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Friday Faves: The Surprise! Edition

27 Apr

Aren’t you elated?!  It’s been months (or at least a month) since I did Friday Faves (FF) and I didn’t originally plan on putting together FF today, but some days I just surprise myself as well as my readers!  Since I just gave you an update on my life, I thought I’d share an amusing anecdote to fill up some space because just jumping into a bunch of links seems so impersonal.  However, I spend a lot of time sitting on my couch with my broken foot propped up on pillows, so it’s not like there are all that many stories to share.  Although when I  was using Stella the Walker to hobble up the stairs after returning from a doctor’s appointment this morning, the UPS man asked if I broke my foot after falling from drinking too much.  I informed him that I’m not a drinker (except for that wine cooler on New Year’s Eve).  He said that maybe I should start.  So, yeah, my UPS man encouraged me to become drop down drunk.  I guess what’s what brown can do for you.

What is up with our culture’s obsession with drunkenness?   I can think of several movies where drunken people get married or have one-night stands…and hilarity ensues.  I don’t understand the humor behind promiscuous sex or “accidental” marriages.  I mean, alcoholic drinks are expensive, so getting that sloshed isn’t cheap, especially if you can’t remember the “good time” you had last night.  Plus, I’ve heard about the upchucking and killer headaches that follow.  It makes me just want to stay home and watch “Fraggle Rock” on NetFlix streaming.  I am grateful to state stores for supplying me with free moving boxes. 

Oh, and for those of you who want to argue about the merits of drinking in biblical times, remember this–Apostle Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach, not become rip roarin’ drunk during a toga party.  The key is moderation, friends, and not to take advice on drinking from your UPS man.

A story and a lesson on morality–does Friday Faves get any better than this?

So, onto this week’s linkage…

*Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sara Groves, particularly her latest album, Invisible Empires.  Those of you who have been listening to her for years are thinking, ‘Yeah, Amy, we know how awesome Invisible Empires is….where have you been?”  I decided to share the above video of Sara singing “Obsolete,” which is one of my fave songs from the album because it’s all vulnerable and emotional.  I think Sara paints beautiful word pictures with her lyrics and I like her gentle melodies.

*If you’re under 21, sometimes it’s hard to get find a pal (or UPS man) who will buy you alcohol.  Therefore, some teens have decided to make their own “moonshine” using hand sanitizer.  Yes, hand sanitizer!  My friend, Shari, who is a dedicated child care professional, first told me that the two year-olds in her classroom weren’t allowed to use hand sanitizer due to its alcohol content.  We laughed, thinking of all the moms who rub it on their kids like sunscreen.  But, apparently, the Pennsylvania Department of Health wasn’t too far off with this one.  For more information, on this alarming trend check out this article from The Morning Call.

*What do you get for the paparazzi who has everything?  A vintage camera fashioned into a tape dispenser!  It’ll only set you back $21.  Other vintage items available from A Mano Trading include an Ultraman Piggy Bank (sorry, it’s sold out!  What a hotseller!) and a needlepoint squirrel.  Personally, I like this closeout bag.

This is Big Red laying the eggs. Currently, all three eggs are now hatched.

*Finally, I want to tell you about a unique opportunity to spy on a red tail hawk nest thanks to CornellVia this link, you can check out Big Red and her mate, Ezra, as they  care for their three eyasses.  I spent a good hour watching Big Red feed her babies a vole carcass.  It sounds gross, but it makes for fascinating viewing. (Click here to view additional videos of the eyasses hatching, eating, and fighting like siblings do.)

As always, have a great weekend!

Because I just adore your comments, here are some discussion questions…I’m going to a book sale and church–what are you doing this weekend?  Have you ever tried to drink hand sanitizer?  With your UPS man (or woman?)What is your favorite Sara Groves song?  Which do you like best–Sarah, Sara, Sarai, or some other alternative spelling of the name?  What do you think of the goods at A Mano Trading?  Any good gifts for Mother’s Day?  Speaking of mothers, what do you think of Big Red’s parenting skills? 

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Friday Faves: Amy’s {Irish} Brain Dump Edition

16 Mar

Top of the mornin’ to ya!  That was my Americanized version of a traditional Irish greeting.  Really, what do you expect from a lass that’s only 1/16 Irish?  Still, my wee bit o’ Irish blood and my love of the color “green” makes me leap like a leprechaun (with joy, of course!)  Since I’ve blogged about St. Patrick’s Day in the past, I invite you to check out my fascinating discourse on Mickey D’s Shamrock Shakes, among other items of interest.

Last week, I passed a church sign displaying part of St. Patrick’s famous prayer, “The Lorica” (a.k.a. “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”).  Immediately, I turned around and snapped this photo (as well as several others from their spring garden—to be featured next week in a photo essay). 

The Lorica is one of my favorite prayers (and the part about “sorcerers” makes me chuckle, though we would be wise to pray about such things), especially the “Christ within me” section.  To read the full prayer, go here (saintly pic of Patrick included).  Print it out and use it as a bookmark in your Bible.  (If you use it to mark the Lord’s Prayer, you have a double-prayer win!)

Since I haven’t done Friday Faves in a good, long while, much to your chagrin, I will attempt to keep this brain dump short and sweet.  Truth be told, I haven’t been prowling around blogs and websites these past few months, so I’m fairly out of the loop.  Being in the loop tends to make me dizzy, so perhaps we’re all better off. 

Focusing on God, being quiet before Him, reading my Bible, and practicing contemplative prayer are far more valuable to me right now.  I feel my sweet season under the broom tree is coming to an end; it’s a bittersweet reality.  My Mary heart longs to rest in God, but I am urged to rest in Him while living life outside the cloister of my apartment. 

 

So, that’s it…oh, wait, you want some linkage, don’t you?  Silly me!  Alright, here’s what I’ve been reading about all over the Interwebs…

*If you’re been raised in the Church, you already know what words like “anointing” and “salvation” mean, but if you’re new to all these wacky Christian terms, or just need a refresher, then you need to learn “Christianese.”  There are many sites that offer explanations on Christianese and church culture at large–including one of my faves, Stuff Chrsitians Like, run by Jon Acuff (Read Jon’s Take 5).  This apologetics blog offers a “Christianese Dictionary,” with helpful definitions and no snark at all.  If you’re into snark, you better check out Matthew Paul Turner at Jesus News New P.R.  While you’re there, check out this hilarious pic of Jesus’ resurrection drawn by a 4th Grader.

*Way back in February author/pastor Pete Wilson wrote a great blog post about jesting called,What Does Being Sarcastic Say About You?In his honest, yet frank style, Wilson asks himself about his own issues with sarcasm, but mostly quotes the article.  A lot.   I could send you to the article itself, but Pete Wilson has such cool hipster hair, you should really just go to his blog instead.

*I’m so out of touch with “Friday Faves” I don’t even know which of these links I used, so if anything is a repeat, just count yourself doubly blessed.  Randy Elrod, who knows Philip Yancey, wrote a great post a couple months ago about failure.  It’s called, “Why Our Mistakes Must Not Be Allowed to Define Us.”  I often think that when people see me, they only remember me for my failures, and lately, through meeting up with old friends, I realize it is not true at all.  I have allowed my mistakes to define me…and others have not.

While I’d like to include more fascinating linkage, it’s not the morning anymore.  In fact, we’re heading right through the afternoon into the dinner hour, so I’d better wrap things up.  Tell me how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (I get a Shamrock Shake)…and what is your favorite “Christianese” term?  Are you sarcastic?  What does that say about you?  Do you let your mistakes define you?  Are you excited about Brinley the Shih Tzu Puppy?

Friday Faves: It’s ALL ABOUT YOU Edition

27 Jan

OK, it’s Friday afternoon.  I’m not feeling so hot (TMD, rainy gloom, sinuses).  BFF Sarah came home from work early.  And I’ve got less than 25 minutes to sneak in a blog post.  Why 25 minutes (or less), you ask?  Because I’m dying my hair! (Even we natural blondes need to rely on a bottle to get us through the lack-of-sun winter months. Don’t judge me!)

(My pics won’t post right, so I’m typing something here to fill up the space. La-dee-dah!  Doesn’t JOSH WILSON rock?)

If I ever try online dating again, I should use this at my main profile pic.  Love me as I am!!!

Being a woman on a schedule, Friday Faves is going to be ever so brief this week. So, why don’t you share some of your faves in the comment section?  Share a post from your blog, someone else’s blog, an interesting news article, or a silly video (go ahead and Rick Roll us!) 

Not only did DaySpring cards make me smile this week (read post), so did my friend Mel Brown, who send BFF Sarah and I some snazzy eco-friendly necklaces.  Mine is green, of course, and BFF Sarah’s is a pretty purple.  Doesn’t my necklace look fab with my 1000 Reasons perpetual desk calendar? (BTW, I got Ann Voskamp’s book for a friend AND the desk calendar at the DaySpring Online Store as a bundled deal cheaper than I would’ve paid on Amazon.)  Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a $20 gift card to the DaySpring Online Store, which you can also use on (in)courage products. (Check out Shari’s giveaway, too! Shari’s ends tomorrow so enter NOW!!!)

Look at all the faves I managed to sneak into that intro.  It’s time to wash out my hair dye (BFF Sarah says I’m five minutes overdue!!!), so share, share, share your faves so this post isn’t a total flop!

Friday Faves: Two Days Away!!! Edition

23 Dec

Two days!!!  The Big Event is a mere two days away!!!  Are you freaking out yet?  Are you making a mental list of all thing things you have yet to do in preparation for Christmas Day in your head as you read my post? (Because I know that “Friday Faves” is must-read.   It’s the gift I give you every week!)  My adrenalin starts to churn up when I think about things that just NEED to get down.  And then I realize there really isn’t that much to do.  I want to join the last-minute insanity, buy gifts I don’t need (as I carefully budgeting buying for everyone on my list months in advance), just so I can have a wrap-a-thon with all my pretty Black Friday deal paper.  Darn that anxiety disorder of mine!

Breathe in, breathe out.  Relax.  On Monday morning, no one will care that you shoved that last 10 presents you wanted to wrap in lovely bags with sparkly tissue or that you didn’t have time to make the spinach dip.  Everyone will remember that great time they had with you, how Uncle Bernard fell asleep after drinking too much eggnog (which you suspect he may have spiked), and you’ll marvel at the beauty of the Christmas Eve service at church and that the wondrous celebration of Christ’s birth has turned to commercial.  You will swear that next year will be less busy, less hectic, and more focused on Christ’s birth–maybe you’ll buy a blow-up nativity at an after-Christmas sale to let the neighbors know how much you love Jesus.

But all the resolutions you make won’t last and next year you’ll do the same thing again.  And the year after, too.  Because you want to make the best Christmas possible for all that you love and all that love you.  And you, my friend, would have it no other way.  I love you for that.  You’re my kind of gal/guy.

You need a break, so sit down and let me share some of the amazing things I’ve found in the last week of advent…

*I’m not sure I’m going to get a chance to do my “official Christmas post” this year, so I’m sharing Downhere’s “How Many Kings” song/video now.  I shared this song with my small group at our Christmas party last Monday.  It was a big hit with the ladies.  Listen to it a few times and let the song soak in.  I highly recommend Downhere’s How Many Kings Christmas album.  If you need some last minute cheer, check out How Many Kings (the album download is only $7.99 at their online store).

The digital download is only $4.99!!!  Give yourself an early McChristmas gift!

*Speaking of spiffy Christmas jams, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you how much I’m enjoying singer/songwriter Justin McRoberts’ Christmas Songs: Volume 2.  How did I acquire this album?  Who knows?  But I found it on my iTunes “holiday” selections and I love it!  I particularly dig “Born Beneath These Stars” and McRoberts’ unique take on my FAVORITE classic carol, “O Holy Night.” (You’d better do a darn good job on “O Holy Night” to impress me…and Justin did!)  Justin McRoberts isn’t just a great musician; he’s also a thoughtful blogger.  I don’t always agree with him, but I do enjoy his blog.  And harassing him on Twitter.  So, check out Christmas Songs: Volume 2 (and Volume 1.  I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure it’s good), read his blog, and harass Justin on Twitter.  He’ll love me..I mean, you,  for it.  I think he’s *TRYING* to change the holiday to “McChristmas.” Eye roll. Really, Justin, do you have to Mc-Everything?

From the National Wildlife Federation website.

*Did you ever wonder about those reindeer that supposedly FLY Santa’s sleigh across the world in just ONE night?  Well, it didn’t seem so outlandish when I was five, but these days I can’t believe I was so naive.  However, to clear up misconceptions about reindeer the National Wildlife Federation wrote a fun little piece called “Reindeer: Twelve Fascinating Facts About These Amazing Creatures.”  I learned that caribou *ARE* reindeer (which I secretly suspected all along) and they used to live in Idaho.  How ’bout that, Santa?  Not the North Pole…Idaho!!!

*The other day I shared “Amy’s Christmas Playlist” and told you that I just adore the song “His Favorite Christmas Story” by Capital Lights.  Well, between then and now, I found a short film based on the song, which is so very cute.  It has nothing to do with Baby Jesus.  It’s just a cute story.

*If I have your phone number, then you were the recipient of a very special phone call from Santa!  For those of you who want to pay me back for phone spam or just want to get in the holiday spirit of spamming all your friends and family, then head over to SendACalFromSanta.com to send a personalized phone call OR video from Santa to all  your friends.  They will just LOVE you for it!  Seriously, it’s funny.  Do it! (By the way, put in YOUR BIRTH DATE, not your child’s.  Santa wants to make sure you’re old enough to spam everyone you know…and their children.)

Have a safe and merry holiday season! Eat lots of cookies, make a wrapping paper mess, and remember, that it’s all about that little baby born in Bethlehem! (And BFF Sarah came home early from work, so I’m not sure that Christmas message is going to get done.  Sometimes I need to choose what is better–and that’s spending some quality time with my friends.)

How are you spending Christmas?  What are you doing to keep calm during the last two days of chaos?  Did you send someone a call or video from Santa? What is a Christmas album that you recommend to me? (Since I’ve been recommending so  much music to you lately!) What is your favorite Christmas cookie?  Do you like reindeer?  Would you like one as a pet?

Friday Faves: Linus’ Blanket Edition

16 Dec

Last week, I admitted that I wasn’t OK and gave you my permission to revel in your not OK-ness (not that you needed my permission).  If last week was not OK, then this week was one, uh, terrible.  I mean, wretched.  Gut-wrenching.

It was bad.

I think that’s what I like about Friday…the hope of the rest, relief, and recreation the weekend provides is just on the horizon.  We can let ourselves go, have a Pajama Day Saturday, rock out with the worship band at church on Sunday…and then have at it again.

But were weren’t made to live from weekend-to-weekend.  We weren’t even meant to live day-to-day, but rather moment-t0-moment…and in those moments, in each and every moment, we were meant to rely on God.  We can’t have faith in the past moment.  We can hope to have faith in the future moment, but we MUST live in the present moment.  Oh, there’s nothing wrong with finding happiness in the weekend!  We were also meant to hope in the future…or rather for a “future hope.”

When life is painful, moments creep by.  Moments until the pain meds kick in.  Seconds between each sickening sob.  Minutes pass like hours as we wait on God to answer our cry.  Hours are like days.

I imagine this is how the ancients felt as they studied the prophecies regarding the Messiah.  When is he coming to save his people?  Probably a question asked by many as they looked for a sign, doubting He would come as a helpless baby born into abject poverty.  They watched and watched for Emmanuel, and so many missed God in their midst because He didn’t fit their expectations of a Messiah.

I know I miss God with me all the time, especially when I let those moments pass by failing to give each and every one to Him.  Deep thoughts for a Friday. (But, who knows if I’ll roll out a Christmas post this year?  I mean, this could be the last time I’ll post for three weeks.  Who knows?)

And, with that, here are some of the things amusing me this fine week…

* “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was on ABC last night.  There was some weird elf special on after the amazingness that is vintage Charlie Brown, so I decided to abandon the television until a repeat of  “Bones” came on at 9 PM.  I love watching Linus quote the Bible, even putting aside his little blue blankie to take the Christmas musical crew about the real meaning of Christmas.  Incidentally, my pastor is a lot like Linus.  I think he has the WHOLE BIBLE memorized.  When he preaches, he uses NO NOTES and recites all the Scripture he uses from memory (OK, he does occasionally glance up at the big screen…but not often.  He *IS* a senior citizen).  It should be noted that my pastor does not use a security blanket, but I do think his Bible is super glued to his hand.  I love my pastor!  I also love Linus’ blanket, so this edition is for you, Linus.  Or, rather, your blanket…because we all need a little tangible security.

*Author Mary DeMuth isn’t just a superhero(ine) for aspiring writers who want to publish books; she’s just super in general!  I admire Mary’s honesty, wit, and transparency, which are qualities that not only shine in her memoir, Thin Places, but also on her blog.  This week, Mary wrote a great post called, “Criticism Does Not Define You.”  Oh, how we need to be reminded!  I am HORRIBLE at taking criticism, but EXCELLENT at dishing it out.  As a writer, I need to be open to criticism.  Mary’s post helps with the sting.  AND…if you sign up for her e-zine, you can get a free PDF of Mary’s e-book, Live Uncaged, which has a very beautiful cover featuring a bird! (Sadly, my Kindle only shows the cover in gray-scale.  If only I had a Kindle Fire…)  I am enjoying the challenge of reading Live Uncaged because Mary writes in a way that makes my soul flutter.

Click on image to view a bigger version.

*My friend, Eric Altson, isn’t just married to one of the coolest women on the planet (Renee), he also has some mad drawing skills.  With pencil, he sketched “The Last Supper of Childhood” (pictured above) AND gave me permission to share it with y’all.  Isn’t Eric *the* best?  He warned that I may get a cease-and-desist letter from those who hold the copyrights to the characters depicted, but I’m gonna risk it.  And it’s NOT like he’s making money off of it.  Also, please remember the Altsons in your prayers right now.

Sorry, ladies, this handsome fella’s engaged!

*Apparently, I’m just a magnet for talented people…or I just flock to them.  Whatever the case, you NEED to check out the photography of the one-and-only Justin Gifford.  I’d like to say I taught him all he knows, but I’d only be telling you the truth. (Or not.)  Since my RSS feed is jammed with 1000+ blog posts that I’m going to read “some day,” I asked Justin if I could subscribe to his blog via email.  And you know what he did?  He added an email subscription option–just for me!!!  Secretly, I think it’s only because I gave him a six-pack of Rockstar energy drinks when he watched my dogs a few years ago.  I think Justin capture the range of human emotion so expressively.


*If you’re like me (and you’re probably not), then it’s your dream to witness a singing/dancing flash mob OR be a part of a singing/dancing flash mob.  I live vicariously through the plethora of flash mob videos that are uploaded onto YouTube.  A word of warning–there are some pretty mediocre flash mob attempts.  But all-in-all, watching flash mob videos on YouTube is a great waste of a morning.  I just want to flash mob the holidays away!  The above video features one of the most advanced singing/dance routines I’ve seen.  I mean, Irish Folk Dancing?  Wow!

Well, I have some cookies to bake.  Actually, I don’t.  I just thought that was a clever way to say, “I’m ending Friday Faves now because I’m tired and I’m going to bed.  Though I probably won’t go to bed right away.  I might catch up on Facebook, read a little, and so forth.”  But I am going to bake cookies with BFF Sarah this weekend, so by the time you read this, I may very well be baking cookies.  How’s that for blatant honesty?

What’s your favorite Christmas cartoon?  Do you have a “security blanket” like Linus? (Mine’s called a “journal.”) Does your pastor memorize his whole sermon (if you have a pastor)?  Is it also your dream to be in or witness a flash mob?  If not, what is something outrageous you’d like to do?  Do you think I really taught Justin all he knows? (If  you answer “yes,” you can have a cookie from the batch I may or may not be baking at this very moment.)  Do you let criticism define you?  Do you think you could be Eric at Pictionary? How do you “miss” God in your life?

Friday Faves: OK to NOT be OK Edition

9 Dec

How are you doing?  By that I mean, how are you *really* doing?  Yesterday the receptionist at one of my doctor’s office (two appointments with doctors in one!!!) asked me this question and I was tired, tearful, and a plain ol’ mess.  I thought about saying, “OK,” which would have been a bold-faced lie.  I was clearly *NOT* OK.  I told her that I was having a rough day. She smiled sympathetically, talked to talk to me about my dogs (usually a great topic), but I wouldn’t budge.  I was not OK, and I couldn’t pull it together to have fake cheerful small talk.  Sometimes small talk just seems so, well, small. 

I needed someone pastoral to talk to, and since I don’t know the pastor at my new church that well, I decided to call my buddy, Brently, at First Pres in Bethlehem.  He was OK with me not being OK, listened to me, and then he prayed for me.  He told me that I totally need to check out the Christmas rock concert at the church next weekend and promised to give me two of the worship bands CD’s (I’m holding you to that, Brently).  Thank you, Brently!  After praying for me (over the phone, nonetheless) , I felt the Peace that surpasses all understanding–all because Brently took the time to listen to me when I was not OK.

Therefore, I want to offer a bit of advice for you when you’re not OK:

1.  You’ve heard “fake it until you make it.”   If I’m truly glum, faking it just makes it worse.  Be honest.  “Today I am not OK.” “Bad day.” “Dealing with some stuff.”  And remember, if the person asks you if you want to talk, you aren’t required to talk.  Just say, “No, thank you.” 

2.  God’s OK with you not being OK.  He longs to comfort His child.  Not being OK drives us to His arms.  The world is brutal; we need God’s comfort.  I like to journal my little heart out and read Psalms.  All of them. 

3. Talk to a safe person.  Don’t give away pieces of your heart to people who can’t be trusted with it.  Find someone who’s OK with you where you’re at and just let loose.  It’s one of the best things you can do–to find God’s peace. (If you don’t have a safe person, pray that God will provide someone…or take a risk on someone you think could be safe.  I mean, you could fall flat on your face.  That will hurt, but it’s worth risking to find that person that will point you to God.  And it’s not easy at all.)  Be wise about this, though.  Talking to the wrong person can be horribly painful.

4.  Listen to Bebo Norman, lots of Bebo Norman.  I’ve said in previous posts that Bebo Norman’s music has this incredible quality to calm me down and provide peace in many different moods.  Find your “Bebo Noman”–an artist, a book, a Bible passage, whatever, that comforts you and draws you into the heart of God, that calms your spirit, that helps you with not being OK.

I know these tips aren’t earth-shattering or anything.  They probably won’t change the world.  You probably know and utilize them already, but this is what’s on my heart.  And maybe, just maybe, there’s someone out there who needed to be reminded that it’s OK to NOT be OK as much as I did this morning.

I’m thankful to report by my NOT OK has returned to OK, thanks to the prayers of faithful friends.  I love you, guys!

Now that we’ve had our little affirmation session for the week, let’s get on to those Friday Faves, shall we?

*Last week I told you about the splediferous Jason Gray CD giveaway I’m doing here on Backseat Writer to celebrate “Remind Me Who I Am” hitting #1 on iTunes.  Apparently, you didn’t get the message, so I’m extending the giveaway a little bit.  GO ENTER THE GIVEWAY FOR AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF A WAY TO SEE IN THE DARK!!!  Even if you already own the album, enter if you know someone who NEEDS this album.  Seriously.  I want this album to go to a person who needs it.  Enter so we can make that happen.

*Earlier this week, Jenny Jones posted this video from Preston Leatherman I just had to re-share it here. The videos this character does are hilarious. Check out his version of “Footloose.”  Looks like he’s at Target, Wegman’s.  The mall.  And wearing Tom’s Shoes, which I can’t wear because I have wide feet, but I’m glad Preston can wear ’em. And getting folks to dance with him.  Preston reminds me of Sue Heck’s “boyfriend” in “The Middle.”  This just makes me smile–might be a good thing to watch on those not OK days.  You gotta give Preston Leatherman mad props for the creative promotion of his music, which I kind of like.

*’Tis the season for FREE CHRISTMAS MUSIC!  Amazon always offers free downloads (25 days of Christmas songs–a new one each and every day), but there is a plethora of Christmas selection, including MXPX’s “Punk Rawk Christmas.”  While I’ve outgrown my punkish MXPX days, maybe you haven’t!  (And if you have, there are lots of other songs to make your days be merry and bright, like Leigh Nash’s “O Holy Night!  How I adore Leigh Nash.  You can also snag Eisley’s version of the songIt’s my very favorite carol, so I can never have too many copies of it.).  Also, my favorite site for checking out new artists, NoiseTrade, has a bunch of great music, which you can get for exchanging information, telling your pals about what you’re downloading (and leave a tip if you enjoy the music, so that artists can keep doing it).  Personally, I’m enjoying Folk Angel’s three-song sampler as well as Merry Christmas, Good Night, which is a smattering of various artists, and A Child Is Born by Sojourn (though somehow I obstained Advent Songs, which I can’t find on NoiseTrade right now).

*Musician Shaun Groves wrote an excellent post on his blog called, “Fan Mail,” about how he thought he was going to save the Christian music industry, but then realized how music, even the music some disdain, has the power to change people’s lives because of God.  Great post!

*My friend, Amanda Danziger, makes indie documentaries about the plights of impoverished people.  So far, she’s talked about street kids in Africa, women living in the slums of India, and now she’s taking on the City of Brotherly Love with her latest project,The Backyard Philly Project.”  The video above explains what the project is all about, and I’d like you to consider giving to this project.  I know I will!

I have more to share, but our attention spans are so short in this day and age.  I know I’m already tired of reading this post, so have a wonderful weekend and do leave a comment because it makes me more than OK. (And you don’t have to answer all of the questions, or any of them.  I just write them to invite conversation.)

What is something you read, saw, encountered that intrigued you this week?  How do you deal with not being OK?  How’s the Christmas shopping going?  What kind of cookies are you making?  Would you dance in the mall with an iPod?  Are you ready to fall asleep from exhaustion? (I am!)

Friday Faves: Snow Globe Living Edition

2 Dec

I’ve been going back and forth on bringing back Friday Faves.  Am I ready?  What if I do it this Friday and not next Friday?  I mean, do I even have any readers left besides my mother? 

Then I thought, if you write it, they will come.

So I fooled around on Facebook for a while (yes, those games I used to think were stupid are highly addictive and somewhat entertaining), scoped out Thursday’s online deals, goofed around on Twitter, played some more Facebook games (The wheat needed to be harvested).  And here I am, staring at my computer screen thinking of all the great things I read, saw, and experienced this week.

How could I keep all this awesomeness to myself?  Why, that would be selfish!  I don’t know what’s going to happen next week or the week after or the week after, but I’m sure God does.  I’ll keep the future rightly in His hands and focus on the matter at hand—this week’s Friday Faves.

I seem to listen to a lot of music or read a lot of books—not usually at the same time, though occasionally my loves do intermingle.  Currently, I’m in a music phase and with so many exciting things happening in the industry (like the GRAMMY Award Nominations…congrats, everyone!), there is much to share.

*I can’t stop singing “Snow Globe” by Matt Wertz, even though I don’t know all (or most) of the lyrics.  Mostly, I just prance around singing, “Sometimes I wish I lived in snow globe,” mumble, and then pick it up again on the “la-la’s.”  Therefore, I need to share this song with y’all.  And, as luck would have it, Matt Wertz was kind enough to make an enchanting music video for us to enjoy together. (Amy’s note: Matt Wertz must be very secure in his masculinity to wear long-johns in that video!) 

I always wished I lived in a snow globe, and I’m glad I’m not alone.  I’m sure someone’s going to form a Facebook group about this very topic, and I’ll probably join in. But under no circumstances will I be appearing in any music videos in my PJ’s.  Some things are just private, know what I’m saying? You’ve got to be a good friend or family member to see me in my scrubby night duds. 

For a limited time, you can download “Snow Globe” along with his album 23 Places FOR FREE on NoiseTrade: GO DOWNLOAD IT!!!  And while you’re out there LEGALLY downloading music, hop over to your fave music buying site, and check out Matt’s brand spankin’ new-this-year Christmas album called…wait for it…SNOW GLOBE!!!  I only wish the album came with a FREE Matt Wertz snow globe.

But, wait, you can head over to Matt Wertz’s website and get your very own snow globe necklace for $40, complete with an 18” sterling silver chain.  Cute idea, but kind of pricey, especially since I have to assemble the mini-snow globe myself AAAND I prefer 22” chains.  Now you know what to get for the person who has everything—a snow globe necklace!

Only 5 BUCKS, baby!  Like dollars, not male deer!

*While we’re on the topic of legally purchasing music…have you checked out some of the $5 digital music downloads on Amazon lately?  The “regular” album choices for December are pretty paltry, but the special Christmas music section is great!  For ONLY five dollars, you can treat yourself to some of my favorite albums including Christmas Spirits by Straight No Chaser, Wintersong by Sarah MacLachlan, A Very Merry Christmas by Dave Barnes, Christmas by Rebecca St. James (which I got as a Christmas present in 1997.  I love this album!), and one of my most loved Christmas albums, Let It Snow Baby… Let It Reindeer by Relient K.  Since I already own this great music, I’m thinking of purchasing Mindy Smith’s My Holiday–what do you think?

Jillian Edwards = one of the many reasons I love Noise Trade!

*NoiseTrade co-founder Derek Webb (he sings, too!) wrote a tantalizing post this week about why he’d rather give his music away for free than allowing it to be streamed on Spotify.  Check out, “Giving It Away:  How Free Music Makes More Than Sense.”   I’m a habitual NoiseTrade download junkie.  I mean, what won’t I do for free music?  Plus, I can discover amazing musicians without feeling pressured by a publicist. (Darn my people-pleasing tendencies!)  In fact, I recently discovered Jillian Edwards on NoiseTrade, and I think you’ll love her!

I might wear Long-johns in a music video for a Kindle Fire…

*Because we’re all about the free, I mean, all about the music, I want to you how to get FREE MUSIC from Plumb!  Ever since Plumb released her first album when I was in high school, I’ve adored her and her music.  Well, you can download TWO Christmas songs when you like Plumb on Facebook, and then if you tell your friends about Plumb’s awesomeness, I mean, her music (and how could you not?), then you will be entered to win some cool prizes like a Kindle Fire (drool!), an iPod shuffle, Plumb-y gear, or a personalized profile pic of Tiffany holding a sign thanking you!!! (I want one of her thanking me while wearing the wings she wore while singing “Send Angels” at Creation ’97!)  Now I’ll refrain from entering this contest (probably) because I’ll blow you all out of the water with my gazillion Facebook friends.  I mean, it wouldn’t even a fair contest.  But I really, really, really want a pretty Kindle Fire, uh, I mean, the other prizes that aren’t a Kindle Fire.  Love, I mean, like Plumb on Facebook, download the songs (Plumb’s version of “What Child Is This” gave me chills.  Beautiful), and WIN [me a Kindle Fire]!

Wowser!  If I didn’t already own one of these…

*You know what makes a great Christmas present? Jason Gray’s latest album, A Way to See in the Dark!!!  Know what makes it better?  If Jason Gray personally autographed it!  Know what makes ME the best ever?!  I’m giving away a copy of that very autographed album for FREE!!!  All you have to do is enter!  Deets hereYou know you want to enter!

Welcome back, Friday Favers!  Hmm….we need to work on a better name for you guys. 

Who wouldn’t want to go sledding with an eReader?

Amy’s Update:  I just learned about another great deal…a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble for only $15 at SaveMore.com (This is my unique referral linkage, BTW.  I get $5 for every new person who signs up!)  Because I’m a first-time user, I got a $10 sign-up bonus, meaning that I can get my gift card for $5 (I think).  If not, I’m totally getting those Fandango tix (two tickets for $12, or rather $2 with my $10 bonus.  Woot!  I can see Breaking Dawn in theaters.  I mean, a mature adult movie that doesn’t involve werewolves and vampires.  Actually, your credit can only be applied to certain purchases and Fandango is not one of them.  Boo-hoo).  And in case you didn’t know, Barnes & Noble dot com has WAY cheaper books and like Amazon, they offer free shipping when on spends $25 or more. (I like to check out the after-Christmas sales at B&N to get pretty journals so I can write down my most private thoughts) Do the deal! (Take note that your gift card won’t be available until 12/12 or 12/13.)

Be honest–do you ever wish you lived in a snow globe?  Do you ever think you *do* live in a snow globe? (If so, I have a counseling degree; I  can help you.  Or at least run the peer support group!)  Would you wear an adult onesie in public, even if you were a TOTALLY famous musician like Matt Wertz?  Do you want to win a Kindle Fire?  Do you want to win ME a Kindle Fire?  Isn’t Plumb a fantastic dresser?  (If I dressed like her, I’d just look silly.)  Do you use Spotify?  NoiseTrade?  Buy a $5 Amazon album?  Breathe?  How is your Christmas shopping going thus far?  Are you thinking about getting a snow globe necklace for anyone on your list?

Friday Faves: Dealing with Bummed-Outness Edition

9 Sep

Since I’m going to a Women of Faith conference (full story) this weekend, you’d think I’d be in a great mood.  I mean, what a great opportunity to commune with the people of God, right?  Absolutely!  And I feel the need for it now more than ever.  Looking for a church in the area is taking its toll on me.  So is the pressure of leading a weekly small group.  I’m giving out, but not filling up.   The rainy weather doesn’t help.  Even the local schools are closed due to flooding.  (Is it even safe to go out there?  Should I invest in a house boat?)  Really, I’m just plain ol’ bummed out.

I don’t know what to do for this depression (and anxiety) except to walk through it and know it, too, will pass.  I spend more time praying, thinking, talking to God and less time social networking, hanging out, and uh, showering.  Hopefully, the Women of Faith weekend will kick start my spirit.  Until then, here are some “faves” that help me get through the murky times.

*Bebo Norman is my go-to guy for hard times.  Whether I’m about to have a panic attack or cry my eyes out, I pop in a Bebo album and I feel immediate relief.  It reminds me of when David played his harp for King Saul when Saul was overcome with bouts of madness.  Bebo’s music is a gentle reminder that someone’s been in the depths, made it out, and that God is still very much present.  Lately, I’ve also listened to Jason Gray and Andrew Peterson, and of course, my old stand-bys–Rich Mullins and Fernando Ortega.  I used have specific playlists on my iPod for “sad times” and “mad times” and “happy times,” but they somehow got deleted.  Another song that resonates with me is “Hold My Heart” by Tenth Avenue North.  While I enjoy artists like Tenth Avenue North and Josh Wilson, when I’m down and out, their upbeat songs feel like salt rubbed into an raging wound.

*The Book of Psalms is an inspiration for many, and when nothing else makes sense, the psalms usually do.  I particularly love Psalms 42 and 46.  I also turn to the book of Hosea, which may sound like a strange choice, until you consider this passage from Hosea 3: 19-20,

“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.”

As cliche as it sounds, the Bible is an amazing source of comfort in its prose, stories (Elijah, for one), and guidance.

*One day someone who is very dear to me gave me a copy of Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love as a present.  She told me to read it, but not all at once, just bit by bit.  So I did, and still do.  In Nouwen’s most personal work, he shares his journal entries from a time when he underwent extreme hardship (some may call it a “nervous breakdown”).  At the urging of his friends, Nouwen published this book.  I rarely read an entry without bursting into tears. I also read Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (read review), which is great for use in small groups or for personal devotions.

*It may sound silly, but online games like Gnome Town and Words With Friends (both on Facebook) provide needed distraction.  I cannot always live in the pain, focus on the hurt, feel the depression, deal with the anxiety.  So, instead, I build a world of friendly forest creatures and get my butt kicked by high school kids who know more words than me.

*Since I’m a writer, it should come as no surprise that words at a healing balm to my soul.  In his song “The Cure for Pain,” Jon Foreman sings, “So blood is fire pulsing through our veins.  We’re either writers or fools behind the reigns.  I’ve spent ten years trying to sing it all away.  But the water keeps on falling from my tries.”  Like Foreman, I keep trying to write, not sing, it all away.  Still, I keep my journal close by and consider my notebooks full of scribbles among my most treasured possessions.  One of these days, I’m going to get a nice leather or mole skin journal (usually, I get them for 50% off at Barnes & Noble or as gifts from friends).

*Dogs, not diamonds, are a girl’s best friend.  Lonely days seem a little less lonely because of my two dogs–Cassie the Peekapoo (left) and Maddy the Shih Tzu (right).  They sense my mood and cuddle with me more often when I am down.  My bird, Kylie the Cockatiel, chirps praises to God when my spirit feels faint.  Animals are truly a gift from God.  And so are friends and family, who are willing to listen, even they don’t understand or don’t know what to do.

I’m not going to apologize for my less-than-chipper mood because it is my goal to be real, rather than entertaining.  Ideally, I like to be both, but real trumps entertaining.  Pray for me and I will pray for you!

How can I be praying for you right now?  What do you do when you feel bummed out?  Do you suffer from clinical depression and/or anxiety?  What kind of pets do you have?  Do you journal and/or blog to relieve your stress?

[insert Friday Faves here]

1 Sep

It’s been a LONG week and I still haven’t heard from the President about my “issue,” so in lieu of “Friday Faves,” I’m copping out with this brand spankin’ new Centricity U video starring the amazingly awesome Andrew Peterson.  I think it’s particularly funny because Andrew is not only a singer/songwriter, but a great author as well.

Don’t you just love Centricity U?  Don’t you just love Jen Rose for sharing it with me?  What was your fave line from the video?  (So many for me!)


Friday Faves: Hurricane Irene’s A’Coming Edition

26 Aug

First, we get hit with an earthquake and now Hurricane Irene is roarin’ our way—what is going on with the East Coast?  Are we experiencing the wrath of the gods? (I say “gods” because I don’t think my Heavenly Father is exacting wrath on us.  But the fictional Greek gods would do exactly this sort of thing.  Shame on them!  That’s who I’m fakely referring to.)  Every day, my life becomes more and more like a dystopian novel—and not even a good one.  Suffice to say, if I’m washed away, this will be the last Friday Faves ever (that is, unless Jen Rose keeps it up in my memory.  She’s in Orlando.  She’s safe…for now.)

This morning, instead of putting together from Friday Faves, I’ve been dodging calls from my arch-nemesis Sallie Mae and others who are trying to take down Sallie and her henchmen AND my mom who keeps asking me if I have flashlights, bottled water, an ark (actually that was Shari’s suggestion on Twitter—that we should build an ark and load up all the pets.), and so forth.  Therefore, I’ve been monitoring the path of Irene with the intensity of a NOAA meteorologist, reading about hurricane preparedness, and of course, making sure BFF Sarah and I are stocked with all the essentials.

The first on the list of essentials—First Aid Kit (Band-Aids in two sizes and triple antibiotic—check!), bottled water (check!), flashlights…uh does the one on my keychain count?  Apparently the major retailers are out of flashlights AND flashlight batteries, so I headed to a charming local hardware store to purchase my goods.  There I am—lost female—in a hardware store full of burly men buying siding and bird seed (for real!  I guess he figures the birds gotta eat when the hurricane passes).  I wandered about the lighting section because flashlights are lighting, right?  No, no they aren’t.  I can’t even tell you what else I saw in aisle after aisle of tools and parts—it’s all blur of hardware.  Finally, I reached a counter at the back of the store where a man told me that the flashlights were in the front of the store by the batteries.

I mean, I must be a hardware store idiot because I couldn’t find flashlights OR batteries, so I asked another employee who pointed to the keys and told me the flashlights were on the other side.   Of course, why wouldn’t they be by the keys? (See, I would have put the keys next to the door knobs…)  Score!  I found the flashlights.  On my cell phone, I conferred with BFF Sarah about which lights would be best, since they didn’t have any cute lanterns (just because a natural disaster is headed our way doesn’t mean we can’t be fashionable).  I decided on TWO big red flashlights that could double as bully sticks in the case of home invasion or martial law, and two small flashlights (also red).  Now, if the lights go out I can still read.  Disaster averted.  As long as I have my books, I can survive the storm.

In other news, my mom got a dog from a friend of a friend, but I don’t think the “friend” was actually friends with her friends, more like an acquaintance, so my mom got the dog from the acquaintance of a friend.  Anyway, this little shih tzu was in pathetic shape—ignored, underweight, and didn’t even know her given name (“Jayd,” changed to “Jayden.”  We could have called her anything and she wouldn’t have known the difference.)  I’ll tell you more about Jayden next week, since hurricane coverage took over the personal story section.  Here’s a picture to hold you over until next Friday…

Now onto this week’s faves…

*Owl City unleashed a lyrics-only video for one of my fave songs off his new album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and since I haven’t mentioned Owl City in at least two weeks…I posted the video for “The Real World.”  You can also check out his new website: RealityIsALovelyPlace.com for cool merch and other reality-based products.  In other Owl City goodness, Adam Young write an exciting and informative post (complete with graphic) called “How to Tell an Octopus From A Dolphin.”  Those of you who are confused about marine biology should definitely check this one out.

*You must have been hiding under a rock if didn’t hear my happy exclamations about the Sept. 20 release of NeedToBreathe’s new album, The Reckoning.  Well, now you can pre-order the album!  I can’t because I’m broke from purchasing flashlights and batteries, but you can!  (Plus, I’m hoping for a review copy.  Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.)

*Speaking of music and breathing, singer/songwriter Jason Gray has been doing both!  JG is fast becoming a “Friday Fave” regular mention because we here at BSW just love, love, love his upcoming release, A Way to See in the Dark (a hilarious title teamed with my frenzied flashlight buying tale).  Anyway, Jason wrote a post about his song, “The Sound of Our Breathing” at The Rabbit Room called “Is the Name of God the Sound of Our Breathing?”  Honestly, I love this one because during my panic attacks I have to breath in and breath out, and it’s comforting to think I’m speaking the very name of God in my panic.  By the way, check out the video below for information on how you can get JG’s new album in retro form from the fine folks at Centricity U.

*My pal, Evangeline Denmark, wrote an adorable post about her son’s recent fromance (that’s friendship/romance) with a girl.  Here is one of my [many] fave quotes, “Why must girls be so cruel? Especially the really cool, popular ones. You know, the undercover unicorns who think they’re all that because they hang with washed-up extra-terrestrials.”  Intrigued?  Then go read the rest of “Heartbreak!  With Unicorns and Aliens” at Breathe In and Breathe Out (Hmm…maybe Evangeline needs to listen to Jason Gray’s song…)

And, honestly, that’s all I have time for because there’s a battery emergency going on in the living room (no “D” batteries to be found ANYWHERE) and our two BRAND NEW mini-handhelds don’t work!  AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!  There’s a hurricane a’coming!!!!

Are you an East Coaster?  Is Hurricane Irene going to hit you?  For those of you who have been through hurricanes, what advice do you have?  What do you think about Jason Gray’s blog post?  Are you going to buy [me]  NeedToBreathe’s new album?  Who was your first love?  Was he or she a unicorn or some otherworldly creature?

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