Archive for November, 2010

November 27, 2010

Give thanks…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s a new list of thanks inspired by this weekend with my family.  I needed to catch up, anyway!

[previous gifts here]


The complete immediate family gathered ’round a table

Listening to my Papa play the guitar

Watching my Mama spend her days in service to us all (and helping where I can!)

Seeing my newlywed sister and her husband’s love for each other

Getting to share home, laughter, food, and Christ with guests

A poinsettia on the door step

Breakfast at Chaps

A fireplace and wood stove keeping us warm in very chilly conditions

Veritable feet of snow outside!

Chocolate stout cake for three family birthdays.

Thank you, Father, for this wonderfully warm, joyful weekend, the hope we have in you, and the freedom you give us to enjoy your good gifts even though we deserve none of them.

November 22, 2010

My favorite things, 2010.

Lots of favorite things posts circulating the web right now, so I thought I’d jump on in and participate.   Though I try not to be materialistic, I do have my little creature comforts.  Things: great stuff to have, horrible word to use in an essay.

And without further ado, and in no particular order…. the things I love in 2010.

1-3) This outfit

1) Eric’s thrifted Oregon sweatshirt. His mark on me when we first started dating.  I never gave it back.

2) Vigoss studio skinny jeans from BP.

3) Fake Costco Uggs.  3 years old.  Well worth the $20. I’m not “into” Uggs, but these things… they’re like cheap, rad slippers that you can wear anywhere.  They are my go-to getting-the-mail shoe, quick run to Target shoe, driving-to-pick-up-Eric shoe….  I don’t wear them “out” other than for errands, but..  ok I’ll stop making excuses.  I really do love them.

Sadly (awesomely?), you will find me in this outfit 90% of the time if I’m not working on a given day.

4) This chapstick

5) This tea

(I drink it almost every morning)

6) This Bible

(ESV Personal Size Reference)

7) This makeup

(Mary Kay signature concealer)

8) These guys


9) This gadget

10) These headphones

What are your favorites?  Time to curl up with Kieran and The Fountainhead.

<3 Brynna

p.s.  Since the horrendous linked boxes around images are glaringly obvious in this post, now’s as good a time as any to announce that there will be some changes coming soon, including a redesign! (Hopefully before the New Year, although with the holidays you never know.)


November 19, 2010

Homemade burp cloths.

Last Monday, I went to a baby shower for two beautiful women at my church, Hannah and Natalie.  Hannah had her baby boy, Oliver, about a month ago, and Natalie is due any day now with a baby girl.  Jones Design Company‘s Emily Jones blogs about her stationery designing business and other crafty things she takes on.  She’s also a mom of four with a young baby, so some of her projects are baby-related.  Last week as I was browsing I came across a post/tutorial for adorably baby burp cloths, and I decided to make some of my own for these two new babies.  In addition I made a flower pin from JDC and a bow tie pin from Prudent Baby.

I already owned the dark blue starry night fabric, the light blue, and the yellow floral, and I purchased the adorable animal print and stripe print at Jo-Ann’s.

I lined Oliver’s cloths with light blue terry cloth, and baby girl’s with light green.

I loved this peach floral fabric I found — and I have some left over! :) I tried a practice flower with thread because I was running low on hot glue sticks, but I used hot glue on the final like the tutorial suggested.  It was easier and worked better than thread, because it allowed the petals to poke out more than lay flat.

I hot glued a pin back.  Perfect for little sweaters, hats, and shirts.

This bow tie called for interfacing, but I ended up using quilt batting and it worked just fine.  I wasn’t going for formal, and the softness is great for a baby.

I finished the cloths with a tie of ribbon, and pinned on the pins.

Congratulations, Natalie and Greg, Hannah and David!  Enjoy your beautiful babies.

November 18, 2010

Poor, poor blog…

I’m so sorry for the neglect.  I will post tomorrow about something [hopefully] interesting.  As with most weeks, I planned on taking things day by day.  However, I ended up substituting Monday through Thursday with more days to come next week and most likely the week after.  Yesterday, my longest day, I was at school from 7 until 4:30, at church Thanksgiving from 6:30 to 9:00, and celebrating Kristen‘s birthday from 9:00 to 10:30… and woke up at 5:30 to do the 7-4:30 shift again!  By the way, this is a resignation fill-in, meaning there are no lesson plans and I have the same kids all day for all subjects. Needless to say I am exhausted.  It’ll be a night of pizza and good beer and moping about the Blazers’ bad news.

Love to you all. <3

November 12, 2010

A Jewish agnostic’s look at the Bible.

I spent a while this morning flipping through David Plotz’s Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible. I happened upon this book, as well as Mary Gordon’s Reading Jesus (haven’t read it yet — another day), at the library one day and decided to take them home with me. What do non-Christians read when they read the Bible? I wondered.

I didn’t know what to expect.  The inside cover boasted that the book was “irreverent and enthralling,” which I would say was accurate.  Of David Plotz’s (the editor of Slate) accomplishments I need not sing; he is a terrific writer, which is obvious considering his accolades. But I will say he did a commendable job in this book of approaching the topic honestly… well, as honestly as he was willing to (read on).

I also need not point out that I disagree with Dave’s ultimate conclusions.  Throughout the book, however, he summarizes stories in the Old Testament and his words taught me a lot, despite the fact that I’ve been reading the Bible for a long time.  Good Book challenged me, uncomfortably, to consider facts such as Biblical scholarship, how to decide who is right, and how we decide if the Bible really is set up like it was supposed to be with so much imperfect human in the picture.  Did some rogue go in and mess up the carefully arranged books of Genesis?  Is that why, as Plotz points out, it sometimes seems so nonsensical and tangential?  These points were thought-provoking, causing me to unexpectedly wrestle with them in a way that was ultimately edifying.

But Plotz spends a whole lot of time both throughout the book and in his closing chapter making sure we know a few things.  Things I’d like to challenge.  I do admire Plotz for taking the time to actually read the Bible before deciding whether it should sit on a shelf untouched, be burned, or be read by everyone everywhere.  Surprisingly, he takes the last perspective. Hear, hear! Plotz’s “intellectual defense” of reading the Bible is this:

While reading the Bible, I often felt as though I was understanding my own world for the very first time.  It was humbling . . . I don’t want to sound like a theocratic crank, but I’m actually shocked that students aren’t compelled to read huge chunks of the Bible in high school and college, the way they must read Shakespeare or the Constitution or Mark Twain.  How else can they become literate in their own world?

Bravo.  However, we move forward: his personal defense is that, as a Jew, he now understands rituals and traditions he never got before.  “Reading the Bible has joined me to Jewish life in a way I never thought possible.”  To this I say a resounding…. duh.  The Bible is, after all, the basis of the Jewish faith.  That’s like saying you never thought it was possible that reading an automotive manual would give you a more well-rounded perspective on car engines and help you finally understand your mechanic buddy’s jokes.  Welcome to the inner circle, Dave.

Here you might be wondering what I wondered for the first few chapters of this book, after a couple remarks from Plotz that the New Testament “stole” such-and-such story from the Old (a silly and dismissive take on fulfillment of prophecy and the inseparability of the two books), or that Christians have it easier believing in Jesus to guide their lives instead of the “vindictive” God of the Old Testament (by the way, Christians believe Jesus is the God of the Old Testament).  The answers:

1) When Plotz said “The Bible,” he meant the Hebrew Bible only. The Old Testament. That might have been helpful to clarify from the get-go — like in the title of the book.  You see, for a guy who apparently champions Biblical literacy for the illiterate masses, Plotz cannot assume that everyone who picks up this book even knows that a New Testament exists.  Not only for my Christian sake, screaming internally How can he leave out Jesus!?, but for the aforementioned academics.  Just like college students can’t understand Moby Dick without knowing who the first Ahab is, how does one expect them to understand the myriad New Testament references and Christ-types in literature?  The Old Man and the Sea? No wonder nobody in my freshman honors English class got that.  Because who is that guy?  Irresponsibility #1.

2) When Plotz reads the Bible, he reads it as literature.  And he doesn’t believe any of it is actually true.  He is a self-proclaimed agnostic, and in a heartbreaking confession in the book’s last chapter he declares:

You surely notice that I’m not saying anything about belief.  I began the Bible as a hopeful, but not indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn’t really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I’m brokenhearted about God. After reading about the genocides, the plagues, the murders, the mass enslavements . . . I can only conclude that the God of the Hebrew Bible, if he existed, was awful, cruel, and capricious. He gives us moments of beauty — sublime beauty and grace! — but taken as a whole, He is no God I want to obey, and no God I can love.

He goes on to say that his Christian friends tell him the Old Testament is a set up for the New Testament, “like leaving halfway through a movie.”  But Plotz says, “That doesn’t work for me. I’m a Jew. I don’t, and can’t, believe that Christ died for my sins.  And even if he did, I still don’t think that would wash away God’s epic crimes in the Old Testament.”  He goes on to argue that if God made him a quizzical and rational being, God must be willing to be subjected to his reason, and he doesn’t pass the test.

Plotz’s ideas place in me a renewed sense of the arrogance of the world.  Not surprising, since his magazine, Slate, succeeds on the basis of witty, snarky columnists who write from a satirical “I know better” perspective.  In a word, arrogance.  Now I appreciate a bit of snark as much as the next person, but as an entire worldview I cannot recommend it.  It sets you up, like Plotz, to see yourself as the be all and end all of your own philosophy (hello, relativism!).

I’m also humbly reminded of the devastation that occurs when humans take sin lightly.   This is the only explanation for becoming angry at a God who is angry at sin.  I know it seems much more complicated than that, even to myself, but is it really? Plotz’s willingness to try to understand only goes so far: he was ready to read the Bible, to learn from it, and to hold himself up against it and find out what it means.  But when a friend recommends the New Testament?  “I can’t, I’m a Jew,” is his response.  I won’t go into the obvious leap of logic found there.

This man’s identity is based completely on how to be a “good person” (he uses a convenient pull-this-pitch-this mentality in his approach to God’s laws in Leviticus), and how to live the “good life” (he uses Ecclesiastes but misses its point entirely).  This is nothing new.  This is a man aching for something more than he has, but who is unwilling to let it change his life in any way other than to secure what he views as maximum happiness for himself and his posterity.

I can’t “argue.”  I can only comment. I respect the risk Plotz took in undertaking this quest and shifting his own beliefs, but I only wish, out of love for him and those like him, that the risk had been even greater.  What we end up with, instead, is a tame year-long project in summary, followed by a heartfelt but ultimately shallow explanation of Plotz’s own perspective. After all, isn’t it ironic that a book about exploration, curiosity, and risk-taking would end with words like “I don’t,” “I won’t”, and “I can’t”?  The cost is too great.  An old story.

And, closer to home: how often is this approach true of me?  I pray that through Grace I would be more willing to daily sacrifice myself and humbly submit to His ways.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

November 11, 2010

Airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars

A few things on my mind today…

I’m sick.  That’s right. Last week I bought 2 big cartons of OJ because my favorite Simply Orange was on sale, and we started drinking it furiously. I also had excess toiletry money in the budget and decided it was a good time to buy and begin taking daily vitamins.  And I began Yoga.  And what did I get from all my healthy endeavors?  A nasty cold.  And when did it rear its ugly head?  The morning of my first ever substitute job.  Thankfully that first day (Monday)  was mostly a sore throat.  Yesterday (I hope) was the worst, and I’m not ashamed to say that while I did two very strenuous things — taking my computer to the genius bar and making chicken soup — I spent most of the day lying on the couch watching Veronica Mars.

I had to skip Yoga yesterday morning because I figured nose breathing wasn’t really going to happen for me… but I’ve gone twice so far and survived!  Thankfully this yoga practice continues my experience with Americanized yoga studios, and actually this one doesn’t attempt to bring in spirituality whatsoever.  It’s funny — I almost miss being told to breathe out my negative energy. :)  As it is, the entirety of my mental focus is devoted to not falling out of the silly balance poses, which I do all the time anyway.  My second session was significantly more difficult than my first.  I thought it was just me until I left class and all the regulars were saying it was brutal — and the hottest class they’d ever been in.  Some were estimating upwards of 115 degrees.  Yikes.

Novel-writing is still eh.  While some of my friends are carting right along, I cannot seem to find an idea I actually want to stick with for a whole novel, and I’m beginning to think I’m far too ADD and far too much of a perfectionist to see this thing through.  What that really means, of course, is that I should figure out a way to combat ADD and perfectionism.  I’ll let you know how that goes. :)

Happy Thursday, all!  Today: More rest, lunch with Hannah and picking up my fixed computer (!).  If I get industrious, mayyybe some online Christmas shopping/brainstorming. :)


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November 9, 2010

Dessert is better than dinner

..which is why I made SK’s apple cheddar scones again today and Joy of Cooking‘s awesome scotch shortbread a few days ago.

This evening I put away a trunk full of groceries and started some chicken stock.  It’s simmering away, looking (I’m pretty sure) like chicken stock should look…

Hopefully, this stock will become a delicious chicken soup; if it’s not good enough to be soup, it will become a more flavorful substitute for water in things like rice. :)

Here’s a short and sweet summary of what we’ll eat this week: chicken noodle soup, garlic and gruyere sausage links, steak salad, and quinoa salad.  This will be my first time cooking quinoa.  I’m pretty excited!

Want to know the awesome reason this post is rushed?  It’s because I’m going to write 2,000 words tonight as soon as I post this and boil some water for tea, which I will enjoy with my third scone of the day.  Yep.

November 7, 2010

How’s that novel coming?

Oh, you know……

If anyone has checked out my NaNoWriMo profile lately, you’ll know that I’m seriously behind in terms of word count. I’ll be honest – I’m a little stuck.  You see, first I learned that people actually plan these novels.  Months in advance.  They have plot outlines, titles ready to go, even book cover designs (?!).  I don’t know how you could possibly settle on a “cover” for an unwritten and unpublished novel, but then again most of the covers are horrendously bad anyway. I’m mean.   I’ve also discovered several flaws in the NaNo system.  One of these is that 50,000 words actually amounts to a novella at best.  So although I still hope to hit a point one of these days when I just can’t stop because my characters are so believable and my plot is so riveting, my goals have become (only slightly) smaller:  write a whole lot, try to do it every day, and don’t feel bad about stopping to plan sometimes instead of ending up writing things like, “She went into the kitchen.  She thought about how her dad really wasn’t who he said he was.”  (Don’t worry, those sentences are not in my novel.  But I’d be lying if I said the quality of my content thus far is much more interesting…).

Please don’t think I’m making excuses.  I’m my worst critic (this I promise you) and yet despite my measly word count I feel like I have accomplished a slew of intangibles that have set me well on my way to learning more about this evasive novel-writing business. And, as with most hard things worth doing, the more I learn, the more I realize I do not know a single thing.  Really, I have no business even starting down this road.

But silly me, here I go.

Three things I’ve learned so far (of many):

1. Goodness gracious, first drafts are bad when I refuse to let my inner editor out of its cage.  I’m talking bad.  Like, can’t even explain.  I somehow summoned the guts to let Sara read my first few pages, which were horrible, and I can honestly say nothing I’ve written since those first couple days has been even as good as that mess.  But, first drafts are first drafts.  I might throw away 80% of it, but hopefully what I keep is worth keeping.  Look at me being optimistic.

2. I’ve learned that to write a novel you have to have a plot. Sounds obvious, right? Ha. I’ve learned how to create a snowflake plot, which sounds pretty cute.  Cuter than it is.  Although I haven’t completed my snowflake plot diagram, I imagine this to be fairly close to the way my brain works.  I’ve also tried some backwards design — working backward from a scene or line of dialogue I know I want to include to find out how my character got there.

3. Sometimes writing makes me feel like kicking and screaming, but it feels pretty good to be able to honestly say, “I’m working on a novel.”  No one needs to know how bad it is, or that it’s in its totally helpless infant stage and that it wakes up crying every few hours and I don’t know what to do with it.  If that sense of satisfaction is any indication of how utterly satisfying it would be to actually finish the thing, I’ll take it.  It just might take a while.

I don’t want to tell you how many times Eric has had to force me write this week.  So I won’t.


November 3, 2010

Ethics of yoga.

Am I crazy?  Not only did I just sign up to write thousands of words of a novel every day (I’m currently stuck on word 644, by the way), but I just purchased a 20x pass to a Bikram yoga studio for use in the next 60 days.  Yes, Bikram is the type of yoga you do in 105 degree heat. On top of that, I have my first writing group meeting tonight with the lovely Sara, and Eric and I hope to start attending a mid-week church service in the near future.  (As a side note, Sara holds the distinguished position of being the very best “group project” partner I ever worked with in my undergraduate career.  Boy, did we wrangle The Awakening into submission…)

Life slowed for Eric and me, pleasantly, a few months ago, when my summer job from hell ended and at the same time God opened the door for us to visit and grow to love a new body of believers.  Jobless and ministry-less for the time being, I am now part of what I suspect is a tiny minority of people who literally have no regular commitments whatsoever.  Except church on Sunday.   All that is about to change.

The decision to do Yoga is quite timely, as an online debate has been heating up (haha get it? Bikram?…) about whether or not Christians should practice Yoga.  Mark Driscoll’s July 2010 commentary, found here, sparked quite the conversation.  Keep in mind if you watch this or have seen it that Driscoll loves controversy.  If you stop the video ten seconds in you will write him off as a crazy man.  I almost did.  If you watch the whole thing you realize that all he’s saying is that Christians should be careful.  And yes, he could have said it in a much less contentious way.  The Village Church’s Geoff Ashley address the topic in this article in what I think is a much more responsible way.  He is careful to address concerns of parties on both sides of the debate while calming the discussion. Here are my observations, along with some reasons I am fine with doing Yoga myself.

read more »

November 2, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

Although I’m an aspiring writer, I’m very out of the loop as far as writing community and the writing industry.  Therefore, although it has been going on for a long time, I have just been informed of a little project called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  By little project I mean HUGE project — the goal is to write a 175-ish-page novel in the month of November by writing every day — that amounts to a LOT every day.  Since it’s the 2nd already, in order to participate I have to write 1,724 words every day.  Should I go for it?!…..  You can track my progress here to see if I actually try this out.  If you want to participate, make sure you make me your writing buddy!  Who’s with me?