Fun in New Orleans - Dec. 22
7:46 PM | Author: Misty
For part of Bobby's Christmas presents, I got him tickets to the New Orleans Bowl, where his alma mater, Troy University, was playing. We left Tuscaloosa Sunday morning to head down to the Big Easy, and we spent a good chunk of the afternoon exploring a portion of the French Quarter (after getting only slightly lost trying to find it — freakin' New Orleans streets don't want you to turn left ANYWHERE).

Once we parked we hit Decatur Street. After walking around and just looking for a few minutes (and, funnily enough, running into someone Bobby knew — people from Troy who went on and on about how great he is ;)), we ended up in the Crescent City Brewhouse.

The sign outside boasted that this place brewed its own beer, so we decided that would be a great place to sit down and have a drink. We decided to each have the five-beer sampler, which was a sample of each of the in-house brews (I would share the names, but I can't remember all of them ... I know one was the Red Stallion, one was the Weiss and another was the Christmas Weiss; can't remember the other two). The beer was pretty good -- definitely strong, I thought. I think the Red Stallion was my favorite, and the Weiss was probably my least favorite. The Weiss tasted like banana and cloves. Yeah, not a good combination.

We had planned to eat dinner in the French Quarter, so we went ahead and ordered a couple of things off the menu at the Crescent City Brewhouse, too. We ordered the Baked Brie (an appetizer), which came with an apple chutney, roasted garlic and fresh green grapes. Oh, my goodness. It was DE-LICIOUS. Bobby also ordered a side of andouille dressing, and it was even better than the Brie, if that's possible. It was seriously delicious.

After our beer, Brie and dressing, we wandered around for a little while longer and came across what I think was Bobby's favorite place we visited: a cigar shop called "Cigar Factory." The people there hand-roll the cigars. As Bobby put it, the place smelled like leather and tobacco; a "very cowboy smell," I say.

Bobby bought a pretty nice cigar that he smoked while we continued to walk around. Due to my apparently pea-sized bladder (yeah, pun ... ha ha), we ended up in a bar called The Green Room, drinking Vodka Gimlets so I could use the bathroom. The gimlets were not so great; it was my first experience with one, and it didn't really make me want to try it again. Way too much lime. Bobby says that's not really how they're supposed to taste.

It finally got to be about game time, so we hopped back in the car and headed toward the Superdome. We ended up getting a good parking spot, but we had to pay $20 for it! By the time we got all that settled, I was in painful need of a restroom again; there was the horrible tease of a couple of port-a-potties that ended up being padlocked before we finally made our way around to our gate and into the blessed, wonderful (and warm) bathrooms of the Superdome.

The game itself was fun, even though Troy ended up losing. We spent the night in Slidell and headed back to Tuscaloosa this morning. We are going back to NOLA next week for the Sugar Bowl, and we'll get to spend a couple of days this time instead of just a quick trip. I'm excited!

(And another pic just because I like it -- taken in the New Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter:)

Winter cleaning - Dec. 12
11:52 PM | Author: Misty
So as more and more thoughts of being green and a good steward swirl around in my head, I sometimes come to realizations that make me uncomfortable. Yesterday, that realization was that I own WAAAAAAAAAAY too many clothes. Seriously, I have this huge walk-in closet, and it was packed with stuff, much of which was either too small or that I didn't really even like enough to wear on a regular basis.

So tonight I did it. I really went through the stuff, and I think I ended up weeding out about half of my clothes. No joke. I had two racks full, and now I only have one:

I didn't really get a good before shot, but I think these are a pretty good representation of the aftermath. It's sort of liberating, because now when I go to my closet, I know that the things in there will fit me, and they are all articles of clothing that I actually like to wear. Here's a shot of the stuff I am getting rid of:

I unloaded some of this tonight at Plato's Closet, a local consignment shop, and walked away with $40. I likely will hit at least one more of the shops in town, possibly pull a few of the nicer items (I have a North Face jacket that's too small for me) to sell on eBay, let Ashley look through them to see if she wants anything, then take what's left to Goodwill.
On a lighter note ... - Dec. 10
2:20 AM | Author: Misty
And because Bobby would be sad if I updated without mentioning that I got one of my Christmas presents early! He bought me a wonderful, WONDERFUL camera -- an Olympus E-520 DSLR. It came in the mail Monday and between his wanting to take it out and play with it and my pleading, he ended up going ahead and giving it to me. I spent a while yesterday afternoon playing with it and starting to learn how to use it. I love it! Here are some pics:

Finale - Dec. 10
1:53 AM | Author: Misty
It's the early morning hours, I've not had much sleep, and there's a tornado warning out for Tuscaloosa County. So this is going to be morbid, but as I'm playing online and waiting for the tornado warning to pass, I'm considering the fact that my last documented thought could be something as inane as a post on a message board complaining about the weather or a silly Twitter update.

To make myself clear, I'm not sitting here shaking, afraid I'm going to die and forever be immortalized as the idiot who was lurking on the Relevant Message Boards as a deadly tornado bore down on her. More than anything, I guess, my brain is tired and trying to be contemplative.

So if this was going to be the last thing I ever wrote/communicated, of course, there are so many things I would want to say. I would want to tell Bobby that I love him very much and that I believe in him -- that he is a good man. I'd want to tell my parents that I love them and that I'd appreciate all the things they've done for me through the years.

I'd tell my sisters that I love them both very much, and I've cherished the fact that we've grown somewhat closer as I've (we've, I guess) grown older. I'd want my friends -- the ones that have stuck by me through thick and thin, and even those I've lost touch with -- to know how much they've meant to me and how much of an impact they've had on my life. A lot of the best things about me are a result of the love and friendship I've received from you.

And there are some people I would want to know this: I forgive you. There are others (and some of the same people) to whom I would want to say, "I'm sorry." I hope that if any of you read this you will understand and know which one you are.

There are surely things (and people) I've forgotten, but those are a lot of the things I'd want to say if this was my finale. And lastly, I would want to say not to look at this as a goodbye, but as a "see you later."

Thankfully this isn't a finale, and I hope some of these people I've mentioned will read this and that I'll have the good grace to communicate my feelings through other means to the ones who will never read it. Now I'm off to watch the weather. Hopefully I'll get to bed soon!
Thanks -- Nov. 27
8:51 PM | Author: Misty
I started to write out this long, drawn out, cheesy blog entry about all the things I'm thankful for. Instead, I'll just say this: If you are reading this blog, there's a decent chance that you would have made the list. Thanks for being there, and I love you. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Punkin' - Nov. 24
9:41 PM | Author: Misty
I made the pumpkin bread tonight, and it was wonderful. My apartment now smells like pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. I took the loaf over to Bobby's and Chris's house, and it got the seal of approval. Bobby even liked it, and he's not a huge pumpkin fan!

I think one of the best things was that I managed to get it out of the pan all in one piece, so it even looked good. Hooray for pumpkin bread!
Sunday-ness - Nov. 23
5:57 PM | Author: Misty
I've pretty much done NOTHING this weekend. It's been glorious.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day reading Harry Potter, with a nap thrown in for good measure. I did cook dinner for Bobby and me last night, which was somewhat productive. I cooked pork chops, garlic cheese toast on English muffins, green beans and couscous with veggies. It was majorly yummy.

Got up this morning and went to church. Realized that I'm an ass and that I take out my insecurities on other people sometimes. Apologized. Apologized some more.

After church was 4th Sunday Feast, which is basically a covered-dish lunch. I ate some beef stew, and it made my mouth happy. I also ate waaaaaaay too many of the coconut snowflake things that Katie made, but they were really good, and she assured me that they aren't all that bad for you.

This afternoon I did a little more reading, clipped coupons -- a Sunday tradition for me -- from the Tuscaloosa News and took a nice, long nap. I like naps. Once I woke up, I headed to the grocery store to get supplies to make the aforementioned pumpkin bread. I'm trying to convince myself to bake some tonight, but I'd really rather just read Harry Potter some more. I've just started book 6. I did manage to put some laundry on before I succumb to the urge to either bake or read, so my weekend won't be 100-percent wasted, but it'll be darn close.

Now I'm sitting here with Nom Nom chilling on my lap, my feet propped up and Harry Potter waiting for me. I'm looking forward to a short week this week thanks to Thanksgiving. I'm feeding my co-worker's cats tomorrow and Tuesday while she's out of town and then headed out myself either Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Gonna go visit the fam for Thanksgiving and also spend some time with Bobby's mom and dad. I'm already seeing how having two sets of parents makes things a lot more complicated. Thanksgiving shouldn't be so bad, but Christmas will be harder, I think.

Alright, HP won't wait any longer. If I don't post again before, happy Thanksgiving!
The no-knit scarves
9:17 PM | Author: Misty
So, all in all, I'm pleased with the results of the first round of scarf-making. The first, which I posted a couple pics of last night, was made with Lion brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Super Bulky in claret. The second, which I made today, was Moda-Dea Tweedle Dee Shaded Effect Bulky Yarn in Indigo. I'm a little happier with the second one, because it's longer.

Appreciating handmade - Nov. 22
12:38 AM | Author: Misty
I was recently introduced to the concept of "Buy nothing, make something day" as an alternative to the traditional Black Friday madness. I sort of like this idea, and I've been thinking more and more lately about how to be more "green" and save money, too. It also appeals to me because I can so easily get caught up in the consumerism that seems to have become the Christmas season and forget that it's the thought that counts.

So I've been thinking of what I'd like to make. I found this snazzy set of instructions to make a no-knit scarf, and I thought that might be something neat to try. So I set off in search of bulky yarn. Now, I have tried the whole knitting thing in the past, and as much as I would like to learn, I have not had much luck with it. I get through about a row or two and lost interest, get frustrated, etc. But I figured this really only involved cutting yarn and tying knots, so I couldn't get too lost.

After failing to find yarn at the only local dedicated fabric store I know of, I decided to look at Michael's, since I know that they have yarn. I found waaaaaaay too much yarn I like (which may doom me to further attempts at knitting in the near future), but I narrowed it down to the two balls I purchased.

I spent the evening over at Bobby's, but once I got home, I decided to bust out the yarn. The super bulky dark red Lion wool yarn was calling my name.

I measured out 12 strands that were about eight yards long each and after wrestling with it for a little while finally figured out I could work much faster if I hung the in-progress scarf from a hanger in my closet. The work went quicker than I thought, and within about an hour (maybe a little longer), I had a finished scarf.

Sadly, the scarf ended up shorter than I wanted (only about 4'), but I think it's a good first effort. Here's the yarn and a glimpse of the scarf:

Other things I'm considering making are apple butter and pumpkin bread. Any other suggestions are welcome!
Life as I know it ... - Nov. 21
10:52 PM | Author: Misty
It's amazing how the phrase "God, what did I do to deserve this?" can be turned completely on its head in the matter of a few months.

I don't want to go into messy details, because they're really not important, but several months ago something really bad happened to me. It made me not want to trust anyone, including myself. It devastated me emotionally. I really felt as if my life had crumbled right before my eyes, and I had no idea if I would be able to reassemble it.

I remember very specifically asking over and over again, "Why? Why did this happen to me?"

But, amazingly, less than six months later, that same situation that seemed unfixable is better. Not just better, but better than it was before this horrible thing happened. It has not been easy, not a single step. I feel like I have been stretched to my limit and tested in ways that never would have even occurred to me. I have come to a deeper understanding of me and of love and grace and peace and even dependence.

And cries that were once desperate have turned joyful. I ask "Why? What did I do to deserve this?" And it's good.
More golden sunshine, enjoy! - Nov. 12
1:34 PM | Author: Misty
Maybe I'll make a real blog entry again sometime soon, but this made me giggle:

I love Internet ads - Nov. 11
2:07 PM | Author: Misty
This weight loss formula is so drastic it apparently does more than make you lose weight:

Anyone else see what's wrong with this picture?
All about grace lately - Nov. 10
2:03 PM | Author: Misty
Seriously, I wonder if God could be trying to pound this into my head a little more. Jon talked about grace yesterday at church.

It's funny, as he was talking about it, I was thinking about the church I grew up in. The pastor there (whom I'll refer to as Pastor B) refused to allow the song "Just As I Am" to be played or sung. If you aren't familiar with the song, it contains the following lyrics:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidst me come to thee
Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come

Basically, a wonderful picture of God's grace and my helplessness. Pastor B didn't want the song played because he didn't want people to think they could just come to God, say a prayer and keep going on the way they were going. As a child who loved to sing in church, I was told I wasn't allowed to do this song, and my mother tried to explain it to me. The message I received was that the song was wrong and that you couldn't just go to God like you were.

Now, maybe that could be played off as a kid who didn't get it. But a large part of the culture in small-town Alabama, where I grew up, dictated that "being good" was what you did if you were a Christian. Jesus loved all the good little boys and girls, and if you said your prayers, didn't lie and went to church on Sundays, then you would get to go to heaven. So Pastor B's (and my mother's) attitude toward the song was just more confirmation that if I wanted Jesus to love me, I'd better be perfect, or as close as I could be.

I've seen this play out in my life in a number of ways: my tendency as a child to correct people (which I still do now), spending my teenage years basically hiding from my parents and learning to put up a facade of everything being great; going to college and screwing things up royally as far as my grades and classes went, because I finally caved to the pressure of trying to be perfect when it was impossible.

The thing I hate, I suppose, is that I still see the effects of this upbringing on me. I like to pretend that everything's OK. I hold others to standards that I sometimes can't even meet myself. And, as I mentioned, I still love to correct people; heck, I edit for a living.

So where does that leave me? Well, the good news is that I can at least see these things about myself now.

A lot has happened in the past year, and I really hope that most of that has come together to bring me to a place where I can finally have a better understanding of grace, and not just knowing what it is but feeling and living what it is.
So, I'm relaxing this morning, spending some time drinking coffee and listening to music. One of my favorite all-time songs is one called Love Song by Jason Morant. There's a particularly good version of it by Mutemath that I absolutely love. Here are some of the words:

Where can I go? Where can I run from you?
You're everywhere.
You know all my thoughts. You see through my ways
And still you come to me.

So I'll sing a love song to you.
So I'll sing a love song to you. ...

You walk on waves, you run with clouds,
You paint the sky for me to see
Your majesty, your majesty is why I sing.

This is a love song to you.
This is a love song to you.

My life's a love song to you.
My life's a love song to you.
My life's a love song.

I was just listening to this and thinking about what it really means in my everyday life. It's funny, as a child and as a teenager, I sort of always thought I would be a missionary or a youth minister or some other "professional" ministry position. About a month ago, my pastor, Jon, talked about how silly it is to think that the people that are paid to do God's work are the only professional ministers. In fact, as Christians, he said, we all are professional ministers.

It's really easy to think that I'm only doing God's work when I'm volunteering at the church's food pantry or leading worship or running sound, and I think that makes it very easy to get caught up in a horrible system of performance-based grace. The thought behind it, of course, is "If I'm good enough, God will love me more."

The great thing, and the thing I so easily forget, is that God could never love me more, because he loves me perfectly right now. He doesn't want me to beat my head against the wall trying to earn the love he's already given me.

What he wants from me is to live my humdrum, everyday life as a love song. Not just the times when I'm "serving." I have a chance to serve him every single day by doing excellent work when I'm at my job, by choosing love over holding a grudge with my fiance, even by taking proper care of my pets, my apartment and my belongings.

God wants me to be a good steward of the things he's given me, and that goes to more than just physical belongings. It extends to my friendships and my family. And, yes, my time.

I fail at this so often. I fight with Bobby. I take people for granted. I don't clean my cat's litter box often enough. But the thing I have to remember is that God's love for me still doesn't change, even through all this. That's what allows me to keep going, to pick up the pieces when things fall apart, to try and do better when I fail. I love knowing that I have a lifetime to learn these things and to grow and to know him more. He's been so good to me, even through the toughest of times.

My life's a love song.
National Novel-Writing Month - Nov. 4
4:13 PM | Author: Misty
Well, I've embarked on what may be the most insane journey of my 25 years.

I'm going to write a novel in a month.

Bobby talked me into it. This group (National Novel-Writing Month) apparently has been around for 10 years now. I think I vaguely remember hearing of them before, but I've never really even given any thought to participating until sometime last month when he wanted to know if I'd be interested.

One of my biggest hangups was that I was unsure if I had it in me. I mean, literally, whether I had enough words on one subject in my brain to make a whole 50,000-word novel (that's the NaNoWriMo minimum word-count requirement). For anyone who does not know me, I write and edit for a living. But that's different, because I'm generally pulling sources from interviews, books, the Internet. And basically this book would have to come completely from me.

I'm also sort of shy about sharing my fiction writing. I worry that I can't provide vivid enough details or that my dialogue writing is shoddy.

But with Bobby's encouragement, I'm giving it a shot. I started writing on Sunday, and I've gotten up to about 4,900 words so far. I'm playing catch-up a bit since I started a day late, and I really need to get to about 6,700 words tonight to be on course.

I haven't written fiction in a long time and never during my professional life. I'm finding it's a welcome break from the stuff I write on a daily basis. It lets me stretch myself and express creativity I can't in my job. And, in particular with my subject matter, I feel like I am writing me.

I'm not sure that I can sufficiently describe that, but there's so much me infused in what I'm writing, and so much of my life. I guess it's just really cool to see that all come out in the form of a fiction novel.

I was talking with my co-worker, Carolyn, about it earlier, and I told her that one of my favorite parts about it so far is taking something that happened during my childhood and fictionalizing it, seeing from an adult's eyes the way I perceived it then and imagining the way others involved may have seen it happening. And I guess the same is true of the way I saw myself and the way others saw me. The really interesting thing is that I'm also writing about a woman whose life is much more loosely based on mine, so I'm exploring a lot of my present attitudes and also the way people may perceive me now.

So, yeah, it's really interesting, and if nothing else, I'm rediscovering the joy of writing.
Thoughts on voting - Oct. 31
3:44 PM | Author: Misty
From John Piper:

Christians should deal with the world. This world is here to be used. Dealt with. There is no avoiding it. Not to deal with it is to deal with it that way. Not to weed your garden is to cultivate a weedy garden. Not to wear a coat in Minnesota is to freeze — to deal with the cold that way. Not to stop when the light is red is to spend your money on fines or hospital bills and deal with the world that way. We must deal with the world.

But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention. We don’t ascribe to the world the greatest status. There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world. We use the world without offering it our whole soul. We may work with all our might when dealing with the world, but the full passions of our heart will be attached to something higher — Godward purposes. We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.

So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

Maybe I have the wrong perspective, but for what it's worth I have chosen not to vote in this election. Both the candidates have their strong points and weak points, but I really do not support either of them. One of them will be the leader of this country, and, honestly, it doesn't matter that much to me which one it is.

This is not me giving up my voice or my right. I am taking advantage of my right to not vote. It's not an apathetic choice; it's actually a reasonably well-thought-out decision. And it's honest. My vote is a representation of my support for a person and his or her stances on a number of issues, and I just don't line up with either candidate well enough to make that leap.

I think Obama means well, and I think he probably will win. Voting for him is the popular thing among my demographic. But I question whether all this change he touts will actually ever happen if he takes office. Politics is a well-crafted chess game, and you often have to give something up to gain even just a little bit of ground. How many times can Obama give something up before even his most avid supporters feel like he has sold them out? I don't believe it is possible for any man (black, white, Christian, Muslim, whatever) to circumvent that dilemma.

McCain on the other hand -- I question why he wants the position. If he was elected, I could foresee him either being too close to Bush policy-wise or trying so hard to distance himself that he would alienate his supporters and fellow Republican lawmakers. A Reader's Digest interview with Cindy McCain that I read didn't really help my opinion of him, either. He was apparently married when they met -- and when they began seeing each other in a romantic sense. Maybe that's old news, but I didn't know that until a few weeks ago.

Altogether, I am just ready for election season to be over.
Rejected Guitar Heroes - Oct. 30
4:33 PM | Author: Misty
Just for fun.

My personal favorites are #5 and #6.
Every once in a while it just hits me how spoiled many Americans are.

Few conversations happen these days without at least an allusion to the economy. Stocks are down, fears are up -- could we be nearing a depression? What gets me is that the majority of us are still cruising along in our $20,000 cars while we drink our $4 lattes and talk on our cell phones. I'm not pointing fingers here; that's absolutely me, too.

More and more, I am afraid the average, middle-class American is losing touch with the fact that there are people out there -- in the U.S. and in other countries -- who have legitimate needs. They need food, clean drinking water, blankets to keep warm. And there are people who live every day in fear that their baby will starve because they can't afford milk/formula or even that their homes and lives will be destroyed as a result of political squabbling ( We need to stop looking at them as "people looking for a free handout" and start looking at them as "people."

At our very core, we all have needs, from the poorest to the richest of us. Some of them are material, but many of them are emotional and spiritual. Maybe if those of us, myself included, who have the capacity to help meet physical needs would quit finding excuses not to do that, some of the other needs would take care of themselves.
I think I'm going to move back over to Blogger from Livejournal. I don't know what it is, but there's something I like better about Blogger.

I'm re-reading Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel -- great book. Grace is something that's really been on my mind and heart lately. I still have so much to learn about it. I think I'm pretty good at the surface-level grace, where I can at least act like nothing is wrong. But when it comes to letting go and moving on ... well, that's a little harder. I try to "forgive and forget," but I can see past hurts come back to the surface through my feelings over current situations. And it's one thing to still feel hurt over something, but it's another entirely to continue to hold it against someone. Forgiveness and grace go so much hand in hand.

It's also hard at times to have grace for myself. I'm trying to learn to be myself and to be accepting of myself, not to have to pretend for anyone and to accept the fact that not everyone is going to like me. I guess if I am happy with who I am, I will stop needing so much approval from other people. I can't even imagine how great life would be if I actually did all the things I say I want to do, and those things are in my reach.

I'm 25 years old, and I'm still uncomfortable with who I am. But I'm trying.