Thursday, May 29, 2008

Calling all books...

I'm getting a bit worried for this year's 50 book challenge. It is almost June and I'm a little under halfway there. In theory this pace should be fine to finish, but there are still some crazy months left - months where I know I won't have much time to read.

BUT, I think I discovered my problem. I'm currently slogging through a very well-written book (Suite Francaise) about WWII. The book before that was about WWII as well. The one before that - suicide. I have been reading a lot of great books this year but the majority of them are well, depressing. And there is enough depressing stuff out there at the moment - and if you doubt me just go get gas!

So, dear blogland, I'm entertaining ideas for some new reading material to balance out the list. I'm looking for comedic, light-hearted, uplifting books (which isn't to say that bad things can't happen but you know what I mean). If there is chick lit you love let me know. If there is a Narnia-esque series out there, tell me about it. I need a break from high tragedy books. Summer is coming and my reading list is far to serious!

This is also a wonderful opportunity for any lurkers out there to post a comment - sometimes I wonder if I'm just talking to myself out here! (Naturally, I talk to myself plenty so I guess it isn't awful if my blog is that way too, but I'd like to know who is reading.

Thank you in advance dear blogland - and I promise, Argentina pictures are coming soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Countdown begins.

The end of Memorial weekend marks the official end of my school year responsibilities and brings me into everyone's favorite church season - VBS!

Vacation Bible School is not less that three weeks away. On the one hand I feel like I have a solid handle on it this year, and on the other.... AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH, IT IS TOO CLOSE! THERE IS TOO MUCH LEFT TO DO! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Whew.

Vacation Bible School is that weird time were I get to be my most creative and really get to work with the kids and adults on a much closer level than I sometimes can during the year and I really like that. But it also marks a few weeks of 12+ hour days, working on weekends and general chaos that comes with organizing 40 volunteers and 100+ kids for a week.

Still it is a great time for all of the kids and I hope we will draw a lot of the community this year as well. We are doing PowerLab this year and I'm looking forward to a good geeky science theme. And our shirts are going to be that lovely lime/acid green that is so fun. Now if I just knew which adults were going to step forward last minute to help out and convince them to make that decision this week that would be great!

Now does anyone have any suggestions for turning my Fellowship Hall into a really cool, spooky, but not too spooky science lab? We are going to have a Transmogrifier (ala Calvin and Hobbes) for a few experiments with our skits and will have plenty of other cool stuff, but I'm trying to figure out what exactly to put on the walls and such for the setting. Yay! Geek church meets Geek science!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Finding my YES?

Memorial day weekend has seemed rather existential for me this year. On the one hand it has been a time to see some people I haven't seen in a while and witness how they are doing, on the other it has been a time of realization for me both physically and mentally.

On Saturday night, Mr. Goat (aka hubby) and I went to see the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Normally we haven't splurged on concerts lately but our friend and fellow Ole was guest conducting. He was one of the pair who formed the student concert band that Mr. Goat and I both played in - and one that is instrumental in us getting together in the first place. I was active in the forming of this band (Valhalla) and the two co-founders are friends from Olaf. We had dinner with one before we watched the other conduct. Now to be our age and conducting the SPCO is a HUGE accomplishment and I'm so proud of our friend. Likewise, my other friend is finishing is Dr of conducting and just got a great sabbatical gig at another of the area Lutheran schools. Both of them are doing very well at what they love - music/conducting and it is wonderful to see.

Also this weekend we had lunch with some friends who we don't see often. One is a lawyer who was a year ahead of Mr. Goat in law school, the other a chiropractor with his own business and his wife the engineer. Both of them are doing well, with homes, wives (fiancees), business and professional careers. And Mr. Goat is right on the cusp of joining them.

It amazes me to see so many of my friends who we graduated with doing so well. I can list more than just these people too. But it makes me hyper aware of not knowing about my own career. It doesn't help that the title Children's Ministry is nebulous. People don't think of much work needing to go into Sunday School, or even church in general if they aren't already keyed into the church world. It is a weird position - not a Pastor, but with some of those duties and goals. Not quite an educator, and yet one. Creative director, business planner, random mural designer, writer, editor, volunteer coordinator. All of these things fall under my job but for the most part no one knows quite what it is I do.

Some days I don't even know how to define the job or whether or not it is my vocation.

Obviously I think it is a worthy job and it has served me well (for the most part) while Mr. Goat has been in school, but I don't always feel the deep connection I would like to with a job. I know that is true with all jobs but its lack of defined parameters, evaluations and even career movement make it a very hard job to evaluate. Some days I have high job satisfaction and really enjoy it, but even on those days I am hard pressed to feel it is a career.

Watching people doing what they really enjoy and moving up in their fields really makes me think about what it is I want to do. There are days I regret not getting the MDIV and becoming a Pastor, even when most days I think it was a good plan. There are draws towards writing curriculums and developing churches and I think a publishing house like Augsburg would be a good fit. There are days where I want a 9-5 paper pushing job where I have no vocation in it but can use my free time in pursuit of a vocation.

I know I will always work with a church as a volunteer but there are real challenges that I didn't expect when it comes to being a lay employee of the church. There are decisions that the church makes that reflect on me even if I disagree with them. There is an assumption by the congregation about my role in many church-goings-on that remain outside my control and there is a different and equally dangerous assumption that since there is a staff position for Children's Ministry at the church that no parental involvement is needed.

Ultimately I think it comes down to Luther's question of vocation. Anything can be a vocation done in service to God and something that energizes you and fills you up. Most days my job seems more draining than filling and that scares me because I feel committed to the church, but I just don't know about how being a staff church person works.

I know I'm rambling, but seeing my friends become real adults with careers and vocations makes me wonder what mine is. Deep down I'm not sure I've found it yet, but I'm equally worried that maybe it isn't out there for me and there are only close approximations of what will really fill me up. Children's Ministry is not a resounding NO like my attempt at retail sales was, but it doesn't always feel like a YES either.

I just want to find my YES.

And adding these thoughts to all the random aches I've dealt with this weekend - a injured foot from the gym, allergies, a recovering sinus infection and a neck that I slept on wrong - it feels like finding a YES can't happen to soon. I'm feeling painfully aware that I am now an adult and I feel a bit on the sidelines watching others persue their dreams and I'm not even sure what my own dream is right now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Edition 1


Thirteen Geeky Fictional Characters Liz wishes she could be.

1. Lucy Pevensie - The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis - The smallest of the Pevensie children, Lucy is the one whose faith in the possible brings Narnia to the kids. She is determined and brave, yet knows she is young and struggles in her efforts to get others to see the beautiful possiblities she can see. But she almost always ends up being right and she gets to snuggle with Aslan. The movies do a great job on her character - a blend of sweet, bold and caring in a small package. The books do an even better job - Lucy is never one to abandon a friend in need. Plus if I were Lucy I'd get to be a Queen of Narnia, know Aslan and have all sorts of wonderful adventures - what could be better! Because after all, Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia.

2. Hermione Granger - Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling - The classic know-it-all occasionally patronizing, yet charming friend. Intelligent and witty but sometimes short sighted about her own failings, Hermione is a great foil for Harry and Ron. You always need to have someone who pays attention in class, but is willing and able to bend the rules for what is right. You may find her annoying, but deep down you can't live without her.

3. Eowyn - Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien - The tom-boy of the group. Brave beyond belief and loyal to her family and her love (poor Eowyn - Aragorn loves another though). She gives up safety to fight in the battle in Gondor and ultimately does what no man can do - slays the Nazgul and enables the Nine to be slain.

4. Rose Tyler - Dr. Who - Ah, to travel time and the universe with the handsome noble Doctor as he tries to save the universe and human kind from destruction. And if you can help easy his troubled mind and provide some much needed companionship - even better!

5. Ginny Weasley - Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling - Don't go thinking she is just the girl to be saved. She knows full well how to hold her own and won't let You-know-who stop her from being with Harry Potter. She is full of tricks and mischief and has learned her fair share from her brothers. Red headed, fiery and loving she is a great match for Harry Potter.

6. Elizabeth Bennett - Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen - Not every woman can get away with the insults she hurls and Mr. Darcy and still have him love her deeply and passionately. Besides, if you can survive SO MANY embarrassing moments and still get the guy you must be doing something right.

7. Anne of Green Gables - by L.M. Montgomery - Here is another girl/woman who manages to make a great mess of things and still be loved and precocious throughout. What's not to like!

8. Arwen - Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien - Giving up her immortality to live with the man she loves. The elf beauty and future queen of Gondor. Even though she is really a small part in the Lord of the Rings - Aragorn carries his love for her throughout the obstacles he faces and who doesn't want to be loved like that.

9. Princess Leia - Star Wars - She makes a great transformation through the original series. She needs rescuing but remains strong-willed throughout, and in the end you find out not only can she rock a gold bikini and tame the rogue Hans Solo but she's got a bit of that Force thing going for her too!

10. Samantha Carter - Stargate SG-1 - The only female on the Stargate Team she is the science brains of the operation. They never would be able to solve half the problems they themselves into without her.

11. Ariel - The Little Mermaid - Seriously, who doesn't want to be a misunderstood Mermaid from time to time. I urge you to find one girl from my generation who never swam in the pool/lake humming "Part of Your World" wanting a boy to notice her and her parents to understand her.

12. Luna Lovegood - Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling - Oh to be comfortable enough with who you are to not care about what others are saying. To be loyal and sincere and willing to help at all times. Maybe we all should wear radish earrings!

13. Honorable Mentions - Jadzia Dax - Deep Space 9, Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher - Star Trek: TNG, Captain Catherine Janeway - Star Trek Voyager, Fiona - Shrek, Galadrial and Rosy - Lord of the Rings, Polly and Susan - Chronicles of Narnia - Actually just put me on a Star Trek ship or in Middle Earth or Narnia somewhere and I'll be happy.

There you go - just in case you ever doubted my extreme geekiness! Coming next week - my favorite male fictional characters!



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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life as a Trumpet Player

I'm excited to be becoming a real trumpet player again. I've played in church several times this year but I haven't done anything much. But this summer I'll be subbing for the local Band here in town. This means I get a summer of rehearsals, outdoor concerts with bugs and heat and even a few recording sessions and such.

I'm am irrationally excited about this and being able to get back to some music stuff. It is going to keep June and July busy (they don't rehearse in August) and especially the concert and rehearsals during the week of Vacation Bible School, but I'm looking forward for a chance to really play again - even if it ends up being only Sousa marches and John Williams medleys!

********

Quote of the Day - courtesy of a fellow trumpet player from my Dad's big band.

"There are two sides to a Trumpeter's personality: There is the one that lives only to lay waste to the woodwinds and strings, leaving them lying blue and lifeless along the swath of destruction that is a trumpeter's fury. Then there's the Dark Side"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

PSA: Cell Phones

It turns out that it is a bad idea to wash your cell phone in the washing machine. It is an equally bad idea to then dry the cell phone in the dryer. Amazingly enough your cell phone may still work, but I highly recommend if you intend to wash and dry your cell phone to do so when you husband is eligible for a new one to um, upgrade, the cell phone that has been washed.

Also, I suggest when you do wash/dry a cell phone to call yourself out on the world wide web so as to fully embarrass yourself from ever doing it again (whether that is washing your husband's jeans or failing to check the pockets I'm not sure).

That is all. We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Catching up: Graduation!

Wow I have been so backlogged about stuff to talk about here but life has kept me going for a while now. Today it seems possible to breath again and digest some of the things that have been going on at le maison de lune-chevre.

The biggest news of the last few weeks is of course, dear hubby's graduation ceremony. Last Saturday (yes I'm over a week late), we gathered at the law school for a really exciting day for me and for Chris. It was probably more exciting for him since he had to do the actual work, but believe me when I say that I was downright thrilled as well.

The ceremony was fairly short and to the point. The speakers were inspiring and not too long winded, which makes for the best graduation ceremonies. The In-laws came, as did my parents, Chris' sister, grandmother and family friend. It was a good group and after the ceremony was over we all went out for a massive and delicious celebratory meal at a local restaurant we like.

Here are a few pictures from the day. I loved the hat, gown and hood - even though he didn't get to keep any of it. It reminded me of another time I was this proud - the purple velvet was reminiscent of the St. Olaf Choir robes. He was so handsome in that robe too!

Isn't he handsome? I love the hat! I even got to where my fuschia silk shirt dress that I got on clearance a few months back!


"Talk naturally too him while I take a picture of the hood"

Me, my sister-in-law, my dad and my hubby posing in the court room. Do we look serious enough? Overruled!

Seriously though. I have to say, I'm incredibly proud of my hubby. He worked very hard for 3 years to get this degree. He still has the bar yet to go and a job to find, but I'm confident that it will work out because I see the talent he has for this field and the drive he has to do well. He handled the stress of law school beautifully and really has earned this JD.

I remember on the orientation day for law school spouses were invited and they had a little session just for us. They came to the session and handed out pamphlets on recognizing the signs of depression and alcoholism and drug abuse and stuff. The talked about the serious strain that law school can put on relationships and the stress that the students are under. I admit that made me a bit apprehensive about the journey we were about to go on. But Chris really came through with flying colors.

There were times when we were both stressed, or that the house wasn't clean or where there didn't seem to be enough money, but he (we) made it through. I can't quite express how proud I am of him for accomplishing this. (This may be in part to the fact that every time I tried to read a law book I couldn't make it past a sentence without getting hopelessly confused - and I don't consider myself a dumb person). Not only did he do well in law school but I know that now there is one more ethical lawyer out there in the world - which is always a good thing to have!

I'm optimistic about the bar coming up and the job search - although I know these are still big obstacles - because I have faith in my hubby and his potential as a lawyer. Yay!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Northwestern Bookstore in a Cold-induced Haze

Sorry dear blogland - I have fallen victim to a nasty cold bug that has kept me from the ability to form sentences coherently. (I am still suffering so forgive me if I am a little nonsensical still). Despite the cold I have been dragging my butt to work and this morning had to make a trip Northwestern Bookstore. For those who don't know what this is, it is the area local Christian Bookstore chain. Most of the time these bookstores annoy me rather than inspire, but I was in need of a gift for a long time Sunday School Teacher we are honoring on Sunday. (She's been teaching for 45 years!)

So I go into Northwestern searching for a plaque, cross, painting, angel, (something moving at least) about teachers, or servants or the like. I spent an hour looking at every painting with a bible verse on it, every willow tree angel, every decorative celtic cross, every giant word sculpture of Faith, Hope or Love. I looked and looked for something that was appropriate, moving and not outrageously priced.

Eventually I found a framed spiel on the faithful servant with a verse and such and it was ok - though really too much than I should have spent but it was the best thing I could find for the situation so it did. But as I left Northwestern sniffling both from my cold and the coporate Conservative Christian mass market domination I had one predominating thought....


I could make that crap.


Blasphemous? Probably. But I was really annoyed by all of the simliar art and bible verses attempting to inspire or comfort others. They went beyond the serenity prayer and footprints poem but they still relied on 5-10 over used verse, pictures of flowery paths or sunbeams, and a fluid cursive writing.

Granted there were variations for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Baptisms, Weddings, etc. But really it was mass produced in an attempt to make money on people's favorite Bible verses. Now please don't take too much offense to my Christian art rant here. I personally enjoy many of the Bible verses used and I have even been known to take comfort in their use in art - but what bothered me was the cookie cutter use of them all. It seemed solely for making money - it was overpriced and a little good handwriting, a beautiful photo and a frame would produce the same thing. I could have made the item I bought for about $15 - and it did NOT cost $15. (This is assuming I had good handwriting - my mother didn't prevent me from addressing wedding invites for nothing). In fact I think I could make something better because there would be greater options than the faux finish frames and bland mats.

Add today's annoyance to the extreme opinions of the books offered in the store and I left thoroughly annoyed. Now I suppose I actually COULD have made something else for my teacher, but ultimately speed, convenience and my cold led me to the easy way out. I feel a bit bad about that, but I know if I ever want to make a quick buck I'll just start with a Bible, a calligraphy pen and some flower prints and I'll be in the money because apparently that is all it takes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Deliquent posting

I owe the blog several posts about the things that have been going on lately and I may get to them tonight, but while you are waiting - a little Sunday School humor to get me through a busy week and one more Sunday School Sunday before the year ends.

If only the solutions were this easy...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dear Blogland...

When I get all whiny and worried about whether or not I'm making enough efforts with me weight loss (how's that for alliteration!) just ignore the ranting. Instead just remind me to keep going to the gym and wait out the moment, because I should know by now that a bad thinking day and week can lead to a good one and a more positive outlook. I've been back to the gym the last few days and felt good with the workouts I had, and I was able to weigh myself and see that I'm not that far off track. So I should just keep a hold on some of those posts and wait a day and see how it goes.

This journey is so up and down and I want to thank you blogland for sticking with me and keeping the nice comments coming when I'm in a low spot. I really am embarking on a lifetime journey and it can be rocky, especially at the start of this all. But I'm doing my best to keep moving forward and stay strong and positive. Thanks everyone!

More prayers

Please pray for my friend and fellow blogger over at Anguished Corn. She lost one of her twins this week. One twin seems to be doing well but please keep them all in your prayers. She has tried for a long time to have a baby and is currently pregnant through IVF. Thanks blogland and hopefully we'll have good news to blog rather than bad in the coming months. Too many of my friends are suffering right now and it just sucks. It is time for some good news, anyone got some?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Long term motivation

Reading an article over the weekend I came across an interesting statement about motivation - that something that takes longer to accomplish (in the article's case - sorting through clutter) is perceived as less valuable as something that takes a short time to finish. Naturally this seems a bit counterintuitive to me - I would think that something that takes a long time would be even more valuable...and rationally I can say that.

And then there is the other side - translating this theory to my own weight loss journey it makes a lot of sense. I want so badly to blink my eyes and have lost the weight I need to. Instead it is a long journey - spanning months and years and realistically something I'll struggle with my whole life long. And that doesn't make it less valuable but it certainly makes it seem incredibly daunting and discouraging. I know that I will always have to work on this, even if I ever do get down to a healthy weight. And that is enough some days to make me want to throw in the towel and grab a chocolate brownie.

I didn't have a great week gym wise - I only made it 4 days last week and I skipped yesterday starting this week off badly too. To be fair yesterday was my 9th consecutive day of work (today is the 10th) and I needed a nap and a rest much more than a workout yesterday. But I seem to be fluxing this way all the time. A good week - working hard, a bad week where life interrupts my well laid plans. I don't know if I am still down those twelve pounds - I haven't been on a scale since then. Some days go great and others is just like pulling teeth.

And I still haven't figured that food thing out. In many ways I wish I could just give up food entirely like I was a food-aholic or something. The stress of finding what, when and how much to eat makes me a little crazy inside. No matter what decision I make I can find something wrong with the choices I made. And guilt loves company - and my company for guilt is chocolate, or cheese, or hell, chocolate cheesecake, followed by more guilt, followed by more...well you know.

On the one hand I'm proud of what I've been able to do for almost 5 months now. 12 pounds is something (if i'm still down that much), but it is a daily constant struggle for something that will always be a daily constant struggle. But it doesn't make the goal less valuable. In fact, it is really one of the most valuable things I can work for right now.

So where can I find that long term motivation to keep me going. It was waning already going to Argentina and now a month after being back it seems like it is reaching another period of struggle. I guess I have no really point of my ramblings here, but I'm hoping that a public profession of my waning motivation may give me that new motivation to go at it strong again.

On the one hand it is driving me crazy, but on the other hand I can't stop now, even if it does take a ridiculous amount of time.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sometimes our words don't work well as those of others.

For those of us out there who ever ask "Why God?" Why is there suffering? Why is there pain, and cancer and heart attacks and car accidents and death? This is not an answer, but some beautiful words by a mother watching her child lose the battle with cancer and those words touched me today so I will share her words with you...

Please go here and take a moment if you feel like it. (For an introduction of the author and her story go here.)

First Purple Hair, now this...



Yes, you are seeing the aftermath of a pie to the face. Last night was our end of the year Carnival for our confirmation and Wednesday night programs. They got to win tickets and get prizes, or use them to put in a chance to pie myself, our youth minister and our youth director in the face. I'm not sure if it is a good thing or not but I got the most votes. (We all got a pie though and drew the name of someone to pie us - ok it was a plate of whipped cream, but it was gross. I smelled like it the whole way home that night.)

The things I do for my kids...