Friday, January 13, 2012

Celebrating a double chin.

I'm celebrating a double chin and chubby cheeks today.

My little buddy Andy has tripled his birth weight. He's now 3 lbs, 9 oz. He turned two months old this week.
I first wrote about Andy in November shortly after his premature birth.
He's still at the University of Tennessee Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit but he's fighting on.

He's blasted through milestone after milestone. He's exceeded doctors' expectations and they use the word "REMARKABLE" to describe his progress.

He's not out of the woods yet. But hope is growing within us because of this precious child. (His mama and daddy are my dearest friends Lawrence and Caroline. Follow their story here.)

All props go to God for this miracle that is Andy's life. Happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Officially a student again.


I haven't bought one of these in years. -->
I felt kinda odd the other night as I stood in the school supplies aisle at Kroger. But I was also strangely giddy.

I am officially a student again. I had my first class today -- Statistics. It was surprisingly enjoyable and the stuff actually made sense.

One of the reasons I was excited about my new job at the University of Tennessee was the benefit of going back to school to earn a master's degree. For free. I'll have to pay for books and all, but that's it.

I began thinking: what do I love to do and what do I want to do?

I already have an undergrad degree in journalism and I lived the dream of being a newspaper reporter for nine and a half years.

Then I thought food. I like to eat. So, maybe a degree in something culinary? But I realized I would eat everything in class rather than pay attention, so a degree in that area probably wasn't a good idea.

Then I thought exercise. I love working out and I love helping people in their quest to eat well and stay healthy. The more I looked into the UT kinesiology graduate program -- particularly the exercise physiology concentration (it's basically exercise science) -- the more intrigued I became. I met with the department head, spoke to some professors and attended a club meeting. I think it might be a good fit.

I've got a bunch of prerequisites to do before I start the graduate program -- largely math and science. Those two subjects were never my favorite.

I'm hoping I've developed a secret love for them in the almost 10 years I've been away from undergrad. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

9 years in Knoxville.

Nine years ago today, I drove into Knoxville to start my new life, post college.
I remember it was sunny that Friday afternoon and gas was $1.34/gallon.

I had no expectations but I had a deep sense of adventure. I had a new gig in a place I'd never heard of until I started job searching. (I did know where Tennessee was on the map, at least.)

Frankly, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about Knoxville. It was so different from New York City, where I grew up. Maybe that's part of what made me like it. Before I knew it, I started making friends, I bought a house and I adopted two dogs. I'm discovering that my roots have sunk in deep.

Who knows what next year looks like? Three years from now? Five years from now? Maybe I'll still be in Knoxville and maybe I'll be somewhere totally unexpected. But for now, this is home.

I mark today's anniversary with these words: what a ride!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Peter.

My heart is a little sad tonight over my friend Peter.
Oh, he's alive and well, in good health and about seven weeks from his 87th birthday. We spent about 45 minutes on the phone tonight.

It's what Peter has been doing that makes my heart a bit heavy. He's been giving away his books.

He's a practical sort of fellow. (He's a South African-born British-American, if that tells you anything.) His thinking is, when he dies he wants his prized possessions to go to people he loves and who will treasure them and take care of them. So, he's giving them away now.

When I last saw Peter -- 10 days ago -- he asked me to go through his bookshelves and pick out whatever I wanted.That was like winning the lottery. Reading is a love of mine.
I took Peter's books with mixed feelings and I told him so. He just laughed.

I came back to Knoxville with Peter's books three times last year: in June, after Thanksgiving and after Christmas.

Peter is actually doing something brave and wise -- and full of hope. He is preparing to meet God and is getting his affairs in order. "When I go to heaven, I can't take my books with me," he told me tonight.

None of us know the day of our death but it behooves us to count our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom, as the psalmist said. I'm learning through all this that we should always be living with an eye toward eternity.

But still. The selfish part of me wants Peter around for a long, long time.

I met Peter in the fall of 1999 while at college. We connected through a community church in Stonybrook, NY. I forget exactly how it happened but we became friends immediately. Once a week or so, Peter would meet me and the guy I was dating at Friendly's, the Northeast's version of IHOP. We would talk life, love, sacrifice and what it meant to live them out in a cross-cultural context.

My friendship with Peter has deepened through the years. After I moved to Knoxville in 2003, we stayed in touch through letters, emails and phone calls. Trips to see my family in New York City always include a visit with Peter.

These days, Peter and I talk about politics, books, current events, my future husband, life lessons we're learning, adventures, and his beloved wife Jane who died in the 1990s. We also talk about the goodness, faithfulness and sovereignty of our great God, especially in the midst of uncertainties.

And we like to eat together -- definitely the mark of a good friendship :)
We usually end up at the Red Barn, one of his favorite restaurants in Connecticut. That's where the above picture was taken in December.

Tonight, Proverbs 27:17 comes to mind: "As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another."

Peter has been this for me. I pray I have done the same for him.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Only in New York City...

The funny, strange and beautiful I saw during my recent trip to the Big Apple:

On the Brooklyn-bound C train

                                         On the Manhattan-bound A train

                                            Lafayette Avenue station

                             Manhattan Island from the Staten Island ferry