3.31.2011

out like a lion.

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We've seen some pretty nice days in Nashville this month, but the last few have been frigid. Fortunately we're expecting 75° on Sunday, which is a nice 30-degree warm-up from today. Signs of spring are all around though and that makes me really happy. We went to Sam and Anne's for dinner last night, and there is a lovely tree blooming just outside their window. Around mid-January, I was convinced it would be winter forever.

This morning in the dark of 6:15 a.m., I was driving on the interstate to go to work and at one point I have 0.25 miles to move two lanes to the right for exit 209A. I've talked about this before and it is my least favorite part of the drive. I do not like merging/changing lanes in Nashville. Usually traffic is pretty light this early in the morning, but this morning all the cars in front of me were braking and all the cars behind me were pulling up on them fast, and no one would let me over! I was going to take plan B (also known as exit 209B) but I couldn't get over there either!

I pretended those drivers could hear me and (among other things) thanked them for not letting me exit, then I and continued 2.5 miles to the next exit on the north side of downtown. It was dark. The sun was not yet up and as soon as I took the ramp, I found myself in a mess of an unfamiliar construction zone. So I'm heading up the ramp toward the stop light when I look to the right and—good grief!—there goes a small narrow lane nested between two orange barrels veering south … and I realize I am now in a left-turn-only-so-you-may-only-go-north lane. Great. I continued north until I could turn around and hit 8th Ave. straight into downtown, my typical commute time doubled from 12 to 24 minutes. This is the first time I've had to resort to plan C (which I developed as plan B was passing me by) and (because I'm a leave-the-house-15-minutes-earlier-than-necessary kind of person) I still made it to work on time.


Wedding details … 101 days. I am meeting with a florist on Monday evening! She's going to see if we can put something together that fits in my budget. I was really proud of myself for making an appointment because I am finally doing tangible things.

Now if only we can figure out where to go on our honeymoon. We have free Southwest flights via Rapid Rewards (unfortunately they're under what I call the "Old Covenant" so we can't fly whenever or wherever we want) and they expire in August so we want to use them.

3.30.2011

3.28.2011

bloom.

Yesterday I made a quick trip to Home Depot and Michael's. I'm down to 103 days until the wedding. I've been trying (among dozens of other things) to think of ideas for centerpieces. I have a dozen terra cotta pots in my chicken coop from last spring, so I painted one white, added a stripe of aqua ribbon around it, and put in a little plant.


I'm not sure if I will use this as part of a centerpiece, but I like the idea of an actual plant instead of cut stems because you can keep it around afterward or pass them on to others. Obviously I could use any flower that's affordable in July. These are just what Home Depot had for cheap right now.


I love spring. I'm not sure I love planning a wedding.
Have any great ideas for centerpieces on a budget? Leave a comment!

3.27.2011

the one who suffered well.

I listened to a sermon online today from Kevin Cawley at Redeemer Fellowship in Kansas City. It was about Psalm 73:1-28 and suffering. The entire message was incredible, but what rocked me most (and left me joyfully weepy) came from three short minutes between 37:0040:16 after which Kevin pointed out that our hope should not be in doing ______ better. Fill in the blank. Put your hope in Christ. This is such good news!

Let me tell you about a friend of ours in our church network. Because I want us to hear not only is hope for us, and God’s good for us not in the absence of suffering but in the presence of God, but what we need to realize as a church is your hope will never be in suffering well. Like I don’t want us to hear this psalm and go, “Oh, man. What I need to do is just kind of be satisfied in God; I just need to have a stiff upper lip. I just need to suffer well.” Because that will kill you too.

This is a guy in our network who has planted a church just like this one. And the last couple years of his life have been hell. Absolute hell. He’s had health problems. His wife had insomnia to the point that she literally went insane and he had to instituationalize her against her wishes, with her pleading for him not to do it. He institutionalized his wife, and now he’s got to deal with his kids who are sick, and he’s sick, and a growing church. And he said, “I got to the point where like, I just realized I wasn’t suffering well. Like what had been pitched at me was, aren’t we just supposed to say, ‘Oh God, You’re my strength and you’re my portion forever’?” And he said, “That was a façade to me; I couldn’t say it anymore.”

And he hit the second round of doubt. And so he said, “I wasn’t suffering well. I’m supposed to be a pastor. I’m going to stand on the stage a preach this; if I can’t do it, what should I do?” And so he resolved to kill himself. He said, “I’m not stupid. I found a way that I could end my own life and maintain life insurance for my family.” And so he drives out in his truck on his way to do it—cleaned his house, did everything appropriate, had called his assistance and said he wouldn’t be in for the rest of the day. He’s on his way to kill himself, saying, “Why should I go on? I’m not suffering well. God, I’m not saying that you’re my portion well enough; something’s broken in me.”

And as he drives to end his life, he says God literally—in his truck—spoke to him. And said, “Dude, call somebody. Why don’t you just call and ask for help?” And he’s like, “God, I can’t. I’m ashamed.” “Just call somebody! Ask for help! Why don’t you tell them what you’re dealing with?” “I can’t, God! I’m ashamed! I’m not suffering well!”

And he said at that moment, the Spirit of God just spoke to him and said, “Don’t you understand? That’s why I sent my Son. Nobody suffers well. Your hope cannot be in you suffering well. Your hope can only be in Me suffering well on your behalf. That’s the gospel!”

So we hear this and we say, “God, you are my portion! You’re enough for me! And even when I don’t do that well, I find hope in the fact that you sent your Son because I don’t do it well. You’re enough.” I find my hope—not in how well I suffer, so that people look at me and go, “Man, how does Cawley do that? He must be really holy.”

No, the point is that none of us have anything. We don’t suffer well. Ashap didn’t suffer well, you don’t suffer well, no one suffers well. Our only hope is in finding our identity in the One who suffered well on our behalf. That is the gospel message.
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3.25.2011

sickly.

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We were supposed to have dinner with Samne tonight, but I'm sick. :-( I didn't even eat all my chocolate animal crackers today which is a big red flag because I love those things. Miles is hanging out with me while Nate goes to the store for soup. This is the second time this year I've gotten a cold (I was out a week in January). Nate thinks it's because I use hand sanitizer all the time. He's probably right.

The last couple of days in Nashville have been cold! Like 40s cold. My windows were frosted over on my car when I left this morning and I soaked them with wiper fluid because I didn't want to get out and scrape them. Nate had the day off so he got out and mow the yard before it rained.

Kansas plays tonight at 6:30. I'm not doing too great on my bracket, but 3 of my 4 final four teams are still in it, and I'm still hopeful that Kansas might pull this one out.

3.22.2011

joneses.

Lisa, Lyle, and Nate at Radnor Lake
This weekend, Nate's parents drove out from Wichita to visit us for a few days. The weather has been beautiful, and Sunday after church we went to Radnor Lake to walk the trail.

We saw some turtles, butterflies, all kinds of plants and flowers (Nate's dad knew what they were all called), and a scary looking bug that I didn't get a good look at because apparently it was on my back and I froze until Nate flicked it off. We also saw a goose that might have thought it was a flamingo.

me and Nate
After lunch, we went to the Gaylord Opryland Resort to walk around. We hadn't seen it since the flood last May; it reopened around Thanksgiving.


Nate's parents arrived Saturday night (Nate's birthday) so we went out to Peter's Sushi & Thai in Brentwood. I won't touch sushi, so I got pad thai and it was probably the best pad thai I've ever eaten. Then we came home and had some homemade strawberry cheesecake. I made it with a chocolate graham cracker crust this time. Sunday evening we grabbed pizza and watched the Kansas v. Illinois game.

Monday morning I went to work, and Nate, Lyle, and Lisa went to The Pancake Pantry for breakfast. They also went out to The Hermitage to check out Andrew Jackson's home. I got home from work and Nate took me out to the chicken coop and in the back shed was a lawnmower! Nate's dad found one on Craigslist and got it for us! I made spicy soba for dinner and we played a game called Ticket to Ride and took a walk around the neighborhood. Of course, we ended our walk with homemade milkshakes.

Great weekend. It's currently 79°F and sunny. Hello, spring. I'm so glad you're here.

cheese.

We left Nate's camera in Kansas when we were there for Christmas, but his parents brought it back this weekend. So here's a silly photo of us we missed sharing in December.

JR, Erica, Nate, me, Geoff, Mom, Mark

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3.21.2011

cheap grace.

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This morning I reported for jury duty. They pick people by drivers licenses now because people had stopped registering to vote so they wouldn't get called. I sat in the assembly room for two hours and—despite the risk of being assigned to a three-month grand jury—I was dismissed without having to sit on a jury.

Check out this commercial. It's been showing in Nashville recently. Is this a picture of the gospel? Some people might think, Well, yeah! The evidence proves that I'm a guilty sinner but God (the Judge) gives me grace—he doesn't give me what I deserve.

This is not a picture of the gospel.

1. God's grace is not cheap. God's grace is costly. Give up your life to follow Christ, but receive the only true life. Your sin is condemned, but you are justified. God's grace cost him his Son's life, and what is costly for God cannot be cheap for us.

2. God did not lower His standards. Christ satisfied His standards on the cross. A holy God did not lower the bar; I think it could not be lowered enough to match the depths of our depravity. Christ came as our perfect, spotless, sinless, innocent substitute. In the words of Shai Linne, "I still can't get this in my head: how the judge could leave the bench and go to prison instead."

3. God's grace justifies the sinner, not the sin. In the commerical, the defendant claimed, "Yeah, I'm innocent!" God doesn't give us grace because we have done nothing wrong. God gives us grace when we repent, admitting, "I am the worst sinner I know, and I deserve hell for it, but I treasure Christ as my advocate and my Savior."

"Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before....Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
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3.18.2011

dos años.

Today one of my managers was telling our new manager about me, and he mentioned that I have biked across Kansas three times, and he gave details I told him during my internship interview … two years ago! March 18-20, 2009—I made my first trip ever to Nashville. It was the end of my spring break at Kansas State University and I had an interview for an internship for a publishing company I really didn't know much about. The round trip was 23 hours, 1,375 miles, and $94 of fuel.

I was traveling alone, so on my way back to Kansas when I stopped at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, I asked a stranger to take my picture. Alyssa at age 21. I had no clue then that two days later I'd be offered the internship, which would lead to a job, which would land me in Nashville owning my first home, adopting a kitten, and getting married.

On another note, check out Jered & Katie McKenna. I almost always listen to music at work while I edit, so I'm always looking for good tunes. You can download an album for free at NoiseTrade. You won't regret it.

3.16.2011

pye.

One of Nate's friends in Louisville told him about a musician he had seen last night named Owen Pye. Owen was in Nashville tonight to play a free show at Belmont University's Curb Cafe, so Nate and I headed over there around 6 p.m. to enjoy some free tunes.


You can read more about Owen on his Web site. And check out the collection of clips from tonight below:


Be sure to catch one of his upcoming shows this spring:

Alabama: Birmingham
Arkansas: Little Rock
Georgia: Marietta, Alto, Athens, Tybee Island, Griffin
Illinois: Greenville, Chicago, Eldorado
Kansas: Emporia
Missouri: Joplin, Kansas City
Oklahoma: Tulsa
Texas: Austin
Tennessee: Cleveland, Cordova
South Carolina: Greenwood, Charleston

Live from Music City,

flyte.

The preteen team has been working really hard on a new 2-year undated curriculum for preteens. The first volume is about to go out the door and will be available this summer! We're really excited about it. Here's a promo video. Share it with your church.



Go to lifeway.com/flyte to learn more and download samples.

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3.15.2011

stroganoff.

_

Last night Sam and Anne came over, and I made beef stroganoff in the slow cooker. I was a little nervous because it was my first time making it, and Nate always talks about how awesome his mom's is. Fortunately everyone liked it and it was so easy to make. I also served up sides of green beans and broccoli, and crescent rolls. We played a few rounds of Bananagrams before calling it a night.

Nate's turning 27 on Saturday so in the next day or two I'm going to make a cheesecake. (Cheesecakes are better on the second or third day.) For some reason, every day after I finish my lunch (soup or sandwich with orange or cheese stick) I always have huge cravings for something sweet. I came across this recipe, and I like cake doughnuts, so I might have to try it. (I'm not talking like a soon-to-be bride, am I? I have my dress and I've got room to spare, so I'm not too worried.)

The forecast for the rest of the week/weekend in Nashville is mid- to upper-70s. Heck yes. I love love love turning off the heater and opening the windows.

3.10.2011

madness.



March Madness is almost upon us and I can hardly contain my excitement.
I've been sinking paper wads and Kleenex left handed all day from my desk chair.

Money!

3.09.2011

curried chicken.

Before Nate moved here, I ate cereal for dinner. But since September, I've been cooking actual meals and I love it! It's so much fun to try new recipes. Nate comes over any evening he's not working, and so far in six months there has only been one recipe that he's admitted to not liking. Usually he takes his first bite and says, "Top 10." But I'm pretty sure there are at least 30 recipes in the top 10.

Apricot preserves + 1 T. curry powder
Tonight I made orange curried chicken. I've made it once before. It's a really easy way to spice up some chicken without getting really spicy.

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a small bowl combine the marmalade, curry powder, salt and water. Mix together. Place chicken pieces, cut side down, in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon marmalade mixture over chicken.
  3. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes, spooning sauce over chicken several times. (Note: If sauce begins to stick to the baking dish, add an additional 1/4 cup water). *I use aluminum foil to keep my pan clean.
  4. Remove chicken from baking dish and skim fat off of the sauce. Serve sauce hot with the chicken.


I served the chicken over couscous and with steamed broccoli.

Money-saving tip: Kroger only had Smucker's brand orange marmalade, and the price was outrageous for the itty bitty size of jar. I followed a suggestion from the recipe ratings and substituted apricot preserves, which you can pick up at Aldi for a very affordable price. The chicken tasted great.

For dessert, I made chocolate chip cookies. Nate helped, but mostly he helped eat them. :)

Nate is all for an always-full cookie jar. He has such a sweet tooth. Two nights ago I actually had a dream that I gave him a bunch of candy and told someone next to me, "He doesn't realize it's sugar free!" But I'm pretty sure in real life Nate would notice.

Nate has declared that this particular batch is the best cookie he's ever eaten. He said, "From now on, make cookies only like this!" He's not even interested in peanut butter or snickerdoodles. I think it helped to use mini chocolate chips. It spreads the chocolate out so you get a nice ratio of chocolate to cookie.

Other things: We ended the night by watching The Karate Kid (the newer version with Jaden Smith) on Netflix. I actually stayed awake for the whole movie!

Aldi was running a special recently on tortellini so tomorrow night I'm mixing up some Italian sausage, spinach and cheese tortellini, broccoli, and alfredo sauce.

All day I had in my head that today was Thursday, so this week is taking longer than usual. Big weekend ahead ... my spring cleaning weekend! Or at least Round 1. I might clean up and move junk to the attic and then really go through everything before Nate moves in.

We're getting married in 4 MONTHS! Yikes! Woo hoo! Some awesome women have stepped up to help me with wedding planning, but it's so hard to find time and the weeks slip by so easily; I feel like I'm way behind. I think I need more weekends.

3.08.2011

mystery solved.

via hikenandhistory
If you've ever been to Nashville, you know the AT&T building, known to locals as "The Batman Building. It's the tallest building in the city, and not only do we like it because it looks cool, in the first floor lobby, there's a Chick-fil-A! All of us downtown workers can walk there for lunch on a warm, sunny day.

The last week or two (and I've noticed it during short periods in the past) there has been an interesting piece on top of the Batman building. Look closely in that picture, on the level part between the two spires. What does that look like to you?

I saw that and thought, That looks like a record arm, you know, with the little needle at the end. That's possible, Nashville being Music City and all, but why? Is this some type of publicity stunt? And why is no one talking about it? Not even my favorite Nashvillest blog mentioned it. So it must not be that important … but what is it?

My curiosity was killing me. I came up with a list of possible things it could be.
  1. Record arm for Music City publicity
  2. Random bulky structure secretly installed by Sprint to make AT&T look silly.
  3. Weather vane (It has changed positions recently.)
  4. Platform for bungee jumping
  5. Horizontal solar panels
  6. Surveillance camera
  7. Ray gun
  8. Antenna
  9. Executive skywalk
Finally, I turned to Twitter and in a matter of minutes, my curiosity was satisified:

That's cool. How in the world do they get a crane up there, though? Maybe the top of the building opens up and the crane just pops up from the inside. That'd be cool. Or maybe it's something like this … but where does it go when they're not using it? Wow, what a job. I sure hope they are paying those window washers the big bucks.

3.04.2011

balla.

Ah, the end of the week. At lunch Nate stopped to get me a large chocolate shake. Yesterday after work Nate and I played basketball. He found a court pretty close to my house which is nice because before we had been driving to a park so far south of the city we called it "that park in Alabama."


This was our first time going out to shoot hoops since the fall.
We're both pretty excited about March Madness. KU plays Missouri tomorrow on CBS.

It's hard to believe we're down to just over 4 months until the wedding! I'm trying to pull a group of women together here to help me out since I don't have family in Nashville. It's incredible how the weeks just slip by with little progress. It'll happen! In two weeks, Nate's parents are coming to visit for a few days, so we're really looking forward to it.
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