I've been listening to The Rocket Summer album Of Men and Angels non-stop today and I really really like it. Just found out I get to see The Rocket Summer and the Goo Goo Dolls on Sunday at the Ryman! I'll be doing my interview first, then sticking around for the show. Two tickets, so I'm taking Sarah M. :)

Ryman Auditorium
Photo by Warren Berg
If you don't think that's awesome, you need awesome lessons! I love living in Nashville/I love my job/I love that our media connections are awesome and can get me free tickets.

I'm also interviewing Mike Scheuchzer, guitarist for MercyMe, next Tuesday. Guess that determines what I'll spend my weekend doing! (Interview prep!)


the rocket summer.

I've got an interview scheduled for Monday to talk with Bryce Avary, the guy behind rock solo-project The Rocket Summer. Avary is based in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas. His newest album, Of Men and Angels, released February 23, 2010. The album debuted No. 1 on iTunes.
Photo By: Jered Scott (jeredscott.com)

So I'm doing a little research on this guy and I find out he is playing in Nashville at The Ryman Auditorium on Sunday. Better yet, he's playing with the Goo Goo Dolls. I'm a big fan. I spent the greater part of my middle school and high school years listening to the Goo Goo Dolls, and I saw them in Kansas City in 2007. It would be sweet to go but I'm not dropping $45 for the experience. Small possibility something might work out, but we're waiting to hear from our media publicist connections. :)

The Rocket Summer's song "Walls" was on NBC's The Biggest Loser this week and it's on the commercials for Friday Night Lights. Also, here's a lead single from a 2007 album Do You Feel. Maybe you've heard it before. It's called "So Much Love." Here it is "lip dubbed" by some students at Calvin College. This video drips in creative musical performance genius:

Bryce Avary's a Christian. The case of his new album has a long message inside. Part of it (my favorite part) reads:

I don't take lightly the fact that I have this incredible belssing of getting to play music, and I don't take lightly that I get to witness what it means to some folks. Music is so powerful and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. … Jesus, all praise, glory, blessing and honor goes to You my friend.

page cxvi.

I spent a lot of time listening to music. It's always on in the background. I prefer it to the TV. I love discovering new stuff, savoring old stuff, and just enjoying it altogether. I do, after all, live in Music City. Sometimes I get to hear new albums before they even are released to the public. Or interview artists I've been listening to since I was in the 7th grade. It's pretty sweet.

I've got to do a plug for this album.  
Page CXVI's album Hymns is FREE this week.

I grabbed this album the first time they had it for free. Page CXVI has just released its second album, so the first album is once again available for free.

From their website:
Page CXVI is a project started with the idea of making hymns accessible and known again. They are some of the richest, most meaningful, and moving pieces of music ever written.

I couldn't agree more. And they have a new album, Hymns II, available for $9.99. You can preview both albums on their website. The second album sounds as incredible as the first. Check it out.



I've started my garden. I have strawberries, 12 bell pepper plants, 4 mounds of zucchini, and hopefully this weekend I will plant tomatoes. I've been out there most evenings pulling weeds. It's hard to imagine anything will grow from these little 3" plants.

My garden is just 7' by 10'. Maybe in years to come I'll expand and plant lots of different kinds of vegetables (except for corn which I don't eat due to its lack of nutritional value, or herbs because I really just don't know what to do with them). Today at work Katy and I agreed that we probably will never grow flowers because you can't eat them. Sure, they are nice to look at ... I did plant six perennials along my fence: small golden yellow flowers. Maybe I'll do sunflowers next year in honor of my Kansas roots. I could at least figure out how to keep the seeds.

I'm starting C.J. Mahaney's Living the Cross Centered Life. I've heard really great things about this book, but I have a pile of half-read books already and another pile of new books I also want to read. Hoping to get back into the habit of reading ... reading makes me tired and Miles hasn't been letting me sleep well. Plus it's tough when I spend all day reading at work!

On another note, how did it take me 22 years to discover Free Cell? It's like Solitaire on steroids. I'm getting hooked ... probably another habit I need to give up so I have time to read! :)



Today our managers took us (The Super Duper team) out for lunch as a "thank you" for all the work we put into the Super Duper Fun & Exciting Absolutely Thought-Igniting Bible Activities for Preschoolers and for Kids coming out June 1.

We ate at Amerigos. I got Caesar salad (I looove Caesar salad) and Pasta Pomodoro. For dessert, we shared tiramisu, raspberry cheesecake, and a dark chocolate brownie with ice cream and caramel. I'm not sure how productive I will be this afternoon in light of this eminent food coma. ZZZzzzz.

Aaand we're back! Today I am Blogspot's "Blog of Note." Definitely made my day.

My calendar is pretty clear the rest of the week. If the weather cooperates, I'll finish planting my garden. I got home from Philly last night and discovered my neighbor mowed my yard, so that's done. Tomorrow night is Kairos, and last week I impulse-bought several books I want to start reading. The first one, Scandalous, arrived yesterday.

For all my new visitors, here's a little info about me:
I am a 22-year-old Midwesterner-turned-Southerner who feels like she's living the life of a 28-year-old. A K-State graduate in English working my dream job in Music City, USA. I'm a first-time homeowner, cat owner, and gardener. I'm a triplet! My brother is a senior at Cornell where he played basketball (Sweet 16!) and my sister is married and lives in Missouri. I'm 5'9 and the shortest in my family; the middle child. I love Jesus, enjoy sunshine, and appreciate a quality non-fat chai latte. I've called Nashville "home" for nearly a year and hopefully for many more to come. I'm a morning person, pancake person, and a please-no-pickles-mayo-or-mustard person.

I have 99 Twitter followers. Be my hundredth?


This is Miles. Formerly known as A063470. Also known as "Why I Don't Sleep Well." 
He can't do this quietly:

I have a love/hate relationship with Miles. Well, it might more accurately be described as a love/oh-my-word-you-are-so-cute-but-do-you-really-need-to-keep-me-up-at-all-hours-of-the-night? relationship. He likes to eat yogurt—just shoves his entire head in the cup, so afterward he looks quite hilarious:

I adopted Miles in January when he was four months old. The Metro Animal Control people told me he was a little feisty. I told them I could handle it. Really, I hoped I could handle it. I really wanted a boy cat and the other kittens were girls, except for one other boy who only had half of a tail, and even though I felt sorry for it, I really wanted a whole cat. Nashville's Metro Animal Control is a great place for adopting pets. Miles was $60 and that included a same-day neutering. There's this place on Nolensville called Value Vet. I took him there for a check up and it was very inexpensive.

A typical 5:30 a.m. I've been up for 30 minutes, but Miles has been up for 2.5 hours. He proceeds to rip holes in the shower curtain while I get ready for work. When I get home from work, he melts into a black puddle on my lap and purrs like it's his only purpose in life. Adorable.



This weekend I went to Philly to visit my friend/college roommate. She's been living in Philly for two years now, and I've never been to Philly -- or Pennsylvania for that matter -- so I decided to go visit. I flew out of Nashville on Southwest ... the funniest guys in the sky! The flight attendants were hilarious. They began explaining the safety instructions about using your seat as a flotation device: "In the event that Southwest Airlines becomes Southwest Cruise lines ... " 

And then, my personal favorite: "We would like to remind you there is no smoking in the bathroom. If we catch you being naughty in the potty, there is a $2000 fine. And if you wanted to pay that much to fly to Philadelphia, you would have flown American."

Jess left her car in KS, so we took the El. It was my first time on a subway.
We got touristy and saw the Liberty Bell.

Constitution Hall. We went on a tour in the afternoon.
I can't remember who this guy is ... I think he started the Navy or something.
The weather was beautiful. I love how many parks Philly has.
We walked downtown toward Love Park. Cool architecture.
Another statue.

Love! This was a lot smaller than I imagined!

Fountain in Love Park

Reading Terminal - This cool indoor marketplace with tons and tons of stores and people.
Saturday afternoon we walked down to South Street for lunch. We had falafels, which taste a lot better than they look. Then we stopped and got some frozen yogurt and made our way back to the El. When we got home, I was so tired. I climbed into bed for a nap around 3 pm. and before I knew it, it was 10 a.m. this morning. Jess and I biked through some rainy/cold weather to a brunch place. We stopped by Circle Thrift where she works, then went home and watched the latest episode of Glee.

By then it was about time to get me to the airport. We walked to her friend's house to borrow a car and Jess drove me to the airport. My flight out of Philly was delayed an hour, so I didn't get home until 8 p.m. Philly was cool, and it was great to see my friend, but I don't think it lands on my top 10 places I'd want to live.


road rage.

I've had this misconception that traffic in Nashville really isn't that bad. But oh, how wrong I was. I've experienced 4 p.m. traffic and it is frustrating. Tonight we had a missions team meeting so I stayed late at work and didn't leave LifeWay until 6:15. (12 hour day!) I got home at 6:55. Let me remind you that I live SIX miles from work. It's a 12-minute commute.

Long story short, I am so grateful I can work 6:30-3. If I worked until 4 or 5, I would seriously lose my mind. Like seriously. I have anger issues in my car sometimes. Being tired and hungry didn't help things. I ended up eating a package of Southwest pretzels my sister had stashed in my glove box in November. "You'll be glad you have this in an emergency," she said. Like if I put my car in a ditch and am trapped there for three days and need food to sustain me. Or if I'm stuck in traffic driving home from work. Something like that.

On another note, Jeff said he's going to look into getting me an interview with Shai Linne. Shai is from Philly but I think he's in D.C. now working with a church. So he's not touring or anything so surely he can't be too busy for a 20 minute interview. But I'm not getting too excited about it in case it doesn't work out, but it would be really sweet if it did.

Philly tomorrow.

great printer revolt 2010

Yesterday was Administrative Professionals Day. Unfortunately yesterday was also a very frustrating day for our administrative professional, Teresa. The printers decided to revolt in what will forever be remembered as The Great Printer Revolt of Administrative Assistants Day 2010. (And when you're in publishing, printers are essential.) But Teresa stayed tough and demonstrated extraordinary heroism, tenacity, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

The Series of E-mails
9:04 a.m. - JAZIZ* has an error and will not print at the moment.  After turning OFF and back ON several time, I am calling 3900.. Please print to Damascus in the meantime.  Thanks.

9:41 a.m. - I believe we are back in business.  At exactly 9:45 we will all stop what we are doing, say a prayer and hope the blasted thing works.

9:59 a.m. - Good news: JAZIZ is working
Bad news: DAMASCUS* is NOT working
We have unplugged it and Helen has graciously agreed to plug back up in 20 minutes.  Hopefully that will work.
 *our printers' names come from the Bible
12:52 p.m. - JAZIZ has the definite potential of actually working properly at this point;  however, please do not hold me to that statement.  Try it at your own risk and let me know if there are problems.  If there ARE problems - you might be safer to call or e-mail me than to tell me in person!  (just kidding????)

1:27 p.m. - Damascus is not working.

1:56 p.m. - Tech support has requested an engineer to come up and check our printers - FINALLY.  Just print wherever you can.

3:09 p.m. - Rick says printers are ready to print.

4:00 p.m. (Facebook) -I am thankful for all my LifeWay friends who have been so understanding during "The 2010 Printer Revolt" day. I love the people I work with.

By the end of the day, we were back in business. So I did what seemed most appropriate: I made her a Certificate of Awesomeness … and I even framed it! (And there's a laser printer in the background.)
I appreciate Teresa because every morning when she walks by my office she says hello. When I need to fax something, she does it for me (fax machines are before my time … I always mess it up.) She stops what she is doing to show me how to clock my vacation time, and she was extremely sweet to me on my birthday when it wasn't the best birthday ever.

This morning I got to work early to try to sneak this onto Teresa's wall or something, but Kimber (her cubicle neighbor) was already there (she always beats me to work!) so I tried to anonymously just place it on her desk. I was afraid Kimber would see me through the reflection in the window or something. By mid-morning Teresa was asking about it (I tried to act like I didn't know what she was talking about, but I wasn't very good at it). I thought maybe Kimber had given me up, but (see comments) it was Jeff!


new things.

  • New blog header. (See above.) What do you think? I am particularly fond of it.
  • New roommate! Jennifer Hooks (who was also a Summer 2009 LifeWay intern) is graduating and coming back to Nashville to work with LW. She needed a room, so she's going to live with me this summer. I'm looking forward to it!
  • New interview opportunity. Waiting to hear about getting an interview with Britt Nicole. She's only three years older than me (crazy!) and I think it would be great to talk to her. I have big plans for the article too which makes me really excited.

lyrical theology.

This weekend I am heading to Philadelphia. I'm pretty excited because I've never been to Philly, let alone the state of Pennsylvania. I'm going to visit my friend Shoff (Jessica) who was formerly my college roommate.

Someone else from Philly is Shai Linne. Of course I've never met the guy, but I'm a fan of his music. I really wouldn't have ever guessed that I would be a fan of hip-hop/rap. I suppose most people would look at me and think I would never in a million years know every lyric to Shai's The Atonement album, which I sing very loudly in my car about every chance I get. What I like about The Atonement is that it's basically God's Word rapped (or hip-hopped). It's what Shai Linne calls lyrical theology.

So today I bring you "Atonement Q&A" from The Atonement.

I thought it'd be good to chop it up about certain terms that we throw out a lot but never really define. So why don't I give you some words and you can give us the definition?
Who is God?
God is the universe's Creator and Sustainer, plus the only Savior. There is no one greater. He's triune, holy, omnipotent, omniscient, absolute. Loving, sovereign, and righteous are a few of His attributes.

How do we know this?
We know this from the Bible, where God has revealed Himself. Anything else is just an idol.

What's the Bible about?
Man's complete ruin and sin and what God has done in Christ to bring us to Him again.

What is sin?
Sin is the breaking of God's law, plus our condition which means from birth we all got flaws.

What's the result?
The result is by nature we're God's enemies and must pay the penalty unless God provides the remedy.

What's the remedy?
The remedy is the cross of Christ, where He suffered all the strikes for the lawless type.
I've been rescued by the Lamb, I'm convinced that He's risen and blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven.

Regeneration: the Holy Spirit's true work in His love to the elect who receive new birth from above.

Expiation: Expiation means God's removed my filthiness. The Old Testament type was the goat into the wilderness.

Redemption: We've been freed from slavery to sin and His very own blood is the price He paid, my friend.

Propitiation: Propitiation means since the Lamb has died, His work is finished. God's wrath is satisfied.

Adoption: Adoption means God is now my Father. I've got the hottest Poppa and by the Spirit holler "Abba!"

Reconciliation: means there's no more enmity. God is now a friend to me; we're no longer enemies.

Justification: God declares us righteous.

Sanctification: We're being made into His likeness.

Glorification: That's what happens at the finish when God conforms believers perfectly to Christ's image.

God's grace is magnificent. He slayed His innocent Son. Through faith and repentance we get the benefit.

What is faith?
Faith is a gift from God; when we receive this, we trust and treasure the person and finished work of Jesus.

Repentance is turning from your sin and trusting Christ as the Spirit cleanses you within.

What is grace?
Oh, grace is unmerited favor. Our inheritance major 'cause we cherish the Savior.

Right, and if I may quote again, we were doomed with Satan, but believers get Jesus' righteousness through imputation.  
God takes Jesus' righteousness amount; through faith He credits it into the Christian's account.

Anything else?
Well, I guess this overview must suffice, but none of this is possible apart of union with Christ. And finally, once you know the way of the Lord then the only thing that you can say is Soli Deo Gloria.

lessons from a treadmill.

I'm the kind of person who needs to see progress. It's the reason I enjoy mowing my yard; after an hour of work, it looks so much better. It's why I like editing. Every keystroke is progress, chiseling away at a piece of work until it looks great. It's why I enjoyed a 6-month project editing two books. The end result is fantastic and all along the way (with the exception of about January through March when it felt like no matter how much I worked we would never finish) I could see the products coming together.

And it's the reason I don't enjoy really running. I was a sprinter and jumper in high school. 60 seconds of sprinting max, and you're done. But running ... in my case getting on a treadmill ... there are no immediate results. I look exactly the same as I did when I got on, except for being hot and sweaty and thirsty. So it's a hard habit to keep up with. But I keep pressing on. I made a chart so I can record my times, every day increasing by a minute. By the end of the month, I'll be running 50 minutes instead of 20. And progress comes, but slowly and seemingly unnoticeable.

Story of my life. Things don't change overnight and most things take a lot of work, sweat, and persistence. It's frustrating! Especially when it comes to my relationship with God. I still sin. I still doubt. I still face temptation. Why can't I just be sanctified now? Why can't I really grasp what it means to be holy? How long until I get to stand in God's glory?

Patience, grasshoppa. Something my friend Jenn used to tell me is Now, but not yet. God wants His people to be holy because He is holy (Lev. 19:2). He calls us to a high standard. And even though God calls me to be holy because I am His, I am far from it. I sin. A lot. But I am no longer a slave to sin  (Rom. 6:6). I am called to be holy now, but not yet. I'm still being sanctified (1 Thess. 4:3) to be like Christ. I look forward eagerly for the end result, but for now I keep plugging away, one day at a time.

Paul talks a lot about life being a race.
I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)

I'm pushing myself to get on the treadmill daily. It's hard. Some days I just don't feel like it. Some days I don't feel like praying or reading my Bible, but I push myself to be disciplined because the more I do, the easier it gets. The more I love doing it. It may take awhile, but I'll start seeing changes in my life whether it's my energy level or my joy. I may not be able to run a mile as quickly as I could in high school, and I may still struggle with judging people or acting selfishly, but I keep moving forward. Because I am called to something greater; now, but not yet.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it.
Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.
Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—
that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.
And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)


light meets the dark.

I had lunch with Tenth Avenue North today! (Well, technically not with them by all means of that term, but I did eat lunch while in the same room with them.) The band came up to LifeWay to talk about their second album, Light Meets the Dark.

A couple of Christmases ago, I got Tenth Avenue North's first album, Over and Underneath. I like their music. Lead singer Mike Donehey talked about how their new album relates to their first. Over and Underneath basically is trying to speak the gospel. This second album is in a way "the next step" … because once you understand the gospel, you're free. You're free to hurt and struggle and heal. Light Meets the Dark is an album about admitting you're messed up and realizing that's okay.

We listened to a lot of the songs on their new album. The one that stood out most to me is called "The Truth Is Who You Are." Mike mentioned that Christianity is not this set of moral principles. Truth is not a bunch of words to be memorized. Christianity is an encounter with God, with the man Christ Jesus. The first verse:

It would be easier if you were just a thought in my head
Simply something that I once read
A belief needing my defense
And it would be easier if you were something I once knew
A hope just to hold on to
But you're holding out your hands.

(c) 2010 Song/ATV Timber Publishing/West Main Music/Formerly Music/Windsor Hill Music (SESAC)

The last line of that verse is awesome. I think it really emphasizes relationship over "religion." It's just sweet because if Christianity were just this set of beliefs, this "religion," then you would need a pretty strong defense to convince other people it's true. Simple analogy: say you are studying frogs. Maybe you know absolutely everything there is to know about frogs. But if you've never encountered a frog, never heard it ribbit or felt its bumpy skin, all you've got is this list of facts. But who needs to defend a relationship? I'm not sure you can have a relationship with a frog, but we've got this intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe. John 14:6—"I am the way, the truth, and the life."

The listening session was an hour long and I wasn't taking notes on everything the band said, but these guys are biblical in their lyrics, and I think it's definitely an album to be looking forward to. Light Meets the Dark will be released on May 11.


home improvement.

Install two ceiling fans
Change air filters
Install padlock on shed
Empty ShopVac
Install bike hooks
Spray for wasps
Recaulk side entry steps
Caulk side entry threshold
Mortar fill cracks on porches
Recaulk at roof wall
Caulk/seal crawlspace door trim
Seal protrusion nails on roof
Secure gutters
Bury downspout extensions
Fit smaller screen over gable vents in attic
Repair hole in roof (squirrel entry into attic)
Paint exterior fuel lines to prevent rusting
Caulk/seal fuel lines at block
Lock panel cover
Fluff up settled insulation in attic
Repair hallway closet door (sticking)
Hang bulletin board
Fix side entry screen door (won't close)
Troubleshoot floodlights
Clean up attic

Dad flew in yesterday morning to help me do a few things around the house. We headed to Lowe's to pick up supplies (I had a coupon); while we were gone my neighbor mowed my front and backyard. Pretty great. I'm going to have to make him some cookies or something.

Friday we went out to the shed. After talking to my neighbor, turns out the guy who lived here raised chickens for fighting. Not for laying eggs. Crazy. But there are fluorescent lights out there and no energy source. So we did it the true Tennessean way and ran a long extension cord out a window. (There are no outlets on the outside of my house. Sad because that means I can't put up Christmas lights.)

Washing the car. Not planned, but we had the hose out so decided to get it done.

Caulking. There were a lot of things on my home inspection report that 
were recommended fixes; this was one of them. Really not as easy as it looks!

I knew I had heard something in my attic one morning when I was still in bed! Dad noticed you could see daylight from the attic. Looked like a squirrel (or something) had chewed through a 2x4 and built a nest. We (by we I mean Dad) screened it off so it can't get back in. We didn't put in new insulation (actually when we were at Lowe's we forgot to buy some), but Dad fluffed up what was there because it had just settled. I think I'm a competent-enough homeowner to add more insulation when needed.

I think I have a pretty cool attic. There are boards down the middle that run the length of the house. It was really dirty/scary up there but Dad fixed some sketchy old wiring and I cleaned up a bunch of trash and swept up a thousand pounds of dirt and dust. Lots of storage space and not a lot to store. I'm okay with that. I put smaller screen over the gable vents at both ends of the attic. It was my first experience using a staple gun. I'm pretty much a natural.
Ceiling fan in home office/gym/2nd bedroom
Basically everything on my list has been finished. I think my favorite improvement is the ceiling fans. It's still early but we're calling it a night.


the reel deal.

I think my backyard has some great potential.

Just look at that evening sun shining through those trees. Beautiful.
Well, you kind of have to blur your eyes to see the Utopian landscape I'm envisioning, but like I said, it has potential. We're just not quite there yet. Someday I will be weed free and luscious.

This is just embarrassing. See all those dandelion stems? It's like a dandelion graveyard out there and this spring has stirred up an intense hatred for the things. I mean, I used to have a pretty picture of a dandelion all white and puffy in front of a sunset for my desktop background, but it's been replaced. I can't seem to get rid of them.

Mowing my yard with my reel mower has been good though. It's a workout but I enjoy how light and quiet the mower is. And no emissions. I think the reel mower is great at cutting grass. But here's the thing ... my backyard probably has more weeds than grass. Reel mowers are not extremely efficient at cutting weeds. (See photo above. That's from after mowing.)

You don't know how much it pains me to admit this. Oh, it's totally a pride thing. Because lots of people said, "You don't want to get a reel mower! You'll hate it!" I don't hate it, but I think I still might have to consider the reel real deal and definitely invest in a weed whacker and quite possibly a machete. Because, sorry Earth, but making my yard look nice is kind of more important to me than the state of the ozone layer. I'll hang onto my reel mower, which works great for my minimal-weed front yard and will work great if I ever tame my backyard.

Someday I will have a full lawn of green grass, a thriving garden, and a clean and painted chicken coop/shed. And maybe a clothesline. It will be quite beautiful, really.



My mornings are pretty low-key. I wake up at 5, get ready for work, and eat breakfast. I feed Miles and pack my lunch. But this morning had a little more excitement than usual. Miles managed to get on top of a 7' bookshelf (how he did so is beyond me), where I was keeping my pepper plants out of his reach. He destroyed about half of them, breaking off leaves and scattering dirt everywhere. (Good thing I started with 36 plants!) So my morning also included getting out the broom and vacuum to clean up the mess.

Dr. Rainer and me, September 2009
I'm now a few minutes behind on my routine. I put my lunch into a plastic container and set it on the counter while I gather my things (cell phone, reading glasses, ID badge, car keys). I drop more food in Miles' bowl for the day and head out the door.

I was getting off the elevator at 7 DCT when I realized I forgot to grab my lunch. I'm a little bummed about my forgetfulness, so I tweet about it and move on.

We had chapel this morning. I think it's so great that we can gather and start our day with praise, singing songs like "In Christ Alone." Dr. Rainer spoke at chapel. He gave a report on how things are going and talked about being content with what we do not have, and with what we do have. He mentioned there are 18 open positions, and for those positions there are about 27,600 active applications. Only 0.0652% of those applicants will be hired for the positions. I am so thankful for my job.

When chapel was over I headed back to my office. Then I get this phone call. "Alyssa? Do you have 5 minutes? Dr. Rainer would like to discuss something with you."


I know in elementary school getting called to the principal's office is like the scariest thing that can happen to a kid. But I'm not in elementary school, and this is Dr. Rainer. We're BFFs, right? Surely I have nothing to be afraid of. As I'm walking to the executive offices, I'm going over everything in my head, trying to think if there's anything I might have done wrong. Not going to lie, I'm pretty nervous at this point.

After navigating a maze to the president's office, I find Dr. Rainer waiting for me. He tells me he saw on Twitter that I forgot my lunch, and there's no way he can speak at chapel about meeting needs and then let me go through the day without lunch. So he gives me a lunch coupon for the cafe so I can get a free lunch. How cool is that?

And of course when I went to lunch, he happened to be there. "Alyssa!" he shouts across the cafe (He says he likes to embarrass introverts, and is a self-proclaimed introvert himself). Definitely made my day. I'm thankful to have a president who really practices what he preaches! :)


pray big & get married.

Yesterday my friend Clarissa called me. She lives in Nebraska, but I met her in Jacksonville, Florida, when we were both at the Navigator's Summer Training Program (STP). She wasn't on my team, but her team lived below mine and her team kept showing up everywhere my team was … and well, we've been friends ever since.

I like Clarissa because the gospel brings her to tears. And because she believes that God is big enough for her to pray for big/impossible things. And she tells me I can pray for big things too. It's pathetic how we go to God and say, "God, do you think you could maybe help me fix this relationship? Or I mean, maybe just cross our paths so we say hello. But, I mean, if You don't want to, that's OK."

You want something but don't get it. … You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:2

So I'm deciding to pray for big things. Because God is big. (And don't jump to any conclusions about the title of this post; I'm not praying for marriage ... yet.)

But I do have friends who are getting married! In fact, in the last two mail days, I've received three wedding invitations.
  • Rob and Melissa - Virginia, May 30
  • Jenn and Evan - Kansas City, June 5
  • Anne and Sam - Lawrence, June 5
Jenn and Anne both went to STP together a couple of years before I went. So I was thinking, "Well, if one is in the morning and the other in the evening ... Lawrence is only an hour from KC and I could make it to both! But Anne's wedding is at 5 p.m. and Jenn's is at 6. I'm not sure I can persuade Anne to move hers to 2 p.m., so I'm regretfully declining. :( Undecided about Virginia.

And please always always always wear your seat belt. This is more important to me than giving blood, and I am a big supporter of donating blood. (Which is probably really needed by people who don't wear seat belts.) 63% of people killed in car accidents are not wearing their seat belts.

In the Bible, God actually tells people, "Hey, when you build your house, but a rail around the roof so no one falls off of it and dies." If there had been cars in Bible times, God probably would have said, "Wear your seat belt so you don't get hurt. And make your friends wear their seat belts."



I mowed my front yard this afternoon. My neighbor asked if I wanted him to mow my backyard with his riding mower. I told him he could have at it, if he wanted. I'll leave the back gate unlocked. Then another neighbor came by and offered to mow. I'm going to let them duke it out. It's amazing what guys will do for you if you smile and wink at them.

Totally kidding; I didn't wink at them. They are both old enough to be my dad. But I won't turn down a free yard mowing. The backyard is kind of a nightmare for me anyway because there are a lot of weeds (I've dumped two containers of weed killer out there to no avail) and the trees above drop sticks which are no bueno when you're using a reel mower.

10-day forecast is sunny and upper 70s every day. I have the windows open and it's still just 66 inside. But the air smells great, and I think it's time for a nap.



I have pepper plants!
These guys took more than a week to sprout; they were making me a little nervous. There are two peat pellets in the middle that produced nothing, but I think there's a good chance I simply missed them when I was planting the seeds.

Hey, you try planting 2-3 seeds in each of 36 pellets while trying to keep a cat from jumping into the whole thing. It's not easy!

So I have 34 pellets of pepper plants that are sitting in my room soaking up the sun for a couple more weeks. I'm supposed to cut back the weaker sprouts in each pellet which is really sad, I think.

Andrea was on spring break this week so she came up to work and we went out to lunch. Jessica, Cheryl, Trudy, Jackie, Andrea, and I went to Jason's Deli. It was my first Jason's Deli experience. I got a turkey wrap (hold the sprouts and guacamole) with steamed veggies. I don't eat out much, probably because the entire time I'm thinking how I could make the same $7 meal for less than $2 at home, and still have leftovers for the rest of the week's lunches! Anyway, it was fun.
This afternoon I talked with Jenny Simmons, from the band Addison Road. She was really nice. The majority of artists I interview are guys, so this was a nice change. And she talked a lot which gives me a lot to work with. Jenny had a lot of really great things to say and even though I know a 450-word article will mean leaving a lot of it out, I'm still really excited about writing it. Then when the interview was over she said, "Call me if you need anything else." I mean, that's just cool because no one says that. Most people are too busy and would probably be thinking, OK, I can't believe I just talked to you for 25 minutes. I have so much to do today. She was great.

Oh yeah, I promised I would write about TOMS shoes and why I love Fridays. My TOMS should show up today. Not here yet, but UPS usually comes by late in the day. And I love Friday because it precedes Saturday. I think that's all I need to say about that.


breathing room.

Today felt weird. This morning Cheryl brought me the pages of the Winter CD-ROM. I positioned it on the corner of my desk and checked my Google Tasks to see where it fit on the deadline list. 

What? This is top priority and it isn't even due for a week? And this mountain of papers behind me is in queue for the recycle bin or file cabinet instead of breathing down the back of my neck? Are you for real?!

I finished reading it, took a break to walk the stairs, and had time to start preparing for interviews with Chris Tomlin and Addison Road. I usually ask about 10 questions in an interview, and I want to choose carefully. They have to be open-ended enough to get them talking and give me a lot to work with, but I want them to be unique.

I wonder if artists ever get annoyed when everyone asks them the same questions. I guess it would make the interview easy because you'd know exactly what to say, but I wonder if they think, Sheesh, didn't you do your research? There are articles all over the Internet explaining why I abandoned my dreams of being a paleontologist to tour with a band!

So I do my research ... other articles, video interviews, radio interviews ... trying to find a fresh edge. Not that there's a ton of pressure when your audience is 5th and 6th graders, but their parents probably read it too. But I want to be proud of my work, so I still give it my best.

Tomorrow: TOMS shoes, pepper plants, and why I love Fridays.



The final copy. Check out the stack of previous edits. Sorry, trees!
Today was the big day. We made our final edits on the two books we've been working on. Of course, we'll see them again for a last check before they are published, but we're basically done. After 6 months and 380+ hours, it feels pretty great to have conquered this project.

After work I drove to the Red Cross to donate blood. My iron was good and they sat me down to put the needle in. Long story short, they used a different vein than normal, which ended up clotting too early and they couldn't use my not-quite-full bag of blood. After several attempts to reposition the needle, they pulled it out. I started feeling really hot and dizzy so they tipped me back and propped my legs up. Then they said I had a hematoma and made me sit there 10 more minutes with an ice pack on my arm. So kind of a fail on that. I still got my Nutter Butters though.

Driving home reminded me why working until 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. is so great. I can't think of one good thing about driving at 4 p.m. in Nashville. Crazy.


a time to talk.

     When a friend calls to me from the road
     And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
     I don't stand still and look around
     On all the hills I haven't hoed,
     And shout from where I am, What is it?
     No, not as there is a time to talk.
     I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
     Blade-end up and five feet tall,
     And plod: I go up to the stone wall
     For a friendly visit.

                                                  --Robert Frost

Jesus Is Alive!

Jesus is Alive - Shai Linne
Elvis is dead, Picasso is dead
Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin are dead
Marilyn Monroe is dead; however…
Jesus is Alive!

Brando is dead, James Brown is dead
Princess Di and John Lennon are dead
Biggie and Pac are dead; however ...
Jesus is Alive!

(Verse 1)
Give praise to King Jesus, the blessed Son
Victorious, glorious resurrected One
To Him belongs the power, glory and honor
Ascended where He sits at the right hand of the Father
At the cross He made atonement- His people He saved
After three days He was raised in defeat of the grave
By faith the elect behold Him, His scepter is golden
He must have been hot or slippery because death couldn’t hold Him
The spotlight is on today’s icons
In a thousand years, nobody will care- their light’s gone
But at that time, Christ will still shine bright
He’s not in the limelight- He IS the limelight
Criminal minded, you’ve been blinded
Looking for the body of Jesus? You won’t find it
We never lack spirit, letting you cats hear it
Because His tomb is empty like most secular rap lyrics

Plato is dead, Socrates is dead
Aristotle and Immanuel Kant are dead
Neitzsche and Darwin are dead; however ...
Jesus is Alive!

Buddha is dead, Mohammed is dead
Ghandi and Haile Selassie are dead
Elijah Mohammed is dead; however ...
Jesus is Alive!

(Verse 2)
Throughout history there’s been mad religious leaders
Prophets, preachers, scholars, teachers
But when it came to the grave, no one could climb out
That’s where Jesus stands alone like taking a ‘timeout’
And don’t be mislead- I got a level head
No resurrection, Christianity would have never spread
The disciples weren’t stupid guys who would ruin their lives
And then choose to die for what they knew was a lie
That would be beyond ridiculous- Nah, the issue is
The risen Christ seen by 500 eye-witnesses
Imagine 500 people in a court of law
Each of them taking the stand reporting what they saw
If their stories lined up and made sense
The evidence would have to leave you convinced
But still it’s by faith that we trust and praise the Son
Who was raised for our justification

Nero is dead, Constantine is dead
Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun are dead
Alexander the Great is dead; however ...
Jesus is Alive!

Napoleon is dead, Lao Tzu is dead
Che Guevara and Henry VIII are dead
Saddam Hussein is dead; however ...
Jesus is Alive!

(Verse 3)
Through faith in Christ, we’ve been saved from hell
Because He’s risen, it means we’ll be raised as well
In glorified bodies fit for the new earth
For now, we participate in the new birth
The universal reality of the true church
With resurrection power, watch the Spirit do work!
United with Christ, we reside in His light
Abide in His might, keep in stride as we fight
The pride in our life, the lies and the spite
We strive to be wise as He guides through the night
He’ll chide and He’ll slice- recognize that He’s right
His brightness inside lights our eyes and it’s tight
(He) decided to die to wash white all our strife
His life was the price to delight in His wife
He told death “sike” just to rise like a kite
All eyes on the Christ- let’s prize Him tonight

Pharaoh is dead, Cyrus is dead
Darius and Sennacharib are dead
Nebuchadnezzar is dead; however ...
Jesus is Alive!

Caesar is dead, Herod is dead
Annas, Caiaphas and Judas are dead
Pontius Pilate is dead; however ...
Jesus is Alive!


i would subscribe to this day if it would let me.

I appreciate 3-day weekends. I got a lot done in the yard yesterday and did laundry. Yesterday felt like Saturday; I know tomorrow is Sunday ... so today is like a bonus free day. The fresh warm air filling my house smells amazing. I love spring! Yesterday I finished mowing my backyard. Katy's husband, Scott, and his friend Rusty came over and tilled me up a garden. It's 7' by 10'. Now I just have to wait a few weeks to plant. I've got bell peppers starting indoors; also planning on doing tomatoes and zucchini.

A couple of my friends think it would be a good idea if I got chickens since I have a chicken coop. Raising chickens couldn't be too hard. Worst case scenario, they peck me or they die. I could probably handle two or three chickens. But maybe next year. My coop needs to be painted and cleaned up. And I'm not sure what I would do with them when it gets cold since I don't have electricity in the coop; but I do hear chickens make the best fertilizer around.

I'm spending the afternoon reading Death by Love: Letters from the Cross by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears. I haven't finished reading a book since January 30 ... kind of behind on reading this year.

Things I want to do more consistently:
  • Read
  • Write creatively
  • Donate blood
  • Turn off the TV
  • Workout
  • Take the stairs
  • Play my saxophone



Today we got to go home at 1 p.m. (I usually work 6:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.) So it was a nice and much appreciated  two-hour break.

Not Mom's favorite
I had to run by the post office to ship a package. I bought five books on Craigslist for $30 and just sold one of them through Amazon.com for $22. I have one more for sale; if it goes, I'll keep three of the books and still turn a $7 profit. Nice doing business with you.

It was in the low 80s today and sunny. I decided to go ahead and mow my yard. Tomorrow, I am getting a garden tilled. I am planning to plant tomatoes, zucchini, and bell peppers.

My mailman came by when I was mowing. He was impressed that I was using a reel mower. I showed off my biceps. He was really nice and friendly. In the mail was a velcro harness and leash from my mom (thanks, Mom!). I put it on Miles (which he didn't like) and I took him outside. I think it restricts the movement of his front legs because he kept laying down and turning on his back, trying to get it off. I picked him up and Margaret was walking across the street so I took Miles to meet her.

The dandelions exploded in my backyard; last weekend there were only three, and now there are dozens. Crazy. Instead of mowing any back there, I took out the hose and applied some more weed killer. Hopefully it will be effective.

The books will be out of ours hands next week. Crazy. I've got to verify the index in each book one more time. I've clocked more than 350 hours on these (400 is probably more accurate). I think they are really great resources. When they get published in June, I'll provide more information so everyone can buy them. :)
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