Current Obsessions and an Anniversary Wish

So, my life got exponentially better this past Tuesday when the new Justin Timberlake album dropped. Thanks to mom staying the afternoon with Elly while I ran some errands, I was able to stop at Target to get the much-anticipated album (I do it old-school and still buy the CD) and believe me when I say, it’s every bit as good as I had hoped. I’m such a dork for saying that I suppose, being a 32 year old all fired up over a music star and such, but I was in bad shape and needed a pick-me-up, so if it comes in the form of acting like a 19-year old for a few days, then so be it. (Remember when you would get a new CD and listen to it exclusively day after day for like a month so you knew every song? I can’t quite do that with a baby, but I’ve come close. The album is that good.) Plus, music – ANY music, with the exception of whiny, twangy country – is therapeutic to me, so being so excited about this new music has reminded me that I need to seek daily to get a good dose of music – real music, not this Yo Gabba Gabba mess. And Elly enjoys music too, so that’s definitely a win-win.

That said, another ongoing obsession I have is with Jimmy Fallon. I’m probably not the only person to ever have said this, but I truly, 110% believe he is hands-down one of the greatest creative geniuses of my generation. His talent spans all genres and he is a hit at whatever he does. I DVR his Late Night show every night so I can be guaranteed a laugh when needed, whether it’s from his monologues or games or musical parodies. He’s phenomenal. Imagine my sheer delight when I heard it announced that Justin Timberlake was a guest on his show for an ENTIRE WEEK. What?! Unbelievable. I’m just now getting around to watching the episodes and I may never delete them, they’re so good. Those two are peas in a pod when it comes to talent, and when together, it’s unreal. I would KILL to meet both of them.

Which brings me to my anniversary wish.

It’s always been on our vacation list for Michael and I to take a trip to New York – he’s never been and I was 15 when I visited the Big Apple on a band trip, so it would definitely be a trip worth taking.


It just so happens that Justin is going to be playing Yankee Stadium this summer on July 19. Now, I have NO idea how much tickets are going to be or whatever, but I would brave crazy, massive crowds for that. Jimmy shoots his show in NYC, so we’d have to make a show or two while we’re in town, AND of course head to my morning favorite, Live with Kelly and Michael as well…And since July 30th s our 8-year anniversary, it just seems kinda like the perfect way to celebrate, don’t you think?

One can dream.

The World According to Sheldon Cooper

Another show Michael and I have become somewhat obsessed with (yes, we watch a lot of TV – don’t judge) is The Big Bang Theory. Since the show’s inception, I avoided it because I don’t subscribe to said “Big Bang Theory.” I believe in God and His creation of the universe, so therefore I felt it un-Christian of me to watch a show with such a title. That is, until I was stuck inside, 8 months pregnant in the dead of 100-degree summer days and was running out of things to keep me entertained. I caved and watched an episode and was immediately hooked. It took about 2 episodes for Michael to be hooked too, and the next thing I knew, we were at Target purchasing all of the previous seasons of TBBT in order to get caught up.

Sheldon Cooper is the quirky star of the show – actually, “quirky” may be putting it mildly. He’s OCD in the truest sense and for that alone, I immediately loved him. He defines his OCD and it’s necessity quite neatly here:

“It’s been six days since I was supposed to get a haircut. And nothing horrible has happened. …I have spent my whole life trying to bring order to the universe by carefully planning every moment of every day, but all my efforts – our dinner schedule, my pajama rotation – it’s clear now: I’ve been wasting my time.”

His friends then try to convince him that not knowing what’s coming is a good thing and that it could be healthy for him to ‘shake things up a bit.’

And this is what Sheldon does:

Yep. He goes crazy. Plays bongos in the middle of the night.

Oh how I can relate.

No, I’ve never played bongos in the middle of the night as a result of realizing that the world is a collective movement of chaos, but I have had many times when I get so frustrated with the chaos that I figuratively or literally throw my hands up and say, “To heck with it. What’s the point. Everything is a mess and always will be.”

It’s the same principle every single human being, OCD or not, deals with on a daily basis. It’s probably statistically what drives people to drink, smoke, take drugs, or simply act out irrationally. And even the most laid-back, roll-with-the-punches person is subject to something that makes them want to pick up their bongos.

Sheldon eventually gets his haircut and his world is a little less chaotic, but today, as I was re-organizing bathroom cabinets so that the towels were neatly folded in alternating colors, it dawned on me that finding calm in the chaos, however menial it may be, is what keeps us going. I’m a bonafied control freak and struggle with trying to let God temper that part of my personality. When I think back to the times that I have succumbed to the “to heck with it” philosophy, I wonder what would have happened had I not tried to control the chaos to begin with. Having a baby sort-of forces you to do this on a daily basis and some days that drives me banana sandwich. But when I let God lead the chaos – something Sheldon lacks – I’m much more relaxed, and so is everyone around me including my baby. More days than not for the past few months, the chaos we’re living right now has had me wishing for my own set of bongos more than I care to admit. But hopefully I can do a better job of keeping the chaos in perspective. With God’s help.

And maybe Sheldon’s bongos.

The Middle

Michael and I have become quite fond of the TV show The Middle about a somewhat a-typical suburban family that seem to always have a few more lemons (with which to make lemonade) than everyone else. We like the show because we can relate, but I think anyone who watches the show also gets a faint sense of “well, I’m not that bad, so I must be doing pretty good” when it comes to how they raise their children, tend their marriage, work, etc. And while it does offer a boost of self-esteem, it also puts a simple spin on the everything, reminding us that life CAN in fact exist without trying to out-do one another with Pinterest craft decorations or home-grown organic garden meals and that somehow, everyone will be OK. (I know, SHOCKING!)

I don’t know if ABC intended it this way or if it’s purely coincidental, but the title is more than a little appropriate. The middle is where most of us get stuck trying to figure out how to ‘do’ life. We love beginnings for the most part, and even if endings are sad, they’re still an accepted part of life. The middle, however, is where just about everything happens, or doesn’t happen in some cases.

We’re in the middle right now – in the middle of some messes, the middle of our baby girl’s first year of life, approaching ‘mid’-life. It’s a great place and a horrible place to be. Some days I can relax and enjoy it. Others I’m longing for a new beginning, or (at the moment) I’m desperate for an END to an ongoing problem.

I came across this post the other day and it spoke so richly of the middle:

The Middle: When Pushing Through Brings Joy

The middle. Not many want to go there.

Most of us prefer being shot out of our starting blocks for a new adventure. Or rounding the corner to see the finish line with high fives from close friends. It’s the moment we wait for. At the finish we know that the sweat, the mind games, the times we thought it would never happen were well worth it. We finally hear well done.

The middle is the part most us don’t want to talk about. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard.

The middle is the reason most don’t finish.

But the middle is the secret to the joy that seems to elude us.

This is where love is born. . . right in the middle.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. {Romans 5:2-5}

Are you in the middle? Worn out? Wondering where you’re going to get that last bit of perseverance you need?

You wonder if this is really worth it.

And joy? Yea, right. That seems like a long lost friend that deserted you at the last pit stop on this long journey.

I have good news.

You’re in the middle. {Sometimes knowing exactly where you are on your God-sized adventure helps. It’s not that you’re in the wrong place, it’s just called the middle and it’s not what you thought it would be. So don’t turn around or give up.}

Since I’m in the last 7 weeks of my pregnancy {a journey with a very long middle – 7 years of waiting and hoping!} I seem to find spiritual analogies every day I watch my baby belly grow.  And during this special time, I have learned a secret about labor and delivery – transition.

The transition is the time between the first stage of labor when contractions start and the second stage where I’ll begin to push her into the world.

During the first stage of labor there is excitement. “We’re going to have a baby! It’s really happening.”  The waiting is over and relief is on the way for a tired mama body that’s about to pop. The contractions begin. It’s time for her to come into the world.

My body will go into a mode it is was created for.

The contractions and first stage of labor can last a few hours to almost a day. Then there is a time of transition to second stage. The transition is where most women want to give up. They say ‘It’s too hard. I don’t want to do this. It hurts too bad.’  Crying, emotional meltdowns and even confusion can occur.

The transition is where I will be truly tested. It happens with every birth. {Whether you’re birthing something in the physical or spiritual realm, there will be a transition.}

What follows is the second stage of labor when I will push my baby into the world.

Without the transition, the birth won’t happen. But the transition will always happen. And is needed.

Our birth class instructor shared this insight, ‘If you’re prepared for what the transition looks like, then you won’t be freaked out. You’ll also be aware that you’re entering the second stage and about to meet your child. This isn’t the time to give up. It’s a time to celebrate since you’re almost there!”

Maybe you’ve been laboring for months, maybe years, and feel like you’re getting nowhere. The process is getting harder. The promise looks like a mirage. The doubts of the miracle promised seem more real than going through the pain of getting to the other side. Remember you’re in transition and the break through is about to take place.

It’s time to celebrate. You’re almost there!

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. {Hebrews 12:2}

What are you pushing through for the joy set before you? Please don’t give up.

The special love you bring into the world is worth it.

– Stephanie Bryant, inCourage Contributor

So if I took anything from the article it’s definitely the part about delivering a baby, a process that I was absolutely convinced would kill me. It didn’t. And it delivered every bit of joy it promised. Sometimes I do think I would rather go through delivering a baby 15 times than go through a long ‘middle,’ but I have to believe that the length of the transition is directly related to the joy that ‘middle’ will yield.


I Can Empathize with Tierra

If you’ve watched The Bachelor at all this season, you know who Tierra is and the trail of ill-willed comments and feelings she induces. Many are vehemently opposed to her. I was one of them – telling friends who weren’t watching this season that they needed to tune in to specific shows to see Tierra’s “sparkle.”

Then on tonight’s show, “The Women Tell All” show where all the jilted bachelorettes come back for one last stab at each other and at their betrayer (Sean), something turned around for me watching Tierra face her nemeses. All those women taking their best shot at her, some trying to be “helpful,” others just laying it out so they felt better, like by telling her she’s delusional. Regardless of her actions, I suddenly felt differently toward her.

I was the girl in high school who would drop everything for whomever I was dating, including my friends. I admit it. As awful as it is, I was that girl. I preferred the committedness of a relationship (however committed high school relationships can be) far over the fair weather that sometimes followed friendships. I had good friends and had many good times with those that were able to look over this ‘flaw’ of mine, so I consider myself lucky in that respect. But I was also often ridiculed and offerred ‘advice’ on what I needed to do to be a better person/friend. That was hard. And when I saw Tierra trying to process and possibly justify her actions, I knew exactly how she felt.

Now, there’s one giant, glaring difference here – I was in HIGH SCHOOL when I was acting this way – Tierra is 24. I would like to think that while I have never been perfect, I did up my game – mature a little – and managed to make some real lasting friendships in college. So the logical conclusion? The bachelorette house that becomes home for 25 women competing for one man’s attention = makeshift all-girl high school, regardless of age. Tierra said a mouthful tonight when she admitted that she came into the situation scared, not knowing what to expect or how to handle everything and that she probably handled it badly. Well-said, and probably a gross understatement, but man it showed that maybe she had walked the line, graduated from all-girl high school hell. Should she begin an interview with Chris Harrison by saying things like “I light up a room when I walk in and if people don’t let that light shine, I get upset.” Um, no, probably not, and I by far wouldn’t condone or put up with half the crap she dealt out on the show. But she possibly does see the error of her ways, maybe just a little.

Tierra might just need a little bit more time to grow up, take some blows, spend some time by herself. I realized I might have been a lot like Tierra at 24 had I not taken some hits, had a few broken hearts, spent some time alone, fostered some friendships, and accepted a whole lot of God’s grace along the way, and thankfully at 24, I was planning a wedding. All of that helped me to grow past some of the drama I’m prone to, some of the insecurity that caused me to be on the constant defensive. That’s where Tierra seemed to live on the show – at the corner of Dramaville and Defensetown. So maybe she’s just a late-bloomer and will grow into her “sparkly” personality and learn to temper it where it needs some toning. Or maybe she’ll find a really, really, really patient man that will tend to her drama. And they will live happily ever after.

The Harlem Shake and Other Musings

I love pop culture, aside from the fact that my love for pop culture was almost ruined by a certain horrific WKU professor who not only thought HER thoughts on the topic were superior and thus automatically CORRECT (so much for broadening the mind) but who almost failed me after “losing” one of the two papers required for the semester, causing me to drop from honors status for graduation. But I’m over it. Whatever.

Nonetheless, my love and following of hip trends in music, film, etc., are alive and well and only fueled by the easy access we have through social media. I love when a new meme takes hold and everyone is suddenly doing their own version of “Call Me Maybe” or “Gangnam Style” or now, the 30-second featurette of the “Harlem Shake.” I think it’s partially my affection for homemade limelight, but there’s also something uniting about 50 students joining together in choreographed silliness for a piece of history forever stored on YouTube (as seen in the most recent edition from my high school alma mater, seen below.) And even though the craze is dying out, I still have a deep longing to be part of a flash mob. Whoever started that phenomenon is a darn genius.

I feel the need to insert a disclaimer – just because I love pop culture doesn’t mean I’m trendy or “hip.” Um, far from it. I would never want to set such a precedent or notion of myself. I enjoy that pop culture happens, not that I’m an instigator or even participant. Too much pressure.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become quite the award season afficionado because it is a sure-fire, quick  way to find out what/who is ‘trendy,’ and sadly, to see just how behind-the-times I’ve fallen. But this year, I felt like I was really on top of my game. It’s probably the last year that’s going to happen as I attribute most of my current pop culture awareness to spending much of my pregnancy last year firmly planted on the couch watching movies, listening to music, etc., and because my knowledge of what’s happening on Sprout and Disney Junior is growing more proficient by the day. I always enjoy the Grammys, if for anything that it is a celebration of music, but this year, I knew most of the artists (although I’m still confused as to who those Alabama Shakes people are…) and was happy to see some of my favorites like Mumford and Sons, Fun., and The Lumineers as nominees/winners. Not to mention Justin Timberlake made his return, which I could not be more enthused about and thought he did a stellar job at not seeming like an old man trying to be cool. I may have to hang up my old JT poster some where. The Grammys also solidified my idea that it seems there is a real “folksy” trend going on right now with music – lots of full band, almost Bluegrass-inspired instrumentation and song structure is very popular and evidently, successful. (Which is just fine with me since I’m fairly certain bluegrass music is my worship language – I am moved EVERY time I hear “I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons. It may not be intended as ‘Christian,’ but to me, it IS. Lyrics of “raise my hands, paint my spirit gold, bow my head, keep my heart slow” sure seem praiseworthy. Mercy.) And I must say, it was nice to have a Grammy celebration without Justin Beiber.

The Oscars were equally as satisfying – I knew who Seth McFarlane was (he’s such a pretty man – not a fan, but I love his smile), I had seen or have intent to see most of the “Best Picture” nominees, and Kentucky gal Jennifer Lawrence is easily my favorite actress right now. I loved that they played the “Jaws” theme when the acceptance speeches started to run too long. Plus, the night was dedicated to ‘music in movies’ so that was an added bonus. Just about every other commercial break was preceded with music from Les Mis and gave me chills every time. (Interestingly enough though, I chose not to see Les Mis in the theater and may not see it at all – I can’t stand Russell Crowe’s shout-singing and would grow increasingly annoyed with it as the movie progressed and she may have well-deservingly won for her role, but Anne Hathaway overacts the part. I’m sorry, but it’s true. My love for the music and the fact that there’s enough action to satisfy Michael may drive us to see it eventually. Maybe.)

Award shows are fun. I may have to break down one year and host an ‘Oscar-viewing party’ or ‘Grammy-fest.’ I always envision what I would say and who I would thank if I ever had the pleasure of accepting ANY award. Brevity is not my forte, as my college roommate put it, so I’m pretty sure I’d be a victim to the music. That’d be okay though, as long as it was the theme from “Jaws.” OR, maybe I could leave the stage doing the Harlem Shake.