Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Friday, September 22, 2006

More pictures...

In attempts to offset my teenaged picture below, I couldn't resist posting these cuties...

My favorite picture of my husband Micah when he was little, dressed like a shepherd. (He must have been part of a manger scene or something.) I hope our future children inherit his beautiful eyes:o)

My doggy eats fingers...

...she also smokes rawhides. We've done all we can, but alas...

(Somewhat embarassing) Flashbacks

My mom, moved to nostalgia by my last post, decided that I needed to post the evidence of my encounter with the Doles and (then Governor) President George W. In fact, she practically dared me to. I have accepted her challenge. (You shall see what I mean when you view the remnants of my very un-photogenic teen years below. And this is one of the better pictures. There are a few you couldn't pay me to reveal. Mom, don't get ANY ideas! Click to enlarge...thankfully for me, they're a bit blurry due to scanning!;o)
Mr. George W. Bush with Mr. and Mrs. Dole

Mr. Dole's groupies

My mom, sisters and I (we're standing in the parking garage afterwards)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Brushes with Well-known People

Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, has been garnering a lot of public attention lately, thanks to his speech to the U.N. General Assembly accusing President Bush of being "El Diablo" (The Devil). Hugo Chavez also has the sole distinction of being the one international public figure my husband has laid eyes upon in person.

Micah grew up in Venezuela, where Chavez finally achieved the presidency in 1998 (after agitating and even attempting a coup for years before that), shortly before Micah's family moved back to the US. Just like all good dictators, Chavez knows that he has to try to keep the masses subdued in order to retain power, so he makes sure that he throws them a few bones now and then. Soon after becoming president, Chavez decided to kick up his public relations efforts by gracing "the commoners" with his presence. He took car rides all over the Venezuelan countryside, to every little village and town, to let his subjects gaze upon their new, um President. And so he came to Micah's village and drove down Micah's street, and Micah watched him pass by in all his glory.

It's a good thing Micah's family left Venezuela in 2000, because it has deteriorated rapidly since Chavez took control. Crime and anti-American hatred run rampant. Though Micah was born and grew up there, it has become too unsafe for us to make a return visit, and probably will continue to be for most Americans (except for, perhaps, Cindy Sheehan) until Chavez is replaced by someone less--may I say?--"demonic"...and preferably someone who isn't best buddies with Fidel Castro.

Micah and I were talking about all this the other day after we somehow got on the subject of famous or well-known people we've either seen or met. Just for fun, here are mine:

Presidential hopeful, Bob Dole: My family attended one of his rallies and heard him speak during his candidacy. It was part of my witness American politics first hand. I've also been to a few national conventions where my dad was a delegate. (I bet you can't guess for which party!)

President George W Bush: He was our governor at the time, and on the stage with Mr. Dole at his rally.

Chelsea Clinton: I lived down the street from her when we were both at Oxford. I probably saw her about 4-5 times walking around with her boyfriend and secret service person. One time, when I was sitting on the steps of my flat, a strange guy (a stalker? a member of the paparazzi?) came up and started asking me a bunch of questions about where Chelsea lived...I told him I didn't know and ducked back inside as quickly as possible.

Michael Moore: I went to hear him speak at the Oxford Union, knowing nothing about him except that he had recently released a documentary called "Bowling for Columbine" (which I hadn't seen). He arrived an hour late, dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and ball-cap, and began his speech with no apology or reference to his lateness whatsoever. (At this point, I was thinking WHO is this guy?) He proceeded to give a very eloquent (seriously...he is impressive with words) speech about how evil and "war-mongering" President Bush is, how clueless many Americans are, and how the British and Europeans in general were the world's hope for avoiding war (it hadn't officially started at this point) and maintaining sanity. Now realize, Mr. Moore was speaking in Great Britain. Ah, how wonderful it is when our citizens go abroad spreading their love for our country! After his speech, adoring fans lined up for a booksigning. I waited in line with a friend, but when we reached Mr. Moore and he looked expectantly at me, I ignored him and averted my eyes. That's right, I snubbed him. Subtle and probably totally inneffective, but I hope it at least caused a flicker of confusion in his mind:o)

It's funny that the well-known people Micah and I have seen are all political figures. What about you? Any anecdotes to share?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Well, I've finally updated my "blogs that link here" blogroll. If I missed you, let me know! Also, if you are on my list and DON'T want to be, let me know that too:op I should once again have an email address up very soon.

One newcomer I'm especially excited to welcome to the blogosphere is my mom, Diane. She's been a wonderful helpmeet to my dad for almost 30 years, has raised three daughters, and accumulated about 17 years of experience being a homeschool teacher during our growing up years. She would protest if I portrayed her as an expert in any of these things, as she feels that she's still learning and always will be...but I believe that she has a lot of wisdom and experience to share. I look forward to drawing from it more and more if/when God blesses Micah and I with our own children to raise. (Oh...and I have to put in a plug for the cookie recipe she recently posted. It is a FANTASTIC treat for fall!)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On Choosing My Battles

The world is full of frays for saber-wavers to jump right into...and so is the blogosphere. Every now and then, when I find myself fired up about an issue and ready to blast off a post so that I can feel like I've done something, I have to restrain myself and ask the this--and should this be--my battle? As my mom used to say, "Is this the hill you want to die on?"

One battle I usually stay out of is The Battle of Boycotts. If a company, service-provider, or other public entity takes a blatant war stance against values I hold dear, I am very likely to avoid doing business with them if at all possible. But the roster of Simply Misguided Companies in a world like ours is too long for me to keep track of. If I tried to make it my mission to boycott each and every one of those, I'd have a new full-time job. I think I'm better off making it my focus to patronize companies whose values I appreciate whenever I can, and leaving the rest to sort itself out. (Although, in some cases if a large and influential company that I patronize frequently makes a misguided move, I may make an extra effort to let them know I think so.)

I believe in equality, rights and respect for women, as I do for all people. However, I cannot align myself with the feminist movement because I either disagree with or don't sense the larger importance of many of their battles. Humane treatment of women in countries like Iraq, initiatives to stop the war against girls in China...these are things I can definitely get behind. But I believe in acknowledging and respecting--even celebrating--gender differences, not blurring them or discrediting them, as many or most of the current western feminist battles seem to be fighting for.

In a societal and political sense, battles range from global warming to illegal immigration to gay marriage. Some battles seem outright worthless; some seem nice but not top priority; still others seem top priority, although they jostle with other top priorities for my attention. I don't have enough time in my life to do full justice to both the Sanctity of Life and the Importance of Preserving Family.

Within Christian conservative circles, there are many battles available, as tends to happen when a group's values largely conflict with the tide of the society in which they live. Unlike the pilgrims, we can't just go get on a boat and find another continent to live on, so we are left with the perplexing mission of deciding how to pick our battles. Should I be spending my time trying to have certain magazines banned from grocery stores? Writing blog posts about how everyone should adopt certain practices regarding dress or blasting off against people who interpret the Bible differently than I do? I think not, if for no other reason than there are more important things to spend my time on...things that will bear more fruit in the long run.

What are those fruitful things? It's a question I ask myself often. I don't always accomplish my goal of seeking for and fighting for the best, in my life, or in the blogworld...that's a cold hard fact. But I want to.

I'll leave you with just these thoughts, for now. I'd love to read any insights you might have on this.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pass on the spinach!

In case you haven't heard...a nationwide alert has been issued to avoid fresh bagged spinach! Apparently, it's recently caused outbreaks of E.Coli in eight states and at least one death has been attributed to that outbreak. Read more here.

I have a bag of spinach in my refrigerator right now that I bought a few days ago and haven't yet opened. I ALMOST opened it last night, but my husband requested a lettuce salad instead. Good thing! Guess that spinach will be visiting my trash can :o(

Monday, September 11, 2006

A change of heart

As governor of California, Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill legalizing abortions in his state. What caused him, along with many other former abortion supporters, to later become fervently prolife?

Working through the shock and pain

How did you process 9/11?

I remember gettting online and reading pages and pages of messages people from other countries had written expressing condolences and solidarity with America. I was very moved to see so much support.

I clipped pictures and quotes and made a patriotic "remembrance poster" that hung in my dorm room for most of that year. I now have that poster in my scrapbook.

I'm NOT a poet, but I was nevertheless inspired to write one a few weeks after 9/11, expressing the faith I have in America's spirit and resiliance, bolstered by the faith many of us have in God. It says in part:

Buildings may burn
Crumble and plunge
But the steel inside you
Isn't easy to touch

The sorrow still hurts you
Deep down inside
The pain sinks in deeper
As time passes by

But this shows the world
That you're strong enough to feel
Strong enough to love
To mourn and to heal

I'm STILL processing 9/11. About a month ago, Micah and went to see the movie "World Trade Center". I cried through most of it because the relationships, the pain and human struggle, and also the bravery and strength of 9/11's heroes were so movingly portrayed. I recommend the movie (though not for young children), as a vivid reminder of that day we should never forget.

Susan and family

Please be praying for Susan and family. Their story and a prayer chain started on their behalf can be found here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 2001

September 2001 brought with it two major turning points in my life. The first one should be pretty obvious, since most of us shared the life-changing experience of September 11th. (I have been wanting to write my September 11th story, and now Crystal has provided an extra dose of motivation!)

On break from college, I spent the summer of 2001 working at my dad's company. My job necessitated waking up at 4:45 am, leaving the house at about 5:45am and driving with my dad 1 hour and 15 minutes into downtown Houston to arrive at the office by 7:00am. (It's no secret to anyone that I'm NOT naturally an early morning person, so this didn't prove to be my most favorite job!)

I went through that entire summer in a sort of fog. Yes...quite literally, due to those early mornings! But also mentally and emotionally. I missed my friends and studies at college. At the same time, I was anxious about the next school year because I wasn't sure where I was headed by being there. (I had changed my major twice the previous year, and was contemplating making a third change when I returned.) Looking back now, I always knew what I wanted: to learn, to grow, to serve, to develop my writing, to travel and experience new things. And I was also secretly hoping that God might just send me a wonderful man (and soon!), because what I MOST wanted was to be a wife and a mother. But confusion had set in over the past school year when I allowed myself to indulge in worry. How could I continue the education I desired without digging myself a major financial hole? (I now wish I had been more proactive on that question instead of just sitting around worrying about it!) How could I major in my first love, English and writing, when that was NOT exactly a lucrative field? Should I pursue a lucrative field so that I could pay off the debt I was (most unfortunately!) aquiring? How could I reconcile all of this with my desire to marry and have a career inside of my home? What if that godly guy I was praying for didn't show up? Where would I be then? My fears were debilitating me, so I turned to numbness and apathy as my refuge. But I knew something needed to change.

When September 11th arrived, I was four days away from returning to school. My summer job had ended just a couple days before, and I was relishing the opportunity to sleep in before the busyness of college life absorbed me. Pulling me out of a weird, dreamy, groggy state I saw my mom's face hovering over me. She was urgently telling me I had to get up RIGHT NOW, because there was something huge happening. The world was going mad. What was she talking about? Nothing huge EVER happens. Maybe in other times and other places and in the movies, but not in Erin's life.

I stumbled downstairs and joined my mom in front of the television. I saw two skyscrapers on fire, reporters blabbering loudly in a panic, a huge gaping hole in the Pentagon. I had barely ascertained the situation when the unthinkable happened: One of the skyscrapers simply plummeted to the ground before my very eyes. My only thought was that this couldn't really be happening, because there must be people inside that building. No. No...I couldn't have just witnessed the death of thousands of people. This doesn't happen in America. It couldn't be happening.

My dad arrived home from work about noon. His building (one of the taller skyscrapers in Houston) had been evacuated. My sisters returned home early from the classes they'd been attending. We all sat in front of the television and soaked in the horror of that day until we couldn't take it anymore. Things I had never even considered were my new reality. You mean to tell me there were people called Terrorists who wanted to destroy America? Who would actually perform such a heinous massacre of our people, forfeiting their own lives in the process? Was there really such evil outside of the history books? As ignorant as it now sounds, I had NO conception of these things existing in my little world before that day.

On September 15th, I had to get on an airplane and fly back to school. My mom traveled with me, because she couldn't let me get on that plane alone. Boarding, the passengers were unusually polite and subdued. The flight attendents tried to ease our tension by greeting us as cheerfully as they could. During the entire flight: almost complete silence. But when the plane landed and eased to a stop at the gate, the entire cabin broke into loud and sustained applause.

Back at school, there was a sober air that is pretty unusual for a college environment. For days after classes begun, students who had been stranded in one place or another trickled back to campus. On the evening President Bush addressed the nation, we all gathered in the theatre to watch his speech. Current events dominated class discussions and even chapel services.

Somehow, in all this turmoil, my fog faded away. Oh sure, there were unanswered questions in my life and I'm not going to say that I didn't continue to entertain fears and confusion and to deal with my struggles and imperfections. But in an odd way, the events of September 11th served to illuminate the things in life that really matter. In one startling day, my focus was jerked away from myself and my little problems, and I was forced to look out at the angry and hurting and dying world around me. Instead of adding to my fears, September 11th resolidified my trust in God. Living in such a crazy world, who else can we turn to but Him? What other hope do we have, besides seeking Him in everything we do? After all...just LOOK at what is wrought by the world who denies the power and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Oh, that they ALL could find and know Him. I knew which side I wanted to be on. I knew Where I had to go for comfort and strength, and He didn't disappoint. He showed me that the answer was--and always is--outside of myself. It's in His hands, and His alone.

At the end of September, that month's second life-changing event took place: I met my future husband for the first time.