Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This is the sick that never ends...

AAAARGH!!!- the never-ending pinkeye... we went to Urgent Care over the weekend 'cuz now Abigail has pinkeye, too. Plus Deborah's got better for a while, but then started getting worse again...

So, we're now inflicting eye drops on both of our kids. These don't hurt like the Sulfa ones did (They did give us Vigamox for Deborah this time), but Deborah still fights like a wild thing... She doesn't like having stuff dripped into her eyes. Who does? So Jake holds her down and I pry open her eyes and try to get it dripped in... What fun. Sounds like torture to me, too. And explaining to her that her eyes can get so sick that she won't be able to see doesn't really help... She's only three... Abigail, my one year old, just cries and tries to get away. But Deborah, now she's a talented fighter- she kicks, punches, screams... Oh, well. We are getting the medicine in there.

But, they did finally sleep through the night!!! I slept 6 straight hours Sunday night. And EIGHT straight hours last night! Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!! They had been waking me up at least 2x for the last two weeks.

I've got a trick now, though. I'm giving 'em just a little bit of Benadryl before putting 'em to bed. (This one was taught to me by our family doctor- it's tricksy, but not bad for the kids, and VERY GOOD for the parents.)

Anyway, they should be over their pinkeye very soon, and I should be functioning quite nicely by the time I have a third night of straight sleep. Yay!!!

Historical Church Teaching

…teaching in the synagogues and home churches in biblical times was a shared responsibility. Often, several individuals would teach in a given gathering. Jesus and the apostle Paul were invited to be guest teachers in many cities. Typically, though, the teachers lived in the local community. There were no elevated platforms for teachers to stand above people… When the church began adopting public speaking rhetorical skills from Greek culture, the modern sermon as we know it began to form. The focus shifted to the oration skills of a single person rather than the participatory teaching first developed in synagogues and home churches. Then when Constantine erected the first church buildings (AD 327), preaching changed again. Sermons in these new buildings were first delivered from chairs. John Chrysostom (AD 347-407) moved the focus of preaching to an ambo, a raised desk from which sermons were delivered. The pulpit came soon after that (‘pulpit’ is derived from the Latin word pulpitum, which means ‘stage’). The pulpit was put in the highest and most visible place for all to see. All of this was in contrast to the practices of the early church.

Quoted from Emerging Worship, Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations, by Dan Kimball, Zondervan 2004

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Well, each of my girls are still waking up at least once a night... And I'm running on empty. How do parents do this???

I guess you just do what you have to do, but I'm going crazy. I'm going to bed late 'cuz they're both sick and not feeling good, and then I'm waking up at least twice each night, and then they're waking up early... Yikes! Somehow I'm trying to squeeze in at least a couple hours sleep. They're still dealing with pinkeye, and both of them have a mild cold with coughing, plus Abigail is teething and while the Ibuprofen lasts a long time it doesn't last all night...

God, help! Please let them sleep through tonight. I'm trying to take naps, but Deborah doesn't really need one anymore. And I'm depending on my Mom too much. Help!

What is worship?

These were some quotes defining and describing worship from Dan Kimball's book, Emerging Worship. He began the book describing a little of what worship is, and a little of what the church is, and a little of what the post-modern generation is all about. Excellent book. Of course, these quotes do not fully encompass what worship is or entails, but they are a good starting place...

Worship is the believer’s response of all that he is- mind, emotions, will and body- to all that God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience, and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better. –Warren W. Wiersbe

To worship God in truth is to recognize Him for being who He is, and to recognize ourselves for what we are. –Brother Lawrence

Our whole lives need to be poured out in worship. And in the end, that’s the ultimate responsibility of anyone who truly recognized the all-consuming revelation of God. –Matt Redman

All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and his Son among all the peoples of the earth. –John Piper

Quoted from Emerging Worship, by Dan Kimball, Zondervan

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Jumping Into the Alaskan Ocean

My friend, Vallette has taken pictures of people dressed in costumes jumping off a Seward pier into the ocean. If you need to be convinced that you have never really, truly been this cold in your whole life, take a look at her pictures... http://www.flickr.com/photos/valette/365494068/

Hard to be a Parent...

These last 2 weeks have been crazy, crazy, crazy...

Last week we FINALLY put our 1 year old in the same bedroom with her 3 year old big sister. I've been trying to get this done for the last 4 or 5 months, and it just hasn't worked out for whatever reason- Jake's work schedule, Deborah starting school, one of us being sick...

So, finally she's in there! Yay! We have our own bedroom. Yay!

And I had almost no sleep last week, 'cuz Abigail HATED the new room, and was waking up every couple of hours... Deborah sleeps with music and a night light. Abigail wants a fan, no music, and dark as a bear cave... Plus Deborah wants 12 hours of sleep, while Abigail probably only needs 8 or 9 hours... rather unusual for a 16 month old.

The second night, Jake went in on her third crying fit, and Deborah came over to him. She said, "Do you hear Abigail?! Do you hear what she's doing?!" And then she ran to her bed, jumped on and pulled the blanket up over her head. (Deborah likes to go to bed early, and wake early, and Abigail likes to go to bed late and wake late...) So the next morning Deborah started banging around and making noise and calling for me. When I get in there Abigail is standing in her crib and crying, and I swear she looked at me as if to say, "Do you hear Deborah?! Do you hear what she's doing?!"

So, the sleep thing is finally kind of getting together, when Deborah gets sick...

She was kind of whiney last Sunday and I thought, "She's just not getting enough sleep sharing a room with Abigail..." I took her over to a friend's house, and noticed that her eyes were kind of glassy, and right before dinner I take her to the bathroom to wash her hands and notice she's got eye gunk... So, I'm thinking, "Rats, I brought her over to a friend's house with a cold!" And then, after dinner she's running around, and I notice her eyes are kinda red. Yup, you already probably guessed it... My friend, April stops Deborah and says, "I'm pretty sure that's pinkeye. Our kids just had it a little bit ago." What was I doing taking her to a friend's house with pinkeye??

Anyway, we've had another rough week... She woke up two times Sunday night just SCREAMING, "My eyes hurt! My head hurts!" We went to the doctor on Monday morning and find out pinkeye's a viral infection- antibiotics don't work... (They do give you an eye drop medication, but it's for the more serious secondary bacterial infections that are associated with pinkeye.) It just has to run it's course, which could be three days to TEN DAYS... Okay, NO WAY!! She's not waking up 2 or 3 times a night for the next ten nights... And it did get better fast. She did scream 2 times on Monday night, but by Tuesday her eyes looked better, and honestly, I'd probably let her go back to school tomorrow (Thursday) if she wasn't so WHINEY.

Plus, I don't know if this is typical, but apparently the eye drops sting like fire... She fights us like a wild banshee- Jake holds her, while I pry her eye open and drop it in. And then I have to hold her afterward while she wails and wails and wails. I believe that it really hurts, but the reaction we get from her now whenever we come near her with the eye drops is SAD. Every night as part of her prayers she says, "And please God, don't let me have to have the drops in my eyes again."

So, maybe I'll sleep tonight... We shall see...

Trying to do a Bit Better

“The year was 1891. The student named ‘Bill’ had such a sharp tongue and large chip on the shoulder that he was called ‘Bill the Cynic.” He wrote to a friend he had cut with his lashing tongue: ‘I know I am hard, proud, conceited, scornful, bitter… and insulting very often, and always selfish; but I don’t like you to treat me as though I wasn’t trying to do a bit better.’

‘Bill the Cynic’ is known to history as Edward ‘Bill’ Wilson, who in 1911 accompanied Robert Scott to the Antarctic and to death. While stranded in snow and storm, awaiting their death, Scott wrote of Wilson: ‘If this letter reaches you, Bill and I will have gone out together. We are very near it now; and I should like you to know how splendid he was at the end, everlastingly cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for others.” The expedition team called him ‘Bill the Peacemaker.’

Wilson’s trying paid off, from ‘Bill the Cynic’ to ‘Bill the Peacemaker.’ He learned and changed. We need to keep learning, and keep ‘trying to do a bit better.’ It takes time. But it takes.”

Story quoted from Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet, Zondervan 2004

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Stephen King Quote

"...and now I'm going to tell you as much as I can about the job. As promised, it won't take long. It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."

from "On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King

Quotes from my Aunt

These are both from my aunt. The first is excellent, quite serious and is attached to all her e-mails. The second was part of a bunch of children jokes and it made me laugh and laugh...

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

The prayer this Mom will never forget-
"Dear Lord," the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. "Without you, we are but dust."
He would have continued but at that moment my very obedient daughter (who was listening!) leaned over to me and asked quite audibly in her shrill little girl voice, "Mom, what is butt dust?"

Friday, January 19, 2007

Stephen King's "On Writing"

Okay, I’m just going to admit it- “On Writing” was excellent. Definitely an A+. One of the best books I’ve read in the last year. Up there with Nancy Beach’s “One Hour on Sunday”, Dan Kimball’s “Emergent Worship”, and Philip Yancey’s “Why My Faith Survived the Church”. These are the books that have profoundly struck me within the last six months. I wouldn't say these are "the best books ever", just the ones that have stayed with me, are still affecting me, and have changed me in some way...

I’m not a King fan- I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff: Carrie, Rose Madder, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, It, Pet Cemetery, The Green Mile, Dolores Claiborne, Gerald’s Game, and (my favorite, who knows why, I can’t explain it, it just is…) Firestarter, plus a couple anthologies of his short stories, which I’ve got to say are way more likely to give you nightmares than his novels. The short stories are these ideas- never as fully developed as in a novel- they get in your head and they hang out there… Guaranteed to wake you up at 6 am convinced some creepy-crawly critter is climbing out of your basement- even when you don’t HAVE a basement. I went through this period where I was reading a lot of his stuff in college and then ended up deciding to not read any more of his stuff around ’93, I think. I started Needful Things and halfway through, or a quarter through, I got creeped out by the whole book- this really ugly nasty character just really got to me, and I swore off Stephen King… Of course, I went back and read some more of his a few years later… Never finished Needful Things, though…. Just really felt demonic or something to me…

(When you read as fast as I do, starting a book, or heavens, even finishing one, isn’t a huge commitment. Plus, I used to be constitutionally unable to put down a book until I’d finished it, even if it was bad, even if I HATED the thing, even if it was guaranteed to give me nightmares. Having kids really changed that. Now it’s got to be good, or at least halfway decent. I just don’t have time in my life for trash. I can now give myself permission to put down a lousy book or one that’s just gonna bug me later, or God forbid, if I just can’t stand the thought of NOT KNOWING WHAT HAPPENS, I read the last couple pages. Gasp! I know you’re all shocked…)

Anyway, back to “On Writing”… I’d been avoiding it, ‘cuz, well, its Stephen King talking about WRITING, give me a break… Even though people whose judgments I normally trust and respect suggested the book to me, I was like, “I don’t like his stuff. What could he have to say that would be helpful to me??” It’s Stephen King, people… Are you off your rocker? Well, it’s a bit like having your aunt give you business advice. Yeah, right. (Which is a bit of silliness on my part, ‘cuz my aunt has given my sister and me some shockingly good business advice in the last 2 months…)

Okay, so I was wrong. The book was excellent. Good advice. Good memoirs. I read his background and laughed out loud repeatedly… King read comic books, as I did, and discovered the delight of writing at about the same age I did- Beth and I still have some leftover books we wrote together from way back then… He read some of the same sci-fi schlock I used to love, and loved the B or C sci-fi/horror movies that can still thrill me. (Doctor Who, anyone?)

I admit, as much as I love to write, I don’t have the drive he did to keep at it. I haven’t stuck to the rule of writing for a set amount every day, and I agree with that. I respect the idea of writing regardless of how you feel and of where that consistency can get you- practiced, experienced, in touch with that little muse inside your head. I just haven’t been able to keep up with that rule… I’ve done too much living, lately… (Also, I don’t know how he’d suggest writing without interruption when you’re a mom of little ones… I know I’ve read Marion Zimmer Bradley say that she did it, and her kids survived her shutting them out of the typing room, and she says that if you’re really a writer, you write through everything… I don’t know. A surprising amount of my creativity seems to be flushed down the tubes of “if I can just make it through today with the girls…”)

So, the big thing I came out of the book with was: ‘Read a lot… Write a lot’. Excellent advice. You have to come to a point where you can trust your own ear, and I don’t know how you can do that without reading a lot of good stuff and talking to real people… I’m definitely not writing enough right now… You do have to get into that habit. I’ve been there before, but I’m not now. The closest I get to writing a lot is here, which was my main purpose. But I thought I’d be doing more poetry and story stuff, not as much soul-baring or just silly story sharing…

I heard reiterated, “Kill your precious little darlings.” All those cutesy word phrases and images you think are so wonderful? They’re not. They’re the junk you need to throw out. I know that, but I need to hear it again…

I got encouragement out of the book… A reminder that there is a writing muse living inside me and that I want to set her free. I LOVED it when I was writing so much back in seminary, back in college. When I was writing my thesis and getting stuff published. When I was writing stuff for my students to do at school and my youth to do at church… I MISS that- the deadline, the idea that pushes you to write something for two Sundays from now. Or the image that drags me to write poetry. I do better with some kind of external push. And that’s PATHETIC. How old am I, and I still need to have a homework assignment??

Anyway, thank you people. You all were right. The book was worth my time. If you haven't read it, you should...

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I’ve been thinking about the pastors I’ve known and worked for and kind of getting depressed about the whole mess… I feel a certain amount of frustration with churches and working with all us messed up people. I agree with a friend of mine when she said that she loves the church universal but feels disappointment and frustration with the church particular… I know it’s the way God has chosen to reach the rest of the world, but I’m just so tired of experiencing the pain and disappointment of trying to get along in a church. I always feel outside of it all, and always end up wishing that church could be more than it is… Although I guess it’s really the pastors that have been the huge disappointment.

My experience has taught me that pastors are either arrogant control freaks who have all “the answers” and will not listen to anyone around them or they are pushover peace-makers who let the church run itself into death and atrophy. It’s frustrating that my recent experience here in Fairbanks has re-confirmed that experience. I have come to a place where I have so little respect for most pastors that I really do not want to join yet another church and place myself under the authority of yet another man who thinks he has the only direct line to God. I know they are just men with sin in their life (like me), but I’m afraid their sins and mistakes have had so much impact on my life that I’d rather just avoid the whole mess. Right now, I'm wanting nothing to do with any church or pastor at all...

UBC, Alaska
The only pastor I have a lot of respect for was my pastor from high school. He had been at our church for a long time, probably 15 years, and he maintained this incredible balance of compassion and truth. He was able to preach sermons that reached baby Christians and mature Christians, and he had a willingness to listen to the youth in our church. He calmly handled the very strong personalities in our church and kept us on God’s path- I only know this ‘cuz my mom was the church clerk for years and years and witnessed the business meetings and most of the big decisions the church made. He encouraged the church body to speak up and give their say and then would set them all to working together on seeking God’s will for the church as a whole. He retired and I have to say he’s probably the only pastor I’ve really trusted. I still miss his calm presence and years of experience.

The pastor who took his place as I entered college was a seminary professor who demanded absolute silence during his sermons. I remember him yelling at the congregation when children would go to the bathroom, youth would whisper or adults would move around. “I’m preaching up here!” People left, as you can imagine… Other things were going on (his wife and son hated it here and he had to deal with those STRONG personalities I mentioned earlier) and I’m sure that impacted his feelings about being there… and the difficulty of maintaining his ministry…

FBFM, Texas
From there I went to seminary and got involved with three different churches. At the first one I was able to work with the youth group on this huge Wednesday night outreach and evangelism program. The church was in a rather wealthy area and very wish-washy, focused on being non-intrusive, comfortable and friendly. Sadly, they weren’t even culturally relevant. I got involved ‘cuz I went with my roommate and I could help with the youth program… The pastor and the youth guy were more interested in numbers and getting people in the door than in making an impact in their individual lives. I fell in love with these kids as I built relationships with them and I wanted to see them come to a deeper understanding of what being a Christ-one meant… I remember seeing girls in skirts so short they had to put sweaters over their laps when they sat down to cover their underwear… Sounds silly, but there was so little emphasis on discipleship and growing in a personal walk with Christ that these girls didn’t see the relationship between what they wore and their faith… I asked the youth guy if I could lead a discipleship group with the high school girls. My heart hurt when I thought about these girls out on their own starting college without a strong understanding of what it meant to live for Christ. He didn’t want to lose the numbers in his program and said no. Then my sister came to live with me and wasn’t willing to attend that church alone with me gone most weekends (traveling with my drama team).

NRH, Texas
So, we got involved with the church where my drama team director, wife, and kids were members. I’d been involved with a couple programs there through him, and come to respect the music minister. We visited during a time when the church was without a pastor and earnestly seeking God’s will. The music guy was heavily invested in this church- he’d been there twenty or so years, raised his kids there, and taught the congregation about worship. When the church hired a new pastor one of the pastor’s first moves was to get rid of the music guy- First he tried to get him to leave by making him very uncomfortable, removing any of his authority and requiring him to get approval for all music choices. When the music guy didn’t leave, he started monitoring his every move, picked apart some of his emails and put together a false picture of this guy and got him removed from the church. I couldn’t believe how many people in the church fell for the ridiculous picture the pastor painted... They knew him! Why did they fall for the lies of this brand new pastor?! I still can't believe how many people believed him...

CC, Texas
I left the church (my sister had already moved back up to Fairbanks), and for the last 6 months or so of my time in Fort Worth I attended church with a friend from Company at a good church out in Arlington. They used drama and had a great worship team. We got involved in an artist’s group there, and I got to be really involved in my own church, which was difficult during my traveling days… The pastor was distant & fairly cool and pretty removed from the church body, but preached excellent sermons. They had a teaching pastor, and a senior pastor who interacted with the members and did the counseling type stuff. I really liked the way this church reached their decisions and focused on utilizing people in their strengths…

FHBC, Washington
Then I graduated and started searching for the place where God wanted me. I visited this church start out in Seattle and knew this was where God wanted me. I’ve only had the experience of knowing exactly what God wanted me to do a few times in my life- when He called me into ministry, when he told me to go to seminary, and when I went out to Seattle… I knew when he sent me out to Texas that it was going to be HARD, and I knew when he sent me to Seattle that it was going to be HARD, but I had high hopes… I was so excited about going to a church where I could use my gifts and glorify God with music and drama and the arts! I thought this was going to be great and it was AWFUL. The pastor had been a music leader for his dad, the “great pastor”, and knew exactly how my job should be done, what music should be chosen, how I should pray in public, what I should say to every person I met, what relationships I should develop and how I should comport myself in every situation…

I was so naïve! I just didn’t know the right questions to ask when I went out to visit- After I got there, I found out that he’d gone through 6 worship leaders in the 2 years he’d been at the church, and I honestly think he hired me partly because I was a woman and he thought I’d be more ‘submissive’ than the guys he’d worked with before… (boy, did he get the wrong woman if that’s what he thought!) When Jake & I started hanging out and getting involved, he tried to get me to stop seeing him, not because I shouldn’t be dating anyone as the music minister, but because he didn’t think Jake was an ‘appropriate choice’… Things just kept getting worse and worse and worse, and finally I was asked to leave. At the time, I was heartbroken, but after getting out from under his dictatorship (which extended to every area of the church- finances, you name it…) I realized God was releasing me and was able to rejoice in leaving the church, but oh, how it hurt. Sadly, the church failed about six months after we left... I honestly believe God had brought me out there in the hopes of causing some changes which would have kept this church growing. I failed. I don't know what I should have done, or how I missed out. I have re-examined and re-examined my time there and haven't come up with any answers... I wish I could go back and do it all again...

RHBC, Washington
Jake & I visited about two churches after that and immediately found a church that obviously needed our assistance. They were a congregation of about 20 people made up entirely of people over 45. Their music guy could barely carry a tune, the piano sounded awful, and the pianist struck wrong notes the entire morning. We thought we had found a place where we could really be of help… Yet again, we were too naïve. The church had two deacons who had been there since the 60’s and wanted to keep the church back in “the good old days”. The pastor was this sweet older gentleman who just tried to keep everybody happy, who loved Jesus and people, and really didn’t know how to stand up to these deacons. They would rather watch their church die than change what they were doing. Jake and I taught the youth SS class (2-3 kids) and we led music every once in a while… They hated the keyboard Jake brought in… We would bring in one or two choruses each Sunday (I’m not talking really rocking stuff here either, “As the Deer panteth for the water”, “I love you, Lord”, stuff we thought the congregation would like), and those two deacons had words with the pastor, who didn’t know what to do ‘cuz he liked the songs and so many other people did… Also, I stood and sung while Jake sat and played the keyboard, and they wanted me to “wave my arm around”, which I can do, but it’s not like they were a choir… or even reminiscent of a choir… Of course, the deacons won.

CC, Washington
Right about then, we got called to lead music for another church (isn’t God good? He released us from there right as it looked like we couldn’t do any more…) . We started leading worship at this great church in south Seattle where we got to do drama and work with the youth group, and they knew how to worship, and we got to do great music and we loved it. We really couldn’t understand why the church wasn’t growing. After we’d been there for a little over a year we got wind that the pastor’s wife was leaving him. We met with her to encourage her to stay and found out he was into HEAVY porn, and had been since before they’d been married- (on their honeymoon he called an 888 number. Talk about killing the romance.) We’re talking XXX phone calls every day, XXX movies, internet stuff… Their two boys had each walked in on it at different times when he was supposed to be babysitting… Even though he had two jobs they were in pretty heavy debt because of his porn bills… They’d been to different counselors and he really didn’t see any need to stop or any way for him to give it up. Finally, we knew why the church wasn’t growing & what was wrong… The sick part is that the deacons wouldn’t tell the church body what was really going on so everyone blamed the wife for leaving him and supported the pastor and blamed her for all his problems… We stuck it out and Jake was part of the church pastor search committee and we saw them hire a great new pastor. We've visited since then and seen the church grow and change. God is doing a good thing there.

SPBC, Alaska
Then I lost my job ‘cuz of a rough pregnancy, and we decided for Jake to go to school, ‘cuz he couldn’t support us on the jobs he’d had so far plus he'd hated the jobs he'd had so far... We ended up moving to Fairbanks to live with my family while he went to UAF. We visited around a couple Sundays and the pastor at the 2nd or 3rd church got really excited about us. He started actively pursuing us, praying for us, figuring out ways we could be involved in the church. Although, we weren’t too sure about the church- not very many college students, very traditional, and the music was kind of blah-blah- we ended up joining mostly because he could really see how God could use us there. He developed a plan for me to be hired as the Director of Children’s Activities and Jake could be hired as the janitor. We got involved in the music ministry team, and were able to sub for the music minister when he needed it. I was hired and directed the children’s SS program, VBS, the children’s choir, the children’s church program, a children’s Wed night discipleship program, and began heavily participating in the women’s ministry. I taught every one of the kids SS classes at some point and knew all of the kids at the church. Since this was a military church we had 30-50 kids associated with the church even though it was a 100-120 member church… Most of the church membership was in the 25-40 age range, and most of them had kids…

After Abigail was born I was leading a women’s monthly prayer meeting, and the children’s choir. The music minister asked us to lead the music for the Sunday evening service. Jake was kind of mentoring some young musicians and after he withdrew from school he was hired as the secretary. About then I started writing the church newsletter, ‘cuz Jake wasn't sure about it and didn’t want to spend the time doing it. Then we hired a new pastor.

Everything came crashing down… He doesn’t believe women should have leadership roles, and certainly not ones that have them speaking in the main meeting of the congregation. He doesn’t believe persons who’ve been divorced have any business being in leadership positions. He believes rap music is of the devil, and that music with strong rhythm is worldly and stirs up worldly desires… He wants control over most of the decisions the church makes and intends to have a very tight reign on things. His wife took over the women’s ministry and began teaching that women must submit in all things and should be at home.

We've been badly burned at this point. I can tell that I'm recovering, but I'm not sure about Jake... I think he really doesn't want anything to do with church at all... We've visited a couple but are not regularly attending and are kind of just sleeping a lot on Sunday...

God, heal our hearts. Show the truth in this situation. Please draw us back to church. Even if we don't want to go, our girls need to be in church. Please point us in the right direction. Give us a new vision for what you want from us. Give us a new hope. Heal our hearts, Jesus.

MOVIE: "The Illusionist"

Jake rented this, which automatically puts me on my guard... Don't know why, but my husband can't seem to go to Blockbuster on his own without bringing home a REALLY bad movie... He already knows I think this, so I'm not talking behind his back. (By the way, He rented Spike Lee's Inside Man at the same time, which we all refused to see... I've seen a couple Spike Lee movies before. Yes, they are good; but they're so dark and grimy and ugly. I always end up angry and sad and depressed after one of his movies... So he ended up watching that one by himself.. Don't hate me 'cuz I don't like to be depressed... Afterwards, Jake said it was good, and that he enjoyed it- and that I probably would have also... I don't know.)

Anyway, "The Illusionist" was good. I was surprised. I got sucked in and ended up watching it and being really pleased with the mystery. I didn't know it was a mystery. You couldn't really tell 'till the end... So, I'm not going to give anything away, but I this was a good movie. I enjoyed the illusions and seeing the bad guy get what he deserved. Also, another point in its favor- VERY clean. Yes, there is a sex scene, but it's mostly along the lines of: "yes, we did it and yes, it was very good".

December Book Reviews

Emerging Worship by Dan Kimball A+
I’m still dealing with the stuff in this book. I think I’m going to end up rereading it next month… This book looks at the post-modern generation (anybody younger than about 35, and that’s a MAJOR generalization) and how they desire to live out their faith. While he focuses on the worship event, Kimball makes it clear that the Sunday morning (or Saturday night) worship event is not the primary event to this generation- small cell groups are where they want to focus their energies and growth. These groups encourage a practical place to work out your faith in the context of relationships- honesty, openness and intimacy are key words for these groups. Kimball spends the first half of the book describing this generation and their needs and desires, and the reasons for their continued absence from conventional church. Then he spends the second half evaluating a number of churches who are successfully reaching this group through cell group and worship event ministry. He spends a major amount of time explaining what these churches are doing in the worship event and then evaluating them in terms of what they are doing well and what they might do better. I found myself connecting with a lot of what he describes… I would probably describe myself as in the middle- not really a ‘modern’ Christian, but not primarily resting in the land of ‘post-modern’ Christianity… I’ve functioned for years and years in the modern church, but have longed for something more, something that reaches to the heart of my faith and allows me to express my passion and faith more clearly… Kimball describes a place that I would love to be- My parents’ generation, in general, seems to be happy with a very ‘fake’ church- a happy smiley faith. While I have longed for a place to ask my questions, to be real and share what’s going on in my life and heart. That’s what I get from this book- It’s not just me. There are other Christians out there who are longing for the same reality. So, as a worship leader I’m going to have to read it again… I took it too personally this first read for me to be able to really practically evaluate ways I can use this information…

Dragon’s Fire by Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey A-
Good book. I’ve been a Pern fan since 8th grade, but had gotten a little annoyed with repetition of themes. So many of McCaffrey’s Pern books lately had been about these old curmudgeony people who weren’t willing to change with the times and wanted to do things the way they’d always been done- She did 5 or 6 that seemed like the exact same story just with different names. Then she let her son loose on the series! Yay! New blood, so that the same old thing isn’t done the exact same way it had been done before…. Anyway, this one covers some of the history of Pern and I loved it!

The Wild Hunt by Jane Yolen B+
Very quick read and a very interesting book… A fantasy of ‘Sort of’ and ‘Almost’. A book that comments on the conventions of fantasy mythology and on the possibilities in ‘choice’. Two heroes, in houses that are in the same place and are almost the same, but are still very different. I enjoyed the book, but I enjoy many odd things. :)

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce A
I love this YA series… I’m rereading them because I needed something comforting and familiar. Everything else in my life has been crazy- we’re ALL sick, rehearsals, bazaars, decorating for Christmas, planning Christmas for little ones… So I wanted a book I KNEW was good and that I would definitely enjoy and that would be a good escape. The main character of these books, Daine, can talk to animals (one of my dream wishes… maybe when I get to heaven!) and has a fascinating history which slowly unfolds in the first book. I love re-reading how she finally comes to trust those around her and how she is brought to a place where her gifts are useful and valued. (I’ve been to the library and couldn’t find any more in this series, so I had to read other Pierce books. Oh, dear. How tragic. ;) )

The Circle Quartet by Tamora Pierce A
Sandry’s Book, Tris’ Book, Daja’s Book, Briar’s Book

I love Tamora Pierce. She consistently has interesting ideas and characters. These were a reread for me, and I read them mostly because I knew there were good. Reading these again lets me see things I didn’t see the first time… Like how much Sandry doesn’t fit the mold for a ‘noble’ even when she was a girl, or how much Briar changes from the street urchin he was when his teacher found him in the first book, to a master magician in his own book.

The Circle Opens Quartet by Tamora Pierce A
Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire, Shatterglass
These are the same characters from The Circle Quartet, just four years later- Each of the characters has mastered their magic and is continuing to grow and develop as magic masters… In these books the children are faced with moral choices and making decisions for the good of all. They must face up to how much their magic affects those around them and the responsibility their powers entail.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cold & a Birthday

It was -48 on Tuesday when I went to pick up my husband!! Yikes! It's up to the 20's today, a 60 degree difference. It's shocking how warm +5 feels after -40's...

Today is my husband's birthday. He's working from 3 till midnight, a pretty sad schedule for someone with a birthday. He's 32 today, which proves that I robbed the cradle when I got married! Well, not really... When you consider the fact that my dad was 39 when he married my 22 year old mother... 3 1/2 years younger is nothing compared to 17 years!

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Laundromat

The Caveat to this story is that when my family used to live in the apartments back in the late 80's/early 90's we had to go to the laundromat every week. I'm used to the laundromat. I like the laundromat. I like going and getting EVERYTHING done at once. I like sitting and waiting for it all to be done- people watching, reading your book, the peace of the laundromat... I used to get to talk to my mom and sister. I used to LOVE the laundromat. Quiet place, good company, clean laundry. Nice laundromat. Good laundromat...

So, basically we hadn't had a working washing maching for about 6 weeks... We'd done some hand washing. YUCK! And we'd bought new underwear... And we'd bemoaned the poor dead washer... We just can't afford to get a repairman in right now.

So, to the laundromat we go. My mom stayed home and watched the girls, and we took all the laundry. ALL the laundry... 23 loads of laundry. Good grief. We had no idea there was so much til we got there and started stuffing it all in. I guess six people make a LOT of laundry. Babies and toddlers wear smaller clothes but they often wear 2 or 3 outfits in one day 'cuz of drippy popsicles and spilled juice and mashed peanut butter...

Our laundry trip cost a little over $100. I'm not exaggerating. I have NEVER seen washers as expensive as these were. $3.50 for a regular laundromat washer. 23 loads at 3.50 a load...

It was INSANE. By the time we got all the laundry in washers the first couple loads were done washing. And we're trying to keep up with the washers as they get finished... And then they start getting done in the dryer before everything comes out of the washer... Except the clothes aren't dry! We had to keep feeding quarters in the dryers 'cuz they were PATHETIC.

And we're folding and matching. And folding and matching... And folding and matching... And I'm getting sick walking along the wall of dryers trying to figure out which loads are ours and which aren't... And the clothes are spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning... We had about 20 loads of laundry in the dryers...

And Jake starts carrying out loads of laundry as we get them folded and matched... And there are still loads to go...

About 4 hours after we arrived we started packing up to go... Maybe we should have spent the money on paying a repair man... But NONE of us had any clue the whole mess would cost so much.

We have clean clothes, though... That's nice. Replacing all of our clothes would cost more than the laundromat trip....

Oh, well. It's done, now. Money spent. Laundry clean. But we are NOT doing this again in six or so weeks. No way.

The Demise of the Washer

Our Washer died....
About 2 months ago it started making this horrible whining/screaming/rattling noise when it was spinning the water out of the clothes. Then, about a month ago, it just stopped spinning. I went to get the clothes out at the end of the cycle and there were the clothes, still very wet and sitting in a foot of water. Yuck!

So, Jake opened it up and the belt was all ripped up and stringy. I went and bought a new belt, and he replaced it. (which sounds much simpler than it was- if you've ever replaced a belt on a washing machine you know that there are five or six bungee cord-like attachments around the tub to help it spin right and that they are stretched within a millimeter of their stretchy life and that means YOU have to stretch them out and attach them from around the edge of one side of the tub, then underneath the tub and then up to the opposite edge of the edge of the tub... Insane! Maybe if you're a repair man you have some fancy tool to do this stretching manuever. We don't. So Jake did it by hand and foot and whatever else was available...) So, then I put another load in. A small load. A tiny load, really. And it worked great.

Then I put in a regular sized load... And halfway through the spinning cycle we started smelling this funny burning smell, then we started seeing a little bit of smoke coming up the stairs, then I yelled, "The washer!!!" I ran down the stairs to find the laundry room fully of grey cloudy smoke... So, the belt itself is not the problem... The washing machine is eating the belt somehow. Lovely. And we're gonna have to pay a repair man to fix it all somehow... Lovely.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Snow in January

It's snowing today!
In the picture I can't really see the snowflakes, but the light cloudy look is caused by the falling snow.
Not really a light fall either... It's snowed several days this last week- lovely sparkly snow. It almost looks like Fairbanks is covered in drifts of white glitter.