Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stories.

I've been at a conference the last two days for Milestone Ministry - having series of faith classes and events for parents and children to help encourage faith discussions in the home. I was at a workshop today and there was a lovely quotation that I wrote down. We've been talking about our own stories and how they relate to the Story of the Bible and general life. This quotation is from a Native American Story, but I don't know the name of it, only the author/storyteller? Here goes:

"Remember only this one thing," said Badger. "The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each others memories. This is how people care for themselves."

~ Barry Lopez

So I would like your stories, such that you are willing to share with me. What are your stories? Large? Small? Painful? Joyful? Stories of faith, or doubt, or laughter, or whatever. Tell me your story. Whatever story is on your mind or your heart. I love a good story.

(P.S. I'm thinking and working on my own story to share, it will come soon I hope when it isn't almost 11 at night after a long day!)

(P.P.S. If anyone knows the story that the quotation is from I'd love to know it!)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend Update - Random Thoughts Edition

* My meeting on Friday night was short and sweet, which is good. NOw if the people at the meeting choose to come through on their responsiblities that would be good! This particular group has felt like a high school group project, with me being the one who does all the work. But our event is only a week away now so they better jump into high gear!

* Saturday wasted away from us this weekend. We did manage to give some stuff to GoodWill and run to the store, but most of it was spent trying to avoid heat and responsiblity ;-) Which, of course, can make for the perfect Saturday sometimes!

* Sunday was a whirlwind day, with lots to do. It started out with me playing trumpet at church for both services. I played *OK* but not quite as well as I'd have liked too. Oh, and their was that embarrassing moment when my pianist and I each started a different song. I had the right one, but as she started the intro, she sounded fine, and I sounded like I had no clue. We had to stop, say, "Let's try this again" and then we both played the right song. Eh, it was a bit embarrassing, but I've had worse in front of a church so I'm not too upset.

* Or rather, that was the funny event. There were other church matters that upset me more, but they are not necessarily relevant. Afterall, I'll always disagree with some aspects of the church and as my complaints don't relate to my own area it seems best to leave them to myself. I don't really want to cause a huge issue among staff. Still, much of Sunday morning left me grouchy about it.

* After a quick lunch and complaining session with Chris I had to head back to church for yet another meeting. This went fine but took up most of the afternoon.

* Last night Chris and I went to see the Simpsons movie! We really enjoyed it. It was able to stand alone but it also had almost all of the incidental characters in it. Plus the soundtrack was really funny - especially during the credits. I really enjoyed the whole thing. Definately worth it if you like the Simpsons!

* This week is setting itself up to be as busy if not busier than last week. At least there seems to be more stressful and urgent responsiblities this week. And I have a conference that starts in 2 hours and I'm still here at work. It lasts through Wed, including evenings/nights, so I hope I'll be able to finish my work with the rest of the time I've got.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Rude Awakening...

Why is it that the first week back after Vacation is always horrible? I technically started back on Sunday, and spent about 5 hours catching up with things and at meetings. Since then, every day has been a major work ordeal. I have not only worked everyday but also had 3 nights of work at church and the other two doing church work at home! With the exception of yesterday (we had to shut down for a few hours due to the power company requests) I've worked 10-12 hours each day. And even yesterday I managed 8 hours total.

To top it off, despite the fact that this is a day off, I HAVE to go into a meeting tonight at 6:30. And there is just something about a Friday evening meeting that rubs me the wrong way, but alas, there is no way around it. I hope that the rest of the summer isn't quite so maddening though, because I know that it doesn't calm down once the school year starts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Defending Potter...

After finishing book 7, I have found myself reading the opinions of others on this strange phenomenon of Harry Potter. Many people I know are fully enthralled with the books and their world, and many remain skeptical about what all the fuss is about.

Now, as a Christian, HP-lover, and blog-lurker, I have been seeing some comments in blog-dom that distress me. I think it is one thing to critize a book after having read it, or even to know that it is not your taste ahead of time. I certainly don't expect that everyone will enjoy Harry Potter. But I have been coming across comments that insult those people who participate in the Pottermania as somehow needing to fill a void in their lives because they don't know God. What set me off in particular was a comment left in response to why adults found Harry Potter so appealing...


It’s because their lives are empty and they have nothing else to live
for. Hence, the need for God.


Now, I certainly don't consider my life empty, nor do I think that I am quite so removed from God. And I like Harry Potter... a lot. In it I see glimpses of the grace and love that defines the Christian story. I know enough to know it is a made up world, but the act of its creation reminds me of the wonder of our own Creator. JKR is gifted in her ability to create this world, and I don't doubt that that gift came from God.

I debated whether or not to post about this, I know that people will always have their opinions and their are certainly people out there who condemn Harry Potter as not only UnChristian but damaging to Christianity. I, however, seek to actively disagree. C.S. Lewis created worlds full of Christian imagery. J.R.R. Tolkien also was influenced by his faith in the creation of MiddleEarth. These works of literature are testaments to our own ability to create, love, and witness: all gifts from God.

Do people go overboard? Yup. Do people take things to seriously at times? Sure. But I remain convinced that my love of Harry Potter does not diminish me as a Christian. For those skeptics out there, know that it is possible to be both/and. As I Lutheran I know paradox well. I believe in being simultaneously sinner and saint. I remain convinced that I can love Harry Potter and still know God.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On being a Social Butterfly.

So I am an introvert. While I can channel some extrovertedness when necessary, the center of my soul is internal rather than external. I struggle with sharing about myself sometimes and perpetually think that I come across as stupid, flustered or something. When I do share, I often feel guilty that I've said too much and should have just kept things to myself. While those with whom I'm closest know that I can prattle on for ages about a wide variety of things, I don't know how I'm viewed in the wider world. (Interestingly enough this tendency did not hurt me academically, where I was Hermione Granger-esque in my desire to share my opinions and thoughts). (Another exception is with family where I'm a truly a giant ham!)

This blog has been an attempt to help with that to an extent. To learn to get some views and opinions out there, and conviently in a place where I don't have to vocalize them myself. Sometimes it makes it easier, but the reality is that I've struggled with my public persona for some time. It influenced my opinion not to become a Pastor for one, as well as some of the things I sign up for and do, and probably keeps me from forming friendships quickly.

Anyway, I have been given a task by my Senior Pastor to start visiting with my families in Children's Ministry in an effort to build more relationships and to (hopefully) increase family participation in the church. Ideally it would be a time to thank the families, get to know them better and to ask questions about the development of my programming and such.

It is a good idea I know, and our Pastor has implimented things like this himself. But honestly, I'm an a bit paralyzed by the thought of it. Some of the families I have come to know well and am growing more comfortable with, others have seemed to hold my presence as a grudge since I have arrived. I know I can start slow and work with some families I know well to start but I'm just not eager to start this process. But since the boss says to do it, I suppose I must.

I have the ability to "turn on" my extroverted side. (I do it with the congregation every Sunday morning and Wednesday night.) So I suppose it won't be that bad, and I can script out some of the questions I mean to ask, but my insecurities keep cropping up. What if I do damage to my programming by saying something inane? Ugh. What happens when I spill coffee down the front of my shirt while chatting (because this WILL happen!)?

(Please note: NO one has ever doubted my ability to overthink things!)

Maybe I'm being influenced by the few negative (and vocal) parents I've had to work with here. Afterall, I do fine with the kids here at work. It is so easy to talk to them. And I can do public speaking fine, but small talk conversation... ugh.

Am I the only one like this? Maybe. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The End


It was over so quickly, but it was immensely beautiful and brilliant. I'm exhilarated and saddened and jubilant. How can she manage to combine grief and joy so fully into the pages of a book? Can you even imagine how many people she managed to delight and capture into the beauty of her world? Unreal.

It is a beautiful thing. I think it was a great finish, and amazingly my predictions were closer than I ever would have hoped to guess. I know that many of you are still reading, so I won't spoil this post with details, but please let me know when you finish and if you want to talk about it.

Already I want to reread it, but I must let at least a little time pass I think.
Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dear Amazon/UPS

@&^#!*@&^#!(*@&#@#!@!

Grrrrr.

3:40pm.

No Book.

Sincerely,

Really pissed-off potter-phile.

Amazon, where are you?

Dear Amazon,

It is 11:18am. I've been up and about for quite some time already, despite getting back from the Midnight Potter party fairly late (ok, not too late, I got to bed at 1:30 or so but still, past my bedtime). I didn't get the book last night because it was pre-ordered. But now I am sitting here waiting for my book. Did I mention that it is book 7?!?! Do you know what you are doing to me here?!

So while I wait, here is myself as Professor Trelawney last night (Complete with cooking sherry! - OK, so it was red wine vineagar but I didn't think they would appreciate the alcohol there.)

Oh, Amazon, please get here soon. I am getting a bit anxious here!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wanna play?

Well everyone, my vacation fell through this week. So I'm looking at a week home alone. I have no great plans, nor do I have much that needs doing. My apartment is clean. I do want to do some exercising and relaxing, but if anyone wants to do something this week let me know ;)

More on the wedding later!

Belated Friday Five, just because I've got to.

I know it isn't Friday any more but this Friday Five seemed too perfect not to post. I'm so thrilled that the book is almost here but sad too. Can this world that I love possibly be ending? I know it won't fully end ever and I'm excited to know what happens but there is some saddness too. Anyway, I won't mourn until after book 7 is read!

Pottermania is in the air! The RevGals have devoted a Friday Five to it ... so play along if you choose, muggles.

1. Which Harry Potter book is your favorite and why?

Well, it is so hard to choose but if forced I would pick book 5. (Or maybe 3, 4 or 6!). I recently reread book 5 and was reminded about how much individual character development happens. I like the focus on how well meaning people can inadvertantly be on the side of evil by ignoring the truth that is out there. I feel like it is really resonant with me. Most of us aren't heros nor are we evil sadistic power-hungry dictators, but that we all have choices to work for good. The blindness and ignorance of the Ministry of Magic, the rebellion of the students and the devotion of friends is great in the book. :)

2. Which character do you most resemble? Which character would you most like to get to know?

Probably a combo of Hermione and Luna. I don't think I'm totally know-it-all or totally spacy but I definately have some of both. Also, if I knew more about the character I think I'd love to say I'm like Lily Potter. That would be a great character to resemble - powerful woman, active in fighting evil, devoted mother. That would be cool.

3. How careful are you about spoilers?

a) bring 'em on--even if I know the destination, the journey's still good

b) eh, I'd rather not know what happens, but I'm not going to commit Avada Kedavra if someone makes a slip

c) I will sequester myself in a geodesic dome to avoid finding anything out.

Probably b and c. I'm avoiding most predictions right now to go into the book with my own theories, and I'm avoiding those jerks who think they have spoilers or have read the real version and want to wreck it for everyone. But I'm not likely to kill someone who slips up. I'm hoping I can make it to Saturday and read all day in peace!

4. Make one prediction/share one hope about book 7.

Well, since Emilie mentioned that I have one of her favorite theories I'll let you all know about my own semi-secret theory. I believe that JKR is going to go back to some Greek mythology as she has done before, and that Harry will have to travel to the underworld/Hades/some wizard version to fully kill Voldemort and then he will return to the world of the living. I think everyone will think that Harry is dead but he will return. I also believe that the entrance to the underworld is the veil in the Ministry (hence the tattered curtains on the cover art of book seven). I'm also hoping that Harry will return to the world of the living with Sirius in tow, but that may be wishful thinking! :) Feel free to comment on my theory if you want, I haven't heard anything like it from others at this point.

5. Rowling has said she's not planning any prequels or sequels, but are there characters or storylines (past or future) that you would like to see pursued?

I'd love to know more about James, Lily and Snape from school, but I'd also like to know more about the future after the war. Hopefully hear about some kids of Hermione/Ron and Harry/Ginny. But that may be wishful thinking too ;)

It is almost here. Everyone take a deep breath and polish your reading glasses!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dear Pope Benedict...

The Catholic Church is not going over well with me this week. As a Lutheran I know that doesn't bother you too much, but I feel compelled to say something anyway.

First, you and your "moral theologians" go and insult my friends. In this article the church goes out of its way to insult people suffering from infertility, and goodness knows that they have suffered enough all ready. My friend Emilie sums up the article and what is horribly wrong with it over at her blog, which I encourage you to check out here. So you started out the week pissing me off.

But now you had to go and release a document this week restating the Catholic Church's opinion on Protestants: namely that we are inferior Christians and can hardly be called a church. I wish I were exaggerating but that was the interpretation of the CNN article, and after reading the acutal document from the Vatican website I'm inclined to agree. (I can't quite get the link to work, sorry).

So now I'm really angry. I have always considered myself Lutheran, a choice stemming from my opinion on the theology of the cross, the Lutheran emphasis on grace and the allowances of the ELCA for female clergy. Nevertheless, I have had great respect for the Catholic church as a whole, and many of their theologies are closer to my own than the more evangelical denominations. I have had political disagreements with the church but they are mostly just that.

This takes things backward to me. Just when I thought that the Catholic church and the Lutheran church were reaching some sort of truce about the Eucharistic differences, we are told we can hardly even be considered a church.

To be sure, the denominations often disagree on the inner workings of the church, their theologies and their understanding of God, but I *like* to think that we are all Christian and have more in common than not.

Sigh. Pope Benedict, I am not so happy with you right now. And i'm a tolerant sort in general. I suppose I will just have to keep working in my "not-a-church" and hope that I come to see the light. Good thing I believe in the grace of God, because I'm not sure its likely any time soon.

Blog envy

I've been having a major case of blogger's block for the past few weeks. It started with the crazy rush of VBS, the extreme exhaustion following it, and combined with my recent emotional funk, it has left me with little to say and even less to say well. I have been tempted to use the blog to rant about the many things driving me crazy right now, or to wallow in my own self-pity. It has been that kind of time around me lately. I'm not sure what is causing my funk but it is getting annoying nonetheless (probably true for my poor hubby too).

Anyway, I apologize for my blog blandness and will try to get back into the swing of things. Naturally, I will try to do this right before I go on vacation for a week, but maybe this will spur me on to post promptly about the vacation anyway.

So anyway, for lack of cute baby pictures, home improvement pictures or any other sort of big news, witty reparte or sharp political criticism, here is the Liz update:

1. I recently celebrated my one year blog-iversary! I have perservered through a year on this blog and I still enjoy it. Even when suffering from blogger's block.

2. I got kitchen-aid mixer for our anniversary and am so thrilled to use it. That is of course if I ever spend a consistent amount of time at my apartment. Chris and I have both wanted one and had regretted not registering for it when we were getting married. Chris was so sweet to have thought of it, and what is even more remarkable is that I had NO CLUE it was coming. Despite my best efforts not to discover gifts (truly), I have an incredible knack of knowing or guessing my husband has a horrible track record of surprising me with gifts. It may have been VBS stress at the time but I was truly surprised, so he even gets bonus points for that.

3. I, on the other hand, STILL haven't gotten a gift for him. Oops. *Blush*

4. Yeah, I've been out of it. Anyway, moving on and staying positive. We had a good 4th of July and the In-laws house. We got to see the parade, eat greasy fair food and watch a good fireworks display. It is true that we had to drive back late because we only got one day off but it was good. We got to see BIL and FSIL too so that is good. I did have moments where I wanted to go on a political rant but mostly I came out of the patriotic event hopeful that the coming change in administration (Or what I desperately HOPE will be a change) can make some progress on the general catastro-fuck the current administration has caused.

5. I spent a very warm weekend at camp with my church kids this weekend. While it was fun, it did leave me without any weekend to speak of. I do always enjoy going to camp and getting to know the kids more. I got to go swimming in the lake and they had their own fireworks display on Saturday night. It was one of the best in recent memory because it ended up being right over us. The next morning all the campers enjoyed finding the spent firework shells all over campus. (The boys in particular thought this was the height of cool).

6. This weekend is BIL and FSILs wedding. I'm serving as personal attendant and I'm sure there will be some minor problems to deal with but I hope it all goes smoothly. Some of the planning of this wedding has been a battle of strong willed personalities so I hope that everyone remembers that the important part of the weekend is in the marriage that comes from it and not the details. :) Still it will be fun to see all of Chris' family and party. I do need to decide between the two dresses I got to reach my full fabulousness but I hope the decision will be clear when I review them tonight or tomorrow.

7. After the wedding I *think* I am going on vacation with the women of Chris' family. Poor Chris has to stay home and work. MIL, SIL, myself and GMIL are supposed to pack up and see the Dakota's and Mt. Rushmore to add to GMIL states visited list. If the trip happens, she'll only have one more state to visit (Oregon). The only reason it is up in the air is that GMIL has a cold and ear issue right now, and given her tendency toward pneumonia we are watching it very carefully. But hopefully I will be on vacation next week. :)

8. BUT, we get back just in time to get and read the New Harry Potter book. YAY!

9. Ooo, and I get to see the movie tomorrow night with a friend.

Ok, that's all I have for right now. When I look at it like that it seems like I should be funkless. Perhaps I can try to focus on all of that instead of the stress and all the negative stuff. It's worth a try at least.

Monday, July 02, 2007

VBS: The recap.

Wow, it seems like ages since I've written here. I was taking a much needed mental break after VBS and as much as I wanted to write about it all, I couldn't quite get up the effort. Since then life has seemed busy and relaxed at the same time. It seems like there is a lot going on but when I think back I still remember a lot of lounging watching the Twins play ball. I'll try to remember some highlights though.

VBS
As I said before VBS seemed to go fairly smoothly this year. I'm not sure if we actually had fewer crisis's than normal but we were better prepared to deal with them. And we did have a few. We had one kid faint during outdoor games (he was fine and everyone did everything right -yay!). We had a 1st grader making innappropriate boob-related comments to his female leader (sheesh). I had to speak to a 4 yr old about innappropriate touch (seriously, what is up with little boys). We had to tear down a portion of our set on Wed at noon for a funeral and then come in late and re-set it up for Thurs morning (not too hard but annoying). The worst was having to pass along some info to child services, but even that was a question of precaution vs certainty. Trying to figure it out though caused some stress during the week.

My volunteers were great this year and really kept thing running smoothly. My SIL Emily was a trooper, sleeping on our couch and taking over the preschool craft room (a nightmare in and of itself). Chris was sweet and understanding of my continued crazy, stressed out, anxious VBS self. If every VBS goes like this one, I'll be very lucky.

I suppose I did have a run in or two with our newest staff member during VBS week. His attitude was definately anti-VBS, he treated me quite rudely, and his actions lead to some of my set being damaged. However, I was able to deal with the conflict last week and my senior pastor shared my opinion that I was disrespected. So, it turned out ok but was irritating at the time.


The Parachute is awesome!

Our Robot - raising the roof!


Our skit characters

Our skit characters again - don't ask, cuz I don't know!

One of me, just to prove I was there too.


More to come on the month of June...