Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Unexpected Surprise!!

This morning I was at home working on some things when the buzzer rang. I usually cringe at this because unless I know someone is coming over, it means someone needs into the building to distribute worthless advertisements in our mailboxes. In general, I don't answer. However, this morning, the buzzing was longer than usual, so I went to the phone and picked up to see who was downstairs at the door. It was the someone from the post office. It sounded like he just needed into the building. So I let him in and went back to my work. A few minutes later our door bell rang. I was confused as to why the postman would be ringing my doorbell unless he had a package to deliver. We weren't expecting anything, so I was really surprised to open the door and see a big box with the US post office icons and color all over that box! I signed off for the package and hurriedly took it inside. Low and behold we received a surprise package from my Aunt and Uncle and cousins!!!! Yay!!

Renae is ready to dive into the package . . .

For some reason, Renae LOVES pictures of people. Both Grandpa Jordan and Nana's pictures are part of her toy box. I'm putting these pics on the fridge though . . .

Renae didn't want to wear the hat . . . but she didn't want me to wear the hat either. She's such a little woman!

The goods!!! Aunt Becky, thanks SO much for the presents! I ESPECIALLY love the Crisco as we can't really find that here. What we do have is more like hardened bacon grease . . . yeah-not so great. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Book Review Time

In my "25 Random Things About Me" post, I mentioned there were 4 books that have really influenced my world view, and my view of what an authentic relationship with Christ looks like. I decided it would be fun to get my thoughts on "paper" and share with you what I learned through these books. And honestly, I haven't been taking any pictures lately so I don't have any to post. This is my plan B when pictures are scarce. So let's begin with the first book "review" . . .

"Infidel" is an auto-biography of the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The first half of the book describes her childhood and adolescent years growing up in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Through this part of the book you learn what radical Muslim faith mixed with tribal religious faith looks like. Hirsi Ali does a great job at describing the turmoil that went on in her soul as she struggled to follow Allah as a devout Muslim woman, while longing to enjoy the things of this world.

In her 20's, Hirsi Ali escaped to Holland to flee an arranged marriage. There she eventually learned Dutch, became a Dutch citizen and attended college for the first time in her life. After some time in Holland, Hirsi Ali denounced her faith in Islam and became an Atheist. She embraced the European post-modern theology that runs rampant here. She also ran for the Dutch parliament and won. Hirsi Ali worked with Theo Van Gogh on a short film called "Submission" which created such a stir amongst radical Muslims that Van Gogh was shot one morning while riding to work in Amsterdam. Ayaan Hirsi Ali now lives under 24/7 protection.

This book revealed so many things to me about my own world view. So, what is a "world view?" This is my favorite definition:

A worldview is a theory of the world, used for living in the world. A world view is a mental model of reality — a framework of ideas & attitudes about the world, ourselves, and life, a comprehensive system of beliefs — with answers for a wide range of questions.

I grew up in a Western society, in a conservative Christian home, with a Mom and a Dad who loved me and were always present in our lives. All of these factors have influenced how I view the world, whether right or wrong.

When I looked at how Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up, I was fully able to understand that people all over the world truly do grow up with a COMPLETELY different world view. She experienced female circumcision, a mother who firmly believed in Jinn (evil spirits according to Islam) and verbally abused her and her sister constantly. Hirsi Ali grew up in a world where different tribes are known for being a certain way, and they all look down on the other tribes.

When I compare THAT life, with what I grew up . . . wow. The reason this was so eye opening was because it reminded me that we need to understand this concept: that others have a different world view than us. Neither is necessarily right or wrong. There isn't one secular world view out there that has all the perceptions of reality correct. But we do need to remember this. When we think about foreign policies, or when we think about ministering cross culturally, or when we go to the grocery store and meet someone from another country, keep in mind they probably don't see the world as you do. And that's ok. You don't need them to think like you do, and they don't need you to think like them either. What you do need to do is be willing to understand where a person is coming from. When I think about our Spanish friends here who have been told to pray to Mary, or other virgins and saints, and that by kissing a statue of a virgin they will receive material blessings, I can see that their view of the God I serve is vastly different than how I view Him. I can't assume they will see God as a loving God, because they probably don't believe he even exists.

And then I think about some of my friends from North Africa. Their concept of always saving face rather than be truthful affect how they view the world. If I ask my friend if she wants to come over to bake some cookies next week, she'll say yes-even though she has no intention of coming. Her perception of reality is that you always tell the other person what they would like to hear.

Some of these are really broad generalizations, but it's the best way I can describe the idea that people have different world views. They see the world differently. And honestly, this isn't just a cultural thing. In the states I knew people from my same town who had a very different view of reality. A persons economic status, family background and religion background all play a huge role into how a person views the world.

I highly recommend this book. If you want to expand your world view, check it out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two Spolied Girls

The big bouquet was for me . . . as was the single red rose. Renae got her own white rose with red stained tips. We were s-p-o-i-l-e-d.

Blurry version with classic cheese face . . .

Renae is done sitting still for this picture.

"Ohh I like these little white ones, Daddy!"

Someone loves his baby girl . . .

"Nana, these valentines cupcakes were AMAZING. Thank you so much!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Renae would like to say "I Love You!" to some very special people . . .

Uncle T-bone and Tarica, I'm almost as cool as you! Let's make my Mom go crazy next time we are all together!

Ethan, Kaylin, and Krystin, why do our Mom's make us pose for pictures? (I still love you Aunt Britt, and Uncle Dan, I guess you are a photo victim like your kids . . .)

Grandpa, I can't wait for you and Grandma to take me to the park soon!

Papa, my Daddy is weird sometimes. Will you come visit me so you can teach him how to not be so silly?

Hey Taylor and Addisyn, do you think we'll have to carry this many flowers at the wedding? Aunt Julie and Uncle Scott, can I have a sleep over with my cousins?

Uncle Trey, this cheese face is all for you. (Please show Aunt Kari your own version of the cheese face.)

Thank you for the Valentines Day package Nana and Grandpy! Mommy and I are making the cupcakes today!

Aunt Heather and Uncle Michael, I'm practicing my dancing skills for your wedding. Daddy is teaching me. I can't wait to see you!!!!! (Tyler-does Michael know how to dance yet?)
And this is Jesse and Renae arguing over the color of the Red ring . . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our Weekend Vacation

We took a much needed break and headed north to visit some friends for the weekend. We spent the weekend skiing and sledding in the famous Black Forest (I didn't find any crumbs from Hanzel and Gretel) and relaxing at our friend's place. It was a great break.

The view from the top of the sledding hill. Can we say beautiful?

Saturday it snowed part of the day, and Sunday, well, we got to enjoy the glorious aftermath.

Did anyone else make tunnels from the snow piles left over from the snow plows? Well this is one HUGE tunnel. There were multiple entrances into this massive man made igloo.

Before we hit the slopes. Before the bruises.

This is how we went up the first hills we skiied/snowboarded down.
I made a fool of myself THREE times as I forgot that I'm not supposed to put all of my weight on the lift thingy. The second time, I practically knocked the old man helping me over. And one time, I turned around to look at Jesse behind me, and I lost my balance and fell. It was too funny. I just skiied down half the hill that time . . .

This was us on a real lift. And at the top we got turned around and went down the other side of the mountain. It took us awhile to get back to our starting place.

This was down in one of the valleys we found while trying to ski our way back.

Us at the end of our fabulous day. It was quite an enjoyable "date day." We enjoyed laughing at each other as we fell and made fools of ourselves on the lift. (Did I mention that one time Jesse fell on the lift and hung on? He was drug on his back for about a quarter of the way up the mountain. He let go when he worried he would burn a hole in his coat.)

The girls! They did snow shoeing while we did the real stuff.

No way! I must have skiied right past them . . .

Back at the house that night, this is how we found the guys entertaining themselves. It was quite funny to listen to.

The view from the house. They live in a German "williage."

On Sunday, we stuck to sledding. We thought Renae would love it . . . If you look closely, you can see she did not.

But she did enjoy putting snow and pinecones into the sled.

Listen for the cry at the beginning . . .

"Mmmm! Pinecones!"

"Can I eat this Mom?"

Back in the "lodge" warming up.

Renae had her first taste of hot chocolate. She luuuuved it.

A German tradition is to go eat cake on Sunday afternoons.

Renae is picking for us I see . . .

That tiramisu was gooooood. And so was that trip. Ahh. Just what we needed.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Renae's 10 Random Things . . .

Hey everyone. My Mom tagged me to write 25 Random Things about myself. I told her that my attention span isn't that long, and asked if I could do 10 instead of 25. She said that was fine. Whew! So here is my list of 10 random things!! I happen to think I'm a very interesting person.

1. I love to wear my red cowboy boots. I have gotten very good at putting them on by myself. However, when the pointy part is pointing away from my body, they kind of hurt my feet. I don't know why.

2. When I lie in bed at night I'm telling my stuffed animals a story. Mom and Dad think I'm just "jabbering" but really, my animals get scared so I calm them down with a story.

3. I can actually say the words yes and no. However I choose to only say no because it's funnier. I aspire to be a stand up comedian someday

4. Reading books upside down is the best way to experience a story!

5. Everyone thinks that Uncle Trey is my favorite. But I'm just following through on a deal I signed the first day I met him. What can I say? I honor my commitments.

6. When I point at things, I'm NOT trying to tell you what it is that I'm pointing at. I'm describing why that thing does what it does, and how the physics of it work. Duh.

7. I DID hear my Mom and Dad say a fake "Yay . . ." when I was born. It's ok, I won them over. I'm a forgiving person.

8. If I could eat only one thing the rest of my life, it would be peanut butter and jelly. Or chocolate. Or juice. Hmm . . . . ok so I don't know the answer to that one.

9. When I get really nervous, I picture people wearing diapers and red cowboy boots.

10. Running around naked after my bath is my favorite thing in the world!

OK, it's my turn to tag some friends! I tag:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

25 Random Things . . . I'm Giving In

I know this is technically a Facebook thing. But since I have nothing else to blog about right now, this is where I'm putting my list. I've been tagged numerous times and I guess the peer pressure got to me. Here it goes . . .

1. I was hit by a train my senior year of high school . . . and obviously lived to tell about it. (Long story short-I was driving my brother's car to work one day in December, and I had just had a fight with my high school boyfriend. As I drove to work, I was really concentrating on the fight, and my eyes were glued to the stretch of road directly in front of me. Well about 20 feet from a railroad crossing without rails (just lights) I realized that a train was coming down the tracks to the right of me. I slammed on the breaks, the car skidded in the snow, and I finally came to a stop with the front right corner of the car on the tracks. I had just enough time to look up and see that the train was indeed going to hit the car. It did. The car got caught on the front part of the train and drug me and the car for about 10 feet before the car "let go" and swung around so the back end of the car hit the train. When the car finally came to a stop, I let out a huge a scream, frantically got out of the car and ran to the nearest house. Later, the paramedics came and I got a bandaid. That's it. Ok, so that wasn't so short.

2. The news blurb about the crash read: "Ames woman runs her car into train." When everyone else arrived on the scene, all you could see was a train blocking all points of view, and my brother's car in the middle, so it did indeed look like I ran the car into the middle of a moving train. That's not what happened. However, many family members still refuse to believe my story and make fun of me. It's one of my biggest pet peeves and I hate it when they do this. Next time they almost die I'll remember to make fun of them. So there.

3. I have 3 older brothers and I never ever wanted a sister. Seriously. Having 3 older brothers was, and still is the best.

4. I was a magicians assistant in high school for a friend of mine. He is super talented and I got to disappear behind a sheet, and reappear in a locked trunk. So cool.

5. I took piano lessons from the time I was 6 until I was 17 or 18. I am horrible with theory and sight reading, but I absolutely love playing by ear, playing with others, and writing my own music.

6. One of my songs "almost" became the theme song for the movie "Bridges of Madison County." It was filmed in Iowa and a woman who worked for the movie was at my 4th grade piano recital and talked with my parents about the idea. However, apparently you have to an agent and all of that stuff. Oh well.

7. When one hand is wet, I have to get the other hand wet, even if it didn't need cleaned. I don't know why, but the feeling of having one hand dry and one hand wet gives me the heebie jeebies.

8. Although I miss my family terribly and loved the town I grew up in, I absolutely love living in a big city. Love it.

9. I'm almost always reading a book. It's how I relax, it's how I go to bed. I love to read.

10. When we were told that I'd given birth to a girl, Jesse and I were really disappointed. I wanted them to put her back in and come out a boy. No lie. I wouldn't trade her for the world though.

11. Having a baby is not a huge emotional life experience for me. It's just something I had to do. this is weird considering I'm such a feeler . . .

12. The next time I meet an American tourist here in Spain, I'm going to pretend to be British. Just for fun.

13. Marrying Jesse was one of the biggest steps of faith I've ever made. I even woke up the morning of the wedding terrified that I was making a mistake. 4.5 years into it, we both know now that we are the perfect match for the other person. I highly recommend marrying someone who is not exactly like you so that they can help you be who God made you to be. I love my husband 100 times more than I did the day we got married.

14. I didn't start living a Grace based life until this past fall. I always knew I needed grace to get to the cross, but had never understood that I needed it everyday after that.

15. Spanish is a beautiful language and I'm so grateful that I'm getting to learn it.

16. I used to aspire to be a composer for movie scores. Turns out you have to really know the rules and theory of music to do all that. Blech. See number 5.

17. In general, I'm not a rule follower when it comes to music, cooking, sewing or doing other creative things. I look at a recipe, but then change and modify as I want. I hate to follow sewing patterns so I just make it up as I go. Don't give me music to read, just tell me what key it's in.

18. There are four books that I've read within the past 6 months that have really helped mold my worldview or have made me think about my relationship with Christ differently: Infidel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Grace Based Parenting, and The Shack.

19. I'm shallow. I want to be friends with everyone, but I don't want to have a deep relationship with everyone. However one of my top 5 strengths from Strength Finders is "Woo." Which means I'm good at winning others over, playing the crowd, and making people feel welcome in a group. So maybe it's good that I'm shallow?

20. Although I have about 5 best friends, my mom is probably the BEST.

21. Even though I never wanted a sister, when my brother married my sister-in-law Julie, I finally got one!! She is the best.

22. Growing up, all of my best friends were from other countries: Egypt, Costa Rica, and Australia. I also had friends from Nepal and China. I loved growing up in a university town.

23. I really, really, really miss Arby's. It's my favorite fast food and I could eat there once a week if I had the money and the desire to be really fat.

24. Watching movies or episodes of "The Office" is one of my favorite ways to relax.

25. My parents taught me all I know about what it means to welcome people into your home. I love having people over. It energizes me!

Ok, next up, Renae's 10 random things about herself. She's still working on that list so you'll have to wait.