Thursday, December 30, 2010

My New Crafting Desk and Bragging on My Husband

Trent had me very confused over the last couple months about what he was giving me for Christmas. Now, he doesn't like to be bragged on, but I'm going to do it anyway. Here is what he did tell me:

~ He was building it
~ Some of it came from Lowes
~ Some of it came from Ikea
~ Some of it came from Dealer's Electrical Supply
~ It was going to cost about $80 overall
~ It was going to be almost as good a gift as when he gave me my kitty cat but not quite (I told him nothing can top the kitty cat)
~ It was going to be too big to actually bring to Winnsboro for me to unwrap at Christmas so he was going to have to figure out a clever way to present it to me there.
~ I would unwrap a piece of the puzzle in Fredericksburg when we were with my family for Sauer Christmas the weekend before actual Christmas.
~ This piece would stand alone but also be part of the big puzzle.
~ He was also giving me a couple small things that had nothing to do with the big puzzle.

So. I was confused. And along the way, Trent texted me this picture from Lowes saying that what he had just gotten had BARELY fit in his motorcycle bag... Eek.

In Fredericksburg, I unwrapped a CD, which had nothing to do with the big puzzle, and this, a small Tiffany lamp I had been admiring at Lowes:

So the part from Lowes wasn't even building material. Huh?
Fast forward a week of guessing and wondering, and being told NOT to go in the guest room or Trent's hunting closet at home, to Christmas Eve in Winnsboro. I had one present to unwrap from Trent and I saved it for last. It was exactly what I had opened in Fbg: another CD (a different one) and another Tiffany lamp (the same as the first one). As I was unwrapping this, Trent was getting out his phone. He pulled up a video that he had shot at home earlier that week and edited. The background music was the rock 'n' roll version of Canon in D that was supposed to be our recessional song at our wedding but ended up being the "guests leaving the sanctuary" song due to technical difficulties. Anyway, I started crying as the video showed me what my gift was. I said "You MADE that???" in amazement. The video showed this beautiful crafting desk. He had set it up and videoed it then put it away in the guest room. I was floored:

It has a polyurethane finish that I can't scratch:

It has a built in corner spot with holes for scissors, knitting needles and other small tools:

It has three built in electrical outlets on the top of the desk for my lamps, sewing machine, etc, to plug into:

The entire desk is wired together so that the electrical outlets are connected to a switch, which turns the whole desk on and off. So I just have to plug in the desk, then I can flip the switch to turn everything on or off together that is plugged into it:

It has built in cubbies underneath for tools or items I need on hand and easily accessible while I'm crafting:

So, there you have it, mystery solved! The lamps were from Lowes. The legs were from Ikea. The outlets, switch and wiring were from Dealers. The wood was leftover beech panels from a previous building project.

I love it! And I love my amazing talented husband!

BONUS PICTURE of our precious nephew, Asher:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Louisa May Alcott and My Book List

I have decided that I just love the author Louisa May Alcott. You most likely know her as the author of Little Women, but she has other books as well. I re-read Little Women back in August, from the large, fancy, illustrated book from which Mom read it to us girls years ago. It was a step back in time to my own childhood and hearing that story, but also just a great coming of age story, full of indirect lessons and morals, as well as a dabbling in love stories as the characters grow up. I giggled and got choked up at different times during that book.

Now I am reading An Old Fashioned Girl and it is full of similar lessons and morals. The overarching point is that pretty clothes and riches and STUFF are not necessary for happiness. When you get tired of the stuff or the stuff gets taken away, what are you left with? It follows a young girl through young womanhood, along her quest for independence and self sustenance in a time when most young women were busy going to balls and hunting for rich husbands. Her rich "friends" see in her a joy and excitement for life that they don't have, even in their glamorous routines.

Alcott's books are just feel good stories. I actually started reading An Old Fashioned Girl a few weeks ago even though I had several other books in progress already. They were all turning out to be somewhat gloomy (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte), on a death and destruction spurt in the story (Song of Redemption by Lynn Austin) or intellectual (Abba's Child by Brendan Manning). I needed to take a break and read a happy book. This one has served the purpose grandly and I highly recommend it. Also on my list to read (oh, there are so many books I want to read) are Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, by Alcott.

Hmm, just for kicks, here is the list of books I want to read or re-read. I happen to have them listed in an app on my know me and lists.

To Read:
Mount Vernon Love Story, Mary Higgins Clark
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
The Strenth of His Hand, Lynn Austin
Faith of My Fathers, Lynn Austin
Among the Gods, Lynn Austin
A Light to My Path, Lynn Austin (can you tell by now that I really like Lynn Austin??)
Fire by Night, Lynn Austin
All She Ever Wanted, Lynn Austin
Until We Reach Home, Lynn Austin
Teenage Girls, Ginny Olson
Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Ya-Ya's in Bloom, Rebecca Wells
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells
Eight Cousins, Louisa May Alcott
Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
Persuasion, Jane Austen

To Re-read:
Emma, Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Beautiful Girlhood, Mabel Hale
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Girl With a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

And those are just the books I currently own or have borrowed. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me! Feel free to comment with your thoughts on any of these books.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

7 Things I'm Happy About

Hello everybody. Long time no blog and I'm sorry for that. Turns out this holiday season has been kind of bonkers, but in a good way! Here are 7 things I'm happy about right now:

1. Our nephew was born last Friday evening, December 17th, to Trent's sister K'Lee and her husband James. Asher James Taylor, 7 lbs, 13 oz, 21 inches long, full head of hair! He looks like James minus the goatee... The family is doing well and Uncle Brat and Aunt Pie are super excited to meet him when we head to Winnsboro this Thursday for Christmas. Grandee and Poppa have sore cheeks from smiling so much about their first grandchild!

2. My sister, Katy, the world traveler, returned home from the Dominican Republic on Saturday. She was there since August and is home until she heads to Brazil in March. Welcome back Katy!

3. My mom got me some official Nike shorts in October but couldn't find them for the life of her over Thanksgiving when we were in Fbg, so we gave up. I was sad. I have never owned real Nike shorts and was honestly a bit jealous that Abby had hers. Well, this past weekend, I unwrapped a present and there they were! They found the shorts in the trunk of Mom's car. So here is me with Abby, the Nike addict, in our matching shorts and the Nike pullover Trent and I gave her for Christmas. (What you can't see are her Nike t-shirt, and Nike shoes.)

4. Our entire immediate family was together at the Sauer Family Christmas on Sunday out at the ranch. We are a big bunch! It was so great to have everyone together instead of scattered all over the state/country/world. Left to right: Michael (married to our sister Courtney over there), John, Katy, Dad, Abby, Mom, Sarah, me, Trent, Courtney, Robert (C & M's son). Yay!

5. We got our new Master Tax Guides for the 2011 filing season the other day at work. I put it on my shelf and realized my collection is growing. I was hired at JRBT on December 6, 2006, in the admin department, then gradually shuffled over to tax. I've been here four years! I think that's pretty cool. I still haven't won any prizes at the office Christmas party. Boo.

6. I checked the stats page of my blog "dashboard" and it has had 1,001 page views! Wow.

7. Successful dress shopping trip! I am in the house party for our friends Patrick and Amanda's wedding next week and haven't had time to find a dress. Went to Sears last night, took a few to the dressing room and this one was the winner. On sale for $30. I'm normally not a fan of wearing cowl necks, but this one sits very nicely. With my black, velvety heels and black jewelry, maybe black tights, I think it will work quite nicely!
So those are some happy items going on right now. I hope everyone is having a great holiday season so far!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Power of Powerful Worship

As promised, here is my post about the worship that I so thoroughly enjoyed at the National Youth Workers Convention several weeks ago. I'm sorry if you a) are tired of me going on and on about it, or b) are just visiting my blog to see hat pictures. If that's the case, a) bye, and b) check out the labels to the left for hat stuff. :-)

There were many artists that performed in the Big Room sessions at the convention and the ones that I knew beforehand were David Crowder Band and Jeremy Camp. The 'knew beforehand' part will come into play in my post a little later as something that is important to me in worship. David Crowder Band was the first artist to perform at the convention. So. Much. Fun. I heart DCB, and not just because they are from Waco. Here is a picture of the band playing Forever And Ever Etc., complete with keytar, Mario noises, and jumping around on stage. Turns out Crowder has some ups, especially when propelling himself off of the drum platform.
And then, as a result of Crowder getting everyone to do an "arena clap", he spontaneously combusted into a ball of fire:
Just kidding, my camera caught the light. Anyway, I love this song. If you haven't heard it, go back and click on the link above to youtube it. Warning, it WILL get stuck in your head and they repeat the last line for like ten years. Forever and ever and ever and ever. Literally. But when it comes to thinking about worship, what is this song to me? JOY. The band was rocking it out on stage, we were bouncing up and down, we did the arena clap, we all whistled at the whistling part (except me, because I cannot whistle...sad). Even the lyrics express joy:

I'm finding everything I'll ever need
By giving up gaining everything
Falling for You for eternity
Right here at Your feet
Where I wanna be
I am Yours

I was having a blast. I was smiling. I was laughing at Crowder's antics. I was trying to keep up with the fast lyrics. I was singing as loud as I could because, in an arena of several thousand voices and blaring speakers, nobody can hear you but God. They did other songs of course and after a while they calmed it down and played How He Loves. This is another song of theirs that I really like. If it's on the radio when I arrive at home, I will most definitely sit in my car in the driveway until it is over. (A very scientific test for what songs are your faves) Check out the lyrics here, they're great. Really read them.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…
He loves us

I am always amazed when someone can put thoughts like that into words. What is this song to me? Awe. Thankfulness. As the band played this song, I sang along for a while, then I stopped, closed my eyes and just listened to and thought about the words. He loves us. That's crazy and awesome. I also stopped singing because I was getting choked up. Trent handed me a tissue from his backpack and put his arm around me and I sniffled on his shoulder for a bit. Why? Because I hadn't felt like that in a while and was loving the worshipful closeness and sad for the times when it's nowhere around. This song has a new meaning for me because of that moment. Trent and I rehashed things that night at the hotel and I am so grateful for a husband who I can bounce things off of and discuss things with. Love him.

Jeremy Camp and his wife, Adie, were the main worship artists the next day. The stage was dark then they put a spotlight on Jeremy at the piano where he opened with Give Me Jesus. (At some point between when he performed in the video in that link and at the convention, they painted his piano red...jk, I guess it's a different one) A little ways into the song, Trent leaned over to me and said "All you need to create worship is a piano and a voice." That's all they had going on the stage for that song:

Just a red piano and a singer. Add some heart and ta-da, you've got worship. It doesn't even have to be a red piano... So, what is this song to me? Simplicity. Peace. Just give me a piano, a voice, and give me Jesus. And I'm good.

They busted out the rest of the instruments and band members after that and did a rousing performance of Jesus Saves, complete with actual shouting at the "Raise a shout" lyric.
This is another song I will sit in my driveway to finish on the radio. For me, this song is all about Rejoicing. Jesus saves! Sing it out, raise a shout! I did a little more bouncing up and down and a lot more singing at the top of my lungs.

Bonus: Here is Jeremy's video blog from his time in Nashville for the convention. I found it on his website. Click Here.

Ok so can you tell I kind of like musical worship?? Just a lil bit... Maybe you caught some common threads throughout the previous paragraphs, even though there were different artists and different types of songs. But here are some things that make worship really powerful for me.

~ I want to be able to sing, which means I need to know the song. If someone is up there playing a song I don't know, sure of course I enjoy it, but that is just them performing instead of me participating and worshiping. Or if I'm trying to learn a new song, I'm too focused on following lyrics and melody to really worship. Remember what I said at the beginning of this post about knowing David Crowder Band and Jeremy Camp beforehand? I've heard and learned a lot of their songs so I was able to sing them out. Hence, those are the ones that stuck out in my mind as powerful times of worship for me.

~ I need a leader. Since I want to be able to sing along, I want someone who I can track with and follow the melody with. Whether it's one piano or a whole stage of instruments, one singer or a bunch, that's all good. I just don't like it when the the melody gets lost in 8 bazillion part harmony and I can't figure out who I'm supposed to follow. It may be as simple as jacking someone's microphone up a little bit more so they can lead and be heard. If you are performing for others, bring on the 8 bazillion part harmony. But if you are leading others in worship, others that aren't as vocally talented, keep it simple and let us be able to follow along.

~ I like it when the lights are brought down low in a worship service. I am a people watcher, so it keeps me from getting distracted by my surroundings. Also, though I am usually not one to worry about what other people think of me, worship is a personal time with God and I'd rather it be in low light or even dark so that it stays that way.

Well those ended up sounding really picky and I didn't intend that. :-/ I'm not trying to rain on anyone's worship parade, so to speak, since I know there are lots of styles and preferences out there. I'm just expressing what works for me and really puts me in a place where I can worship our God fully and emotionally and joyfully.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts. Do you know any of the songs I linked to and talked about above? What do they mean to you?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Community in a Common Purpose

As promised a few posts ago in A Conventional Weekend, here are some more thoughts that have popped up since attending the National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville.

What communities do you have in your life? Any types, think big or small. Some possibilities are your workplace, your church, school, friends, family, Bible study, aerobics class, motorcycle buddies, book club, crafting buddies, etc. etc. There are different communities in every person's life.

But what brings these communities together? For some, like work and school, it is required and you don't really have a choice but to attend and be a part of that group. Even in these that are mandatory, each community like those listed above is united in some kind of common purpose, goal, attitude or understanding. Educate, learn, worship, lose weight, create things, drag pegs around tight corners... You fill in the blank for the communities you thought of.

At the convention, it was SO cool to be surrounded by a new community in the common purpose of youth ministry. Paid youth ministers, youth volunteers, some teachers, some juvi workers. I am not good at judging numbers of people but attendance was in the thousands. Here's a photo from our seats in Big Room on day 2. I took this picture more because the tech pit was intriguing (and I'm afraid we spent a decent amount of the time trying to figure out which person down there was switching the video feeds) but it also shows that there were a lot of people there. This is just the floor of the arena and up one side a bit. The first level was mostly full on all three sides of the stage.

FYI, Big Room is where everyone at the convention is together in the arena for worship, speakers and announcements. (Announcements, announcements, annooooouuuuncements... sorry, thanks to Trent attending camps and bringing the jingles home, that song pops into my head now whenever I hear that word. Ugh.) I digress. In Big Room each time, I would just look around me in amazement at how many people were there with the same purpose and mission: to love kids. I didn't know anybody except Trent, Sonny and David Crowder (ok, I don't know him but I did sit next to him at a movie a few months ago). Oh, and a girl who came up to us when Trent and I accidentally but cutely wore Baylor shirts on the same day and said "I had to come meet the Bears, I just graduated from Truett seminary." So I didn't know any of the other several thousand people, but really enjoyed worshiping and learning with them. I reeeeeeeally enjoyed worshiping with them, but more on that in another post.

Ok, so you have lots of communities in your life and it's really cool to be a part of them, some more than others, some bigger than others. Here's another question. Where/when in your life is your community of choice just yourself, or yourself and God? I say choice because moments like these are so hard to come by these days. Life is crazy for most people. Weeks are a marathon from Sunday to Saturday, filled with days that are a sprint from morning till night. Where in all that can you just chill without any particular community??

On Day 3 of the convention, during the 4:00 seminar block, I didn't find any of the available seminars particularly relatable to me, plus I was getting a bit worn out, mostly mentally. I had gotten a whole lot of information in the past three days and just needed to chill. As my facebook status said at the time: "Skipping this seminar block to process and journal. Lots of thoughts." So I found an empty bench and did just that:

It was my little spot for an hour and a half to be in my own bubble, just me, my journal, my Bible and a granola bar. After writing for a while I put my stuff back in my backpack and laid down on the bench to snooze for a bit. When Sonny and Trent were done with their seminars, I was ready to rock and roll again. I went from "oh my gosh, so much info, so many thoughts, not much energy" to "alrighty, what's next?" Our friend Justin has been to these conventions in the past and knows how they go. He commented on my facebook status that I mentioned above and said "You made it this far before hitting the saturation point. Not bad."
Saturation point. What does that look like? In this instance, it was the point of lots of info being tossed at me in a short amount of time. But it could be lots of other things too. Too much going on, too many commitments, trying too hard to please everyone. You name it. In chemistry, the saturation point is where you can no longer dissolve anymore of something, let's say sugar, into something else, like water. This point varies by temperature and volume but let's not get way technical in this analogy. (I kind of loved/rocked chemistry in highschool and college, so sue me) Once you reach the saturation point, what happens to the rest of the sugar? It's just floating around in the water, useless, unable to be absorbed. So wouldn't it be best for us to just never get to that saturation point?? If it means some part of us ends up floating around, useless, wouldn't it be better if we take time out of our commuity filled lives to have community with self and God? To slow down, process, renew.
Journal, read, pray, think, snooze, eat a granola bar...