Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today's my daddy's birthday and I couldn't let it go by without letting the whole world know, or at least this little corner of the internet.

This guy.

I could list 59 things that I love about my daddy, but really, that just wouldn't be enough. So for now, I'll just list ten of my favorite things/memories of my dad.

1. I used to think (and still do) my dad was the strongest man in the world. Like ESPN Strongest Man competition strong.

2. He plays a mean harmonica.

3. The way I can discuss heart matters/theology with him because our minds are just simple.

4. The way he takes care of his mother.

5. Going fishing with hotdogs and catching about 20 (or more) fish.

6. His job is his mission field.

7. He always helps me remember "who I am, and whose I am."

8. He told my first date to be careful with me because I am the child of a King. And him.

9. When he tells me he will jump in the truck and drive to Birmingham to kick someone's ass, I know he really means it.

10. He is the reason I know who Jesus Christ is.


"I love ya long, and ya know I'm gonna love ya strong"

A couple, two, three things:

1. The Malcolm X glasses

2. "Stay your behinds at home!"

3. "A glow. in. the. dark. body paint party...Do not send me an invitational to something until Easter."

4. The MLK Rant. It's BRILLIANCE.

5. "We done boycotted the school buses for a week. That enough Rosa Parks."

6. "I need to get to the church house on Sunday. I need to hear the good Bishop and the good Word."

I want to be this lady's friend. If anyone in the ATL area is reading this, and you know this woman, hook a sista up.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

10 Things I Learned From Miss America 2011


It seems as though the half of the world that wasn't watching the Packers/Falcons game last night was watching the 90th installment of the Miss America Pageant.

Miss America, as well as Miss Mississippi, has been an annual event in the Walden family. Dad locks himself in his room (or in yesterday's case, he goes to the hotel and leaves Mom with me), and my mom, sister and I, no matter where we are, commence with the shameless and heartless commenting. It's a good thing the pageant is on a Saturday night because I almost always feel at the brink of hell's doorstep after some of the things I've said and a good Sunday morning of confession is almost always a must-do.

Yet it's all in good fun, and well, if you're going to get on national television in a bikini, then we, the national audience, are rendered the right to comment.

This year's pageant, however, was more entertaining than previous years. I'm not sure whether it was heightened cynicism on our end or the complete lack of talent on the pageant's end but nevertheless, the 90th anniversary handed America a truckload of entertainment last night which only makes me look more forward to the 100th anniversary (should we all live long enough to see it given that we aren't struck by lightning in the next 10 years).

So, without further ado and in no random order, I give you my list of 10 things I learned from Miss America 2011:

1. A wig and a sad story will get you into the top 10 nine times out of ten, but once you're there, you're on your own. (All kidding aside, I loved this girl and thought she was precious and is doing some incredible things with her platform as Miss Delaware.)

2. Did y'all know moonwalking originated from Irish riverdance?

3. Bringing back ventriloquism and yodeling will win you points with the viewers but not with the judges.

4. Also, who knew the girl with the dummies on her hands would be a better singer than the ones who sang dummy-less.

5. Note to self: Do some background research on the song I will sing for my talent. For instance, "Nessum Dorma", Miss Arizona? Not supposed to be sung by a woman. How do I know? My sister is an operatic encyclopedia. That's how I know.

6. "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", Miss Washington? Pretty sure that's the image the Miss America Organization wants to portray. Did she even hear what she was singing? "Papa never worked a day in his life...he had three outside children and another wife."

Also, her platform? Mentoring: Positive Influences That Can Change A Life.


7. I'm pretty sure I could've won at least a talent preliminary with a paper bag over my head. And that's not saying much for the girls who competed considering I'm not even remotely the most talented person in my family.

8. Never ask a contestant who was just cut what she would've done for her talent had she been voted into the top 12. Why? Because her answer of "I would've tap danced to '9 to 5'" would've commenced a collective "Bless Her Heart!" from every women in the southeast United States.

9. Heather Whitestone is just as darling today as she was back when she won the title.

10. I wholeheartedly believe Chris Harrison wouldn't have a job if it weren't for girls who want to put on an evening gown and compete for money and love.

Did I mention the Miss Arkansas (a.k.a. The Yodeling Ventriloquist) should've won? I told my sister had she gotten rid of the dummies and just sang a song, she would've had it in the bag. But, had I taken my own advice and gotten rid of the dummies and gone about my business, my love life might've turned out differently. So who am I to judge?

What about you? Did you watch the pageant? Did your favorite get into the top 15 or even win?

P.S. The Packers won, which kept alive my streak of losses for the team I pulled for. I'm convinced the Bears will win the Super Bowl because they are the only team that have pulled for who has continued to win. Let's hope I didn't just jinx them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Don't Even Know Who I Am Anymore

First, I just want to say that I know that God made me who I am and if that changes over the course of my lifetime, that's fine because that's pretty much out of my control. And I know that I am the way that I am because of the amazing parents that I have and the wonderful sister that I have and the incredible people that I've been surrounded by throughout my life. So, any great things that is found in me is only because God placed them in my life.

And, I know zodiac signs are probably a load of cow poo so let's just all keep that in mind as we read what I've written below.


This new zodiac sign is rocking my world. I've lived the large majority of my life (the majority in which I actually knew what a zodiac sign was) thinking I'm a Leo. In fact, the characteristics of a Leo are pretty spot on for me.

For instance:
- passionate
- kind-hearted, generous, sympathetic and magnetic
- emotional (nail on the head), very intuitive
- fine conversationalists, excelling in repartee, the best of storytellers (maybe pushing it here)
- always make a point and always see the point
- a most powerful people for good, with a marked ability to inspire others (Tim Tebow is a Leo, no doubt)
- have the most remarkable power in molding public opinion, and in swaying great audience (again Tim Tebow, not so much me)
- protective of their own (very much me)
- must be right all the time (I'm working on this). Argument is of no use under such conditions. In fact, it is well to let the Leo enjoy his opinions without interference.
- would rather plan than work, and by no means are fond of details
- sometimes very lazy (sometimes?) and are fond of basking in the sun and dozing in the chimney corner (yes, please).

So, yesterday, with this lost sign coming to the forefront, I'm being told I'm a Cancer. Let's see what that's all about.

- It's a water sign, so if that means that Cancers like water, then okay, you got me there.
- persistant will, a clutch of determination, intuition and purpose
- invincible to argument, and cannot be talked out of a thing; but if their feelings are hurt, they are apt to lose heart and abandon whatever they have undertaken. (this is pretty spot on)
- strong as giants and weak as infants; fond of travel, often taking long voyages, which are not always successful.
- have a very superior intelligence, and an aptitude for learning new things and working out new principles.
- generous and full of sympathy for the public good, but demand a full independence to develop the same.
- unpredictable and frequently change their occupation (wow, hello there Katie)
- apt to change companions and friends very frequently, often becoming bitter enemies of those to whom they were previously attached.
- tactful to diplomacy in some matters, and show their hands with painful clearness in others.
- Their powers of understanding are very quick and keen
- excellent memories (very much me)
- fine public speakers
- fond of money
- the male is apt to become miserly, the female covetous and ambitious to get and hoard
- afraid and ashamed of poverty
- mechanical mind, the women are intellectual and often very logical writers and speakers, remarkably progessive in their ideas, and frequently found among the prime movers in great humane enterprises.
- very apt to be comfortable, happy and unassailable during the day but very unhappy and depressed at night (I'm the complete opposite)
- conscientious about giving advice and like to be consulted in important matters
- fond of the beautiful and artistic
- like to dress fancy
- neat and orderly and expect others to be the same

I've got to say, some of the characteristics of both hit the nail on the head and some, well, just aren't me.

So, I've got to ask the people who know me, what do you think? Am I a Leo? Am I a Cancer? Is this all a load of crap?

Let me know what you think. And did your sign change? Are you having an identity crisis? Is this the beginning of the end?? Can you sense my sarcasm???

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A View Of What I Hope Is To Come

The guy who has been making these MSU highlight videos this year is mucho talented. Of course, when you've got the year we had to work with, it probably makes the job a little easier.

Here is the final installment of the year. A year-in-review, if you will. And a glimpse of what I hope is to come for the future of Mississippi State football. (It's the only thing getting me throug basketball season right now.)

And can I just say this again? National championship or not, I wouldn't trade Chris Relf for Cam Newton for a million bucks. Or 200,000 of them. The kid is class personified and I hope next year is an even better year for his has he closes his career out as a Bulldog.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Til I'm Home

I've just come home from an incredible night of worship and prayer at my church. I can't thank God enough for moving me to Birmingham five years ago and placing this church and its people in my life. I am have been truly changed by the truth that has been spoken into my heart and that truth then coming alive in my life.

One of those people who has completely spoken truth into my life has been Mandi Mapes. God has totally used Mandi to transform my heart and she doesn't even know. I barely know her. Maybe have spoken two words to her in a choir practice. But, she is just one part of the amazing worship team at Brook Hills. God has gifted Mandi in so many ways, with the voice of an angel, the ability to play many instruments, but most importantly, the mind and the heart to create music and lyrics that completely speak the heart of God's people.

Mandi has been leading worship for about three years now, and after much waiting from our faith family, she has finally put out a full-length album. It's entitled Til I'm Home and you can get it at iTunes. And I urge you to get it.

Much of what Mandi writes tells the story of redemption through Jesus Christ and points us to our eternal home. The chorus of one of her songs pleads:

"This world is not my home,
I'm a stranger in this country,
Jesus in me, won't you pour me out.
I'm ready to abandon all my shiny things,
my family and this American dream
Lord, come take it all from me
until there's nothing left but you."

If that's not a prayer for the life that we should be living I don't know what is.

Over the holidays, I finished reading John Eldredge's book Desire. It's a fantastic read and I recommend it to everyone. But it struck a chord with me personally because it hit straight to the heart of what I've been dealing with over the last couple of years.

I've been struggling with what my purpose is in this life. I feel called to greater things that what I'm doing right now and that's hard for me because I've worked so hard (and my parents have shelled out a lot of money) to get where I am right now. Now, I feel God calling me to a completely different arena.

I've talked (read: blogged) a lot about how my desires have slowly become what God desires and how my perspective on that has completely changed. Eldredge points out that we shouldn't be afraid of desire because desire fuels life and prayer and accomplishment. If we don't desire anything, then we are dead in our tracks. It's what we do with that desire that is the key.

He writes:

"The clue to who we really are and why we are here comes to us through our heart's desire. But it comes in surprising ways, and often goes unnoticed or is misunderstood. Once in a while life comes together for us in a way that feels good and right and what we've been waiting for. These are moments in our lives that we wish could go on forever. They aren't necessarily the "Kodak moments"...More often than not they come in subtler, unexpected ways, as if to sneak up on us...Something in your heart says, Finally--it has come. This is what I was made for."

"...even though we sleep, our desire does not. It is who we are. We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it."

I don't want to give too much of the book away but the basic take-away I got from the book was that my desire should draw me closer to God, not because I'm pleading with him for that desire to be fulfilled (which we should be doing anyway), but because my desire should be rooted in God in the first place.

If we are followers of Christ, then we are heirs of God's kingdom. I never really understood what that meant until I read this book.

"...when Genesis declares we are God's image, it is describing not certain qualities of our character but capacities of our nature. This is why when the essence of our likeness to God is announced, it is in the context of our position upon the earth, our place in creation....Our original design was for a life of creative rule, to share in the overall care and development of God's creation."

"His plan is for us to develop, as apprentices to Jesus, to the point where we can take our place in the ongoing creativity of the universe." (The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard)

When we all get to heaven (sing it with me now, WHAT A DAY OUR REJOICING THAT WILL BE!), we won't just be sitting around strumming harps and eating an unlimited supply of Krispy Kreme donuts with no consequences. We will be participating in the ongoing production that is the creation and sustainment of the universe.

WHAT?!? How cool is that? We will be apprentices to Jesus! Jesus doesn't just sit on a throne next to his dad and watch life go on like it's an Oscar-nominated drama. He's directing the entire show, people! Therefore, if we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), we won't be spectators in heaven. We will be participants.

I don't know about y'all but that makes me PUMPED to get to heaven.

So, with that said, how do I get to heaven. We'll I've already taken the first step (enter into a relationship with Christ). The second step? Either I die, or Jesus comes and gets me. Those are my choices.

I kind of think it would be cool to be alive when Jesus comes and gets me. No joke. But how do I make that happen?

Well, the Bible tells us that Jesus ain't coming back until the whole world has heard His name. When the ends of the earth are reached for him, and all the work that he started here is complete, then he'll come back. (Matthew 24:14)

So what does that mean for me?

In words of Niecy Nash, I better "git to gittin'."

Y'all, the gospel isn't going to get up on a Delta airplane and ship itself to the Middle East. And it's not going to put on suit and walk into your workplace tomorrow and share itself with your co-workers. Actually, if God wanted it that way, he'd make it happen. I mean there is that "the rocks will cry out" verse in the Bible.

But what a privilege it is that God has picked us out to be his instruments to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.

We were once the ends of the earth. Just ask that Columbus guy.

So, in conclusion (because obviously I'm writing a thesis here), what are you going to do with your desire?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About Last Night...

Just in case you were living under a rock (or snowed in with no electricity), Auburn won the national championship last night in the Tostitos BSC National Title Game in Glendale, Ariz. And yes, you heard it right. Brent Musburger did say, "This is for all the Tostitos," just before Auburn's kicker nailed the game-winning field goal. Lame? Probably.

I have an interesting point of view on this national title game, not because I'm a girl living in the South, and we all know that we Southern Belles love us some college football. My view point comes from that of a girl living in Alabama. The heart of Alabama, people.

Now, I'm from Mississippi. I understand rivalry as much as the next person. The only thing that I could possibly love more than a Mississippi State win is an Ole Miss loss. I LOATHE the RebelBears more than my worst enemy. I think "fire of a thousand suns" would be the appropriate phrase to describe my hatred for them.

However, my approach towards rivalry is much different than than of my Alabama/Auburn comrades. My approach is to 1) chuckle at the dumb decisions TSUN makes on a daily basis (offensive coaching staff makeover when there were obvious defensive deficiencies this year), 2) say the appropriate rivalry-related things during games, but 3) to just try to ignore them like they never were there in the first place.

What good is it going to do to sit around and pine and hem and haw over "that other team" 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year? Nothing. All it seems to be doing to my friends of Crimson and White and Burnt Orange and Navy loyalty is skyrocketing blood pressure numbers and unnecessary doctor's bills. Not to mention that it's just annoying.

So, I say that all to say this. Last night, even those I had (literally) no dog in the fight, it was a lose-lose situation for me. Auburn loses, the Barners (Auburn fans) whine for the duration of the year and the Tiders yell about "The Bear" a little louder. Auburn wins, the Barners continue the obnoxious bragging until the end of time. The Tiders continue mourning "The Bear" and talk about how Auburn cheated and they will be stripped of their title in due time.

This is what I put up with on a daily basis, people.

Nevertheless, Auburn won. The SEC claimed its fifth-straight national championship and its six in seven years. Alabama kind rules in football right now considering back-to-back Heismans and national championships. And I guess since I'm technically a citizen of the state, that cool and all.

However, my win of the night was these wicked sweet unis that Oregon donned.


Technically, those are the wrong pants and the ones they wore last night was even cooler. But y'all, I've never seen a cooler helmet and the sheer fact that the yellow socks and shoes made them look even more like actually ducks on the field was, well, it was just priceless.

Here are my thoughts on the unis (ignore the third and fourth):

Oregon, for the win. Or loss. There's always next year.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

24-Hour Life Change

I'm sure by now most of you have heard about Ted Williams. No, not the fame Boston Red Sox player whose family chose to have his body frozen after his death in 2002. Not this Ted Williams.

There's a new Ted Williams on the scene. This guy.

In the past 24 hours, this guy has gone from living in a tent near a highway in Columbus, Ohio, to a haircut and new clothes, prospects of a new job, media appearances and a reunion with his 90-year-old mother. Read more of the story here.

I don't know how all of this started but I saw this video yesterday afternoon.

About three hours later, the Cleveland Cavaliers came calling. So did NFL Films. All because of the guy who made this video.

I majored in broadcast journalism in college and the one thing I learned about this industry is that it's not just about getting the news to people. It's about being aware of the world around you and taking notice of it, and then telling its story. It's about knowing that there is always more to a "story" than you think and every person in this world is a character who plays a role in this thing we call life.

What makes a journalist is a passion and desire to seek out story in every situation in life. To look a person or a business or a situation and wonder what's behind it. We all have a story to tell. We all do. Some of us can tell our own story. Some of us need help getting it out there.

The guy who made this video is obviously a journalist. He sees this guy every day. He passes him on the street. But I imagine what led to this video is his curiousity got the best of him and he decided to get a video camera and take matters into his own hands. He posted it on YouTube and it went viral.

And now a person's entire life has changed.

What would this world be like if we all had a passion to find true story in life and tell it? I like to think there would be a lot less judgment and a little more harmony.

But that's just me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Don't Watch 2011. Live It.

This is such a great idea. I love the story of it. If you've read Donald Miller's A Million Miles, you'll remember this story. If you haven't, Don tells a bit of the story in this post. It's worth the click and read.

I've heard about/gotten wind of so many traditions this holiday season that I not so much want to steal but to be a part of. This is one of those.

Here's the video about the New Year's Day Parade the Goff family started. It's just so neat.