Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Chronicles, But Mostly Randomness

If you read my Thanksgiving Blog then you know that we spent a week in Texas riding bikes, eating waaaay too much food, babysitting Hannah, and watching more television in 7 days than I do in 6 months (actually, you wouldn't know that from my past past blog was about my spectacular bike crash).

I will admit that I sampled turkey (it was quite good), ate lots of sauces with meat in them, and discovered all over again that I really don't like chicken. Oh, and I ate at the Coney Island as well and couldn't resist the ham and cheese. If you've never been to Pampa, then the Coney Island Restaurant would not be a good reason to stop...but, if you grew up there, then it is an absolute must. As my brother pointed out, the food is not good--if you ate it somewhere else you would send it back. But, it's the Coney for goodness sake! A Coney (for those of you not in the know) is a hot dog loaded with onions. For $1.30 you can order this delicious piece of heart-attack on a bun. I had the vegetable stew (comes from the same pot as the stew with meat, the waitress just doesn't dip down in the pot for the meat), and the aforementioned ham and cheese. When I looked up at the huge menu posted above the kitchen, I thought the prices were the old ones from the fifties that they'd kept to keep the place quaint ("quaint" may be too fluffy a word for the Coney). My veggie soup was $1.30, my sandwich a wallet breaking $2.30. You don't go to the Coney because it tastes good.

The most riveting part of the trip was watching Hannah, of course. We took up where we left off a month ago with me giving her a bath, feeding her, laughing at her silly antics, and giving her two boxes of band aids for her birthday that she went through in record time. When David came over to see her, he left with two, I believe. She's such a funny little thing. She entertained the whole clan with interpretive dance one afternoon. My favorite story, though, is when she was bouncing on Chris's lap when she was supposed to be winding down for bedtime. Chris asked her if she had worms. She looked at him with her head cocked, got off his lap and ran into her room. She came back with a stuffed caterpillar, and in her little Chinese accented English said, "I no have worms; I have caterpillar." Gotta love her.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thorny Thanksgiving

When you think of Thanksgiving do you imagine thorn bushes and cacti? I don't usually, but this Thanksgiving I will. Chris and I brought our bikes to Amarillo/Pampa so we could enjoy the great outdoors and get some excersise in order to undo the damage of excessive amounts of food. Palo Duro canyon is only 20 minutes away from my grandparent's house, and is incredibly fun to ride in. We planned on riding Saturday and leaving for Pampa on Sunday morning, but we had so much fun that we thought we'd ride again on Sunday. Perhaps I should have listened to my protesting legs and back right away, but instead Chris and I started out on the most technical part of the trail we'd done the day before. I wasn't riding all that well, or paying much attention to the trail when I decided it was time to hug a thorn bush. It wasn't in a hugging mood, and left me with a nicely scratched leg. All was well after my first crash...a couple scratches are no big deal. Just part of the adventure. We finished the end of the difficult trail and coasted down the easy one...until I spotted some cactus and decided I should land smack on top of one. Fortunately I was wearing gloves (which are now ruined) and they took the brunt of most of the needles on my hands. My left arm is a different story. Chris spent 30 minutes pulling all the needles out. Every night he gets to dig out the imbedded wood with a needle and tweezers. Hannah has very kindly lent me several Sponge Bob and Hello Kitty band-aids. I now have three on my body.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Weekend Overview

For my birthday, Chris bought me a mountain bike. He already had one, so after church yesterday, we had to try it out. It is a very challenging sport. And, somewhat frightening, but also very fun. I can see that I'm going to have new scars to add to my legs in the near future. The bike ride was a success, however, we met some people going up the trail who had a miniature pincher. Slightly smaller than Trudy. As we were coming back down the mountain, the woman who owned the pincher asked if we'd seen it. Right after we saw them on the way up, she had lost it. We continued our bike ride, but the woman and her friends were still looking for the little dog. I know how I'd feel if I had lost Trudy in the woods, so we offered to help find him. Chris took his bike and did the loop, and I walked with the woman calling out for Max. Unfortunately, we didn't find the dog. So, unless she came back at night to look and discovered him, he is gone.
Other than that, the day was a success. I had a great birthday weekend. My mom baked a lemon coconut cake which was delicious, Chris took me out to the Artichoke Cafe where I had pumpkin ravioli with toasted hazelnuts (yummy), and I woke up the next morning feeling hungover from all the food. We even went to the library sale and stocked up on books (not because we are short in supply).
It looks like we are headed to Pampa this next weekend to possibly care for Hannah again. It will be nice to have Chris along. We might even be preparing Thanksgiving dinner for Chris's family. Their first vegetarian Thanksgiving. I guess it'll be tofurkey or something delicious like that!

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Different Kind of Sermon

We've been looking for a church to attend, sometimes more diligently than others and sometimes just because I thought that's what I was supposed to be doing. We've attended a couple of churches since moving here, and although the folks were very friendly at each one, Chris and I couldn't seem to muster up enough enthusiasm to attend a second time. Until a month ago. We attended a church near us called Edgewood Believer's Fellowship. I told Chris that I really missed going to church, and it would be nice to meet more people. So he took the liberty of searching online for a place near us to attend. And wonder of wonders: we went to a service that we both loved.
On our first visit, I was a little nervous and told Chris that if the church was small, he was to keep on driving because I didn't want to go. We both thought that the large, recently built church we'd seen from the road was EBF. Of course that was not was the small building just down the road that we'd never noticed. Despite my reservations about the church being even smaller than I'd imagined, we went in anyway.
We were greeted by friendly people who pointed the way towards the sanctuary (not that you could really miss it). I would guess the attendance to be around 50. Quite different from the church we joined while living in Dallas called Gateway which had a cast of thousands.
The worship was good, I enjoyed the songs they played, but the pastor was fantastic. It's been a month since we went the first time (both of us being out of town), and although I recall portions of the sermon, I remember being enthralled with the idea the pastor presented of people coming to God because of His love, not because Christians tell the unsaved they will go to hell. Maybe I'm unique in that I've heard a fair share of hellfire and brimstone messages in my life, so perhaps the message of grace should not be such a surprising concept to me, but I thought it profound. The pastor, Bryan Hackett spoke intelligently, yet simply, and much to Chris's delight, used an example from quantum physics (I just found their website and learned that B. Hackett has a degree in physics).
This Sunday we attended again, and I told myself not to expect the same positive reaction as last time, but the 2nd time was even better! The pastor had recently returned from a conference in Seattle called "Off the Map" ( It is an organization that encourages open dialogue between Christians and atheists in an attempt to understand each other more without the pressure of trying to "convert" each other. I was on the edge of my seat as the pastor relayed his experiences in Seattle. An especially interesting video he showed was of Jim Henderson and Matt Casper. A little background: Matt Casper (an atheist) offered his soul up for sale on eBay to the highest bidder. For every $10 he received, he would attend a certain number of hours at any given church. Jim Henderson was the highest bidder and asked that Matt blog about his experiences at the churches he visited. He wrote a book about his visits which, according to the pastor, were very eye-opening.
The pastor was still processing all that he had heard and seen (the conference consisted of speakers from both sides of the board). He stressed his desire to make church more like a conversation rather than the congregation being preached to, and he promised that he would test every religious tradition against the Word of God. Chris and I have never been more fascinated, more challenged, or more inspired. We came home from the service debating what we had heard for the next hour. And then again before bedtime. The pastor even asked the question: if in the Bible, Jesus told the rich man to sell everything he owned and come follow him, why aren't we doing that? I almost fell out of my chair! This isn't the prosperity message that we all know and love and want to cling to. Chris summed it up nicely on the way home and said that this message was the kind he'd waited his whole life to hear. We can't wait to go back.