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What a week so far. Monday: staff meeting, getting the week off the ground, turning in my latest article, prepping for Freshman Blessing. Yesterday: Freshman Blessing, all day (well, 9-11 a.m., 1-7 p.m….yeah, pretty much all day). Today: Faculty meeting, tons of leftover lasagne, recovering from Freshman Blessing, and getting about 19 other things thrown at me. (And a much-needed break to visit Cole in the Writing Center.) And a birthday dinner with my darling sister Betsy, who is 22 today! Good times.

I am proud of this year’s Freshman Blessing. Traditionally it’s been a 30-minute pizza lunch in the Bible building rotunda, during which all the faculty try to meet all the freshman they haven’t met/taught yet. It’s been rushed, chaotic, confusing and not very meaningful. This year, we tried something different: a “field trip” out to the Abilene State School, which has a rustic, charming lodge with a fireplace and a nice big kitchen. The weather was so gorgeous that we didn’t need the fireplace, but we did serve snacks and dinner, and we played games and worshipped together, and had the faculty rotate among groups of students so they could spend a little time with everyone. And we all clumped on the porch for a BIG group picture at the end. Loads of fun. And very well-executed, if I do say so myself. 🙂

Sing Song countdowns (there are several)…

  • First performance: 7 days (next Wednesday, in ACU chapel)
  • First full-length show/Bethany’s arrival: 8 days
  • Families’ arrival: 10 days
  • Closing show: 10 days
  • Collapsing/celebrating/mourning the fact that it’s over: 11 days

J is exhausted, stressed out, busier than he’s ever been in his life, and yet quite exhilarated about the whole thing. I am exhausted and stressed out and missing him, yet excited to see him perform, and SO proud. Please pray for us…this week has been the roughest yet.

(Anne, I can’t quite fully explain Sing Song…but see my posts from Jan. and Feb. 2006 for my musings on it – there are several.) 🙂

*title from “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel

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What time is it?

Four years ago this month, for a period of six solid weeks, there was one answer to nearly every question you could ask me. The questions ranged from “Why isn’t your homework done?” and “Why are you so tired?” to “Where on earth did you learn those strange lyrics to popular songs?,” “Why are you spray-painting bow ties with silver glitter on the Gardner dorm lawn?” and “Can you explain those strange hand motions you’re doing in your sleep?” The answer, of course, was two words: Sing Song.

The season is here again. The answer is the same, though the questions are different, at least for me. They include “Why don’t you ever see Jeremiah?” “Why is Betsy walking around mumbling about ‘being the ocean’?” “Why are there groups of students singing and dancing in random classrooms around campus every night of the week?” “Why is Bethany coming to Abilene on Feb. 16, even if the plane fare depletes her bank account?” And perhaps most importantly, “What will be the occasion of your family meeting Jeremiah’s for the first time?”

Ah, Sing Song. T minus 15 days until performance #1 (the Thursday night show, technically a dress rehearsal but also a performance for faculty and staff). Two more weeks. We can get through two more weeks, right? Two weeks of him coming late to Lifeteam, sleeping just enough to get by, living on granola bars and cheese crackers and smoothies before rehearsals, and trying to fit in classes, choir, working at Highland and in the chapel office, AND rehearsing 4 or more hours every night. My dear friend Frankie at Lifeteam keeps telling both of us, “You can do anything for one more week!” Oh, I hope she’s right. I need to hear it every time she tells us so.

Come Feb. 17, Jeremiah will have his life back, and I will have him back, and we’ll both be grateful. For now, it’s a whirlwind of singing and dancing and memorizing and bonding and hectic fun. I miss him like crazy, but I know it’s an experience he’ll never forget. After all, there’s truly nothing like it. And come Feb. 15-17, I will be the proudest girlfriend in Abilene.

“Life is a highway…I want to ride it all night long…”**
(**from the opener to this year’s show)

(*title from the “get pumped” routine created by the guys in our freshman class act, which involved a large group of them standing in a circle, jumping up and down, and yelling, “What time is it? SING SONG TIME!”)

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what I love on Friday

It’s FRIDAY, and I love Fridays. Especially after funky first weeks, such as this one has been. But there are lots of things I love today…

Today I love my cute polka-dotted rain boots, my cozy purple sweater, a bowl of leftover chicken carbonara pasta (Jacque’s famous recipe) at lunch, topped off by two oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. And lots of laughter with Olivia and Karissa, my two precious student workers.

I also love online talks with Candy, dark chocolate passed out by Tony Ash (the “candy man” in the DBMM), Glenn’s sense of humor when he gets just a little frazzled, and the way JamisonPriest’s cover of “Ten Degrees and Getting Colder” won’t leave my head.

Most of all, I loved Friday Praise Day – sitting in the back of Moody with Sarah Gomez and listening to a heartfelt, passionate, articulate and poignant apology from Matt Worthington. This boy has a heart for racial reconciliation like few others I’ve ever known. I have so much respect for him, and I applaud his efforts. Check out his blog to read the apology. And after that, there was some equally heartfelt praise and worship led by Jeremiah and the Come As You Are team – eight of my favourite people in the world.

It came to be 5:00 before I knew it – time to tramp home and then tuck in for the weekend. Stay warm, everyone. Cheers!

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Today’s quote from Lauren Winner, distinguished author and speaker:

“If you want a neighbor to love, get married. If you want to welcome a stranger, have a kid.”

This actually came in the middle of a fascinating and very insightful discussion of marriage as a way to love one’s neighbor, and how to create community (other than with one’s spouse) as a married person. Lauren Winner has been on campus at ACU for the past two days, and I’ve heard her speak four times in the past thirty-six hours: at chapel on Thursday, in a forum Thursday night, in a class this morning (where the above comment came from), and at a luncheon for female faculty/staff members today. According to my roommate, Bethany, I’m becoming an addict – though I think I already qualified as one, since I’ve read all three of Lauren’s books and have been talking them up to people for the past year.

Lauren has a fascinating story – in terms of faith, sexuality, personhood and social consciousness. She was raised by divorced parents, a Jewish father and a “lapsed” (her word) Baptist mother, and became an Orthodox Jew in college when she was attending Columbia University in New York. She became a Christian when she moved to Cambridge, England, for graduate school, and has since written three books. Girl Meets God is her first book, a memoir of her personal and spiritual journey; Mudhouse Sabbath is a meditation on eleven spiritual practices that Jews “do better” than Christians, as she says, although both Jews and Christians practice the discplines described, such as Sabbath, prayer, candle-lighting, fasting and mourning. Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity is a deeply insightful, thought-provoking work on sexuality and how we (as Christians and as people) should think more intentionally about being embodied and sexual people. In it, she dissects lies the church and our culture tell about sexuality and chastity, and shares some of her own sexual struggles and mistakes (she had a lot of premarital sex before she married her husband, Griff, and is candid about the realities and consequences thereof).

Lauren is striking to me in that she is never only thinking about the issue at hand. She’s never just thinking about sex, or just talking about spiritual practices, or just telling her life story. There’s always a larger aim, a bigger story, a deeper context behind her words. She is interested in how people are formed spiritually and how we form our children, our spouses, the people in our churches, and generally each other – by the ways we think about sex and money and spirituality and all those things.

Hearing an author speak in person is also a quite different experience from reading his or her books. Now that I’ve heard Lauren’s voice, seen her constant, almost nervous hand gestures (though she’s very collected onstage) and her ornately decorated cat’s-eye glasses (which somehow work on her), and laughed at her dry, hilarious humor, I will see her books in a different light. I’ll still respect them and learn from them, no doubt – but it will be richer because I now know a little more of the person she is.

More about her books may come later. For now, you can read about them on her website here.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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“I’m singin’ in the rain…”

Or I will be about 8:00 tonight, when I go with my parents, Jeremiah, Betsy and her Jake to see ACU’s Homecoming musical at the Civic Center. Jason Kennedy as Don Lockwood; Jessica Patterson as Kathy Selden; Ryan Massie as (my favourite) Cosmo Brown…I can’t wait!

It’s Homecoming and that means a parade full of tired-eyed pledges with brightly painted faces, a game with stands full of purple-clad fans, a Homecoming Queen’s Court (including Betsy!) full of nervous expectancy, a flat full of people (as we cook dinner there tonight and Kara spends the weekend with me), and two days full of ACU pride. And I’m wearing a new plum-coloured sweater to boot. Go Wildcats! I do love my alma mater. Happy Homecoming, everyone!

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This is my last post from my little eMac in my little corner office in Creative Services. Tomorrow I move on to the larger and much more chaotic realm of the Bible department…away from this small outpost of ACU (we’re technically across the street from campus) that has been my office home for more than a year and a half. It’s been new, different, exciting, confusing, dull and absolutely out of control at various times…but gradually I’ve carved out a niche for myself over here. I was the first student proofreader they hired, and I dare say I’ve helped shape what the job will be in the future. And I also can say I have done the job well.

Today at a good-bye lunch, for me and for two of our designers who were also leaving, Ron presented us with plaques detailing things the office crew likes about all of us. Apparently my co-workers appreciate my extensive vocabulary, my “ability to remain calm and focused in the midst of any deadline,” my stories about family trips, my “minor in ACU historical trivia,” the “speed with which I can turn a grammatical disaster into smooth-as-silk copy,” and, of course, my “good taste in fellow workers.” 🙂 So, in return, I’d like to present a few things I like about them:

-Celia’s laugh, which can be heard all over the office when she really thinks something’s funny

-Ron’s incredible eye for detail, which has shamed me, impressed me and sharpened me time and time again

-Peggy’s caring (but never nosy) inquiries into all the student workers’ lives…we’re like a set of surrogate grandchildren to her. Oh, and the Rice Krispie Treats she makes us for birthdays. Yummmmm.

-Amber Lee’s sweet spirit and her constant “bless yous!” when I sneeze

-Greg’s jokes at jobs meetings and the laugh lines that crinkle around his eyes

-Ken’s rooster-crow cell phone ring, and his jokes at jobs meetings

-Paul’s sense of humor, which is as crazy as his curly black hair

-The well-stocked candy dish on the front desk

-Multicolored Sharpies in all sizes

-The chance to work on amaaaazing publications such as four issues of ACU Today, The ACU Century, and Dr. John’s Perpetual Calendar

-Time to blog, balance my checkbook, send novella-length emails to lots of those I love, chat to Val on Gmail for hours, and generally amuse myself when I wasn’t working 🙂

-The chance to learn SO MUCH, not just about editing, but about people and office work and relationships and life, from the amazing people I worked with. So I raise my glass of free bottled water for the last time. Here’s to you, CS. What an amazing student/summer job you were. I’ll see you on the other side…of campus, that is. 🙂 Thanks again. And call me if those commas get too unruly!

Lots of love,

Katie (a grateful proofreader, who has ink-stained fingers and lots of love in her heart)

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Well, I promised wedding stories and pictures, so here goes…

First of all, a prayer of thankfulness that I survived three straight days of dresses, curling irons, cameras, nail polish, people running around with dishes and food and fake plants and small children (just kidding) in their hands, way too many conversations about marriage, and getting lost in Austin repeatedly. I-35 was our worst enemy. Just when we thought we were going north, we’d be heading south and have to get off and turn around. Fortunately, Highway 183 was my friend. And darling Kayla Wilcoxson, an Oxford friend whom I hadn’t seen since December, was my navigator and stress reliever. She rode all over town with me and helped me breathe when things got a little too frantic.

Surprises of the weekend:

-The vast amount of detail that goes into a wedding. I knew this in a vague, abstract way, but never in a concrete and real way until now. Holy cow. From centerpieces to cake to punch recipes to wearing a button-down shirt while getting your hair done, that’s a heck of a lot of detail.

-Groomsman David’s plane getting stuck in D.C. due to rainy weather and his arrival a full day late…in the middle of the rehearsal, just in time to take his place escorting Rachel (the groom’s sister) down the aisle!

-Seth (the groom) getting stuck in traffic and making it to the rehearsal an hour late…surprisingly, no one was really stressed about that. It’s Austin. Traffic happens.

-The letter Seth wrote to Charity from the point of view of his mom, who died in a car wreck just before they started dating. Precious. We all cried, but it was so sweet and wonderful.

-Jamie coming into town in time to make the communion bread for the ceremony…her famous, oaty “waybread” which we all love.

-The unbeLIEVEable confusion of highways and construction that is Austin. (Did I mention we got lost a few times?) Somehow I don’t remember it being THAT bad.

-A stuffed “ghost” that gave us a scare on Thursday night…it was in a box under one of the beds and would periodically shout, “Happy Halloween!” when Kimi shifted her weight and pressed on it. We didn’t know what it was…and we searched the WHOLE room before discovering it. Scary!

Things we created this weekend:

-Mass chaos in a huge late-sixties house in south central Austin, where all six bridesmaids, plus the bride and half the house party and various girlie guests, crashed for the weekend. We seriously had a revolving door. Out of control…but fun. (It also turns out that a scene from Dazed and Confused was filmed in the back bedroom…where they smoked weed…but it wasn’t real weed. Whatever.)

-Our bouquets, at literally the eleventh hour…sitting around the dining room table in said huge house at midnight on Friday, wrapping silk flowers with floral tape and ribbon, and listening to Jamie spill her guts about her handsome new fiance Geoff.

-Fruit trays, cheese trays, meat trays and mint trays – Jodi, the resident wedding guru, supervised all that jazz. And it looked great and tasted even better, which, I suppose, was the point.

-Fabulous hairstyles that involved hairspray, bobby pins, clips, rollers, silk flowers and lots of heat…labor intensive, but we looked pretty!

-Chocolate chess pieces to go on top of the groom’s cake, which was a chocolate chessboard…Seth (the groom) and Reno (an usher) made them the night before, and they were perfect. (I ate one of the knights…yummy.)

-TONS of pictures, at every possible moment, in every location, all weekend long. Here are a few of my favorites:

The bridesmaids and Charity in the church, after the rehearsal dinner (don’t we look pretty?)

All seven of us IN the giant cactus that graced the hall of the church (we heard it shoots confetti, but we never did see that happen – too bad).

Blowing a kiss to the camera during a LONG pre-wedding photo session

He DOES exist! Jeremiah looking studly and suave…this is the fourth wedding he’s been in this year, so he’s got the groomsman look down to an art.

My favorite handsome groomsman and me…awwww.

That’s the roundup…along with pictorial proof that I do in fact have a boyfriend, and a handsome one at that. Yes, Happy, there IS a Jeremiah…and I, for one, am quite glad about it. 🙂

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EDIT: I tried to post this post on Friday, but the Macs at work wouldn’t let me post. So I’m posting this post now…all right, all right. Anyway, a flashback from Friday:

This is the first “normal” workday I’ve had all week. Strange to say that on a Friday. I’m sitting in my office, iTunes playing on the computer, shivering in the draught from the air conditioning vent above, busily compiling a MASSIVE database of ACU Today stories, from the present to its origins…somewhere in the seventies. Similar to my very first assignment at Creative Services, when I filled in literally hundreds of holes in the database for Dr. John’s Perpetual Calendar. I spent a lot more time in the file room then than I’m doing now, though.

Last week, work was my life. I spent 35 hours at the office, frantically proofing, marking changes, updating files, writing copy, checking facts, and generally trying to make Ron’s life easier during the last-minute rush for this issue of ACU Today. You’d think we’d have a better system for this by now…but the last week before deadline is always the craziest.

This week, however, my life has interrupted my work…I’ve spent as little as 45 minutes in a day this week at the office. Monday brought a funeral at Highland and then a lovely lunch with the Lifeteam ladies (and Ethan). Tuesday was moving day for Bethany (see previous post), and I spent most of the afternoon running errands. I was here early on Wednesday morning – but left town at 3:00 for our blogger rendezvous at Humphrey Pete’s in Early, Texas. (See Beverly’s blog for a summary of that supper…http://bevmann.blogspot.com.)

Yesterday I came to work at 10:30, then took a lunch that lasted nearly three hours as Bethany and I cleaned out the fridge and freezer and finished loading her car while also loading mine. She walked around our house one last time, and we let ourselves out and she locked the door. She followed me to Betsy’s to help me unload stuff, and then she left one last time. I told her, “This isn’t goodbye…it’s ‘See you in two weeks,'” which is true, but at the same time it’s also the end of an era. She’s the best roommate I’ve ever had. I will miss her.

Last night was another moving adventure as Calvin and Lorin helped me haul the rest of my stuff out…a few sticks of furniture, a TV and stereo, some clothes, and not much else. I am now installed in Betsy’s house for the summer, with new roommates Leigh Anne and Sarah. Crazy transition times. But it’s nice to be in a place where I can buy groceries again.

Maybe next week will bring a happier balance between life and work. The pendulum has certainly been swinging…it’s about time to settle down for a little while.

Back to work…I’ve got at least 25 years to go before the end of this monster is in sight. (That’s at least 75 issues, for you uninitiated…probably more.) Happy Friday! And happy Memorial Day weekend!

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I’m moving. Tomorrow. Out of the little house I’ve called home for almost two years. We’ve been cleaning, sorting, boxing stuff up and moving it to various locations for a week, but it’s finally starting to hit me. It’s ending. And that makes me very sad.

Bethany found the house while Joy and I were in Oxford. She fell in love with the deep red living room and the big picture windows and the hardwood floors and the quaintness of it all. She all but begged us to agree to rent the house. And she did all the annoying deposit work and paperwork while we were gone.

We moved in the middle of August ’04. Couches and tables and bookshelves and pictures and a cheerful checked curtain for the kitchen window. A bathroom shelf that took forever to put up, and a little candelabra for our walled-in fireplace. The love spoon from Wales in the hallway, which Jeremiah continually knocked down…Bethany loved to make fun of him for it! On my first night in town, Jeremiah (bless him) was trying to hook up our TV (with surge protectors and converters) and blew a fuse – putting out the electricity in half of the house for the next 24 hours. Jason, the landlord, had to come show us where the fuse box was the next day. That’s still one of my favorite Cottage stories.

We have lived and laughed and loved in this house. Movie nights with viewings of Pirates of the Caribbean and You’ve Got Mail, Finding Neverland and The Emperor’s New Groove over and over. Lingerie showers for Charity and Kayla; birthday parties with cake and cobbler and friends. Cocktail-less cocktail parties, with chocolate fondue and cheese cubes and fruit, sparkling cider and queso and little black dresses and reading poetry aloud. We even had one last summer with no living room furniture…no one noticed we didn’t have couches until halfway through!

The cobalt-blue kitchen isn’t large, but it’s the heart of the house in lots of ways. Chocolate chip cookies, banana bread (no nuts), various chicken dishes and tons of fast-food takeout (we are college girls)…orange juice (Jeremiah’s favorite) and hot tea and hot cocoa and always a supply of chocolate stashed somewhere. So many deep and silly conversations…hugs…flicking water onto Jeremiah from the faucet while washing dishes…dancing whether we had music playing or not…collecting more and more and more coffee mugs, which we use mostly for tea.

This house gave me a place to grow after Oxford. I stretched my wings and was able to stand taller…as more of an adult than I’d ever been. I dealt with the phone company all by myself; I rebuffed annoying telemarketers and left the porch light on for Bethany at nights, and killed spiders and even wasps on occasion…all the things my dad had always done. We dealt with the frustration of changing landlords (and arguing with them both at various times). We grieved, when Cheryl died and Randen died and Joy’s grandfather died, and we prayed and worried and wondered, when Bethany’s sister ran away and when Joy moved out and when my love life was on the fritz (off and on for a LONG time). And even while I was emotionally strained for a whole year, this house gave my love for Jeremiah a place to grow. We’ve snuggled on the couch and danced in the living room and stood on the front sidewalk looking up at the stars and kissed good-night on the front porch. And always we have talked – about life and love and our families and school and God and friends and who we want to be. Sometimes I think the house belongs to him as much as to Bethany and me.

Bethany took most of her stuff home yesterday, in a bright yellow Penske rental truck (which took only two hours to load…thanks to Mark and Stephen!), and then Stephen and I swept the floors and mopped the laundry room and ran errands, and savored Cajun Cones in the kitchen and talked. Then I watched a movie in our half-empty living room. And I cried because big changes are coming.

She’ll be back today and we’ll spend one last night in the house together. Maybe we’ll watch one of our favorite movies…I haven’t unhooked the borrowed TV yet. Tomorrow, she’ll load up her car and head home for good, and my friend Calvin will come with his trailer and help me get the rest of my stuff out. And we’ll say goodbye on the front porch…and lock the door and walk away for the last time.

Someone new will rent The Cottage in the fall. And I hope they love it even half as much as we have. Because this is the kind of house that loves you back. Its walls have submitted to being hung with dried roses and opera posters and tons of photographs, and bulletin boards and a little painting from Spain. Its hardwood floors have felt cool on our bare feet as we’ve walked or run through its spacious rooms, and its windows have let in the morning light and sunsets and let us keep an eye on the street. It gave us space to live, to love and be loved, to grow up and learn a little more about being adults, being Christians, being people. And I hope it goes on and loves whoever lives in it next.

Places do have personality. Ask me about any of the places I love and I’ll tell you about them as if they were people. This little house has been a good friend. I am sorry to leave it – but I know that part of it will always be with me.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodbye…

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Quiet relief

Well, I’ve been promising everyone: “When I know what I’m doing after graduation, you will know! I will be shouting it from the rooftops, I’ll be so excited!” Funny how, when things actually start to fall into place, my primary emotion (after the initial elation) is not wild excitement but quiet relief.

I can keep my job here in Abilene for the summer. So I was informed last week, after a week of email tag with Ron. They will need me for the summer issue of ACU Today, for various odd proofreading jobs, and for whatever else needs doing around the office. Still part-time with no benefits, but as I’m not looking to stay on full-time, I’m all right with that. And when the lease is up on my little cottage, I will move into Betsy’s pink and brown room on Avenue F, and pass another summer in A-town. I don’t mind too much. I’ve grown kind of attached to this place, despite desperately wanting to leave it next year. And it’ll be a good transition between college life and whatever the world out there has for me.

As for next year…nothing has certainly come through yet. But I do have an offer to go back to a place I love, and do something I love. Money will be an issue (grrr) as will a few other things…but He is surely big enough to work them out if that’s best for me. Forgive the cryptic-ness…I’m trying not to jump the gun. But we’ll see. I may be just weeks away from the fulfillment of a long-held dream.

In other news, it’s my last “normal” week at ACU (though since when is life at ACU ever normal)? Time at the office. Literary discussions in classes. Come As You Are. Black Tulip poetry reading tonight. Singing at Highland and in choir. Chapel, in various forms. And Fajita Fest 2K6, on Cinco de Mayo. I’m jazzed.

Maybe I’ll even find some time to study for finals…

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