in. I was proud of myself last year for running when it was 40. This was painful.

I had just read this article in Reader's Digest about this guy who walked across Antarctica in 39 days, and since his skis broke, he actually walked in waist-high snow most of the time. For the last 40 some hours of his trek, he walked w/out stopping, since he had unhitched his sled (which he had pulled the whole way) which had his tent and stove on it.

So I thought, if this guy can be in sub-zero temperature for 39 days, I can go take my dog for a run.

We went 2 miles. I was a little proud of the fact that she wasn't pulling me as much at the end. I think I actually wore her out. But I wore me out, too. My lungs are still cold!

Though this is not about me bragging about my exercise exploits, the other first I had today was going back to Level One of the 30-Day Shred. I had gotten all the way up to Level Three, doing it with Natalie (the advanced girl), back in September. But today, Level One with Anita (the modified girl) kicked my behind.

I'm sorry for feeling secretly superior to anyone who said they were still on Level One. That stuff is no joke! Good job everybody!

Anyway, so I am humbled and a little bit sore, but for all the right reasons!

Wanna come run with us tomorrow?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Funny story

Today I had the opportunity to make a big idiot out of myself, but Jesus redeemed it.

I saw a friend come into church who recently got engaged, so I made a mental note to congratulate him afterwards. I got the opportunity, when, from the corner of my eye, I saw him pass me by.

I grabbed his arm and said with a big smile, "Congratulations!"

He turned his head my way and I saw that this was not the friend I thought it was, but someone completely different that I hadn't seen in months and actually barely knew.

In that millisecond, I readied my, "I'm such an idiot, I though you were someone else," speech.

But he said, "Thanks! She's getting really big, huh?"

And sure enough, his darling wife who was just a few steps ahead of him turned towards me with her cute pregnant belly.

"Yes!" I said, keeping my big smile, and was able to do some genuine congratulations and catching up with them.

And I silently prayed, "Thank you Jesus for giving her a baby so I didn't look stupid just then."

Have you ever done something like that? I'm sure I've done it in the past and gone all the way through with asking someone about a spouse or children they didn't have, but I've wiped it from my memory!

On a separate note, here's a bonus interesting fact: We have at least 6 Annas in our church. 3 are (Ah)nnas, and 3 are short a Annas (like me). 3 of us were at my house today. One of the Annas said she met another Anna who was visiting today. That would make 7. That's alot of Annas.

Ok, now I'm done.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day in the Life

My sister, Martha, has a blog where she usually blogs about what happens in her day. She has five kids, so there's usually something interesting going on. And she knits. So that's cool.

So I thought I'd copy her and blog about my day. Nothing deep or spiritual here, just my Saturday.

We slept in, which was a luxury for us. Our dog, Mocha, didn't appreciate it so much, but oh well. We drove to Manassas (about 45 min away) to pick up John's Jeep. It had been there since mid-December b/c the drive shaft was messed up. He found a guy on Craig's List who would fix it, but first had to send the shaft back to the company to get something done to it, then they shipped it to the guy who promptly did something else to it. We've been surviving on one car this week, which normally wouldn't have been a problem, but this week just happened to be a week I did Reserve work, so it was interesting.

Ok, so we got the Jeep and then came home and started cleaning the house because we were having people over for lunch. I meant to take the Christmas decorations down, but didn't get to it. I don't have too many, so it won't take long, just have to get the boxes down from the attic.

Wow. I'm even getting bored writing this.

Then, our friends, David and Anna came over for lunch. We just met them at church in October and made them go camping with us that very day. We had such a good connection, we decided to be friends. I think alot of it is our awesome names. Seriously, I don't put last names in my blog, but let's just say we both have last names that are occupations or hobbies that Jesus probably had. We feel pretty good about that.

How do you feel about wedding albums? I always like to see people's wedding photos, especially when I'm just getting to know them. I also really like my wedding album. I spent more money on photos for my wedding than anything else. So I like to show it off. Is that rude? To walk over to someone with the album in hand, plop down next to them and ask them if they want to see it? Doesn't give them much of a choice, I know! And then I have to sit there and tell them who everyone is and every cute or meaningful story that each photo represents. It's my house, right, so I can do whatever I want? I'm thinking this is ok.

I may or may not have done that to David and Anna.

As they were leaving, Mocha made her first, and hopefully last, escape. She entertained herself by running us around the neighborhood. She needs some remedial training on "come," but more than that I think she needs a big yard to run around in. She did cross the street, but decided to investigate a ditch, so John was able to tackle her. Based on her non-stop wagging tail, I don't think she understood our harsh words.

As I was cleaning up the kitchen from lunch, I finished listening to the audio book of People of the Book, a book I got for our long road trip over Christmas but had one CD left. It's pretty interesting, a fictional historical account of a real book- the Sarajevo Haggadah.

Then we drove to Woodbridge, about 20 minutes away, so John could trade a gun for a part of a ham radio tuner. He dropped me off at IKEA so I could get a present for a friend's baby shower. I didn't buy everything I wanted there, but got a few extras.

After we got home, I raced to get ready for the aforementioned friend's baby shower, then went to it. It was pretty good. A cute, pregnant lady, her funny mom, her awesome friends, oohing and ahhing over bibs and onesies.

Finally made it home to change into PJs and watch the last half of the Cowboys-Eagles game, which I think we'll win, but we'll see if the Boys can hang on.

Exciting day, huh. How was your day?

(Remember, if you're reading this on Facebook, come over to my actual blog to comment. Just click on the "View Original Post" link under this. I'll be back on the Book after a while, just need a break for now.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thanks, Joe

I used to be afraid of teenagers. Like from when I was one until now.

Teenagers were always cooler than me. They still are. That's not exactly scary, I know, but I get kindof awkward around them. I don't know what to say. I don't know what pop culture references to make. I don't get the pop culture references they make.

But, I must say, I know some pretty cool teenagers, and I love the ones I know. Like my 16-yr-old sister, and my pastors' girls, and my cousins' children, and our friends down the street. I guess I was just afraid of the ones I don't know.

When I was in East Texas after Christmas, we were hanging with John's cousin, David's, family. His wife is Becky and they have two teenage daughters. Becky is the vice-principal at Quitman High School and told us a story that confirmed my fears.

Apparently they have infrared cameras installed on the school busses down there, as protection against lawsuits and theft detection. So, these 10 kids were on a bus coming back from some competition at night, the principal was driving, and it turned out that all the kids were having sex on the bus. And the school had it on tape. And it was Becky's job to watch the tape to figure out who everyone was and inform their parents. Most of whom declared their children would never do something like that until they saw the proof.

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

I said, "This is why I'm afraid of teenagers. Present company excluded of course"

Becky's oldest daughter, Shelbi, is a high school senior and her boyfriend, Joe, is a freshman at Texas A&M, and he's a really cool guy. Joe was with us that night and he proved me wrong.

He said, "It's only the teenagers that make trouble who get in the news. The news doesn't care who made the honor roll or got a scholarship to college. Most of us are good kids."

And I heard myself from 18 years ago trying to make the same argument to adults who talked about how awful teenagers were.

I got to thinking about all the awesome teenagers I know right now, the ones whose parents I had been planning to ship my kids off to once they're teenagers. And these kids really are world-changers because they care about others and obey their parents and are sweet and cute, too. Why would I be afraid of these people?

Even more, I kindof got excited about actually raising teenagers. Because that's a pretty essential part of raising children and helping them turn into world-changing adults. If I can have the kind of teenagers that make other people less afraid of them, then I've done my job.

So, thanks Joe. Thank you for helping me get over my fear and reminding me that teenagers are people, too.



Here we are with two of our favorite teens, Shelbi and Skylar. (Photo by Joe)
(aren't they cute?)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Where's the outrage?

I blame you.

Yes, you, the American people. Who I "love so much," and whose "national security" is "so important" that I'm in the military. "hoo-freekin-oah."

What's this about? Oh, you don't even know? Hmph.

Well, I'll tell you (that's kindof the point of this blog). It's the pants.

That's right. The pants we Airman have to wear with our blues uniform. Yeah, the ones you think look so "cute" and make me look so "sharp." They are the most uncomfortable, unflattering, unpractical things this country has come up with. Seriously, people, we're in 100% polyester here! And this is America! You'd think we'd come up with a better fabric to "pay the ultimate price for freedom" in.

I'm back in uniform this week, which I usually love, but these pants have really got something up my crawl. Oh, right, it's the pants up there! For some reason, we must look professional as we fight the "global war on terror"or whatever we're calling it now, so once a week we stuff ourselves into these staticy, lumpy, stinky, high-waisted, unflattering pants. I'm telling you, not even fighter pilots feel good in them!

All this suffering, and I ask you, where is the outrage? You don't see people marching on Capitol Hill demanding comfortable and practical clothes for our troops!!! (that's right, 3 exclamation points!) It'd probably cost you less taxes if you're into that kindof thing.

What's that? Why should you care about my uniform pants? Aren't there greater things in life to focus on? Aren't the rewards of being in the military worth the small price of wearing uncomfortable clothes? Aren't there others in harm's way, wishing they could be home safe in America in any kind of clean pants? Good point.

Cancel the protest.

I get to wear the "Airman battle" uniform and boots tomorrow anyway! :-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mocha lives!

This is a love story.

We bought our house from some friends, a married couple of Army doctors, the husband of which I served with in Honduras. They were relocating to Hawaii and were looking for some cash to fund their adoption of a little boy. We were looking for a house, so we made a good match. When we came to look at the house, we loved it, but what added to the appeal was their big-screen TV and a cute brown lab-mix named Mocha. So, when negotiating the price, we joked that they could throw in the TV and the dog.

Well, they did leave the TV, but wouldn't leave Mocha.

Since then, I've been pretty resistant to the idea of having a dog in this house. It's a four-level town-home, and though there are plenty of trails nearby, we have a postage-stamp yard and it's really no place a big dog would like to live in. We both work, really busy, love to travel, love our independence, etc., etc., plus all the work it takes to walk, train, clean up after, the medical and food expenses, blah blah blah.

But, I love my husband.

And he really wanted a dog. A chocolate lab to be exact.

So, sometime last year, I deigned in all my awesome-wifeliness to allow him to start looking at dogs. I was very firm on this point--that we would get a dog. Not a puppy. A girl has to have her boundaries. Chewed-up things and poop stains are not visions of joy for me at this point! Other requirements for me were that the dog be house trained, well-behaved, good with babies and children and able to stay alone for the day (when we're both working). And, if we were going to get a dog, we might as well get one that could run with me and even protect me if needed.

Not exactly the perfect example of "selfless love," but it was a step.

Thankfully, God loves my husband even more than I do.

So He brought us in touch with a friend of John's sister, Kim, who just so happened to be looking for a new, loving home for her four-year-old chocolate lab. The reason? She had her hands full with a 2 AND 1-yr-old, and just didn't have the time to give this high-energy dog the love she needed. It also just so worked out that we would be driving across the country and would be able to stop by and pick her up.

We brought her home on Jan 1, a fitting way to start a new year.

She meets all my requirements and is a full-blood, AKC certified, micro-chipped sweetheart. She came complete with all the supplies we need and a great disposition. She's really more than we ever expected and is a true gift.

There was only one "problem."

Her name was Hannah. Cute name, but it's just a little too close to mine. There's only so many times a day I want to run up and down the stairs when John calls! So, we've been trying out different names for her. And you probably guessed it by the name of this blog, that the current favorite is Mocha. It suits her, and this house just feels right with a Mocha curled up in front of our big-screen TV.



PS. You can be sure to expect more blogs about all the meaningful life lessons I'm learning from being a dog-owner. Right now, I'm just learning to shut doors more consistently!

Think you can find a better name than Mocha? Suggest away! Or, leave a comment with any dog-training tips we need to know! Remember, if you're reading this on Facebook, be sure to click the "View Original" link below and comment on the actual blog page, since I'm signed out of FB for a few weeks.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Anna's Top Hits of 2009

I had a great year.

I know it was hard for alot of people who I love. People lost jobs, loved-ones died, and despite their best efforts, some of my friends are now divorced and numerous other hardships were faced. I too had some not-so-wins along the way.

But, as I had several hours to contemplate the year on our drive across country and back this holiday season, I kept thinking about all the awesome things I cherished this year. So, here they are- seems easier to group them in chronological categories than in a count-down order:

Stuff I did 

10- Inauguration
In case you didn't know, I'm a public affairs officer in the Air Force Reserves and I get to do some cool jobs in that capacity. In 2009, I was selected to work on the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee to demonstrate a peaceful transfer of power to the civilian leader of our military, which regardless of your political bent, this is an amazing thing! I worked community relations along the parade route on that freezing day in January and got a iPhone pic of the Obamas as they walked for a bit.


9-Andrews
From Feb-May, I worked at Andrews AFB, helping a great staff become even better and getting to know an amazing officer- Maj (Lt Col Select) Maggie O'Hara. Now, they taught us in Officer Training School that you are first a leader and it shouldn't matter what your career field is, that you should be able to walk into any office and lead it. That's what Maj. O'Hara did. She is a helicopter pilot by trade, but was placed in charge of the public affairs operations at one of the most high-profile bases in the country. It was an honor to serve under her, and I'm not just saying that in the inflated way we praise each other in the military. I learned more from her leadership than probably from anyone else in my military career and I gained a champion and friend.

Besides Maj. O'Hara and the other great folks at Andrews, it was a win for me to work on some cool projects:
- Welcoming home the crew (minus the captain) of the Maersk-Alabama
- The Soldier Ride for The Wounded Warrior Project
- Securing Stephen Colbert to do a flight with the Thunderbirds (even though it wasn't at our air show)
- The 2009 Joint Service Open House.
- Meeting President Obama!

This is a picture I took right after shaking his hand.

This is a picture a friend of mine, an AP photographer, took that had me in it (taking the picture above!).



8- In September, I got a life-affirming opportunity to become an instructor at the Defense Information School. I hope to teach my first course this month, but just going through the Instructor Training Course confirmed in me that I am made to teach adults.

Reconnecting

7- Alece

We went to Nicaragua together in 1993 and have kept in touch ever since.
This is a picture of us hanging out after our separate trips in 1995

- the last time we saw each other until this year


Alece is an amazing person. She has a blog you should read. She's not afraid to let people see the work God is doing in her, even in the midst of the fire. She has friends all over the world, many through her blog, so I am honored to know her- for real. This year, she has encouraged and inspired me to write more, to blog more, to forgive more and to love more.

6- Cha

She was my spiritual life dorm director at ORU, which meant that she was mentor/leader to me and 8 other chaplains in our dorm (Braxton, if you must know). To say she was a pivotal part of my spiritual development would be a massive understatement. We didn't keep in touch after graduation in 98, but we reconnected this summer as I passed through Nashville (see #5).



She's a lawyer turned artist and she sees beauty in everything and everyone. At ORU, I wanted to be like her because she had something genuinely nice to say about every one she ever saw and she actually said it. Told women they had nice legs, told guys she liked their eyebrows. No fear or hesitation. Pure love. For someone like me, who finds something to fix in just about everything, she is an inspiration.  She also blogs (though not enough!).

5- My Aunts Martha and Barbara

My mom is the fourth of six kids. Barbara is married to the oldest brother, Peter. Martha is the youngest sister. They both live in Kingsport, TN, along with their oldest sister, Pam. My sister, also Martha (both are named after our great-grandma), used to spend summers with Aunt Martha's family as a nanny for her four kids. Now, the kids are almost all grown up and my sis has five (!) kids of her own who she wanted to take to spend time with them. I went along because I'm awesome and also didn't want her making that 14-hour drive with kids by herself. Not only did I get to spend time with my sister, nephews and niece, but I also got to know my cool Tennessee cousins better, and best of all, got to know and appreciate the precious people my aunts are and relate to each other as adults.


(l-r: Barbara, Pam, Martha, Anna, Martha)
(Aunt Pam used to live in Tulsa near and with us, so I didn't need to reconnect with her, just enjoyed seeing her again!)

Places I went


4- In August, John and I went to Florida and Georgia as part of a combined 4th anniversary/John-getting-an-award trip. You can read about his award here. We had a blast at Disney World, taking grateful advantage of free tickets and military discounts, plus going to our favorite restaurant, Seasons 52.


3- New York City- 9/11 memorial ride
There's a whole blog about this here.



2-The Philippines
I was on a team of 13 people from my church. I was the team blogger, so you can read all about it here (start in the first one in October). There were many highlights for me, but overall, I loved the team we worked with at the Sonshine Center in Iloilo. They are a well-trained, many-gifted, excellence-focused group of single men and women, couples and families. They opened their lives and ministry to us and their servant-attitudes were contagious. Thanks to Facebook and blogging, we get to keep in touch and continue the work that was started there.

This is me with some of the lovely single ladies on the Sonshine Center staff.


1- So here we are at #1, and I feel this should be the most significant experience I had in 2009. I've only mentioned nine things so far, but my iPhoto folders tell me there are so many more! I got my motorcycle license and a motorcycle. I got an iMac and learned how to use it. John and I went through the training and home study process to be foster parents (no placements yet, though). And all these things have the potential to shape what will happen in the coming year(s). But one thing shines above to get the #1 spot.

CLC Women's Retreat
The speaker, Rebecca Contreras, prayed over me during the retreat and had a word for me that I believe was from God. Basically, God called me to get off the bench and get on the field. For many years, I have been cheering others on to pursue and fulfill the call of God on their lives, while being content to let my own dreams wait on unknown factors. This moment awakened my dream to be a college professor, which is why I'm currently applying for a PhD in Communication from the University of Maryland. I don't know if/when I'll get accepted, but I earnestly believe this is the crucial "tipping point" of the year. This is why I pursued the instructor job, and will hopefully be a major factor in what 2010 looks like for me.

Wow. I hope this doesn't take you as long to read as it did to write. My blogs aren't usually this long, but it was alot to cover! Thanks for going on this journey with me through my fantastic year. If your year wasn't as awesome, I pray this next one will be "the bomb" (does anyone still say that?).

If you're reading this on Facebook, please click over to my actual blog to comment. I'm signed off of Facebook for a while to reset and refocus for the year.

What were your highlights of 2009?

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