Saturday, December 22, 2007

Back in the land of Cheese...

...and Beer (as my husband reminds me).

I am pleased to announce that Chris is done with is penultimate semester of law school. There is only one semester left (and that pesky bar exam but who's counting). I'm so proud of him for getting this far already. Yay!

Chris and I drove to WI yesterday in hopes of beating the storm that is supposed to hit WI today and tomorrow. We did miss the storm, BUT we hit some of the worst fog we've had to drive in. Or rather, Chris has had to drive in. But the roads were dry so while it was not fun it went fine. It was really interesting driving through the fog, not being able to see anything around you and listening to Christmas music. And then every so often a light would appear in the darkness...it was cool.

We are now in full Christmas mode. Most of the shopping is done and most of it is wrapped. I've still got my Christmas letters but that is going to be late anyway. And that's ok.

That's all that's going on really. Merry Christmas everyone! I'll try to keep up to date.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Pastor's Ass

The pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and it won again. The local paper read:

PASTOR'S ASS OUT FRONT

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in another race. The next day, the local paper headline read:

BISHOP SCRATCHES PASTOR'S ASS

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey. The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent. The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:

NUN HAS BEST ASS IN TOWN

The bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the paper read:


NUN SELLS ASS FOR $10

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild. The next day the headlines read:

NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE

The bishop was buried the next day. The moral of the story is . . . being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery . . even shorten your life. So be yourself and enjoy life. Stop worrying about everyone else's ass and you'll be a lot happier and live longer!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Random thoughts.

* By Wednesday all my church related activities should be wrapped up until 2008, which is a beautiful thing. I'll probably go into church on the 30th but Sunday School is still off so there won't be anything to do but go to church.

* Chris' finals are this week after a long week of studying and worrying. He has one tomorrow, Tuesday and Thurs and his big paper due Friday. After that, the bliss of break. I hope he can relax and enjoy the time off, but if he wanted to start looking for jobs that'd be ok too.

* I missed a party on Friday night. I was looking forward to learning to play guitar hero too. I wanted to go but spent the day Christmas shopping and when I got myself home I couldn't quite muster the strength to brave the cold again. I think, looking back, that it was the start of the cold that finally reared its mucous-y head today. I'm still on the downward slide but hopeful it will be short and relatively painless and that I can still get my to-do list done, but we'll just see. I also hope not to give it to Chris.

* I did get to see Enchanted on Friday though, before the shopping started (early matinees are great!). I really enjoyed the movie. It was definately cute and a parody of fairy tales and yet there was a defense of them as well. Very cute, and McDreamy is well...you know.

* 3.5 presents and some misc stocking stuffers yet to get this week. Everything else still needs wrapping but that is easy enough. The holiday card is written, but not printed and I'm still working on tracking down all the addresses, but the process is coming along. My cold is slowing it down though, as is the lack of adorable baby pictures to include. Either that or I need to find Santa hats for the cats, but they probably wouldn't like that.

* Why is it that pay dryers never seem to dry in one load, causing you to have to spend more money. Oh to have a washer and dryer of my own. And is it sad to long for them with such a strange grown-up passion. Hmmmm. Nope, I can't help it. I still do.

* What cookies shall I make for the annual family cookie decorating contest? I'm not sure, I'll just have to wait for inspiration to strike.

* Which one wins for best Christmas show - The Grinch?, Charlie Brown?, Rudolph? They are all so great.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A holiday song...

On the Twelfth day before Christmas, my true love said to me....

Ack! a 12 page paper.
11 tons of notes.
10 minute naps.
9 more days of finals.
8 mental meltdowns.
7 pots of coffee
6 "I-can't-do-this"
5 degrees outside
4 bottles of eyedrops
3 tests to take
2 holiday concerts
and
1 more semester to go!

Poor Chris - home studying all week and going slightly crazy. I am right there with him. LIfe is crazy and both of us can't wait for law school to be over. It doesn't make for a very festive advent. Keep going Goat - you can do it!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Trifecta of Monday-ness

1. Dr's Appointment - routine yet annoying.
2. Personnel year end review - ditto.
3. 2 evening/night meetings - ditto.

Numbers 1 and 2 have gone well so far though, so it could be a much worse Monday!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Canyonero

One quick story about this weekend. We had to rent a car and we had a free upgrade coupon so we used it and we ended up with this giagantic SUV - a Jeep Commander I believe. All weekend long this was all we could think about and we sang along as we barreled in this huge machine down the highways.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Processing

I think after attending any funeral you do some processing. I know that this can be true for me. You think about life and death and how you might want to be remembered. In a situation where the person whose life you are remembering has made some significant mistakes in their life, it can be more confusing still. I'm still processing and will probably tell the travel stories about this weekend seperately but for now, some general observations about funerals from an attendee and a pastorally inclinded person.

1. I think it is important to acknowledge the sinner/saint paradox in funerals. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. That is true for all people. When there is some pain caused by the deceased that the family or friends may be feeling it is even more important to remind people that 1. We are all sinners. and 2. Undeserving of God's grace. I don't want to depress funerals too much. Obviously they can be said already but I think it is crucial to acknowledge that even while lauding the person and their wonderful traits. Because if you don't acknowledge our sinfulness you can't get to the second point.

2. God's grace is bigger than we can imagine. None of us deserve it but it is given freely to those of us who believe. Go immediately to Go, collect $200. God's grace is the reason that funerals need not be sad and while we can grieve the loss of the person we should fully acknowledge God's grace during funerals, because afterall, without it we are ALL screwed.

3. Speaking of Grace, funerals and death can bring out amazing grace from others. I saw people this weekend speak full of love and respect for a man who hurt them deeply. They were able to forgive wrongs and act with grace and dignity in a situation that could have been confusing. One example is Chris' grandmother, his Grandfather's first wife. She visited him regularly and almost constantly when he was dying so he wouldn't have to be alone, despite the fact that he had left her for his mistress many years ago. She was relegated to the back room at the visitation and did not sit with the family up front. His current wife on the other hand did not come to either the visitation or funeral nor had she visited him in the hospital in his last days. Instead of being bitter or angry she greeted old friends with grace and joy and accepted what role she was given. She supported her grieving daughters and all of us. I could go on, but really it was beautiful. I should be so luck to have that ability to forgive and celebrate and grieve with grace.

4. Sometimes grief shows up in the actual loss of the person, but just as often there is grief in the loss of what could have or should have been. You greive because he no longer has any opportunity to become the husband, or father, or grandfather, or friend that he *should* have been all along. I think that this can be an even harder type of grief to experience because it not only involves the death of a person but the death of an ideal as well.

5. Regardless of grief, whenever family gathers there certainly going to be some hilarious moments. It is nice to be able to temper some sad and stressful times with the opportunity to gather as a family.

I think I'll post some of the humorous, frustrating and just plain weird aspects of this weekend but I wanted to get those thoughts down first. It has been an interesting whirlwind of days here lately and I don't want to forget.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Northwest

What kind of genius does it take to NOT snowplow the damn plane into the terminal. Duh?

Greetings from North Carolina. Rest assured that there will be stories later this week.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tonight's the night!


God asks Peyton Manning first: "What do you believe?" Peyton thinks long and hard, looks God in the eye, and says, "I believe in hard work, and in staying true to family and friends. I believe ingiving. I was lucky, but I always tried to do right by my fans."God can't help but see the essential goodness of Manning, and offers hima seat to his left.


Then God turns to Tony Romo and says, "What do you believe?" Tony says, "I believe passion, discipline, courage and honor are the fundamentals of life. I, too, have been lucky, but win or lose, I've always tried to be a true sportsman, both on and off the playing fields." God is greatly moved by Tony's sincere eloquence, and he offers him a seat to his right.


Finally, God turns to Brett Favre: "And you, Brett, what do you believe?" Brett replies, "I believe you're in my seat."


******


Tonight the 10-1 Packers take on the 10-1 Cowboys in one of the biggest match ups of the year. Most people assume that the Cowboys are the better team but I'm hoping the Packers play passionately and smoothly and pull it out. I haven't anticipated a non-playoff game this much for quite a while. It has been an amazing season for Favre and the Packers and I hope it continues.


The only bummer is that the game is being shown on the NFL network which is currently a exta $ channel with Comcast. So I'll have to go out tonight to watch it. I do hope it spurs some complaints about the cost of specialty channels and the need to have national sporting events available to the public. In the meantime, Go PACKERS!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ack!

Well, we found out today that Chris' grandfather passed away this morning. It was not a surprise as he had pneumonia among other lung issues (not to mention the demetia and other things too). So it looks like we have to try to get ourselves to North Carolina for a funeral.

The only problem is if the wake and funeral are going to be when they are tenatively scheduled, there is not a single flight out there that can get me their in time and still have my do my Sunday morning church things.

If I could find subs for the church things it would be tons easier but we are supposed to play bells at two services on Sunday. Not only is it a really hard piece that we've been working on for three months (along with other things) but there are not subs and I am the bass bell person. Which means if I am gone you lose all the chord roots and things. Ugh.

I'm not sure what we'll be doing but I imagine it will be crazy. I should know more when the funeral is definate. In the meantime, if you can pray for the family, and Chris' mother in particular that would be good. As with all families, there are some confusing relationships and interesting dynamics that may come into play during this stress, and I know that it is especially hard on her. Thanks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Black Friday

I was at the mall on Friday - Black Friday - and was wrapping gifts. Here are some of the things I noticed.

1. Crate and Barrel did not open until 10am!
2. People do not want to pay to wrap gifts even if it is for a good cause.
3. People were NOT in a holiday mood but kinda cranky.
4. Most people were shopping for themselves.
5. Macy's has Frango mint body wash.
6. Not nearly as much was on sale as the ads lead you to believe.
7. The line for Santa was tiny.

and finally,

8. If you look down and don't make eye contact it is somehow not rude to ignore someone.

That is all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blank stares.

I was reminded this week how much I hate public speaking. Or rather, I don't hate it, but I do get annoyed with the average audience or congregation. I gave a temple talk in worship this weekend at all four services. I also played my trumpet for three of them. I thought my temple talk was pretty good, all things considered. I talked about how important supporting the children in the congregation is and if we don't the church will die. It was clear and too the point. There were funny lines and a personal connection and it was short and sweet. And I got blank stares. I don't think it was a higher percentage than say the pastors get during their sermons but it is so hard to tell how things are received when you look at blank faces. I got a few nice comments about it after the services so I trust that I must have said something worthwhile.

On the other side of things, I got scores of compliments about my trumpet playing which is funny because I consider it sort of normal for me. In my head the temple talk was a much bigger deal, but to the congregation it seems like the trumpet made more of an impact. I did do a pretty cool arrangement of "Fairest Lord Jesus" though. It made me ready to go to St. Olaf Christmas Fest next week and hear its other hymn incarnation - Beautiful Savior.

Still my trumpet playing may have helped the message of my temple talk since my basic point was, we all can be difficult children who don't appreciate church, but it is the people from our family and church who influence our faith that keeps us invloved (or brings us back) as adults. I did have an example about playing trumpet when I was young and our organist who would transpose music by hand so I could play, so perhaps it added to the connection. I hope so. I don't get the chance to address the congregation in its entirety too often and I was glad for the opportunity. So often adults are only focused on what the children are doing wrong (talking, running, goofing off), and many of the parents are only focused on the upbringing of their own child first and foremost (which is appropriate but often done without regard for the other children and families in the church).

Anyway, I hope that the blank stares were simply the congregations way of listening and not disdain or annoyance at what I was saying. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks

I'm in a bad mood. I'm tired and sick of it getting dark so early already (its going to be a Looong winter). My office is cold and I have to stay and go to church tonight where I have so many different things going on that I feel like a one-woman show, even though I am only one small gear in this whole church machine. I'm working hard to not get the cold that I feel growing in my head and am dreading spending 12 hours at the mall wrapping gifts on Black Friday to earn money for our Argentina mission trip.

But...That is not the spirit of the week and in an effort to get out of it I'm now going to list many of the things I'm thankful for, and I'm thankful that my list couldn't even cover all the blessings I have in my life. So...in spite of the afformentioned grouchiness...

I give Thanks because...

1. I have a loving, supportive, funny and tolerant husband.
2. I have amazing parents, and ILs and siblings and a whole crazy cast of extended family. These are people I really enjoy seeing and spending time with.
3. I have a host of friends to do things with. These are people who I can ask dumb questions too, or show my extremely geeky side, or just hang out.
4. I have shelves and shelves of books, and a whole world of libraries as my desposal feeding my book habit.
5. I know how to make music well enough that I can enjoy it, even if I'm not the world's greatest.
6. I have a place to live, food to eat, and a good job...more than a lot worldwide can say.
7. I don't smoke, hardly drink and am mostly healthy.
8. I have freedom (at least for now) to say that George W. and the government have royally f*cked things up and I won't be thrown in jail for saying so (at least for now).
9. I've been to several different countries and experienced different cultures that help me look at my own a bit more objectively.
10. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. ~ Ephesians 2:8

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When even normal days seem busy.

Are you afraid blogland? I know that I'm starting to be. The holidays have been sneaking up on me, much like the cold weather, and today I blinked and realized that they are almost upon us. And don't get me wrong. I love the holidays, when they arrive. I love to see my family and relax. I love to give gifts and receiving them isn't too bad either. This year I'll get to go home to WI for Christmas meaning I'll get to see my sister and her husband and some extended family that I haven't seen in far too long. And I hope to connect with some friends back home too. Once we get to the holidays Chris is on break from school and is able to relax more than usual. There is cards and cookie decorating and beautiful church services and family and food and fabulous fun too spare.

But there is just so much *crap* between then and now. And my week this week is a perfect example of it. I did not have a busy week on paper but now it is Thursday evening and I'm wondering where all the time went. During the preparation for the holidays even the non-busy days become frantic and I don't like it.

Take a look at the random busy stress-inducing things that happened this week that were not on my calendar:

* Our custodian's mom died leaving all the church building things in disarray this week and which now means I have to come into the office tomorrow on my day off and move my entire preschool SS classrooms so that they can have the confirmation banquet this weekend. I feel awful that my coworker's mom died but it doesn't help matters to have your Sr. Pastor inform you of something that you need to do before things can go on and that there is no one available to help me. Grr.

* My friend delivered her baby 10 weeks early. While I'm sure this is a bigger event on her "not planning to do this but here it is anyway" calendar much of yesterday was spent having trouble concentrating waiting for news.

* Yesterday at 4:30 my apartment office called to inform me that they are retiling my bathroom starting tomorrow morning and I needed to move everything out of it by then. Oh, and it will take 3 or 4 days to finish. Yeah, thanks for the notice...glad I work Wed nights and that I new about it a day ahead of time.

* And about said bathroom - they are doing the one that doesn't actually need the most work. Which I find very confusing. At least we have two so we won't be without a bathroom, thank goodness!

* Oh, and Tuesday I spent a lot of time dealing with a flat tire. I had to get the temporary tire on and then I was really late to staff meeting because of it (like a hour). Then I had to go get it patched and fixed over my lunch hour. Luckily it was just a nail in the tire and could be patched and put back on. I don't want to go replacing stuff on my new car just yet.

Now none of these things are holiday related. They are everyday events that happened in one week, but they remind me of how the holidays can get. Even on days when you aren't busy it becomes difficult to slow down since there is so much to-do and so much that just comes up.

And I know that life is going to get even more busy soon. The day after Thanksgiving I'm wrapping gifts at Southdale to raise money for my Argentina trip. And this is after swearing I would not return to Southdale on Black Friday ever, my work days at Marshall Fields still haunt me. But I'm going to eat my words and hopefully make some money.

There is the children's Christmas program, a bunch of extra gift wrapping nights, a cookie baking church event, Sunday School, Wednesday nights, a big church talk to give to the confirmation and kids (45 min worth, ugh), a temple talk, christmas shopping, cleaning, and prepping for Jan so I can leave over Christmas.

I know it is coming and I'm feeling daunted. I want so much to skip directly from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Nice meals, good friends and family, church services and the whole hearth and home thing.

It will happen and I'll get there and feel all the more grateful when I arrive but it is going to be a crazy 6 weeks! Good luck. If I'm going to need it, I know you will too!

UPDATE:

My friend had her baby yesterday via emergency c-section. Her blood pressure stabilized after the c-section and she is doing well. The baby girl, Sadie Ilene, is 1 lb 9 oz. The doctors said that she should have been closer to 3 lbs at this stage so it seems clear that mom and baby were not working well together and she is probably best outside the womb even if it is 10 weeks early. Sadie is on a ventilator but has been off of it at times and has done ok. It sounds like things are optimistic but please keep the family in your prayers as she keeps growing. So far things are looking good though.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prayers Please

I just found out that my friend Jana was airlifted to Abbot for an emergency C-section. She was admitted earlier to another hospital with high blood pressure and they found protein in her blood. While I don't know her exact due date she wasn't due til January and I think the end of it. So it is really too early to want to have the baby. Any thoughts and prayers that you can spare for her, her husband Dan and the baby are much appreciated!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Church Lady in Training.

I should face the reality that just as I am turning into my mother (not such a terrible thing all things considered), I am also turning into a church lady.

The evidence...

1. I start to grumble when things are not put away properly and have desires to send emails to staff members reminding them that if they borrow things to put them back where they found it.

2. I can relate instinctively to the 60+ church lady crowd as well as to the Sunday School children, and possibly better than my ability to relate to some of my church parents.

3. I was invited by the church ladies to sub for bunko today and did so easily. I'm now on their permant sub list.

There are worse fates than that of church lady, but I hope they don't start putting me on the kitchen crew for funerals just yet.

On the other hand - I could be just a grown grand-daughter type that they all humor. Yeah, that must be it. Right?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Small Victories

Last night I dragged my sorry ass back to the gym for the first time in I-don't-want-to-know. It was hard and really kinda sucked but I'm glad that I went. Now I just need to go back a second time. And a third. etc. But I'm going to celebrate the fact that I went anyway!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cute or just plain scary...

You know when you get are very close to someone you start thinking like them, finishing their sentences and what not. But this is ridiculous...

The Scene: Last night just as I got home from work.

Liz: Man, I was getting some serious pizza vibes coming home and they kept getting stronger as I walked down the hall.

Chris: I already wrote the check it is on its way.

Liz: So were you sending pizza vibes or was I?

Chris: *shrugs*

So apparently we are either psychically linked or there are subliminal messages in Pizza Hut commercials. Take your pick!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Trunk or Treat

Each year our church has a family event on the Sunday afternoon before Halloween. Church members bring their cars and decorate their trunks and then the kids from the church and the neighborhood come and trick or treat from trunk to trunk. It is always a good time and the kids love it.

This year was our best year yet. We had 30 trunks there and had our first ever Ballot for the best trunk. The prize was "the Golden Troll" travelling trophy which I created this year. It was a fun day at work making a random and bizarre trophy and calling it my job!

We had a huge number of kids (I almost ran out of candy) and had campfire going with S'mores and Hot chocolate too. We even had a policeman come and hand out stickers and talk to the kids. They got to climb in and out of his police car. We heard from the policeman the day after that it really made his day, particularly since he'd had 3 suicide calls that morning to respond too. It was nice to provide a bright spot for him.

Anyway, I am posting some pictures late from it. I didn't post any of the kids since they aren't my kids but below is my trunk and some pictures from the winners of the trunk contest. The winners decorated their trunk and area as the pumpkin patch from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. They came as Charlie Brown, Linus and Sally.

My car (here is a partial glimpse of my new car that I got in August too) came dressed as a monster. I think it came out quite well myself, even though this isn't the best picture of it. Its tongue was much longer and that gives it a better effect. Still it was fun, you can just barely see the rat in its teeth!

My Trunk - My Monster

I'll do it this time...


I just know it...


Here I go...


Good Grief!

Charlie Brown, You Blockhead!

The Winners of the Trunk or Treat Golden Troll - Charlie Brown, Linus and Sally. Too bad that you can't see the golden troll's little golden loincloth! (Oh an Charlie Brown's hair had rubbed off by this point!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Own Meme

I'm in the mood for one but I didn't find one I liked. So I am making one up. Please play along if you'd like, either on your blog or in the comments. I hope you all had a happy Thursday.

1. Name one place you'd like to be right now.
I would love to be on a dock by a lake in the Northwoods with the stars out. At those times the world feels alive with hope and you can almost here the song of creation continuing. They are moments to just be.

2. Name two things you really ought to know but that you keep forgetting.
1. Never, ever, go to the grocery store when you are hungry or right before dinner. It is bad! Tonight I had no willpower but needed to go to the store sooo desperately (We had nothing at home).

2. My grandparents birthdays. I know *sort of* when they are but I keep forgetting. Oops.

3. Name three things you would like to change about yourself.
1. My food and exercise habits are not very good and I would love to fix those.
2. Ditto on my ability to keep a clean and organized house.
3. I'd also like to change my propensity to worry.

4. Name four things you would never change about yourself.
1. My ability to love deeply and loyally.
2. My geekiness.
3. My love of learning and finding out new things.
4. My ability to listen and care for others.

5. Name five people who make you smile inside and out.
1. Chris - my hubby.
2. Mom and Dad
3. Kristin - my sister (and Hans and Emily - my BIL and SIL)
4. Tiffany - my oldest friend in the world.
5. Babies - almost all of them - including those of my friends and those at church and hopefully (in the future) my own.

Play along if you want. It's fun!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Watch what you say.

You know how when you are going away from work for a few days you are very stressed, trying to get everything done. Some responsiblities you give to others for a few days and you worry a bit about whether everything will go smoothly. But in the end, when it comes to leaving you say something to the effect..

"Well it is not like the place is going to burn down with me gone."

Or at least that is what I said leaving last week with my Wednesday Night program in the hands of volunteers. It turns out that it is still true...
...

...

...

...

technically...

...

...

...

...

But it doesn't mean that the fire alarm won't go off and the church needs to be evacuated. (Or should have been if they were following the guidelines I've worked to set up - but that is another story) Oh and that violent tantrum one of our poor kids through that needed a parent call didn't help the night either. Luckily I'd left a capable volunteer in charge who works as a teacher. And that the pastor was around to help subdue the child. (Yes, that's right, it was bad from what I've heard. I'm meeting with the mother tomorrow to figure out some possiblities. Poor kid - he has anxiety issues and a father in Iraq and a baby sister in the hospital.)

Anyway, I'm not sure I should be away on Wednesday's any more though. It sounds like they had a rough night.

More on my trip to Atlanta later when I am not hungry and eager to leave work!

People are so stupid

Driving home last night at 9:30 I got on the highway after 4 motorcycles (the racing type). They proceeded to speed ahead of traffic, doing wheelies, darting in an out of cars before cutting off a semi to get to an open stretch of road to do more wheelies. At this point I lost sight of them because I was only doing 70, not the 75 or 80 they were doing. Unreal. I cannot believe that people are that dumb!

Chris pointed out when I got home that I should have called 911. Honestly it did not occur to me because I was too busy swearing "You stupid kids, you'll get yourselves killed." And I'm not even sure they were kids.

Unreal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Off to Atlanta for a few days for a conference. I may not have posting power so I'll see you all in blogland when i return. Let's hope Atlanta has enough water. I'm got this silly little habit of showering everyday!

As much as I want nice weather while I'm there I can't help but hope it rains for their sake.

Our prayers are with those who are fleeing fire too.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Seven True Things

I was tagged by my friend Kristine to reveal seven true things about me. So here you go...I hope it is not more than you wanted to know:

1. I am organizationally-challenged. Despite my best intentions I always seem to get to a point where the piles are more complicated and messy than is good. Yet, I still know where most things are.

2. Some of my more memorable nicknames include: Show-biz Liz, Lizardbreath, Tick Tock, and Mrs. Goat.

3. I am perfecting my Mom voice every week at church. By the time I have kids of my own I should be an expert. Ironically it is the High Schoolers and Confirmation students who need the Mom voice most.

4. I sort of hate telling people that I work in a church because it often is a conversation killer as people make all sorts of assumptions about Christianity and what sort of "crazy closed-minded conservatives" would work for a church. In reality I am quite liberal and concerned far more about social-justice, religious dialogue and grace, but that isn't what the average person equates with Christianity first. It is sad.

5. I still have my teddy bear that I took with me everywhere growing up. His name is Mistletoe and I confess that I still sleep with him, to that chagrin of my husband. But he serves the same purpose as sleeping with a pillow when you sleep on your side. I confess it is embarrassing but comforting and I never quite sleep as well without him. I don't take him out of the house any more though!

6. I hate travelling but love to see new places. If I could invent a Star Trek-esque transporter I would go everywhere I could.

7. I am a diet coke addict.

Oh, I'm supposed to tag seven others to do this as well. I tag: April, Kerry, Sarah, Barb, Scott, Cindy and Kristin.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Random Thursday Thoughts.

1. On Tuesday I went to cheer my 16 yr old SIL on in her swim meet. It was fun although I never know how to properly cheer for swimmers. In the first place, their heads are mostly underwater! And in the second, it is kind of a generic cheering sport. You can't yell "Defense (D - fence)" or "Block him" or "Shoot" or other things like that. I ended up yelling things like "Swim - Swim Faster! GO!," but it still seemed incomplete.

While I was there I was looking around at all the parents, there to cheer on their kids and it got me all sentimental. Who knows, in 20 years or so (sooner? who knows?) that could be me cheering for some child of mine. And what will my children want to do - athletics, music, drama, debate, all of the above? It was interesting to imagine not only having children (which I think about a lot) but to imagine having a HS child. As it is, if any child of mine turns out like my SIL is I think it will be great! I still may need to find something better than "Swim Faster" though.

2. I have been cleaning my office a bit at a time this week. I currently have a clean table and have mostly gone through the boxes that are dumped in my office by helpful church volunteers and employees. I still have the desk to finish, but I've made huge progress this week and it has helped my soul at work. I'm feeling more productive and happier at work. I am going to try to keep it up and keep myself on the right track. I figure if I do a little bit each day I can only improve. And it is a good thing that the inside is looking better since it has been gray and rainy forever it seems.

That and I've been playing my music on the Ipod more than the radio. I do like the radio but some of my favorite songs are helping too. It also probably helps that it has been a quiter week. Yay!

3. Funerals are never fun, but when you work at a church you are kind of glad when they are here because it means free lunch! Is that terrible?

4. I get to go to Argentina! I'll be heading there in March/April for a Mission trip to our day-care center was sponser down there. We are going to go to Iguazu falls as well for a little side excursion, but most of it is going to be helping in the daycare center and helping renovate some of their buildings! Our church partners with another church there and we basically fully fund a day care for low-income families down there. Many of the kids only have the one meal they are provided at the day care to eat all week. Some come from the weekend having not eaten at all! I'm really looking forward to going and working with the kids and getting to know this partnership our church has more. Now I need to work on raising the money though since the cost is higher than I can afford (hint - I can afford nothing so that isn't hard to be higher than that!). Still it is going to be cool. Here is a picture of Iguazu falls for you today from the web. I'll have real pictures when I get back in April!


5. I got my Nintendo DS and BrainAge. I tested my Brain Age last night and I got 74. The lower is supposed to be better - with 20 being the goal I think. Oops! I think I need to practice. Of course, I could blame it on the fact that the machine didn't seem to understand my WI accent when I said "scissors" in the Rock, Paper, Scissors test it had. Yeah...that must have been it! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I may be failing adult but I know how to use the phone!

So I just won a cool pack of prizes on KS95. I got a gift certificate to an Apple Picking farm, a Nintendo DS and Brain Age 2. Maybe I can practice and boost my brains performance and get out of my funk.

There is nothing quite like random free stuff to help cheer up an otherwise lousy day!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Failing Adult


I was a good kid....good in school, good to friends (with a few exceptions I'm sure), good to my parents (also with a few exceptions here). I was a good High School student - went to church, did good extracurriculars, didn't drink, smoke or skip. I was a good College student - did all my reading, was in tons of activities, didn't pass out drunk at parties (heck, our parties were tame by all accounts). Heck, I was practically a gunner in Seminary.

I managed to do pretty well for myself growing up, so why the heck am I failing adult? My bad habits seem to be getting worse. It is almost impossible to drag my sorry ass out of bed in the morning. I need to diet and exercise and can't seem to work up an consistent willpower. I desperately want a clean and organized home and office but get so overwhelmed each time I attempt it it never gets very far. I work hard at work but often on a deadline and can't seem to get myself on top of the piles of shit.

I've never been organized really, or much of cleaner, but it seems to be getting worse and harder and harder to catch up. I feel like if I had a summer break or something I might have a hope of catching up but things never seem to slow down.

Ugh, how do I become a functional adult? There are too many steps that I feel need to be taken and they all seem out of my reach. How do I set realistic goals so I don't give up but that I feel like I'm actually improving?

And the worst part is, I still have serious baby brain. But how can I even think about going there when I feel so ineffective at everything else?

Sorry to be a downer. I don't want to be that either, but that's what's on my mind.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lured in by a one-in-a-million shot...and french fries!

Dear McDonalds,

I don't particularly like your food. It makes me feel guilty and just a bit sick. But the lure of monopolies and the smell of french fries brought me down as I was going to lunch today. I was going to get a nice (more healthy) bagel sandwich, but was consumed by the irrational desire to get french fries and win a cool $1,000,000. $5.44 later I had my french fries and a burger and a diet coke (because it helps balance out the crap you are eating so much!), but no $1,000,000. Curses, I was foiled again.

I'm NOT lovin' it! (Ok, so the french fries were good....)

Liz

Friday, October 05, 2007

Isn't it funny?

Isn't it funny how a miserable, crabby, sore and painful day can end and the next day is hopeful, positive and happy, despite the fact that your sore muscles are still sore and your to-do list is still there. Yay!



Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tuesday Tidbits!

* Hanging in there (see picture). It has been a busy few weeks around here with some emotional moments espcially at work. I'm trying hard to look at the positive and keep up with attempts at organization and progress. I think I'm doing better than the tiny frog at this point.


* I had to get two teeth filled yesterday and it was highly annoying. The drilling went fine but I find I'm quite sensitive the Novacain. It actually went up my cheek and made one of my eyes go partially numb and twitchy! The dentist says that does happen to some folks but it was quite odd.

* I had the interesting experience of having two meetings in one day last week and in one the person told me emphatically that the church has gotten so much WORSE in the last 4-5 years. I went to meeting number 2 and that person told me emphatically that the church has gotten so much BETTER in the last 4-5 years. Neither opinion was asked for specifically but volunteered. I guess it goes to show that you can't possibly please everyone.


* In other fabulous news - The Chicago Cubs, one of America's only remaining "cursed" baseball teams is back in the playoffs. I'll be watching the road to the World Series closely this month. The curse involves a goat named Billy and goes back to 1945. Wikepedia reports:

As the story goes, Billy Sianis, a Greek immigrant (from Paleopyrgos, Greece[1]), who owned a nearby tavern (the now-famous Billy Goat Tavern), had two $7.20 box seat tickets to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers, and decided to bring along his pet goat, Murphy (or Sinovia according to some references), which Sianis had restored to health when the goat had fallen off a truck and subsequently limped into his tavern. The goat wore a blanket with a sign pinned to it which read "We got Detroit's goat".[2] Sianis and the goat were allowed into Wrigley Field and even paraded about on the playing field before the game before ushers intervened and led them off the field.


After a heated argument, both Sianis and the goat were permitted to stay in the stadium occupying the box seat for which he had tickets. At this point, Andy Frain (head of Wrigley Field's hired security company at the time), waved the goat's box-seat ticket in the air and proclaimed "If he eats the ticket that would solve everything."[3]. However, the goat did not. Before the game was over, Sianis and the goat were ejected from the stadium at the command of Cubs owner Philip Knight Wrigley due to the animal's objectionable odor. Sianis was outraged at the ejection and allegedly placed a curse upon the Cubs that they would never win another pennant or play in a World Series at Wrigley Field again because the Cubs organization had insulted his goat, and subsequently left the U.S. to vacation in his home in Greece.


The Cubs lost Game 4 and eventually the 1945 World Series, prompting Sianis to write to Wrigley from Greece, saying, "Who stinks now?" Since that time, the supposedly cursed Cubs have not won a National League pennant or played in a World Series – the longest pennant drought in Major League history. Sianis died in 1970. Billy Sianis's nephew Sam Sianis has been brought out on the field with a goat multiple times in attempts to break the curse: on Opening Day in 1984 and 1989 (the Cubs won the division both years), in 1994 to stop a home losing streak, and in 1998 for the wild card play-in game (which the Cubs won). [4] According to an interview with Sam Sianis, William Sianis' nephew, the Curse of the Billy Goat can only be dispelled by the Chicago Cubs organization showing a true sincere fondness for goats, sincerely allowing them into Wrigley Field because they like them, and not simply for publicity reasons.[6]


It should be interesting to watch the Cubs approach a pennant yet again. As a life-long Cubs fan I hope that we have learned to love goats in a way they deserve. Given that my husband's nickname is Goat I may have to have some sort of ceremony as the playoffs get underway! Dad if you are reading this and feel that we should drive to Chi-town and go to a playoff game we are willing!



* Some more happy sports news. The Green Bay Packers have opened the season 4-0 and are playing some great football. I'm very excited to see my favorite team starting to click!


*Also in Packer-related news: Brett Favre broke the touchdown record this week (422 TD passes now, to Marino's 420) at the game here in Minneapolis. Despite the fact that the Packers are the Vikings bitter rivals, the folks here in MN got to their feet and cheered for Brett when he broke the record. Often football seems to bring out the worst in the native Minnesotans, but in this case it brought out the best! Thanks MN!


* I spent almost all the weekend sorting and cleaning through the paperwork at our house. I finally feel like I have an organized filing system. Now I just need to keep up with it. Organized is not my natural state of being!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I did it!

I'm pleased to announce that I have completed my 2007 50 book challenge. Below are the 50 books I've read this year. There are really more than 50 here but I didn't figure I should count all the Harry Potter books yet again! It is really quite exciting. I ended up just short last year, so I'm proud that I completed this before October. I'll keep track of the rest of the books for the year just to get an additional goal for next year, but 50 is a good baseline for me.

Best of all, I liked nearly every book I read here. I'm happy to tell or recommend any for you guys, and would love additional recommendations for the year. I have a list that I'm working through right now, but I still pick and choose as things look interesting.

The 50 book challenge!
1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling*
4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett*
5. Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
6. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
7. The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
8. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
9. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
10. The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
11. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
12. On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
13. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
14. By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
15. Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
16. Digging to America by Anne Tyler
17. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
18. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
19. The Guy Not Taken: Stories by Jennifer Weiner
20. The Children of Men by PD James
21. The Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
22. These Happy Golden Days by Laura Ingalls Wilder
23. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
24. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
25. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
26. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
27. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
28. Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
29. Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
30. Gentlemen and Players: A Novel by Joanne Harris
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
31. The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs
32. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
33. High Five by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
34. Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
35. Seven Up by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
36. Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling!!!!!
38. Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel by Judith Merkle Riley
39. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
40. To the Nines by Janet Evanovich
41. In Pursuit of the Green Lion: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel by Judith Merkle Riley
42. The Water Devil: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel by Judith Merkle Riley
43. Dune by Frank Herbert
44. Amsterdam: A Novel by Ian McEwan
45. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
46. Stardust by Neil Gaimen
47. Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell
48. The World According to Garp by John Irving
49. Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett
50. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Five: Swan Song edition

Reverend Mother writes: Well friends, as I prepare for the birth of Bonus Baby, it's time to simplify life, step back from the Friday Five, and let one of the other capable and creative RevGals take the helm. It's been a great almost 17 months of co-hosting the F5, but it's time to say goodbye... so here's my swan song. On Endings and Goodbyes:

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show.
I can think of many great endings right now but I think one of my favorites is the end of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Frodo, being forever changed by carrying the evil of the ring, must leave his world with the remaining elves, Bilbo, and Gandalf. In changing the world and making it new, they lose the ability to be a part of the new world they created. Instead they sail off to the West leaving the saving and preserving for a new generation. I think the book does it beautifully and so does the movie. It is bittersweet yet the way it must be.

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show.
The Princess Bride (the movie). The best kiss ever, they ride off into the sunset and everything is great. The kid says "can you come and read it again tomorrow Grandpa" etc. It is a fine ending, but I love the ending in the book so much better that now I'm very annoyed that they didn't include it.

In the book, the narrator says (in italics):

'And they lived happily ever after' my father said. The truth was my father was fibbing... I spent my whole life thinking it ended that way, up until I did this abridgement. Then I glanced at the last page:...

...But there was no reason to worry: they were on the fastest horses in the kingdom and the lead was already theirs. However, this was before Inigo's wound reopened; and Westley relapsed again; and Fezzik took the wrong turn; and Buttercup's hourse threw a shoe. And the night behind them was filled with the crescendoing sound of pursuit....


...I'm not trying to make this a downer; understand. I mean, I really do think that love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops. But I also have to say, for the umpty-umpth time, that life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all.

And yes, I did go find my book to type that out. I didn't do all of the final pages but you get the idea. But isn't that a much cooler ending than the movie. It is just more real. Protecting a son from unfairness but a son ultimately learns of it anyway. And yet there is hope too. Love it so much more than the movie ending. Ok, I think my geekiness just went up exponentially.

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced.
When I was young (elementary or jr. high - I forget the exact age), I went for a week to a camp an hour away from home. As with all summer camps it was a great week and you come home dirty and exhausted and ready for a nap. When I got back, my Mom, Dad and sister were all in the car and they said to me, "We are going to Milwaukee (2.5 hrs away) to see Grandma. She doesn't have a long time." Being the tired almost teenager, I threw a fit. I didn't want to go to the hospital. I didn't want to see Grandma sick again (She'd had cancer for a long time). I didn't want to know that she was now refusing dialysis and only had a few days. I was angry and didn't want to go, and I was angry because it didn't seem right to have to say goodbye to her.

But I didn't have a choice in the matter and we went anyway. And I was able to see my Grandma before she passed away. I gave her a stained glass cat that I'd made in camp for her hospital room and she told me she loved me. I'm glad I was forced to go, even if I didn't know how important it was at the time.

4. Is it true that "all good things must come to an end"?
Nope, I don't. I think that the love of God and the grace of God are given to us always. And if that is true, and one of the best things, then I have hope for the other good things in my life: that they can be sustained and upheld. They may change and grow, but there are good things that do not end.

5. "Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it." --Anne Lamott Discuss.
Sometimes I think we cling to things, habits or people that are unhealthy for us. We may cling to them for so long that by the time we are ready to let them go they have marks of being desperately and manically help onto. Even if letting something go is the best thing for us, it takes an effort to withdraw our claws and wills from them.

Bonus: "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." I've never loved thisexpression. So propose an alternative: "It isn't over until ____________________"
"It isn't over until - the last page!" Cheesy I know but I'm thinking about books I love now. It's really your fault!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Perfect Storm

I feel as though I owe you an apology blog-land. I left a vague and worrisome post for you all on a day that was a perfect storm of badness, with a tidy portion of biological ticking thrown in. I have to say that sorry to you all if I made you concerned. And I thank you for you kind words.

But I'm trying to be postitive about things today. I have a weekend coming up with very little planned and am looking forward to some relaxation and possibly a chance to clean and organize. Anyone want to go to a movie?

If I am stuck waiting, then I might as well have fun with it!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Waiting for the bus.


Right now I'm neither here nor there. I don't know which way I want to go, but the choice hardly matters because I'll still be waiting for a while. So I keep waiting and weighing my options, and trying hard to ignore the feeling that I'm about to be thrown under the very bus I'm waiting for.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meme: The Nachfolge Interview

Scott, over at Nachfolge, was interviewed a while back and offered to interview other blogs. I have my five questions from him so here we go: (P.S. these are sure tough questions to answer!)

1. You're a musician: describe the most powerful moment you've ever had performing music.
I'm having a hard time choosing but here is one: In college I was priveledged to be in a (not the) St. Olaf Choir. That meant that I participated in the St. Olaf Christmas Festival. Every year and every performance ended with the F. Melius Christiansen arrangement of Beautiful Savior. Every year we would sing this and as the last note faded away the lights would dim as well. And then there would be a pregnant moment of silence. When I think of my most powerful musical experiences they all include this moment of silence. There is a swell and a cresendo and then a falling away and then...silence. It is a moment in time where God is uniquely present. No matter what the workload I faced, or the turmoil of life, that moment was a time of infinite possibility, hope, love and joy. I miss those moments. I try to get to a Christmas Fest every year to take in that bit of hope.

(P.S...in the post below (because I can't figure out youtube) is a clip from a ChristmasFest of Beautiful Savior. You don't really get to experience the silence and the clip isn't that good, but it might give you an idea. Also, this is from the year after I graduated so I'm not in it, but if those of you who know Chris look closely you'll see him in a red and white robe (it was his Sophmore year).

2. What was your favorite television show when you were eleven?
Star Trek: The Next Generation. My mother and I watched it together (and my little sister too). It was cheesy at times but fun and completely entertaining. You knew that the Enterprise and her crew would escape mostly unscathed but they managed to make you doubt it even still. It was one of my earlier introductions to the world of geekiness. And I'm very grateful for the introduction!

3. What's your philosophy on shoes? Do you buy lots of cheapies, or spendy clogs that should last a while? Full price or only on sale?
Mmm...Shoes. I have some of each: cheap and expensive. My frivolous shoes tend to be cheaper. Those shoes are spur of the moment purchases and are often in weird colors. Since I don't wear these all the time they can be more disposable. But I do splurge (in the $60 -100 dollar sense, not really more than that) for the basics: The brown work shoes, black pumps, work-out shoes, etc. And when I can find my favorite brands on sale I tend to buy them even if I don't need them *quite* yet.

4. Ever laughed so hard your stomach hurt? Describe the moment.
Many times! One of the most recent moments was in a job interview I was doing recently. (I was an interviewer not interviewee). It was for a children's music position and the woman was describing how she had gotten into the field before. At one point she told a story about a pastor who would ask his congregation to do things in the following way...


"Joe, could you do X here at church, *pause* .... for Jesus?


At this point the whole room (including the interviewer) burst out laughing and we immediately came up with ways this useful phrase could be used in church get people. Our imaginary requests got more and more outrageous and we mastered the perfect pause length for the maximum "for Jesus" effect. If I could do it without laughing it might be a great tool for getting volunteers but I just can't!

5. What's your favorite book that is NOT written by J.K. Rowling?
Only one favorite? I've been thinking a lot about this question and I'm not even sure I can say that J.K. and the Harry Potter books are my favorites. They are among them certainly, but my favorite book is often that which immediately speaks to the mood I'm in. Among my favorite authors and books are The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis), The Wrinkle in Time series (L'Engle - she actually just died last week, which is sad because she is so brilliant.), The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), Bel Canto (Ann Patchett), The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini), and countless others. You'll note a large quantity of "children's" books in my favorites too. These are some of the best books out there, simple and unpretentious but full of wonder and Truth! I love books and will read almost anything once! (Book suggestions are always welcome!)


Now, here's the rest of the deal:
1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

St Olaf Choir - Beautiful Saviour

Friday, September 14, 2007

Who am I?

I was recently told by my senior pastor that one congregant thought that "they had to take all the initiative to get to know me." While this is hard to hear, and likely a symptom of my introvertedness, it has gotten me thinking about "Getting to know you" as an idea. For example, while i'm make a large effort to get to know my congregants and families that I serve, most of my time is spent knowing you they are. Very little has been sharing of myself, mostly because I want to feel open and able to communicate them as best I can.

Still, this isn't the first time I've wondered about how people "get to know" one another. Sometimes it is a natural affinity for another person and there is a very easy sharing of information, other times it can be forced long before it comes simple. Sometimes getting to know you means knowing your fears, your joys and your hardships...other times it is knowing your hobbies, your interests and your politics. I think people define themselves differently depending on the situation - I know I do.

For example, I work mostly with parents and families. I know that their lives are often defined (not wholly but certainly in part) by the lives of their children. Thus, I try to get to know the child and their interests as much as the parents. But I wonder if my lack of kids in this kid-centered job makes me a suspect. Sometimes I feel I have very little relevant personal information to share with the parents I work with. I don't have a child to wax eloquently about. I certainly want to avoid politics and major church debates. You won't catch me talking about the ordination of homosexuals at church, for example, even though I feel quite strongly about it (It should be allowed by the way!).

Instead, I talk about my husband, my cats, football or other sports, various tv shows from time to time, good books, seminary (in passing). I will share a funny story as it relates, but most of the time I keep personal information on the basic level. But what do people think of as "getting to know me." I feel as though I am open with most of this information, and while I certainly spend more time getting to know the families I serve I don't think I hold back.

So what does it mean to get to know me? Or you? How do you define who you are or introduce yourself to someone new, especially when it isn't a natural connection? I know enough about myself to know that I'm diverse and complex. In many ways I'm a chameleon, fitting into a variety of situations and being able to converse (hopefully intelligently) about almost anything. But given a fully blank canvas I have a hard time defining it. I know a few words I would pick, but the full definition elludes me.

Does anyone else feel this way? I'm pleased I'm not easily defined but in trying to learn how best to share who I am with the congregation (even after almost 3 year here) I'm feeling confused. I'd love to know your thoughts. What does it take to get to know someone? How do you share who you are with others? Or if you know me well enough, who do you think I am?

Existentially yours,
Liz

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sleep-blogging.

Hi blog land. Did you miss me? Probably not, but I shall type on undeterred. I'm glad to have made it to Sunday night on a week that was in a word...exhausting. It was mentally, physically, spiritually and completely exhausting. I guess to be fair, I probably have had enough sleep (not what I'd like but enough) but I am worn down.

But I will start with the good news! My friend Emilie seemed to do well in surgery. They got the tumor out and the baby is still alive! I don't know what the next steps for her are and I'm sure that recovery is painful and probably long, but so far it seems like the best outcome available. I pray that it stays that way. It has been really moving to see so many people ban together around a good friend. Keep on praying out there in blog land and thank you for all the prayers already.

On the other side...church. What to say about church? I love church, I love working in a church, but I'm really not sure how much I love working in this church. And I don't hate it, most of the time, but it really knows how to suck life out of you. It seems that everything that could go wrong this week did. I know there are weeks like that, but the week before Rally Day, when you are already putting in long hours, it just adds up. For all intends and purposes, Rally Day turned out fine today, but there is so much baggage everywhere in the church.

For a religion that reminds us not to judge, I feel very judged by the church. I feel like people complain to me, and more often behind my back. They complain about things they are unwilling to help with but feel strongly about. I have parents who are upset that there are 20 preschoolers in a Sunday School class but are unwilling to teach so I can split up the numbers. I feel like when I call people that they screen their calls from me because they just know that I'll be asking them for something. I wish all my calls didn't need to be begging for help but I cannot do it alone. Gone are the days when people are committed to "work" in the church. And it is frustrating. So frustrating.

And I get it. I know about being busy. Believe me. I've hardly seen my poor husband, and frankly if I had kids right now I would quit because this is completely unacceptable the amount of work I need to put in to drag a Children's Ministry program together. I get busy. but it is about priorities. Even busy I committ to church. I did in college with three majors and 5 music ensembles. I did in High School with all sorts of activities.

People want me to provide their kids with faith. They want kids to grow up to be good adults and good Christians. The same kind of Christians that they are...Sunday morning, its good so long as it doesn't interfere with my real life Christians...

And I don't have the answer to it. I wish I could be persuasive enough to preach a Word that speaks to the families. That makes them excited to be at church. But I can't. It seems like it gets harder to muster the energy to try over and over again too. Does this mean I should look to leave? Or does the sign that I care still count for something.

I do think about some progress that I have made in the last 2.5 years. Do I abandon some of these precious people who I've come to know. I don't feel like I've got enough established to not leave a big mess for someone else, and that doesn't seem fair either. Maybe I just need to confirmation that I am making a difference there.

And there are days that I love it. Is it a tired and long week talking? I don't know.

I want to have a job that means something to me. I want a vocation, not just a job. And I know that I was going mad in retail. Not a gift of mine. Perhaps Sunday night after a long week isn't the time to ask these questions.

(Is it annoying to you out there in blogland that I often use this space to bitch and complain I don't want to be a constant complainer.)

Maybe I'll just go to sleep. Tomorrow is a day off. I'll go to the dentist. Do something fun. Clean up the apartment. Maybe I'll gain some perspective.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In search of the church volunteer.

(To be read with a stuffy british accent)

The search for the the church volunteer is one of the most difficult for the children's ministry-ologist. While its habitat is diverse, they are a naturally skittish creature, shy of outsiders and wary of intruders. Even in their native habitat the church volunteer is rarely seen in the same place twice, with the few exceptions of the kitchen lady variety. Locating them to begin cataloging and studying them can be quite difficult.

Here we see one young children's ministry-ologist in search of some new church volunteers. Ah, yes, she is beginning with the church directory. Many a church volunteer has been found using this method, but the results can be discouraging and it can be weeks to catch a glimpse of a possible church volunteer. Even in the directory, the church volunteer is not often found in the same location. Where a preschool church volunteer may have been found in the Rs last year, they may no longer be found in that location now.

Alas, the church directory has not yielded any leads on a fresh batch of church volunteers and our children's ministry-ologist tries another approach. This time she is using fresh bait to lure the church volunteers from their hiding spots. Ah yes, the bait has been known to work from time to time and she has made it obvious to the church volunteers far and wide:



Yes, the appeal of coffee has long been documented in church volunteers, particularly those of the Lutheran variety.

And yes!, indeed it has worked. See a church volunteer approaches...



This happens to be one of the yellow-bellied type. They are known for showing up initially, but their overall shy and timid demeanor prevents them from being excellent long term test subjects, particularly to the children's minstry-ologist. Alas, our explorer will leave this expedition empty-handed but will return tomorrow to continue her age-long search for...

The church volunteer.

Next time on Planet Church.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

28 for 28

I'm not getting this out as soon as I'd hoped. I've been working on it for my birthday and wanted to get it out then, but life made things interesting this week. It is one of those weeks that makes you reflect on your life and everything any, so I'm still going to post this. Maybe posting this publicly will make some of these goals more tangible for me. There are some easy ones and some hard ones here and we'll see what gets done. There is one unlisted goal here though - not feel guilty if I don't complete this list. Guilt is something that comes to easy to me anyway, so this is a guilt-free goal list for my 28th year.

1. Finish the scrapbook album I'm working on. (didn't quite manage this one)

2. Not use purell for one whole week (this is tougher than it sounds for me). (didn't quite manage this one either)

3. Where makeup to work 50% of the time (as opposed to the almost zero now). (I did manage to increase it but it didn't get that high)

4. Don't go to bed without doing the dishes. (again progress but not 100%)

5. Clean the oven. (It really needs it!) (check - although it needs it again and I avoided the heavy chemicals it really needs)

6. Go apple picking. (sort of? We made it to the orchard but the apples were mostly plucked already)

7. Get up by 8:00am most days. (I HATE getting up. I don't hate mornings so much but getting up is SO hard for me to do, especially when I set my own hours). (HAHAHAHA)

8. Recommit to gym attendence. (A possible goal: Run a mile! Ugh. I've never really done that ever so it seems like a good thing to try to do.) (Yes! and then a bit of No, but then a Yes! again)

9. Take my lunch to work for a whole week. (Nope, not this one)

10. Order pizza only once per month. (I didn't keep track although I tried to reduce it)

11. Lose weight - maybe 5 lbs per month? (nothing significant or lasting, baah)

12. Reduce caffiene consumption. (Maybe even to be able to give it up entirely during Lent?) (Yay! A success! I'm down to a diet coke every couple of days now!)

13. Watch TV only when there is something I am interested in on. (Thanks to TIVO and a busy schedule this is improved)

14. Win league in Fantasy Football (or at least have a decent showing). (I didn't do so hot in last year's league but I have two attempts started for this year.)

15. Learn to cook (and eat) chicken without paranoia (its a long story but let's leave it at I'm crazy). (Tiffany made me cook some on vacation in December and I have been eating it much better lately so I'm counting this a success)

16. Have a date with my husband once a week, even if it is just at home. (Made it most weeks even if it was informal)

17. Take a community ed course. - possibly guitar lessons? (Never got around too it, hopefully this year?)

18. Keep my new car clean. (Another sometime victory...right now it needs cleaning though)

19. Get my golf clubs and go golfing. (I did this - much to the amusement of everyone on the course)

20. Make my husband (and me!) soft pretzels from scratch. (Not yet)

21. Eat breakfast most days of the week (this may kill me). (Improving)

22. Stay in better contact with friends and family. (Also Improving)

23. Visit a state/country I've never been to. (I went to Argentina - so yup!)

24. Throw a dinner party just because. (nope, Adult social FAIL! LOL)

25. Support, love and have patience with my husband through his final year of law school and the bar exam. (I suppose I should ask Mr. Goat but I think I did well!)

26. Take more pictures and organize them in some way. (More pictures - check, organization? - not so much)

27. Go on a train ride with my husband. (The zoo train in Milwaukee will have to count although I hope to go on the fall trip this year)

28. Create an easy and organized way to keep track of paperwork. (I may need help figuring this out!) (Sort of but I got lax again)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shit.

That best defines my day.

Shit. Part I
I'm floored by the possible cancer that one of my friends is facing. She is pregnant and has a 1 year old son. Just Saturday we were celebrating his birthday. While she told me that they found a lump in her side at her ultrasound and that she should get it looked at, I NEVER imagined it might be that c-word we all dread. Given how hard it has been for me to think about anything else today I can't imagine what is on her mind waiting to meet with the surgeon tomorrow. (Emilie you are in all our prayers!)

Shit. Part II
And in spite of my strong desire to drop everything to be there for my friend, work goes on. Rally Day is less that two weeks away and I'm busy calling people all the time. This time of year makes me so FRUSTRATED. No one wants to teach Sunday School. Of course, they all think Sunday School is important, but they want nothing to do with it. In the act of calling I find out which people are considering leaving our church (often before the pastors). I don't know if it is me or something else. They never say. Maybe it is just a function of the church shopping attitude our culture has adopted.


"Come to my church, we have a spa and fitness center. You can work out while you worship."

"Come to we have wide screens and lazy-boy pews"

"We have guilt-free Sunday School, just drop off your kids and consider it free day care!"

It makes me so mad to hear all the no's. I understand and I don't. I understand being exhausted and wanting a break from all that you do during the week. I understand wanting a break from the "cherubs" that you call your preschoolers. But all I want is some help in teaching them why Sunday is important...cuz it is remember. Jesus. Died for sins. Grace of God. etc. Remember? But that is best done by me alone I suppose. I'm feel like I'm steps away from taking all 100+ kids - 3 yr old to 5th grade and putting them in one room with just me teaching them, because honestly, that might be easier to pull off. Step up people. This is ministry and the faith of your children at stake here not just a chance for an hour by yourself.

And still I feel trivial to complain about this today. It seems like this month has been full of BIG things. Big news, Big scares, Big expenses. I'm ready for some calm, some peace, some normalcy and I'm guessing I'm not alone.

LORD, take care of my friend. Take care of the exhausted parents out there trying to do too much and do the best they can. Take care of the kids here and elsewhere. Even on a shitty day there is grace and wonder in You. Remind those who need it that You are there with them. And if You could call a few to teach Your children that'd be nice too, but if not, I'll do the best I can. Thanks. AMEN.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Birthday Blues and Monday Madness

Well, it has been a crazy weekend. I'm now officially 28 which is fine. It is a number that is below 30 so I'm still good! ;-) Although 30 is probably fine too.

My weekend was a lesson in extremes it seemed. Friday Chris, my SIL Emily and I went to the Goo Goo Dolls at the State Fair. I got to eat my favorite foods (chocolate chip cookies and the prerequisite pronto pup among the highlights) and had my ear drums blasted away by the bands. It was a fun night.

Saturday was a fun day too. Chris and I went to our buddy Daniel's 1st birthday party (Daniel goes with my friend Emilie) and I got to play with my friend Kerry's triplets too! I was in baby bliss. And as a bonus (according to Chris), I got spit up on so my baby bliss was tempered by the feeling that it is ok not to have one just this second! LOL. It was a lot of fun to see my friends and their growing families. I'm amazed how quickly time seems to pass when kids are that age. It does make me ready to be in that place myself, but we'll deal with that possiblity when the time comes!

We also spent some time Saturday test driving cars in our price range. We are pretty well decided on the model and general price range and now we are dealing with the what, where and how part of it all. We're going out looking at our top spot tonight and who knows, we may have a car tomorrow. Most of the hoops seem to be lined up right now. I'll share my car joy when i actually have one so I can gush about my new little machine. (Since I'm driving a boat of a borrowed Buick right now I'm definately looking forward to something new, cute and small! But a huge thanks to Chris' parents who are sharing their car with us right now).

Yesterday which was my actual birthday was not as much fun in the end. I spent the better part of the day and evening at work dealing with piles of catch-up work and with some interview processes for our job search. It was a day filled with the stress of figuring out how to buy a car, what needs to be done at work and how to help my hubby prepare for school which started today. In the end it didn't seem like a birthday.

BUT, dear sweet hubby bought me a coldstone ice cream cake in its chocolate peanut butter glory, which was lovely. And even though he didn't get me a present, I am getting a new car this week so I think it balances out in the long run!

Today is work, work, work and maybe a car. Which has me feeling excited, crazed, edgy and poor all at the same time. Oh, and I'm working on a goal list for this year of being 28 that I'll post later after I get it together. I'm coping my friend Emilie but it seems like a good time to set some goals for this crazy year.

Off to call more people to see if they want to teach preschool Sunday School...