Monday, January 30, 2012

47 Random Facts - Part 1

Hi Readers! This week I am featuring 47 Random Facts on the blog because you never know when a random bit of trivia might come in handy! I have included links to where I found the information on the Internet. Today are facts 1 -24. Friday I will bring you facts 25 - 47.

1.      Tom Hanks is a distant relative of Nancy Hanks Lincoln who was the mother of Abraham Lincoln.

2.      The tallest wood frame roller coaster is the Colossus at Heide Park in Germany.

3.      The National Lacrosse League was incorporated in 1986 and played their first season in 1987.

4.      During an NLL lacrosse game if a “suffers a laceration or wound where “oozing or bleeding occurs” the official is required to suspend play at the earliest possible time.

5.      The custom of Christmas trees dates back to 15th century Livonia and 16th century Northern Germany.

6.      Notorious gangster Al Capone was born January 17, 1899. He was the 4th child of Italian immigrant parents but the first one to be conceived and born in the United States.

7.      America the Beautiful was written by Katherine Lee Bates after being overwhelmed by the view from the top of Pikes Peak.  She was teaching at Colorado College that summer and had hiked to the top of the 14,000 foot peak with a group from the school.

8.      The 47th state, New Mexico, was set to be inaugurated on January 1, 1912. However, President Taft didn’t sign the paperwork until January 6, so the official inauguration was January 15th.

9.      The United States Air Force came into being just 3 ½ years after the Wright brothers made their first powered flight.

10.  Joseph Stalin was originally studying to be a priest before he got involved in Marxism.

11.  Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was the first female surgeon in the US Army.

12.  The first mid-air collision between two aircraft was recorded as having occurred on October 3, 1910 over Milan, Italy.

13.  Catgut which is used for stringed instruments is actually made from goat or sheep intestines.

14.  The first human lobotomies were done in the 1890s.

15.  Neptune gets its blue color from methane gas.

16.  Yul Brynner’s film debut in Port of New York was his only film with his natural head of hair.

17.  Ham was the first chimpanzee that America sent to space. His name is an acronym for the lab, Holloman Aerospace Medical center, which prepared him for his trip to space.

18.  Hawaiian women were once not allowed to coconuts of bananas.

19.  WC Fields was born William Claude Dukenfield.

20.  Bing Crosby died in Madrid in 1977 after playing a round of golf.

21.  Animal crackers come in packages with a string handle because they were originally meant to be hung on a Christmas tree.

22.  LL Cool J’s nickname stands for Ladies Love Cool James.

23.  Don Knotts once had a role in the soap opera Search for Tomorrow.

24.  Lake Erie is the 11th largest lake in the world and is the warmest and most biologically productive of the Great Lakes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Three Words Describe Your Life Right Now?

A local radio station has what they call “Three Word Thursday.” They invite listeners to call in and give three words that describe their life at that exact moment in time. It is an opportunity to stop and evaluate on a micro level.

I was thinking about doing this on my Facebook to see what people would say. I haven’t done that yet, but it did cause me to think about my life right now.

So, here are my three words for right now:

Uncertainty. Anticipation. Growth.

There is a lot of uncertainty in my work life right now. Changes are coming. I am in a place of praying and waiting for God’s word on the changes.

The anticipation of what those changes mean is sometimes bad and sometimes good. Bad because I don’t like not knowing what is coming. I prefer to know and have a plan.This is a life long trait for me. I wrote about my issues with Christmas presents and waiting to open them here. Unfortunately that isn’t the way God works so I am learning to deal with the unknowing. It’s good because I believe that even when change is hard it brings growth.

I’m already seeing the growth in my life because of this. Little sprouts are coming up and that’s a good thing.

As I thought about these words and what they mean for the coming year I was reminded of the Ledges at the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower. Do you know about them?

The Ledge is a glass viewing deck that extends 4 feet outside the 103 floor observation deck. You can step out into the glass room and look straight down to the street 1,353 feet below you. Three sides, the floor and the ceiling are all 1 ½ inch thick glass. It is said that the Ledge can hold up to 3 tons.

The view must be incredible. It is a change of perspective. The thought of standing that far up on a sheet of glass that gives the illusion of standing on air gives me the willies. I have a fear of heights that is triggered even by looking at a video of the Ledge. I would, despite that fear, step out onto the Ledge and take in the view. I might put a death grip on the person nearest me, but I would do it. But I digress.

Stepping out on the Ledge requires trust that the thin layer of glass is going to support you; that you won’t plummet to the ground. And in return for that trust, you get to have a change of perspective that comes from stepping out on faith.

That’s where my three words have me right now. Standing on a thin slice of glass looking around. There is some fear, but the view is amazing and it is changing the way I think.

I would love to know, what are your three words?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Today a couple friends and I went to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. My main reason for wanting to go is that Tom Hanks stars in the movie. Do you all know how I feel about Tom Hanks? You can read about my feelings for him in this post.

I wasn’t sure what to think about the movie and I haven’t read the book. The story it tells is one that we can all relate to in some way. Oskar Schell is 9 and his father died in the World Trade Center on 09/11. He and his dad always went on expeditions to find information or lost things. So when Oskar finds a key in his dad’s closet he believes this is an expedition his dad has sent him on one last time. So he sets out to find the lock the key will open.

I tried to read the book before seeing the movie but the first chapter turned me off. It rambled and the dialogue jumbled together. After seeing the movie I understand what the author was trying to do, but I found the first chapter so disjointed I couldn’t read anymore.

Anyway, that’s just me. But one thing my friends and I talked about after movie ended was whether it is okay to make a fictional story out of a real event. One friend said it just didn’t feel right to her. Honestly, I hadn’t even considered it because as a fiction writer that’s what I do; make stories out of real life. However, I could see her point.

Another friend pointed out that we do that with pretty much all of history and by way of example cited the movie Titanic. The movie is being re-released in honor of the 100th anniversary in April 2012.

First friend agreed and pondered the possibility that maybe Extremely Loud didn’t feel comfortable because we lived through it. The event is one of the major historical events of our life time. I could see her point there also.

In some respects, as an artist, I know I use my words and stories to process things in my life. I wonder if that is why Jonathan Safran Foer wrote his story. Possibly he needed to process and try to make sense out of the tragedy.

What do you all think? Is it okay to use something like 09/11 and make a fictional account surrounding it?

Friday, January 20, 2012

What Does a Porch Swing Have to do With Your Dream?

Have you seen the CBS show Two Broke Girls? I was surprised to find that I actually enjoy this show. 

The storyline is that Caroline was a rich, spoiled girl whose dad ends up in prison and she loses pretty much everything except her horse, Chestnut.  Max is a tough girl who is working two jobs and living in an illegal sublet. For fun Max makes cupcakes.
Caroline and Max end up as roommates after Caroline gets a job at the diner where Max waitresses. Later that night Max finds Caroline sleeping on the subway (I missed part of the early shows so I’m not quite sure where the horse was during this.) Despite her seemingly uncaring attitude Max takes Caroline home so she has a place to sleep.
They begin to develop a friendship and encourage each other. When Caroline finds out about Max’s cupcakes she sets out to help Max build a business. Max in turn helps Caroline deal with life without all the perks she once had.
On this week’s episode a new neighbor moves in upstairs and changes the status quo by playing loud music. The neighbor is a Polish immigrant who is running a cleaning business and saving money to build a house by a lake in Poland. She has a porch swing in her living room.
When asked about the swing she says, “The swing is for the dream house, but why wait? Dream is now.”
This episode made me smile and was a vivid reminder to not put things off. We all have dreams, but sometimes we need to live our dreams now. Maybe we can’t have the whole lake house yet, but we can have the swing.

Why wait? Dream is now. What can you do today to bring part of your dreams to life now?

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's a Bloggy, Bloggy World

I've been in a blog fog lately. Late last year I became the moderator for the ACFW Colorado's Inkwell Blog. We just relaunched and I've been working on moving the blog, redesigning, and recruiting writers. It's been fun and I'm meeting some great people. You can check out the new blog here.

By the way, if you're a fiction writer, you should check out the American Christian Fiction Writers. They are a great group for writers.

Speaking of blogs, I am getting ready to move the mountain to WordPress. I'm getting it set up and will let you know when we get ready to move. I will be moving the URL to the new blog so that will be easy, but if you have subscribed to RSS feed you will need to redo that on the new site when I move.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Local Treasure

Right here in my community is a fine arts center. In the past I haven’t spent much time there because I’ve seen their permanent collection. Other than a room full of Spanish style religious art that fascinates me the other works are okay, but not something I need to look at each week.

However, in the last year Dad and I have taken several out of town visitors there to see special collections and I’ve realized I’ve been missing out. After one visit I wrote about Joellyn Duesberry’s art and some of the pictures that I liked. Then in October we went again and I was exposed to work of Birger Sandzen.

Birger Sandzen is a Swedish born artist who came to the United States to teach at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. He liked it so well he remained a resident of the United States until his death in 1954.

Sandzen had a special affinity for Colorado and that alone made me like him. He used a lot of pastel colors while painting the Front Range landscape including Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.

His oil paintings are thick and textured. My niece said, “He uses a lot of paint.” She’s an artist so I guess that’s a technical assessment. I was so tempted to touch the paintings and experience them through my finger tips as much as through my eyes.

My recent forays into the land of art and culture have convinced me our local fine arts center is definitely a treasure.

What local cultural treasures do you have in your area?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Does God Make us Face our Fears?

So, my friends, how do you feel about fear? I think we all have things in life that we fear and if we allow it, those fears can overwhelm us and hold us back.

Ten years ago about this time I was just beginning to face a fear that I’d had for a while but had never had to face. I was coming down to the end of a lease where I was living and I began to think about buying a house of my own.

The thought of owning a home was a little daunting. What if I lost my job and wasn’t able to make the mortgage payments? This scared me and was one of the reasons I had yet to take the plunge. Mind you, I had never involuntarily left a job, it was always my choice but the thought of this happening scared me.

By April the decision had been made. I had found my cute Little House on the Prairie (so named because the wind rolls in off the plains east of town.) I was getting ready to sign the multiple papers needed for a mortgage and by middle of May the house would be mine. Well, mine and the banks for the next 30 years.

As I moved forward with this I prayed that God would provide for the mortgage. I had a good job and I was able to comfortably meet all my obligations. I thought my prayers were just an insurance policy. I thought it was all up to me.

In May I became a homeowner and in July I found out that I was going to be laid off. Suddenly I was face-to-face with my monster and I didn’t like it.

Image: winnond/

Isn’t this just like God? At the time I couldn’t see it, but when I look back I see that this was God’s way of making me face the fear. He wanted me to see that I was afraid because some things I can’t control. He wanted me to really understand that I’m not in control to begin with. How many times had I said “God is in control?” Many, many times. God wanted those words to become a heart song.

I was finally going to have to trust that God was truly in control. I had to let go of my fear and let God do what He does best – take care of His children.

A new job came my way 9 months later. In those 9 months my previous employer allowed me to continue on as a floating employee so that I was never actually without a paycheck. It was a humble time for me as I was doing jobs that could be considered beneath my experience and education. But those jobs paid the bills and supported me.

Seven years later in my new job I was once again in a situation of losing my job. Budget cuts caused the elimination of my job position and others. I was one of 28 who went to work one day and were unemployed the next.

What are the odds of one of my greatest fears happening twice within 7 years of buying my house?

The second time was different for me. I knew that God had a plan in this job loss. I knew that things would work out in the way God had in mind. The second time was not about me. It was a bigger part of God’s plan. I wrote about that second lay-off on my friend, Cynthia’s blog and you can read more about how God worked in my family’s life through that time in my guest post "A Hard and Beautiful Year."

Yes, I believe that God sometimes forces us to face our fears so that we learn to trust Him more deeply. It is in our dependence on and trust in Him that He can use us to minister in other’s lives.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Conspiracy Theories

Hello Blog Friends! It’s finally Friday and I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the weekend. This is the first week in a while that I had to work a full week. It’s taking some getting used to again.

Today is the 6th day of the new year. How are your goals/resolutions coming along? A lot of what I’ve read on the internet says that by this time most of us have already failed at our resolutions. I prefer not to think about it as failure, because change is a process. The only failure is if you don’t try. Having said that, I’m doing okay so far with my goals.

One of the goals I made this year was to spend more time in relationship with Christ. Relationship is what it’s all about after all. We grow our friendships by spending time with one another so my goal is to be intentional about spending time with God. It’s the best way to grow our relationship.

Image: Pixomar /
The other night in my quiet time I came about this verse in Isaiah 8, verses 11 through 14.

“The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: "Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy…”

This verse just jumped off the page for me. Right now my employer (a city owned hospital) is going through a really challenging time. The city council has been evaluating bids by different companies to lease and run the hospital. This is a good thing for the hospital and for the community.

A good thing doesn’t always mean the status quo and so things will be changing, possibly by the end of the year. As it usually does in situations like this the grape vine has been flourishing. People are concerned and many theories about what may happen are scampering around the office as well as the city. It’s tough for everyone. Morale has plunged and people have begun to leave for pastures that seem more stable.

I’ll admit, I have my own theories and I have talked about them with coworkers and friends. It’s hard not to. It’s human nature. But in the midst of this God has reminded me of who’s in control. He gave me these words from Isaiah as a way of telling me to let go of the “conspiracy” theories and to trust His plan. I can’t see the full plan right now, but God is holy and because of that it’s going to be okay.

Monday, January 2, 2012

This Year I Resolve...

Welcome to 2012! A new year holds such promise. It’s not like anything really changed from yesterday to today other than the 1 changed to a 2, but so many people view the new year as a fresh start. I’m one of those people.

Even though nothing fundamental has changed, the year end seems like a logical time to re-evaluate my life and my goals. I’m not a fan of resolutions. I prefer to work with goals. It just feels like goals are more doable and concrete than resolutions.

Here’s the thing. This year, as with the last few years, I’ve wanted to finish my novel. If I had resolved to write everyday or something along those lines I would have failed in the month of January and might have thrown in the towel.

Instead, I chose to set a goal of finishing my novel by the end of the year. (I’ve since come to realize that finishing the novel is a rather nebulous goal. Does that mean just write it regardless of what the outcome is? Does it mean shopping it to agents and publishers? Or does it mean seeing it on the bookstore shelves?) When half the year had gone by and the novel wasn’t done and I had studied the craft more I made a concrete goal…

I am going to finish the first draft by the end of 2011
Oh and by the way, I managed to accomplish that goal on December 30! So for 2012 I’ve set a number of writing goals related to my novel. One is to submit the first chapter to the ACFW Genesis contest. The second is to revise the first draft to fix problems and polish it. The third is to write a proposal and have it ready to shop around by about May.

I guess I could say I resolve to do these things, but instead I say they are goals. Maybe it’s just semantics but it works for me.

What about you? Do you make resolutions?