Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My First Book Review

I've just finished reading a WONDERFUL book series that I want the world to know about, and so I thought I'd take the idea from my friend Corrie and write a book review on my blog. Mine won't be nearly as intelligent as hers are, but here goes.
The first book in the series is called The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and that is what the series is also known as. Delightful might sound a little cheesy, but it's really the best word I can think of to describe these books! They're written by Alexander McCall Smith, a white man who grew up in Zimbabwe, but the books are set in Botswana. The main character is Precious Ramotswe, a heavyset Batswana lady who is a refreshing combination of wisdom, honesty, and hilarity. Her father passed away, leaving her a large inheritance, so she decided to open up her own business - a detective agency. This is where the first book opens, and we get to follow her misadventures as she gets the agency off the ground. Will anyone actually hire a woman to solve their mysteries? What does she do with the difficult cases that come along? Any respectable business needs a secretary, but can she afford to keep one? How will she stop the chickens from roosting in her office? She also has plenty of adventures in her personal life, and some of her friends are pretty unique characters! For example, look at Mma Potokwane, the pushy matron of the town's orphanage, who can talk pretty much anyone into anything. She'll captivate you with a large slice of her fruitcake, and then while you're in its raptures, you'll say yes to whatever she asks! Then, of course, there's her oldest and most faithful friend: her tiny white van that notoriously leans toward the driver's side - a testament to Mma Ramotswe's "traditional build."

So far there are 7 books in the series: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, The Kalahari Typing School for Men, The Full Cupboard of Life, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, and Blue Shoes and Happiness. I can't wait for him to write more!

You can ask Justin, who was beside me while I read most of these books - I laughed out loud on numerous occasions! These books probably connected with me so deeply because I spent 2 years living in Africa, and they hit the nail on the head when it comes to African culture. But I'm sure that anyone would enjoy the delightful and funny prose that entertains you, while still dealing with some pretty deep and thought-provoking questions of life. If you want to be entertained with light and funny reading, then check out these books!

Monday, January 29, 2007

In the Hand of God

I've never read anything by Mother Teresa, but the little I know about her I certainly think is admirable. I heard this quote of hers the other day that really touched me:

"I am a pencil in the hand of God,
writing a love letter to the world."
This goes along with a theme of things I've been hearing the past couple of weeks, basically all with the same idea, that we are meant to be instruments that God can use to express His message to the world. When we are yielded to Him and in proper relationship with Him, His love and His glory can shine through us, making an impact on the world around us, just like it did with Mother Teresa. That is certainly a challenge to me - I want to be used in this way, I want to reflect God's light like a mirror. But it's so easy to just get caught up in myself and forget to keep my mirror polished so it can brightly shine. Or I don't even point my mirror in the right direction so it can catch the light it was created to reflect. I was especially challenged with a thought yesterday. I am on the Praise Team at church, and all the time people are coming to me and telling me how much they like to watch me sing because they can see that I'm really worshipping and they can see the light of God in me. I really appreciate those comments and am encouraged by them, but at the same time, I don't want that to be only when I sing. I want to be sitting at my computer at work and still look just the same. I want people to be able to look at my face at any time and see the light of God shining in me, not just when I'm singing praise songs at church. I want the clerk at the post office to see the Holy Spirit in my countenance, I want the girl who works at Subway to feel God's love coming through me as she's making my tuna salad. That is going to be a slow process, I think. I think it won't happen overnight, but my mirror will be slowly polished and shine more and more as I focus more on God's Word and on becoming more yielded to Him. But it's quotes like that from Mother Teresa that will help keep me focused and pointed in the right direction. Because reflecting the glory of the Creator is why He made me in the first place.
I also came across this clip of a story that was on CNN recently about a little girl who has been marvelously gifted, and she's already using her talents to shine for her Creator. I may not be as talented, but I sure want to shine!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Closet Fan?

Does anybody remember the band Hanson? Three brothers who skyrocketed to international fame when they came out with the song "Mmmbop" in 1997... I have always REALLY liked that song, although I've never admitted that to anyone else, and I certainly can't claim to know anything else they've ever sung. So, I'm an Mmmbop fan, but not a Hanson fan. I, and I assume most other people in the world, thought these kids were just a one-hit wonder.

However, last night I was watching Deal or No Deal (I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a fan of that show!), and the girl who was playing said that her favorite band was Hanson, and she was so obsessed with them that she carried with her at all times a guitar pick she had caught at one of their concerts. As a special treat to her, they actually came to the show and cheered her on as she won $82,000. When they came out, though, it was these guys:

I said, Oh, that must be a different band named Hanson. The ones that sang Mmmbop were not-so-cute little kids, but these are nice-looking young men. But then later the contestant asked them to sing Mmmbop to bring luck to one of her case choices. They did so and it sounded great. What?! Are you kidding me? Yes, little Hanson is all grown up (now ages 21, 23, & 26 - I know because she picked those cases because of their ages) and apparently singing things other than Mmmbop. So I'm a little sad that it really has been 10 years since Mmmbop came out, makes me feel kinda old that the first picture has turned into the second one. But good for the Hansons, they still have fans after all this time. Sorry, guys, but I don't plan on becoming one of them.

P.S. Google finally made me switch my blog over. Curse you, Google monopoly! We'll see if I like it better... :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let the Sun Shine!

For those of you who don't live in Central Texas, you may not know about the disastrous weather we've been having around here the past week. I mean, it's almost like it's WINTER, for goodness' sake! We've been having ice storms and high temperatures below freezing. This makes from some interesting commutes to work! Every day this week we've had a delayed start, which has proven to be very nice for my sleep schedule, and then yesterday we finally had our first "snow day" of the year. The weather was so bad that even Baylor cancelled classes, so I got to have my sweetie home yesterday too! (See his blog for his trauma regarding the weather and Baylor cancellation.) So yesterday, I wore pajamas all day long, and the only productive thing I did was clean out the refrigerator, which desperately needed to be done. Justin and I did, however, celebrate our day off with an awesome pancake & omelet breakfast. YUM! It was so good I didn't even need lunch! We also watched Wheel of Fortune, which has become a daily occurence for us, and when, to our chagrin, we discovered that Friday Night Lights was a repeat, we took the opportunity to play some games. He beat me at both Life and Trivial Pursuit. So all in all, I'd call it a good day!
But I think enough is enough. I mean, this is Texas, after all! In case any of you have never wintered in Texas, there are 2 seasons here - hot/sunny and freezing/icy. The hot season lasts approximately 11 months - just 2 weeks ago we had temperatures in the 70s. Now suddenly we've reached "winter." That means cold temperatures and ice. No such thing as snow around here, just ice. But I say that one week of ice is plenty! I'm ready for some sunshine again! We were blessed with about 5 hours of sunshine this morning, which I desperately needed, but now it's overcast again. They're actually forecasting another round of ice storms next week - maybe I won't have to work a full 8 hour day for 2 weeks straight! I guess if I have to put up with all the ice, I might as well get the perk of time off work for it. So now that I've put you through this entirely meaningless post rambling about the weather and pajamas, I guess I'll leave you to do something more interesting. Thanks for your time!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Don't Want to Change And You Can't Make Me!

So who can tell me what is the deal with Google now owning blogger? And they're making everybody switch from blogger to Google blogger? I kind of resent that. Who are they to tell me I HAVE to change the format of my blog? I don't know anything about the new Google blogger except when Justin transferred his blog, he had a hard time in getting things to switch, and I couldn't post comments on his blog anymore! So why should I switch if it's just going to make things harder? I know this is entirely not a big deal, and if they tell me that I have to switch the way they did to Justin, then I will rather than giving up blogging. But I've decided that I won't do it voluntarily. They'll have to force me to do it. Just to prove that I am in control of my own blogging destiny! Power to the people!

On a slightly related blogging note, I'd like to share with you all the great tool that my brother-in-law showed me to make blog-reading a lot easier. It's called Google Reader. You enter in all the blogs you read, and then you just check in there and it tells you if there are any new posts on any of them. So instead of going to a bajillion different blogs, none of whom have posted anything new since yesterday, you can just sign in to Google Reader and it'll tell you if there are any new posts. Very convenient and efficient. So I may be a holdout when it comes to converting my blog to Google, but I'll jump right on using their Reader. Does that sound backward to you?!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Ok, now that it's been 3 weeks since I promised the picture of Justin with his pencils, here it is! I've been really surprised at the response to that pencil post - it even made Ryan's top 2 favorite Tapp stories! Wow! I'm sure Justin would be happy to do a demonstration of this ability for any of you who may be interested.

While I'm at it, I thought I'd post some pics of our holiday travels. Justin did a pretty thorough job chronicling our adventures on his blog, so check out his tales here. I'll just add some tidbits and cute photos. Just let me say that my nephews are PRECIOUS!!!! Azlan LOVED his aunt Joni, and she loved him right back. I got some good exercise bouncing him to sleep too! :)For Christmas, Patriot got the hot toy of the season, TMX Elmo. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's a new version of the Tickle Me Elmo, but this thing is ridiculously scary in what it can do. Click here to watch a short video of TMX Elmo's antics. Patriot, of course, loves it.For Christmas, Mom got a game called Dance Mania, where you plug it into your TV and you have to dance along with the instructions on the screen. Her version was actually for 2 players, so you could have competitions to see who was better. Here are Justin and Matt (my bro-in-law) getting their groove on. Christmas day we had a huge family-wide tournament - made it to about the 3rd round, but couldn't compete with Mom. She ended up winning the whole thing.Then in Knoxville we had a great time getting to know baby Joshua as well. He was tiny compared to Azlan! In this picture, we're covered in the afghan I crocheted for him. And the last picture is Justin's sister, Nicole, with her husband David and baby Joshua. It was such a cute picture I couldn't resist putting it on my blog. So I hope it inpires warm, happy feelings for all!