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.