Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm alive!

It's been so long since I blogged, I need to catch up! I'm hoping this can be sort of a cathartic experience - processing the last several months preparing to move into the future. It seems like I've been in a funk recently. There have been lots of good things, but a couple of big things that are stressing me out. We'll focus on the good things.

The Tempest went well. We were inside one night, so my set piece got used once. I'm glad it was used period. It was hard moving inside and then back out, as an actress. I thought it was going to be tough being outside. Because of weather, we only got to rehearse once outside before we opened, and then did four of the five performances out there. We were all a little stressed, but everyone transferred well, and, to me at least, it was hard moving back inside once we got settled out there!

The fall semester is over - classes went well for both me and the hubby. I ended up picking up a night class, Education as a Profession, to explore the possibility of getting certified to teach. I really enjoyed my Shakespeare class - getting back into the "student" mode. It, along with becoming involved with the choir, helped me to make connections with some students on campus.

I still haven't completely finished my first online class - Learn Something New Every Day - that I did in September. I finished the album pages, but haven't quite gotten the pictures onto the pages yet. I, of course, have grand plans of doing that. In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up another scrapbooking class - a December Daily class that encourages you to scrap about each day in December leading up to Christmas. I really should learn better about myself. I am not a daily scrapbooker - I scrapbook events. So, it turned more into a scrapbooking of December events, which is fine. I'll try to get some of those pages posted up here, I'm pretty pleased with them. I explored digital scrapbooking with this class, using Adobe Photoshop Elements. I like it a lot, though it is very different from paper scrapbooking. It's probably a good way for me to get a lot of pages done, and I really like that I can scrapbook anywhere that I can take my computer (i.e. in-laws' house and my living room without taking over the coffee table!) The downside is I'm using the Free 30-day trial of PE, and it's going to expire probably sometime this week, and I don't really have the money to buy the full program. So, this may be the end of my digital scrapbooking experience, for awhile, at least.

Hmm...what else. Well, Christmas was last week. We had an awesome Christmas. We hit the highlights - Mark's extended and immediate family, my immediate and some extended family. We were blessed with great gifts and great company. My sister passed on her Wii to us as a present - awesome! She got it last year and enjoyed having it for awhile, but I think the newness had worn off, so it's come to live at our house. We haven't turned it on yet, but I'm looking forward to playing some tennis - I think it might be my favorite of the games that we now have. Oh, and I'm definitely going to have to check out some Harry Potter games. Some other things we got were additional chairs for our table (now I can invite more than 2 people over for dinner!) and Mark got a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (been on his wish list for awhile, now).

Alright, is that enough of an update? I make no promises to blog more, for anyone who's reading along. Actually... if you are reading, would you let me know? Comment or something, just to let me know you're out there. I usually hate bloggers who ask for comments or beg for feedback. But, think of it as a survey. The 2010 Census is coming up, so we'll call it a census of my blog. Really, it's just to let me know if I should feel guilty for not posting for... 4 months. Gulp. I feel guilty whether there's anyone out there or not.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Desigining the Set for The Tempest

I've finally finished the model of the set for the fall production of The Tempest last night- or, at least, it's at a point where it's actually looking like what it's supposed to look like. I'm sure it will be "tweaked" a lot over the next few days as we nail down the final design. I'm so excited about designing this set piece. It's very simple, as the director is a bit of a minimalist, and we have very low skill level in the area of construction.

The model is out of foam core, a supply of which I have been toting around with me for the past six years since I took a class in scenic design. (That stuff's expensive!) I'm glad I am finally able to use it.


(if you don't look too closely, I think it looks like it could be life-size!)

The concept is a platform, under which is the cave in which Caliban lives (behind the cloth). Off the back of the platform is the general direction in which Prospero and Miranda live - we'll use an already existing set of stairs to access the platform back stage (in between the railings). The platform is 3 feet high, about 8 feet wide and 3 and a half feet deep. The show will open with the platform turned around the other way:

to act as the ship for the first scene. I have in mind to drape this side with cloth painted to look like a ship of some sort, and then remove the cloth for the rest of the show, just to add to the idea of a ship. We'll see how that goes over. It'll then be turned back around to serve as the cave on the island.

My original idea was to have this curved platform with stairs (also curved) down both sides. The director is worried it will be too large with two sets of stairs, so we're dropping back to one. And it was suggested today by the director's husband that we use the stairs already built for the platform that is used on our outdoor stage for this inside platform, relieving us of having to build another set of stairs. The only reason we'll be inside is if we get rained out of our outdoor stage, so we'll just add the stairs to the list of things to be moved inside.

I'm very excited about this, especially because I think it's versatile, and can be used in further productions when we need a platform. It may not be Broadway worthy, but it's a great step for our theatre!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One of Those Unproductive Days

I just don't feel like I've gotten anything done today, even though I really did. I could list the things I accomplished. I think it's that there's still so much I need to do and want to do that it doesn't feel like I got really far. And the things I did today took a lot more time that I wanted to spend on them, so that cut down my time to do other things.

So, it's just been one of those unproductive days. However, something I am excited about is I finally figured out the "Next" button on Google Reader. It's under settings (top right corner), under "Goodies." (I kept looking on the home page for it). It's a bookmark that you drag to your bookmark toolbar, and when you click on it, it takes you through your reader items that have been updated - takes you to the actual site! - and marks them as read in your reader. So awesome!

Learning How to Play Catch Up

The bad news: I haven't blogged since day two of learning something new. The good news, I have actually been journaling and scrapping! I think going into town this past weekend is what messed me up. I was too busy living life to scrap it. I'm okay with that!

So, here are four new pages for you to enjoy!

Thursday, I learned an important lesson about being married. Mark had had a really long day, and it was nice to be able to have dinner waiting for him when he got home. With both of us working so much this fall, we've been having a lot of fast food. It's nice when one of us has the time to cook! The picture of this page is a picture of the meal - Taco Ring, Mexican Rice, and chips and salsa!


On Friday, the most exciting thing happened... we paid off our debt!!! We've been working toward this for about 2 years now, and finally paid the last bit Friday! It was a great day, and we've been celebrating as much as we can! The pictures here are of me and Mark, and of Mark holding his diploma (his master's was the last thing we paid off).

Friday night, to celebrate, we went to Shakespeare on the Green in town and saw The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. It was a lot of fun. Having stage managed the show twice, I think I got more of the jokes than most people in the audience. But it was still a good time.

Saturday, we celebrated by going to a college football game. It was tons of fun. I wasn't really feeling good when we left, and didn't really want to be there, but when we actually got to the game, I had a blast! I learned that I really do like football games! The picture here is of me and Mark at the game, of course!


On Sunday, we got to go to our church, which we don't get to do a whole lot because we now live an hour and a half away. It was great to see everyone, and that night our Sunday school class had a Mystery Luau Dinner Party! It was so much fun getting to dress up and play the roles. I was Holly Day, and Mark was Les Baggs. Mark, of course, figured out who dunnit and pointed the finger at the right culprit. I couldn't have been more off the mark. ;-) It was still a great evening. I was reminded how much I love my friends, and how lucky we are to still have those connections, even after moving. Picture is of the whole group who was there for the party.


That's what I've got so far. I'm getting to the point where working without pictures is hindering me, so I think I'm going to print off a group of pictures and add them in to catch up. I can't wait to see it REALLY finished, with pictures and everything!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Learn Something New Day 2

So far I'm two for two! Here's the page:


And here's the picture for the day:


Background: I was trying to create my favorite Close To My Heart color (Garden Green) on my computer because somewhere along the way I received a file with the RGB color combinations for creating them on the computer. Thing was, I had the values, and my computer wanted percentages. I asked a designer friend of mine if she knew how to translate them from value to percentage, and she told me that they are out of 255. I had no idea! But, knowing that, I was able to use my mad algebra skills (sarcasm intended) to translate them into percentages, and you can see the result of my beautiful Garden Green font color above! I used the color to create the journaling blocks that I'm using throughout my book. A very exciting thing to learn!

'Til tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Learn Something New Day 1

Okay, according to my clock, I have 18 minutes left in day 2, which means I have 18 minutes left to finish day 1's page. Good thing I'm done. :-)

First things first. I finished my cover today, too.

I'm quite pleased with it, for now. I may add some detail to it as the month progresses. But I do want to keep it simple. I have a hard time adding 3D elements to covers, they seem to get bent out of shape - literally.

Here's page 1:


It's very simple, too. My theory is that if I keep things simple, I'll have an easier time doing this each day. Just get the paper and a place for the picture down. (I'm taking pictures as the month goes along and will probably print them all off together at the end of the month, since I don't really have a way to print as I go without finding myself at the Wal-Mart Photo Department every day.) I've established a possible pattern with this first page. My book is 7x7.5, and with this page I've got a 6x6 square, 2.5x6 piece of patterned paper, the picture, and the journaling, plus the day and date. I may keep with this format, or I may not. I wanted to start with something easily reproducible yet flexible in case I need to come back to the ease of simplicity. But I may go crazy tomorrow!

Here's the picture that will go on today's page:


It's of me studying for my Shakespeare class. I really enjoyed reading, and even enjoyed the sense of excitement/fear if I was going to be able to keep up in class. I had nothing to worry about, at least that day!

Working in 3D

Yesterday I mentioned that things have been and are getting pretty crazy around here. It is very exciting, because it's all good stuff, with the exception of the ear infection I've been battling for four days.

So, what's been going on?

Classes started last week. I'm taking one course this semester, a class on Shakespeare. It's been a lot of fun so far, and I'm learning (again) that I really can read Shakespeare. I kind of have to get into the grove, but for the most part I'm understanding it. Mark's started classes, too, he's teaching 6 classes this fall, including 2 choirs. All this is well and good, except that for pretty much the entire summer we were both home. Now that we're both gone a lot more, our poor dog thinks he's been abandoned.

We also started rehearsals for the fall production of The Tempest. I'm playing Miranda (so freakin' excited!!!) I was just simply excited about theatre in general, not horribly thrilled about this particular play or part, but after blocking Act One, I am really looking forward to this production. The people are awesome (getting reacquainted with many old friends), and I'm going to have a lot of fun with this part.

I blogged yesterday about the start of my online class, Learn Something New Everyday. I've been working on my cover, and today will begin designing page one (to scrap what I learned yesterday). I'm not stressing about this project... yet. Okay, maybe I'm stressing a little. :-)

Something that's been rolling around in the back of my mind for about a week is the possibility of taking private voice lessons. I've never really thought about doing this much, as other instruments have always been higher on my priority list (violin, guitar, piano), but after the fiasco that was me singing at last year's Talent Show (we just don't talk about that, it really was bad), I think I need help. I've always taken my voice for granted, but I've also always been singing in some sort of group, be it church choir, school choir, or community group. I'm singing with a group again, but I really think I need the extra support private lessons would give me. So I'm considering this. Haven't done anything about it yet.

Finally, the thing I'm probably most excited about, I was asked to design the set for The Tempest! I could do a whole post just on set design (and maybe I will...), but I'll be brief (ha!) since I've already been so verbose. Basically, I'm designing the set for the interior stage, and it will only be used/seen if we get rained out of our outdoor space. But I don't care. I'm just excited to get to flex my creativity muscles in the set world. It's been awhile since I've done any set work, so I'm looking forward to this a lot! I've started drawing my ideas, only to learn that I really can't draw. So, I believe a scale model will be in my future. I've always worked better in 3D.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Learn Something New Every Day

I'm hastily beginning to realize that this is going to be a very busy month. It will be such a nice change, as I think I've been feeling things getting fairly mundane lately. I just hope I won't have over-extended myself by the time the month is out!

There's so much going on, and I want to tell you about it all, but for now I'm going to start with one thing, because I'm excited about working out the tech details of how to tell it.


I'm taking my first online class! It's through Shimelle.com. Shimelle is a scrapbooker in the UK who's blog I follow. I've watched this class go by for several years now, and this year I decided was the year to join. I'm so excited about this class. The concept to keep a record of what you learn every day for a month. We all know how drastically poor my last "do something every day for x time period" worked out (see here and here if you're masochistic and just want to relive the fail... I did actually make it through the week, and took pictures every day, but before I scrapbooked them, or even printed them off, my HD crashed, and I lost them all.)

But this time I have no expectations whatsoever. I do have an album, an old stapled book I got at Barnes and Noble or something of the sort that's a bunch of pages stapled together. And I'm using a pack of paper that had no original reason for being bought other than that I liked it. I'm compiling from my current stash, with the plan to not buy anything (which has reason more in the financial side of things rather than the not needing more stuff, but more about that later). But no expectations. I'm going to take each day as it comes and see what happens. And I just may learn that I don't really have time to do any of it! But I hope I learn that life, my life in particular, really does have exciting things going for it.

So, go check out the class! I'd recommend it for anyone, even non-scrapbookers. Shimelle's instructions are so simple you can do it with just a pen and a journal, and, as she says, "this project can be considered complete and valuable without a single scrapbooking supply."

Here's to learning something new!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Choices

I did a lot of church musicals growing up. I can remember asking the choir director if I could be in the children's musical when I was only in the 1st grade (it being the 3-6 grade choir that did the musical). I had "borrowed" the tape from my sister (who was in the musical) and listened to the music over and over again until I learned it for myself, and on the night they staged it, I asked, and got to be a part.

Even after we left that church, I was involved in musicals at other churches. It seems every church does at least one. In the fifth grade, I remember being at lunch with the choir director and my family, and he asked me if I would be one of the leads in the upcoming children's musical, Shortstops, a baseball musical. I was elated, and had so much fun.

(By the way, this post isn't about children's musicals.)

There was this one song in Shortstops called Choices. Interestingly enough, of all the musicals I've been in, with all the songs, this song has stuck in my head over the years.

"Choices are waiting just around the corner,
choices that have to be made.
Some are polite, some are out of order,
none of them want to wait.
So what do I do at times like these,
what is my action plan?
Shut out the world, say an honest prayer,
open the Book and take a look at what's there.
Choices, voices, little everyday things that everyday brings.
I will listen to the Spirit, and then make the choice
from the voice that is Jesus in me."

I've been thinking a lot about choices lately. I made the choice in college to study Christian Education, and now have a job in that field. But I am drawn to theatre, desiring to be involved in it in any way I can. And I find myself asking, what is it that I'm supposed to be doing? What did God create me to do? What is God calling me to do?

The thought crossed my mind the other day that God doesn't care. No, God cares about me, but God doesn't care whether I choose CE or Theatre. God just wants me to be happy, to be who I am, whatever my field.

And while that may be a comforting thought, it's actually quite terrifying. Because it means that the choice hasn't been made for me. I'm not supposed to be doing Christian Education, I'm not supposed to be doing Theatre. I'm not supposed to be doing either, because I have the choice. And I have to choose, because I've been trying to do both, and I feel pulled apart at the seams. I've never really had to choose in my life. I mean, yeah, I had to choose a college, and I chose a mate, but in those and other choices I've made, I claimed more than I had before. I gained something wonderful, without really giving up anything. This time, it feels like I finally have to give up something, something that I do want to do, whichever it may be. Something that flows in and out of me like breathing.

I could be wrong. Maybe I can keep on doing both, and I'm going to for as long as I can. But something inside feels like my choice is waiting, just around the corner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Right Now

Right now, I'm sitting at my desk at home, working and listening to Pandora.

Right now, my dog is at my feet, sleeping peacefully.

Right now, my desk is cluttered and it'd driving me crazy.

Right now, my scrapbooking and art supplies are still packed in boxes in my closet.

Right now, my bed is not made.

Right now, I'm missing lots of people that I haven't seen in too long.

Right now, I'm struggling with things like calling and friendship and purpose and truth.

Right now, I'm trying to not beat myself up for the things I have/have not done, and trying to not worry about the things I have yet to do.

Right now, I am not at peace. However, I am striving to be content. I am striving to just be.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Harry Potter Countdown

Okay, the countdown has already begun for many people, but for me, I've just been getting in the mood over the past few weeks or so. I think it's because we had decided not to go to the midnight showing, because we're going to be out of town. But, we've changed our mind and have decided to go on our vacation, now, and have our tickets, so it's starting to seem more real to me!

In honor of the 6th movie, I wanted to re-read the series. I started with The Sorcerer's Stone back in April when I had plenty of time to read them all. However, life got in the way, and I just finished Chamber of Secrets last week. (I had a really hard time getting motivated to finish CoS, I think because it's my least favorite. I understand its importance in the whole series, but it still seems the most unnecessary to me. That, and I can't stand Lockhart. Not in an I love to hate him way, I just flat out hate him.) I started Prisoner of Azkaban over the weekend, but have decided to skip ahead, thinking a re-read of Half-Blood Prince is more important. So, I read the Ministry of Magic battle to the end of Order of the Phoenix and began HBP last night. I feel sure I can finish it before the movie, but think I'll wait until after the movie to read Deathly Hallows again. I'm most excited about Deathly Hallows. I've only read it once, and I zoomed through it that one time in the 24 hours after it was first released. 

I want to talk about movie vs. book for a second in regard to the 3rd (Prisoner of Azkaban) and 5th (Order of the Phoenix) because I'm intrigued by some choices that were made. I understand the different medium of movie vs. book, and how each calls for something different, and overall I've been pleased with how the franchise has honored the story of each book in film, rather than trying to make a movie that follows the book exactly. But there are two thing I wish they would have done differently. For a long time after the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, I was frustrated with the amount of information left out of the movie about Harry's father and 3 friends. Though, I think I'm going to wait and say more about this after I've re-watched the third movie. For now, I want to move on to my second beef, with Order of the Phoenix. 

Spoiler warning: If you haven't read the fifth book or seen the movie or learned what happened, you deserve for the ending to be spoiled. I will do so below. 

In the book, when Harry returns to Dumbledore's office after the battle at the Ministry, he is outraged. He has been ignored for an entire year by one of the few adults that he has learned to trust, has been manipulated by his mortal enemy, has spent the last 10 months being surrounded by governmental authority figures who deny everything he knows about himself and Voldemort, and now has lost the one adult that he's truly begun to see as a parental figure. On top of that, he's 15. He deserves a breakdown. That scene in Dumbledore's office where Dumbledore sits patiently while Harry destroys his possessions is... beautiful. Harry's emotions are so pure and unbridled. And we learn so much about Dumbledore, about how old men make mistakes, too, and the deep love he has grown to have for Harry. I was really looking forward to that scene in the movie. But what we got was a subdued, 2 minute conversation that barely brushed the surface of the information that needed to be conveyed, much less the emotions of these characters after such a difficult experience. Again, I understand the needs of film are different from the needs and abilities of a book, but I really think we missed Harry and Dumbledore's characters when we lost that scene. It's probably one of my favorites in the whole series. 

Well, instead of re-reading the whole series, we've decided to watch the movies in preparation for the 6th one. We started with Sorcerer's Stone last night. It was... long. It was good, for the most part, but they were all young. I was watching the opening scene with Dumbledore and McGonagall and thinking, man, did they have any idea how big this was going to be when they first started? They did have a long way to go - I noticed the editing was choppy, and the characters didn't always react they way they needed to, or even have continuity in their reactions. Like, at the end when Dumbledore is awarding extra points for Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville's acts, one second Hermione is blissfully applauding with the table of Griffindors, and the next she's excitedly whispering that they're tied with Slytherin. And a lot of Hagrid's reactions are delayed, like when the goblin at Gringotts asks for Harry's key. I know, nit-picky. But I did notice it. What I noticed more is that they got better (of course), and I'm hoping to be more aware of that as we watch the next four (five!) movies.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taken Back

Do you ever have that experience when you are all of a sudden reminded of something from a long time ago, out of nowhere? It's not really deja vu, because you can place the memory.

I was brushing my teeth this morning, and all of a sudden, the combination of Altoids, water, and toothpaste in my mouth brought back the memory of my grandparents' backyard, when my cousin and I used to play in their garden. I'm not sure what specifically I was reminded of. Something about the water, maybe drinking the water from the hose in their yard. My grandfather had this bird feeder, and also this board that he set up on top of the fence that he'd put birdseed and other food for the birds on. It always frustrated him when the squirrels would get to it. Behind the fence, my grandmother had a garden, kind of back in the woods and up a little hill. I've always wanted to have a garden, and I think it's because of her.

Right inside their back door was a laundry room where they had a fridge. I don't remember if it was their main fridge, I think so. But I remember they always had it stocked full of drinks and snacks for us when we would come. It was so freeing to be able to grab and eat anything you wanted, not that we didn't do that at home, but somehow it was different.

Hmm, it's just nice to think about. Childhood memories, and my grandparent's backyard.

See, one of these days, I'm going to do something creative to share and preserve memories like these. Though, maybe just blogging about them is simply enough.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Annual Conference Day 3.1

Annual Conference ended on a great note. Just before the CFA report and the "Where will the 2010 Conference meet" report (which are always the last two) we heard the official report of the camping ministries. I was very pleased with how they provided both positives and negatives, both honoring what this camp in question is and has been, and being truthful about what it needs to be.

The began by asking themselves what our liability would be if they kept the camp open. They then asked what our spiritual liability would be if we closed it.

What a powerful, important question to ask, especially as they shared the statistics that 60-80% of Christians make their profession of faith at camp.

They revisited the information given in the briefing, that in 2001-2002, the camp experienced a decline in attendance, which we thought was attributed to the incident that occurred there, however camps across the country experienced the same percentage in decrease as we did as a result of 9/11. They continued by saying that the camps that survived and thrived are the ones who "retooled" and moved on in a better direction. We did no such thing with this camp, and the task force proclaimed that they see this camp to be at ground zero.

So, what the task force proposed was to build a new intentional connection between the Conference office and the camping ministries. They propose to operate the camp as only a summer camp until additional usage and income mandates the hiring of a full time director for the camp to be open year round. In the meantime, the lodges will be available year round for "self-use" by churches (meaning you have to cook your own meals).

They propose to update the camp by cleaning the cabins and making them more user-friendly. The kitchen and the dining area are in dire need of renovation, including a whole new kitchen and air-conditioning the space. They acknowledge that we are competing with camps across the state that are already offering much better facilities.

On a broader note, they encouraged the conference to take camping ministries to a place where we are doing a camping ministry that no longer takes a back seat and does things half way, but looks forward and meets the needs of children and youth. They look for the day that this camp can apply and become accredited by the American Camp Association.

They talked about how to fund it, and then told the story of the priceless pearl for which the man was willing to sell literally everything he had. As he walked out the door of the store, the store owner returned all of his possessions to him, saying they are not yours, but you must use them to serve others as they come to you. We have been given this camp back. It is not ours - it is God's. What do we do with this gift that we have been given?

The proposal passed unanimously!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Annual Conference Day 3

This morning and early afternoon we had a speaker, Sally Morgenthaler. She had some good things to say, speaking about passionate worship. Jay was a very thorough note taker on all the sessions: 1, 2, and 3. I appreciate him sharing these with us.

The one thing I will say about the sessions was that toward the end she asked for questions and someone brought up the issue of keeping worship as worship, and not entertainment. She didn't say a lot on this, but I was glad someone brought it up, because it is a big deal. What she did say was that we have to keep our focus on God.

As my computer is now running on reserve battery, my wrap up of Conference will have to come later!

Annual Conference Day 2.1

I left after the amendments to join the Martin Alumni Choir! It was a very exciting experience. The choir was to sing at the Martin Dinner and then at the Laity service. There were about 45 people, from graduating class of '51 to just starting at MMC this fall. The choir was directed by the choral director at Martin. It was so much fun. Both my mom and mother-in-law sang, and I got to see a lot of people I went to school with who I haven't seen since, along with some of Mark's friends.

Personal joy aside, the choir just sounded really good, which is pretty amazing when you just invite a bunch of people, you don't really know what you're going to get. Martin has been working toward lots of improvement, both physically and in programming. One of the bench marks has been to increase the student body to 1000 students, and they'll cross that number this fall. So, our theme for the Martin Dinner was "O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing."

There are so many exciting things going on at Martin, and it is always so great to share the excitement of the school with the conference. Check out what's going on, and see how this college is truly modeling what it means to be a church-related institute.

Annual Conference Day 2

Okay, so I'm a day behind.

Yesterday afternoon was the Constitutional Amendments. It was very interesting to see the conversation. The majority of people who spoke on the first amendment was pro. I know there are a lot of forward thinking people in our conference who aren't "afraid" of what this amendment could mean. And that's the bottom line of what's been going on - those "in the know" who are against this amendment have been using a fear tactic to scare those who aren't really up on the latest news to fear what this could mean. We're scaring people into doing what we want them to do instead of educating them and trusting them to make their own decision. I was so happy to see so many people taking a stand against that fear-tactic and standing up for inclusion.

One pastor brought the example that a 6 year old told him he wanted to join the church, and he said that if this passes, then he would have had to offer membership to this child, instead of telling the child she was too young and needed to wait until she was older. My thought? Umm... what's the problem with a 6 year old becoming a member? We hold this thing called "membership" so close, like an exclusive club, that only those we deem ready are allowed. You have to go through confirmation. You have to go through this class. You're not ready. You have to meet with the pastor. What's the problem with them doing that after they join? You can join! Now! Yes! Come! Our doors are open, not only for you to come and worship, but for you to BELONG! No wonder church feels like a country club...

I really wanted to applaud when one pastor spoke out against this element of fear by saying that we need to stop being afraid of what might happen if we accept everyone, and look at what IS happening - 2/3 of our members aren't keeping their vows as it is. What are we afraid of? More people who don't support the church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness? Or are we afraid that we might have to actual mean what we say: Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors?

We still don't know the result of our voting, and I'm surprised we haven't heard it yet. We may have to ask for it. I've been keeping an eye on amendment tracker as the rest of the conferences weigh in. It looks like General Conference is quite representative: we're split down the middle. Now, if we can just admit that, it'll be a step in the right direction.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Annual Conference Day 1

Disclaimer: My two greatest fears in life are being boring and being wrong. And being hypocritical. Okay, three. I fear I may be all of the above in this following post, but I will try my best to not succeed.

Yesterday was... it's really hard to be nice. The conference began with a laity briefing session that discussed the amendments from General Conference. The head of our delegation discussed each of the amendments, though very scattered. He didn't go in order of the amendments, or even in order of the way they had been grouped to make things easier. It was very confusing, and in the end he told us how to vote, saying we should only vote in 2 or 3 of the 32. I was shocked, at first, to hear him telling us how to vote (especially since a lot of people here are first timers and aren't used to the politics). However, toward the end of his time I became outraged when someone asked why, if these are negative things, did they pass General Conference in the first place, and their response was that by the time they were voted on, about 200 people had already left, and the rest of the people there probably didn't understand what they were voting on. What?? I would imagine that the attendants at General Conference who were fully present and completely understood that they were voting for inclusiveness, voting for Jesus' words of spreading the gospel to ALL people, resent that comment.

Laity address today. The lay speaker told us that if we're still angry over the "progress" last year, that we need to "get over it." We're supposed to be reaching children and youth, and yet the conference has alienated this exact group of active people by their decisions last year. And now, we're just supposed to "get over it." Get over being marginalized, get over being ignored, get over being pushed aside and had our work scoffed at, saying it wasn't ever enough. I think he has some other things to say that may be good, but it's really hard to listen to him after that. He made a big point of saying we need people of all ages to be involved, but yet, when we do get involved and are completely overlooked and ignored, we're just supposed to get over it.

Okay... I need to think about some good things. The report for our camping ministries was really good. It was during the laity briefing, so we haven't heard the actual report to conference. The issue has been with one of our two camps that had a criminal incident several years ago, and really, the conference became afraid of the safety of this facility, and got to the point last year of considering closing the camp and selling the property. Fortunately, a committee was formed to look at this camp and discuss what needs to be done with it. This is the report that we heard, and basically they said there's nothing wrong with the camp, it just needs facility improvements and programming support. The problem is not with the facility, it's with us and what we've done with it. He said that one camp does not have to meet all the needs of a conference, and that one can focus on the needs of adults, and the other can focus on the needs of children and youth. It was an encouraging report, to know that this facility for summer camps will hopefully continue, and be improved to serve children and youth better.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Annual Conference

The time has come again! I'm headed to Annual Conference today. We're cramming it into two and a half days. I appreciate the honoring of our time, but we'll see what happens when we get to Resolutions and GC Amendments. I (averts eyes in shame) haven't read through the amendments yet. I don't know if there will be much debate - we don't debate a lot, with the exception of last year's Conference resolutions. We'll see how this year goes.

As always, it's sure to be an adventure.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Twitter

Twitter. I think my favorite commercial right now is for some phone or internet company (effective advertising right there, people) that gives stats on what viewers are doing... "47% are leaving the room to refill your drink," "62% are flipping through the channels to see what else is on," "24% are twittering," "38% don't know what that means." It's quite humorous. But seriously, twittering has become quite popular. At PodCamp, this was made known to me quite clearly, as there was a twitter feed running all day that people could tweet to to let others know what was going on - which sessions were good, which were bad, when the beer was being served. And since then, I've encountered it a couple of times: my sister now has a twitter account, and upon attending a district meeting, the Christian Ed director at the church we're, I guess, now attending tweeted his response to the meeting, and shared it with me and the pastor we rode over with after the meeting was over. 

But, most interesting about twitter, I think, is this article from Time, and the responses I've read about it here and here. The Time article is about Twittering in church, and how some pastors are supporting this, even setting up a screen with the twitter feed on it to scroll during worship. The responses are both positive and negative - yeah, this is a great idea to get people more involved, and this is distracting, and takes away from the personal connection that is created during worship. 

I can see both sides of the issue. On the one hand, I appreciate the GBOD article (first link) in responding intelligently on this topic, giving both positives and negatives, and looking at the deeper issues connected with this. It asks why Twittering would be necessary, and challenges congregations to look at what Twitter would accomplish and ask how and/or why/why not this is already happening in the worship service. The second article simply states four reasons that Twittering should not be used in worship. The author provides four good reasons, but I don't think he really explained himself very well. However, I'm not here to critique his article. I have a few thoughts of my own to offer.

First off, I am impressed that there are churches responding to new technology. There are always some, I know, and so I'm not surprised, but pleased that the church isn't all overlooking new ways to connect and reach people. The church, as a whole, is often very behind the times in terms of contemporary issues, so it's good to see some trying to be involved in what's going on in the world. Being in the world, but not of. I also think some of the critics are a little harsh - give them a break! At least they're trying. It's like Amazon's Kindle... the first one, I'm sure, sucked. There were good things about it, but bad things, too, but at least it was out there, and it could be improved on from that point. Twittering in church, if it's ever going to happen, has to start somewhere. We're just at the beginning. 

On the other side, however, I completely agree with the GBOD's article and the four points in the other blog about why this is a bad idea - namely, taking away focus on what's going on in worship, and removing that personal connection. Twittering is supposed to help people connect when they are not together. When you're together, talk to one another. Connect face to face. And, also, worship is supposed to be a stepping out of your daily life to renew. If you twitter and tweet all week, isn't a break needed?

The best thing I think from the original article was its discussion of what's happening at Next Level, a church in North Carolina. The article cites that this church is not monitoring or displaying the twitter conversation, but isn't discouraging it from happening. I think this might be the way to go - people who want to be involved in it can be, and it won't distract others. Isn't that what twitter is in the first place? It's there to be there for those who want to use it, and if you want a break, or don't understand it, or are distracted by it, you just don't have to be involved. 

Finally, I think churches considering this need to ask a very important question: why do we worship? I think we get so involved in wanting to bring more people in to worship, into membership in our community, that we forget the real reason we're there. We're there to worship God. We're not there for ourselves. Worship is an act for God's glory. We're not even really there to "get something out of it." Bible study, Wednesday night dinners, covenant groups, and all the other activities of the church are there for us to learn and grow and serve. But Sunday morning worship (or whenever you worship) is specifically about honoring God. So, as we look at making worship purposeful, we have to remember what the real purpose is. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Earnest...

Okay, so I know the show was, what, two months ago? But, finally, here are some pictures from my theatrical re-debut in The Importance of Being Earnest!

Here's the whole cast...


And my favorite scene... after spending an afternoon despising one another because we thought we were engaged to the same man, we realize we've been hoodwinked, and become immediate friends! "My poor, wounded Cecily!"


It was a great show, lots of fun. I am so glad I did it, not only because I got to be involved in theatre again, but I got to know some great college students.

And it's only just the beginning! I've been cast as Miranda in the upcoming production of The Tempest. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Beginnings

I, in essence, have a new computer. Not by choice. My hard drive crashed. And I lost pretty much everything I've done in the past year, which, luckily, wasn't much. I haven't been very productive in my personal life. But, most importantly, I've lost my pictures, and I've lost all my notes from Podcamp. So, that second wrap up you were all holding your breath for? Breathe now - it's not coming.

I did manage to hold on to my music, thanks to a handy little program called PodWorks. But all my pictures from the past year, including my "week in the life of..." pictures, are gone. (I knew I shouldn't have procrastinated in scrapbooking those!)

As frustrating as it is, I really am okay with it. Maybe it's because I didn't lose a lot of stuff. But it's kinda nice having a "brand new" computer. A fresh start. And, my hubby bought me a cute little green and black external hard drive to back things up on.

Isn't it pretty? And oh so functional! It even comes with it's own carrying case. Ah, the little things that make me smile...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Starting to Wrap Up...

I'm reaching information overload. Either that, or these last few sessions aren't that interesting.

I really got a lot out of 2 sessions today, Gavin's (the session I came for) and Storytelling for Gen X&Y.

I'll start with Storytelling... it was a really good session with a guy from Ethos 3, a company that strives to help people with presentations. His session was about presenting to and connecting with Gen Xers and Yers. I am a Gen Y, my hubby and sis Gen Xers, and I was intrigued by this session because I'm really into generational theory. (I had one or two class sessions on it in college, and it really spoke to me. Not quite sure what to do with it yet, but it's on the back burner.) But, this session he talked about how you have to know the culture of the people you're trying to reach, so he talked about his "cultural DNA" - all the things he grew up in/with that make him who he is today (nurture, for the nature vs. nurture fight). And then he gave some guidelines on creating a presentation. Overall, it was very interesting and gave some really good tips on creating presentations for this generation, including:

Get back to basics and leave ego at the door
Have Stellar content (craft a story), design it, deliver it
Know your audience (Myer’s Briggs, Multiple Intelligences)
Avoid templates
Know where you’re going, know what’s next
move quickly, keep slides moving - 3 sentences, then move to next scene - say main points, then move on
Cut 30% of fat of presentation before you give it

Some good ideas.

Okay, I'm on the move. I'll post about Spirituality and Social Networking later!

PodCamp 2009

I'm taking another step into the "techy" world and attending PodCamp 2009. I'm very excited about some of the sessions, especially the one being led by Gavin on Spirituality and Social Media. There are some others, too, mostly about social networking, so it should be an interesting.

I'm thinking I'm slightly out of the loop when it comes to all of this stuff. I don't twitter, I don't podcast... about all I do is facebook and blog, and not even that all that often! But I'm excited to hear some new information, hopefully learn some new things that I might be interested in getting more involved in.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

25 Things and Other Fun Stuff

I've got a few links for you... we'll get there. 

If you're on Facebook, you've no doubtedly seen the "25 Random Things About Me" notes that have been flying around, amongst the others that have come out of it. As the hubby states, "this is so myspace." And it is, but we all indulge, at least to a point. I did succumb to peer pressure and posted my own 25 things. I tried to combine sarcastic humor with quiet truth. That's always my goal, and I feel certain I almost always fall short. 

Anywho, as a result (of the rampant 25 Random Things posts, not my post in particular), the blog for the Wittenburg Door (a great satirical website I have discovered as a result of this blog post I'm about to talk about) has posted "25 Random Things About God." It is wonderful. Go read it and laugh. 

In searching around this site (Wittenburg Door) I discovered two other gems in the world of Biblical humor. Noah's Blog and God's Creation Blog. Priceless. 

I love thinking of God and Jesus and other biblical figures as actually human, like me. It makes them relatable. I don't relate to the stuffy, proper, eloquent Father-figure that's always looking down his nose at you judging your actions to see if they are socially correct. I'm sure God can do that, if God wants to. But I don't think He does. 

Hence, number 11 on my list of 25 Random Things: "I believe Jesus laughed. A lot. I believe he fell in love. I believe he made his mother worry. And I believe that he didn't come to earth intending to die like he did. I believe that if we could have listened to what he was really saying, he may have not had to die. I believe it could have ended differently. I believe it can always end differently."

Hey, I had to add my own stuff in there somewhere. It being my blog and all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brothers and Sisters

In the midst of the party excitement, my family had some sad news to digest. My father's youngest sister, Martha, passed away last week. She was 52, and died of a massive stroke. It was very unexpected.

My father's family is not that large. There are about 10 of us now. Stark contrast to my mom's family, and even more so to my husband's family.

As a result of the small family, my sister and I felt it would be really good if we could go to the service. We weren't exactly close to this aunt, but wanted to be there for our cousins and dad. And since there are so few of us on that side, we knew our presence would be missed.

So we, with the wonderfully loving husband in tow, drove the five hours to her service Monday, and then turned around and drove the five hours back. It was a long day, but I'm very glad we went, to be there for our family, if not only for the words my father spoke at the service.

My father, the pastor, amazes me. How he is able to put on his preacher face and lead in the midst of grief I will never understand. He led the whole service, which was beautiful. And when the time came for the sermon/homily/honoring of the one who had passed, his words were peaceful and comforting, and quite beautiful.

He talked about brothers and sisters. And how the relationship between and among siblings is like no other. He used two quotes that he sent to us after the service, and me being a quote person, I latched on to them quickly:

"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each others' hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." –Clara Ortega

"Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk." –Susan Scarf Merrell

As I was listening to him, I got to thinking about my sister and our relationship, and how we travel through life sharing something with our siblings that we can't share with anyone else in the same way. Sure, our parents were there for our childhoods, and probably remember it better than we do. But that shared experience of living through growing up together not only affects who we are and how we see each other, but how we relate to one another once the growing up is done.

It has been a hard time for my family. It's one thing to bury your parents, you expect to do that sometime in your life. And the grief of burying a child must be on an entirely different plane. But the experience of burying a sibling is one I have never much contemplated before.

The words he added at the end of the service: "Go with God into the dawn of that new day and wait for us—we are on our way."

Surprise!

Well, I actually pulled it off! My 'rents-in-law and I have been planning a surprise party for dear sweet hubby for about 2 months now. We did a movie theme, to go along with his current occupation and his general love for cinema. His mom made two wonderful cakes - a clapboard, and a movie reel. And our friends from a singing group we used to be a part of helped out with all the food. I made a slide show of pictures of him (I love iPhoto!). We had about 60 people in attendance, which was a great turn out! I was so excited, and very appreciative of everyone who helped out and attended.

And the best part? He was completely surprised! We had told him that he was needed to play dinner music for a birthday party, and he even had his stack of music with him as he came in. He had no idea! I was pretty much resigned to the idea that he would figure it out at some point, or at least get suspicious, but he never did. I was very pleased with our success. The downside is that he's sworn to never believe anything his mom or I tell him ever again. Eh, I think it was worth it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

What Office Supply Am I?

My friend over at gavoweb tipped me off to this quiz. And, since I'm battling insomnia at the current moment, what better way to kill time than take an innocent online quiz?




You Are a Red Pen



You have an eagle eye for detail, and this often means you end up finding mistakes in people's work.

You may seem quick to criticize or correct, but you think accuracy and truth is important.



You like to be involved in every project. You feel like you put the polishing touch on things.

You would make a good editor, detective, or accountant. When facts matter, you're the person to call on.



I think it's quite interesting that, of all the office supplies out there, I am a red pen. In college, my mentor loved using a red pen. He always found fault in something. He'd write all over tests and papers with that red pen, marking corrections and adding in what we left out. The thing was, it wasn't a bad thing, he was probably the best teacher I had, and we always joked with him about his inability to give a perfect score, no matter how much my classmates and I put into our work. He inspired us to always do better.

I digress. We did joke a lot about that red pen, I think we even bought him a box of red pens upon our graduation, or at least talked about it. At one point we tried to tell him that using red was psychologically damaging to students, and he should use blue or green, as it would be more peaceful, and uplifting to his students. He would have none of it!

And now, according to this silly little online quiz, I'm a red pen. At first, I almost laughed out loud. Seriously? But as I think about it, if this is saying I'm in any way similar to this loved professor, I'm more than okay with that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Life is better with a little drama in it.

[title quote from Scott Nilsson]

I've jokingly said that my quarter-life crisis and my biological clock are at war. And neither side has been gaining much ground for the past several years. So many people I know are having babies, or are pregnant, or are trying, or whatever. It makes me look longingly at those cute bundles of joy and want one of my own. It also reminds me that my ever-so wonderful plan to have 3 kids, one when I'm 25, one when I'm 27, and one when I'm 29 is almost foiled. I have 9 days to get pregnant if that plan is to be set in motion. 

Not gonna happen. Okay, maybe. I'm not one to say never. But, highly unlikely. 

What is my quarter-life crisis, you ask? What is anyone's quarter-life crisis? "What am I DOING with my life?" My deep down goal of working in theatre has taken the back burner as I play the rat race at the 9-5 gig. It's been almost 3 years since I've been on a stage.

But no more. I've auditioned for a play, and I'm going to do it! I've heard, unofficially, that I've been cast as one of the leads! 

I didn't realize how much I really missed it. I knew that I love theatre, and that I missed it a lot, but when I got onto that stage last night to audition, I felt at home. I was excited getting into the characters' heads. I was thrilled when the audience laughed. I felt like I was doing something right—even in the middle of completely losing my place and having to stop the whole scene to find it again. No, this doesn't pay. No, it doesn't mean I can quit my day job. But it's a step. My quarter-life crisis is taking its step into first place. I've got great plans for my quarter-life crisis. 

And if my biological clock decides to rise to the challenge, maybe my wonderful husband will watch the kids while I have rehearsal! 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Forgiveness

I'm a quote person. I like to collect quotes. I've even found a useful purpose for my 500 business cards that I never use - I've been writing quotes on the back of them, and keeping them to read every now and then. I like funny quotes that only make sense in context, and take me back to a memory, or poignant quotes that make you think. And I get hung on quotes, too. I'll find one I like and live with it for awhile. I was living with this one from Mary Anne Radmacher: "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow."'

I recently read both The Shack and the Kite Runner. Both good books, interesting theology in the first, though not as life shattering to me as to others, I suppose. I agreed with most of it already. The Kite Runner, however was a challenging story. It was good, but hard to live with. However, I think I learned more about forgiveness from the Kite Runner than I did from the Shack, simply because of one quote from the Kite Runner. The narrator, Amir, is talking about his father, with whom his relationship was eternally strained. He says:

"I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night."

My adaptability strength enables me to move on quickly from emotional injuries. I find it hard, even, to hold a grudge when someone has wronged me. But I'm realizing that I much more easily hold a grudge against people who indirectly hurt me - those who hurt someone close to me, and cause me pain through association. Namely, an experience my mother had, which I haven't talked about here, and the Tennessee Conference's most recent experience with their Children and Youth coordinators. Neither of these directly affected me or my daily routine. But they affected people I love, and I find that I have a hard time letting go of that anger and resentment, even years later. 

So, this new quote has caught my soul. I'm going to live with it for awhile. We've studied forgiveness twice in Sunday school, and both times, I think we were looking for the fanfare. What makes it come? What starts the parade? But I think there is truth here: "pain... slipping away unannounced." And when we try to hold on to that pain, it's hard for us to even acknowledge when it's gone. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

One Little Word

Check out this post.

I'm a word person. Probably why I try to blog. I used to have a journal...still do, kinda. But I believe in the power of words. The written word, the spoken word.

I was enticed into choosing a word last year. My word was {content}. I was struggling with the present. So many people, I think, have trouble focusing on the present, always wanting to live in the past. For me, I have trouble with the future. I completely understand that the past is past, and while we can learn from it, there's not much we can do about it. I don't hold a grudge...it's almost (almost) impossible for me to do that. I have a really bad memory. The past is...past. But I struggle with living in the future. I have plans, dreams, and I spend way too much time focusing on how I want things to turn out or what I want to happen.

So, for 2008, I thought content would be a good word for me. An attempt to focus on the present, being content with where I was and what I was doing. I was feeling in a rut - I wasn't too pleased with lots of things in our life, and kept looking for things to change. And I realized that I really needed to stop and just be where I was at the time, and quit trying to change things or figure out what God had in store for our future.

So content it was. I even bought a little 5x7 artist's canvas to paint my word on and keep in my office. Here's what I did with it:


Haha...yeah, it didn't even come out of the package. Good thing, I guess, 'cuz now I can use it for this year's word!

And what might this year's word be? I'm still mulling it over slightly. I did some brainstorming:

I'm thinking that I still need something that coveys the present. While I lived with {content} I never really did anything with it. But I think I'm past that word. So many things changed last year, and though I didn't do anything creative with that word, I really feel like I found contentedness.

So, this year, I'm thinking something along the lines of {listen} or {silent}. Or maybe both. I love how those two words are made up of the same letters. They are so different, yet so related. And I feel like this is a year to listen. To be silent and take in what's going on around me. I often speak too soon, and don't have the patience to understand before responding. And I've always been enthralled by their connectedness (input...). Can my one little word actually be two? I think it's my word(s) and I can choose whatever I want!

Are you choosing a word? Even if you don't do anything with it...what one little word can make a difference in your life this year?