Thursday, December 20, 2007

Star Struck

April and I have been hooked on the NBC show "Clash of the Choirs" the past few nights. The concept of the show is that five famous singers go to their hometowns, recruit a 20-person choir, practice, then come to New York to compete over four nights to win bragging rights for their city and to benefit a hometown charity. It just so happens that one of the groups is from Cincinnati (where I grew up) and one is from Philadelphia (where I live now). It also just so happens that the charity that the Cincinnati group is competing for is the Children's Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit; my mom is a nurse practitioner working in the Children's Hospital NICU.

If that weren't enough motivation to watch, I actually personally know two of the choir members. One girl with the Cincinnati group was in the same church youth group as me when I was in high school. Another girl in the Philly choir goes to church with us here in Philly and was featured last night talking about her survival of cancer.

The show itself is actually quite entertaining, despite having to watch Michael Bolton (that no-talent a** clown*) and a little more country music than I'd like. It's a good show to watch with TiVO - we went through last night's two-hour episode in about 30 minutes by skipping all of the commercials, overly emotional interviews, and singers' responses to the other choirs.

It's odd to see people I know on national prime-time TV - there's something about it that makes me want to tell everybody I know how cool I must be because I know people on TV (which is probably why I'm writing this post). Attention, fame, and connection have always been very alluring to me - just having the silly ties to the show has boosted my sense of self-worth a few notches. I feel a little bit like a 12 year old girl at a Hannah Montana concert when I watch because of the unexplainable and difficult to control "star struck" feeling I get.

So the real question is who are we voting for to win (the show selects the winning choirs by audience voting, similar to American Idol)? April is sold on the Cincinnati choir after their very cool a cappella performance of "Flight of the Bumblebee" last night. I'm still on the fence between them and Philadelphia - I would be happy if either of them won. What it really comes down to for me isn't so much the singing, but the fact that I love both of those places.

* Sorry - I couldn't possibly mention Michael Bolton without some kind of Office Space reference.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Time

We just got back from a nice long Thanksgiving weekend down in Chatham, VA with April's parents. It was great to escape the city, enjoy a delicious home-cooked Thanksgiving meal thanks to April's grandparents, and spend some quality time with the family. Even Mabel enjoyed having some open space to run and getting spoiled by the Travises. Another highlight of the weekend was watching the Hokies beat up on UVA on Ronald's beautiful HD-LCD-TV while enjoying the company of Megan Redd perhaps one last time before she moves to California (like everybody else we know, it seems).

After a surprisingly easy drive up through VA and then up 95, we got back, unpacked, cleaned up a little bit, then didn't waste any more time before putting up the Christmas decorations. This was of course accompanied by listening to the two greatest Christmas albums ever created, "Snow Angels" by Over the Rhine, and the Beach Boys Christmas Album (I still know about 90% of the words to this album from the millions of times the record was played in my house in my childhood Christmases). I've always said that you need to wait until at least after Thanksgiving to start putting up Christmas decorations, listening to Christmas music, and getting in the Christmas mood, so the timing was perfect tonight. Here's a shot of our tree and stockings in the living room:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's on my Google Reader?

Since I haven't been generating a whole lot of original content for this blog lately, I figured I'd post a list of some of the feeds I keep up with on my Google Reader. It an easy and convenient way to keep track of blogs and news feeds that I like to follow.
  • - Recent Stories - My favorite place for current news.
  • - News - Local Philadelphia news stories.
  • Phillyist - News and stories about what's going on around Philly.
  • - Recent sports news.
  • Damn Interesting - Stories and essays about topics that are damn interesting.
  • Real Live Preacher - A preacher in Texas who writes essays about life, church, and Jesus.
  • Post Secret - A very interesting art project where people mail in postcards with their deepest secrets. Warning - contains some R-rated content.
  • The Dilbert Blog - Thoughts from Scott Adams - the guy that writes the Dilbert cartoons.
  • The Daily WTF - Funny stories about the things that go on in the software industry.
  • I Can Has Cheezburger? - Cat-themed geek humor. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I get some good laughs out of this site - April makes fun of me for it. It has its own language and inside jokes that you'll have to get used to.
  • Straight Cash Homey Dot Net - Pictures of people wearing ridiculous sports jerseys.
I hope that gives you a few enjoyable things to look at. I'm going to try to put up a clips feature on the blog soon so you can see the stories and blog posts that I found interesting and tagged as public in my Google Reader. Does anybody have any other good feeds to recommend?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's November already?

I can not believe that tomorrow is November 1, I feel like the month of October just flew by. We've been pretty busy lately, although I must admit this past weekend we took some time to ourselves, which was really nice. We went to go see Dan In Real Life starring Steve Carrell, which wasn't your typical Office like humor, but a really good movie, I
highly recommend it. Tonight we had a Halloween party with a really awesome turnout- lots of creative costumes. Nic & I were Beauty and the Geek and I must admit Nic makes a pretty convincing geek, pocket protector and all (thanks Randy). So now we look forward to November, 2 weeks from today is my birthday (in case you didn't already know) and I'm really looking forward to being 23. I can't really believe I'll be that old though, again just another reminder of how fast time flies, maybe I should've named this post, where does the time go? Enjoy the pictures.

Pictures: The Geek and his dog. My terrific pumpkin. The little witch.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Fall has officially arrived minus the weather

Ever since my freshman year of college I seem to have fallen in love with everything about fall. Leaves falling, cooler weather, college football, pumpkins, the usual-so of course a fall would never be complete without a trip to the pumpkin farm. This morning Nic, Isaiah, and myself piled in the car to take a trip down to Linvilla Orchards(see attached pictures). We got to feed corn to chickens, see a deer up close, pick out a pumpkin, and my favorite, pick our own apples off the tree. Who knew you could grow such a variety of apples in one place? Now that we've got our pumpkin on the front porch there's only one thing left to make fall official- come on cooler weather.

Pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins.

The giant pumpkin still has a few inches on him.

I said "Big Cheesy Smile", I guess Isaiah wasn't feeling that one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shake it like an Earthquake

Last night I played in the most exciting basketball game that I've ever been a part of. Seth, a friend of mine from church, works for the Southwest Philly Community Development Center, and has gotten to know a man by the name of Earthquake through his work. Earthquake is a former boxer, a garbage collector in SW Philly, and a community activist who works toward non-violence. He started a basketball league that plays in a gym at a Baptist church on 70th and Woodland, and invited Seth to get a team together from our church to join in the league. The three other teams were made up of athletic teenagers from the neighborhood. Then there was our group of out-of-shape 20-and-30-something white guys.

Picture this scene: a loud, cramped gym that is about 2/3 the size of a normal basketball court where the walls are about 18 inches away from the out-of-bounds lines on all sides. Earthquake gathers everybody for prayer at center court before the games start and asks God to bless all of the "ballers" and their families. Basketball players and fans line the court and erupt onto it with shouts and yells every time a big play happens for either team. A lone ref with his whistle does the best he can to control the chaos and call an honest game despite lots of fouling and protests on every call.

Somehow, the old white guys keep up and send the game into overtime and double overtime. Thirteen seconds left - they're down by two. Jay Hiatt gets the ball in the post, is double teamed, goes up, hits the shot, and the whistle blows. And one. The crowd goes wild. The clock shows four seconds left. Something happens, and all the sudden the scorekeeper is coming after one of the players on the other team. He gets held back, but the scoreboard is unplugged. Five minutes later the scores and time have been replaced. Jay goes to the line, having had five minutes to think about this shot. He puts it up, off the backboard, and it rolls in! The VCC Ballers Shotcallers pull out the improbable 2OT win!

Earthquake was loving every minute of it, and I'm sure the smile on his face was partly because of the exciting game and partly because his goal of getting kids off the street and involved in healthy competition that ended with everybody shaking hands and congratulating each other was playing out before him. I had to rush home to meet people at my apartment to watch Monday night football, but I think I would have been speeding down 30 blocks of Woodland Ave. with my windows down and music blaring even if that wasn't the case because I was that pumped up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Night with Philadelphia's Finest

So this will be a short post, I promise. Tonight I was pulled over for the first time ever for violating a traffic sign. I really didn't see the sign and I was straight up lost in the middle of North Philadelphia. I must admit the officer was very friendly and after seeing I was truly lost and unaware of what I'd done, he helped me out with where I was going and didn't give me a ticket. I was truly grateful, a little shaken up, but you better believe I obeyed all traffic laws on the way home.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Long Time No Post

Since it's been a month since our last post I thought I should give a quick update about what we've been up to. Honestly we've been quite the traveling fools, we spent an awesome, relaxing weekend with Nic's family at Indian Lake back in August. Cool weather, boating, Mabel in a life jacket, awesome produce, and time with family made an incredible experience. Then Labor Day weekend we traveled down to Historic Williamsburg, VA for Micah & Jess's wedding; it was such a fun weekend and not to mention we were in the great state of Virginia so what could be better. Nic and I danced our hearts out, probably more than we ever have before but it was so worth it! And now we're back to the present day; I have a new job at Dignity Housing, a transitional housing organization for women and their families, which I'm so excited about. Nic is doing well, quite busy at work and very excited that NFL is back on! Go Bengals! We had a college luncheon this past Sunday after church and had a great turnout; Nic & I were both super encouraged and excited what God is going to do with that. So that's all for now, I promise to update way sooner than another month. Come on fall!

Nic and me at the rehearsal dinner.

Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds

Friday, August 10, 2007


I recently read this article from about Michael Vick and found it to be a good look at the situation that surrounds him from a couple of different angles. The following quote from the article got me thinking:
People's opinions about every new situation are formed by the totality of their experiences. Animal rights activists think it's about cruelty. Soured Falcons fans think it's about tragedy in multiple ways. African-Americans in Atlanta, according to prominent black leaders, think it's about Vick not getting due process because of the color of his skin.
Having heard all the news surrounding the allegations, I have come to the conclusion that Vick is most likely guilty. I stopped to consider what the connections I have with the situation are and how they are affecting my opinion. Here are the different factors that I can recognize:
  • As a fellow graduate of Virginia Tech with Michael Vick, I long to see him bring a good name to the university that I love. He is, after all, the most well known attendee of the university (I'd say that his closest competitors would be Frank Beamer, Bimbo Coles, Bruce Smith, and Homer Hickum, so he wins this one by a long shot). When Michael's brother Marcus got in repeated serious trouble with the law that led to his dismissal from Virginia Tech, I was always glad that even though Michael seemed to have a shady air about him (especially when he was around Marcus), he had kept a fairly good public image.
  • As an NFL fan (and specifically a Bengals fan), I have watched a lot of players get arrested and suspended for things ranging from DUI and drug possession to weapons charges and assault. I can't say that it would shock me to find out that another NFL player was engaged in illegal activity.
  • As a dog owner, I am sickened by the practice of forcing dogs to engage in this sort of thing and either killing or abandoning the ones who don't perform. We adopted Mabel from one of many shelters in southern New Jersey that is filled with stray/abandoned dogs that people say were results of dog fighting, or at least intentional breeding and training of aggressive dogs. I think it's easy to allow yourself to have a very emotional response to this issue and be quick to assume guilt.
So I guess that Michael Vick's guilt or innocence will be determined by a hopefully unbiased court, regardless of what the public opinion of him is. I would still love to see this all end up to be false accusations, but my gut feeling is that Mike will end up in jail for at least a little while and see his NFL career ruined.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dream Camp Exclusive

For the past 3 weeks I've been working in the city at Girard College where one company brings together 300 kids from all over the greater Philadelphia area to have fun at a summer camp. The first week started out sort of rough with me contracting a kiddy disease, known by the name of strep throat to many, something may I add I've not had since I was 10 but luckily I recovered and have had a blast since then; I teach Project Discovery(science) and World Tours(s. studies) to a bunch of 6-9 year olds who have blown me out of the water with their intelligence. "Most" of my campers encourage me daily with their insights and funny comments and it has certainly been a rewarding experience. Especially when moments like this morning happen where a young, often difficult camper runs up and says "Miss April, my uncle left yesterday for Belize, I told him about all that stuff we learned, even them funny people with cone shaped heads and cross-eyes".
I don't know much about their home lives or how well they do in school but it has been amazing to see the smiles on these kid's faces as a room full of people cheer them on for earning the honor of "Camp Scout" for the day. Just giving these kids a place to have fun and be kids has turned out to not only be a blessing for them but me as well. This afternoon as one of my campers was attempting to teach me the Dream Camp rap she stopped one of her friends en route to the bus and was beaming to tell them she had successfully taught me the rap/dance, " I didn't think I could ever teach anybody anything."It turns out what I thought was the most whitest white girl dance ever could bring a huge smile to one child's face and I'd risk humiliation for that any day.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Order of the Phoenix

Tuesday night, April and I went to the opening midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Both of us had to be at work early the next morning, so we tried to get a couple of hours of sleep before we went to the movie, and we both passed out for a couple of hours after we got home at 3:30 am. That one late night made us both feel tired the rest of the week - we must be getting old. I must say though that it was worth it to act like young people, ignore the voice of responsibility inside our heads that seems so loud these days, and go see a good movie with good friends.

Although we do enjoy Harry Potter, we apparently aren't as passionate as the people at the screening who were sporting their Death Eater costumes or the guy in front of us who refused to move down a seat to accommodate other movie goers (in a sold out theater) because he was "perfectly centered." We started reading the Harry Potter books earlier this year on recommendations from a lot of friends, especially our friends who are English teachers and professors of literature. We were hooked. I'm the kind of reader who can't put down a good book, and April had a job that presented her with a lot of down time that she could spend reading, so we got through all six books just in the right timing for the release of the final one next Friday.

This was my favorite of the five Harry Potter movies so far. Maybe it was because I had time to get excited about it and it was the first one I saw in a theater, but I felt like the movie presented the story in an intriguing and easy to follow way even though there was no way they could keep all the detail from this huge book. I'm still more excited to read the final book, but the movie was entertaining and a good way to build the anticipation.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Family Vacation to the OBX

April and I, her parents, my parents, my brother and his girlfriend Sam all spent this past week in the town of Duck, NC, which is on the outer banks. We all went in together to rent a big house that's about 100 yards from the beach and lived the lazy life this week - sleeping however much we wanted, sitting on the beach, eating good food, playing Extreme Uno, and singing along to my brother playing Bob Dylan songs on his guitar. Here's a map I made that tries to detail the vacation and the traveling that we all did.

My family came to the outer banks for summer vacations when I was young. I remember flying kites, building sandcastles, body surfing in the ocean, and the time when I fell face-first into a sand dune and had to go to the emergency room to get the sand out of my eyes. It's been so long since I've been there that it wasn't very familiar to me anymore.

April and I realize that we are blessed to have a family that is able to do something like this together. Many of our friends have reacted with surprise that we are brave enough to travel with both sets of parents for an entire week. It makes me proud of my family - I realize just how accepting and loving they have always been to any of the crazy friends that I have brought around throughout my years of growing up. I hope that April and I can have that same kind of warmth as we invite people into our homes and our lives.

This week also made me very thankful that I married into a wonderful, loving family. People are always joking about how painful it is to be around their in-laws - I have the completely opposite experience. I always enjoy the time I spend with April's parents, and I feel very comfortable with them.

Don't get me wrong - our families both definitely have their issues. But I feel like it is the exception rather than the rule today to have families that can overcome differences and overlook and forgive hurts and annoyances to come together and truly enjoy being related and spending time together. I am thankful to have two great examples of healthy, loving families as we grow and try to establish our own.

April, my mom, and Mabel on the beach.

April, her parents, and me on the ferry to Ocracoke.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What's Next

So long time no post. A lot has happened since then, yesterday was my last day at my current job. Nic and I are taking the next week off to go with our families to the Outerbanks of NC and after that I'll be working at a summer day camp here in Philadelphia. I won't go into long details about the camp, but basically in a nutshell it's an incredible place where 300 kids from the city of Philadelphia get to enjoy an excellent, high-quality camp experience (check it out if you're interested,! Now I am incredibly excited for this opportunity but I've also been having mini 'panic attacks' over what comes next in August after camp. I feel like no one should have to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at 22 and Nic assures me that I don't have to, but for some reason I'm not sure if it's the pressures of the outside world or my own thinking I keep thinking I have to have a plan, a path, a future. I remember reading once in an Erwin McManus book that rhinos can only see 30 feet ahead of them, so when they start to charge ahead they have no clue what's coming at 31 feet until they start running. I feel like that's what I'm learning, start running and the next foot will be revealed as you do, who cares that you can't see far ahead you don't have to that's God's job.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Congratulations, college graduate

April and I are flying to Ohio for the weekend to see my brother graduate from college. Here are the top ten reasons that I'm excited for this weekend:
  1. Cheap airline tickets from Southwest. They turned what is usually a 9-hour drive into a 1.5 hour flight for not much more money than it would take us to drive.
  2. I haven't had real (as in not from a can or frozen package) Skyline chili in almost 7 months. That drought will be broken this weekend. Three way, cheese coney plain, and a root beer please.
  3. We get to hear Bill Clinton speak at Ohio State's graduation. I hear that he's a good public speaker. The guy who spoke at my college graduation put the entire college of engineering to sleep, so Old Bill won't have to do much to exceed those expectations in my mind.
  4. I will get to see lots of my family at Randy's party, including some that I haven't seen since our wedding, and at least one cousin that I haven't seen in years.
  5. I still get excited about flying. There's something about being able to look down on the world from a completely different perspective that turns me into a little kid, peeking out the tiny window to see as much as I possibly can.
  6. I get to see all the places that I grew up in. They're still so familiar to me and always bring back floods of old memories. Just having the chance to spend a couple of nights in the house I grew up in (from 5th grade through high school) is cool for me.
  7. Because April doesn't like Skyline, I'll include our planned pre-graduation Sunday lunch at Chipotle. It is definitely the greatest burrito place in existence, and for some reason they decided to skip Philadelphia when they started making restaurants. Somebody needs to teach these Philly people how to eat something besides cheese steaks so we can get a Chipotle.
  8. Just because weekend road trips are lots of fun, especially when you get to travel with your wife!
  9. We've been trading off weekend dog-sitting duty with our friends Sarah and Seth and their dog Snoop, so Mabel gets to hang out with good friends in West Philadelphia for the weekend. I'm so thankful that we make it easy for each other to get away even when we have dogs to worry about.
  10. I get to see my little brother graduate from college and celebrate with him before he moves on to exciting times in Nashville. I'm very impressed that he had the intelligence and patience to finish college (with an engineering degree, none the less) when what he really wants to do is pursue a career in music. He's definitely prepared for life in the real world - not just with an education and rock-star-like musical skills, but he is also kind, level-headed, and responsible. Those are the kinds of things that make me know that he will be a valuable member of whatever community he is in after college.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


This is probably the dumbest thing we've ever done, but it gave us a laugh, let us play with Windows Movie Maker, and let us introduce Mabel to the world.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Today is the first (of hopefully many) anniversary of the day that April and I promised our lives to each other on this beautiful day down in south central Virginia. I can say without any hesitation that it has been the the best year of my life, and I look in anticipation to what the future holds for us.

Happy anniversary!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Drama at Citizens Bank Park

We had the honor of hosting 42.85% (that's 3/7 for those of you who can't do math in your head) of the Cook family here in Philly on Tuesday night. Darrell Cook was (and still is) the campus minister at the Virginia Tech Baptist Collegiate Ministry while April and I were in school, and the Cooks are good friends of ours. Darrell also performed our wedding for us. We were very excited to hear that he and the two oldest Cook kids (Rachel and Andrew) were making a stop in Philly for their annual summer baseball tour.

We all headed down to the ballpark to see the Phillies take on the Brewers. The place was packed out due to $1 hot dog night (which was amazing), but Darrell still managed to score tickets about 20 rows back on the third base line. The game was close and tense; Adam Eaton pitched a great game for the Phillies, but they wasted a lot of chances on offense, which led to the Brewers tying the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth. Thankfully, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Ruiz hit a solo game-winning walk-off home run. The crowd went nuts and uneaten hot dogs began to rain down from the upper decks in celebration.

All in all, it's hard to beat going to an exciting baseball game on a beautiful night with good seats and good company.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


During my four years of college there was never really a TV show that I got super into, unless of course you count Alias which my freshman year roommate and I did watch religiously every Sunday night at nine; however, my life with TV this past year has drastically changed not only did Nic & I discover the wonderful world of TiVo, but I have much more free time to enjoy it. I have three favorites: House, The Office, and Scrubs. This morning on my way to church I found myself engrossed in a conversation about Thursday night's episode of Scrubs and how I thought JD was an absolute moron. Then I expressed my extreme delight that one of my new favorite artists, Jon McLaughlin had his song featured in the closing scene. A few weeks back I cried when Laverne passed away, not a small cry either, I'm talking five minutes of giant crocodile tears running down my face. Yet thirty minutes before that moment I was laughing my butt off at Michael, Dwight, Jim, and the rest of The Office staff, which may I add is the only show I go around quoting, which Nic with his kind and patient heart, puts up with during the following week leading up to the next episode.
So you may be wondering, as I am myself now, why I just posted an entire blog about TV. I used to make fun of people who were obsessed with TV shows, all those Survivor fans, Grey's Anatomy junkies, and Seinfield nuts, but I guess my mom was right, "Never say never."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Wedding Season

A couple of weekends ago, April and I traveled down to Winchester, VA, to see my old roommate Steve marry his beautiful bride Mallory. This is a picture of us from the event. We ended up driving a total of 8 hours in one day to spend about 4 hours at the wedding and reception, but it was definitely worth the effort. Not only did we get to celebrate Steve and Mallory, but we got to see a lot of my old friends from my days of living in Fairfax, VA. I lived down there for almost two years after I graduated from college (while April was still at VT).

Steve was a part of a Bible study group through McLean Bible Church of about 10-12 single guys that I was involved in while I lived there. I had moved to the area after graduation with two of my friends from college (Todd and Micah), but I didn't know a single other person in the entire Washington DC metropolitan area. We started hosting a Bible study at our townhouse soon, and the guys that came quickly became great friends. I was dating April then, but most of the guys were single and very eligible bachelors, so there were many attempts at hanging out with groups of girls and dates and so on. Stories of dinners and coffee and late night talks and break-ups and "DTR"s were often part of our weekly meetings. These guys were the ones who helped me pray about, plan, and execute my engagement to April. Three of them were groomsmen in my wedding, and many of the rest came down to Danville to celebrate with us.

When I moved to Philadelphia in March 2006, there were maybe two guys with steady girlfriends. Five are now getting married this year. I'd like to think that I was a leader and I inspired the rest of the guys, but I'm pretty sure they would have gotten along just fine without my example. What it all really means for me is a busy wedding season that will take me (if I can afford it all) to Ohio, Delaware, Virginia, and even Alabama to celebrate with these guys. So Steve, Nathan, John, Micah, and Steven, God bless you guys and your weddings and marriages, and thanks for all of the chances for reunion parties this summer!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A Year

Nic has been hinting at my lack of blogs lately, so I guess it's about time I get down to it. A lot has happened since the last blog. I realized yesterday (why it didn't register till then I'm unsure) but I've been out of college a year now. Wow! Nic and I have almost been married a year, wow again, we've been in Philly a year now too, my goodness.
And don't get me wrong there have been moments over the past year when time seems to move so slow, but for the most part my mom was right, time flies. I was reflecting today about my time out of college and I've discovered there's so much I miss about it. I miss the people, Blacksburg, having my summers off and surprisingly enough I miss learning. Now make sure you read that sentence well, I don't miss tests and papers and writing lab reports, but I do actually miss learning. I remember listening to a sermon once in college about enjoying the moment you're in and not always dreaming about how much greener what to come will be. Now don't get me wrong there's nothing wrong with getting excited and dreaming about the future, but we have to learn to experience the joy of the present and what God has given us now. I feel like I'm learning to live that out now. I'm loving being a newlywed, having the freedom of no kids =), and believe it or not living in Philadelphia (including our church and new friends, Wissahickon Gorge where we take my wonderful puppy hiking and swimming, and so much more). So as I close I'm reminded of what John Piper says "God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hokie Pride

People associated with Virginia Tech really love the university. That has been clear to me over the past two weeks as we have interacted with others and watched the community through the lens of the news media. People who have been interviewed on TV (including President Steger and other officials) have represented the spirit and pride I've always felt among the Hokie community. I feel proud to be a part of that.

It's good to know that Virginia Tech will survive despite the horrible act of a student who was hurting and dangerously disconnected from reality. Times like this seem to make our community even stronger. Sometimes I wish that feeling of closeness could last, but it is already starting fade as the wounds heal and things start to return to normal. I spoke to a close friend about the incident on the phone the other night. It was the first time I had discussed it in a couple of days, and the feeling of heaviness returned, making me realize that it had already started to dissipate in the midst of my normal routine.

I don't want to be misunderstood - Virginia Tech is a special place, but it isn't any better than any other university out there. With all of the attention that was focused on us, I don't want people to get the feeling that we are better or more important than anybody else. The support I've felt from members of other university communities has shown me that there are many places out there that could overcome and grow from an experience like this. Even schools like UVA and WVU who have at times been our bitter rivals have shown us love - I have a lot of respect for that. It shows that all of us understand what is truly important and what is merely different colored shirts that we wear.

So to all my fellow Hokies, be proud of your university. Support it and talk about it as you go through the process of grieving and healing. But don't let your pride turn into superiority or condescension. We needed our time in the spotlight and the attention and support of the nation, but don't feel like the rest of the world owes you anything more.

And to the rest of you, thank you so much for your support. We need it. We appreciate it. Know that if you go through trying times (and we pray that you don't), you will have a nation full of Hokies on your side. You aren't our enemies or rivals when it comes to the things that truly matter. But don't think that we'll take it easy on you if you bring your football team to Lane Stadium.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Until a few days ago, all of my memories that involved both great tragedy and Virginia Tech were focused on one day in the beginning of my Sophomore year. I remember coming back from breakfast at Dietrick to my dorm room in Pritchard hall to news of disaster involving an airplane and the World Trade Center. The residents on my hall and I watched CNN as another plane slammed into the other tower and the two buildings eventually crumbled, throwing our whole country into a state of terror and confusion.

Now, five and a half years later, I am dealing once again with an unimaginable tragedy happening a couple of hundred miles away from where I currently am, but involves a place and a community that I love and feel deeply connected to. Again, all I can do is watch the around-the-clock news with undivided attention, hoping for just another clue to figure out why somebody could feel so much hate toward something I hold so dear that it would drive them to murder and destruction.

At first, I didn't think this would affect me very much. I graduated almost three years ago, and I thought that maybe my ties with Virginia Tech were starting to loosen. Even though I visited often in the two years following my graduation, I've only been to Blacksburg twice in the past year. I only keep in touch with a handful of people that still live in the area. Then I found out that Brian Bluhm, a friend that I knew through church and the BSU, was among the victims. I started to read the biographies of the other victims on the news websites. The effect of each one of their deaths is felt far and wide. I mourn their early passing, and grieve for the family and friends that are left behind to deal with the loss.

I remember once making fun of Michael Vick when he came back to a football game to receive some sort of award. His acceptance speech consisted of about three poorly formed sentences, the last of which was "I'll always be a Hokie in my heart." Let's face it - public speaking isn't the reason he'll be remembered as an important alumnus. I remember mocking his words in the days following, and even now I'm not sure if he was being genuine or just trying to get some words out to please the crowd, but today, they resonate with me in a new and deep way.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The city of brotherly love, or not?

One of my friends brought a group down to Philadelphia this past week and listening to them talk about the "sketchiness" of the city had to make me laugh a little bit. I've been here about 10 months now, Nic about a year, and I must admit there are some things that I now truly like about Philadelphia: Wegman's, the park behind our house, all the cool stuff to do, our church, etc. I also discovered that Nic & I both can serve as pretty good tour guides around the city and that my friends is worth a pat on the back. However as with every good thing there is always a bad, and this weekend also clearly pointed out some disappointing facts about Philly. For instance point in fact- Independence Hall, sure it's great that our founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution there, which don't get me wrong I'm most grateful for, but the entire 20 minute tour consisted of two rooms, all that buzz for one building, two rooms? Now maybe that's because I grew up in the great state of Virginia, where the majority of American history was made along with some pretty influential leaders including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, so excuse me if a two room building has nothing on Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg.
And then the kicker- Sunday afternoon while grocery shopping I witnessed a fight between two customers, now this would not be as alarming if I hadn't already experienced this before in another Philadelphia retail store. I couldn't help to think in my mind as this was all happening-is saving 3 minutes in the checkout line really worth a ride in a cop car? Apparently in Philadelphia my friends the answer is yes.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Little Brother

This Friday night I'm going to get to go to my first NBA basketball game courtesy of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania. They've hooked us up with three free tickets so that April and I can take our little brother Isaiah down to the Wachovia Center to see the Sixers play the Celtics. I'm not a huge NBA follower (outside of my fantasy basketball team - which will make me watch for every stat accumulated by Andre Iguodala at the game), but I do understand that neither of these two teams has much at stake at this point in the season. Still, thanks to BBBS, I'm excited to go experience something I probably wouldn't see otherwise, while hanging out with somebody I probably wouldn't know otherwise.

To me, that's been the greatest part of being involved with the BBBS program. Although April and I could have probably found a way to become involved in the lives of some Philadelphians, Big Brothers provided us with an easy and very accessible way to show love to a kid and a family. I'm the kind of person who sometimes needs that kind of socially acceptable device to overcome the awkwardness and uncomfortability I feel when trying to establish something new and somewhat radical for me (especially a relationship). I'm thankful for the vision of people who saw the value in building bridges for timid people like me to befriend those outside of their everyday lives. There's a part of this city I would never even begin to understand if it weren't for Isaiah and his family, and I know that it has enriched my time here already.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Treadmills kick my butt

So I decided recently that I really should establish some sort of physical goal in my life, since I've never ever done that before in my life and with the encouragement of several friends Nic & I have decided to run a 5K. So in my head the thought of running a 5K sounds so fun and exhilarating but I'm learning the training part of it isn't so pretty. Take for instance tonight when running 14 out of 30 minutes on the treadmill made me feel as if I was about to lose my dinner. Yet somehow in the end I always manage to feel better about myself despite the nauseating feeling I felt only moments before. Why is that? Nic & I were talking on the way back about setting physical goals and health goals and suddenly I realized that's why all the pain melted away in a matter of seconds. We are designed to have a purpose/goal for our lives, and as small a goal as running a 5K may seem it makes me realize the importance of the bigger picture. I am worth something and I am put here for some purpose.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Madness

I remember growing up watching the University of Cincinnati Bearcat basketball team on TV with my family as often as I could. Sometimes, we would get tickets to go to one of the games. I even remember getting my first UC jersey (it was number 3 - Damon Flint). I don't know if I've ever been prouder of an article of clothing.

My aunt lives in Louisville, and had a friend who had season box seat tickets to the University of Louisville basketball games. For a couple years in a row, she was able to get the tickets for the Cincinnati at Louisville (who were two of the best teams in Conference USA at the time) game so that my family, some of my friends and I could drive down for the night, see the game, then drive back late so we could get up for school in the morning. There isn't much better for a kid who is a basketball fan than to get to watch a game from great seats and get free catered food in the process.

I remember listening to a Final Four game on a small hand held radio during a wedding reception once. I can't remember whose wedding it was, or who was playing the game, but I remember it turning what would have otherwise been a boring event for a kid into an exciting night.

A couple of years ago, when I was living close to Washington, DC, a good friend of mine gave me an extra ticket that he had for the ACC tournament at the MCI Center. I got to watch three or four games of some of the best teams in the nation playing. More importantly, I got to hang out and catch up with a good friend for a day.

It seems like I have a lot of good memories revolving around college basketball. Watching the exciting games in the tournament this year brings them back. Sometimes, I think April gets annoyed at me when I'm completely sucked into some of these games, even though I have no real interest in either team beyond what I've picked in my bracket. She tries her hardest to get my attention, but there's really not much point if there's less than 5 minutes left and the score is within 10 points. I just got so excited that I was yelling at the TV during the Washington State vs. Vanderbilt game. I think I can name at least 7 players on the Virginia Commonwealth team from this year. I can't think of anything else that demands my attention and draws me in like a good college basketball game. There's something about the pressure and the passion that are combined in these games that leave me at the mercy of my television like no other program can.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Silly Sleet

So it's sleeting like crazy now in Philadelphia why I'm not sure seeing as it's March 16. I guess the only good part is that Nic & I both got home from work early. Nic is currently watching basketball and surprisingly enough I'm interested in it as well. We decided to do a bracket pool for our bible study so suddenly I now have a reason to be interested, I never thought I'd say this in my life but for once I was actually sad Duke lost. It's a funny thing being married I can honestly say I'm a much bigger sports fan now, I bet I could name one NFL player from every team or more importantly I know all the major QB starters, who knew fantasy football would mean so much.
We decided(probably more myself than Nic) to start this thing just to keep people posted on what's going on with us. We were down in Blacksburg last weekend for Becca & Logan's wedding and it made me miss our friends and the wonderful state of Virginia greatly. I also realized I've been terrible at keeping up to date with old friends, so here goes nothing. Oh yea I've attached some pictures from the Self wedding too!