Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coming to a Close

(about artwork by Nikky. The wind is rising...)

Favorite things of this very moment (11:01am CST):
  • Good memories
  • iTunes shuffle
  • Realizing how many beautiful songs I didn't even know I had
  • Flutes (that's something I never thought I'd say)
  • Scratch paper and the pen closest to me
  • Grey tanktops & sweaters

Today is the day you look back on the year gone by and wonder what it all meant.

On Tuesday night, my dear friend Heather reminded me that God is in control. She said it's important to remember that we just can't see all the good that comes from what we do. She agreed with me that there must be a reason I'm still where I am. This doesn't mean that things aren't going to keep changing and that I won't be moving some day soon (it will happen come the fall if not sooner), but it does mean that there is a purpose for this.

Do you ever wonder in what ways you're truly affecting the lives of others? Do you wonder if you've had an impact for the good of their hearts and lives? I do. All the time.

And I've been thinking back on this year, the good and bad. This past year has brought little ones into my life that I'm grateful for: Xavier, Aria, baby Kayla, and Carter. Babies that I will happily watch grow and adore for the rest of their lives.

I've also watched my plans shift, phase, change and break repeatedly. I've come to dread answering questions or telling people my plans because it worries me that I'm jinxing them in doing that.

Life is temporary and transient. My plans are apt to change and bound to because I'm clearly, and repeatedly, screwing them up. One of my favorite verses, Proverbs 16:9, pretty much sums this up: "The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps." I need to try and make sure that my plans are going through God's filter and approval. Otherwise I'll never make it anywhere.

Life is lessons learned and movement.

I may not know exactly where I am going, but I'll keep trying my best. I'll apply for jobs, save money, try to plan (but try not to stress out if they don't all work the way I think they should), make baby blankets, learn new skills, read new books, and do my best to live and laugh and love. There's not enought time to do anything else really.

Let's head into 2010 with our heads held high, our hearts on our sleeves, and honesty on our lips. No regrets. Let's aim for that.

May your's be blessed.

With all my love, J

ps. A mix for the new year (Reckless):

  1. Understand - Jeremy Camp
  2. Pre-Ex-Girlfriend - Five Iron Frenzy
  3. All My Loving - Jim Sturgess
  4. Hang me Up to Dry - Cold War Kids
  5. String of Pearls - Jimmie's Chicken Shack
  6. Badfish - Sublime
  7. Baby's Got Sauce - G. Love & Special Sauce
  8. Authority Song - Jimmy Eat World
  9. Via Chicago - Wilco
  10. Warsaw Pact Yard Sale - Accost
  11. Protect me from What I Want - Placebo
  12. War of my Life - John Mayer
  13. The Rain Song - The Dreamer & the Sleeper
  14. Prayer for the Dying - Seal
  15. Used to the Pain - Keith Urban
  16. The Way I Loved You - Taylor Swift
  17. We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
  18. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Martin Luther McCoy

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


(Picture by Terrence Raper)
Favorite things of this very moment (11:57 am CST):
  • Jingle Bell Java coffee with some eggnog
  • Being handed a Snapple Raspberry Ice Tea (which is probably my favorite) by my younger brothers after they'd borrowed my car
  • Having heard from Nikky this morning
  • Good music shuffling through my iTunes
  • Having a good conversation with Jordan echoing through my head and helping to clear the last of the shadows of the ache I was feeling last night slowly dissipate
  • Christmas lights (they truly never get old)
  • Sunshine
  • The promise of some girl time with Heather later this evening
I was trying to come up with an appropriate response to a post Jordan had written earlier today, and I was reminded of something about myself. I am a recycler and a rescuer. I am a collector of the lost and a restorer of the forgotten.
Nikky can attest to my bizarre reuse of paper. I tend to write her letters on whatever I have at hand at the moment: napkins, scratch paper, old memos, Beef-A-Roo tray inserts, Alfanos place mats, and even Cheese Nips boxes. I believe everything has a use. I tend to use scraps of cloth to create new things. I am currently creating a creature that Nikky will eventually probably get to own (she often gets stuck with my more bizarre creations). It's made from old scraps of fleece that my mom used to make blankets. I once made an afghan for a friend that was made almost entirely of yarn my grandmother had given me. A huge blanket made of castaway colors. It is one of the strangest looking blankets in history, but he loves it.
I feel people should be looked at in the same way was the blankets I've made or the creature I'm creating: each piece of them tells a story, and they're always made from love. I don't create things because I hate them, I retrieve the bits and find ways to use them for something better. People are the same. There will never come a day when I find a person who is without a little sparkle and magic of their own. There is always something worth restoring. Something worth protecting and preserving. Something worth pursuing and nurturing.
We are all lost, but we are also all worth being recovered and restored. We are priceless like jewels. Each of us starts off as something rough and uncut, but we can be turned into something much more beautiful. Something more.
We are diamonds in the rough.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can't Believe It's Christmas!

Favorite things of this very Christmas Eve moment (10:58 am CST):

  • Frosty's Favorite coffee in my favorite lovely green mug from Nikky
  • My giant Christmas playlist on shuffle on iTunes (The Carpenters, George Winston, the Muppets, Josh Groban, Bright Eyes, Elvis, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Jars of Clay, etc. etc.)
  • Mira being fairly friendly
  • The ice melting off my car so that I don't have to take the hair dryer and extension cord out to open them like last year
  • That my house has electricity and heat unlike quite a few of the homes here in town (ice storms are an interesting thing)
  • That David is safetly here at home and will be staying here until after Christmas
  • Knowing Mom and I have buckeyes to dip later this afternoon
  • Knowing I'll get to talk to Nikky at some point today
  • Brightly colored slipper socks that keep my toes warm and whose siblings live with Nikky in Ohio (with big pictures of Zac Effron's face on each sock...ha)
  • That I am healthy (very much unlike last Christmas Eve)
  • That it's Christmas Eve!

Tomorrow is Christmas. Tomorrow. Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. It never fails. There's just something magical (I've used that term sooooo often lately, I apologize) about Christmas Eve. The anticipation and wonder of the day. Knowing that tomorrow brings the revelation of the contents of the pile of colorful packages under your Christmas tree, knowing that the people you love will be opening things that you carefully wrapped and purchased just for them, and lots of tasty food.

Life is beautiful.

May your Christmas be full of love. May it be full of the joy and wonder you felt for Christmas when you were just a little one. May it be full of fulfilled promises and the promise of future joys. May it be full or ridiculous happenings (in the very best sense) and Christmas music. May it be full of the twinkle and sparkle of Christmas lights and the delight of every moment.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: "May your future be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white." That and more I wish for you.

All my love this glorious Christmas, J

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why Can't Every Day Feel Like Christmas?

Favorite things of this very moment (7:48 pm CST):

  • My beautiful Autumn Berry nailpolish (it's a nice burgundy color)
  • Christmas lights
  • A happy, purring Mira
  • Turtle cheesecake
  • Christmas music (oh the joys of iTunes shuffle)
  • Ice water
  • This fantastic, warm, soft green turtleneck sweater (and I have never been a fan of turtlenecks, but this one totally wins)
  • Christmas plotting

I was just rereading my "My Grown-Up Christmas List" post from back in Nov. 2007. Cracked me up. It definitely worth writing. There are a lot of things I could be wishing for this Christmas, but mostly I'm just wishing for some guidance, and the strength to stay were I need to.

I don't mean I need to stay in one place physically, but I do feel that I've become a bit of a wishy-washy person in the spiritual sense, and that's distressing. Christmas is full of magic, and I really hope that this magic stays with me. I plan to hold onto the mystery and magic of Jesus' birth as tight as I can. I intend to try and keep drawing closer to God over the course of the next year, and preferably, for the rest of my life. I need this. I need God in my life. I need that strength, the joy, and most of all, the hope.

This is what I love about Christmas. I love the hope that just radiates from everything. The joy that shines in the eyes of everyone around you, and the love that people just drop everything to share. As Elvis once sang, "why can't every day be like Christmas?" It's a valid question.

So here's my challenge to you: let's make this Christmas feeling last. Let's do everything that we can to make the lives of those around us better. Let's show magic and love and life and joy in all we do. No matter the circumstances, let's be something wonderful. Let's shine. You and me. Let's make this Christmas last forever.

With love, J

Friday, December 18, 2009

Goodbye, Kable.

Dear Kable,

I would say, but I know this letter simply confirms our goodbye. I know you don't want me anymore and that this is the end of relationship, but I still feel I have a few things to say.

First, I'd like to thank you for the years we had together. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be able to type at speeds that make my friends and family twitch at times. I wouldn't be able to type numbers at all, and I wouldn't know that towns like King of Prussia or names like Szilassy exist. I also wouldn't know that there are roughly a million different spellings for the name "Ashley." And, of course, I wouldn't realize the large variety of magazines that exist in the universe. My favorite it still Window Fashions. Few things have made me happier than that magazine and all it implies.

You were also the one that helped force Zuni and I together. You inspired so many terrible mix cds, story ideas, long discussions, and overtime. You caused me to fall in love with post-it notes and to have a constant need to have hand-sanitizer nearby. Because of you, I made friends with some improbable people, listened to quite a few great audiobooks (and a pathetic one or two), fall in love with a great number of bands and begin to deeply study lyrics.

Of course, there were bad things too: the unkept promise of overtime, the crushed dream of having something steady and stable for as long as I needed, the extensive number of pornographic magazines that come through your doors, the multiple desk moves, and the never ending dust. Then of course you also forced me to share my desk with a few different temps who all thought they had a right to reorganize my desk, and then there was, of course, the stapler thief who was smart enough to return my stapler after I wrote them a carefully worded note... Sometimes the office really was like something out of "Office Space."

Kable, what I'm trying to say is, I would have gladly stayed with you forever. I enjoyed being there with you more than I can say. I always found my time with you to be satisfying, and I've been struggling with letting go. Now I've come to realize that it's too late to come to terms with this. The end had been coming for so long, and I'd been watching it creep towards me. I guess being kicked out last night just threw me off and caused me to realize that this really was happening to me.

And now I'm on my own and looking all over again. I think you really messed up this time, Kable, but that's not my call I guess. I hope, as pathetic as this may sound, that you really regret losing me as time goes on. I hope you realize that I was incredibly helpful and important to you, and mostly, I hope you struggle to move on without me. That would only make this fair.

Don't worry about me. I'm going to make it just fine. I have plans, and I'm already working to fulfill them. Maybe I'll look back on this and smile in a few years because this may be just what I needed to push me to grow into the woman I need to be. Maybe then I'll be able to thank you, but I guess only time will tell.

So this is it. Goodbye, Kable. I'll miss you.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sometimes You Realize

(Above picture is Carson, spring 2007, posing for his "Senior Picture" in one of the big trees down by the Rock River at Lowell Park)

Favorite things of this very moment (9:42 pm CST):

  • Cherry Carmex (if it makes this stupid fever blister, I'll be ecstatic)
  • Christmas lights
  • Being at home
  • The Christmas stocking hanging from my dresser drawer that was given to me at work today (Jackie made them for everyone, and they're filled with chocolate...brilliant)
  • Knowing that a) a box will be on its way here to me sometime tomorrow, b) that Christmas is only 9 days away, c) Wild Berry wine cooler & good movie (Hot Rod or The Holiday) await me when I finish this post
  • That my large brown cat that loves me more than she likes to admit

My fingers are cold, but most of the rest of me is doing alright. I have on my fuzzy burgundy socks, and I've put more Carmex on my fever blister. The socks make me happy, and the Cherry Carmex really isn't terrible tasting or smelling like I feared it would be. It rather soothing actually.

I'm just reflecting a bit. I've been having weird dreams again lately. One from this past weekend involved the world coming pretty close to ending. Giant tidal wave, earth quakes, that sort of thing. Somehow though I woke up not feeling at all worried. Normally a dream like that would have left me shaken and twitchy, but the other morning when I woke up, I simply felt a twinge of sadness in its wake. How bizarre.

The other dream that stands out to me was about Carson. Kayladrew's younger brother. A kind, quiet guy with a wicked sense of humor and magical hands when it comes to a guitar. He's a pretty cool guy, that Carson. In the dream though, he was moving. Far away. To Alaska. I was sad. Through most of the dream I was just trying to make sure I'd still be able to talk to him. That he knew I would actually still want to hear from him. Carson and I may not be super close, but he's been a part of my life for a long time now, and not having him around is sad. This dream was pretty well based in reality. I just found out a little while back that he's considering moving to Alaska. Several friends of our's live up there now, and one of his cousins does as well. I think that sadness of Carson being so far away just seeped into my dreams. I know I'm planning on moving, but Carson is like...well...he's like home. He's just part of this area, and thinking maybe I won't see him when I come home (however sporadic) seems so bizarre. It will be like something is missing.

Does it suprise you when you realize how much a part of your life someone really is?

I guess it shouldn't, but it did. If he leaves, it will mean awkward stilted letters and possibly boxes of stuff. Cookies, random mix cds, hideously cheesy thing. I'll miss him.

And on that note, I need to go to bed. Or at least put on pjs and watch a movie and stop thinking so much.

Good night.

ps. One more picture:

(This picture is from the lesson I did on guarding your heart. Carson is showing off his heart security system. Spring 2007. I think it's guarded by be a fence and maybe some barbwire, not to mention a moat. Definitely a moat. And Jay's the big tall guy off to the side who thinks I'm nuts for even suggesting a group of semi-adult-like people and a few young kids draw heart security systems in sidewalk chalk on the church parking lot. This is why Carson is a great guy, he just does these thing without seriously questioning my sanity. At least not to my face. ha.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Items purchased this morning before 10am CST:
  • 2 Viva2 Tires to replace my constantly leaking front tires (when you have to put air in your tires several times a week, if not more, this is when you know you must get new tires, even if the price makes you cringe and want to cry)
  • 1 tube Burt's Bees chapstick to replace the almost empty tube now residing in my pocket
  • 1 container Burt's Bees Hand Salve to put in my purse because my hands are distrubingly busted up right now and they need some help
  • 2 undisclosable (is that a proper word?) items because they made me smile and I think they'll make my dear best friend smile too
  • 1 package of red socks (5 pairs) for the Christmas gift thing at church (they're given to people at a home in Oregon, I love being able to do something, even if it is small)
  • 1 pair ultra soft red socks (the woman wanted red socks, and I wanted to cover ALL my bases)
  • 1 pair red & green Christmas penguin socks (oh yes! And these are also for the nice lady who wanted red socks)
  • 1 pair man's winter gloves (for the nice gentleman at the church who needed them) which are super soft and should be super warm
  • 2 bottles sparkling juices because they were on sale, you can never have too many, and because this is the Christmas season and there is always a reason to celebrate
  • 1 pair flannel sheets which are white with multi-colored snowflakes on them because I finally had to toss my flannel sheets last year when they developed a hole (I think it may have started when I accidently clipped them with scissors, at least that's what I'm guessing created the hole, knowing me)

Yes. And now, I will be done doing any real purchases for awhile. My money will mainly go into paying for gas in my car, contacts, and car payments until I find a new job. I'm praying that tomorrow I will run across several places that desperately want to hire a 23-year-old girl with only her associates degree and some odd ball skills to back her up. That and her ever so charming personality combined with her excellent work ethic and integrity. Let us hope.

I guess what this comes down to is a hope that you will keep me in your prayers and that nothing else will go wrong with my car. Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration is the most frustrating vehicle I have encountered maybe ever (outside of David's cars which up until his purchase of his new-ish Camry have been even more questionable than mine).

With that being said, I guess I should go wrap some Christmas present and get the last of my pre-work stuff done. May you have a wonderful day full of joy, sunshine, laughter, and absolutely free of car issues.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Favorite things of this very moment (10:02 am CST):

  • The eggnog in my coffee
  • Emails from a very tall, very silly friend
  • Knowing I have some great plans for today
  • The anticpation of Christmas
  • More importantly, the anticpation of the box from Nikky (woohoo!)
  • My Christmas mix for this year (which is playing "Bless Us All" from "A Muppet Christmas Carol" right now)

For anyone unaware of this particular phenomenon: I have a tick. Up until about 3 years ago, I'd never had one. Never had a twitch of any kind unless it was the kind you had to fake while acting or when I was being sarcastic with Jeff's bad behavior. When I started working in customer service at Kable, I developed a tick. The corner of my left eye will just spasmatically start twitching. It was horrible while I was in customer service. The longer I was there the worse it was.

Well, now that I'm on the brink of being unemployed (December 18th is coming more quickly than I ever imagined it would), the tick has returned. It's stress.

In a way the tick is kind of a good thing. It points out to me that something is wrong, that I need to make some changes in my life. When I was in customer service, it alerted me that my job was not worth the frustration. Even if the pay was fantastic for me. It really wasn't very much money, but it was my first full-time job and I thought it was amazing. I actually could pay for everything I needed, and kept myself fully out of debt. It was fantastic. That I miss. That is what I am looking for.

The tick tells me that my life is in for change. That this is inevitable. That despite my reservations, I am making a leap without being able to see the other side of the gap.

I am terrified. This is also what the tick means. I am scared out of my mind, and I hate this. Not knowing, not being able to control the outcome fully. Not feeling fully stable....these things make me crazy, and the tick comes out full force in those situations.

I'll be grateful when I can locate a new job. A new form of stability until I have to make my next leap...because they're always on the horizon.

Wish me luck, and please be praying for me. Thanks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gifts and Magic

Favorite things of this very moment (9:15 am CST):

  • Sunshine on the snow (though blinding, it makes everything sparkly)
  • Louis Armstrong singing Christmas songs
  • Talking to my mom
  • The sound of the heater kicking on
  • Mira lounging like a mountain lion on the back of the couch next to me

Today is already a beautiful thing. I don't have anything special planned. I don't have anywhere to go besides work. I don't have anything else that I have to do at all really. There's just something promising about a Friday. Especially a Friday before Christmas. It's rather lovely, and in my case, fairly well relaxed.

I love that in the Christmas story in Luke 2 it says that after the sheperds came to see Jesus that "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." It must have been overwhelming, but I think it must have also been rather wonderful. I guess mornings like this give me a slight sense of that. I'm looking out across the frozen backyards of my neighbors across a shimmering blanket of snow and frosted trees, and what I'm pondering is Christmas. Treasuring in my heart all the joy this blessed season harbors.

God loved me so much that He sent his little one into this world. He sent a baby. A little boy. This makes me think of Carter. My friends, Brian and Hannah just had their little boy last week. The joy I feel in this is overwhelming. My friends, Todd and Shelley brought home their newborn baby, Noah as well. Todd and Shelley have been trying to adopt children for years, and in the past few months so much has changed for them. They were given a beautiful little 4 year old girl, Abigail (who I adore more than words can say), and they'll officially have adopted her this coming month. On top of this, they've also been given the gift of this brandnew baby boy, Noah. December is a magical month. God is giving more gifts.

Does that amaze anyone else? The sheer unumerable number of gifts that God has and is giving us? Even now. All these wonderful new babies: Carter, Noah, Aria (my friends, Kyle and Angies new baby girl). The warmth of our homes. The love of our familes. Our wonderful friends. What about the delightful pancakes I had this morning?

Everything is a gift.

I guess what I'm saying is, no matter what you're struggling with, no matter what I'm struggling with, God is still there, and He is still creating perfect, beautiful things in our lives. Even when we don't see them right away. Let's try to keep our eyes open for the beauty and wonder that God is placing in our lives. For the gifts and for the magic. This season is full of both.

Monday, December 7, 2009

What the Strainer Caught

Favorite Things of this Very Moment (10:49 am CST):
  • "What the Strainer Caught" mix
  • Christmas lights
  • Powdered sugar snow that's coating everything outside
  • Clean water
  • Knowing people I love will be receiving special holiday surprises/greetings in the mail
  • Having my major errand of the morning completed
  • Writing real responses to emails
  • Having a new book of stamps sitting on the footstool just waiting for letters to be sent
  • The sounds of the heater mixed with Cake singing "I Will Survive"
  • That only my pinkies seem to get cold (Why is that?)
  • Chubby little squirrels who seem to be living for each and every moment while jumping through all the trees of the neighbor hood finding berries and whatnot to munch this fine December morning
  • Adjectives
My brain is a seething mass of thoughts and emotions completely incapable of slowing or holding still. I have felt, often lately, that I just can't contain them all. There's always something trying to escape. Maybe I just haven't done such a great job of expressing them lately. It just seems too much.

It becomes increasingly weird when you get to a point where you realize that your emotions or something deeper in you is making it impossible to think of anything but reaching over and grabbing someone's hand. When it takes all your will to hold your hands together...doesn't that seem a little bizarre. Especially when you are fine without this individual whenever you're away from them...

Sometimes I wonder if my brain really is wired differently from the average woman. Worries me a little bit at times, but I guess God made me this way for a reason, even if I don't understand it and it makes me wonder if I'm crazy.


Luckily, this is the season of love, giving, charity, joy, magic: Christmas. The joy of Christ's birth and the overflow of generosity spills into every day. So much magic really does radiate through the Christmas season. I love the change that it brings over people. Even the hardest of hearts. It's hard to be a grouch during this lovely season of the year. Even a cynic melts into the romantic they truly are at heart in the month of December...Magic.

May this December bring you all the joy and magic the season can hold. May it overwhelm you in the very best sense of the word, and may it spill into the rest of the coming year.

And I'll leave you with this, What the Strainer Caught playlist (to express the overflow in my head):
  • Mixed Tape - Jack's Mannequin
  • Love Don't Live Here Anymore - Lady Antebellum
  • (You're the) Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
  • Friends - Band of Skulls
  • Hokis - Eve 6
  • Daria - Cake
  • Every Day is Exactly the Same - Nine Inch Nails
  • Papercut - Gym Class Heroes
  • Kiss Kiss - Chris Brown & T. Pain
  • Getaway - Train
  • Burning Man - Third Eye Blind
  • Islands in the Stream - Bee Gees (not a joke, Nik...haha..."What's that Pete?")
  • Wrong Turn - Jack Johnson
  • Breaking It Up - Lykke Li
  • Hey Mr. DJ (Keep Playin' This Song) - Backstreet Boys (don't you judge me...ha)
  • Oil and Water - Incubus (*sigh* Brandon Boyd *sigh*)
  • Back to You - John Mayer
  • If You Want My Love (Alternate Version) - Cheap Trick
  • I Will Survive - Cake (my favorite version of this song...ever)
  • Message in a Bottle - John Mayer (*smiles*)