Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monkeys & typewriters

Dilbert, 5/15/1989

Honest congrats to all participants in this year's Nanowrimo, no matter whether you hit your goal or just made progress on particular projects.

I don't think this of your work.  You rock, authors!  My brother showed me this strip today in context of my 3Doodler art which, as I told him, I spent minutes perfecting, and I just fell out!

When pictograms fail

Pearls Before Swine, 6/23/2013.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Incredibly high expectations, or "I think you're just that good."

My dad is a groupie.
And when he latches on to a group, they're stuck with him, for good or ill. He is your most passionate unpaid PR guy.
I just need to learn how to communicate with him so I feel encouraged by his zealotry instead of crushed by overwhelming exectations. For example:

The Tap Pups: LIVE dvds finally came in from this past year's spring show. (The show was June 29, and dad's queries about when to expect the dvds started in July.) Vicki blessed us with the opportunity to share our first viewing together; often there's a bus trip or similar and we can see watch the previous year's show on the way up. This year, without having a road trip in the plans (for the week of Thanksgiving, no less), she rented Midtown Cinema and we got to see ourselves on the big screen. (Great new tradition! Sure hope we do that every year!)

Dad was beyond delighted to get his own copy of the DVD this year. My parents purchased one for themselves because 1) their oldest child, their only daughter, was in five dances plus the opening number, and 2) last year the whole borrowing-my-copy thing, which had worked in previous years, went sadly awry and there was much indignation about who had it when in its circuit thru MD, never mind that I-the-owner had it for a week before ceding it at Thanksgiving and getting it back at EOPS.

Dad's favorite dance of all time is Acapella. Which is, admittedly, fabulous and one of my favorites as well.
But his question to me about it was:

Did you memorize it?

By which he meant, "You could throw that down, right here, right now, couldn't you? Of course you could."
He knows I'm not in Advanced. It doesn't seem to matter.
My stupefied, dumbfounded, spluttery response was, "How? From seeing it?"
Dad, cool as a cucumber, pointed out that

"One" you knew even before you were at that level.

Somehow he missed, in all the conversations he and I had leading up to the show, that we worked our brains out for One. We worked our butts off for One. And those of us who learned it new for the 2013 show danced full-out but very much tucked away in the corner of the back row. And we still felt a HUGE sense of accomplishment just at that. For me it was an incredibly emotional experience.

Vicki, you have been warned. The bar is set very high. Evidently the Tap Pups are so good that people in the stands now think we learn by osmosis.

I better practice some more. That helicopter step in this year's piece...

I better practice some more.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


We skip the whole Thanksgiving travel headache by waiting until most people are already with their families to embark. The geography of our family works out well that way. This year that also meant we missed traveling in snow. Ain't God good?

So we took on a new Adventure, capital "A" Adventure, in our Thanksgiving leadup. (Our godkids, when they hang out with us, don't necessarily come over to our house, or go to the same place, so every time is an "Adventure with Auntie Middle Frog & Uncle Big Frog".) We had the kids, M&D, aged 5&3, stay at our place overnight.

My mom has always maintained, since I was little and asking if I could sleep over at a friend's or have them sleep over, that such an event is not a sleepover but a stayover. Sleep is not a priority. But fun is!

Some highlights included:
  • Making monkey bread in the crockpot. They were very excited about it at the making stage, and not at all interested in eating it in the morning. Curious.
  • "Building" a bed. When I told him that was our next project, he wanted wood and a hammer. What I meant was inflating the airbed. No matter. Big hit regardless.
  • Classic family film: SpaceCamp. Hadn't seen it in years, but I loved it as a kid. With the kids' interest in astronomy and aeronautics, it was a huge hit. Bonus: Did you know Joachim Phoenix was in it? That was back when he went by Leaf. And Kate Capshaw (Willie Scott in Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom). And Lea Thompson (Kate Kennish in Switched at Birth; Lorraine Baines McFly in Back to the Future). And Kelly Preston.
  • Watching the Macy's parade in the morning, and talking about balloons so big that they need dozens of people to keep them from flying away. (resource: Geekmom article -- Did you know you can see the balloons being inflated the night before the parade?)
Big bonus: Kids got a full night's sleep, albeit skewed from their normal sleeing times, and they woke up happy in the morning. Win and win.

All in all, a huge success. And we would do it again. But not tomorrow... or next week... When we told some friends that we were hosting an overnight for our godkids, we got such responses as, "Testing the water?" And we really do love our littles. But we're still at the catch-and-release point in our lives.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Safford's Millionaire University - 7h straight of Tom Safford (who was recently highlighted in Primerica's Freedom Lives Here blog).
Here are a few of the things that most struck me.

One can affect many.

Affirmations re imprinting:
My mind is a tape recorder.
My mind is a sponge.
My mind is a copy machine.

All riches and all material things that anyone acquires thru self-effort begins in the form of a clear, concise mental picture of the thing one seeks. (CCMP)

All means ALL. All riches. All things.
Anyone. Not all white people or all old people or all ___. All means all.
Begins: starts, forms
Clear not fuzzy. Concise, shouldn't take you forever to explain. Mental picture, staring at you all the time.

The common denominator of success -- the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful -- lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do. ~Albert Gray, The Common Denominator of Success

There are only two kinds of habits: good ones and bad ones. You need to learn to maximize your good ones or your bad ones will kill you. ~Saff's advice to each of his grands when they turned 18

The first step towards wealth is the most difficult. Consequently most don't take it. Most don't have a plan for wealth, therefore they get mediocrity or normalcy at best and oftentimes poverty.
(Wealth is not just in $$ -- wealth is in all areas of life: spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, etc.)

Manage the moments, not the day.
Plan your day in 15min increments.

Excel and max out in whatever talent God has given you.

Dream while it isn't working.

Every adversity carries within it the seed of equivalent or greater benefit.
Your responsibility now is to discover what's the equiv benefit.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Take this candle. Light it. And pray.

source: The Christmas Candle Facebook page

Go see The Christmas Candle right away.

Opening weekend. Make time. THIS Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I can count on ONE FINGER how many movies I've seen in theaters since last Thanksgiving. And that movie is Les Mis, which I've since seen at Toby's, twice, live theater. (Read about that here and here.) So when I tell you to go see The Christmas Candle right away, you need to understand the urgency I'm putting behind it. Coming from a girl who waits for movies to come to dvd, and then further waits in the "library netflix" (holds) queue to see things months, even years after they were at peak popularity, this is a really big deal.

Our church, New Covenant Fellowship (PCA), was honored to host an advance screening of The Christmas Candle, followed by a Q&A session with the CEO of the production company, former Senator Rick Santorum. The Christmas Candle will open in approximately 400 theaters in the US and UK on Friday. In Central PA, it will be playing in three locations, the Regal Cinemas in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York. (Harrisburgers, that's the theater at Harrisburg (East) Mall.) A complete list of theaters is available online. Let's fill the movie theaters. Request the film come to more locations as well! I am dismayed that there is not one single theater in the whole state of Maryland that is playing it opening weekend. EDIT: In Maryland, it opens Friday at the Regal in Silver Spring, although the movie website does not list it. I also recognize that there is a higher-budget, better-advertised, post-apocalyptic, dystopian-society movie also releasing on Friday. That is all the more reason why we need to rally behind The Christmas Candle. Dollars talk in changing how Hollywood sees faith and culture. On a frigid Wednesday evening, our sanctuary was packed. I talked with people who traveled 90 minutes just to see this film. Think about how our communities would be different if our church pews were filled like this every Sunday, and then we went out to love and serve the least and the lost. (Thinking is a start. Then we all have to DO something about it!)

All worship services should be SRO: Standing Room Only. photo: Lisa Yee Swope

photo: PennLive

photo: Jeff Coleman

What if the movie theaters were packed to Standing Room Only for a movie that celebrates miracles?
What if people stopped cursing the darkness and started lighting candles?
What does faith look like, lived out?
How does love show up on your hands and feet to serve others?

In The Christmas Candle, a priest leaves his work with the London poor when he is called to serve in a tiny town. The villagers expect him to preach all through Advent about the expected miracle: that as has happened once every 25 years for the past two centuries, a single candle will be touched by an angel and will grant a Christmas miracle, a direct answer to the prayer of the bearer. But in a modern, 1890's world, an electrical and steam-powered world, the progressive new minister wants to end this fairy tale and see instead the miracle to take on human form, acts of kindness and good deeds. Then God steps in. And God's ways are indeed exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we ask or imagine.

source: The Christmas Candle Facebook page

There is so much symbolism to candles. A few near and dear to my heart include:
  • My childhood advent calendar. I used the same one for advent scriptures every year growing up, and the very first day was Isaiah 9:2. "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned."
  • The opening of the gospel of John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." This also was the first of Mrs Who's quotation in A Wrinkle in Time that I could identify the source.
  • Hanukkah. A single night's oil burned for eight nights, long enough for more oil to be pressed for use at the temple. Don't let the Light go out (Peter, Paul & Mary).
  • In a similar Jewish vein, the Sabbath Prayer song from Fiddler on the Roof. "May the Lord protect and defend you..."
  • Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."

Who else might enjoy The Christmas Candle?
  • Max Lucado readers -- he wrote the book upon which the movie is based.
  • Les Mis fans -- Samantha Barks, who played Eponine in the movie version, plays the antagonist-slash-love-interest. In fact, the night after she sang at the Oscars, she was in the Cotswolds to start filming.
  • Susan Boyle fans -- not only is this her acting debut, she also sings the theme song, which is also featured on her newest CD.
  • Downton Abbey viewers -- as I understand it, all the costumes are not replicas but are original to the time period. They are gorgeous1.
  • Christmas movie lovers!
1 Except for some of the vestments, which within the movie one of the parishoners lovingly crafted with more enthusiasm than...taste. Our pastor remarked that he was glad that we didn't didn't use vestments in our congregation. So really, all I need is ONE Lutheran or Episcopalian congregation or priest who's got ONE extra... outfit? robe and stole? I don't even know the words! for THIS Sunday. Any takers?
What if people stopped cursing the darkness and started lighting candles?

Go see The Christmas Candle. And please, tell others. Let's change the way Hollywood sees faith and families.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Live theater

You know you're a theater lover in a theater-loving town when the final announcement before the start of Les Mis, on closing night, in a sold out, absolutely packed house is,

"Please refrain from singing along.
We know you have the score memorized
and you sing it all the time
at home, in the car, and in the shower,
but you did not practice with us."

Without caveats like the one above, I have no doubt things like THIS AWESOMENESS would happen.

Kudos to Toby's for a fabulous, beyond fabulous run.
(Javert still had the Best. Death. Scene. Ever.)
Interviews "Beyond the Barricade at Toby's" from DC Metro Theater Arts. Links to the full series
I particularly commend to you Part 4: The Boys of the Barricade and Part 8: Javert, played by Larry Munsey

Saturday, November 9, 2013

~ ♥ ~

Heart Rose
I made this more difficult for myself by not learning it with regular yarn. Honestly, as much as I love the look of all the fancy and vareigated yarns, I work best with just-plain-yarn. But here I used RedHeart Symphony, which I assumed would be more like Homespun but which turns out is mostly fluff on a sport-weight yarn.

Magic Ring

One ring to rule them all!

Why did no one ever show me this before? So THAT's how to start without leaving a hole in the middle. Thank you, Planet June.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Day 83 of Joyce Meyer: Promises for Your Everyday Life - a Daily Devotional

Develop Your Potential and Do Something Now

You may know that God's created you with great potential, but you can't stop there. You have to develop your potential.

I believe that many people are unhappy because they aren't doing anything to develop their potential. If you want to see your potential developed to its fullest, don't wait until everything is perfect. Do something now. Start laying your hand to whatever is in front of you.

You must give your potential some form by doing something with it. You will never find what you are capable of doing if you never try anything.

Don't be so afraid of failing that you never take a chance. Don't stay in the safety zone. You may feel safe, but you will never succeed at developing your full potential or being fulfilled in what you are doing. Step out into what you feel God is leading you to do, and you will soon discover what you can and cannot do.

You are full of God-given potential, and He wants to do more through your life than you could ever imagine, but it requires your cooperation. Step out and serve Him wholeheartedly today.

Prayer Starter: Lord, in everything I do, I want to serve You wholeheartedly. Thank You for encouraging me to step out and take action, developing the great potential You have given me.
Thru Primerica, one of the many great blessings we have received is getting to know Frank Bolella, a life coach who has made phenomenal impact on our lives and attitudes. He works with the United Nations, with IBM, and with several NFL teams, but he comes to Harrisburg he knows us by name. I've also had the opportunity to worship at the church he founded and where he pastors.

One of the key concepts he teaches on is that your Natural Attributes and your Developed Attributes, added together and then multiplied by your Self Concept, is your Personal Power and Productivity.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Too long in the wilderness

source: Joyce Meyer: Promises for your everyday life

Conquering the Wilderness Mentality

The Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for forty years to make what was actually an eleven-day journey. Why?

Once, as I pondered this situation, the Lord said to me, "The Israelites couldn't move on because they had a wilderness mentality." The Israelites had no positive vision for their lives, no dreams. They needed to let go of that mentality and trust God.

We really shouldn't view the Israelites with astonishment because most of us do the same things they did. We keep going around the same mountains instead of making progress, and it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have been dealt with quickly.

We need a new mindset. We need to start believing that God's Word is true. Matthew 19:26 tells us that with God all things are possible. All He needs is our faith in Him. He needs for us to believe, and He will do the rest.

The Lord is saying the same thing to you and me today that He said to the children of Israel: "You have dwelt long enough on this mountain." It's time for us to move on!

Prayer Starter: God, I've spent enough time going around the same old mountains in my life. With You, I know I can move on, so I put my faith in You and let go of my wilderness mentality!
This summer I also was in a Beth Moore Deuteronomy study which had at its core "If I'd known then what I know now... but at least I know it now to move forward."

It's time to get unstuck.