All posts by Jandy

Church report

Redeemer Presbyterian Church is the only PCA church in or around Waco. (Not to be confused with Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Austin, which I believe is where most of the Austinites at Providence came from.) So I didn’t have a lot of alternatives in case Redeemer didn’t satisfy my church-hunting.

Based on the first Sunday, I could not have asked for a better church.

The liturgy is extremely similar to Providence’s, with a lot of responsive readings, affirmation of faith from the Westminster Larger Catechism, confession of sin, assurance of pardon, even a “Thanks be to God” after the scripture reading! The pastor wore a robe, they use the New Trinity Hymnal (got to learn new page numbers, but still a great bunch of hymns), weekly communion, the whole bit. They did have communion by going up to the front rather than having the elders serve it, but I have a hunch that may be due to a small number of elders as much as anything doctrinal. Either way, it worked fine.

And the sermon was excellent. I believe it was the campus/youth minister that preached, but it was anything but what I consider “campus preaching.” He preached from I John 2-3, and tied in Mark 8-9 and bits from Romans, basically about focusing on Christ, because pondering Christ’s purity is the way to become more Christlike, the way to portray Christ in the world. He did a great job of describing the dangers of misreading the passages to mean that we should focus on practicing righteousness rather than on Christ’s righteousness…that turns the focus inward, towards ourselves, and not towards Christ, and leads to legalism, self-righteousness, and doubt. I was afraid that a small church (it’s about the size of Providence) in a college town might veer away from meaty sermons, but those fears are gone. The synopsis I just gave truly doesn’t do it justice. edit: I’ve just posted a little longer version of the sermon and some of my thoughts in my livejournal.

Unfortunately they don’t have an evening service, but I’m looking forward to going back next week and getting more of a chance to speak with the pastor, etc. (I had to run straight to the restroom after the service, and couldn’t easily locate him when I got back.)

Photos!

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The self-avowed biggest McDonald’s in the world, which spans the Oklahoma Turnpike (aka I-44). Saltiest fries I’ve ever tasted, but that’s a good thing. ;)

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This was my view. For 800 miles. Scenery never changes unless you’re the lead dog, right? Mom was worse off, though…I’m not sure she ever saw anything but “BUDGET”.

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It’s less messy than that now. But that’s what it looked like for much of Wednesday and Thursday.

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I have stairs! I love stairs. That’s mostly why I chose this apartment.

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And the bedroom. The door there goes out to the balcony. The balcony looks out over a good-sized street, but hey. The courtyard-side ones would’ve been way harder to move stuff into. Yeah. Behind me is a walk-in closet and the full bath (there’s also a half-bath downstairs). The closet is one of…count ’em…five closets. I’ll have to go buy more clothes just to use them all. Except I probably won’t.

The joy of TV relationships

I’m watching Scrubs S1 on DVD (I’ve never watched it when it was on, decided to try it after rediscovering my love of doctor shows with Grey’s Anatomy), and I just finished episode 1×14, and it’s a perfect example of what I was trying to get across an earlier post on TV and movies. The moment when Elliott kissed J.D. created such joy in me, such fulfillment, and you almost never get that with movies. Very rarely you get it in a Garden State-type movie. But it’s because with TV, you know the characters, you’ve known them for hours and weeks and months. You’ve wanted Elliott and J.D. to connect, you wanted it back when they almost did six or seven episodes back, and when they didn’t, it was crushing. Then when they do, it’s a fulfillment not of two hours, but of weeks. You’ve seen them try to connect with other people, and come close, but not quite. You’ve seen how they drive each other crazy and how they keep just missing each other.

You see it in How I Met Your Mother between Robin and Ted (which is really infuriating at times, because COME ON! They’re both so great). You see it in Angel, when you wanted to kill Wesley for messing around with Lilah when Fred was RIGHT THERE. Casey and Dana on Sports Night. Luke and Lorelei on Gilmore Girls (I haven’t actually seen that far in GG yet, but I heard a little about it, no matter how hard I tried to stay away from spoilers). OMG, Logan and Veronica on Veronica Mars, which is the example that ought to have jumped to my mind right off, because I totally hyperventilated when I first saw that episode. John and Aeryn on Farscape, which was almost as wow as Logan and Veronica. And of course The X-Files, when you had to wait for like SIX YEARS before there was anything between Mulder and Scully at all. (And there’s the downside, too…after all that waiting, when Mulder and Scully did get together, it was anticlimactic and ruined their chemistry. But the baseball episode? Perfecto.)

Most of these television relationships may not last, but the moment they start? Heaven.

edit – Yep, next episode, Elliott and J.D. already broken up. But it was a dang good episode. And illustrates my favorite thing about recent television…comedy series can have episodes which aren’t funny at all, and are yet still perfect. The lines between genres are blurring so much lately, and I *love* it.

Waco Update, Part 1

Quick update as we’re eating breakfast, about to go unpack more stuff.

We got everything packed up on Saturday and Sunday. Dad says I already have too much stuff. Oh, well. I’m a packrat, what can I say? And by and large, the highest percentage of stuff I think was books, which is okay with me. Sunday afternoon, we hit a Uhaul snag. (Nothing like Barlow’s Uhaul experience, though…ours is positively boring in comparison.) Uhaul called around 3pm to confirm that the truck would be available for us to pick up on Monday after 11am. Except the guys Dad hired to load the truck were contracted for 9am. After talking with regional and national managers, Dad got nowhere with Uhaul and finally called Budget, who had a truck on the lot available at 8am for the same price, as long as Dad got there first to pick it up (no reserves on that short notice, but they could do first come first serve, I guess). So Dad picked up a Budget truck at 8:30, the loaders came at 8:45, and everything was on the truck by 10:00. (At which point Uhaul called and told us they had a truck ready, but um, a bit late.) So everything worked out great, but no more Uhaul for us, I think!

The trip down to Waco wasn’t quite as hilarious as the time I drove down with a friend of mine and we found EVERYTHING funny, but I think the trip will always hold some amount of humor, just because Missouri and Oklahoma rural areas are humorous. There’s a restaurant called “Missouri Hick BBQ”, which is listed on those signs that tell you what’s at each exit. I was afraid to ask whether the hicks were running the BBQ or if they were being BBQed. Grammatically, it could go either way. Then there was the ersatz fruit stand which was empty, but someone had put up a big piece of plywood in front of it and spraypainted “Bill Collins robbed my house, the dirty low-down coward” on it. (Name changed to protect the apparently guilty.) If you can’t get justice, at least whine about it so that all of I-44 can see it.

Restaurant recommendation for Joplin, MO: Pizza by Stout. Great pizza, subs, salad bar, cinnamon rolls, and more kinds of beer than you can shake a stick at. Looks like a dive on the outside, but it’s nice inside, and the service is as friendly as the food is good.

Gotta go now, the hotel is about to kick us out…we’re in Waco, safe and sound, and the truck is unloaded and most stuff is at least in nominal place. Still need to hook up the TV (hence why I stayed at the hotel again last night…had to get my So You Think You Can Dance fix!) and other electronics. Cable and internet should be on, though…it’s included with the apartment rent, which is the most awesome thing about the apartment. I’ve just got to get Time Warner to bring me a DVR, stat, and I’ll be all set.

Pray for Dad, if you get the chance. He’s on his way back from emergency dental care right now…he’s had a minor toothache for a couple of days, but last night and this morning it was significantly worse, so he found a dentist not too far away that could do emergencies. Apparently the tooth is abcessed, so he’s just got some stronger painkillers, but I don’t think it’ll be fixed until he gets home. Not sure on all that, I’m going on third-hand information. Mom and Dad should be leaving this afternoon sometime and getting home tomorrow afternoon.

Saying goodbye to St. Louis

I’ve been spending the last few weeks trying to enjoy St. Louis as much as possible. There’s no love lost between me and the Midwest or between me and Missouri, but there are a lot of things I love about St. Louis. Partially, it’s because it’s the only place I’ve ever lived, so there’s a nostalgic “home” element, even though I tend not to be “home”-oriented. And the sad thing is, I know there’s a lot of St. Louis I’ve never experienced, because when I look at Riverfront Times, there are hundreds of restaurants I haven’t heard of, dozens of music venues I’ve never been to, tons of museums and attractions I haven’t seen, etc. Oh, well. Guess I’ll have to come back and visit. ;) But here’s a few things I’ll miss the most (not including people, because duh):

Forest Park
I love Forest Park so much. You can usually find me there every pretty day that I have time to go, either walking under the trees by the Grand Basin, or sitting on Art Hill people-watching, or reading by the stream across from the Muny. I don’t go in the art museum or the zoo or science center much, but I love the fact that they’re there–available and free whenever I feel like popping in. I love the variety of landscape, from the lazy river to the woods in the west, from the European-style Grand Basin to the eastern streams and fake prairies. I love driving home along Lindell and picking out my favorite houses. I love the World’s Fair history and the mark it has left.

Ted Drewes (on Chippewa)
I tried to explain Ted Drewes to my coworker from St. Charles the other day, and she didn’t get it at all. “Why would you want to go somewhere and wait in long lines just to get ice cream, and then have to stand outside to eat it?” The Ted Drewes Experience is ineffable, I guess. How do you explain that it’s precisely the waiting in the lines and the standing outside that makes Ted Drewes what it is? I mean, the ice cream is top-notch, too, but that’s not the reason people turn out week after week all summer.

The Loop
The Tivoli, Vintage Vinyl, Streetside Records, Subterranean Books, Tomatillo’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Fitz’s, Blueberry Hill (sadly, one of the places I always meant to go to but haven’t), the Pageant, streetside musicians, the best Blockbuster in town, the best municipal library in town…all in the space of five blocks. How can you not love it? If I’m bored and just start driving around, as I often do, I almost always end up at least driving through the Loop (yeah, that would be on the way to or from Forest Park). The people-watching can hardly be beat.

The City and County Library systems
It’s an empirical fact that St. Louis has one of the best library systems in the entire United States, especially if you include St. Louis County, St. Charles County, and the various municipal libraries in the reckoning. In St. Louis county alone, there are probably twenty-five or thirty different libraries. Each of them has strengths and weaknesses, so I frequent probably half of them regularly. Between them all, there’s very little you can’t locate, whether you’re looking for books, CDs, or DVDs. I am so library-spoiled that I expect I’ll be missing St. Louis libraries no matter where I go in life.

The Washington University library
And if you can’t find it at the city or county libraries, WashU almost certainly has it. I can spend hours in there, just wandering up and down the aisles and flipping through books here and there. The film section alone takes up like four or five aisles, which is an incredible amount. And WashU isn’t even well-known for its film programs. From what I’ve seen of Baylor’s library, it’s very good, but it doesn’t have the sheer breadth of depth of WashU. (So, you may ask, why did I not just stay here and go to WashU? Tempting it was…but my wanderlust got the better of me, and one of my essential criteria when school-searching was that it be somewhere else, so I could experience living somewhere different for a while.)

Ragazzi’s
Here again I have to confess to a lack of having really experienced St. Louis dining. I’ve found that most people don’t think of Ragazzi’s first when they think of restaurants on the Hill, but it’s the only one my family has ever frequented. Sure, it’s not authentic Italian. But for fun family time, and more great American-Italian food (and drink!) than you can shake a stick at, it’s hard to beat. I’m looking forward to good Mexican food in Texas, but I’m not sure good Italian food is going to be as easy to find as it is in St. Louis.

The Tivoli and the Hi-Pointe, and the Webster Film Series
I hesitated whether to list these or not. I love the indie film theatres, and the indie scene has been growing in St. Louis, which is great to see. But the Austin film scene is so much better that if I get much chance at all to get down to Austin, I probably won’t miss the St. Louis theatres. I decided to put them in just because I can get to them here in about twenty minutes, and Austin is two hours away from Waco, giving St. Louis the convenience edge. And Waco doesn’t have an indie theatre at all, so except for Austin day trips, I’m stuck with multiplex offerings. Unless there are screenings at the university that I haven’t heard about yet.

Patten Books, on Manchester
AKA my favorite used bookstore. It never fails that I go in there and find something that I’ve been dying to get, and it’s like $4.00, rather than $15.00. I always get four or five books at a time, and I’ve never paid more than $18 a trip. It’s awesome, and the people that run it are great…they’ve always got good recommendations based on what you’re buying, and I–I who never talk to anybody–usually get into conversations with them. I know there are great used bookstores in Austin, but I don’t know about Waco. I would guess that being a college town, it has some.

The variety that St. Louis has
I’m sure that any city made up of a lot of small town has this variety, but I love the distinctive characteristics of Kirkwood, Webster, U-City, South City, Clayton, CWE, Downtown…etc. You’d never mistake them for each other. Waco is small enough that you can drive across it in fifteen minutes, and while it does clearly have sections of haves and have-nots, my slight experience there so far suggests that the differences are superficial and artificial, rather than built on a century or more of history as individual cities, like the different cities that now make up Greater St. Louis.

Is it safe to say that I’m much more excited about Baylor as a university than about Waco as a town? The campus is gorgeous, and I’ll probably end up spending most of my time there anyway. A few things I’m not going to miss…the humidity (Waco has some humidity, more than western Texas, but less than here), the inability to get sweet tea, the cold winters, the drivers who won’t let you in when you signal.