Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cue Up Those Christmas Carols!

2:48 PM
Tis the season for lights, hot chocolate, gifts, and...cheesy Christmas music. I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas music. There have been a few Christmases where I refused to listen to any. Then some years I embrace the joyful holiday musical spirit. But lately I've been compiling my version of good Christmas tunes. Some festive, some mellow, some merry, and some thoughtful. So I thought I'd share!

First of all, it's just not Christmas without Harry Connick, Jr. He has released 3 stellar Christmas albums that are a playlist must. Also, Sufjan Stevens has a compilation of 5 Christmas CD's that have some great tracks – both Christmasy and not! I found some great hymns on there too! Last year, I fell in love with “The Hotel Cafe presents Winter Songs” album. With artists like Brandi Carlile, Sara Bareilles, KT Tunstall, and Colbie Callait, it's hard to go wrong! Some other favorite tracks include “My Grown Up Christmas List” by Kelly Clarkson, “Joy to the World” by Whitney Houston, “O Holy Night” by Mariah Carey, “Baby, It's Cold Outside” by Doris Day & Bing Crosby, “All I Want For Christmas is You” from the Love Actually Soundtrack, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" by Needtobreathe and “Happy Christmas” by John Lennon.

Some new discoveries this year have been A Fine Frenzy's “Oh, Blue Christmas” EP. The track “Red Ribbon Foxes” is by far the best, with great lyrics such as “Love doesn't come in boxes, or truth in a crowded shop”, I've had it on repeat for days. Also found “Carol of the Bells” by the Bird and the Bee! So lovely! So that's just a few of my musical holiday treats for this season.

What are some your classics? Any new finds this season?


Friday, November 27, 2009

Day of Thankfulness

3:37 PM
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. Another day of consuming ungodly amounts of turkey, watching football, and sleeping. For me, Thanksgiving has never been a favorite holiday. Maybe it's because I've lived within 10 minutes of the majority of my family for almost my whole life, and really Thanksgiving dinner feels like a regular Sunday afternoon with the fam. Or maybe it's because I don't really like turkey (or the usual Thanksgiving foods). Or maybe it's because I don't like football. All of these elements could contribute to why Thanksgiving is just not my favorite of the holidays. I realize as a believer the concept of being thankful has significance on this holiday as well. But for me, I was always under the assumption I was to be thankful to God everyday of my life, not just on days I get turkey. So Thursday came and went this week. I was thankful to be with my family, and have them all healthy and happy together. I was thankful to have a job I enjoy. I was thankful to be planning for a future on the mission field next year. And I then I was thankful the day of forced thanks was over. I did give it a good send-out though, by watching some of my favorite “Friends” Thanksgiving episodes. Here are a few of the best quotes from the 10 seasons that entertained me this past holiday...

Ross: It tastes like feet! TOW Ross Got High [Season 6]

Phoebe: Oh yeah! Happy needless-turkey-murder day. TOW the Late Thanksgiving [Season 10]

Chandler: An 80-foot inflatable dog loose over the city? How often does that happen?
Phoebe: Almost never. TOW Underdog Gets Away [Season 1]

Will (Brad Pitt): Look at her standing there with those yams. My two worst enemies, Ross: Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates. TOW the Rumor [Season 8]

Ross: Done! With time to spare.
Chandler: This might be a new world record.
Ross: You know I hate to lecture you guys but it's kind of disgraceful that a group of well-educated adults and Joey can't name all the states. Have you ever seen a map or one of those round colorful things called a globe?
Chandler: Uh Magellan, you have 46 states.
Ross: What?! That's impossible.
Joey: 46. Well who's educated now, Mr. I-forgot-ten-states? TOW Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs [Season 7]

Monica: Fine! Judge all you want to, but... (Points to Ross) Married a lesbian. (Points to Rachel) Left a man at the altar. (Points to Phoebe) Fell in love with a gay ice dancer. (Points to Joey) Threw a girl's wooden leg in a fire. (Points to the box Chandler's in) Lives in a box! TOW Chandler in a Box [Season 4]

Rachel: You're not going to tell the whole story about how your parents got divorced again, are you?
Joey: Oh come on, I want to hear it! It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without Chandler bumming us out! TOW All the Thanksgivings [Season 5]


Monday, November 9, 2009

A Story Worth Telling (& Living)

3:35 PM
I love a good book. One that is so good, that I feel compelled to read it at a stop light, a drive-thru, and basically any other free second I may have. I just finished a book that was this good. It was the new Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I have been a Miller fan for quite awhile, having read 4 out of his now 5 titles. His easy-going, laid-back writing style has captured audiences as he tells stories about spirituality, God, politics, love, church, and faith. The first book that introduced me (and many others) to Donald Miller was Blue Like Jazz. It was a simple story about his own journey of faith & spirituality, marked with his successes and failures, highs and lows. He wrote with such conviction that the book became a bestseller that would soon be transformed into a movie. The story that unfolds through A Million Miles... is Don's journey through editing his own life [Blue Like Jazz] for the movie, and the lessons he learned through it all.

Miller explains how our lives are a story. And some of us are living better stories than others. He tells about a friend who's daughter was living a bad story. Dating a troublesome boy, and making bad decisions. Her dad (Don's friend) decided to change his family's story. He decided to build an orphanage in Mexico, with his family. Together they raised the funds, visited the location, and made it happen. And their story changed. And the wayward daughter became excited about that story. And she in turn changed her own story. So many of our stories are lived through TV, movies, and even books. But those aren't real life. Instead of watching Oscar-worthy films, we should go out and live awe-inspiring lives. God has given each of us a story to live, and we can either be part of it, and listen to the great Narrator, or try and write our own, with our own human, limited scope of vision. Part of me imagined Will Ferrell's character in Stranger than Fiction while reading this book as well. In the movie, Will Ferrell learns he is a character in someone's fiction, and there is a voice narrating his actions as well. Then the voice tells him he is going to die. And the character didn't like that too much. And begins to change things and make things happen. I have always believed that life is bigger than ourselves. And so Donald Miller's concept of living out our story made complete sense to me. I loved reading about his bike ride across America for clean water in Africa. I envied his hike through the Andes to Macchu Piccu. I hurt for him when he met his dad for the first time. I laughed at his own missteps, knowing I've made the same ones. But mostly, it challenged me to think about the story I'm living. When I get to heaven, and God asks me about my life, what am I going to remember? It's easy to forget the day to day moments, and to only remember the extraordinary. So am I living a life of extraordinary moments? What kind of legacy do I want to leave for those behind me? Is it possible to leave this world a little better than how I found it? I hope so, because that's my story.