Monday, June 29, 2009

Musical Monday

Yesterday was my birthday. I had a really nice day, mostly just spent it resting and reading. The fam knew just what to get me!

Something I didn't know about that date until recently is that it is also the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. While I am not someone who advocates violent protests, I can understand frustration at dealing with injustice. Takes years of unjust laws and personal abuses, throw alcohol and heat into the mix, and a riot seems somewhat understandable.

The fight continues today. Tomorrow Lt. Dan Choi will be on trial for "moral and professional dereliction" under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Lt. Choi is a West Point trained soldier who is also an Arabic linguist. He came out. He had the option to resign and receive an honorable discharge or to fight. He chose to fight and tomorrow that fight continues.

In light of the beginnings of the gay rights movement and the journey that still exists, I'm going to feature "One" by U2 for my song today. If you'd like to support Lt. Choi, I'd encourage you to check out this site.

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say...

One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it's...

Too late
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Love in bloom

So I determined late last night that yesterday was the 17 year anniversary that Jason and I met. It was 1992 and I had just graduated high school. I was at Creation fest (the only one back in those days) with my family. This was the first year that there was a new "cutting edge" stage called The Fringe. I was the only one who really cared about the "harder" music, so I went to the side stage myself while my family went to lunch.

On Friday afternoon, a new band was playing called Sincerely Paul. They had a new wave kind of look to them and I thought they would probably be interesting. I had recently gone to see The Cure in Pittsburgh and they had that same kind of vibe about them. That said, I was totally unfamiliar with their music.

I arrived at the stage and sat down on my towel waiting to see them. There were a few people beside me, so I started talking to them about where they were from, how they were liking the festival and what they thought of the band. The girl who I was talking to didn't know much about the band, so she switched seats with the good looking guy beside her. He and I talked for a while before the concert and at the end of the show, we exchanged mailing addresses (we didn't know about "the internet" back then). I hoped he would write me at college. I went back to my family and joked that I had met Mr. (W)Right at the Sincerely Paul concert.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic about our meeting and Googled "Sincerely Paul." The top search is to a private concierge in London, but down just a little bit is the site for the band that used to be Sincerely Paul. They are now called Slide. I started clicking around on their site and looked at their Gallery page. They had pics there of the concert at Creation that Jason and I had attended. And even more amazingly, they had a picture of the crowd at that concert! And what is truly, crazily amazing, you can totally see Jason and me in it! Check it out!

(click to bigify)

Anyway, I think it's one of the coolest things ever that there is a picture of the first time that my husband and I met. This could be my favorite interweb discovery ever!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson

I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan, but growing up in the 80's, it was hard to avoid the King of Pop. His influence on pop music is massive. I'm sad that he was allowed to live his life without treatment for his mental illness and I pray for those who are left behind. Here's my favorite Michael Jackson song.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

Selective Cleaning

I've shared before how I'm not a very good house keeper. Here's someone else who does selective cleaning, only it's art when he does it. Very cool!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Let's Get Happy

I spent a little bit of time this morning cleaning in my basement. It's beyond hideous down there and I wanted to make it at least a little bit less so. Trust me, it's a very little bit, but it felt good to go through stuff and start to pitch stuff that is simply not worth hanging onto. I was able to post a few books to PaperBackSwap and a few old DVDs to SwappaDVD which will gain me a few more credits (yeah, I know bringing more in doesn't help, but it's fun!).

In my cleaning, I ran across a book that a friend had given me in high school called 14000 Things To Be Happy About. I dusted the cobwebs off of it, and enjoyed paging through it a bit. There were some good things in there, but it made me want to come up with my own list. So these are things that make me happy. Feel free to make your own list and share it with me, or just enjoy it on your own. Be happy!

Things that make Alise happy:
  • the smell of dough rising
  • watching my kids put on a talent show
  • figuring out what the perfect Seinfeld quote is for a given situation
  • staying up late because I can't sleep until I know how the book I'm reading ends
  • getting feedback on my blog (shameless, I know!)
  • learning something new about my husband
  • hiking with the family at Valley Falls
  • waking up in the morning before the kids are up, with no sound but the coffee pot gurgling
  • sniffing the top of a new baby's head
  • a new episode of 30 Rock
  • making love with my husband in the afternoon with the curtains open and the sun pouring into the room
  • either of the dogs curling up beside me on the couch and making that contented sound that dogs make when they intend to settle in somewhere
  • making Tina laugh
  • being so overwhelmed during worship that it's hard to keep playing the keyboard
  • watching clips of Designing Women on YouTube
  • walking barefoot in the grass after it rains
  • finishing a knitting or crochet project
  • paying for the meal of the person behind me in the drive-thru lane and watching their face when I pull away
  • getting mail (the kind delivered by a mail carrier)
  • beating a video game
  • going to a bad movie with Julia and being a little bit obnoxious
  • brushing my daughters' hair
  • having a deep discussion with someone I disagree with and coming away understanding them better
  • a new pair of shoes
  • a clear night far away from all artificial light
  • hugging
  • the soggy part at the bottom of the ice cream cone
  • playing games at my parents' house after Thanksgiving dinner
  • being with people who make me feel safe to be me
That's a start! I think I could probably make my own book of 14000 + 1 things!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Abortion Stuff

When I was growing up, my parents (and especially my mom) were very involved in the pro-life movement. I believe my first pro-life march in Washington, D.C. was when I was in 7th grade (maybe 8th -- definitely before high school). At that time and through high school, it was a very black and white issue. Abortion was bad. No ifs, ands or buts.

Fast forward to 1997. I've just graduated from college and have my first job teaching in an inner-city school. I'm in a city where I don't know anyone and have only been married for 9 months. I've known for probably a week that I'm pregnant, but kept hoping that I was mistaken. I finally take a pregnancy test and confirm that I am indeed pregnant.

I wish my first reaction when I saw those two lines had been joy, but in reality, it was fear. I was not prepared for a pregnancy and certainly not prepared for a new baby. Fortunately, by the end of the day, I was feeling much better about it and by the time I told Jason, I was absolutely thrilled at the prospect.

But I don't think I've ever forgotten my initial reaction to the circumstance. I was someone who was in a happy (if young) marriage. We had two very supportive families who were able to help us. We were getting involved in a new church and Bible study. Overall, the circumstances were pretty good for us which made it much easier for me to move from fear to excitement. Not every woman has that luxury.

That's not to say that I'm not still pro-life. I still think that in almost all instances it would be better for the woman to choose to have her baby rather than to terminate the pregnancy. As I watch my beautiful daughter growing into an amazing young woman, I have no regrets about being that young mom. But that experience has also shown me that things aren't quite as black and white as I once thought. That there may be other events that play into a woman's decision to continue or end a pregnancy.

Sadly, much of the discourse surrounding this issue is very polarized and polarizing. People on opposite sides are painted with the most extreme brushes and rather than listening, they just shout past one another. Which was why I was absolutely astounded to watch the discussion between Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee on last Thursday's show. In a time when the major "news" networks do their best to get the most extreme voices on, The Daily Show was able to have a very calm, rational discussion. If you have about 20 minutes, I would strongly suggest checking out these three videos.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Despite these men having very different opinions on the issue, they manage to have a great conversation. And in a day where conversations seem to take a back seat to emotionally charged language and one group trying to out-argue the other, this was a refreshing change. I hope that maybe "the news" will take a cue from The Daily Show and maybe encourage people to talk for a change. I think we'd all appreciate that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Musical Monday

I know it's been a few weeks for Musical Monday, but I'm back! Here's hoping that it's been worth the wait.

I've been trying to decide what I wanted to do for this week's Musical Monday, and decided to feature one of my favorite songs by one of the most influential bands in Christian worship music. Certainly there have been a number of bands and individuals that have made an impact on the face of church music, but one in particular will always stand out to me, that being Delirious. Their Cutting Edge discs lived in my cd player for months after I bought it. I dare say that very few worship leaders are unfamiliar with this band's body of work, and that is not without reason.

It seems that this year the boys are hanging it up. Certainly they deserve the rest, but I will be sad to see them go. So in honor of all they've done, I'm going to post one of my favorite songs (though not their most famous by any stretch). There's little as exciting to me as the awesomeness and majesty of God, and this song encapsulates that in a powerful way. Enjoy!

My Glorious

The world's shaking with the love of God
Great and glorious, let the whole earth sing
And all you ever do is change the old for new
People we believe that

God is bigger than the air I breathe
The world we'll leave
God will save the day and all will say
My glorious!

Clouds are breaking, heaven's come to earth
Hearts awakening let the church bells ring
And all you ever do is change the old for new
People we believe that

God is bigger than the air I breathe
The world we'll leave
God will save the day and all will say
My glorious!

My Glorious

Friday, June 19, 2009


In a comment to my last post, I was asked:
you have a theme going now with reconnecting with old friends...

what do you think has gone into driving that point home these days?

Since I don't have a lot to write about right now, I figured I'd go ahead and just answer that in a post rather than in the comments!

Right before my best friend moved, we became very intentional about spending time together. Grabbing a movie, going shopping, packing, even going to the laundromat and sorting socks! The location didn't really matter, the important thing was just hanging out. We knew that things were going to get more hectic when we lived further apart and just wanted to make the most of the time we had to spend together. Very little of what we did was for any real purpose, it was just a chance to talk about our days, chat about the kids, laugh about the latest episode of The Office. No biggie. However, it took a lot of those light, fluffy conversations to really open up the opportunity for some deeper, more difficult conversations. In the context of the silly, fun relationship, we were able to talk about some of our deeper fears, doubts, and temptations.

And I think that's part of this need I'm feeling. Not just to be able to talk about "surface" things, but to be able to dig deeper. To feel safe to share more vulnerable parts of myself and to be available to others for them to feel safe to share. But I think that requires a pretty hefty amount of relationship in the first place.

Beyond that, I want people to know that they have value to me. When my kids are feeling neglected, it's not usually because they don't have the nicest house or the coolest clothes or the newest gadgets, it's because they're not spending time with mom and dad. Certainly every now and again the "stuff" matters, but mostly, they just want to know that they matter to us. And I don't think that is limited to children. I'm sure it matters to varying degrees to different people, but I think most of us appreciate it when someone asks how we're doing and actually cares about the answer. When someone doesn't mind a second cup of coffee to talk about not only what you're doing, but what you're thinking or feeling or dreaming. And again, that kind of relationship requires time and trust.

Hope that answers the question!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Too long

Wow, it's been way too long since I've posted anything here! Yikes!

Obviously it's summertime. The kids finished school on June 5. They all move on to the next grade and had good report cards. Deborah celebrated her 11th birthday. She had a friend over to spend the night. We ended up taking them to the movies and she went to her first movie "alone." Jason and I dropped the girls at "Up" and we went to see the new Star Trek movie. The movie was awesome and I think Deborah felt very grown-up getting to see a movie with her friend without her parents in the same theater.

This summer has been a little bit different. The kids are doing a summer program with the county's Parks & Recreation department. They really seem to be enjoying that. It gets them out of the house most of the day, lets them play with kids who they're not related to, and gives me time during the day to put in a few hours at work. So far it's been working out really well for everyone. Today it's rainy, so they're staying home and chilling out around the house. I definitely don't want them to feel like they've GOT to be out of the house, so it's nice to have days to just veg out at home.

We took a trip up to PA to visit my grandmother. My folks took a trip out west for 3 weeks and she was at home during that time, so we took the kids up to visit. It was really nice to sit on her porch and enjoy some time together. We had a cook-out one night and that was fun (though Jason did have to contain himself and just build a small fire, not one that the flames could be felt 3 miles away!). My dear friend Tina came by for a visit, which was great.

In the "visiting friends" vein, I also had an opportunity to get together with some other high school friends about a month ago. It was really great. I hadn't seen two of them for more than a year, so it was great to have an opportunity to catch up and visit a bit.

That said, I have once again resolved to be a better friend. These friends that I hadn't visited in more than a year live just a few hours away. I can hop on the interstate and be at one friend's house in under 2 hours. So why did it take us so long to get together? What am I waiting for? Every time we get together we say, "We need to do this more often." So what's stopping that from happening?

I do understand that life is busy. We have jobs, families, obligations. That's okay. Those things are good and important. But I don't want to let relationships with others go by the wayside. I don't want it to be too long between interactions.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Power of the Tongue

Years ago I attended a seminar called Cleansing Streams. There were a series of videos and homework assignments and it was capped off by a weekend retreat. While there have been aspects I disagreed with theologically, I found the experience to be more positive than negative.

One of the pre-retreat messages was about words. Now I will say upfront that I disagree with the way that the message was presented. I don't think saying, "I hope I never get fat" will make someone have an eating disorder. However, I do believe that the principle that Jesus taught in Luke 6:45 holds true. Our words are a pretty direct line to our heart.

Another passage that was a cornerstone of the teaching was Proverbs 18:21. From the NLT: "The tongue can bring life or death; those who love to talk will reap the consequences."

Obviously as one who blogs (sometimes more frequently and sometimes less), I love to talk. I was one who always got in trouble for talking during class, and my favorite jobs have always been those where I can sit and talk with folks about just about anything. And I have been uncareful with my words. I've said things that have stung, both intentionally and unintentionally. I've used tones that have cut and have said things that I wish I could take back.

Yesterday a doctor that performed late-term abortions was killed in his church. I have always been pro-life, and will continue to be so. However, I have also seen a woman faced with terminating a pregnancy that was very much desired. When I worked as a waitress in Sarver before Jason and I were married, one of the other waitresses was pregnant. She was thrilled about having a little girl (she had two sons). She went in for her 20 week ultra-sound and when they were there, they discovered that her baby had only a brain stem. I will never forget the pain in V's voice as she shared with us this tragedy and letting us know that she would be scheduling an induction in the near future. This is my experience with a late-term abortion.

Would I make the same choice? I honestly don't know, and I am greatful every day that God spared me the need to make that decision. What I do know is that words like murderer or baby-killer or Nazi aren't life-affirming words.

Frank Schaeffer wrote a really powerful piece today. I think he nailed the heart of Proverbs 18:21. I know that Dr. Tiller's death stirs up strong emotions. I think that's okay. But in the midst of our strong emotions, let us remember the power of our words.
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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