Thursday, December 21, 2006

Random Thoughts on the last day of work.

  1. Ack! We fly out on Saturday and I have so little done. I need to be finishing all my stuff here at work before we leave but I'm a little hung up by the massive lists right now, so I'm blogging instead!
  2. Like the new look?
  3. I hate writing annual reports. Blech!
  4. Ooooo, it is snowing finally! I'm glad to see that the weather decided to act like Minnesota and snow rather than the rain. The rain was really icky this morning.
  5. Chris is done with his finals! He is now officially half way through law school! I'm so proud of him. He works so hard and I think he'll be really good at this law thing.
  6. Packing for 2 weeks and 2 climates. I wonder how that will work. I should do laundry tonight.
  7. DID YOU HEAR? JK Rowling announced the title of Harry Potter book 7....(fanfares please)....Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Oooooh, doesn't it just sound fabulous. I cannot WAIT! Of course, I also don't want it to come because then I will be sad that we have no more books to wait for.
  8. The Eragon movie was pretty good, but not as good as the book, and the book isn't as good as Harry Potter!
  9. I am really looking forward to seeing the whole family but am feeling a bit uneasy of my seeming role as peacemaker in the family. Amazingly since I don't hold grudges and like everyone, it falls to me to keep certain people happy or to help avoid some fights between folks. Now, this is not an actual role, but it does seem like I do this to an extent at every major family gathering. Hmmm. I wonder what this year will bring.
  10. Sat I'm leaving MN and won't be back til 2007!
  11. I'm going on a cruise! WOOHOO! I'm super excited. I hope we all stay healthy so we can enjoy it all. Key West, Cozumel, Grand Caymen, and Bahamas. Pictures in a few weeks.
  12. Hmmm, what books should I bring to read on the beach!
  13. Apparently, China announced that it will not adopt babies to the obese, disfigured, or those with mental illness....yeah, because you've got a great history of caring for your children over there. Not that I'm considering adoption at the moment, but it is outrageous for the many people who may be who could be a loving and supportive home for children who need one. Thanks China. Way to go.
  14. I hope the Packers beat the Vikings tonight!
  15. So I still haven't done my Christmas Cards. They won't happen before we go either. So everyone I know - Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, I love you, and look for our epiphany letter in Jan!
  16. I'm signing off of blogger until we get back now. (unless something truly hilarious happens)...I hope you all have a safe, healthy and happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Tales

I want so badly to write an awe inspiring post about the majesty of the season and the dreams of a small child being fulfilled, ala Miracle on 34th Street or Charlie Brown or some other schmalzy Christmas movie/song/episode. I want to be overtly perky and thoughtful and literary and manage to create a meaningful Christmas montage.

But instead, all that I can seem to manage is a healthy dose of Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas. Only my ghosts are the Ghost of Christmas shopping, the Ghost of Christmas cookies, and the Ghost of Christmas parties.

Only in my own Scroogy version of the Christmas Carol the Ghosts don't seek to show me the true meaning of Christmas, but they go out of there way to make my Christmas as miserable and gloomy as possible.

The scene opens....

Marshall Fields was dead...to begin with.

Liz/Scrooge: I'm so glad it is Christmas. It is such a wonderful time of year. I can't wait to see everyone and send out Christmas cards and revel in the glorious season. I should start my Christmas shopping.

Marshall Fields: Wooohoooo. I am the ghost of working at Marshall Fields over Christmas. I have come to haunt your Christmas season. Over the next three weeks you will be visited by three ghosts. They will rob you of Christmas spirit.

Liz/Scrooge: Oh No! But you are dead. This can't be real. Besides you can't take my Christmas spirit...

Marshall Fields: That's what you think! Hehehe.

Liz/Scrooge: Alright, time to start shopping...

Ghost of Christmas Shopping: Let's go on a journey. Let's go too the MALL!!! (Wee Wee Wee - psycho music) Can you find a parking spot? Quick there is one. Oops, too slow, we got cut off. Quick you are wasting time. Alright start the list. Do you have enough money? Can you find the perfect present? Don't forget you need to get stuff shipped in time. Don't you love the endless holiday music. Let's sing along to Santa Baby. Everyone now! Santa Baby...

Liz/Scrooge: Aaaargh. Stop it ghost. I can't take it.

Ghost of Christmas Shopping: Did you find presents for everyone? And gift receipts, did you remember them? Oops you forgot to get wrapping paper? Back to the store. Quick get the parking space. Ooh, they are playing Jingle Bell Rock. Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock...

Liz/Scrooge: Aaaargh. Stop it ghost. Whew. I finished Christmas shopping. Christmas spirit, still intact.

Ghost of Christmas Cookies: Look cookies, cookies everywhere. At work, at concerts, at parties. Make some cookies. Eat some cookies. C is for Cookie. Come on, it is Christmas. Are you going to insult Jesus and not eat his cookies? Yummy, cookies. Have another cookie. And another.

Liz/Scrooge: Aaaargh. Stop it ghost. Must. Resist. Cookies.

Ghost of Christmas Cookies: Eat some cookies. Yummy, cookies. Have another cookie. And another. Watch that tummy grow. And your thighs. Don't forget them. They needs a cookie too. Yummy, another cookie for your thighs. You've eaten so many already what is one more. Yum. Cookies, Cookies everywhere.

Liz/Scrooge: Aaaargh. Stop it ghost. I can't take it, besides I'm late for my various Christmas parties.

Ghost of Christmas Parties: Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock...

Liz/Scrooge: Aaaargh.

Ghost of Christmas Parties: Eat some cookies. Yummy, cookies.

Liz/Scrooge: Aaaargh.

Ghost of Christmas Parties: Oh. Let's mingle. But wait no one seems to notice you. They don't want to talk to YOU. Go sit in the corner. Quick you have a funny story about this. Tell it. Oops, way to bomb the punch line. No one is laughing they are just staring at you piteously. Go back to your corner. Have a cookie while you are at it. Want to try one more time. Oops, still no one wants to talk to you. Better start on the buffet. Is it time to go home yet? hehehe. Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock... Back to your corner.

Liz/Scrooge: Aaaargh. I can't take it anymore. You were right Marshall Fields. Goodbye Christmas Spirit. Aaargh. Is it January yet.

(Liz/Scrooge retreats to bed determined not to surface until the new year. Strangely she seems to be talking to herself...)

The end.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gifting beyond my means

This weekend was spent in preparation of Christmas. I have all but a few of my presents purchased and wrapped but once again I was reminded why I shouldn't be allowed shopping during Christmastime. For whatever reason, I become obssessed with the perfect Christmas gifts for all people, but not only the perfect gifts, but a sense of fairness between gifts as well.

So, for example, between the 5 siblings and sibling-in-laws, not only do I have to find a great gift for each one of them, but I also strive to have the amount spent to be between $5 of all the others as well. So some people may get like 4 smaller things while another may get one larger thing. This is partly a question of fairness, but I'm also paranoid that someone will be mad because the great gift for someone else out shadows their own gift. I realize that none of my friends or family are probably this selfish, but I still feel the need to be as equal as possible. The last thing that I want is hard feelings over Christmas.

Yes, it is probably stupid, but these two thoughts drive my Christmas giving and each and every year I end up spending more than I should because I love to give cool and perfect gifts. Maybe this would be better if I were a craft expert and could master the art of the thoughtful hand-crafted gift, but I'm just not. So I'm stuck with the idea of DVDs, games, books, knick-knacks and other thingamabobs for gift giving. So enjoy your gifts this year. We'll be eating mac and cheese for most of Jan - hehehe.

Luckily, I didn't actually break the bank this year...but it did get a bit dented.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Returning to real life.

Hello blogland. Did you miss me? Sorry for the absence (especially after I promise cool advent-y goodness), but life was a little crazy at the beginning of the week (actually last weekend too).

Last weekend I ran around crazily but had a great time with a bunch of people. Friday night I met some great friends for dinner and spent the entire day Christmas shopping - with moderate success. Saturday I got up EARLY to go with my parents and Chris to Body Worlds at the Science Museum. I'd seen it once before but my parents wanted to go and it was the last weekend. This let to a late lunch and bridge game with them before all 4 of us going and meeting Chris' whole family for dinner and BIL's Christmas concert. Worlds of family fun from 8am - 11pm. (I actually don't mean that to be saracastic, it was fun!).

Sunday I watched football in a haze and did some odds and ends, and then i went and met my good friend's boyfriend for the first time. (I like him!). That was fun but it was another late night.

Work this week shouldn't have been too bad, except I had a huge intergenerational presentation on Wednesday night on prayer. Now, I don't consider myself an expert on prayer, nor do I think my prayer life is a great example for others, but I was scheduled to talk about our Feeding Faithful Family event this time. We do these every two months and are my brainchild for this year so I needed to knock it out of the park. It starts with 45 min with all the kids, confirmation kids, high schoolers, and parents, and ends with 30 min of just parent time. And it is supposed to be interactive! Throw in two christmas parties for work this week (on Mon night, on Tues night) that had a certain amount of "seen and be seen" too them, it was a crazy week. (Oh, and did I mention that one of my tasks is to write a devotion booklet for each FFF for families to use until the next on. This one needed 6 weeks worth, and though we only do 2 per week, writing devotion books isn't the easiest thing in the world.)

The talk went well last night but I'm mostly just relieved that my threatening sinus infection stayed away (Chris has one poor guy) and that I didn't make a fool of myself. I featured some video clips to help keep people interested (Simpsons, Bruce Almighty, Veggie Tales, etc) and the seemed to be a big hit too.

So, i've been thinking about prayer for a while now, trying to figure out what I can say to the congregation about it and I'm not sure what I've learned, short of the fact that I should pray more. I've seen prayer work and I know it is calming to share the troubles and joys with God, but it can be so hard to remember, especially when stuck in an average busy week. So in an effort to increase my own prayer life, if you have any prayer requests let me know. I can add them to my own prayers and increase my practice!

Also, for those who are inclined....please keep my cousin Rob in your prayers. He had the second of three needed surgeries over Thanksgiving weekend and he was just readmitted to the hospital because he is so sick from the surgery. He can't eat and has lost 20 lbs in the last two weeks. I think things were looking a bit better today but he could still use some prayers. Thanks!

Friday, December 01, 2006

2 year anniversary

Well it is official, as of today I have been at my job for two years. In a way I'm surprised I've lasted this long and I'm amazed by how fast the time has flown by. If two years go so quickly I can only imagine 5 or 10 years here. Amazingly 2 years has not done anything dramatic enough to cement my call either to or away from this church. I love the kids and most of the parents. I have my families that I tolerate for the peace of the congregation. I have those who think they know better than I in all things. I have some who seem to hate me, and others who hate me behind my back, but I also have found allies and support and friends in this congregation.

I would change things but I would do that in any church I was in, and mostly they are outside of my area of expertise or influence. For the most part I think I'm pleased. I've been able to grow and expand what I do and it has been a smoother ride this year than last. And at least 3 brand new programs are going (or scheduled and being planned) this year which is nice. At least they can't yell at me for keeping things the same. Although knowing churches they may yell at me for NOT keeping things the same ;) Oh well, that's not how I roll baby!

In other news, Chris and I went down to the St. Olaf ChristmasFest last night. It was great as always though didn't move me as much as years past. Maybe it was the "thursday night" effect. Since they perform 4 times, the first one can still have a few bugs in it. (or trumpets playing f# instead of f). But it was great and beautiful and set me in the Christmas mood. So much so that I'm contemplating some sort of daily advent blog ...we'll just have to see. Stop by Sunday maybe!

Monday, November 27, 2006

A "Great-full" Weekend

Ahh! Last weekend was just what I needed. It is a gloomy Monday morning and the day started off with a flu shot but I'm still chipper from the great weekend. It was the type of weekend that reenergizes you and gives you joy and wonderful memories. What made it so great? A hundred little things that only come with spending quality time with your family and very old friends.

There is something incredibly freeing in seeing your quirky fantastic family over the holidays. They are people who know you in all sorts of weird ways. They know your life stories, they know your failings (and frequently tease you about it), they know your embarrassing nicknames (and frequently they started them in the first place). For me, an introvert at heart, it is a chance to be extroverted and goofy in a loving place. We give each other crap about sports teams or politics (or hair plugs and OCD handwashing, whatever) but deep down there is a joy to be with them that keeps everything loving and blissful.

It is the kind of weekend that makes me so grateful for my family. They are all so unique and beautifully flawed (in the way that all creation is). They are the types of people that make me think that politics, ideologies and "isms" will never destroy the world because there is always an uncle standing by with fake dog poop. They are families that play cards with voracity (playing for nickels). They give credence to cliches all over the world.

They tell stories of hunting and forgetting to load the guns. They decide not to exchange gifts and instead all donate money to give a needy family a great Christmas and then argue about how best to do that. They rant at the way the Star Spangled Banner is sung these days (In my day...). They still call me "Show-biz Liz." They accept my husband into the family as if he'd always been there. They are wonderfully weird and full of grace and love. Even when they annoy me (the world is never perfect after all), I am deeply full of the truth that I am one LUCKY daughter, grand-daughter, cousin, niece and wife. I hope that all families are all as diverse, unique and as much of a blessing to you as mine is to me. There is so much to be thankful for.

The weekend was a whirlwind. Thanksgiving day in Chicago with Gramma and the family (Dad's side). Some had to leave after dinner to drive home to be with my cousin who was having surgery on Friday (imagine being on clear liquids for thanksgiving, but so far it seems as though the surgery was successful). There was plenty of food (from the club who even sent home the leftovers! yum!). There was football and joking and some cards.

Friday we spent lunch in Chicago and drove to see the rest of the family in Milwaukee (Mom's side). For the first time in a LONG time, everyone was there. We had dinner out and saw my Aunt and Uncle's new house that they moved into last week. More cards, more laughter, more love, and still WAY too much food. I saw my cousins who are becoming more grown up everyday (8th grade, 6th grade and 4th grade). And we drove to my parents late that night to spend the night.

Saturday we had to drive home but not before having breakfast with one of my oldest friends (practically family afterall). She and her husband and kids met us for breakfast. Her kids are so cute and getting so big and they are so open and cheerful. (I must have gotten them on a good day). And she's pregnant so I got to see her cute pregnant belly (29 weeks and counting).

As we drove home I was so aware of my blessings. I know some wonderful people. People who help me to see God in this world. I am married to a fabulous man who complements me so well and fits right into my family. I've got great families (including the ones I've married into) and there is so much to enjoy in the world. It was definately just the kind of weekend I needed.

I hope that these memories will come to me when I'm grouchy or grinchy in the next few weeks. December can always be a challenging month but I'm feeling the love today!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Delurking week!

Hey everyone! I got this from another blog that I follow (here) . This week let people know that you are here. Let me know you are reading. Just say hi or Happy Thanksgiving or whatever you want. And bloggers feel free to join in Delurking week yourself!

For my own part, I'm at my last day of work this week. Tomorrow we drive to Chicago to go to Gramma's thanksgiving extravaganza...

In those days a decree when out from Gramma Jean, that all the family should be gathered. This was the second gethering and was taken while Liz was in Minnesota. All went to Chicago to be gathered. Liz went from the town of Minneapolis in Minnesota to Chicago, to the city of Gramma because she was descended from the house and family of Gramma. She went to be gathered with Chris, to whom she was married...

Hehe. But Gramma said so, and so we go. We'll be having dinner at their club so she doesn't have to cook for 26 any more. It will be great to see the family though. Then on Friday we'll have dinner with the other side of the family in Milwaukee. It will be good to see folks over Thanksgiving since we'll be with Chris' family over Christmas (which will be fun too).

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. I may find time to check in after my turkey induced coma is worked off.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Holding out for universal popularity

Gosh, this place is trying to suck the life out of me this week. Have the stars alighted against me? Somewhere I can imagine stars lined up spelling out - "HaHa Liz sucks" - in all their beauty and wonder. The worst of it is that I've been trying really hard to have a positive attitude about it this week, but I'm so grouchy right now.

I'm sick of people complaining but not helping. Sick of church politics and kissing ass. Sick of toddlers who try to rip hair from my head to feed it to the dinosaur (seriously). I'm tired of passive agressive women who liked the other lady better. I'm tired. I'm grouchy. But i'm also sick of using the blog as a way to vent about the annoying things that go along with a normal church job. I did sign up for this gig afterall and I like it (mostly).

Despite (or maybe because) of my mood I'm forcing myself to do an exercise. With thanksgiving a week away and me being thouroughly unthankful, I'm going to list things that I'm thankful for...just to remind me. You can read them or disregard as you want. (I hope to continue this throughout the week).

So, in no particular order:
I am thankful for...
1. My husband who loves me even when I'm crazy or grouchy or ugly.
2. My family who are dysfunctional in all the fun quirky ways but are loving and supportive.
3. My cats who welcome me home everyday.
4. That I have a good job and can (mostly) support my family.
5. That I'm happy and healthy.
6. My friends who are wonderful and diverse and make me think deeper than I do normally.
7. That God created music and there are people able to perform it.
8. Stars (even if they are spelling insults at me!)
9. Cheesy science fiction that teaches us lessons of life.
10. Chocolate
11. Cheese
12. Diet Coke
13. Seeing God answer the prayers of my friends
14. Sunshine
15. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia.
16. Rambling conversations over coffee or tea.
17. Babies
18. The kids I get to see every week.
19. That I don't work for a mindless coroporation set on world distruction.
20. That the dems won control of Congress.
21. That I haven't lost my entire trumpet lip.
22. My vacation next month.
23. My education.
24. Color.
25. Life, love, hope, grace, faith and peace.

Aah. I think i'm calmer now. Back to work. Love to you all.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

Help I'm allergic to my office.

Seriously! There is something in the air here, or something growing and it is getting worse. The office staff and I have been noticing our allergies have been bad for several weeks and it came up at staff last week. Our church manager is currently looking for places that can test it without costing an arm and a leg.

In the meantime, the thing seems to be getting worse. Chris commented on it when in my office on Sunday and my eyes are starting to burn whenever I'm in my office. I'm keeping the door open in an attempt to get more air, but my eyes are itchy and my throat is scratchy and my sinuses look like balloons. I really hope this gets remedied quickly and it isn't anything serious. I have images of toxic molds running through my head. Ugh. Too bad this doesn't mean I can take the week off...too much to do and not enough time.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Et tu Brute?

Well my blog followers, it has been 5 days and nearly 1500 miles since we last touched base so allow me to update you on my life of the last few days. The time: This weekend. The place: Ann Arbor, MI. The goal: Shakespeare!

On Thursday last week I took off from MN on the way to my parents home in WI...5 hours or so. I went there to meet up with my parents to prepare for our drive to Michigan the next day. The drive went fine and we spent a lovely evening talking about the terrible state of political ads and various other topics of conversation. (Discussed only briefly - the baby-house-school question that my mother feels sure we will have to answer before too long..hehe).

Friday morning we set out early in order to get to Michigan by 5ish. My sister and her husband are in school in the University of Michigan for their various graduate programs and the Royal Shakespeare Company was coming there to put on a variety of Shakespeare this weekend (with Patrick Stewart - of Star Trek:TNG fame - as a headliner). We drove without incident and arrived at my sisters to order in Chinese and play with her cute dog Anya. Then that night we went to see Julius Ceasar. The play was very good, particularly the actor who played Marc Antony. His funeral speech was great. This play didn't have Patrick Stewart in it though, but was well done none the less. I saw Julius Ceasar at the Guthrie once and this performance was equal to it if not better....lots of blood though!

Then to bed - I spent the weekend crashed on my sister's futon (Chris couldn't come so why spend the $$ on a hotel) sleeping with her puppy dog! On Sat we got up and while the whole world (just about) went to the U of MI football game we wandered around Ann Arbor. We had lunch at a fabulous vegitarian restaurant (a phrase I never expected to pass my lips) and went to the flagship Borders! And we saw Kristin (sister) and Logan's (brother-in-law) offices. Kristin attempted to explain her research to me. (If you understand biophysics drop me a note and I'll attempt to sum up, otherwise I won't make an obvious fool of myself just now).

We ended up having pizza for dinner and then off for more Shakespeare. This time Antony and Cleopatra. Patrick Stewart played Marc Antony and was amazing, but even more amazing was the actress who played Cleopatra. She played a fully developed character with depth, humor and clarity. Truly the play was stunning...the best Shakespeare I'd seen (to date). It made all the miles totally worth it.

The next day we went to brunch and then to our final play of the weekend: The Tempest. This time Patrick Stewart was Prospero. Amazingly, if I thought that the previous night's play was the best I'd seen they set out to prove me wrong. Not only was this play beautifully staged and orchestrated but the whole thing was flawlessly acted. It was the kind of thing that you blinked and it was over and that rarely happens for me with Shakespeare - no matter how good the play or the actors are. It was simply superb, and that isn't simply the Trekkie in my talking. Stewart was consistently fabulous but that alone couldn't account for the greatness of this performance. (There was only lovely scene though with Stewart with his shirt off - for a 66 yr old, he is in excellent shape!).

Saying goodbye to Kristin and Logan we hopped back in the car and drove home that night (A LONG trip), but we were able to listen to the night football game and sing along to some good oldies music together. Beyond the Shakespeare, it was simply a great weekend to see my sister and my parents and to enjoy their company. It was just a great time.

This morning I drove back from WI. I definately don't want to get into a car again any time soon, but I wouldn't have changed the crazy weekend at all. It was a great time and I'm lucky to have gone. Now I just hope that when I go to work tomorrow things aren't totally insane!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Heading over to Michigan to see Patrick Stewart in Antony and Cleopatra! More on my life and thoughts later.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Things that should be true every Mon...

* Some time to sleep in before going to work.

* A sunny 60 degree day at the end of October.

* A free 10 minute massage for staff appreciation.

* Being able to work ahead of deadlines.

* People being willing to work for the church and saying Yes when you ask!

* Halloween Candy!

* Diet Coke!

* and a great football game to look forward too!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thou shalt not covet...

Here is a post that has been mulling around in my head for a long time. Perhaps it is because we are talking about the ten commandments regularly on our Wed night children's programming here this year. Maybe it is the nature of the job, but the commandments have been on my mind...two in particular: #9 and 10!

They both start "Thou shalt not covet..." and go on to list spouses, houses and cattle among other things. I remember when we memorized the commandments in Sunday school (4th grade? i think) and I remember thinking that 9 and 10 were sort of "lesser" commandments. I knew it wasn't good to be jealous of other peoples situations or things, but for the most part my kid brain didn't see any harm in wanting those things anyway. So long as you aren't jealous with the actual person and don't try to prevent them from having those things, what was the harm?

But we cut to life now I find that coveting can be a dangerous persuit. It can be a paralyzing thing, keeping us from enjoying and living fully the life we are in right now. I have been struggling with some coveting lately. I have a wide range of friends in a wide variety of places in their life and there are days when I am jealous of where they are compared where we are. Please don't misunderstand me. I don't begrudge anything my friends have. I want them to grow and flourish, but in certain things I wish I were there beside them rather than back in my percieved sameness.

Ironically, some of my covetings are contradictory. I see friends in school and begin to covet the academic life again. (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors school?) I see friends with beautiful homes and covet a house of our own. (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors house.) I see their beautiful babies and toddlers and children and covet their role as parent. (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's baby!) But I dont' think it would be feasible to be pregnant, in school and paying for a home for example, especially if we can't afford any of those right now!

I have been wrestling with this jealous coveting of mine and embarrassed by it. It doesn't seem healthy to want to live in a future time and place when there is beautiful things going on now. I have a wonderful apartment, great cats, a flexible if demanding job and get to have regular sleeping hours! But when I think of the things that I am lacking, things that my friends have acheived, I feel inadequate and mediocre.

It is easy to say, "That time will come" and I know that is true, but more than that I need to learn to separate myself from this coveting me. If I am always looking at what I don't have I will never be satisfied to be where I am.

So here is my confession. I've been breaking the commandments. I have coveted the idea of houses and family, education and financial security. I have been jealous of the gifts of others. I'm sorry to my friends, my husband, myself and my God. I'll try to live where I am, with an eye to the future but the acknowledgement of the blessings of the present. I will try.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Time and teeth

Today is the last in some glorious semi-time off that i've had. I haven't been to work since Wednesday (well technically I was there all Sunday morning doing Sunday School, but that is it). I've had some time with Chris - we've actually seen each other when it was light out! - since it was fall break last week. And I spent some time cleaning (not as much as I should have) and vegging (plenty of this!). It has been relaxing but I'm ready to jump back in the game. After a certain amount of time the unscheduled days off make me edgy. It will be good to have some routine back to the days too.

Today I had to go to the dentist and get a tooth drilled - two teeth actually, the cavity was between the teeth. The novicane has finally worn off and my jaw is sore but it really wasn't too bad as things go. At my dentist they have TVs in the ceiling and you can watch some TV to take your mind off the 6 different instruments rearranging things in your mouth. Today I watched a Baby Story on TLC, and while I was being drilled the lady on the episode was delivering twins. I figured, I may be only getting nicer teeth today rather than twins, but I'm certain I'm more comfortable that she is! Pain is always relative I suppose... and so is reward. Still I'll take my new teeth!

Tomorrow is back to the grind, and I'm sure if you asked tomorrow I won't have any recollection of feeling ready to go back to work! Ah well, such is the life we lead.

Oh, and one lovely story before I go: Last week my fabulous sister-in-law Emily was prep athelete of the week for her school. (For her stellar performance in the swim meet the week before!) As part of the prize she had her own parking space at the school for the whole week! Since she is 15 she only has her permit but my great father-in-law let her drive to school (with him) and park the car there each day. Then he'd walk the rest of the way to work, just so she could park the car at the school. How cute is that! :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A random story for a gloomy Tuesday

Since it is fall, the geese have returned to MN. I love seeing the little flocks of geese taking over otherwise suburban areas with a vengence. There are two little flocks that I see on a semi-regular basis during the fall. One lives near the pond of our apartment building and the other lives near our church and likes to hang out in our parking lot.

I've always liked geese, even though they are notoriously cranky birds and I remember one day trip my family took to a wildlife preserve one fall where literally thousands of geese would stop on the migration trek during the fall.

But it wasn't until I was married that flocks of geese became a reason for me to smile and giggle to myself. And here is why...

For those who know me well, you know that I am a worrier. I worry about a lot of things, and not always the most rational of things. I have some strange fears (usually they are not quite so restricting to be call phobias, but not always!), and I tend to overthink many situations. I know this. My husband is well aware of this (He's such a saint to put up with me sometimes). It is quirky and sometimes annoying but doesn't really hurt anything.

Anyway, cut to over three years ago, the week before Chris and I were going to be married: June 2003. It was a busy week filled with packing, moving, planning, prepping and all the little details that occur before a wedding. It was the Thursday before the wedding and some final details were taking place. I went to get my manicure for the big day and Chris was running some errands he needed to do. (Was he picking up the groomsmen gifts? I forget exactly).

He was running errands in a beat-up barely running white oldsmobile that his parents lent him temporarily since we hadn't bought a car for him yet. This car was beginning to have some serious engine issues beyond its rusty exterior but it was still running. At that point, a car was a car.

So... I had just finished my manicure and was getting into my car to head home for lunch before running more errands when my cell phone rang. Of course my nails weren't entirely hard so I struggle to retrieve my cell phone from my purse without damaging my nails and finally manage it and answer my phone.

Chris is on the other line. He says, "The car is broken down and I need you to come get me."

Ok, no problem. I asked where he was and figured out how to get there. And I asked if he knew what was wrong with the car.

He said, "I don't know, I haven't looked"

? I was confused. Was the road busy? "No" Was the engine steaming too much? "No"

So why? I asked. I figured there was some reason he hadn't done the typically guy thing and fiddled with everything before calling for a ride.

Well, he said..."There is a flock of geese here and they are watching me and I'm afraid to get out of the car"

It turned out that my fabulous and brave husband-to-be was afraid of geese due to a particularly mean goose that had chased him as a child. A good reason and I don't blame him. But whenever I see a goose now I smile because I know that sometimes our worries are just ours. We can't necessarily understand the worries of others, and we can't really judge worries too seriously because we all can have something that triggers our own worries.

It was the Thursday before our wedding but I learned something new about my husband that day, and it was endearing to me. I may give him a hard time about geese from time to time, but honestly it makes me feel a bit better about my own plethora of worries. I had already planned on marrying Chris and knew he was the guy for me, but somehow it seemed fitting that my husband should have an irrational fear too. I know that I can relate!

I did rescue my husband from the geese that day, but I learned something too. Now, when I see geese not only do I think that worry is a weird and personal thing, but I'm continually reminded how lucky I am to have him as my geese-fearing husband!

There you are, a random story for a gloomy Tuesday.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Please ignore the previous pity party.

I'm feeling much better today. Friday had me in a funk and I'm sorry to force it on all of you. Despite the fact that I'd worked every day for over a week is no excuse. I took today off and am feeling much more positive about the world.

The reunion was fun but there were not many people there, there were even fewer people that I cared to see. But I did catch up with a few aquaintances and I got to go to a great Ole Band concert which always revives the soul (or at least mine). I tried to take pictures but I got down there and discovered that my batteries were dead, oops. It was great to spend an afternoon/evening on campus though, and sunny October days are about the best ones there are. (So please enjoy this photo from the St Olaf website so you know what I mean.)

I got to go up and sign my name in the tower of Old Main which was very cool, despite the fact that I am not found of rickety staircases! Still it is the oldest building on campus and it was cool to add my name to a whole host of other alumni. (People have been sneaking up there for years, but now they start to open it up for specific times for people to sign without breaking in). There were signatures up there in chalk from a long time ago...class of '38 was the earliest I saw.



In other news, I am 4-1 in my fantasy football league and tied for the lead. The other leader and I play next week so then we'll know who is really on top. Oh, and on Sunday I went with some church friends on a paddleboat ride on the Mississippi. It was fun and relaxing. It was also the same company that we hired to have our rehearsal dinner on a paddleboat for the wedding 3+ years ago. So it was nice to think about some great memories about the wedding weekend. Aahh, reminiscing can be fun!

It looks to be a busy week so I'm not sure how much I'll post. Anyone want to teach Sunday School? J/K :)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Well, it is official.

I'm in a foul mood. Blech.

I suppose a big portion of that can be attributed to the fact that is my supposed day off and I'm at work...again. And tomorrow is a day off, and I'll be at work...again.

But is is more than that. The Twins are playing lousy baseball right now and we have a must win game this afternoon and we are already down in runs.

And then there is the college reunion this weekend, which has me pensive and brooding. It is one thing to feel confident of where I am in life when I am on my own or with my husband or friends, but I'm not sure I'm feeling strong enough to deal with the judgement of my college class. Because face it, a function of college reunions is to see where everyone is and judge them and compare their lives to yours. I know that it can be good to see people you haven't seen in a long time, but in my foul mood I'm pessemistic that anyone would care whether I showed or not.

Most of my friends from college I'm still in loose touch with. I don't know of any of them who are going this weekend, though I don't know for sure. There are people who I would be interested in where they are and what they are doing, but as I was only on the fringe of their lives at school I have a few doubts that they will notice or remember me.

I don't know where this extreme negativity is coming from. I have no reason to assume such venom from most of my class, with the exception of one or two people who kept their venom out in public even while at school. Is it my introverted side coming back? An extreme fear to be the wall flower at a rocking party tempered by an equal fear of being noticed and laughed at? Is it that I've always felt like a party pooper - not being a big drinker in college and never part of the society of the class.

Am I worried that I don't have a PhD (or am I on track for one)? That I don't own a house? That I don't have a baby? Am I worried that people won't even remember me and I'll fade into the background? That no one will remember my name and we'll stand in an awkward moment before the person walks off to find interesting people? Is it that I'm going back to the world of over-achievers, having left my over-achiever persona behind but not my desire to stand with them? Is it because I may see my ex-roomate whose made it quite clear that she hates my guts, despite the fact that I think of her as a friend still?

I don't know why I'm so stressed about it really. I've always been large - so there is no huge change in my looks (So hopefully no, "Boy, she let herself go...", since I've been gone for a long time.). I'm happily married. I have a good job doing worthwhile things. I have a good education. But I feel like I'm getting ready to go to prom without a date and I have half a mind just to skip the whole thing. (At least I do actually have a date)

But that is silly isn't it? Of course it is, for reasons I just don't know right now.

Didn't I tell you I was in a foul mood?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

If you have a minute...

If you have a minute, please go and read this blog entry by Keith Olbermann. It sums up some of the rage and concern that I have about the direction President Bush is taking this country. You may be republican or democratic, for or against the war, but this expresses to me that the freedoms and ideals upon which the country was founded are truly in jeopardy. It also reminds me that it is terribly important to think before I speak.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nebulous-ness continued.

1. Chris thinks that I made up the word nebulous-ness from my last post. My response - so what! Great writers have been making up words for years and I may not be a great writer but I reserve the right to make up a word when I want.

2. Maybe we should make up more words. It helps the English language, we don't want it to get to boring now do we!

3. It occurs to my that maybe my thinking may have been pretty nebulous in that post too. Oh well! Enjoy!

4. At least there are pretty pictures.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nebulous-ness

Well, again, it has been longer than I would have liked since I've posted anything of note. I'm not sure why that is exactly. Yes, I've been very busy at work and home. But it hasn't been anything particularly out of the ordinary.

Church is keeping me on my toes and I've been working every Saturday since Labor Day, which can be frustrating since it is supposed to be my day off. But desipite the busy schedule and frustrating hours it has been going fairly well. I've come into my own as the staff member here and feel comfortable in my role. No longer do I feel like a poser trying to take the place of the previous long term person. This confidence is helpful. It makes my calling and asking for help more successful. I am more confident with my critics as well, taking things to the senior pastor when necessary, but willing to discuss problems directly with the cause as well. (Could it be that I'm learning NOT to avoid conflict...gasp!)

But despite this newfound confidence in my abilities and talents, I find myself questioning my call here. To be sure it is a good job, where I am helping the world, and I get paid a part of what I might be worth, but I wonder if it is what I am meant to be doing. I suppose the question of call and vocation is a topic for another post but it is always below the surface of my job for me. It rears its head when I am frustrated and is soothed when things are successful but it has never really gone away.

I have wanted to post more too, but I feel the urge to have something to say. I don't want to rant about the state of political affairs too often. I acknowledge that I can get passionate about it but that isn't the only thing I want to say. It seems sad to post about the children of all my friends too much, or the kids at church. Though they are all wonderful and I'm lucky to know them. There are only so many cat pictures a woman can post without seeming scary too!

Maybe my blog is stuck in the nebulous-ness that life can get into. Nothing much is happening right now. Not much great, nothing too bad. Just a lot of same old, same old. There are joys to be sure: Watching football on Sunday afternoons, the Twins in the playoffs, a clean bedroom, a thought, a word, a compliment. Little moments when life seems blissful and easy. There can be sadness too: A gym routine falling away in busy times, colds, friends needing prayers, gloomy days and restless nights. But nothing that makes life too crazy or disrupts things in my own daily life.

Is this a good life? Nothing too life changing, nothing too dramatic. There have been times when that is all we want. Times when there is too much stress, sadness or even too much joy to be able to process it all. I certainly couldn't live in that time forever. It is good to be in a nebulous life from time to time, but I think that my blog may suffer. There is a tendency in life to jump from big event to big event and forget the average, nebulous but beautifully sweet (or sour) days in the middle. Already I am looking forward to the cruise in December, or Thanksgiving with family. I worry about sad life events that will ultimately happen, though I hope that they are far away. Can we simply be happy to be nebulous? To be a cloud of swirling life - filled with color and meaning. Will we be able to see our own nebulous life or will the bright stars of specific events in our life overshadow the nebulas?

I will try to post more. Know that I'm well. There is not too much going on. I'm in a nebula and if I stop to think about it I'm glad for the swirling space dust in my life. I at least know that even though it is hard to nail down in a description that it is a beautiful place to be.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sometimes it sucks to be a responsible adult...

Especially when you get the opportunity to go to a Twins playoff game but you know that you shouldn't go because you have a lot of deadlines and events at work that day. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh NO!

Sources: Republicans pick Twin Cities for GOP Convention
Republicans have chosen the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul for the 2008 presidential convention, GOP officials said Wednesday.The selection was expected to be announced later today, said the Republican sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The choice of the Twin Cities would provide a major political punch for the GOP, capturing the media markets in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota -- all battleground states in the 2004 election.Losing out were New York City, Cleveland and a joint bid from Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., cities that had sought the GOP convention.The four-day event will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., home of the hockey team.

The Twin Cities also are in the running for the Democratic national convention.The Democrats plan to hold their convention Aug. 25-28, 2008, and the Republicans will meet a few days later on Sept. 1-4.

The Democrats, who last met in Boston, will announce a decision later this fall. A spokesman said 11 sites expressed interest in having the party's convention, but only four completed the proposals. New Orleans later withdrew its bid, leaving Denver, New York City and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The GOP held its last convention in New York City, where GOP delegates nominated President Bush for a second term.The last national convention in the Twin Cities was in 1892, when the GOP backed President Benjamin Harrison in an unsuccessful re-election bid.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



Anyone up for a little protesting in 08? I know I will be! It is bad enough when one of them comes to town and stops traffic everywhere. At least it will be a chance to bring some political voice to the cities, both good and bad. Still, I sure hope that the Dems have a viable candidate this year. This regime has got to change.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Reasons to be happy today!

* The sun is shining and the temp is beautiful!
* This weekend I cleaned the bedroom to an inch of its life and finally it is getting close to being clean and organized (closets too).
* I got through all my post-it note to-dos today!
* I got to see Emilie and Daniel on Friday and got to have a great lunch with them!
* I've been able to run my errands when needed lately.
* Everything went smoothly on Sunday morning for the first time this fall.
* My fantasy football team hasn't lost yet and despite a bad showing yesterday I still have a chance.
* I finally turned in my budget sheets for next year!
* I got free lunch!
* My shipments for Sunday School came a full week early.
* Dark chocolate M & M's
* Oh, and did I mention that it was a beautiful, sunny fall day. Perfect.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quick update

Ok, so I have been negligent about posting. I really wish that I had something intelligent or deep to say at the moment but I don't. I've been just swamped at work and working 12 hour days hasn't been unusual lately. I hope that starting this weekend things will calm down somewhat since everything at church will have started again. Hopefully things will regain a sense of routine and normalcy.

Despite the being busy, life has been pretty good. There is something uplifting about working hard and seeing progress, and work has been that way lately. It has to be due to the workload but it is still nice to feel productive.

I've been feeling the itch for some serious cleaning/sorting too. I may have to do some of that this weekend, since Chris will be gone all weekend again. (He gets to go to a weekend long bachelor party, poor guy) We'll have to see. Hopefully there will be some girl kinds of fun that weekend too!

That's all from here right now. I have been mulling over a 9/11 post and hope to get that up here soon. And if any brilliant observations occur to me, I'll be sure to post!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The X-factor

I'm the first person to admit, I had a pretty calm and sheltered dating experiences growing up and becoming an adult. I've a several boyfriends, some serious, some not but I've been lucky. I've had no major blowup breakup experiences, no major boyfriend now enemy occurences, and very few awkward moments really. I'm still friends with some of my exes. I've been lucky.

Ok Liz, you may ask, why are you talking about dating when it was so long ago. You've been with your wonderful husband for over 6 years and married for 3. What's the deal?

Here's the deal. Today I had a situation that I can only describe as an Ex - encounter. This is not someone I've ever dated, thought about dating and doesn't even remotely deal with dating but the emotions seem compatible.

If you recall from several weeks ago, an active and friendly family from our church recently decided to leave to go to another church. The mom was one of my right hand volunteers and helped me with a wide variety of tasks around the church and in the ministry. I was floored when they told me they were leaving. I didn't see it coming and I didn't understand why. The reason that I was given was that they wanted their kids to go to Sunday School with the same kids they went to school with (?!).

That reasoning it appeared may not have been the only reason based on information from other congregation members and the pastors conversations with them, however we may never know fully. Nevertheless, given their close help to my area of the church, I felt hurt, abandoned and wondered what I'd done wrong in this "relationship." I even felt mad. I felt like if things weren't working the way they wanted it too, they had a responsiblity to stay and try to fix things. I have a hard time with the "church shopping" philosophy today. It seems that everyone is looking for what a church can offer them without stopping to think what the church needs of them. But I digress..

Today, I heard voices outside my office and one of them was a colleague I needed to speak with. I went out in the hall and there was the mom from this family chatting with two co-workers. (Her daughter still attends our preschool here (?!).) I wasn't expecting her, and I confess that I jumped back into my office thinking "I don't think she saw me!" And I don't think she did because she left shortly afterward. It took me a long while to want to leave my office again though. I didn't want to run into her, but I was hurt that she didn't come say hi. I didn't know what to say and I was a coward. The nearest thing I can think of is comparing this to avoiding an ex. There is a sense I wanted her to see how good things are going....look at my fabulous redesigned billboard, and all the new programs we're running, aren't you sad you left? But I also didn't want to see that their leaving made me emotional, or that my office was still a mess. I was torn between wanting her to see that we were fine without them, but also aware that I still cared what they thought and that kinda pissed me off.

It was a surreal experience in the end. I don't know how to describe it. I know they are within their rights to go to any church. I wish them the best. I still think the world of their kids, who were adorable and smart. And they are still wonderful people.

So their you go. I may have been a dating novice, but chalk one awkward Ex-encounter for me, even if it isn't in the traditional sense.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Long time, no post.

Hello everyone!

No, I have not dropped off the face of the earth. Instead I fell into the black hole that is the week before Rally Day. Given that I work in a church and do Children's Ministry, Rally Day is the equivalent of our first day of school. It is a busy time, which requires organizing teachers, cleaning out classrooms, orientations and all sorts of little details that need doing. Needless to say, it was a crazy busy time for me and I spent a lot more time at work than my norm.

All in all, Rally Day went quite well. There were a lot of new people signed up for Sunday School and it was nice to have the energy and chaos (the good kind) that comes with the fall beginnings. There were some conspicuous absences that I felt deeply - two families who left the church this summer - families who were regulars and involved. But for the most part, there was a lot of good progress and good things going on. The chaos of the new beginnings haven't ended, and won't until our brand new Wed night program debuts on the 20th. Still it is good to be out of that pre-Rally Day stress.

Yesterday ended up being a great day too thanks to Chris and my birthday present! For my birthday last month Chris gave me tickets for a train ride. (Big deal? you say...Yes! it is!) Some background: My husbands family are deeply interested in the history of the locomotive, particularly steam locomotives. Since meeting Chris, I have embraced this and found that there is a beautiful sense of history and nostalgia associated with this trains, and that when they are run they are some of the most impressive machines I know of. It is true that airplanes boggle the mind about how they are able to fly, or scientific discoveries or medial machines that are important and life-saving, but the steam engine is unlike anything I know when witnessed.

So we were going on a train ride being pulled by the steam engine 261. If you ever have a chance to go see a steam engine it is something you won't forget easily. I've been lucky to go on several train rides and witness several others, including some fun "train chasing" This one was wonderful too. It was an icky day yesterday - rainy and cold and we had tickets. We got to watch beautiful countryside go by (rainy countryside) safe and warm in the train. We even managed to get a little compartment to ourselves so we had a lovely time talking and enjoying ourselves - without homework, work, tv or anything to bother us. It was a great, great afternoon. Once we got back the rain had let up some so I was able to take some train pictures. I hope that you like them! :)






P.S. They have fall color train excursions each October where they go down to Winona and you can enjoy the colors and the steam engine if anyone is interested. It is an amazing day!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It's coming...

It's almost here...



Are YOU ready for it?



More importantly...am I?



Beware!



It's on its way...



yes...



it is....



SUNDAY SCHOOL!!!!

AAAAHHHHHHHH!

Be not afraid, I shall protect you. For I am the Children's Ministry Director! Writer of curriculums, master of phone calling, supreme ruler of the Education Wing. Never fear. Rally Day will come but all will be well.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Solitary Confinement

I been having a quiet, unplanned weekend alone at home. My husband is up north camping with his family at a tractor/train festival thing that they go to often. I was supposed to go too...or rather he wasn't go to go. It's a long story.

We were going to go with his family and camp for the weekend. The only questions were weather and Chris' homework level. Well, Chris decided he could do it with homework, only the weather for the weekend looked totally terrible (early this week). So we weren't going to go.

And I got asked to sing in church and we were already staying in town so got guilted into saying yes. Saturday morning I wake up and go to the gym. When I get home I hop in the shower, looking forward to going to the State Fair with Chris that day. When I get out of the shower (ok, I had to shave but it didn't take that long), Chris announced that he was going anyway and left to go meet his family.

So I feel doubly bad and left out. I really wanted to go, but thought we weren't. And I couldn't back out of a commitment. And I feel bad because my own plans got ruined. I feel bad that I'm letting the family down being the only one who's not there. But still, I'm glad that Chris got a chance to go.

Still, so far it has been a lonely weekend. I didn't do anything Sat with a headache due to allergies. I did email a few folks to see if they were around, but to a person they were all out of town or had plans. What is worst about it, is that sometimes I look forward to being alone, but I've felt very isolated from my friends lately (they all have busy lives, and many have kids to work around too) and an unplanned weekend alone was the last thing that I wanted.

Today I went to church to sing and tried to track more people down. With no luck. I did manage to make a trip to Target but other than the cashier and a brief call from the family I'm been friends to the tv, the computer and the cats all day long. I've watched lots of crappy tv, the Twins lose and a couple of movies this weekend so far and I have the majority of tomorrow too.

It hasn't been all bad. I had a particularly lovely evening watching The Chronicles of Narnia:The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe, eating mac and cheese and early halloween candy from Target. But more than anything I was looking forward to seeing people, doing something social, and feeling loved, but other than kitty love it has been scarce this week.

I suppose I shouldn't be in such a funk. A lot of folks would love a quiet weekend, but it doesn't suit my state of mind right now. Work is stressful, the house is a mess and I just wanted to do something fun. Ok, I know that I should stop the pity party, but its my blog and i'll whine if I want to! :p

I hope that you are all having fun with your family this labor day. I'll be out of confinement tomorrow sometime!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pinky and the Brain

Last night, Chris and I were listening on the radio to the debate between Mark Kennedy and Amy Kobuchar for the Senate seat here in MN. Naturally, the debate was disappointing in many ways, and we didn't end up listening to the whole thing, mostly because I'd start arguing with the radio!
One of the most annoying things was that Kennedy was spouting the party line to a tea. He responses might have been written by Coleman or Cheney or whoever. It was extremely frustrating to listen to his stock answers.
After we'd given up on the debate something reminded me of a cartoon from my youth. Now I was a little old when this cartoon came out so I don't know it well but my younger sister would watch it and that was better than homework so I'd watch too. The cartoon? Pinky and the Brain. (The link takes you to the opening theme song...the words are also below.)

Pinky and the Brain Theme Song
They're Pinky and The Brain
Yes, Pinky and The Brain
One is a genius
The other's insane.
They're laboratory mice
Their genes have been spliced
They're dinky
They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain Brain. Before each night is done
Their plan will be unfurled
By the dawning of the sun
They'll take over the world.
They're Pinky and The Brain
Yes, Pinky and The Brain
Their twilight campaign
Is easy to explain.
To prove their mousey worth
They'll overthrow the Earth
They're dinky
They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Narf!

The cartoon was always funny but now as I thought about it last night it seemed strangely prophetic. The cartoon has two mice, Pinky and the Brain. The Brain is a genius whose goal is world domination. Pinky is just rather slow and nuts. They work together each night to try to take over the world, with Pinky trying to help Brain's plans but more often than not screwing them up. Recalling this I made a dramatic connection...

PINKY AND THE BRAIN = GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY!

Think about it. One is dumb and sort of nuts, the other is the brains of the operation, using his partner to achieve his goal...WORLD DOMINATION. Scary, huh?

(Of course, I'm joking...mostly)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Random Thoughts.

* Isn't Daniel a cute baby? I'm still so exited for Emilie and Steve.

* When typing up notes on the 10 commandments for work...Commandment 8 is NOT - You shall not bear false fitness. Hehehe. What would "false fitness" be anyway?

* Speaking of fitness, why was the gym playing the "I want candy" song last night? Sure, you have to remind me!

* The other day after the gym I found myself behind a car and upon inspection I realized I'd seen it before (I recognized some unusual bumber stickers). As I remember I was behind the very same car and the very same stop light coming home from the gym on Sat. Weird.

* I was looking through Chris' law books for PR yesterday (Professional Responsibility) and made the comment "Gee, law school makes even ethics look boring!" Chris was amused to say the least!

* So far 27 doesn't feel much different than 26. Thats ok though.

* What Ipod should I get....hmmm. I just don't know.

* Somewhere at Cub foods is a genius who decided that they should put frosting on the bottom of their cakes too. I applaud them!

* Anyone want to teach Sunday School?! No? Well, if you're sure.

* The weather has been perfect lately. Well, except for the softball size hail at St. Olaf last week and the tornado that just missed St. Peter. But it was perfect today.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Introducing...

My good friend Emilie just had her baby! Daniel Joseph was born by c-section on Friday night. (5:01pm). He was 8 lbs, 9 ozs and 20 inches. If he'd lasted another 7 hours we could have shared a birthday, but since he was 10+ days overdue already we're just glad he decided to show up!

Mom, dad and baby are all doing well, though a little tired. I got permission to post some photos for those who wanted to see the baby. He is absolutely precious and was very good and well behaved while I held him. And those who know me will be pleased to know that I didn't try to sneak off with him!

Baby Daniel...

I got to hold him...


The whole family...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cat vs Train: A story in pictures

What do we have here?
Intruder alert! Intruder alert!
I don't think I like this...
Where did it go?

Take that!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

So last night my parents and I went to a concert. " Who?," you may ask. *Blush* I was at the American Idol Live concert. I have been watching the show for the last few seasons and it was my parents first time watching it this year. When I heard the finalists were coming to MN again this year I asked if they wanted to go and they did. I did feel a bit out of place. The average age there may have been around my own, but I think that is only because of the plethora of 12 year olds and their mothers balancing things out.

But I went and I enjoyed it for the most part. I did feel good being there and it was very interesting to hear them live after watching the show. Since the show was based on judging the singers anyway, I couldn't help but comparing them and judging them myself. So here you go:

Mandisa - she opened the show and it was obvious why, she is by FAR one of the best singers there. She was able to command the stage and had a voice that filled Xcel. She left the show too early.
Ace - still cute, but probably too cute for his own good. He sang well but his looks are his strong point. I don't think he'll go far after Idol.
Lisa - played the piano and sang. Her voice was weaker than on TV and she didn't really command the stage.
Paris - I was somewhat disappointed. Her voice seemed to be going, and she did a Beyonce song and danced like Beyonce too. She seemed to young to dance like that, and it was not a good impression for me.
Bucky - BUCKY SUCKED! He never should have been in the top 10. He was missing cues and brought the whole show down.
Kellie - cute and better than I expected. She ended the first half on a good note.

Second Half....
Chris - opened the second half. He was FABULOUS. I think that he'll really go far. He's got a great rock sound and he was the only one other than Mandisa that seemed to really fill Xcel. And he managed to be heard above the roar of screaming 12 year olds!
Elliot - He was good and strong but I wasn't super wowed by him. He did a blues number that was very fun.
Katherine - She was still on some vocal rest so only did two numbers. She was good but I don't know how much staying power she'll have.
Taylor - He was what I expected. Vibrant and energetic. The vocals weren't as good as some but it was clear that he was talented and knew himself.

They ended with two group numbers with were ok, but the best had already come and gone.
All in all, it was fun, if somewhat embarrassing. :)

Oh well, sometimes you need guilty pleasures and I suppose an American Idol concert is pretty mild as they go.

Friday, August 18, 2006

1000 Pancakes and no syrup...

Last night Chris and I went to see Clerks 2 before it leaves the theater. It was SOOO hilarious. I haven't laughed out loud that hard in a long time. I've liked Kevin Smith's movies for a long time but that one is going to be my favorite I think. I love that they are rude but still manage to say interesting things.

Staying out late and staying up after getting back from the movie, when we went to bed Chris and I were both sort of loopy. We were having the type of conversation where everything seems profound and deep, but in reality they make little sense. In trying to remember our brilliance from last night one phrase comes back to me...we have 1000 pancakes but no syrup...

I don't remember the context of the phrase or why it was a deep thought but I offer it to you as an example of our late night wisdom. Please feel free to speculate where we may have been going with this, because I don't remember!

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Seeing God in your life.

Yesterday I had several meetings at church including one where we were discussing Natural Church Development yet again. (I wish that I liked this theory of church development better because it is starting to annoy me) During this meeting one of the questions we were examining was how to help the congregation grow in their ability to see God at work in their lives. At first, I thought that we were being slightly counterproductive talking about this, since it seems natural to me that someone could examine their lives and see God working there, but after thinking about this more closely I've decided that it is more difficult to see God at work in our own lives than it is to see God at work in the world.

Thinking of the last several times I've recognized God's work in the world it has always been about others. A touching story so full of coincidence and hope that you can't help but think there was more there than meets the eye. Or watching those close to you being blessed with the answers to dreams and hard questions. It is easy to see God's work in the lives of my friends (And I'm particularly thrilled for the most recent example of that I have - you know who you are!), but that is from a view on the outside. You may be privy to the desires, hopes, worries and problems of those friends and acquaintences that need God's hand, but ultimately you are removed from the weight of them yourself. You are forever looking at them from outside. And when you are looking at them, it is easier to see a beam of light and if you are in it yourself.

There are, of course, times when God's grace and gifts blind you. Times you know that you've been given something beautiful and precious. Times you know that God has interceded when you need it most, but with the exception of those rare and powerful moments in life, can we see God at work in the everyday and the ordinary? How do we learn to see God at work in the world around us?

First thing that comes to mind is God's gift of creation in the first place. God created the world, but he is not done creating. He creates it anew each day. We see God's work in the smile of a child, or the play of a puppy (or kitty), or a rainbow shining over the world. We see God in shooting stars, and cosmic dust, and sunrises and sunsets. We see God in lakes and oceans and prairies and mountains. This is God's work and it is good.

As good as creation is, it still can feel like God's passive work in our own lives. But when those things are provided when we need them most, can we really say it is a passive gift of God, or something meant to provide us hope and peace. It could be a song played at just the right moment or a job offer when hope seems lost. A random check from Grandma just when your finances are looking bleak (this has happened to me before). While we never know just exactly God is up to in our lives, I think that if we really look, it is impossible to doubt that He's been working hard, just for us.

And maybe, when we see Him working in the lives of others, we can stop and acknowledge that He is working in ours too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stream of Consciousness

So I've been wanting to do a post all day long but I can't seem to think of anything to say! Part of the reason that I started this blog was to start sharing thoughts more and to practice putting them in words for others. Being an introvert I always think I have some interesting thoughts but rarely do I take the time to share them with others. It is something that I want to work on, so enter the blog.

But today I seem to have writer's block. There is a lot going on in my head. I have a lot of thoughts for my pregnant friends, some on the verge of giving birth and some near the beginning of the process. I've been thinking a lot about kids and timelines for life and that sort of thing too. Maybe that is a function of my birthday coming up though.

Which makes me think that numbers are an odd thing for me. Numbers by their nature have no meaning. 1 is simply one. 2, two, etc. But the meaning comes once you start adding the nouns to the numbers. # of years, # of pounds, # of kids, # of $, etc. With the nouns comes the potential for glee or depression, based on a number. But sometimes a number may not be the best adjective for the noun. Does a number really have the power to define us? Is our weight or age or income the defining parts? Most people would say no, but those numbers have the ability to make us feel limited or inadequate. But really they are just numbers. Hmmm, something to think about.

In addition, I'm caught up in the stress and endless lists of preparing the church for the new school year. We are doing some new things, I'm sort some key volunteers and there is always a lot to do this time. I'm in that weird stage where there is so much to think about that it is hard to focus on any one thing.

I'm starting to get excited about fall though. There are some exciting things happening at the church (assuming I can get them all up and running) and I'm excited about the prospect of the football season. It makes Sunday one of my favorite days. I love having church in the morning followed by a good lunch and an afternoon of watching football. You open the screen door and let the fall sunshine stream in and the cool air. It is idyllic.

That's all that's up in my head right now. Maybe I'll think of something specific to talk about later, but this blog did promise random thoughts, so there you go!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

My husband and his fan club

My husband has his very own fan club! I don't mean to brag, but he does have quite the following....

at church...

by little old ladies!

His singing career has taken him around the country touring with the St. Olaf Choir, with honors choirs in high school, and with his semi professional choir now, but I doubt that he ever recieves such lavish praise as when he sings in church.

He sang in church this morning, "If with all your Hearts" by Mendelssohn from Elijah (though a tenor aria he found a baritone arrangement). He did wonderfully, as always, and I know that I am proud of him. He voice is beautiful and his expression is great and particularly fitting for worship services.

But despite being proud of him I can't help but laugh at the swarm of little old ladies who come up to him after church. Now I should clarify I suppose...they aren't all old and they aren't all little, and some of them aren't even ladies, but it seems to be the vast majority of his fan club so I'll stick with it. They come up to say how much the loved his singing, or how great his voice is, or how they love that song and don't hear it much any more. They say to me "Aren't you proud?" and various variations of "Isn't your husband wonderful?"

My favor it comment this morning...."You made me cry. I wanted to just lie down on the ground and sob, but i didn't think that good Lutherans do that sort of thing!"

I'm thrilled that my husband can bring such joy to the people at church and would love to see him sing more in worship, but every time I'm just astounded by his ever growing following!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Random Thoughts today

  • Say hi to my friend Maja and look at her blog. Maja is one of my oldest friends and she's in Norway and in animation school (or are you done now? I forget!) She posts her sketches there and she's amazingly talented. Maja and I were in elementary school together and have been friends ever since. My mother would get mad at me because I'd wear out holes in the knees of my pants as a kid because we were always galloping around her house on all fours playing horses. We even roomed together for a sememster at St. Olaf. So stop by and say hi!

  • I'm sending labor vibes to my good friend Emilie over at Lemmondrops. She isn't due till Monday but she's got a terrible itchy rash that won't go away until she gives birth, and I know that her new fridge was delivered yesterday, so hopefully baby lemmondrop is ready to enter the world!

  • I'm super annoyed at my breakfast. I splurged and went to get a bagel at Brueggers on my way to work and instead of a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese, I got a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese that had been cut with a knife that recently cut a bagel with salmon cream cheese. Ick! Even if I liked salmon flavor it doesn't really go with the palatte I was looking for. Bummer.

  • I'm convinced I'm jinxed about eating out too. I splurged this morning because last night I went to DQ and got a Sunday and the ice cream was absolutely foul and the caramel tasted burnt. Of course I was home before this got noticed. Ugh. Are people out to get me?

  • Our fantasy football draft is tonight. I hope to post my starting line up tomorrow. I don't know who quite I'll get yet since I'm pretty far back in the draft.

  • The Twins won last night, beating the Tigers and are just a half game back for the wild card lead!

  • Still having a church volunteer shortage but we make do with what we can.

  • I'm reading a book called Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner and I'm kinda hooked on it right now. I want to take a break and read but I know that I won't be able to stop, so I took my break to post on the blog instead.

  • And finally, hi to anyone out there reading this. I never know who might be lurking but if you ever want to comment just so I know who's out there that'd be cool! If I know you I'm sure that I miss you and want to hear from you and if I don't I'm sure I'd like to get to know you!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Fallacy of Entitlement

I think that my generation is in a very dangerous position. We are convinced that we are entitled to all that the world has to offer us. We live lives beyond our means because we feel that we deserve it. We take vacations and max out credit cards because we deserve it. We think we are meant to have a 6 digit job and a beautiful house because we are great. We have been lifted up that we no longer acknowledge the work that it necessary to reach those things.

It is no wonder to me that we turned out this way. Our parents grew up as a priviledged generation. The depression was over and it became true that working hard would get you ahead in life. Our parents worked hard and because of their dedication and sheer numbers they influenced society. Companies respected their employees, and things were looking up. And we grew up in that situation. Our parents didn't want to deprive us: we deserved all that the world had to offer us. We were lavished with allowances and family trips, toys and cars to drive in high school. My generation was indulged. We went to college with high hopes of easy jobs and high pay. We were fed the hope that we can do anything we put our mind too.

The reality for our generation looks much different however. A college degree for example, is becoming more critical to success in life, but costs are rising astronomically. The average college graduate leaves with a piece of paper that is meaning less everyday and $50,000+ in debt. Then you go to grad school when you realize that no one will pay you more that $20,000 to do a job. We go further in debt, but we feel we are entitled to the top spots. We are entitled to jobs - good jobs, with expense accounts and job security. We are entitled to houses and boats and cabins: our parents had all of that afterall. But what we failed to learn from our parents was that they work for what they earned. We feel we should have it with the least amount of effort.

Unfortunately for the church, this trend has transfered into the life of the church. Churches are having to cater to the needs of the congregation. People look for programs that they want, for the music type they want, for the right preacher, or Sunday School or Adult programming. We judge a church by how it provides for our needs. We are entitled to it all, but with entitlement comes a sense of apathy. We are entitled to things without having to put anything into it. We don't have to work to help the church. We don't need to give to the church. We don't need to volunteer. The church is meant to give us what we need instead.

I think spiritually this has become the case too. Our sense of entitlement skews how we see God in our lives. God is the great provider. We pray when we are lacking something. We feel we deserve it. Think about the success of the Prayer of Jabez... Pray this prayer and you will become wealthy. To the millions who bought it I only have one thing to say: The only person who became wealthy off of that prayer was the person who sold it to you in the first place.

We have forgotten that the church is as much about confession and forgiveness. We have forgotten the brokenness of humanity and the fact that we don't deserve everything. Everything we have already received is a gift from God. We Lutherans like to talk about grace a lot, and grace is not something we are given because we've earned it. It is not something we are entitled too. Everything about us says that we do NOT deserve God's grace. We are not worthy, we have not earned it. We are given this gift despite the fact that we shouldn't have it. When we are given things it is easy to start to think that we deserve it, but we don't.

Our world is in turmoil and it is bound to get worse before it gets better. But I'd like to hope that there is still grace enough from God to cover the sin of thinking we are deserving of it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Caution vs. Worry

I am a worry-inclined person. If you ask my husband, he'd probably say that is an understatement. The truth of the matter is that I worry way too often and often about the most trivial or unlikely of things. I often think of my worrying and attempt to talk myself out of whatever is making me anxious in a particular moment in time. I know that I worry too much and too intensely. I even feel guilty about the fact that I spent so much time and energy on worry. (I'm such a good Lutheran!) There are times when I make headway on the worry and times when it is overwhelming. The trouble is when I am faced with the question of whether or not something is worth worrying about my brain likes to confuse caution with worry.

Caution is a positive action against worry, but I rarely see it that way. Caution is having a separate cutting board for poultry and washing everything thouroughly after touching the raw chicken. Worry is scrutinzing every bite of a chicken, or being concerned about cross contamination dispite the fact that everything has already been run through the dishwasher. When you are acting cautiously, you are taking steps to prevent the need to worry about something. Worry is just an internal coniption that causes stress.

With me, taking steps that are cautious often leads me to worry, rather than to abandon the need to worry because the proper steps are taken. Caution about not eating things with raw eggs leads me to assume that all eggs have Samonella and unable to participate in my Mother-in-laws homemade ice cream.

There is plenty of things that I can worry about in the world: Health, politics, world events, family, work, money, weight... But it does NOTHING. It doesn't solve any problems, it doesn't help make your thinking clearer about choices, it doesn't improve your health, it just sits there.

I'm declaring war on worry. I don't know what weapons I have against it, and I don't know if I will be successful, but I don't like to live as a worrying person. I don't like anxiety. I don't like uneasy. I don't like paranoia. I don't like worry. So I'm going to try my hardest to stop.

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Phillippians 4:4-7

Friday, August 04, 2006

An African Creed.

I spent today at a conference for LACE - The Lutheran Association of Christian Educators. I'll be there tomorrow too. I've got lots of interesting things to post about that have gotten me thinking and I'm always amazed that in times of stress and anxiety God can provide you with exactly what you need to comfort you. But for now I just want to share a beautiful African creed that we read at evening prayer this evening.


An African Creed

We believe in the one High God,
Who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it
He created people and wanted them to be happy in the world
God loves the world
And every nation and tribe on the earth.
We have known this High God in the darkness
And now we know him in the light.
God promised in the book of his word, the Bible,
That he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God
Made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ
A man in the flesh; A Jew by tribe; Born poor in a little village;
Who left his home and was always on safari doing good,
Curing people by the power of God;
And teaching them about God and humanity.

Showing that the meaning of religion is love.
He was rejected by his people,
Tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross. He died.
He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him.
And on the thrid day he rose from the grave.
He ascended to the skies. He is Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him.
All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins;
Be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God;
Live by the rules of love, and share the bread together in love;
To announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again.
We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives.
This we believe. Amen

- Of the Maasai People of East Africa

Tagged, passing it on.

I just noticed I was tagged by the Emilie over at Lemmondrops. Now ... I'm tagging four people who I think maybe read my blog on occasion!

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Music librarian
2. Office Bitch
3. Sales person at Marshall Fields
4. Children's Ministry Director

Four movies I watch over and over:
1. The Harry Potter Movies
2. Princess Bride
3. Shrek
4. The Lord of the Rings

Four places I have lived:
1. Neenah, WI
2. Northfield, MN
3. Lauderdale, MN
4. Burnsville, MN

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. Survivor
2. The Amazing Race
3. Project Runway
4. Mythbusters

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. France
2. Rome, Italy
3. Duluth, MN
4. Quebec City, Canada

Four websites I visit daily:
1. Hotmail
2. My MSN chat board
3. CNN.com
4. All my friends blogs!

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Cheese!
2. Bailey's Chocolate Mousse Cake
3. BBQ Ribs
4. Chocolate Chip Cookies - warm out of the oven

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. The North Shore
2. Italy
3. Lounging by the pool
4. The zoo!

Four favorite bands/singers:
1. Goo Goo Dolls
2. Sting
3. The Beatles
4. St. Olaf Choir

Four folks I'm tagging, just because...
1. Kristin L.
2. Kerry S.
3. Brooke L.
4. Rebecca M.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Moving on.

People leave churches. I know that they do, but it is never easy when a friend of yours at church leaves. It is even harder when that person is a huge volunteer and their family are huge volunteers. It is worse still when that person has been your right hand since entered the position and they are leaving so their kids can be closer to their friends. I'm feeling like I've been punched in the gut. The August was already stressful but losing my one constant makes it worse. Here is the damage so far:

Lost:
One children's music director (with 4 people saying no to being interims)
One Elementary SS superintendant
One preschool SS superintendant/council rep (the person today)
One regular SS teacher
One full time nursery volunteer
Not to mention all the other people who haven't let me know if they want to come back, but not all are willing to serve again.

I have so many holes in my programs right now and I'm trying to develop a new program as well. Damn, it has been a super crappy week.

I keep saying to myself that "it will get done" because it is the church and it always does get done even if you have no support watsoever, but it seems like our church is particularly apathetic and even more so when it comes to children's ministry. So I'm trying to figure out a way to be 5 places at once. I'll let you know if I succeed.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Riddle me this.

A question for all you church goers out there, clergy and otherwise:

What prevents people from participating in church related activities, particularly those meant to engage their spiritual side?

The background:

My church, where I'm currently employed as Director of Children's Ministry, has been working its way through the Natural Church Development process, which is meant to identify your church's weakest area of eight necessary parts of a successful church and then subsequently help you improve your weaknesses. For more information, see the ELCA on the subject here.

Our weakness proved to be passionate spirituality which is the case for many of the Lutheran churches who participate in NCD (Need-oriented Evangelism also scores low). Passionate spirituality has to do with how we live our lives as Christians, how to be passionate for the church and for Christ and inspiring others as well. Our NCD stuff breaks this down into three sections: study of scripture, an active prayer life and joyful stewardship. So basically we are called to pray, learn about God and share freely what we've been given if we are passionately spiritual people.

The theory of NCD says that by working on your weakest area that you will improve your church as a whole, so we've emarked on a year-long attempt to improve the church's passionate spiritualty. We have a committee (we are Lutherans at heart!) and have had focus groups and last wednesday the program staff, committee and church council met to begin working on a plan for the church.

Amazingly enough (hehehe) very little was accomplished. It was difficult to remove ourselves from the nebulousness of pasisonate spirituality into the reality of practical steps. But one facet of our conversation involved why people participate in the church, whether it be teaching, or attending adult forums or being on the prayer chain or anything beyond passive worship attendence.

At our church we can plan a wide variety of adult education activites for example, often at people's request because they think it would be interesting, but inevitably the same 10 people show up. So we asked why. Two choices that we came up with are fear and being busy. Fear of looking stupid, or not knowing the answers, or sharing with others or being open to discussion about God. Or being too busy to take the time to do something to deepen your relationship with God, or putting yourself last or whatever. But those seem to be surface answers of a larger problem.

I'm not sure if these are the answers, and I'd love to hear from others. Ask those around you. Send them here to post. Forward this to your friends, put a link on your blog. I want to know why people take the time in their lives to participate at church. Give me examples, give me reasons, give me stories of things that have worked (particularly you church staff out there). I'm curious to know if we are an isolated case or if this is a larger problem. If you do participate why? If you don't, why? If you want to but haven't, what is holding you back?

Ultimately our conversation was halted because those sitting at the table discussing it were not the people saying no. We'd already said yes. If you have insights I'd love to hear them!