December 15, 2015

Concerning Key Grips

Have you seen this add (below) by The New Yorker?  I don't know if it's on mainstream TV or not because I only really watch TV on (and yes, it's always in a Korean).  It's truly a work of art.  The visuals, sounds (or lack thereof), and even the plot draw me in every time.  Go ahead and watch it first.  Go on.  It's only 59 Seconds.

The add immediately grabbed my attention because it reminded me of me in so many ways.  This story is basically how I live everyday.  I don't know if it's an INFJ/INTJ hybrid thing or if it's a "Jo" thing, but I feel like the director understands me.  

He/she understands how even though I'm living my life I don't feel like it's really about me.  I may, like the guy in the add, be the main character, but the story isn't actually about me.  I see people.  I notice things.  Sometimes I interact.  I wonder.  I analyze.  I empathize.  I acknowledge.  Then somehow I manage to check my watch and actually live my life too.

I've actually thought before that a movie about my life would be pretty boring.  It would just be snippets from other people's movies that I was an extra in.  Maybe in one I'd have a credited role like "the best friend," but another would be "girl that held the door open," or "acquaintance that made the party fairly tolerable," or maybe "key grip."  Key grips aren't even in movies, they just help make them possible (often stabilizing cameras or holding the microphones just out of the shot)  But don't get me wrong -- this isn't a pity party!  It's just my reality.

Ever since I can remember I've been fascinated by people's stories.  Before I was old enough to actually read fiction I would just look at the pictures in books and wonder what their stories were.  There was one particular book that had a simple poem about God loving people from all over the world in it, but I "read" it because it had pictures of kids in traditional clothing from cultures all around the world.  I would make up my own stories for each of the kids in the illustrations and pick my favorite outfits.

As I got older I was either reading someone else's story in a book or acting in my own make-believe world.  I loved playing make believe so much that I often would assign members of my family roles in my imaginary world and keep playing in my head over dinner time.  Mom, I apologize for all those times I said nothing at the table -- I didn't want to break character by talking about math class or who would mow the lawn. :)  My best (you could read "only" here) friends were also the imaginative sort, so we would play together outside for hours.  We had great times, but I lived in my head so much that I was perceived as a shy/rude kid.  Looking back I probably over-dosed on fiction.

Six years ago things changed.  While I had admitted by sinful state and accepted Jesus' sacrifice on the cross in my place and thereby been "saved" from God's wrath at a very young age, I didn't fully grasp what that inward change would/should eventually look like on the outside.  At the age of 15 something clicked and I started to realize how big the world is and how long eternity is.  I saw afresh how I had been basically a zombie -- dead spiritually but walking through life, and that now I was reborn to life that has hope and purpose.  I started to see that life isn't about me because it isn't mine.

Philippians 1: 20-21ish (NLT) reads "And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ."  My life was no longer mine.  At 15 I started to see God's heart and understand his bigger plan and purpose.  Sometimes growing up in the church makes simple things meaningless because we hear them so often.  Even important things like God loves people.  God will punish people for their sin because he is just and holy, but he loves them.  He wants them to be fulfilled, and experience the fullness of joy and happiness so he did the extreme.  He wove the thread of redemption into the story and he reaches out to you individually.  Personally.  He loves YOU.  He wants YOU.

This is what I started to realize at 15.  This is why I still love stories.  This is why people are the most important thing.  They don't just exist in books or in my imagination anymore.  They breathe, and laugh, and think, and are the main characters in their stories.  And Jesus loves them.  And everyday I have the opportunity to interact with these messy, beautiful, humans and try to see them through God's eyes.

This is why I don't mind being a key grip.  This is why I don't mind letting others take the stage.  This is why I love being in the background.  This is why I really like this add.  Yeah, it's for a magazine of some sort, but it's about the people.  It's about seeing things differently.  It's about caring.  It's about giving the gift of attention.

Take some time today to see people.  Speak life.  Be extravagant.  Let people know they're valuable.  Because they are.  YOU are.  You're priceless.

November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving with Barbie

"I love playing Barbies.  I can create so many stories with them." 

I was working to put a meal together in the kitchen when Emily came in and started telling me the virtues of playing with Barbies.  Imagination and what-not.  I was distracted, but tried to make an effort appear interested amidst my bustle.  I asked about her latest story and then continued to work.

Something about three rich girls in a palace going on a tour of the countryside  -- so far, so typical.  Where did I put that can opener down?

Then the evil tour guide abandons them in the forest and goes back to take over the palace-- Ah!  Some action.  Always a damsel in distress.  What temperature does this oven have to be again?

The bad guy starts spending their money while they have to find out how to get home with scarce resources -- Girl power!  Not the prince I was expecting.  Red bell pepper is kinda like celery, right?

I continued to listen absentmindedly till I heard the following words:  "Yeah.  See, the girls were kinda spoiled before.  Now that they're out on their own they have to help each other.  They don't have much money with them so they have to be creative.  Because they don't have much now and the bad guy is stealing their money they are learning to be thankful for the things they do have."

She ran off to wash her hands or something and I was left to ponder.  First, how awesome my little sister is to be "teaching" others to be thankful, strong, and selfless, and second, how true it is that you don't realize the good things you have until they are gone -- be it possessions, health, job, or even friends.

There are a number of things in my life right now that will not last (Transition time between school and full-time adulting).  Really good things.  This Thanksgiving I'm not going to wait till something is gone to value it.  

Like those Barbies, I may have to find creative ways to use my resources and rely on new people, but it is teaching me to really appreciate what I have.  I'm finding my way back to the palace -- creating a life -- and I'm so thankful for the things (and people) I do have.  Y'all are the bomb.

November 17, 2015

Back to School Party

Because days like these are worth remembering:

Part 1: Swings, Frisbee, and Tie-dying

November 15, 2015

Particularly Tall

I got a rather odd comment this morning (or was it a compliment?).  I was walking down the hall at church this morning wearing the above outfit.  This friend turned to me and said, "Joanna, today you look particularly. . .tall."

Um. . .

Guys, this is NOT smooth.  Don't say this.  Especially with the pause. When in doubt, neutral comments are better not said.  They are equal to negative comments.  I felt bad for the guy though, so I took it like a statement of fact and went into the optical illusions of proportions and how different clothing choices make different body types look certain ways.  It was actually only a 30 second schpeel, but just long enough to smooth the awkward comment into a mini conversation.

If you don't know what a neutral comment is, here is a crash course.

Negative: Those are weird shoes.
Neutral: You have new shoes.
Positive: Liking the shoes!

I'm not sure how this affects guys, but when you give a girl a neutral comment she will either seek clarification or put it in the negative pile.  If you notice a girl's shoes and say "You have new shoes" she will do one of three things.  (1) Try to find out what you actually think: "I do! What do you think?", (2) Become self-aware and think that you disapprove (actual reaction depends on the girl at this point), (3) be momentarily conflicted before distancing themselves from the issue and treating it like a fact.  This includes an educational seminar like mine from earlier or straight contradiction of the statement.

So there you go, guys -- a little "intelligence for your life" as John Tesh would say.  Go forth and be winsome.

October 13, 2015

Taekwondo - 6 Side Effects

I'm on the far left, and Emily is the blue belt in the center.

Well, we've hit the 8 month mark!  I just had another double belt test last night and my Dad got some pictures, so I thought I'd share them and some side effects of my TKD journey so far.  See, when you get to the higher colored belts you have to decide whether you're willing to work hard, or going to coast at your current level till you lose the excitement.  I was fit and motivated enough to get to the higher belts (blue and up at our Dojang) without much effort.  Now that I'm here though, it takes much physical exertion and exercise outside of class to improve.  When you reach this stage, TKD becomes a big part of your life.  So. . .

1.  You polarize people.  Inadvertently, you spend your spare moments and thoughts on some area of TKD.  You want to talk about it all the time.  Some people you will learn to keep a tight lip around so as not to drive them nuts.  Others?  Well, they happen to be your best friends and you convince them that martial arts is the best form of exercise out there or teach them how to break boards.  Some of them start Taekwondo for themselves. :)
Helping kids tie belts is actually quite rewarding.
 2. Faster reflexes (a.k.a. ninja skills, in the vernacular).  Usually it is increased ability to swat and kill flies with your bare hands.  Other times, it looks like realizing that kid number 2 is knocking over a heavy coat tree and catching it before it lands on kid number 3, all while not dropping the diaper bag, purse, or kid number 4.  SO many tears avoided this evening. #babysittinglikeaboss

Hand combinations
 3.  Flexibility/stretching.  All the time, everywhere.  Even though I used to shake my head at those girls who always walk around in workout clothes or yoga pants, I've started to embrace the culture.  I'm flexible enough now that "regular" pants don't allow me to stretch out my hips as far as they need. Wearing stretchy pants means I can get deep stretches without having to change my clothes.  It's like keeping your instrument out of it's case.  Half the battle of practicing music is getting the instrument and music out.  If it's out, you will play.  If you are wearing the appropriate pants, you will stretch.

This certainly isn't my best front kick, but it's the only one in a picture. :)
Taegeuk Yuk Jang
 4. Pain = Conditioning.  You know that whole "weakness leaving the body" saying?  I've never understood it, but pain has definitely taken on a new sort of sensation.  Scrape my hand?  Conditioning.  Stub my toe? Conditioning.  Bonk my head?  Conditioning.  Crazy out of breath from Ultimate Frisbee?  Conditioning.  At least I don't complain much anymore. ;)

That hair flip, though.
Board breaking is addicting.
5. Laundry.  I already mentioned the yoga pants, but it goes farther.  Sports bras, Doboks, tank tops -- all manner of athletic wear makes up probably 50% of my load every week (and most of it is air-dry only!).  Dobok pants (let's be honest, the whole uniform) are not flattering, but my new uniform is a little better, and the more you use it,(sweat in it and wash it -- *cough*)  the more comfortable it gets.

6.  Your definition of "Feeling good" changes.  I still love a book, a blanket, cider, and a fireplace, but it's not what I run to when I'm feeling down anymore.  Exhausted, mentally spent, in pain because of aunt flow? Go to the gym.  Things worth having take effort and hard work.  I realized after a particularly lousy personal performance last week that I was going to have to focus and work hard to grow.  I realized simultaneously that my spiritual life was in the same state as my body.  I was trying to coast by on past achievements and relax.  I felt like I had "arrived" (at who knows what), but in reality I had a bad attitude.  My walk with Jesus Christ is only as good as I want it to be, and it takes effort on my part to stay engaged.  Hard work and struggle leads to growth, and that makes it the best feeling in the world.
A photo posted by Joanna Webber (@josnazz) on

October 9, 2015

3 Things

  • This article, "Why my support for abortion was based on love...and lies" is and excellent look at the reality.  Jennifer tells her story with love and logic, not judgement or hate.  It is a good read for anyone, but especially for those who are still on the fence about abortion, even after the videos exposing Planned Parenthood's lies.
  • This video is an excellent on why gun control is so wrong:
  • The best 7 minutes of gun control speech.
    This is the BEST and smartest gun argument I have heard yet...THIS MUST GO VIRAL!!!
    Posted by Rik Sexton on Thursday, March 28, 2013
  • This video of some Orthodox Jews singing Psalms 121 is amazing beautiful.

Как ортодоксальные евреи поют 120-й Псалом (Psalms 121).
Posted by Vladimir Volchanskiy on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

August 6, 2015

Taekwondo - 6 month update

A photo posted by Joanna Webber (@josnazz) on
You may remember this post from 5 months ago about my beginning in martial arts.  I was so new, nervous, and excited.  Could I really do this?  Will this make me a more aggressive person?  Will this change the way people see me?  How far do I want to go with this?  Since then the nerves have turned into drive and the excitement into fascination.

-I CAN do this.  It's hard, but I can do it.

-TKD doesn't make me more aggressive than I was, but it gives me an outlet to be straight up aggressive instead of always passive aggressive. ;)

-Yes, it does change the way people see me (but only if they know).  It changes the way I see other people too.  My parents are proud of me and rarely fail to list TKD when they spout my list of achievements.  Embarrassing?  Yes.  Normal?  So much yes.  I love having parents who are proud of me, even if it is a little uncomfortable.  Emmy and I have been referred to as "resident weapons" at our church.  My pseudobros (guys being discipled by my family) give me an even wider berth as a half serious joke.  I make them hold boards I break just to remind them of what I can do every once in a while.  Haha!  This is why Mom says I have no boyfriend.  Maybe it's true.  #noregrets

-As to how far I'm going, I should think that is obvious -- first dan black belt!!  I have to get my black belt first, but then I have to keep working and perfecting to get my first dan stripe.  That's when I will feel truly accomplished.

It's hard to believe that I've already tested twice (one of those a double test) and accomplished my first goal: getting a green belt by the end of the year.  Not only that, but later this week I get to double test again! Blue and Brown belts, here I come!

Hopefully I'll get more photos, facts, and tips up in posts in the future.

June 9, 2015

SOK Concert and Kopp's

Last weekend my best friend and I met my family in Milwaukee for a Sons of Korah concert.  Sons of Korah is (a highly underrated) Australian music group that is working on the Psalms Project.  They have 10 CDs out so far.

Their sound takes a little getting-used-to at first for some, but their interpretations of the Psalms are brilliant.  Psalm 94 from their recent album is an angry song, but it perfectly portrays the depth and emotion of the psalmist.  The commentary in-between the songs was wonderful and worshipful.

The humor, brought mostly by the far left and right musicians was also refreshing amidst the serious and sincere moments.  Overall, a wonderful concert.  An added plus was accidentally sitting two rows behind some friends from various parts of WI.  We all headed to Kopp's for custard afterward to round out the evening of fellowship.

It's supposed to be the BEST custard.  I'm not a connoisseur, so I'll take their word for it.

 Parents and friend's from WI.

 Typical Bro shot
 Sharing is caring.  Especially when a coffee flavor is involved.

What a stud.

Boo is the best.

May 16, 2015

Daddy Graduates // A Family Day

We got in the car late.  Again.  But we always do, you see, so we always leave 30 minutes early on longish trips.  Showers, bagels, hair-dos, and pumping tires were on the agenda before heading into Chicago this time.  We were going to Dad's graduation ceremony from Moody Theological Seminary.

What normally is a 1.5 hour ride is over 2 hours on Saturday mornings such as this.  Nathanael pulled up a book on following God on his computer, Hudson started his book of poems -- an especially profound one he shared with me -- I studied the Korean alphabet (Hangul), and before I fell asleep I heard discussion of hermeneutics drifting back from Mom and Dad in the front seat.  Emily contented herself with watching planes fly overhead.  I love our family.  The more we grow up and start to leave, to more I want us to stay together.

We're all nerds in our own way, and we have Mom and Dad's value of learning to thank for that.  Dad has spent the last 7 years not only working full time, being a great dad, keeping up with house chores, and being involved in our church and family ministries, but also pursuing his Master's degree.  This endeavor has been hard at times, but it is so worth it.  Walking with the class and getting a hood is cool, but the knowledge and experience he has gained and been able to pass on to us throughout these years is priceless.  I'm so proud of his dedication and good example to us.

Check out those three cords!  Summa cum laude, baby!  (3.9-4.0 GPA, for those who don't know)

Along with a diploma, graduates receive a special alumni Bible and a towel to represent them going out into the world like Christ -- not to be served, but to serve.

Hudson, Nathanael, Emily, Mom, Dad, Moi

Sidenote: I recognized one of the graduates and their families talking in Korean (thank you KDramas and Taekwondo!) and offered to take their pictures for them.  I was able to use just about all the words I know so far (Hana, duo, set!) and they were duly impressed. :)  

Also, Hudson is back from College for the summer and this is what he likes to do with my camera.

 And 'cause he's not camera shy, we use downtime in the parking garage to take portraits.  Fitted suits are the

Nathanael - Not as big of a fan of the limelight, but just as handsome. 

Emm looks like she just saw a dinosaur.


We didn't get a picture on Mother's day, so this was our "girls" picture to make up for it.

   We rounded out the evening with dinner at Gino's East for some real Chi-style deep dish pizza.  'Twas sublime.  Just wishing big bro Jamie could have joined us.  It really was a wonderful day.

April 8, 2015


Confession time guys.  I'm not 20.  I'm actually a 40 year old and a 3 year old trapped simultaneously in a 20 year old body.

I'm taking a Leadership communication course right now.  You know, efficient leadership, motivating people, emotional intelligence, changing the world.  High brow, deep stuff.  I'm in the middle of a paragraph on adding value to every situation you are in when I somehow end up on Pinterest.  Crazy, right?

Well, normally these detours last 1.5 minutes.  This time I clicked through a picture on spring break ideas for your preschooler.  [Background: we are not on spring break, we do not have a preschooler in our house, and I'm the only one home right now]  A couple clicks later and I'm on this article about flubber.  Normal people would move on or pin the thing, right?  Right.  Unfortunately, normal and I aren't getting along today.  Long gone are thoughts of followership and leadership theory.  In their place are "Hey!  We HAVE Borax!  I think we have glue too . . . food coloring can't be hard to find. . ."

Some simple math(approximations) later and a climb on top of the washer later, I sit back down in my study corner with some lemon/sunshine yellow flubber, and the most ridiculous grin.  This, my friends, is the life of a hopelessly professional procrastinator.

Your resident 3 year old

March 14, 2015

Mango Coconut Ice Cream (Dairy free)

Being off of Facebook for a while means *cough* that I spend more time on my other social media.  As I scroll through my Pinterest feed I keep coming across these alternative ice cream recipes.  I guess ice cream is just so good that even sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, paleo -you name it- people must have their own version.  And that's fine with me. :)  I've tried the banana ice cream a number of times with varying degrees of success.  The raw cashew version looked great, but who keeps raw cashews in stock?!  So when I came across this delightful looking coconut milk recipe I bookmarked it right away.  Coconut milk is almost always in our pantry.

This morning I was sick of being sick and decided that ice cream was in order, except I didn't want to eat dairy products that would make me more congested or something with lots of processed sugar that would hurt my immune system.  Enter coconut milk ice cream!

I adapted from this recipe by Hannah of Immer Wachsen.  I used one can of coconut cream (just the fat part), about a 1/5 cup of honey, and half of a fresh, ripe mango.  I blended it for about 5 seconds, then put half in an ice cube tray and half in the bottom of a bread pan so I could test the different freezing methods.  I blended it up in our personal serve ninja cup because this small of a recipe doesn't make that much.  I ended up liking the bread pan version better, just so you know.  It was easier to manipulate.

And the taste?  Perfect.  My mom (who can't eat dairy) said it tasted like butter - in the best way possible!  It is so rich that the portions you see here were plenty.  It's a one-scoop wonder. :-) Dad and Emmy were the only other ones home at the time and both thought is was great.

The mango added the perfect amount of tangy with the sweet of the honey and exotic of the coconut. Definitely trying this one again sometime!