Monday, January 28, 2013

Internet Things I like

Ah, unemployment. The couch potato's dream job.

Before you get concerned, I have joined a gym. And I go to it almost every day.

Except for when I am feeling lazy, like today.

Okay, Okay. 

I am going to stop blogging 
like an Inspirational Christian Blogger
Right.

Now.

(It's just really addicting; I can see why they do it. Formatting is fun.)

Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, the couch potato who goes to the gym. I do, actually. I joined "Planet Fitness" for a ridiculously low price, and while I don't really like that I have to drive 8 miles to get there (after living on a teeny, tiny peninsula for five years in which it took forty-five minutes to get anywhere because traffic is usually horrendous, I find any distance over one mile to be preposterous. And bad for the environment.)

This really has nothing to do with this blog post, but I am in a rambling mood. My parents are on a seven day cruise in which they thought to invite me to go on one week before the cruise...but the entire ship was completely full, (Okay, I've got to stop with the italics), so I couldn't go. All of this to say, I'm home alone for the week, which is actually pretty nice because, as my blog title indicates, I am an introvert. However, I am a loquacious introvert, and as paradoxical as that sounds, I like having someone to talk to. And, those who know me really well know that I really do mean someone to talk to, not with. To. Because when I get really stir crazy, or highly caffeinated  or, just wake up in the morning, I like to just talk and talk and talk. Just ask my former roommate for three years, Cori, for verification. If she is reading this blog, which she probably isn't, she is nodding her head in agreement right now and saying something Cori-ish like "You do talk a lot, Danielle." She's very profound like that.

So, today, I thought I would share a few random things I've found around the internet while sitting on the couch drinking coffee with real half-and-half, and "looking for jobs." It's not really fair of me to put that in sarcastic quotation marks--I really have been spending an awful lot of time job searching, but it's a pretty discouraging thing to do because nobody really wants me. That sounds rather debbie-downerish, but I just mean that I don't really stand out in the pack of other people applying for administrative assistant and receptionist and legal secretaries, etc, etc. So, in the midst of the discouraging-I-know-I'm-not-going-to-get-this-job-but-I'll-just-apply-anyway-so-that-I-don't-feel-like-a-total-loser-ness, I peruse the Interwebs.

Here is a little secret I must share with you, my faithful readers: Sometimes I get bored of the internet.

{GASP!}

Is this true? How can it be? How can you utter such horribleness?

Yes, sometimes I get bored with the world wide web. I get tired of Facebook (gasp!), tired of Pinterest (gasp!) tired of reading the news, tired of looking at random pictures. I have a hard time reading for great lengths of time on the computer, so even though I enjoy reading blogs and articles, I have a limit before my eyes get tired and I get distracted.

However, here are a few things that restore some of my interest in the internet. And, don't worry, when I get bored of the internet, I just go read a book, which is really probably the best thing to do, anyway, bored or not, because I suspect the internet actually does kill brain cells.

1) "Put a Bird on It"
Has anyone ever watch Portlandia? First, a warning: Portlandia is for people with a certain sense of humor...I don't even know how to describe it, but watch this clip, and you'll get a good idea of their humor. It's basically a show that makes fun of Portland, OR, but in making fun of Portland, they are expressing their love for Portland. It's sort of a sketch show, not a sitcom (but not a sketch show like SNL or MadTV). There are recurring characters, recurring story-lines or story-arcs, but every short or sketch is only a few minutes long. It's one of those shows that is very clean when it's clean, and pretty dirty when it's dirty--so you've been warned.


This particular short has made me laugh long after watching it, mostly because I noticed just how many decorative objects nowadays have birds on them.

2) "Pinterest, You are Drunk"
I spend way too many hours on Pinterest lately. I don't even know what I'm doing...I just keep scrolling down, down, down into the depths of Pinterest. I'm not all that crafty, fashionable, exercise-oriented, or a fan of motivational sayings...but I get trapped,  nonetheless. But I do find some gems. This website I actually didn't find via Pinterest--I found it via another blog that I did find on Pinterest (more on that in a moment). If you are on Pinterest--or if you aren't, I still think you'll find this website amusing.

3) Stuff Christians Like.
My friend Annie pointed me toward this blog. It's basically an ironical blog that makes fun of Christians, Hipsters, and Hipster Christians. Don't worry--it's all actually in very good humor. If you've attended church in North America especially in the last ten years or so, this blog is pretty funny. He also writes some serious stuff, too. My favorite post is probably "Handbells." If you know me--the real Danielle Bowers (as opposed to the fake one who likes Handbells??)--you know my feelings about Handbells.

4) Speaking of Hipsters, one of my dorm girls (Shout out to Gloria!) shared this blog with me last semester. Gloria and I have this weird "thing" about hipsters. I don't even really know--it started last school year with a conversation about what a hipster was (she didn't know at the time) and has morphed into this thing were where we share funny Hipster stuff with each other. Okay, guys, it's not that funny if you are not a part of it, so if you aren't laughing at my explanation that's because it's an inside joke, in which I let you in on, but, like all inside jokes, isn't funny to anyone else except for the people in on the joke in the first place. Gosh. Give me a break.

This blog explains "How to Be a Hipster" very well, in case you were wondering, or have no clue as to what a hipster is. Be sure to check out Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, as well. It's a very amusing blog, overall--I love her Harry Potter post, too.

Mostly, I just appreciate hilarious people, okay. Is that so wrong??? I am getting defensive for no reason.

5) I think my friend Ginny shared this blog post with me, years ago. It's definitely an English teacher post, but fans of proper grammar will appreciate it, as well: The Alot is Better Than You At Everything.

6) Well, I'm on a roll, so here is another video. If you love words, you'll love this. I think. If you love Jane Hampton, you'll love this--I know. Mostly because she showed it to me years ago, and it has held a special place in my heart. Mostly because I can't get it out of my head. (Former students of mine will recognize it, and probably run away screaming.)

Galoshes.

7) "It Just Gets Stranger"
 Lastly, I wanted to share a blog and a blog post that I happened upon (via Pinterest) that's made me laugh a lot in the last couple of days. If this guy wasn't Mormon, I'm pretty sure we would be a match made in heaven. (Pun intended...). Yes, I am maybe declaring my possible internet crush on a funny Mormon guy. Whatever. Deal with it, Akinyi.

Anyway, he has a amusing post about texting with a stranger who thinks he's her friend. And a whole lot of other nonsense. Enjoy!


Well, now that I have revealed too much of my bored self to the universe, it's time for another cup of coffee and a few chapters of my book.

Oh, and stay tuned for Part II of How to Blog Like an Inspirational Christian Blogger, coming to a silly blog near you.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How to Blog Like an Inspirational Christian Blogger

I've noticed a bit of a trend on (inspirational-ish) Christian blogs written (especially written by women), and I've decided to share the secret to their success with all of my readers today in case you too wish to become an inspirational Christian blogger.

It's all about the formatting.

Yes, my faithful readers. Becoming an inspirational Christian blogger is all in the formatting. In fact, I'm almost sure that it doesn't matter what you are saying when you use the formatting, but how you format your text.

Be sure to bold important statements like this one when you are about to launch into something really monumental to let your readers know through the formatting that you are saying something important.

This way, they won't have to stop and think about what you are writing, they'll just be able to tell from your font.

Occasionally make the font bigger:

For example, this gets their attention in a way that bolding or italicizing doesn't.

Offset your text in strange ways, almost like a poem, at times.

In this

way

They'll stop

and listen

to                                                            what                                                       you                  are

trying to tell

t
h
e
m.

Add random, pretty pictures that don't really seem to have anything to do with your post to your post.

It's okay to caption them with thoughts that help your reader understand the significance of the picture, in case they all seem like a bunch of pictorial non sequiturs.

The spacing of the pictures is also important. Feel free to do things to your font in the captions, as well. That will make it more meaningful.


Sometimes in life you just feel like an abandoned house on the side of the road that is empty. But don't worry, you will get over these hard times.

See: green pastures are coming.











Sometimes in life we just need to have the playfulness of a dachshund chasing lizards in a thorn tree.






Like the hibiscus, you will bloom again.

(Wait, this picture doesn't belong here! Well, here's your motivational thought: don't buy bottled chocolate milk in Madrid. It will only disappoint.)
Take time for the little things, like scones and clotted cream and cream tea in Cambridge.

We all must be aware of the intransigence of life. What are the volcanoes waiting to explode and  overrun your town before you have the chance to get out, turning you into a perfectly preserved ash-body? The warning signs are there: listen.  You still have time to get out.

Life is a little like a cathedral built on the shifting foundations of Venice: some days you feel like you are sinking, and other days the tide is low, and you can stop wearing your little plastic bags around your shoes and continue on like life is normal on a fifteen hundred year old city perched on rickety man-made foundation. Oh, I don't think that makes any sense at all.

Remember to enjoy the little things in life; sometimes you just have to let yourself bake a cinnamon pull-apart loaf, and then share it with your friends who will love you for making them food.

It's okay: life is messy sometimes.


But never forget: The Morning Glory always blooms in the morning.


Even the Romans were defeated eventually. It took a while for the Romans; God will overcome, and can handle any of your problems.

Like the bird landing on the pink blossoms of that tree in the desert, you will find a refuge in your desert



I promise, if you 

follow

 these 
four simple steps, 


Photo Credit: The National Geographic

you will be on your way 

to                                    blogging                                       inspirationally 

with the best of them. 

Please be sure to credit me when you are on your way to becoming a multimilliondollar inspirational writer/blogger.



*No inspirational Christian bloggers were harmed in the  making of this blog post.*

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The 2012 Book Review

On the books I read during 2012:

Resounding "Meh":
Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James. 
I was so excited to read this book--I bought it at Heathrow Airport with some of my last pounds before flying back to Senegal in April. Sadly, I found it was a miss, despite (or perhaps, because of) my expectations.

My Goodreads review:

I really like P.D. James--Adam Dalgleish is my preferred New Scotland Yard detective over Thomas Lynley any day of the week, but Jane Austen is my first love, and so I cannot give this book as high a commendation as I wish that I could (this seems to be a common trend with other reviewers). Many of the familiar characters were there, but it was like they really weren't (and some of the most comic--Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins were not). The brilliant Elizabeth Bennet was missing; in her place was a flat facsimile of the character who lived and breathed and jumped off the page in Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy seemed to have lost most of his...manliness and all of his sex appeal; instead, James brought in the character of Colonel Fitzwilliam (who, instead of being a likable and charming gentleman, had turned into a serious and somber, somewhat severe man) to do all the manly types of things, like lead the party into the woods to discover the body.

I think the novel that P.D. James wrote was about how an aristocratic family from the early 19th century would react if the murder of an acquaintance occurred on their grounds, not how Elizabeth and Darcy would react and handle a murder occurring on their grounds. I truly believe that if Jane Austen herself wrote a mystery, she would write a lighthearted romp in the style of Northanger Abbey, not in the serious tones of Death Comes to Pemberley, because Austen would never let murder get in the way of her characters, her keen observations of human nature, and her insatiable desire to poke just a little bit of fun at everything. Read it for the faint traces of the characters you love, for a hint of Austen's prose in the narrative, and for the nostalgia of sitting curled up as a girl consuming Jane Austen novels--but don't read it expecting Jane.


The Worst
House Rules by Jodi Picoult 

I really loved Jodi Picoult's Plain Truth and Keeping Faith, and I've tried to other novels that I've read of Picoult's, but I think this one marks the last of Picoult's fiction that I will read. I'm afraid that churning out a novel a year just ends in disappointment and poor writing. Don't let the promise of a fat paycheck lead you away from writing well.

My Goodreads review: (Sometimes I write the author a note)


Dear Jodi Picoult,
I'm afraid I've got to give this one a resounding "meh." I've liked your books in the past, but you sort of missed the mark with this one. Don't let the "issues" you care so much about get in the way of the writer's craft. I appreciated your careful attention to highlighting the trials of Asperger's Syndrome, but there is such a thing as "show, don't tell"--and I think that you went too far on the tell spectrum of writing.

sincerely,
Guessed The Mystery In the First Fifty Pages

Please don't read it. It's a waste of time. If you want to know more about Asperger's, find a decently written, non-fiction book on the subject. 

Worthy of Mention 
(aka "Honorable Mention," I suppose)


The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
(American Title Someone Knows My Name)

My friend, Alicia, recommended this book to me, but it took me a little while to get around to reading it. I'll admit that I don't love slave narratives very much (I still have not made it through Roots, even though I know it's an incredible book. Someday.) I'm so glad that I picked it up. The Book of Negroes is engrossing, entertaining, reflective, challenging, and educational. I also reviewed it on Goodreads, so I'll just share that (I tend to review the books I liked best, and the least, but not the inbetweens).


Dear Lawrence Hill,
I enjoyed your portrayal of Aminata Diallo's life story very much. As someone who has grown up in Mali, and lived among both the Bambara (Bamanakan) and Pular (Fula) people groups, it was interesting to read your representation of those cultures in pre-colonial West Africa. Your portrayal of the horrors of the slave trade reminded me, once again, that we must never forget that atrocity in order to never repeat that atrocity. Perhaps your portrayal of life in an African village was a wee bit idealistic--despite the horrible Fanta--but I'll allow a dash of idealism despite the very real truth that life in an African village was hard, hard, hard. We must be careful not to place that time and those people on too much of a pedestal, as human beings will be human beings no matter the language, place, or ethnicity.

I do think that perhaps everything bad that could have happened to a girl taken into slavery happened to our protagonist. Of course it was for the sake of the novel, but oh, did poor Aminata go through everything. Perhaps you could have made it a little more realistic--sometimes in a fictional account, too many bad things feels a little melodramatic, and a little bit like you are manipulating the reader. We accept that the slave trade was terrible: occasionally, you have to let the atrocity speak for itself.

Thank you for writing this novel. It has made me think and helped me reconsider the affects of slavery on Africa itself. This continent still bears the scars of the slave trade, and colonialization, and it always will. This book shed some new light on those scars.

sincerely,
An American in Africa


Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones
It has everything the whimsical fantasy reader could want: magic, silliness, romance, and impossible tasks. It's a treasured children's novel for many, but I just hadn't got around to it. Sophie is transformed into a little old woman, and has to fight battles with tenacity and a gnarled stick and a bad back. It's hard to describe the plot--but if you like fun and magic and snarky, resiliant characters, I think you'll enjoy Howl's Moving Castle.


The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
I happened upon this book through Goodreads recommendations. I'd just been to England, and visited the Tower, so I was curious to read this little novel about life in the Tower of London. Balthzar Jones is a slightly curmudgeon Beefeater who lives with his wife in the Tower. The novel is funny, but also quite sad and reflective. I expected it to be just a silly little jaunt, and while it certainly had moments of goofiness and "laugh-out-loud-edness," it has tragedy, too. I think I liked it better for the dose of realism in the midst of the silliness of starting a zoo in the moat of the Tower of London, and all the ensuing, inevitable hilarity.


The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I remember reading about this book on my friend Jamie's blog years, and years, and years ago, and it stayed in the back of my head, but I didn't really try too hard to find it. After reading The Name of the Wind (also recommended to me by Jamie, actually!), I stumbled across some mention of The Lies of Locke Lamora in a review or article, and decided to try it. I'm glad that I did. The Lies of Lock Lamora is, of course, first of a supposedly-seven book series (why? why?), but if he continues writing with the same intricacy and "world-building" and intrigue, I think it'll be a good series. Despite some strong cussin', the book is surprisingly clean (most fantasy novelists like to add a sex-scene or two in order to up the readership, I suppose). It's about a gang of highbrow thieves and the heists they pull. Of course there's a horrific villain, a puzzle impossible to solve, and a whole lot of hi-jinks and tomfoolery. (Note: mostly I just wanted to use the word tomfoolery today.) Locke Lamora is sort of a fantasy version of Ocean's Eleven or The Italian Job--but better. 

Okay, true confessions: I love books and movies about master thieves and how they get away with it. 

I'm a terrible, terrible missionary.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I guess I am just jumping on the bandwagon, but I loved this book. It was just...delicious. I loved the magic, the pagentry, the originality. I love books about "plausible" magic, as in, magic that is taking place in the world around us, not in a fantasy world far, far away. The Night Circus is hard to describe: two magicians are in a competition against each other to prove who is the best magician. The venue for their competition: The Night Circus. The writing was well crafted; the plot was a little slow, but it doesn't overshadow the quality of the book. 









The Best
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
This obscure science-fiction (sort of) novel is not for everyone, but looking back, it was my favorite book that I read in 2012, and the one I definitely plan on revisiting soon. If you like time travel, historical fiction, nonsense, and literature, perhaps this is for you. Fans of Jasper Fforde, P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde will appreciate this gem (can you tell I've been reading car and apartment ads for a while now??).

To Say Nothing of the Dog is inspired by Jerome K. Jerome's little "travel guide" novella Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) about a journey up the Thames in a rowboat, which is delightfully nonsensical, and just the sort of book I probably would not have picked up based on its cover. The characters in To Say Nothing of the Dog find themselves on a similar journey, a similar romp, and an entirely unconnected mystery.

Just as a warning--if you pick up this book, the first couple of chapters are very confusing: but they. are. meant. to. be. confusing. If you aren't sure of what is going on, that is the point. Not the greatest encouragement, perhaps, but once you sort of figure out what she is doing with the confusion, you will find it brilliant. I hope.

And thus concludes the 2012 Book Review. 

What did you read last year that inspired you? Any recommendations? 

Until next the 2013 Book Review: Happy Reading, Bibliophiles. May 2013 be the year of good books!

Five Musings on a Tuesday (1.15.13)

On my mind this week:

1) I fear I'm becoming a "like-er." You know, a person who "likes" things a lot on Facebook. I find it creeping up on me more and more lately. It seems that the ease of giving the little "thumbs up" sign is overpowering me. It's just so easy, so tempting, so compelling: "'like' the status--just 'like' it. You don't have to comment. Just like. They'll know that you, well, liked it. Message received. Etc."

It's a scary road. This road can only lead to one thing, and one thing only: posting memes. (Nooooooooooooooooooo!)

Like this one:


(Well, I thought it was funny.)

2) In other news, I bought a car.

Wait, I should probably make that more dramatic.

I BOUGHT A CAR!

Woot! It's a little 2002 Toyota Corolla. It's simple and clean and runs well and has low mileage and new tires and has already been inspected and I am happy.

There really isn't much of a story. I found it on Craigslist (gasp!), contacted the seller, met him on Saturday with my dad to test drive it, agreed on the price, went to "Terry's Tags and Titles" on Monday to change the title and get my plates (it took less than 10 minutes), and voila: it's mine. It's not fancy, it's not cool, but I've never been either of those, so it works, and it's mine. Her name is forthcoming.


3) I'm still reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. She said something that really struck me: "Life is not an emergency." I guess it struck me in light of last week's "have patience!" thought. I am in such a hurry, at least internally, to get to where I am going. I always have been, actually. I always want to be there, instead of here. What is the hurry? Financially, I'm okay for a few months, I have a good place to live for now--and, admittedly I may feel a bit foolish (or cliched) to have moved back with my parents--there is nothing wrong with it for a short time, and it is temporary because they are headed back to Mali (hopefully, considering the continued unrest) in six months. But really, there is no emergency: I am still young (and even if I wasn't, Voskamp's thought would hold true), I am cared for, I am okay. So, why the rush? And, it's not just not having a job--it's everything. I want it all, now: job, home, marriage, kids (maybe...), etc. This is in part because a lot of my friends have this (the marriage and the kids part especially), and I want that, too. I'm tired of being left out of the "club." But, if I believe in God's promises that He will prosper me and that He has my best interests at heart, why the rush?

Oh, it's easy to write this little pep talk to myself while I feel mostly content (despite the lack of job and financial prospects...), but it's harder when I'm feeling down and lonely and doubting some of the paths I've chosen, even when I know that I chose them rightly. I don't know if marriage and kids (and a job!) are in my future. Maybe they aren't--but then again, maybe they are, and I just have to be willing to wait on His timing, and in the meantime, stop and smell the roses and be grateful for what I have now, not griping about what I don't have (yet?).

4) On Sunday, my parents decided to visit an African American church here in Baltimore they are connected with, and I went along because I secretly enjoy African American church services a lot more than "White" churches. It felt so much more like "home," even down to being the only "toubabs" in the crowd. Part of that is probably because for most of my years in Dakar, I attended "The International Baptist Church of Dakar" ("we are mostly Baptist, but our doors are open to all denominations..."), an English-speaking church populated by mostly Anglophone-West Africans. IBC's service is very much like a Black church service in the States, and so worshiping at The Mount Moriah Baptist Church was comforting and familiar. The pastor preached an excellent sermon that seemed to be directed right at me (isn't it always, though?) about having Faith (faith for a job, faith for a husband--hah! He had my number!). Anyway, this statement in the sermon made me laugh, and I thought I would share it, for all the single ladies out there:

"Do you WANT a HUSBAND? Then FIX yo' HAIR, get out of the HOUSE, and GO WHERE THE MEN ARE!"

Food for thought, food for thought.

5) Please pray in earnest for the country and people of Mali. There is a very real war going on there right now. Last week, the rebels advanced on a town that was too close for comfort near the "border" of the North and the South, and France decided that it was time to intercede. France has deployed troops and planes to Mali, and other ECOWAS countries are beginning to send troops to aid Mali. There were air strikes on the part of the French and Mali armies in the rebel territory, but the rebels took a town called Diabaly which is only 90 kilometers from Segou, a major, major city on the "Mali" side.

Photo Credit: BBC News
Please pray for a swift resolution; that there would be minimal loss of life on both sides, that there can be peace talks initiated and held, and that peace can once again reign in Mali. It is hard to believe how much can take place in just nine short months. If you haven't been following what is happening in Mali, you should be--not only because it is my "home," but also because, believe it or not, the result of this war will affect (and is affecting) the surrounding West African nations, and the ripples will affect the world, even your comfortable, cozy world. So, please pray.

Here are a few news links to catch you up to speed, if you are unaware of the details. The BBC and Al-Jazeera English generally have the best coverage, it seems, of the conflict.

BBC News: Mali Conflict: West African Troops to Arrive in Days
Al-Jazeera: France to Increase Troops in Mali Invasion 

Also, an article entitled "9 questions about Mali you were too embarrassed to ask."

And "Six reasons why Mali matters"

But we don't need a CNN article to tell you why Mali matters.

Here are just a few of the fifteen and half million reasons why Mali matters:










Until another Tuesday's musings: farewell.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

10 Things I like So Far About America

Not new to me, just reminders of the things I like about America. And yes, most are food related. After more than five years in Africa, a person gets excited about American food.

1) 2% Milk. Well, non-powdered milk in general. Yummy.

2) String Cheese.

3) Cottage Cheese

(There does seem to be a dairy theme going on.)


4) Speedy Internet

5) Netflix

6) Coffee, coffee, coffee.

7) My new boots.
Boots: by Payless. PJ Pants: by Walgreens. Styling: by Danielle.

8) Dill Pickles.

9) Cheerios.

10) The library of course).

Feast

At least I'm getting caught up on my reading during my time of unemployment:


God bless the Baltimore County Public Library System!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eight Musings on a Tuesday (1.8.2013)

On my mind this week:

1) God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. (And the Best? And the Best? The Best is yet to come!)


2) I'm "home"--wherever that is. I'm here in Baltimore with my family, and today, that's what counts. I'll figure out the "home" stuff some other time. Even though this house, this neighborhood, and in fact, this entire side of town is completely unfamiliar, it was nice to see our family ornaments hanging on the Christmas tree, and our familiar stockings hung by the TV cabinet with care.

3) I can still drive in America--how nice! Not that I thought that I couldn't, but, oh, it's so smooth and easy, and everyone follows the traffic laws. Delightful. Also, for a while, my hand kept feeling for the gear shift any time I needed to downshift. That's going to take some getting used to!

4) Re: #1. Speaking of driving, I've been asking frequently in my prayer updates for the past couple of months if someone had a car, or knew of a car available for me to borrow for a few weeks or months, until I could purchase a vehicle. I didn't really get much response, and understandably, it was discouraging. I knew it was sort of a long shot, but I had been loaned cars before, so I knew that there were people out there with extra cars. Fast-forward to Sunday. The church my parents attend in Baltimore has one of the most gracious and generous congregations we will probably ever encounter--they helped my parents find a house, helped with furnishings, household goods, etc--and we aren't even Mennonite or members of the church. Word on the street was that there was a man in the church who is good at finding used cars. I admit that I was dragging my feet to contact him, because I'm bashful when it comes to talking on the phone and/or talking to people I don't really know. I spoke to him, however, this Sunday about helping me find a car, and after asking me a few questions, he suggested loaning me one of his family's vehicles for a few months while he helps me look for a car. 

Wait--what? 

In less than 24 hours, he had arranged to add me to his insurance, and is bringing the car by this afternoon.

It's funny how things happen, I guess. I had sort of given up on the whole "being loaned a car thing"--and suddenly, one was plopped into my lap. This gives me time to look for a good car, in my price range. So, God is good, even when you've sort of given up on the thing you were praying for. 

5) There's this Christian children's song that I hate. My parents used to sing it to me, I think, when I was impatient, and it was on some children's sing-along tape (The Music Machine...flashbacks, anyone?). I think a snail sings it in a really, slow, dull voice. It goes: 
Have patience, have patience 
Don't be in such a hurry 
When you get impatient, you only start to worry 
Remember, remember that God is patient, too 
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you.
Now, I know this song is referring mainly to being impatient in the short term with others and getting angry, but in the last week or so, this is the song that has been running through my head (and irritating me, ironically, since it's a song about not being impatient). I'm having to be patient in a different kind of way. I've started my job search, and, yes, it's only been. one. week since I sat down at my computer and started to seriously seek a job.

But I have the audacity to be impatient and frustrated. I do not in theory expect the perfect job to fall into my lap immediately, but, I really would like it to. And, that's probably not going to happen. It takes time, patience, schmoozing, and a whole lot of diligence and humbleness. I have a voice drumming in my brain saying: "You're not going to find a job. You're going to have to work at Wal-Mart. You aren't really good for anything. Why even bother applying for these fancy-pants jobs?"

But then I remember: patience. And perseverance. And confidence. And most of all: trust. Trusting in Him, trusting that God actually has something pretty amazing planned for me. And that maybe I will apply to twenty, thirty, forty, fifty jobs, but He already has a job picked out, waiting for my resume to be picked up off the stack. And maybe, God wants me to slow down, relax, take a deep breath--to have some down time after five and half years of being in Africa, after leaving the place I call home for good, after saying goodbye to a life that I loved--rather than leaping into a job immediately. 

It's only been a week, so it's ridiculous for me to be worried or frustrated. It's easy to know this with your head, but harder to accept it in your heart. I know that a big part of me wants to get started with this new life I've chosen--but I don't know what that is going to be, so I'm in limbo. I've never been very good with limbo. 

So, until then, I'll just keep hearing that stupid song. And working on trusting that He has a better plan for me than I could possibly come up with. And, if that plan means working at Starbucks for a few months, or even, heaven-forbid, retail at Wal-Mart, I'll work on trusting that God knows what he's doing. I have so many examples of how God has brought the best thing in my life to me--the  most recent example being the loan of this car. Isn't it funny how quickly we can move on to panic, even in the wake of the very real evidence of God's goodness to us? 


6) Perks to being unemployed? It's 12:16 PM on a Tuesday, and I'm still in my pajamas. Don't worry--this isn't a very  normal occurence (especially that now, with a vehicle, I can hopefully go to the gym in the mid-morning), but somehow, today, it is. And I'm cozy and comfortable in my black-and-white-cheetah-print PJ pants, so don't judge.

7) I now have a cool smart phone (but not an iPhone), but no phone numbers. I was rather hurt that I posted on Facebook to all my "friends" that if anyone wanted to have my number, they could message or email me, and do you want to know how many responses I got? Try and guess. Just guess. 

I know, you were probably thinking thirty or forty. Or two hundred.

One.

One person, out of my 380+ friends wants my number. Whatever, people. Whatever.

Fortunately, it was someone I happen to like very much. But still. One? Good grief? Doesn't anyone like me??

Okay, I am now finished my pathetic whining. Mostly, I need an excuse for my now expensive phone bill. What is the point of unlimited phone and texting when you have no friends?

Waaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Okay. I'm done. Mostly. Sniff.

8) It's 2013. Good grief! 


Thanks for listening to my ramblings on this Tuesday.