Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gag the One You Dont Like.

Some things about the push for tolerance really bother me. Don't get me wrong, I completely think that we should all be tolerant of things that are different than ourselves in areas of religion, political stances, social ethics, etc. We dont have to agree, by any means, but we should strive to be respectful and atleast see where others are coming from. I would even say that I am more liberal in my view of tolerance than many people I know. But when it comes down to people crying wolf over this issue, its getting out of hand. "The other side isnt being tolerant of us...!" Come on.

Lately I have witnessed this happening a lot, both in my personal life and in the news. For an example in my own life, a class that I am taking has been down the trail of morality and ethics lately. We were discussing some meaty topics when people took one side of an issue, and then aggresively blasted the other side saying "They think they are right and they dont care what we think, and they are brainwashed, blah blah blah, how could they think they are the only right way, thats just not right." All while continuing to bash the opposing side without even taking thought or concern into their opinion. All while claiming that they were the only right way of looking at it. Wait a second, I thought that it wasn't right for the other side to think they were right, but its ok for you to think that?

Maybe you have heard of the scandalous Superbowl commercial featuring Tim Tebow, a cool college quarterback who won the 2007 Heisman Trophy. The commercial is all about celebrating family and celebrating life. His mom refused the medical advice given to her to abort her fifth child because of health complications after a trip to the Philippines. Well, then Tim was born. I have not seen the ad, but cant imagine it shows anything inappropriate or hateful (its by Focus on the Family for goodness sake). Yet, over 30 women's advocacy groups are up in arms about it because apparently it is offensive, demeaning, and is trying to use the Superbowl to bring division. (gashdangit, life and family are just so offensive.)

The average person can see the complete ridiculousness of this issue.  I love what BoundlessLine has to say:
   We all know how much sports brings our friends together. It's something we see all the time among Packers and Vikings fans, Cowboys and Redskins fans or Broncos and Raiders fans (Red Sox vs Yankees anyone?). You almost feel uncomfortable around them with all that love and uniting they show over games. (sense the sarcasm?)
   A USA Today article about the Focus ad is titled "Super Bowl ad no place to play with life choices: Women's Media Center." That's right. We all know Super Bowl ads aren't supposed to be about life choices. They're supposed to be about frogs who like beer, sugared-up carbonated beverages, and women who promote domain name registrations in beach wear.
And thats what I'm getting at here. Its not about what "side" you are on. Tom Nevin closes it up precisely: "They had never attempted to communicate their own message; they just wanted to gag the one they didn't like. That's what happening with the Super Bowl ad. Rather than produce and pay for their own commercial, they just try to shut down one they don't like."

Please people, when screaming for tolerance, at least have a little bit of your own. At least be respectful of what I have to say, and if you don't like what I have to say, instead of wasting all your time bashing it, come up with some intelligent campaigns or conversations that could reinforce and educate about your own stance. (the "other side" isnt afraid, so bring it on. the truth will win.)


(Check out this article as well. I love it.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stories from Russia 1

I received this message in my inbox this morning. I love Mike's simple yet descriptive stories. Its a fun one so I decided to share with you all.

"I know the USA folks are sleeping soundly but I thought you might enjoy waking up and reading a morning story from Russia. I have a few minutes while I wait on Alex to pick me up for some shopping we need to do – groceries and electronics. The weather has warmed up to Zero this morning and it is snowing real fine grains of snow and beginning to collect on top of all the snow already on the ground. I am listening to a Radio Shack emergency radio, the hand crank type. Alex gave me the numbers for an FM station that plays some music in English but the announcing is in Russian. The station must be some distance away because it is hard to tune. The frequency drifts.

Alex’s wife Galina introduced me to festive Russian bread that looks like a waffle but is soft, thin and flexible. It taste like it is made with eggs and you eat it with cherry preserves. Yesterday I discovered a shelf in the kitchen that I had not yet explored. On that shelf was a basket with onions and garlic (I wish I had found the onions earlier to go with the bucket of potatoes) and two canning jars or what appeared to be preserves. So I said to myself, self, those look good how do I put them to use? I know there is a bread bakery across the way because I was told by the landlord and I can now read the word for bread (хлеб) on the sign. The outside is framed in wood and painted in yellows and blues. It almost has a Latino look. I have noticed Russians coming and going so with some Rubles in my pocket I thought to give it a try. Making my now familiar walk to the garbage dumpster and nodding hello to the passer byes I made the turn toward the bread shop and followed one of the Russians so I would not use the wrong door. What I found on the inside was a bright cheery family style business well staffed and well stocked with freshly baked bread and sweet treats, sausage, cheese, fruit and some American Candy Bars (Snickers). It reminded me a little of Schwarz’s Grocery that mom will remember. I looked around and then walked up to the counter and asked one of the young ladies if she spoke English. Nodding no she started off toward the back for assistance but stopped when I told her in Russian that I speak a little Russian. We smiled and begin to transact business for a loaf of white bread shaped like French bread. The price of the loaf was 15.5 rubles or about 52 cents for a 14 inch loaf. I told her in Russian that my home is in Tennessee in the USA. She smiled nodding that she understood. I put my gloves back on, secured the LL Bean baseball style hat with ear covers and started back to the apartment. When I wear the big gloves I have to pull one off to manage the electronic key to the main door. I have learned not to touch the metal on the door with my bear hand. It is a little like touching the inside of a freezer.

Back in the apartment with a loaf of bread and jar to be opened it is time to explore the jar. Inside the jar was a type of dark cherry preserve (the cherries are small not large like a Maraschino cherry); the preserves are more like cherries in syrup. When applied to the bread it is great. What a wonderful breakfast surprise. I am learning.

Take Care and Keep Praying,

One More month until I meet him there with the team from JWU.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Banana Pineapple Muffins

Yumo! Let me just say, these are delightful, and y'all should get on the ball to make them. So last night we had a smoothie night at our place and made probably 34234 different kids of smoothies. Well, we ended up with loads of extra fruit of all sorts, mainly pineapple and banana. I said to myself, Dang girl, what can you make that would be a crowd pleaser and pretty easy as well? So I googled banana pineapple and came up with this glorious recipe from Tammy's Recipes. I modified it a little bit to go from the original loaf idea into muffins. (And by modified, I mean asked my baking/pastry major roommates 26 questions about bread vs muffin, cut the time down half and hour, and plopped the batter in muffin tins.)


3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups mashed bananas (I used 6 bananas)
1 cup crushed pineapple (include the juice)

1. In lage mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt.
2. In small mixing bowl, combine everything else. Bananas and pineapple last. Mix it up good, but not too much there buddy.
3. Then mix the wet and dry ingredients until everything is wet.
4. Pour into greased muffin tins.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-23 minutes or until done.

Makes approximately 45 muffins.


Friday, January 22, 2010


I posted recently that I am making the effort to wake up every morning at 6:30 in order to get my day started at a practical and effective time. It gives me time to study my bible, take a shower, eat some breakfast (who knew that eating breakfast makes you feel like a champion for the rest of the day?!), and overall not rush my morning and forget stuff. Its hard because Ive had alot on my mind lately, which leads to nilch amounts of sleep. Well, I'm here to proudly respond that four out of six days have been successful!! Thank you Janelle.

I will admitt that the first few days of this week were really difficult. I was at a conference, she didnt have her phone, there was two hours of sleep one night, blah blah blah, but she was unwilling to let us fail after only a week. Well, it was mostly me who was obscenely tempted to just give up. I hate being tired, I love sleeping, and I love staying up late. Not a good combo.

But its been good. Keep pressing on.

"The joy is in the journey. Don't get discouraged because you have a long way to go. Just get started and stick with it."

What time do you wake up? How do you do it- alarm clock, sledge hammer, dog who has to go out? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Travel and the Rice Lodge

This last weekend was pretty awesome. Saturday I went with a bunch of tourism major friends to a Travel and Cruise Expo at Twin River Casino. It was pretty exciting, with over 50 displays from travel agencies, cruise lines, and destinations, there was alot to take in. We signed up for every single free giveaway, and took every single free pen or pamphlet available. By the end of our time there, hardly any of us could even carry our heavy brochure laden bags. There was even free food provided by local vendors, and we sampled some tasty treats!

Sunday-Monday there was a Christian Student Fellowship Leader Retreat up at the Rice Lodge in Massachussetts. It was for all the student leaders to get together, network, and brain storm. Kim, Ben, Dan, me and Jasmine all went and there was a total of about 16 other leaders present- representing 5 schools from the New England region. (MIT, UMass Lowell, JWU, Clark) We had a great time playing awkward ice breaker games, and having an interesting round table discussion about our different campus activities and ministries. I am thankful for Andy Haynes and Chris James who mainly put it together and guided us through teaching and discussion. It is good to meet and befriend students from other schools around the area because they can really relate. I came away feeling really excited and re-energized from this weekend, ready to get things going with JWU CSF in the areas of Outreach, Inreach, Missions, and the University.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Conquering 6am

Secretly the morning is my favorite- sun rising, brisk air, that light coming through the trees. I think of Camp Hickory Hill and just waking up early, putting on warm clothes and walking out of the cabin to sit next to the warm ashey coals, looking out over the parade field and thinking about life. But the night likes to steal me away. As often as I think about waking up early, the evenning seems to lure me into its sleepless adventures. My mind is most active at night, and I always seem to come up with ten other things to be doing other than sleep- you know driving around, checking my email, planning a random event, thinking about how to take over the world. (In highschool I was voted most likely to be a world dominator, you know).

But because of my this night time shenanigan, Ive realized how it affects my time management, and Im kind of sick of it. I dont get as much out of my day as I could, and it costs myself and others both time and money. I stay up late, wake up late, nothing gets accomplished in the morning and by the time I get home at night Im tired and just want to do nothing. I forget things as I rush out the door. I dont regularly eat breakfast. I dont have a morning quiet time. Simply enough.

 Well, WE'VE made a choice. Janelle (my bff from home) and I have decided to wake up every day at 6:30am and read through the Bible as well as pray for each other. Yesterday was a success. And today we did it too! Sweet deal! And honestly, if it werent for her, this wouldnt work out. She is an amazing friend with a compassionate heart- as well as the ability to wake (me) up at 630am.

Its been an exciting experience, as well as a tough one. The second day in and we were both tired. Im not sure why she was, but I know that Im still having a rough time getting to bed at a decent hour. Last night I went to bed at 1:30. Yikes. So thats going to be an issue to tackle. But its refreshing to have someone to be accountable too and have the word presented at the start of my day- instead of reading right before I fall asleep.  Another benefit of this is how I am using my time. I can make a cup of coffee, eat some breakfast. Im awake by the time I get to class. I can pack a lunch for work (instead of wasting money at Cafe la France). I can remember to grab the bills and stick them in the mail. Ahh you dont understand how much easier it makes things.

Hopefully our 6:30 conquering is successful in the long run. One sub-goal that I need to get a grip on- going to sleep at a time that allows me enough rest: 6-8 hours at the least.

Anyone here an early bird and have some tips to make conquering 6am easier to attain?

The Night Likes to Steal Me

By Alissa Graham 

The night likes to steal me
before I think about the morning,
the evening seems to lure
with a long sleepless warning.
An over active mind
lacks the will power to rest;
A book calls my name at midnight
as I delve into its quest.
I come up with the most creative things at one am
And by two Ive been tricked.
Two thirty makes no difference
and three is a jiff.
Three thirty has droopy eyes
but there are still things to say.
And 4am sometimes waves hello,
and the night waves goodbye.
But then as morning approaches-
a soft ray of light,
my body collapses,
from the sun down soiree.

---More about my ridiculous insomnia another time =) ---

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christmas Break in WNY: highlights

(hope this post works for everyone's browsers! sorry that its so picture rich!) 
Ahhh, its been a week since Ive been home, and my what a glorious vacation took place. I was able to go back to Western New York during Christmas break and visit everyone! My mom and grandparents drove all the way to Providence one day, stayed over night, and we drove back the next morning! What troopers.

Then I spent my time during break staying up until 4 am with my sister watching movies,

hanging out with friends,

seeing long lost family members from both sides of the family,

going to the Carpo Phorus/Elmwood Drive/Reign of Kindo concert at Mohawk Place (the lads of CP even dedicated a song to me!!!),

visiting my old church and going to my pastors for New Years Eve,

being crafty- Kailey and I made two pretty cool wreaths for our grandparents for christmas. We also attempted to make felt naptkin rings that are shaped like flowers, but it was pretty hard, so we kind of gave up, until next year.

enjoying local cuisines- actually every restaurant I went to when I was home was practically a first time experience! Sean Patricks (yum- giant blooming onion and shrimp bisque), Molinaro's on Sheridan (tasty pizza and wings), Spot Coffee on Chippewa (delightful chai tea), Shirt Factory Cafe (can I hear a panini Amen!?).

and wandering through Niagara Falls, Medina, Buffalo, and Lockport.

So, as you can see, it was a really enjoyable break. Sure there were times when things were all a bit inconvenient (you know- Janelle's car being totalled, and that day we drove about 200 miles because everyone we know lives in 3 separate counties) But dear goodness, I love my home and everyone there.
Until we meet again =)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Planning for Russia

  Now that my vacation is over, I've really started to get in gear with getting everything set up and ready for Russia. Here are a few important things I need to take care of in the next few weeks:
  • Send all my information to Russia regarding my Letter of Invitation from the Russian Baptist Union
  • Get my visa filled out and sent
  • Look into plane tickets
  • Save/raise money
  • Get all my paperwork into JWU Co-op Office
Besides these things, I have been hearing about some things that the Russian church wants us to bring over, specifically modern English praise and worship music, books, and cds. If anyone has any ideas about some good music books (like sheet music kind of things), let me know! Whats everyone's favorite praise and worship songs and cd's? I'm interested to see.

New Update: I think that I previously mentioned that I will be living in an apartment while I am in Zavolzhye. After much thought from Pastor Sasha and Natalia (my Russian contacts), they have decided that I should probably not live by myself and have made arrangements for me to live with Olga, a member of the church as well as a tour guide! On last year's trip, she showed us all around Gorodets. I dont remember her very well, but she was nice. It will be good to live with someone who can speak English and Russian. Its also amazing because she is a tour guide and I am excited to talk to her about her experiences in that field.  I hope we will be able to build a good relationship and have an enjoyable time together.

 Also, I want to definitely thank those of you who have financially supported me so far. It is such a blessing to be friends with such generous people. I really appreciate it, and cant say thank you enough. As well as financial support, I know that there are many people praying for me, and that I am truly grateful for as well. Prayer is the most important thing in this endeavor, and I welcome it with super wide open arms.

If anyone out there reading this is interested in getting a list of prayer requests regarding the trip, or wondering how to financially support me, PLEASE- email me at and I can get you that information asap.

Thanks again everyone,

Friday, January 1, 2010

Show Us Your Life: Bucket List Resolutions 2010

  Friday afternoons  Kelly's Korner blog has a blog carnival called "Show Us Your Life" in which people from all over get to participate in blogging about a different topic. Her blog carnie isn't until January 8th, but I figured I might as well do it up today and then just add it in next week to her thing! The topic is New Year's Resolutions!

As a Christian, I think its really important to always be self evaluating, not just once a year, a big hooplah in the beginning. But I do think there is merit to a new start, and a fresh year seems to give people that push.

As for me, I have two things that I do every New Year. The first tradition that I established for myself as a 10 year old is take a page from a notebook and just chronicle some basic info about myself. I write simple things like favorite food, color, book, musician, who my friends are, what I love in school, what I do for fun.. things like that. And then I try to tape a picture of myself to it. Its really cool to look back and see that I loved Avalon as an eight year old, NSYNC as a 12 year old, Relient K as a 15 year old, and now my favorite music is Passion Pit and Death Cab for Cutie. It is also really great to see who my friends have been every year, as God has surely blessed me with some life long friends, as well as some new friends that have just come from nowhere and are hopefully here to stay. I'm pumped at looking back at them in twenty years lord willing and seeing how I will always be my good old self, but yet ever changing.

The second thing that I started about five years ago is a little list that is just some goals for the New Year. I shy away from describing it as a bunch of New Year's Resolutions, because its not a list of things that I want to change in myself necessarily- More of like a yearly bucket list. Some past items on the yearly list:
  • Go to Allentown Art Festival in Buffalo (check -2008)
  • Become President of Student Council (check -2006)
  • Sit with someone that I don't know in the cafeteria (check-2005)
  • Read 52 books in one year (check! -2007)
  • Go to Boston in the fall (check- 2008)

Let me share with you *some* things on  
Alissa's 2010 Non-Resolution Yearly Bucket List!
  • Travel to Philadelphia
  • Visit Kim in Germany (for Christmas?)
  • Go to the West Coast- Seattle or Alaska please =)
  • Roadtrip to Montreal, Canada
  • Stick to my monthly budget
  • Go to Local121 in Providence
  • Conversate in Russian
  • Fourth of July in Boston
  • Walk around parts of Providence that I have never really walked around.
  • Consolidate all of my junk (right now I have all my stuff at three separate locations- Moms, grandma's, & RI)
  • Get more involved in the Smith Hill/Providence community 
  • See more sun rises (a.k.a. wake up earlier)
  • Focus on the Gospel and God's redemptive grace in relationships specifically
  • Have older/younger people from the church over at least once a month.
  • Buy really good books for at least 10 people. Probably from this list here.
  • Have a good old BLAST in Y2kX!  (and no that doesn't stand for bacon, lettuce, avacado, shrimp, tomato sandwich)
So thats a little tidbit from my 2010 bucket list=) Hope you enjoy it.
Do yall have anything that you just definitely want to do this year?