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Хороший Ёжик!

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

Updated: 2018-03-06T13:39:06.992-05:00


How Did Flounder's Chowder House Know?


Today was the last orientation group that Melinda and I had to orientate. There are positives and negatives to this:

Positive: I look more professional when I'm not eating a sno-cone while speaking.
Negative: No one will give me free sno-cones anymore.
Positive: I can take a real lunch break.
Negative: I don't have a reason to go buy frozen yogurt in the union anymore.
Positive: I don't have to listen to 80 different students all tell me the same story of how their situation is "unique."
Negative: I can't run away to meetings and instead must listen to the stories of our unique co-workers. ;)

I was greeted this morning with ten very friendly sunflowers. Now, Meg Ryan says that daisies are the friendliest flower, and I usually agree. But these sunflowers are particularly winsome looking. I think they might beat out the daisies.

You be the judge: Which one's friendlier?

(image) (image)

Kenley brought them to me in a lovely mason jar that says:

"Flounder's Chowder House
High Grade Diesel Fuel- Caution, highly flammable."

And then, below- I kid you not:

"On Beautiful Pensacola Beach."

I find this puzzlingly and wretchedly ironic.

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends


Um, so how do I make it in life? Like, seriously?

Last night Kenley and I were hanging out watching Lost (and I made this really great macaroni, but that's another story) and soon it was super late and I needed to go. So, I go to my car and somehow my trunk was opened, so I was like, "My trunk is open. I should fix that." So I step out of the car and absentmindedly hit the lock button, because I kind of do that subconsciously, but I knew not to shut the door. So, I close the trunk, but I was kind of on a hill, and all of the sudden a mighty wind came out of nowhere (not really) and my door started to shut. In slow motion I yelled, "Nnnn-nnn-ooo-ooooo!" but it was too late. (Running in slow motion does not get you to the car door nearly fast enough, fyi.)

So there I was at 11:00 at night with my keys locked in my car while it was running. I peered through the foggy windows at the lock button and could hear Michael Buble cheerfully singing about having the world on a string or some such nonsense. World on a string. I wished I had a hide-a-key on a string.

I took a walk of shame back to Kenley's door. We immediately found two coat hangers. I felt like we were on the Sandlot, trying to get the baseball out of the Beast's back yard. One failed attempt after another.


After a few close calls, but no success, we changed strategies. We decided to go through the sunroof. Michael Buble taunted us with his happy voice. Finally we managed to get the clothes hanger through the sunroof and pulled open the canvas part underneath. Next it was time for the piece de resistance. With the flashlight illuminating less and less, we stuck a shower curtain rod through the sunroof and hit the unlock button! Let me just tell you, what satisfaction. Now I know that if real estate doesn't work out for Kenley, we can go into a life of grand theft auto. "Elephants are soooo big!"

Your News Report for the Day


In World News Today:

Queen Liz gets dissed by the French. Should she be surprised? No, but next time Germans, Russians, Prussians or Huns try to invade France, I say Britain just eats their fish and chips and lets them take over. They'd probably be more polite anyway. Seriously, the woman SERVED in WWII. She should get invited to the D-Day Party. While Sarkosi is whispering sweet nothings in Obama's ear, Gordon Brown should punch them both in the face.

Why does Air France have to be copying on the Lost plot? How do you lose an Airbus? It's on the island. Season 7 plotline, anyone?

In National News:

Sarah P needs to be watching out for global warming in the shape of large nuclear weapons. Those polar bears don't stand a chance against Li'l Kim's earth destroying-snow melting toys. He even got a new pair of those polarized sunglasses he loves so that he can watch the pyrotechnic show from his eastern-facing front porch.


Love those shades, Kimmy. That guy to his left really wants to push him in the pool right now.

Congratulations, America! We've just purchased GM! Give up that Honda. We'll all be driving Buicks and Chevies now.

Obama just released his new prototype- the Chevy Komnibile. I love ze colours, Olga.


In Entertainment News:

I was going to comment on Susan Boyle, Kate Gosslin, and the MTV Awards, but I can't deal with pop culture right now. We're going to have to save that for another time.

Cue Chariots of Fire Theme


I love running. And by love, I mean that I love two key parts- the part where you turn around to come back, and the part where you’re done. Let’s face it, even for someone who runs a lot, for the most part running is pretty miserable. There’s the occasional run that you’re thinking, “Man, I could Forest Gump this and just run clear across the state,” but usually you’re saying to yourself, “Man, I wish I could just die right now. At least then I’d get to lie down.”

One thing I have learned in running- I run a whole lot faster and a whole lot better in races. Races are just fun. You get up way too early and drive to some random place to exercise, but the funny thing is that hundreds of other people are just as crazy as you and they all show up too. And then, as you go, you find that you’re running faster than you could ever make yourself go on your normal out and back route. The thrill of the race gets a hold of you. You’re making friends with accountants and lawyers and the guy who works at the Jimmy John’s on Pensacola. You find that you can really be friends with these people. You may have had nothing in common on Friday, but on Saturday you’re all runners. And you’re all running the same race. There’s people cheering you on around the last corner and tons of Gatorade as you cross the finish line.

I think whoever wrote Hebrews must have been a runner. I mean, not just the poser runner, the guy who’s out on Mission Road on New Year’s Day with a bunch of electronic gadgets trying to lower his cholesterol a couple of points, but a real runner. Hebrews guy is trying to encourage the Jewish people. So he goes through the hall of fame of faithful guys and girls- Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Rahab, David, Samuel- and he lets us know that all of these guys were looking ahead. They knew that God had something special in store for the world, but they were going to have to wait. They “conquered kingdoms, administered justice…shut the mouths of lions, escaped the fury of the flames and the edges of the swords…but they did not gain what had been promised.” Why? “Because God had something better in mind, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Because God wants a huge family reunion. The kind with sweet tea and t-shirts.

This is why I think Hebrews guy had laced up some Nike’s before. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” He’d felt people spraying you down with sprinklers and DJ’s rocking you up hills. He knew that the halfway point is the hardest. Those first couple miles will get you every time. And he also knew what would keep you going- “fixing our eyes on Jesus...” He knew that when you watch your feet you always go slower. It’s when you lift your head and look towards the goal that you can go your fastest. Looking down or to the side will always slow you down. He knew what it’s like to go up huge hills and feel like your legs just won’t go anymore, and he had a solution for that too- “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Starting a race isn’t hard. Finishing is another matter entirely. Too many of us start out sprinting only to make it to the first hill and quit. Or maybe we make it through a couple, but the valleys start looking like a good place to stay because it’s too hard to climb another hill. Next time you feel like you’re the only one running, think of the cloud of witnesses- the ones who have gone before and have run long and hard, looking ahead to their reward. Think of Jesus at the finish line. Something way better than Gatorade is waiting.

25 Random Things about Me


Okay, so I'm jumping on this bandwagon too-1. I love the idea of drinking tea. Drinking tea is okay, but the idea of drinking tea evokes some kind of emotional state that makes camaraderie between people inevitable. Just asking people if they would like to get together to have tea is rewarding. The actual drinking of tea is alright too, though, and when I do drink tea I like to have Lady Gray tea with honey. 2. If I could go on a date with any celebrity, living or dead, it would have to be Jimmy Stewart. I love that guy. 3. My favorite painting is the Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. I just always picture myself running back to God when I see it. 4. I really love books and movies. Especially epic ones. I think this stems from the fact that I wish my life were more like a book or a movie, and therefore much more exciting. William Wallace and Harry Potter are more thrilling than I could ever be. 5. My favorite place I’ve ever been to is Krakow, Poland. It is the best! Dragons guard medieval castles and the statues spew fire when you send them a text message. Talk about mixing the ancient with the modern. Lori and I only learned one Polish phrase, “Eh! Eto moj smok!” “Hey! That’s my dragon!” 6. I hope that if something ever happens to Mark and Jenn, they leave me Anna, John, Max and Kevin in their will. 7. My best friend lives thousands of miles away. This could be the breaker for some people, but Lori and I have made it work for the last three years. Sunday afternoons are reserved for three-hour conversations via her computer and my cell phone. Mail is somewhat unreliable, but someone we know is always making the trek to and from Kyiv, so we usually use our own form of the Pony Express. Much cheaper than Fed-Ex. 8. I love the show Lost. I really don’t watch any other shows regularly, except for college football, but I’ve fallen in love with Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley. The reason for this probably stems from the same reason as #4. 9. Running is my favorite form of exercise for three reasons: 1) You get to wear cool shoes. New tennis shoes are probably the coolest thing ever, next to like, those self-inflating air mattresses you can get at Bed, Bath and Beyond. 2) Races are so fun. Even if you aren’t very good, there’s something really awesome about getting a t-shirt with a race and date on it. 3) You don’t need anybody else to do it. Unlike an ultimate Frisbee game, running requires just two feet and somewhat masochist tendencies. 10. I still say a lot of commonly used words wrong as a result of self-teaching while being homeschooled. Just ask Jenna about Mesopotamia. 11. My dream job is to go to one of the “-stans” and teach English and tell people about Jesus. I think that would be just about the greatest job ever. I hope to do it one day. 12. I love Glenn Beck, think the military’s great, watch Fox News and buy things from Walmart. So sue me. 13. I have a terrible memory. Like, if I weren't 23, I'd think I have Alzheimer's or something. Hopefully it comes across as being slightly endearing and not just horribly aggravating to you all. But, looking at the bright side, it makes my life much more exciting. I can read books over and over and still be caught spellbound at the end because I had no idea what the ending was going to be. You can tell me things twice and I'm still just as thrilled for you as the first time because I don't remember it from the first time. 14. When I was in 2nd grade, the then-first-lady, Barbara Bush, came to Sealey Elementary to congratulate us on collecting a bunch of pennies for some book project she was promoting at the time. I didn't go to Sealey then, but my brother Chris did. Chris brought pennies almost every day. He gave the most of any kid at Sealey. So, his speech teacher nominated him to sit on the stage with Barbara Bu[...]

Treasures in a Tape Box


Years ago, as I stood in line in the cold at our camp on the outskirts of Kiev, I noticed that my fellow standees lacked the same impatient, shuffling attitude as I was displaying in painfully obvious fashion. So, I commented to a friend that Ukrainians are very patient people. Lena replied that it came from years of practice. Bread lines, metro lines, coupon lines, the ex-Soviets know how to entertain themselves in a line. In fact, one of the first phrases I learned in Russian was, "Everybody form two lines, please!" I'd like to send some of the recipients of free groceries at our Food Pantry back in time to Moscow circa 1964, just for a day or two. Each Tuesday, Wildwood gives out free groceries to people who need them in their Fellowship Hall. Each person signs in, waits in line, counselors pray with them, and they receive a bag of groceries and anything else that they might like or need. Most of our regulars are absolutely wonderful and they light up my life, but much like the licorice variety in a bag of jelly beans, there are always the few that you wish had been discontinued years ago. However, unlike the licorice variety in a bag of jelly beans, our not-so-pleasant guests can occasionally cause me to burst into tears.Such was this past Tuesday, as I had the misfortune of crossing Mrs. Coleman on a particularly bad day. However, all was not lost. Our director saved me from an entire emotional breakdown in the middle of a hundred people and gave me the non-people (and thus, wonderful) task of typing up prayer requests in the back closet. Typing can be quite therapeutic. So can Ailia Taylor, whose five short years of living in this world have given her ample knowledge to pass the most rigorous counseling examination.I squeezed into the back room and leaned my arms against two large paper boxes in the corner so that I would be able to reach the mouse and the keyboard. The back closet holds treasures such as shampoo, vitamins, coloring books, disability applications and missing volunteers' nametags. I'd imagine I could survive in there for quite some time if I wasn't claustrophobic. After I typed up the first couple folders, I heard a knock coming from about two feet above the floor."Hold on, Sweetie. Let me tie this polar bear up. It's almost his dinner time.""Miz Calyn, you're silly. Open the door.""No, I'm serious, Ailia. He's very fond of little girls. He's been cooking side dishes all day."She finally got bored and pushed open the door just enough for her to squeeze in with a large briefcase that looked like it had been passed down at least four times. In the closet, there is really only room for one person to stand, so I set Ailia on the counter and had her hold folders for me."Where'd you get that briefcase, Ailia?""On the table by the stage.""What's inside?"Ailia carefully opened her beloved briefcase. Almost expecting there to be a million dollars inside, as I'm sure I'd seen that briefcase in at least half a dozen movies, instead, there were 16 tapes of famous classical musicians. From Bach to Wagner, each had a picture of the composer and "sixty minutes of the most satisfying classical pieces from their libraries." Ailia carefully arranged and rearranged each tape by the attractiveness of the composer and then by the color of the tape box."Miz Calyn," she said, "Do you have a boyfrien?""No," I replied. "Not yet."Ailiah looked disappointed. "Oh, that's very sad. Why you don't have a boyfrien?""Well," I had to think. "I suppose because he hasn't found me yet."I watched as my young therapist's face turned from utterly conflicted to perfectly clear. "I can find you a boyfrien.""Alright, Ailia, you just let me know when you find him."I hoped our therapy session was over and that we could move on to talking about much more exciting things, such as the status of Mrs. Coleman's yelling rampage, but instead I watched as Ailia carefully studied the f[...]

Twas the Night of the Magic Jack Bowl



Twas the night of the South Florida bowl game and all through St. Pete, the fans were all gathering for Memphis to beat.


With Richard, Joann, and Dad all nestled in their spot, admiring the super alumni seats that they bought.


When what should my wandering eyes appear, but green Santas descending from the third tier.


Their eyes how they sparkled, their speech so unclear. I knew then at once that it must be the beer. Their bells how they jingled, their stomachs oh so squishy. They'd ridden their sleighs up from Port St. Lucie.


As the scoreboard flashed 14 - 41, we knew that the Bulls had certainly won.


And so at nine we drove out of sight. Merry Christmas to's going to be a long night!

Can You Guess?


--Pick 15 of your favorite movies--Quote each movie--Everyone has to guess which movies the quotes come from--Once somebody has guessed one accurately, strike it out--No Googling or using IMDb to guess!

1) My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where the go, where they've been. I've worn lots of shoes, I bet if I think about it real hard I can remember my first pair of shoes.

2) This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! And I... I didn't!

3) In the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.

4) Off the top of my head, I'd say you're looking at a Boeski, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever.

5) There are 72,519 stones in my walls. I've counted them many times. But have you named them yet?

6) Marvin, you gotta play. See that's where they kiss for the first time on the dance floor. And if there's no music, they can't dance. If they can't dance, they can't kiss. If they can't kiss they can't fall in love, and I'm history.

7) Yo, Rugman! Haven't seen you in a few millennia. Give me some tassel.

8) Is there any reason you shouldn't be in this man's Army? I'm a cross-dressing homosexual pacifist with a spot on my lung. As long as you don't have flat feet.

9) I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend.

10) What's that?
This, my friend, is a pint.
It comes in pints? I'm getting one.

11) Count your blessings Lizzie. If he liked you, you'd have to talk to him.

12) There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance. : Which one am I? : You're the worst kind. You're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.

13) Wait a minute. Is the safety on Old Betsy? You bet it is, Sheriff. That's what I'm afraid of. You go first.

14) Spiders... the spiders... they want me to tap-dance. And I don't want to tap-dance!

15) I've come here with a view of asking you to marriage me. I know I seems an insane person - because I hardly knows you - but sometimes things are so transparency, they don't need evidential proof. And I will inhabit here, or you can inhabit with me in England.

With Friends Like These...


I am sorry, Nino, Sophia, and Davit, that my country stands idly by as yours is brutally raped by the bully living at your border.

I am sorry that your plight is buried beneath front page headlines of an overpublicized political race and college football training.

I am sorry that my President continues to chuckle and chat at the Olympic games with the scheming bully of a leader who is presently sending his army tearing across your borders.

I am sorry that you thought our friendship was such that it would merit a response worthy of what you’ve selflessly given us.

I am sorry that what my country stands for is being blown away by an Eastern wind to reveal that it is nothing cheap talk and worthless conviction.

I am sorry that your inspiring democracy stands alone against a tyrant and that the organization you so courageously attempted to join pretends barely notice.

I am sorry that your sovereignty is so shamefully compromised by the country above you who knows nothing save greed for power and energy.

I am sorry that bombs kill your children and destruction threatens your beautiful capital.

I am sorry that America offers only to fly your brave troops home and add none of its own.

I am sorry that I can do nothing but wish in vain that my country would step in and stand by one of its most proven allies.

I am sorry and I am shamed. And I pray for you all.


The Wisdom of the Plant Lady


The plant lady was outside our door in the lobby today in the Bank of America Building that I call home some 40-odd hours a week. She comes to water the plants ever so often. We're all very jealous that she gets to go about town and hang out with plants. I told her so. I lamented the fact that we are stuck in front of computers all day, to which she replied, "The only thing I know about computers is that you don't water them." Wisely spoken, plant lady. Wisely spoken.

Let's just give Abraham Lincoln a British accent and call it a day


Last night, Jenna and I were listening to the Police on my laptop and we decided that people with accents are far more persuasive when it comes to matters of love. Someone from Minnesota could sing a line of music and it would not be nearly as convincing as someone singing the very same line from Liverpool. Why is that? Somehow Sting makes me believe that he is the omniscient expert on all matters of the heart. During the same listening stint, we also concluded that, like it or not, some songs will be associated with Guitar Hero until the end of time. Like a mysterious force, as soon as I hear the words, "sending out an S.O.S…." I absolutely must throw my left hand up like a rock star and pelt out, like the vowel rule- red, blue, yellow, green, and sometimes orange. My pinky muscle has grown to be a formidable member of the finger team. At least on my left hand.

Speaking of the British, I watched Sense and Sensibility the other night. I am not a huge fan of Jane Austin novels; they are pretty tedious, but a two-hour, abridged movie is generally alright. Sense and Sensibility is probably my favorite. I haven't watched it since Harry Potter came out, though, and Lerah and I found that the majority of the cast of Sense and Sensibility is in the Harry Potter movies. Professor Trelawney, Professor Snape, Delores Umbridge, Madam Pomphrey, Cornelius Fudge, the Fat Lady…there's more, but I can't think of them at the moment. They're all in Sense and Sensibility. British actors must look out for each other. And then there's Hugh Laurie who comes out of nowhere as a witty, cynical, rude fellow...hmmm, I guess if you're good at something, you should stick with it.

There was a minor crisis in the office today when it was noticed that all coffee had disappeared from the break room. Fortunately I had an emergency pack of tea, courtesy of Lori. My co-workers scoffed at the idea of my bringing in a bag of Starbucks de-caf tomorrow, so we will see what their solution is. Come on in and visit and register to vote. If you're tired of the traditional two-party system, we have a variety of parties to meet your needs. The Surfers' Party, the Modern Whig Party, the Family Values Party, even the Poor People's Party. I'll even give you a sticker. :0)

Ain't Nothin' Like


I get into getting out on my mower
In the early mornin' hours 'fore the sun gets hot
And I like goin' down to the Kroger
When the carnival comes to the parkin' lot

-Brad Paisley

James, Ian and I watched the movie Pan's Labyrinth last night. Watching subtitled movies on small T.V.s is quite the task. Occasionally I got sidetracked and forgot to read and we had to rewind, but we managed okay. I have to say that before I saw the movie I kind of thought that it was some sort of fantasy kid flick, but this was not the case. It was really good, though. I highly recommend it if you are over the age of 13, not grossed out by frogs, and undisturbed by creepy, pale-faced monsters with eyeballs on their hands.


This guy will give you nightmares. I'm checking under my bed tonight.

All movie nights must be preceded by a trip to the Kroger, our affectionate name for the Chevron Station on Tharpe and Mission Road. Actually, most activities are preceded by a stop at the Kroger. I don't remember exactly how it came to be called the Kroger, Lori and James probably remember, but the Kroger has the best fountain drinks in Tallahassee. Giant cups are refilled for only 59 cents. They know us there. When I picture the Kroger in my head, I get a fuzzy, nostalgic kind of feeling, kind of like it's the Cheers atmosphere. They yell, "Calyn!" when I walk in and always smile and ask me about my day. If I don't remember my wallet, they put it on my tab... In actuality, though, the Kroger is generally crowded; a rude, overworked lady with a couple teeth missing is usually up front accusing me of getting a new cup and trying to scam her for a refill price, and half the time the Diet Pepsi isn't working anyway. Everything you'd expect from a corner gas station. I love it.

Quote o' the Day


"I am not a dolphin. I am a person." - Lori Jackson

Wednesday's air mattress expedition was a bust. After our Outrigger Island vacation Bible school this week, Lori and I wanted to see if such an island existed in Lake Jackson. We had secured ourselves four canoe paddles and all we needed was an air mattress. Unfortunately, I could not find mine. Many of you have slept on it. Kenley has the exact same one. It's got the Saved by the Bell, 80's-style zig zags on it. The kind that makes you want to tease your hair as soon as you lay down. Jenna, Lori and I went down to the Lake Jackson dock instead and brought mashed potatoes and salad for a midnight picnic. We would still like to have our air mattress island exploration, if any of you know of any unused mattresses. Lake Jackson is calling...

Congrats, Cam!


(image) My little brother graduated tonight. The little one with red hair and freckles that I still see hugging a Barney pillow and sucking his thumb. Only, tonight when I watched him walk across the Civic Center stage he was 6'1 wearing a graduation robe, a dress shirt and a striped tie, slightly choking from the white cord around his neck. Good heavens, what happened? How did all the members of my family become taller than me? How in the name of Pete did Cam get out of Leon with a diploma? How on earth did my parents manage to get all of us into college? It is a mystery. I feel like our lives have been one of those "choose your own ending books" where you pick the next part of the story and hope you don't fall off a cliff or the drink the poisoned wine or get bitten by a bat and die of rabies. Somehow all the pages we've picked have managed to get us(image) to a safe chapter. Anyway, congratulations, Cam!


"Don't you think that daisies are the friendliest flower?"


Our apartment has a little dining nook that used to be a back porch. I, for one, wish that it were still a back porch because there is nothing I love more than laying on back porches and admiring the stars. Now it is a useless room with a dining table that is never used. The four of us in this apartment aren’t exactly gourmet chefs and if we do cook something, chances are it has been eaten within five steps of the microwave. We never make it to the dining room table.

However, Sarah and Michael bought me some lovely flowers for my birthday and that has made the dining room much more inviting. I’ve found myself straying in there with a book or notebook to enjoy my purple and yellow companions. I don’t know much about flowers except that I like them. I can’t ever remember the names. I know daisies, roses and tulips, but after that I’m lost. I’m content knowing God designed them creatively to bring Himself pleasure. I’m like that with stars too. Some people want to know everything there is to know about space and planets. They want to know how stars are composed, their temperatures, how far they are from earth…I just like knowing that Carli, Jake, Taylor, Lori and I can lay on the sidewalk on a clear night and marvel at them. I’ll leave all the science part to Jake and Louie Giglio.

Tonight my flowers and a cup of hot chocolate accompanied me through the book of Hosea. I questioned my “ignorance is bliss” axiom when I read, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” I thought to myself that maybe I should pick up a couple of Better Homes and Gardens to brush up on my flower skills. (Carnations and camellias always throw me for a loop.) Clearly knowledge is something God values an awful lot if Israel was perishing for their rejection of it. I thought of all the things I cram my head with in the race for knowledge... Gosh, there is so much pressure just to know…everything. But God values a slightly different kind of knowledge that can be found in the Economist. A couple verses down I learned what he meant. “Because you have rejected knowledge…since you have forgotten the law of your God…because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD…the people without understanding are ruined.” Knowledge that God values can be found in the pages of Deuteronomy: “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up…” That is the kind of knowledge I want to build on. I guess it's alright if I can't tell you the latin names of the flowers on my dining room table. However, I do need to apply myself to get a better understanding of the things that God wants me to learn.

“For the LORD gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 2:6

FLEX Workshop 2008


This week I had the pleasure of hanging out with 112 of our FLEX students in D.C. For those of you who don’t know, I work with an exchange program called FLEX that is funded by the Department of State. Usually I work with grants and write newsletters, but this week I got to evaluate our Civic Education workshop for students who competed and won an essay contest. We picked 112 of our 1200 students to come to D.C. this week and learn about democracy and civil society firsthand. It was fantastic. FLEX students are from all of the former Soviet republics- from Ukraine and Russia to Armenia and Georgia and on over to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They’re going to high schools in the U.S. for one year and this week they represented 38 different states. Pretty exciting. I think they were surprised at how different the states they’re living in are. Some were staying Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Wisconsin, Maine, Alabama, Florida- even South Dakota. Anyway, the week was awesome. They arrived on Sunday and through the week we visited every memorial and museum Washington has to offer. We even got a sneak peak at the new Newseum- a museum all about the history of journalism. They got to hear a panel about the importance of a free press and made their own news broadcasts.It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Students got together in country groups to talk about projects that they wanted to implement in their home countries when they return in June. FLEX alumni are very active. They volunteer all over the place. They work in nursing homes, visit orphanages, teach English classes, work as OSCE election monitors, lead community events, start recycling campaigns, work with American embassy officers, sponsor AIDS runs, clean up parks, and get elected to office. I think the most encouraging and exciting thing I got to do this week was listen to their ideas of how they are going to change their countries for the better when they return. Unlike many exchange students who come to America, most FLEX students do not want to move here. They want to go home and change their countries. And that is awesome. For some of them, with relatively free countries, this might be as simple as having an event to promote national language in culture. For some of the less free countries, I heard ideas of creating a democracy forums online. They want to have weekly computer classes for orphans who are about to turn 18 so that they have good job prospects when they get out. They want to clean up city squares. They want to have Special Olympics. They want to do all sots of amazing things. It was awesome. And I am so proud of them. Besides hearing them talk about how their lives have been changed during this week and this year, I think the best thing I gained this week is that I now have friends to stay with in 12 different countries. :0) Sometime soon I want to wear cheshki with my friends from Turkmenistan; I want to go to a Georgian dance; I want to go to a café in L’viv. Soon. [...]



There is an Afghan restaurant across the street from the Target I run to. The building is slightly run down and the sign has a faded, painted-over line about “Emerald Palace” or some name that it used to possess when it was an Americanized Chinese buffet of some sort. Green neon tubes outline the windows and something equally bright written in Pashto illuminates the front door. I would have paid little attention to it had I not noticed that every time I ran by it, no matter what time, the parking lot always seemed to be full. I said to myself that either the food was really delicious or that some criminal plot was being hatched in the back room. That’s what always happens in Jackie Chan movies at least. I, being no Jackie Chan, didn’t have the guts to go in by myself, but I remained curious all the same. So, when Daniel called yesterday and told me that I had to pick the restaurant for my birthday dinner I decided that this would be as good a time as any to try out some Afghan food. Turns out Cameron and Daniel were curious about it too. So, it was decided that we would save Panera for some lackluster evening and try something exotic. Daniel made sure to park near the street so that we could make a quick getaway if the cops busted up a terrorist plot at the table next to ours. Turns out our fears were quite unfounded, as, minus the green neon windows, everything in the restaurant was decidedly normal. Pictures that looked like they were shot from the movie “Hidalgo” and scenic shots of Afghanistan hung on the walls and a big Afghan flag adorned the check-out counter advertising the fact that gift cards were now available. The food was great. (Any place that gives you bread is going to be a winner.) I had lamb kabobs and they were delicious. Our server was really sweet as well. So, thumbs up to the Afghans. If you are driving down Jefferson Davis Highway towards Crystal City, stop by. We then went to Baskin Robbins where Daniel was quite disappointed that out of 31 possible flavors, chocolate fudge was not available. I would have thought that chocolate fudge was a staple, but Tallahassee does not have a Baskin Robbins that I know of, so maybe Cotton Candy really is more popular. I was just excited they had diet Pepsi. Some song from Guitar Hero began playing on the radio and it was decided that we would go over to Best Buy and try to play Rock Band. Rock Band wasn’t set up, but Guitar Hero III was. I saw some pithy comment on the screen while the next song was loading. That’s one of my favorite parts of Guitar Hero. They give bands some great advice, such as: "Don't let the drummer handle the money.""They don't really want you to play Freebird. They're just heckling you."Much to our dismay, some fifth grader was hogging the game. He’d probably been there since the store opened this morning. That’s what they do. At least my brother has the consideration to take his friends to play in the middle of the night when no one else is waiting. Even after 9 straight hours, this kid had no intension of going anywhere. “Surely he’ll have to go to the bathroom,” I thought. It was then we would make our move. We lounged in leather chairs in front of two plasma TVs watching Transformers and Spiderman 3 simultaneously, eyeing the plastic guitar enviously. As soon as the announcer called for all customers to make their final purchases, Fifth Grader’s mom came and told him it was time to go. We dove for the guitar. I pounded out in red, blue, yellow and green a rusty version of “Welcome to the Jungle,” and Cameron and Daniel got in a song before[...]

Quote o' the Day


Heard on the Mall:

"So we all got together and went down to look at the cherry blossoms. Turns out they all look alike and now we're bored."

It was all set up for a big disappointment, people. What do you expect, really? Dogwoods are so much better.

I'll Have to Spill Some Spaghetti Sauce on My Shirt for a Nice Touch


I took Lori’s birthday card with me to work this morning. It wasn’t a typical size envelope, not large enough to make it anything exciting, just large enough that the top said, “requires extra postage.” I think Hallmark has a deal with the Post Office to get a little bit of extra funding. Maybe Hallmark takes a little bit off the top. (Now watch me get nasty letters from Hallmark and the Post Office. They won’t mail them in an oversized envelope, I’ll tell you that much.) Anyway, I had to go to the Post Office to figure out exactly how much postage we were talking. Throw in “extra postage” when you’re talking international stamps and it gets very confusing. Generally I just stick tons of stamps on things and they get there alright, but I was running low in my stamp supply, so I decided to actually check the price. I went to Starbucks on the way, because, well, you don’t really need a reason to go to Starbucks, you just do. But in the process of addressing my oversized envelope, I managed to spill iced coffee all over it. How embarrassing. I marched to the post office in some very uncomfortable high heels and just at the moment I thought all hope was gone and I should never get there before my toes became little stubs at the bottom of my shoes, I saw the eagle. Thank goodness. A very nice postal employee helped me buy my stamps and assured me that he thought it was just an artsy envelope that was supposed to look like that. (“That” being the coffee spilled all over it.) He said, “Well, she’ll just be excited about getting a letter from so far away.” So Lori, be excited about getting a letter and don’t mind the coffee. ;0) I noticed a most exciting thing as I waited for him to measure my oversized envelope. There are currently Jimmy Stewart stamps for sale at the Post Office. Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite people. I mean, of the favorite people that I don’t actually know and are currently dead, that is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jimmy Stewart in a movie that I didn’t like. So if you are buying stamps any time soon, buy some that say “James Stewart” on them. They’re very exciting.


I Finally Saw Condi :0)


This afternoon I headed over to Main State to hear Condoleezza Rice speak to all of the Department interns. It was amazing. She is so down-to-earth. And small! I thought she was so much taller than she actually was. Condoleezza Rice is definitely one of my heroes, I mean, the woman speaks Russian for crying out loud, and it was really great to hear her talk with us. People asked a lot of great questions. She was so…approachable. I mean, she looked like the sort of person you could run into and have lunch with. That was a nice contrast to a lot of the upper level people I’ve come in contact with in the Federal Government. She spent some time answering a question about her heroes- she said her parents- and she said that they were people who never saw limits. She said that she grew up in segregated Birmingham where someone who was black couldn’t go down the road to order a hamburger, but being the president was a perfectly attainable goal, according to her parents. She’s come pretty darn close. And if she ever ran for president, she’d have my vote. :0)

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!


In a bit of a surreal, Washingtonian moment today I watched the Presidential helicopter zoom in over my head and head for the White House yard a couple blocks away. Today was the St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown D.C. Thankfully, it stopped sprinkling just in time to save the ticker-tape. I seated myself in front of the Washington Monument to get a good view and watched a throng of Irish stepdancers and bagpipe-playing firemen. I am convinced that Americans have more Irish pride than the Irish- with the exception of maybe during soccer season. It seems that the melting pot of America feels an intrinsic need to celebrate their heritage with more veracity than the actual home country. I observed it yesterday as I shielded myself with my computer to avoid being trampled by the green, drunken mass that entered the train at Metro Center. The inebriated do not fare well with the stop and go motion of a metro. Listening to them argue about what stop they are currently approaching is somewhat amusing. Watching them attempt to help their friends up who have fallen on their faces is even better. I’m almost certain I was the only sober person on the yellow line yesterday evening. Although, I have to say that after spending eight and a half hours working on a paper in Panera I was not exactly of sound mind either.



“I have found almost everything ever to be written about love to be true. Shakespeare said, ‘Journeys end in lovers meeting.’ What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have never experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose that I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said that ‘love is blind.’ Now that is something I know to be true. For some, quite inexplicably, love fades. For others, love is simply lost. But then, of course, love can also be found-even if just for a night. And then there’s another kind of love. The cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. It’s called unrequited love. Of that, I am an expert.” -Iris in The Holiday

Happy ?St. Patrick's Day? Everyone!


“No, no, no. I know this one,” you say. “St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th every year.” Apparently things are different in Alexandria, Virginia, where St. Patrick is celebrated the first weekend in March. And celebrated he is. I’m convinced that every kid in Alexandria goes to Irish stepdancing class. There were five different stepdancing schools represented in the parade. Cameron and I think that we had deprived childhoods because our parents didn’t send us to Irish stepdancing class. There were also a dozen or so bagpipe bands. The firemen had pipe bands, the marines had pipe bands, the army had pipe bands, the notre dame alumni had pipe bands - pretty anyone who is anybody has a bagpipe band. Where is the Washington Center bagpipe band, I would like to know. There was lots of music, lots of green, lots of Ireland. In essence, it was the best ever. :0) I’m a sucker for anything Irish. The month of March is a redheaded kid’s dream. Red headed kids seem to come out of the woodwork during St. Patrick’s Day parades. Maybe they stay in hiding the rest of the year. They’re like Jeep drivers and Mac users. You see a redheaded person and you give the “oh, what’s up?” nod. Carli knows what I’m talking about.

After the parade, Cameron, Becca and I walked down King Street and found something amazing. Bread and Chocolate. This is the name of a restaurant. It took way too long for someone to decide that this would be a good idea for an eating establishment. I mean, what else do you really need in life? Bread. Chocolate. Put them together and it equals something beautiful. I was not actually hungry, but I plan on visiting this place as soon as possible. Sarah, I think you and I will go here. You can just buy a bagette and some chocolate and go to town. Absolute bliss.

You Harry Potter haters can skip this next paragraph. Kelsey spent the night last night and we had a Harry Potter III evening. I think we’d seen the movie 30 times between the two of us, so it was fun to talk through it and make intelligent conversation about the intricacies of the book plotlines. It was like watching with Lori.

Well, I think we are going to spend our evening with the 80’s has-beens, PoP! Everyone needs a little Hugh Grant in their lives. Arrivederci.

“Yes, LORD, walking in your truth we eagerly wait for you because your name and your renown are the desire of our souls.”


Isaiah 26:8About two weeks ago I was on the phone with my good friend Tamara Stringer and she was telling me all about the Passion conference in Dallas she had gone to the weekend before. I listened jealously as she recounted points that Louie Giglio had made and as she tried in vain to express the amazingness of worshipping with David Crowder and Chris Tomlin. At one point I mumbled, “Man, I wish they would come to DC.” Her response was, “Calyn, they’re going to be in DC next weekend.”Fast forward one week. I am on my way to the conference. The conference in Washington DC, right? Well, sort of. Although it was advertised as being in Washington DC, the Passion Conference was actually at George Mason University, a school in the town of Fairfax, Virginia. Now, had I owned a car, this would have not been a problem. It might have taken me about 45 minutes to get there from my house. However, it was three hours before I finally darkened the door of the Patriots’ basketball arena. This is like telling someone, “Oh, yeah, it’s in Tallahassee,” and it actually being in PENSACOLA. Fortunately I ran into two girls who were also using public transportation (there were a total of five of us) and we became fast friends with so much time to get to know one another. I probably would have died without Marlene and Kay. I mean that literally. Being at metro stations that connect with the green line at one in the morning by yourself is never a good idea. But the three hour commute was totally worth it.For those of you who have never heard Louie, I would encourage you to listen to one of his podcasts. Louie has a way of making Christianity so simple and profound. The theme of the conference centered around the idea of “making God famous with your life.” When I told my roommate this she said, “What do you mean, ‘making God famous?’ Everyone knows who He is.” This is a good point and fortunately there was some clarification. :0) Louie and Francis Chan really pounded into us that life is short and we only get one shot. We should be using our lives to bring God as much glory as possible. There are some important things in life. Careers are important. Friendships are important. Health is important. Family is important. But if we’ve decided to follow Jesus then He is the thing that is most important. And to chase after anything else is not only second best, but it’s missing out on what God has really called us to – to know Him and make to Him known.Passion is doing conferences in 17 world cities starting in May. They include Jakarta, KYIV :0), Kampala, Sydney, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Cape Town, Sao Paulo, and some other places that I can’t remember but are equally cool. We raised about 30,000 dollars for the conference in Kampala (that 30,000 people are coming to! They have a soccer stadium rented out!). We also got to hear the story of a girl named Sam Lu from mainland China. She shared her testimony with us and is so excited that Passion is coming to Hong Kong. They made it very clear not to put any pictures or videos up of Sam because she could get into a whole lot of trouble with the government.Something kind of small but important that I was convicted about this past weekend was how I represent myself to other people. Interning in DC, the question you probably get asked the most is, “So…what do you want to do?” So as not to have a bunch of awkward turtles in the room, I generally[...]

I Know About Eloise!


Good news: McDonalds gave away free breakfast burritos this morning.
Bad news: They were still overpriced.

However, my iced coffee was worth every penny. I realized that it was rather stupid to order iced coffee when your insides already felt like ice, but I guess it goes with the outdoor theme. I’m ready for spring. For cherry blossoms. For skirts. For not feeling like a fire-breathing dragon every time I push air out of my mouth. For new episodes of The Office. For graduation. For May. May is particularly exciting. This is when Lori is coming.

I am currently watching Lost on TV. I am convinced this is the most complicated plot line conceived by man. I do not know how they keep connecting all of these things. Becca, Cameron and I are going to see The Other Boleyn Girl tomorrow. This movie can only end in tragedy. But I am still intrigued by it. I'll let you know how it is. Arrivederci!