31 December 2007

The Holy Land Experience

(Note: text not in line with pictures like usual.)Today Dad, Thomas, Mike and I drove to Orlando to go to the Holy Land Experience. It's a small park that basically is a witness of Christ to the Jews. It was pretty amazing. They have a huge model replica of Jerusalem in 66AD. The best part though, which I'm going to tell about first, was the Scriptorium. The Scriptorium was a walk through museum of sorts that has a ton of replicas that were donated to the Holy Land Experience. There were tablets from Babylon with writing about King Nebuchadnezzar, there were scrolls from the Library at Alexandria in Egypt, there were scrolls of books of the Bible, including a beautifully decorated scroll of Esther. As you walk through the museum, it takes you through a different period in history where the Word of God has been brought through time and history and has been preserved so all could hear the Gospel of Christ. There were Greek copies of the New Testament (in Greek of course) dating back to 100 AD.

They had a very early edition of the Vulgate, which was the Latin translation of the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew. There were books there that were over a thousand years old ~ it was absolutely incredible and moving. There were many times that I had to hold back tears. The way that the Lord has preserved His Word is just . . . well, indescribable. But there's more . . . There were early editions of the Wyclif Gospels (I can't remember the exact date, but it was around 1382). John Wyclif was a priest of the English church who translated the Latin Bible into English so that the English people could read the Bible for themselves. This enacted a law which equated Bible reading with heresy that was punishable by death (the English clergy enacted this law.) And the Holy Land Experience has an early edition of that Bible! You can't go through history and how the Bible came to be as a book today without talking about Gutenberg and the printing press, since the first book printed was a Bible. On display they had a Gutenberg Bible.
I don't think it was the first one, but Johannes Gutenberg spent two years printing a collection of 210 copies, which I think this Bible is one of, probably printed in the late 1400's. On display was also what I thought one of the most powerful symbols of martyrdom for Christ ~ a copy of the blood stained Marytr's Bible. It was a Matthew's Bible from 1537. William Tyndale worked in Germany to print English Bibles to smuggle into England, since printing (and probably distrubuting them) was considered heretical by the church of England. Tyndale was executed within 10 years of starting his work in Germany.

His last words were "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." Three years later King Henry VIII ordered that every church in England have a copy of the Bible in English (as opposed to Latin, which the common man could not read). Tyndale's Bible (since he translated from the original Greek and Latin), became the basis for the King James Bible, first published in 1611. They also had a second edition Tyndale New Testament that was printed in Antwerp in 1534 was display. Absolutely incredible . . . Moving on through the tour, you are taken to the jail cell of John Bunyan. He was imprisoned for 12 years for not conforming with the church of England.
He was a minister but refused to be ordained by the church of England. Rather than agree and have his freedom (and be with his wife and four children), he stayed in prison because he believed that it was more important to be odedient to the Scripture than to be free. While in prison, he wrote several books, including the Pilgrim's Progress, which they had an early edition of. They also had early editions of Justification, The Holy War and Advice to Suffers. There books were printed in the late 1600's. Moving on in the tour you are taken in to the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London where Charles Spurgeon preached.
On display were copies of Lectures to My Students, The Soul Winner and An All-Around Ministry, as well as hand written letters written by the famous pastor. These dated to the late 1800's. On display also was a copy of the Geneva Bible, presumably the one brought to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620. They also had on display the first Bible printed in America. It also happened to be the first Bible printed for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel to the Native Americans. John Eliot spent 12 years translating this Bible in Algonquian.

The Finale of walking through the Scriptorium was oil painting of various figures from the Bible: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saul, David, Isaiah, Mary, Peter, Paul. While the curtain rose to reveal the painting, a voice read from Scripture. Joshua 1:8, 2 Tim 3:16-17, John 1:1-3 were among the verses quoted. And above, the ten commandments were illuminated and read allowed. The purpose was to say that no man was able to keep them, we were sinful and in need of a Savior: Jesus Christ. What was also so great was at the very end of the tour before you exited, having just seen how the Bible has been passed down from generation to generation and the people who paid for it with their freedom and their lives, they challenged you (us) with what you are going to do with your time and your freedom to own and read the Living Word of God. Are you going to be odediant is basically what they were asking. It really makes you think that nothing really else matters in this world, except the Great Commission and preaching the Word. There are a lot of people who don't know. I have felt called to missions before, and it was one of the reasons that I chose Mike as a husband, he said he also felt called to missions. I feel that calling renewed. I feel, however, that I do lack the courage, so that is my prayer request now. I don't see the mission field as a far off land anymore though, I see it right here in the US. It really is where ever the Lord calls us.

***Normally I write things in chronological order, but I was so excited about writing about the Scriptorium and wanted to get it all out before I forgot things. You are absolutely forbidden from taking any pictures, even with a cell phone, inside, so I didn't get any pictures. I do wish I had brought a small notebook to write down specifics dates and the names of all the books, manuscripts and scrolls they had on display.***

So more about the Holy Land Experience.

As you can see from the pictures, basically, you are walking through Israel. It rained on and off all day (hence the overcast sky.) The underlying theme throughout the entire thing is that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. He came to fulfill the prophesies, He lived, He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead. What a witness to those who don't believe! I think especially to the Jews. They go through how the prophesies were fulfilled, not just with Scripture, but historically as well. If anyone who reads my blog ever comes to central/south Florida, they have got to come here. It's actually just about 10 minutes from Disney.
We did stop to get some food. I love that there were verses everywhere throughout the park. This verse (Psalm 42:2), was just outside the little cafe, over looking a water fountain.

Well, I must go for now. We have company over for New Year's Celebration and all that. I guess this is my last blog for the 2007.

So farewell 2007, hello 2008. I am looking forward to the New Year! :D

Signing off for 2007 ~ Good Bye from Florida ~ see you in Oklahoma on Friday! :D Love to you all! :D

29 December 2007

Dinner on Gulfshore Boulevard

After spending the afternoon at the beach, we decided to drive south along Gulfshore Blvd until we came to a restaurant that we wanted to eat at. One of the things that I love about Florida, is that you can get fresh sea fish, especially on the beach. After a few miles, we came upon Indian Rocks Beach. And just inside of Indian Rocks Beach, there stood Guppy's Seafood Grill and Bar. It was a really small restaurant, and right across the street from the water. To me, that translates into guaranteed fresh fish. :D

We ate outside on the covered patio of the restaurant. Very nice, really really romantic, very Floridian. :D It was great. I was really happy to be able to share Florida things like this with Mike. And I love that Mike doesn't necessarily need a plan, he's just fine with going with the flow. :) I love that about him. :D

Here I am at the table, waiting for our food. It did get pretty chilly while we were there, so I ended up putting on a long sleeved shirt that I had brought. We ended up spending over an hour there because we got an appetizer. I thought it was really neat, just taking it all in, spending time with Mike, no rush about anything at all.

Because more fog had rolled in (because the temperature was dropping), you couldn't really see the water. And unlike the Atlantic, where you can hear the waves from over a block away, you couldn't hear the gulf either. (The waves are very small in the gulf. Not like the Atlantic (or Pacific) at all. It is there though, just on the other side of those trees. (All of these pictures were taken from the table except the one the patio.)

Mike and I agreed on getting calamari for an appetizer, and I am so glad that we did. It was absolutely the best calamari I have ever had, bar none. It definitely had not been frozen prior to preparation (like you get in Oklahoma). It was really, really great. Mike also informed me that he didn't think he had ever eaten calamari, so it was another first for Mike. :D He really liked it, as you can tell from the picture.

At last our food arrived. Mike ordered crab quesadillas. (I'm not really sure why when he could have had fresh fist, but oh well. He said they were really good.)

I ordered Cracked Blackcorn YellowFin Tuna, which I was informed was caught yesterday (I made sure I knew when the fish was caught before I ordered). :D It was so good! There is a huge, huge difference in fresh tuna and the tuna that comes in a can. First of all, fresh tuna is a really big game fish, so it has a lot of thick muscle on it. So when you order tuna, it comes as a cut (like a steak), not a fillet. It was so tasty. I wish that I could share it with all of you. Also, just fyi for those not familiar with fresh fish who read my blog, the fresher the fish, the less "fishy" the taste. Fresh fish doesn't taste anything like the fish that you get that has been flown in from somewhere or that comes in a can. It has just a clean, sweet, light taste to it. It is so good. :)

While we there, the menu provided us with some information about types of fish. I really wish I had taken a picture of it. Apparently (if my memory serves me correctly) the reef fish, like grouper and amberjack, don't have a lot of muscle on them because they don't have to swim a lot. So usually reef fish are cut as fillets because they're so thin, and have a mild taste to them. They are also usually "white" fish. Game fish are fish that live out in the open water, like the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic or Pacific. This includes mahi-mahi, salmon, swordfish, wahoo and yellowfin tuna. There fish have a lot more muscle on them (because they have to swim to catch their food), so usually they are not cut as filets, but as cuts (steaks). They also don't have as mild a taste as the reef fish. Game fish can also be "white", but also pink, gray or tan.

Well, that's all I've got for right now. Tomorrow we go to church in the morning. Maybe in the afternoon we'll go back to Medard Park and to Turkey Creek Stables, or we'll go out and see the Manatees. We'll see. :D

One underlying conservasion topic that Mike and I have had is that we wish that we could share all of this with everyone in the Bible Study. We really miss everyone a lot and are looking forward to seeing everyone again.

Clearwater Beach

Today Mike and I went to the beach. I decided to take Mike to Clearwater Beach, since that was the closest beach that I knew of. It was more than an hour's drive because of traffic, especially once we got into Pinellas County. Basically there's only one road that goes into Clearwater, so you can imagine all the people going down to the resorts, hotels, beaches and condos from Tampa.

I did discover that I am afraid to drive over big bridges. Not so afraid that I won't drive over them, but I definitely don't like to do it. We had two that we drove over, one being over the Bay.

We ended up going to a county park in Pinellas County. Here is a picture of the sand dunes on the way from the parking lot to the beach. The parking wasn't too bad actually. You paid by the quarter hour, I think. It was one of those quarter machines, like we have downtown.

When we first arrived at the beach, it was really sunny and in the 80's. A great way to spend the afternoon at the beach. :) (I might also add that 80 degrees is unusually warm for this time of year for this part of Florida.)

The water was really cold, but that didn't stop Mike from going in. It did stop me from going in past my ankles, which really disappointed Mike. (He didn't tell me that though until after we left. If he had, I probably would have braved the cold water and joined him.)

While we were there, I guess a cold front started to come in, because all of this fog rolled in (really, really quickly) off of the gulf. I hadn't really ever seen anything quite like it, since I haven't spent a whole lot of time on the beach in my life before. It really was something. One minute it was bright, blue sunny skies reflecting off turquoise blue water. Less than five minutes later, the water was a turquoise green, and there was fog everywhere. You couldn't even make out the hotels and condos just across the inlet.

About half an hour after that though, it warmed up again, and the fog went away. (All of these pictures, except the first one, are in chronological order of when they were taken.)
This picture right here is the rock jetty that was at the end of the beach. On the other side of the jetty was a little inlet that went under the bridge and to the other side of Clearwater.

The sun was getting ready to set, so I thought I would capture on those classic pictures of the water. :) It gets dark right about 1800 right now in Florida. This was shot facing west. If you turn to face any other direction, it doesn't quite look like this (as you can see from later pictures.)

I decided not to post any of the pictures with me in them because I'm wearing my bikini top and a calf-length skirt, and I didn't think that it would be very fitting to post those on my blog (speaking from a purity stand point.)

More pictures of the gulf. You can see on the horizon a three-masted pirate ship. It's not quite a real-life relic, just a look-a-like (as you can see it's not using sails, ergo it must be motorized). It does tours around the bay and the gulf. We passed it on the way into the beach. Mike got a picture, but I didn't post it. Maybe next post.

Dive! Dive!

Mike and I decided to head to the beach today, so we drove down to Pinellas County to Clearwater Beach. This is a video of a pelican that was diving for lunch. I had never seen a bird do that so close before, so I was quite intrigued.

25 December 2007

Word length

Mike was commenting about the length of my last blog . . . . he thought it was only 500 words. So I decided to copy and paste to Word and count the words. For Mike's information, it's only 5, 515 words, not 500 . . . and it's 28, 964 characters with spaces. And it only took me two hours to write!! :D

So, with that said . . . Happy Reading!! Oh, 5000 words in only 9 pages, so when you have to write a 500 word essay, don't get discouraged, that's only like half a page! :D

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas to all!! :D

It has been a great Christmas this year. I love being married to Mike and I love spending Christmas with him. We had an amazing three days at Disney ... to me, it was amazing because I was there with Mike and we just walking around kissing each other and holding hands and talking. I also really enjoyed watching Mike take in Disney ~ to me, that was a special treat because he had never been to Disney before. Normally, we have to "contain" ourselves when we are around other people, which is very hard for us, but I think we do a pretty good job considering how we are when no one is around. It just felt so great to be able to kiss Mike in public without having to hear some comment and to be able to hold onto each other with having someone nearby rolling their eyes. We didn't care who we might offend with our expression of love for each other because everyone there was a stranger that we'd never see again. Actually when we ate lunch at the Main Street restaurant at Magic Kingdom, the "mayor" of Main Street came into the restaurant and as he walked by our table, looked directly at us, and announced very loudly: "Wave to the honeymooners!" We both blushed . . . but we both agreed that it probably is pretty obvious that we're newlyweds. We decided that we want to still get comments like that when we've been married for 10 years or longer. So sorry guys, we're going to be touchy feely and kissing on each other whenever we can for years to come! I love being married to Mike! :)

So about Disney . . . it was very magical. We left the house somewhat early on Friday and drove the hour or so that it takes to get to Kissimmi from my Dad's house. We decided to go to Magic Kingdom first. So after parking and taking the tram from the parking lot to the main entrance (not the ticket area), we decided to take the monorail to the park gate. (You have to cross a lagoon to get from the parking area to the ticket area. You can cross via monorail or ferry.) There was lots of picture taking and more of Mike talking about moving to Florida. We decided to head over to Adventure land first, since that was where Pirates of the Caribbean, the ride, is. On the way, we "climbed" the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, then did the Jungle River Cruise, which was absolutely hilarious. Then it was onto lunch, then the Pirates ride. They have redone the ride since the new movies came out, but a lot of it was still unchanged from the last time I was at Disney, about 12.5 years ago. (The movies are based on the ride, for those who didn't know that.) What I really love about Disney is the extreme attention to detail that they put into every little thing that you can possible imagine. You really do feel removed from everything in your every day life, and by the second day, I was really starting to feel like a little kid again. I think that Mike felt the same way. I'll be posting pictures when I return to Oklahoma, by the way. Anyway, after the Pirates ride, we walked over to Fantasy Land and rode "It's a Small World". Still a really great ride, and I think pretty romantic. Just floating along in your little boat, looking at all the singing animatronic dolls, leaning against the love of your life . . . ::sigh :) :: Mike had spotted the Haunted Mansion before, so we went to that ride next. Mike said that was one of his favorite rides because of the holographics that they used. It is really incredible how they do that. Then it was on to Liberty Square, to the Hall of Presidents, a combination film and animatronics show of all the Presidents of the US. It was actually pretty good. Then we decided to leave and check into the hotel and take a little break before heading over to Epcot to see the Christmas special with James Edward Olmos.

So we drove to the Gaylord Palms Hotel, which is absolutely huge!! We checked in, parked the car (Dad's car) and parking there isn't as easy as it sounds . . . We got a room on the 5th (top) floor overlooking the Florida country side (which, of course, is water). The hotel rooms are built in an "L" shape, but the hotel itself is square. The "inside" of the L is made up of shops, a miniature castle, restaurants, gardens and a walkway. It is completely encased in glass, all the way up to the 5th floor and above. It's pretty amazing. I'll have to post pictures for you to get the picture of what it looked like. There was a stream inside, and a palm trees and shrubs and a wooden boardwalk. There was also a giant Christmas tree and lights hanging from the glass ceiling. It was pretty neat. Mike said he had never stayed in a hotel like that before. Again, it was pretty neat watching his reaction to everything .... (I've stayed in hotels like that for work related reasons . . . )

So after our little break, we took the hotel provided bus over to Epcot. We wanted to make the 2015 showing of the Candlelight Processional, which was all the across the lagoon that makes up quite a bit of Epcot. (Everything is on the perimeter of the lagoon.) So we walked as fast as we could with the crowds over across the lake. We got over there with about half an hour to spare. So we stopped in Morocco (there are different "countries" all across the lagoon with shops, attractions and restaurants featuring that particular country) and ate dinner. We both had lamb with couscous (which I didn't know I liked) and fenils (which I definitely do not like now that I've tried them). Then we were on our way to catch the show. And we discovered the line ~ it stretched for quite a ways. It became VERY obvious that we would not make it into the ampitheatre to sit and see the show, so we decided to camp out on the curb at the back on the theatre and watch from a standing point of view. So we saw the whole Candlelight Processional from the back, but we didn't have to wait over an hour in line like everyone else did. So we decided it worked out great for us. Now the Candlelight Procession is a culmination of the Disney orchestra, a 400+ choir (made up of choirs from local churches) and a special guest speaker reading the Christmas story, most of which was directly from Scripture. It was definitely really amazing. The guest speaker on that particular night was Edward James Olmos, also known as Commander Odama from Battlestar Galactica. Of course the whole thing is scripted, but what Olmos said that the beginning, that he believed that it really was the Greatest Story Ever Told that leads me to believe that he is a Believer (that part was not scripted). (A new reason to watch BSG!) We ended up leaving a few minutes before the ending because we wanted to make our bus back on time to the hotel. We knew the bus was coming at 2145 or something and I wasn't sure how long it would take to walk all the way back around the lagoon and to the bus parking, so I wanted to have plenty of time. Plus I knew a lot of other people might be leaving at the same time, which would really slow things quite a bit. And I definitely did not want to miss the bus. So Mike and I walked very fast back to the front entrance of Epcot and out to the bus parking, but we got there in plenty of time (actually with 30 minutes to spare). Mike was a little miffed, but I would rather be early than run up only to wave goodbye to our bus as it leaves the parking lot. We got to talk to Ruth and Mike got to talk to John though, so it me, it was all good. :)

We were so tired at the end of the day, and our feet were so sore from walking, that we ended up going to sleep almost right away and sleeping an hour and a half later than we intended to in the morning. But that was all right, because that was just more time we got to spend with each other . . . :) Originally we had wanted to order the room service breakfast, but since we got up so late, we decided to go to one of the hotel restaurants for lunch. However, when we checked out some the restaurants (and prices) and the bus departure time, we opted to head straight to the park and eat as soon as we got there. That wasn't really the best idea in the end, because then we were waiting on the bus and we were both so incredibly hungry when we got to the park, but oh well. Live and learn. We had also decided to head back to the Magic Kingdom to ride the things we didn't get to on Saturday. This is when we went to the Plaza Plavillion for lunch and got a table. Mike ordered a cheese steak sandwich and I ordered a Reuben with German potato salad. The food was absolutely delicious. This is where the "mayor" of Mainstreet came into the restaurant. We also split a mint chocolate chip shake for dessert. :) Awww, one shake, two straws . . . :: sigh :: :D

Sunday was a lot hotter than Saturday. On Saturday it was actually cool enough to need to wear a hoodie all day. Sunday, not so much. So we ended up carrying our hoodies around (I knew it was going to get cold when the sun went down and I wanted to be prepared. Our original plan was to stay at the Magic Kingdom until the fireworks show. So we just carried our sweaters around. I also brought my little backpack to carry around water, snacks, sunblock, wallet, phone, keys and such things. It was pretty handy and fairly light and not too hot. After lunch we decided to head straight to Tomorrow Land since we hadn't gone to any of the attractions there the day before. Tomorrow Land is also where Space Mountain is located, and we really wanted to ride that. The line however was about 80 minutes waiting, so we decided to get the "Fast Pass" thing. The Fast Pass is where you put your ticket into this machine and you get a pass for that particular ride, you just come back at a later time and basically you get to the cut to the front of the line. Mike and I don't really think the fast pass is very fair, even though we did use it on some rides. We both thought about writing a letter to Disney about it, and we may still. But anyway, more on that later, maybe. So we had about 3 or 4 hours before we came back to ride Space Mountain, so we decided to head over to Peter Pans Flight. On the way, we passed Winnie the Pooh, but decided to ride Peter Pans Flight, then come back. Well, the line at Winnie the Pooh was about 30 minutes shorter, so we ended up coming back to that and riding that first. I really liked how they decorated the front of the building where the ride entrance is. It was all huge (12+ feet tall) books and there were pages of the books from Winnie the Pooh. The ride was really neat too. It pretty much takes you through on the stories of Pooh, complete with the nightmare of hephalumps and woozles. Again, I thought it was really romantic . . . :: sigh again :: :) Peter Pans Flight had an incredibly long wait (about 30 minutes longer than the sign said, which made for over an hour), but I think it was worth the wait. You sail through the air from Wendy and boy's room, over Nanna, up and over London (complete with little running cars) and into Never-Never land. The mermaids were there, and the Indians with TigerLilly, and the pirates and the lost boys. You even get to see Peter Pan and Captain Hook fighting on the mast of his ship before he ends up in the water with the crocodile. It was really cool. The imaginative effect is really awesome. After that we decided to head back to Frontierland and go to Tom Sawyer's Island. Tom Sawyer's Island isn't a ride or anything, but it's an actual island, which you have to take a raft to, that you can explore. There were paths over hills and through dark, twisty caves. There was a windmill you could go up into, a barrel bridge to cross and Tom's Fort. There was also a huge fort that you could play in. It was two stories and even had little window outlets on the second floor to shoot out of to protect the fort. And of course, being Disney, there were rifles with real sound effects when you pulled the trigger. It was so much fun. It really reminded me of when I was a little kid and I used to play in "forts" and stuff with Thomas. We were always running around doing stuff like that. I think that Tom Sawyer's Island was actually my favorite thing of all three days. I really loved it. I felt so adventuresome.

We actually stayed there playing around for 30 minutes or so. It was quite a while, and wasn't crowded at all. After we finally took a raft back, we finally decided to ride Splash Mountain (a ride where you can get wet), but then decided not to wait the 80 minutes because then it would be dark. So that we forwent that ride (if that is a word that I can use.) We also wanted to ride Big Thunder Mountain while we were over there, but it had just closed for some reason, so we didn't get to ride that one either. So we went back through Adventure Land, rode Aladdin's Flying Carpet, which is really a ride for the little ones, but who says that two love struck adults can't fly through the air on a carpet like Aladdin?? Then we made our way directly across the park back to Tomorrow Land. Stitch's Great Escape didn't have a very big line, so we rode that on the way to Space Mountain. We got to Space Mountain, and only had to wait about 10 minutes to ride before boarding our rocket ship to travel through space with. Space Mountain is a completely indoor roller coaster, and the way they have designed it, you really feel like you are in outer space. Not because of the G forces, but just because of the constellations that they have put on the ceiling. It is really incredible. And a lot of fun because you never know when a turn, dip or hill is coming up because other than the "stars" on the ceiling, it's all pitch dark. Even though by this point we were both so incredibly tired, I really wanted to ride the Tomorrow Land Transit Authority ride. It's pretty much a "tour" of all the rides in Tomorrow Land. You ride around for about 10 to 15 minutes in your TTA vehicle two stories above Tomorrow Land, going inside each and every building there. You go above the shops, you go through Space Mountain (which I thought was especially cool because you got to see all the "constellations" at a really slow pace, so you could really enjoy them), you go through the Carousel of Progress, and Buzz Lightyear's Spin ride and pretty much you get to rest, relax and see everything. I think it's pretty ingenious actually, but that's just me. We discussed on the ride that we were both too tired and sore to stay until the fireworks and decided to take the bus back to the hotel and eat dinner there.

On the way out, we stopped and took A LOT of pictures of the castle. By now it was dark (Yay we brought our hoodies because it got pretty cool), and the castle was all aglow in blue with white lights on the spires. Personally, it had the effect of winter ice on a castle in the European mountains, it was really spectacularly beautiful. And it was all reflecting on the moat ~ just perfectly magical.

We opted to take the ferry boat back to the parking lot this time, while I anxiously looked at my watch about 30 seconds, because we only had so many minutes before the next bus. However, unlike the night before, if we missed our bus, we'd only have to wait 90 minutes before the next one came. We were so tired though, that we really just wanted to get back to the hotel and lay down. So we actually were walking (really fast) up the bus parking space while the bus was there. I intentionally walked in front of the bus so that if the driver did decided to start heading back, he'd have to stop for us. (I know, I know, risky, but they wouldn't run over someone in a nursing hoodie . . . lol.) I really wanted to get back to the hotel.

So we got back to our room, showered, and decided against room service since there were four restaurants in the hotel to choose from. We also knew there were a lot of restaurants to choose from in Kissimmi and nearby Orlando, but we definitely did not want to drive anywhere. We looked up on room computer (yes, lots of technology there) the menus of all the restaurants in the hotel, and decided on the H20 Sports Bar and Grill. So then we looked up the map of how to get there. I wanted to get all dressed up to eat, so I did, and then we were off. It took us about 15 minutes to walk to the restuarant since it was on the other side of the property. On the way, we discovered there was a Christmas rock concert in the hotel, so we stopped to listen to a song before continuing to the restaurant. I think we would have stayed longer if we weren't so hungry. The band was pretty good. We ended up eating at the bar because after sitting at one of the tables outside for a few minutes with no appearnace of waitstaff, we didn't think there was a server out there. The bartender was funny though and there was a football game on the TV (it was a sportsbar). I have no idea who was playing or anything. It has been so long since I have sat a bar . . . Mike felt the same way. About halfway through our dinner, the band (from the rock concert upstairs) came down and joined us at the bar. That was pretty cool. We didn't really say anything to them, or they to us, but still. There was a just only a few minutes before previously engaged rock band sitting at the bar with us. I think they were called Illumination or something. We finished our sandwich/burger, asked the bartender to take our picture, then headed in for the night.

Monday morning we woke up, packed, and checked out of the hotel (on our little room computer). We decided to go to Disney/MGM so we could ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, then head to Epcot to ride the attractions that we didn't ride on Saturday night. So we parked, took the tram to the entrance, immediately spotted the Tower of Terror (it's 13 stories tall), and made our way right to it. The wait was only 50 minutes, which I told Mike was definitely worth the wait. It actually ended up only being about 30, and the line wound round the gardens of the hotel, through the hotel lobby and down into the boiler room in the basement. The Tower of Terror is a hotel that is built in 1917, in Hollywood. In 1939, during a thunderstorm, the top of the hotel is struck by lightning, sending the passengers of the elevator in the Twilight Zone. The hotel is frozen in time, from 1939 (and there is dust, wilted flowers and cobwebs everywhere to prove it). You then enter into the elevator, take a seat and proceed through the hotel. The elevator actually goes forwards, not just up and down. After some really cool holograms and visual effects, you are left in the dark, in the elevator shaft. Dropping and going up and dropping and going up and dropping and so on and so forth. They drop you at least 10 stories at least once, and I think there was a total of being dropped six times altogether, although I'm not really sure. I was doing a lot of screaming. Mike was doing a lot of laughing at me screaming. They take your picture while your dropping, and in the picture, I'm screaming and Mike has his head turnd to and is laughing! At me! Screaming. I guess it is funny though. All the guys in the Bible Study seem to think that me screaming is hilarious. Apparently I have the classic Psycho scream. Anyway, it was a really great ride.

While waiting in line, we consulted our park map and decided that the other things we really wanted to do before going to Epcot was the Star Tours (Star Wars) ride, and the Indiana Jones show. So we made our way over. We ended up getting the Fast Pass for Star Tours because the wait was 90 minutes or something and the Fast Pass time was only an hour later. So we checked out the next show time for Indiana Jones (it's a live show, not a ride), and then got some soft serve icecream, which was really refreshing and delicious. Ice cream just doesn't fill Mike up like it does for me though. Afterwards, we went right back to Star Tours and go into the Fast pass line. On the way we encountered two Storm Troopers who were checking Fast Pass tickets. I was actually pretty intimidated. I don't know if you have ever gone around a corner really fast and almost run into not one, but two, 6 foot + tall Storm Troopers complete with guns, but it's a little scary. Of course they are expressionless because of their helmets, but I'm sure they knew exactly what I was thinking. I was leading, so I stopped and just kind of skirted (without taking my eyes off them) around the edge towards the line thing and then moved on. I wish now I had been like "Hey, can I get a picture with you?", but oh well. Next time I'll be prepared. The ride was really good ~ it's a flight simulator.

After that we decided to get in line immediately for the Indiana Jones show even the next one didn't start until an hour later. I was really glad we got in line then though, because there were hundreds of people who got the Fast Pass who got to go in first, and there were hardly any seats left when we got in there. And we were the third party in line. In the end though we got great seats for the show and it was really great. Kyle, if you ever go to this, when they ask for volunteers, stand up, wave and shout and make lots of noise IMMEDIATELY because they'll pic you for an extra to be in the show. I wish I had been more quick to make some noise and stand up because that would have been an unforgetable experience. I did get some of the explosions on video, so I'll post those too. The show was really great, it was like watching an Indiana Jones movie live, completely with a German fighter, explosions, falling off buildings and everything.

Once the show was over, we decided to leave Disney/MGM and head over to Epcot. Monday was even hotter than the day before, so we left our hoodies in the car at MGM and at Epcot (which I later really regretted). Because Epcot was so crowded (it was way more crowded than any of the other parks we'd been to in the previous days), they actually closed all the fast pass lines. So there were waits of upwards of 3 hours for some attractions. Mike and I both decided that waiting more than 90 minutes was too long, no matter how great the ride supposedly was. We decided to take a boat ride across the lagoon and get some dinner in Japan. We went to a sitdown restaurant in Japan called Tepen Edo. It was Mike's first experience at a hibatchi restaurant where they cook the food on the grill in front of you, so that was really cool. It was so nice to sit down and relax for a while too. There was another couple honeymooning that we chatted with throughout the meal and the show the chef put on was pretty good too. They chef and server (both being from Japan) seemed pretty impressed with my incredibly limited Japanese. Mike apparently didn't know that I know Japanese either, and he was equally impressed, and surprised. I just wished that I knew more. After dinner, when we went back outside, we discovered the temperature had dropped quite a bit. I was REALLY wishing I had brought my hoodie with me, but oh well. Mike warmed me up. We decided to walk back to where the Epcot sphere is (across the lagoon), and seem if some of the lines had gone down. On the way, we were passed by a London double decker bus with the Chipmunks, Goofy, Mickey, Minnie and Donald aboard. That was pretty cool. They were on their way to the Christmas tree lighting. (Actually that was the second time we were randomly passed by Disney characters. Without even trying we were actually within ten feet of the afore mentioned, as well as Ariel and Eric, Cinderella and Prince Charming, the Fairy GodMother and Snow White. The latter happened at the Magic Kingdom when we were on way to Tow Sawyer's Island, and we skirting the parade crowd and for some reason there was a lull in the crowd that we passed at the exact moment that the car with the princesses drove by. I thought that was really neat, but I was totally unprepared to take pictures, so I didn't get any.)

After making it past the crowds watching the tree lighting, we got in line for Mission Space. While waiting in line we got to talk to Kyle on the phone, and that was pretty neat. :) There are all kinds of warnings you receive while waiting in line for Mission Space about you must be in good health, no high blood pressure, back and neck problems, etc. A lot of rides have those warnings, but man where they serious about it on this one, which I found out why during the ride. Also during the ride they had the lunar rover on display that was actually used on the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions which was on loan from the Smithsonian. How cool is that!! I got a great picture of it too. Anyway, on the ride, you are given a role to play in the mission. I was Navigator and Mike got to be Pilot. Since he really wants to be a pilot, I thought that was especially cool for him. Gary Sinise (also narrating the Candlelight Procession that night) is your Base Com guy, talking you through the mission. You get into your little (and by little, I mean if you have any problem with small spaces, don't ride this ride), space capsule, get all seated in and the front of the capsule closes towards you. You're about 18 inches, probably less, from this little "window" (screen) where you get to see the space launch and Mars landing. As I said earlier, you have a "job" to do, so when they tell you, you have to push buttons to do certain things. I was in charge of Lunar Thrusters and Landing Rockets. And everyone has a joyce stick that they have to use in case of a crash landing. So you start off in the ride with launch off, and holy cow I have NEVER felt anything like that in my life!! The G's are absolutely incredible! I felt like I was completely glued to the seat, like I was actually being launched into outer space. It was amazing! And scary. And for a minute I thought I would get sick. My respirations were totally not normal. There was definitely no looking anywhere but straight ahead at your little "window" and the control panel in front of you. Once you are in space, you feel like you are completely weightless, but you are traveling around the far side of the moon (where I was instructed to launch lunar thrusters) and then are you sling-shotted to Mars. And you really feel the rockets under you. The others have their jobs to do - there's also the Commander and the Engineer. Then when you're about to land on Mars, I was instructed to use the Landing Rockets and you feel yourself plummeting to the Marscape at an incredible speed down. Then you're up gliding along the Mars surface, and of course something goes wrong and we all have to use the joyce stick for a crash landing. The whole thing was absolutely incredible. Just amazing. Normal people don't really get to travel to outerspace, but I really felt like I was going there on that ride. I have never, ever felt anything like it in my life. It was so amazing. I would definitely make a terrible astronaut though. When we were walking out, we talked about riding it again, then decided against it becuase I started to not feel well and my back really started hurting a lot.

Mike really wanted to see a 3D movie while we were there, so we walked across the way to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. Unfortunately though, the last movie was already playing for the day. Mike was really disappointed and I was really sad for him. :(

The other thing that Mike really wanted to do was go inside the Epcot sphere. Well, there's a ride that goes through it called Spaceship Earth. Basically it's a small ride through time about communication through the ages. We thought it was rather biased (for example, they had Gutenberg and the First printing press, but they neglected to say what it was used to print (the Bible). So it was nice, but not our favorite.

Originally we had wanted to stay and watch the firewords and laser light show at the end of the night, but I was now in so much pain (head, back, hip) I wasn't sure if I could wait that long. And we still had an hour drive back to Dad's. Which I had to drive because Mike left his glasses in Oklahoma and couldn't see anything on the road. So I asked Mike how badly he wanted to see the light show and let him decide. I knew that coming here was a rare opportunity, and I have seen the light show, but Mike hadn't. I would have waited the two plus hours if he wanted to see it. He did decided to go ahead and head back home, so we left the park. Overall we had a really great time and are very thankful to Dad for this wonderful Christmas present.

We will definitely cherish the memories forever, and we took almost 300 pictures (all my camera would hold), so we have those to look at for years to come too. It really was so wonderful to be able to go with Mike. Not only is he my husband and the love of my life, but he's my best friend too and I got to share something so special with him, that one can only share with their spouse in that way. It really was amazing.

P.S. We didn't get anyone souvenirs though, so sorry guys. Actually we didn't buy anything except food in the park.

21 December 2007

"Can we move here?"

Those are not my words ~ they're Mike's. Hmmm. . . . We'll see what the Lord has in store for us. Although Mike did think that if we lived in Florida, we'd be so far away from his parents, and that would make it harder with the kids and stuff. (You know, the kids that we haven't had yet. :) )

We arrived in Florida around 1230 this afternoon. The flights went very smoothly. Thomas slept the whole way (of course).

It was about 75 degrees and climbing when we arrived at Tampa International Airport. Surprisingly, our bags were some of the first ones off the jet (that never happens to me. Ever.)

Of course Dad was very glad to see all of us. And actually, Mike got the first hug. I was kind of surprised. (I knew that Dad would give him a hug, I just didn't think he'd get the first one.) Dad talked the whole back, jumping from topic to topic. Mike just kind of looked around at all the different scenery. Florida is very green right now, as you can tell from all of the pictures. Even though it's not the rainy season (there's only rainy and dry), the grass is still pretty green.

When we arrived at the house, there was a pair of Great Blue Herons waiting for us on the front lawn. Dad said they lived in the neighborhood and all of the neighbors had kind of adopted them. He had just never seen them on the front lawn before. I thought it was really cool, so immediately I had the camera out to take pictures.

Mike, Thomas and I hadn't had lunch yet, so we decided to order a pizza. Dad asked Mike and I to go to the store and get some drinks, so I decided while we were doing that, I would take Mike down to the nearest local outdoor market, which was just about 3 miles from the house. It's on the corner of St. Cloud and Hwy 60.

As you can see from the pictures, there is a lot of fresh produce that is locally grown here in Florida. I do miss that about Florida a lot. We got half a flat of strawberries (for $6!!), some tangerines, apples and pears to take as snacks to the theme parks tomorrow. This is actually the local market where I buy orange blossom honey every year.

Mike also got his first taste of a home made, locally grown, strawberry milkshake. After one sip, he was just like "Wow! That is really good!" So we shared a shake. Honestly, I had forgotten how good the strawberry shakes are down here. They are so sweet. The Florida strawberries are a whole lot sweeter than any of the California or Mexican grown strawberries that I've eaten.

The next town over to where my Dad lives in actually called Plant City, and it is known as the strawberry capital of the world. More strawberries come out of Plant City, than any other place in the world. Florida strawberry season actually is only in it's infancy right now. Full swing of the season is not until late January ~ early Febuary.

And some more about Plant City and me: I actually lived there my senior semester (year) of high school. Thomas and I also marched in the Strawberry Festival Parade as part of our JROTC unit in high school. (I only did one year, but Thomas did all four years. However the year I marched, we won second place!)

Plant City is also where I kept my horse and it is technically where Thomas and I went to high school at Durant. Although if you wanted to get really technical, we went to high school in Durant, but whatever. They're practically joined.

Well, I probably won't be blogging until Christmas Day since tomorrow Mike and I take off for Disney World!! Yay!! I am so excited!!

I will definitely be posting pics though. :)

20 December 2007

Leaving . .. on a jet plane

Don't know when I'll be back again . .. .

Ok, I do. I just had to finish the tune from that song.

We're leaving for Florida!! Yay!! :D Tomorrow, dark and early. At 0445.

It's going to be so fun!

More from the Sunshine State later . . . .


Just when I thought I was safe

I thought I had finished paying off all of the hospital bills from October. I thought I was free from financial worry about paying vast amounts of money that I don't really have to be spending. But I was wrong. I checked the mail today, something I hadn't really done in about two weeks (because I hate checking the mail because I always get more bills to pay, just part of reality denial on my part), and I got not one, but two, new bills in the mail from my hospital stay.

I would just like to say "Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


I don't really feel better, but oh well. Life goes on.

I really really hate that we have had to use money from Mike's savings to pay my bills. I hate that. He worked hard and saved when he was single and for what? It's just really heart breaking to me. I think that's the worst part.

I know it's all in the Lord's hands anyway and He gives what we have, so it's not really ours to begin with.

And He has provided with me some work starting in mid-January, so that will help out a lot. The Lord provides.

. . . Always have faith . . .

19 December 2007

Interesting Articles

I came across two very interesting articles this afternoon.

The first is about the end of the incandescent light bulb, which due to the due Energy Act just passed by congress, is going to be phased out of production/sales by 2012 (that's just 4 years away!) The article did provide some very interesting data about how the new compact fluorescent light is going to save households a lot of money. However, they recommend putting down a drop cloth in case you break your new CFL because of the mercury in it. Hmm . . . mixed feelings about that one. Is it an extreme effort to save the environment by putting a toxin in every home?? Or is it a smart investment that will save your house hold 12% of your energy bills? Personally, I don't think they should totally eliminate the incandescent bulb, but allow consumers the choice. Don't you just love how our government has gotten so big that it can reach into your home and change your light bulbs without your permission for you?? The article can be found at http://biz.yahoo.com/usnews/071219/19_faq_the_end_of_the_light_bulb_as_we_know_it.html?.v=1&.pf=banking-budgeting.

The other article I came across was through blogspot's Blog of the Day or whatever its called. I usually check these out (against my better judgement since blogspot is run by google which is run by liberal democrats who think weird things, but that's another story). Anyway, this blog had a really good article about the 6 worst foods to eat. Worst meaning they contain scientifically proven carcinogens or cancer causing agents. What made number 1? Soda! Yes, soda, pop, coke, whatever. It's all gross. I wasn't really surprised. I was surprised to find that bacon was on the list. The countdown is:

#1 - Soda - average can has 10 teaspoons sugar, 150 calories, 30 - 55 mg caffeine. Diet sodas are even worse using artificial sweetner, which is even worse for you than sugar.

#2 - potato chips and french fries. Not a surprise here either. What I didn't know was that these foods contain acrylamide, a carcinogen and neurotoxin. It just doesn't contain a little though, they contain more than 300 x times the amount allowed by the EPA in a glass of water.

#3 - doughnuts - again, no surprise. Zero nutritional value.

#4 - Commercially baked goods, including packaged cake and biscuit mixes. These baked goods actually contain more trans fat than any other food.

#5 - Luncheon meats/hot dogs. I already knew about the hot dog thing, but I didn't know this also include some types of bacon, saucage, etc. Mike will very disappointed. Some of these foods contain sodium nitrite, a precursor carcinogen. The good news is they make sodium nitrite free foods.

#6 - Canned soup - one cup (not can) contains almost 1000 mg of sodium. I actually knew that about canned soup and so stopped eating it a long time ago. I even learned how to make cream of mushroom soup and other creamed soups that I use as a base for some meals because of how bad the canned stuff is for you.

You can find this article at: http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/05/07/20/the_6_most_unhealthy_foods_you_should_avoid_at_all_costs.htm

You see the body is made of different systems. Each system is incredibly closely linked together. (The Lord is absolutely amazing in His infinite wisdom when He created us). One thing effects another thing which affects another and the end result is a circular pattern through the systems.

Some scientific facts for you:

The Food and Nutrition Board have set a 500mg/day minimium requirement for sodium. Sodium is one of the key cations in extra cellular fluid. That means that it is the positive ion in the fluid that is outside of cells. This includes plasma and interstitial fluid in the body. (Any fluid that is not in a cell.) Sodium helps regulate the flud balance in the body. Where there is sodium, water will follow. A sodium intake of greater than 2000mg/day leads to an increase in calcium loss in urine (Kind of makes you wonder if the lack of milk intake in women is really the culprit in weak bones). Sodium retention leads to water retention, which in turn causes an increase in Extra cellular fluid volume. An increase in ECF volume leads to an increase in venous return to the heart (blood going to the heart), which increases stroke volume (the amount of blood that is pumped by one ventricle of the heart with each beat). This increase in stroke volume leads to an increase in blood pressure. What organ in the body regulates all of this? The kidneys. The kidneys are the primary regulator of sodium by excreting or retaining water. ADH, or antidiuretic hormone, is the supervising hormone for this process in the kidneys.

There are a lot of other causes of blood pressure besides an increase of sodium. There are also a lot of other hormones that come into play. And I did mention the effects of sodium on weight gain either.

These scientific facts were brought to you by:

Lewis, Keitkemper, Dirksen, O'Brien, Bucher (2007) Medical Surgical Nursing (7th ed.) Mosby. St. Louis (p. 324, 764)

Marieb, Elaine (2004) Human Anatomy & Physiology (6th ed.) Person Education, Inc. San Francisco (p. 698, 1044)

Wardlaw, Hampl, DiSilvestro (2004) Perspectives in Nutrition (6th ed.) McGraw Hill, New York (p. 51, 384, 386)

Gotta love the military

Burst appendix spurs Navy cruise rescue


Man, I love our military. This particular news story, which was the top feature on yahoo's opening page, was about a 14 y.o. girls whose appendix burst while out on a cruise off of Baha California. A distress call went out and the USS Ronald Reagan answered the call. They were apparently doing maneuvers some 500 miles away, but immediately stopped their training and went to answer the call. The girl ended up being airlifted off the cruise ship and flown to the USS Reagan, which had a surgical hospital on board. The girl is now safe back on land in California and doctors expect she will be home (Illinois) for Christmas.

You really have to love the military so much. The United States military, all branches, not just the Navy, goes above and beyond the call of duty for the citizens of this country. Not only does our military keep our country safe from the terrorists coming over here to start the war, but they do so much in the way of humanitarianism, it's unbelievable. Natural disaster hits the homeland, the military is there to rescue, restart and rebuild and to lift the moral of the people. Great example is the Army National Guard during Hurricane Katrina, or right here at home in Oklahoma when the May 3rd, 1999, tornado same through Moore and Oklahoma City. Across the Atlantic over in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are untold numbers of stories of soldiers and airmen helping out the local people. They bring them food, water, toys for the children, all at the countless thanks of the local people. The media, in the blood thirsty quest to make Bush look bad, never tell you those stories. They only focus on the small percentage of insurgents who continue to fight us, and their own countrymen, for their belief.

I truly believe that this country was built on the blood, sweat and tears of people like our airmen, our soldiers, our seamen and our Marines. First with the militias in the Revolutionary War, and so on down through history. Without the people who diligently, humbly and faithfully serve in our Armed Forces, our country would not be what it is today. We also would not still be here if it was not for our military. Our military guards and protects our freedom and our rights to worship how we will, speak our minds, get an education, walk down the street without fear of persecution, our right to carry a gun or own a gun if we please, our right to work the way we want to and so much more. It seems that so many people have lost sight of that nowadays, and it is a sad reality.

I am so proud to be a Marine daughter and sister, and an Air Force wife and friend to those who serve. I don't serve in the military, but I do serve on the homefront standing behind the men that I love who have pledged themselves to defend this great nation.

15 December 2007

Grades are out and more . . .

Finals were this past week. Not too bad. My physical assessment final got canceled on Monday because of the ice. My concepts final went pretty well. I did miss more than I thought I did though. Usually after a test, I have a pretty good idea about how many I get wrong. Not with Concepts Across the Lifespan though. I studied pretty hard for that test too. The studying did pay off though because I managed to eak out a B in the class (yay!). I was pretty sure I was going to get a C because I got straight C's on all the tests. However, the paper, quizzes and classwork really paid off to bring the grade up. (Even though I completely forgot to take two of the quizzes - you take them online, not in class.) The bottom line is: A and B. And I'm very happy with that.

I do feel so much better about nursing school and my purpose. It was pretty tiring honestly contemplating my future in nursing for those few months when I was sick. It definitely took up a lot of my thoughts. I'm staying in nursing though, just now with a different perspective. :)

So in the spring, starting Jan 14th ish, (sometime that week), I will be taking Psych/Mental Health Nursing (again, since I had to drop due to illness), Pharmacology (with one of my favorite professors- Prof. Fister) and Success in Nursing I. I''m really looking forward to the semester. And I am going to study the ATI Mental Health Nursing book as well as the text/other material, so hopefully I will be able to really master the subject matter in these classes. I'm not really looking forward to pharmacology, simply because I don't really know what to expect yet and I know that memorizing drug names and side effects and adverse events can't be easy. I like challenges though, and I think I'll be up for it. And Prof. Fister always gives up cross word puzzles to do, which makes remembering things a lot easier. (Although the cross words are really difficult to do.)

Sometimes I start to get worried when I think I have another two and a half years of school, instead of a year and a half, but then I remember that things came about for a reason. And I'm sure that something will come up that will make me grateful for the lighter school load for the next two semesters. If not, I will be glad that I will be able to really concentrate on the subject matter at hand.

I'm also going to be going back to work part time for Tom when we return from Florida. Right now, it's just going to be every other weekend, for two 12 hours shifts, helping with the in-patient facility. I'm going to Hillcrest on Monday to talk to him about specifics and such. I'm hoping that I'll also be able to help out at least one day a week doing other things. My goal is to put a lot of extra money down on the truck and get it paid off as soon as possible.

All in all, things are finally looking up. I have a doctor's appointment with an ENT MD about getting a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. I'll find out then when that surgery will be done. I'm hoping before school starts. We'll see though.

Last, but not least, Mike, Thomas and I are leaving for Florida in six days!!! Yay!!! In one week I will be at Disney World with Mike!! Yay!!! We're going on our Honeymoon!! Yay!! :D :D We are all really excited about going. My Dad says he feels like a little kid waiting for Christmas to come. :D I've really enjoyed going to Florida for Christmas these past few years and I'm really looking forward to showing Mike my old stomping grounds. There are so many things that I want to show him: Turkey Creek (and meeting Billy), my old high school Durant, the strawberry fields and orange groves, the outdoor produce markets that are practically everywhere and are teeming with locally grown fruit and vegetables (and orange blossom honey!), Mike's first freshly made strawberry milkshake (made from real strawberries grown right there), the manatees at the TECO power plant, Ybor City, maybe the Tampa Aquarium or the zoo, perhaps the Bucs stadium, First Baptist of Brandon, Twin Lakes where we used to live, Plant City, eating Cuban sandwiches, Woody's BBQ (where I used to work) and where they serve fried green tomatoes! (The best!), Medard Park with the old phosphate mines, the Spanish moss that's on almost every tree . . . . the list goes on and on. I had no idea there were so many things that I hold dear to Florida . . . hmm. (It's interesting what reflection does for you.) Perhaps we'll even see an alligator, although I personally would rather not . . .

Anyway, I'm really excited about going. I wish that everyone from the Bible study could come as well . . . I'm sure I'll be blogging a bit from down there, putting up pictures and all that too . . .

12 December 2007

Ventured out . . .

"About 468,000 homes and business still had no power Wednesday in Oklahoma, suffering its worst power outage on record. That was down from a peak of some 618,000 customers Tuesday, but utility officials said it could be a week to 10 days before power is fully restored.
"We're relying on people to look after each other," Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said. "At the end of the day, this comes down to the strength of your people. ... People who have electricity ought to be sharing it with people who don't." - From http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/weather/12/12/winter.storm.ap/index.html#cnnSTCPhoto story on CNN

So I did venture out last night and just drove around the block. Abby and Joe and Asher had told me about all the trees split right down the middle to the ground from the ice, as though they had been struck by lightning. I believe Joe's words were "It looks like a war zone; like a hurricane came through Oklahoma City." So I decided to drive out and take some pictures. Mike didn't want to go with me since he wasn't feeling well, so I went alone.

I took a left out of the apartment complex and decided to check out Joe Barnes Park on Reno & Douglas, where Abby and Mike and I ran almost every day over the summer. I was not expecting what I saw, despite the words of Abby, Asher and Joe.

Tree branches were down everywhere, some blocking the road. As I drove along, I crossed over the small canal that runs through the park, and the beautiful tree that stood at it's edge by the bridge had almost completely destroyed. Just split in some many ways, all the branches down on the ground, broken. The park is only about a half mile away, so I just went there and parked. The beautiful trees, almost completely destroyed. To say it was so sad would be quite an understatement. I took a few pics, but they didn't turn out very well. In the park, there is a grove of trees, mostly huge oaks and the like, and almost all had huge branches that were broken off. In some parts of the park, where it's more like forest, the whole tree (or half of it) had just toppled over, cutting a huge swath into the wood.

I didn't stay at the park but for a few minutes because of the cold and the coming darkness. So I left for home with a silent and heavy heart for the damage done.

It certainly reminds you of the Lord's awesome power. He creates and He destroys and rebuilds again.

I wonder what the parks and landscape will look like in the spring . . . .

10 December 2007

Ice pictures

This is zooming out with the camera from the northern entrance, second story, our of building. This is the northern part of the courtyard. As you can see, the trees are heavily weighed down with ice. The building you see is the office building and the northern laundry matt.

This is a further zoom-in of one of the trees in the courtyard. This tree had already lost some boughs from the top I believe. Sam once asked me why Oklahoma trees didn't grow as tall as Virginia trees. I think this might be a reason why.

This is the beautiful, sweeping, arching tree I wrote about in my earlier blog. The tree is actually completely covered in ice, although it's kind of hard to tell in the picture. I will be very sad to see that tree go.

The ice is causing these bushes to lean over at this angle. No, they aren't cut like that.

You can barely see the holly berries on this tree, which is just outside the southern entrance into our building. Our living room window overlooks part of this tree as well.

As you can see with this shot of the grass, it's all ice. But not a sheet of ice. Each blade of grass seemed to claim its own icicle . . .

This is the tree outside of Thomas' building. This picture was actually taken before several branches fell off this tree.

This is some pine trees in the southern part of the apartment complex. As you can see, the immense weight of the ice is bending these tall pines very much. These trees have lost several branches, and I think that as the hours went on after this picture was taken, even more boughs fell to the ground.

What started as a silent night . . .

Mike and I went to bed some time after 2200 last night, and the rain/sleet stopped sometime after that. It was pretty quiet. My quiet slumber was suddenly awakened as a tree splintered and crashed to the ground, unable to withstand the crushing weight of the ice any longer.

Not longer after that I was back asleep. But not for long.

In the early hours of the morning more branches snapped like twigs under the weight of the ice. It woke me up, and I lay quite still in the gray morning light, listening to branches snap and fall, listening to ice crash on ice, hoping that the mighty oak next to our building wouldn't fall onto the building. So I prayed and lay there and held close to Mike. Every time I would start to fall back asleep, another branch or tree would snap and shatter to the icy ground.

Eventually I did drift off to sleep . . .

I awoke in the morning. It was cold, but not too cold. My final exam was canceled for the day, so I didn't have to drive to Edmond. Mike, however, was only on a two hour delay. So he had to get up and go to work. So he got ready for work and I made him breakfast as usual.

Stepping out into the cold morning was interesting. The landscape was certainly much changed. So many trees and branches had fallen. There was once a beautiful tree to the left of the walkway when you go out the southern entrance to our building, and it had completely split in two different places and lay bent over on the ground, completely encased in glaze ice. You could almost see each individual leaf underneath the ice. The giant oak that is next to our building had lost many boughs from it's tree top. There was no grass. Only greenish-brown icicles covering the ground.

We went out to his car armed with hot water again. This morning, there was even more ice than last night. There was a good solid inch of glaze ice completely covering the car. It took more than 10 minutes of bringing hot water and slowly chipping away at the ice with the ice scraper around the edge of the door to open the door to the car. It then took another thirty minutes at least to get all the ice off the windshield, the back windshield and the front two windows. It was pretty hard work. And a cold, steady rain started about a third of the way through. Luckily we both had water proof coats to wear, although gloves were pretty useless for keeping your hands warm after five minutes.

Abby called me sometime in the morning and asked if she and Asher and the girls could take me up on my offer of coming over, since their power had gone out the night before. They had been without power the entire night! So I said they could come right over, and invite their elderly neighbor, Ms. Jones, too. I then called Michelle to see if they had power. They lost power sometime in the night as a tree fell on the power lines in their back yard that go to the house. The whole electric box that was attached to the house had been ripped off, along with some siding. So I invited them over too. Thomas came over while Mike and I were working on the car and I told him what was going on. He was clueless to the amount of power outages across the state. He then called Joe and Michelle and said that Emma and Beckett (their beagle and beagle puppy) could stay with him.

So Abby and Asher and Caylee, Natalie, Macy, Bethany and Serenity have been over all day (Ms. Jones apparently declined the offer, even though she's in her 80's and Abby found her asleep in her car with it running to keep warm). Joe and Michelle and Josh came over for a little while, then went over to Thomas' house with the dogs.

Abby and Asher and the girls will be staying the night since they still don't have power. Joe and Michelle and Josh will be staying with Thomas for a couple of days since it's unlikely their power box will be fixed any time soon.

Apparently, this ice storm has caused the worst power outage in Oklahoma's history. I can't believe that I actually have power. Only by God's grace so that these littles ones can come over and be warm. There are around 500,000 OG&E customers without power tonight, and the internet news is saying it will be a week to ten days before all power is restored.

From the stories from Asher and Abby driving here, and Mike driving too and from the base, there are power lines down everywhere, mostly from trees falling on the powerlines. I imagine it's a similiar story across the Oklahoma City metro area, and indeed the whole state.

I did get a chance to take pictures, so I will post them in a seperate blog, probably at a later time . . .

And Mike is really sick. I think he's got strep. I suggested he go to the base doc so he could get quarters for a few days and stay out of the cold, but he didn't go. He's been asleep for a couple of hours now. I really wish he hadn't had to go to work, then he wouldn't have had to spend an hour or more in the icy wind and rain and sleet with a sore throat. He'll still have to go to work tomorrow, hopefully they'll delay again. But I'll call and make an apt for him.

More later on the December 2007 Oklahoma Ice Storm . . .

09 December 2007

Ice Storm

There's an ice storm raging across just about all of Oklahoma right now . . . it started last night sometime in the middle of the night. I awoke to a the glow of a snow sky through the blinds of the bedroom window. A moment later there was a brilliant flash of lightning following a second or so later by a very large, cold boom of winter thunder. The ice storm had arrived!

When I awoke in the morning, I went to the window to look out, the screen was covered in ice, and I couldn't see much. Going to the living room, I could see a little bit of a glaze ice covering the ground and the giant holly tree just outside the window, the red berries seeming to defy the iciness of the morning. I didn't think it looked that bad.

Mike and I had decided not to venture out in the ice to Moore (30 minutes southwest) to go to church, but did decide to continue with our plan of going to the chapel's Christmas production at 1100, which Michelle was to be singing in. (The base in only about two miles away, maybe three.) Joe called around 1030 to say that some of the powerlines had fallen on base from the ice and due to the ensuing power outage, the chapel had canceled the service. So we stayed in.

Mike and I didn't actually decide to venture out to the parking lot (which we can't see from our apartment because our building is in the middle of the complex by the courtyard) until it was time to leave for movie night. We reached our vehicles, which happened to be parked side by side (a rarity), and they were both completely entombed in a sheet of solid, clear, cold ice. First we tried to open the doors to Mike's buick. No luck after much pulling. Then we decided my Ranger. Definitely no luck there (I have this problem every year when the temperature dips below freezing and there's been precipitation). It was frozen through. Ice had seeped into every available crevice between door seal and body and it was solid. So we walked/slipped/crunched on the grass back to the apartment to get some hot water to pour onto the seals around the doors to get them open. Back into biting cold (with more layers on, I might add), armed with hot water to defend our poor vehicles against the ice. It worked. The doors were opened, the buick was started, and Mike's ice scraper was taken out. (My ice scraper was still held captive in the ice's cold clutches that held my truck hostage.) The ice was about a quarter of an inch thick on the windshield and there was no chipping it off. Well, after having the defrost on for about 10 minutes and chipping incredibly tiny pieces of ice off the windshield that didn't amount to much result for the effort, we decided it wasn't worth the effort. Especially after seeing another car slip and slide out of the parking lot, having absolutely no grip at all on the asphalt. So we turned the car off and went back inside.

Thomas came over a little while later after calling inquiring about the ice. Apparently he had been sitting in his car for 20 minutes with the defrost on, and nothing was happening. And it had taken him 10 minutes to get inside his car. This is Thomas' first Oklahoma winter. I concurred that the ice probably wasn't going to go away like that (I doubt he owns an ice scraper). So he joined us for dinner and a movie over here.

The ice and sleet are falling intermittantly from the sky again, silently or thrumbing the roof . . . and there's been cold grumblings of thunder on and off all day. Sometimes it's actually quite loud. Thunder in the ice is so incredibly, yet subtly, different from thunder in the summer squalls that race across the state. It's slower, lower, and somehow a bit scarier. The trees aren't moving in the wind at all. They're covered in eerie white prisions of ice ~ covering every branch down to the tiniest that will bud the newest flower in the spring. The ice is glaze ice too, apparently the worse you can get. Clear, cold, strong, unyielding. It brings down trees, bending their mighty boughs from the top until they touch the ground, and if they cannot handle the weight, snap and remain frozen to the ground until the thawing rains arrive a fews from now. Ice also covers the grass, although it doesn't look entirely like it. But when you step on the grass, it doesn't give way in softness. There's a hardened crunch under your foot and you realize the green-brown blades are frozen solid through.

Yes, an ice storm of Oklahoma. Although this one is not being heralded to be one of the worst of any time. A regular ice storm, part of many that have swept across this great state for years beyond count.

So the ice will continue to fall from the sky tonight and the thunder will continue it's low boom across the sky. And there may be a flash of lightning here or there. We will pray that the power will not go out and thus the heat also.

I do really really wish I had my camera to take pictures though. I can write all the words I want, but pictures are what really do the descriptions justice . . . .

06 December 2007

Behold the Lamb of God - part I

Joe forwarded me part 5 of this series, so I decided to read and post the rest of them. :) Thanks again Joe . . .


De-sanitizing Christmas #1: Behold the Lamb of God
This is the first part in what (I hope) will be a many-part series over the next 2.5 months which strives to place Christ’s birth within its context, demonstrating how powerful his story is - especially when viewed in the cultural context in which God placed it.
Living in America, particularly, we often get a very ’sanitized’ version of the Christmas story, which primarily deals with the Christmas story from Luke. Where we ‘miss out’, just from this fundamental standpoint, is that the story begins long before Jesus arrives on the scene to an unwed teenage girl in Bethlehem.
Fundamentally, the story begins in Genesis 1:1, with the creation of the world and the birth of the Hebrew nation in Abraham and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
If Genesis is the prologue, Chapter One begins with the story of Moses. It is the type to the archetype in Jesus’ story - it is God redeeming a people who can do nothing to save themselves. In Moses, it is also the story of a people’s journey in struggling to follow God and the gods of this world, which leads to dispair and failure.
When you bring in the entire story arch from Exodus through Malachi - following the Children of Israel through their dispair, captivity and return to Israel, you have set the stage such that, when you read the Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon, blessing the child Messiah, and the declaration of John the Baptizer “Behold the Lamb of God”, tears should be streaming down your face from the epic weight of the story and the triumph of the coming of the Messiah.
It is in this moment that their story becomes our story, that their hope becomes our hope. Without the backstory, the story of Jesus’ birth is absent the overarching conflict of the world, and it sets up an individualized story of salvation, rather than the salvation of the world.
As musical works go, I hold few out-and-out ‘favorites’ (and 90+% of those belong to Rich Mullins). However, someone whose musical influence and style is similar to Rich’s, Andrew Peterson, has a work which I put at the top of my ‘love it and recommend it’ lists, which fits into this discussion.
Peterson tells the Christmas story from Moses to John the Baptist’s proclamation of Jesus as the Lamb of God through song, in music that is not traditional Christmas fare (aside from two brief instrumentals), and is good listening year-round. This entire work, Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ, tracks the rescue and plight of God’s people in the Hebrew Scriptures, bridges it to the Christian Testament through Matthew’s Begats (the only song I’d wager you’ll hear from Matthew 1), and then pulls it together with the blessed arrival of the Messiah.*
In other words, he covers the whole story of the coming of Jesus, avoiding the modern “Christmas” trappings and the myopic view that Christmas is covered in the first chapters of Luke and Matthew.____________
*For those of you who are interested, Peterson goes on tour each year with Derek Webb and other down-to-earth Christian singers between Thanksgiving and Christmas to perform Behold the Lamb of God. It is amazing to see and hear, if you can get there. If not, it was released on DVD last year.
Here is a link to the documentary filmed last year for the Behold DVD release.
You can listen to Behold the Lamb of God here, order it here and find out about the tour (November 27 - December 16 this year) here.
Link: Fishing the Abyss
Posted by Chris L: October 16th, 2007