Monday, February 26, 2007

Needles in my Neck

I've had this weird thing wrong with my neck for about 10 years now... It hurts all the time- on a scale of 1-10 it's pretty much always a 3, and then sometimes it's worse. There are times when it's as bad as a 7 or 8 which means numbness and tingling in my left arm and hand. I've got a weird combo of heredity, bad posture, and a car accident messing me up. I've done 5 different rounds of PT now, starting way back in '97 in Fort Worth. Finally when I got up here I got a WONDERFUL doctor at a fantastic Pain Clinic who did an MRI and actually looked at my neck instead of just passing me off to a PT... There are all sorts of fun things going on in 5 of my vertebre- There's limited space between 'em (squished disks), bulges of disks poking into the spinal column and fluid, plus the disks don't line up straight and are a little crooked.. On top of that she could see a couple tears in the spinal fluid sheath, which means PAIN, 'cuz that fluid is supposed to stay in that area, and it burns when it comes in contact with a nerve... (Rarely, rarely do good doctors perform neck or back surgery. It's dangerous, and they'd rather do almost anything that cut in there.) She's recommended I do this thing where they stick a needle in the epidural space around my spinal cord and inject a hydrocortizone steroid into the space. It's supposed to stop the inflamation, stop the pain and maybe give it some time to heal.

I'm so freaked out about the whole thing.. I hate needles. I don't like anyone touching my neck. Lovely combo... She talked to me about this when we first moved up here in 2004 and I had to lay down in her office, 'cuz I started to pass out just talking about the stupid procedure!!! This time I brought my sister with me, 'cuz after the whole fainting thing I couldn't really remember anything she said, just that they were gonna stick a big freaking needle in my neck. So, my pain level has gone up enough that now I'm willing to do it. Plus she did another MRI and we could see that it's looking worse now that it's been about 4 years later... I don't really want to do this, but I hurt, and I don't like the idea of it being worse that it was... I'm glad God's in control!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Worship involving the Body, Mind, and Spirit

"Genesis concludes each message with a question. The question is a response to the message in terms of how it affects our daily worship of God and living in community. The question might be, ‘What am I depending on to transform my life – God’s grace or my efforts?’ This goes against a lot of modern forms of preaching and teaching, as the usual ending is three or four clean-cut application points. Ending with a questions moves people to wrestle with and ponder what was taught. Also, the message doesn’t end the worship gathering. Instead, they then go into a longer time of worship, which is very important… This time includes singing, prayer, silence and other responses. One time, the message was on our identity in Christ. The worship leader literally stopped the musical worship, put down his guitar, and led the people out of the room. They all went outside and took a community prayer walk around the church campus. Preplanned Scripture verses were posted on the walls so people could read about their identity in Christ. It was a silent walk. They eventually made their way back to the meeting room where they broke into prayer groups to pray for one another. Once, instead of singing or praying after the message, they set up tables where people wrapped gifts and baskets of clothing and food for the poor and elderly in the community. Another time they set up the stations of the cross symbolically using artwork sewed by members of the Genesis congregations. The worship time consisted of walking around and reading the Scriptures at each station. Genesis also uses open microphones to allow community members to share their worship responses."

Quoted from Emerging Worship, by Dan Kimball

Fire Choker

So, I've been trying something new with my wire jewelry, and I'm not sure how it's gonna turn out. I had this idea to make a choker that represents 'fire'... I was trying to make it look like flames came up out of a bonfire. I'm not done. I think it's working the way I want it to, but it's not anywhere near complete, and it looks pretty messy right now... I'm kind of stymied. I need a different kind of bead- I can see it in my mind, but I haven't found it yet. Smallish flat rectangles. Could be black or red. I'm really having to watch reds, cuz the blue balance makes them look too sweet, too purple quickly. A good solid red is a hard color to find in beads... There are about 5 places in town that sell beads- JoAnn's, Michael's, Pristine's, Marnie's place downtown, the native bead shop in the Co-op plaza- and I've only looked at two, so there's still hope...

What I've been doing looks more like this piece with the flowers, so the wrapping over and over thing is a very different way for me to be going with them. Plus I've never tried the spiky flame thing... I hope it turns out the way I'm envisioning it... :) Really, the only reason I'm nervous is that I've committed hours and hours to the stupid, silly thing... I hate the idea of committing all this time and having it look stupid at the end... oh, well.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Wig

For Christmas this year we added this silly wig to the girl's dress up box. I found it at Walmart after Halloween for $2. Most of their dress-up box is filled with items I've found at Value Village and Salvation Army for a couple of bucks. I've also made a couple skirts from half-priced fabric at Jo-Ann's. And each of their grandmothers have provided a random assortment of items: shoes, purses, plastic jewelry, hats. It's amazing how much entertainment their dress-up box has provided. I guess it's no wonder since their mom's favorite thing is to dress up and pretend to be someone else, too...

Deborah as Queen Selena

-30 and Air

This last week it's been between -30 and -38 when I've taken Jake to work in the morning. It's amazing to me how different -30 feels from -10 or so. The air almost burns as it touches your skin... Yeah, -10 is cold, but it almost feels like a heat wave after -30.

The other thing I notice at this temperature is how the air looks. You can see the air... It's beautiful and almost impossible to describe. All of the water in the air and some other fine particles freeze at that temperature, and they glisten when the sun strikes them. There's a twinkling haze in the air and the little particles reflect sunlight. Beautiful, but also rather disturbing when you realize you're trying to breathe the frozen stuff into your lungs...

Proust on Suffering

This is a quote from Little Miss Sunshine. The suicidal uncle is the primary expert on Marcel Proust in the US, and is talking to his nephew about high school, life and how hard it all can be. Just as a reference point- Proust was a French writer who considered himself a failure. He never had a real job, bounced between unrequited love affairs and spent 20 years writing a book pretty much nobody reads. The book was not recognized as a valuable contribution till after his death: A la Recherche du Temps Perdu or In Search of Lost Time.

"At the end of his life he looks back a realized that all the years (Proust) suffered, those were the best years of his life because they made him who he was. And all the years he was happy- a total waste- he didn't learn a thing."

Two Movies

My sister went to blockbuster and checked these out- She's great at finding movies that most everybody enjoys. These two were successes at pleasing most everybody. Jake wasn't convinced until we talked about them.

The Devil Wears Prada
Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway
I so enjoyed this- I haven’t read the book so I can’t compare, but the tone was so great. Respectful of the fashion industry, yet still poking fun at itself. Meryl Streep is as always, amazing. Right off the top of my head I can’t think of any other actor who could have pulled of this horrible woman and still let you understand her. Anne Hathaway is a delight, of course. Good “coming of age”/ “figuring out who you are” story. Fun if you like costumes…

Little Miss Sunshine
Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear
This was great. I laughed out loud several times during this odd little macabre comedy. I love Toni Collette (she was the mom in 6th Sense), and she does a great job here, as do all the rest of the actors. Very odd/quirky flick about this family (mom, dad, grampa, teenage brother, and suicidal uncle) who take their daughter to a little girl’s beauty pageant in a van that keeps disintegrating around them. Comments on the world of beauty pageants and what it means to be a winner or a loser… Loved some of the cool cinematography. Not appropriate for kids by the way, but I can’t tell you why ‘cuz it’s part of the surprise at the end, and it’s not dirty, just quite a surprise…

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Painting- Well, "Cats" really...

I promise/swear I have painted more than cats, but that seems to be all that I'm finding right now... Oh, well.

Our professor had us do a series of at least 10 painting of one thing- so I chose cats. We live with 3 right now, so it seemed like a given:

*Luna- very definitely my cat. She is the most "normal" cat I've ever met, the only weird thing she does is creep up into my face when I'm sleeping- she was abandoned by her previous owner and I think when I'm sleeping she gets worred that I'm leaving her or something. She HATES it when the food bowl gets low and starts trailing around behind me like she's afraid I'm going to forget her;

*Nene- my sister's freaked out-paranoid-anorexic cat who weighs less than 7 lbs... She throws up about half of what she eats, the vet and Beth have tried about everything they can think of to get her to gain weight. We don't know if she's so thin 'cus she's so nervous or if something else is going on. She's tiny and thin as a comb-Nene is short for Mnemosene;

*Gidget- my sister's other cat who has adopted my mom despite her strong objections- So named because she was the teeny-tiny runt of the litter and now is this huge fat 16 to 17 lb aggressive thing with a bad attitude.

My family has had four other cats who've passed away (Tiger, Sox, Midnight and Persephone), and I painted them using pictures and memories... totally NOT what my professor wanted, but those paintings are the ones that turned out best. Go figure... The ones where I painted the cats while they were in front of me got some weird perspective things going on- the only way I could paint them was asleep and they kept moving...

Luna Playing Under My Bed

Acrylics on Wood

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My Mom's Shower

Okay, sue me. I'm going to whine a little here:

My mom has this really weird habit. She keeps the window in her bedroom cracked all year round, even when it's -40. Even when the electricity was turned off a couple weeks ago and our house got down to the 50's. She says she needs 'fresh air'.

So, there's a problem with the shower that my husband and I share and I've been borrowing my mom's shower for the last couple days. And her window is open!!! And it's Alaska!!!! This freezing (literally! 'cuz it's been 0 to -20 in the last couple days) cold air is blowing in her window and swirling around the bathroom door and curling over the shower curtain!!! How can she STAND this!! And I really don't have a choice about not taking a shower, ya know? AAAAH!! The last time I've been this cold was after taking swimming in high school during the winter when it was -40 and running back to the main building with my hair still wet...

The Color Pink + POEM: Recess

I’ve got this thing about the color pink. I’ve hated the color for a long time- probably since high school. I don’t actually remember when it started happening. I remember LOVING pink when I was little- drawing pictures of princesses and pretty girls in pink dresses and passionately loving some favorite clothes of mine that were pink. I do know that my sister and I still have matching comforters from around the time I was in 7th grade. So it happened after that. When we first moved to Fairbanks I painted my room pink and that was in 8th grade. So it happened after that.

One of the funny things about my dislike of pink is this: I’ve consistently tried to dress my girls in clothes that aren’t pink and both of them love pink. Both of them choose pink clothes if they’re given a choice… It must be something about being a little girl. I found a couple really cute dresses at Value Village for them to use as a dress-up clothes plus I made a couple skirts with these really shiny fabrics. With all the choices they have, both of them prefer the pink “princess” (their name) dress.

I’ve written several poems with references to pink in them, which probably reflect how I feel about the color pink now. Here’s one of them:


"Go play."
Girls, giggly and rude, pink and mean.
I stand in the corner and watch.
I am dressed wrong.

They are in jeans and tennis shoes (spotless white)
and pretty ironed blouses.
I wear a dress and brown loafers.
And on the days they wear dresses, I am wearing jeans.

My eyes follow their giggling, roving circles.
They play jacks, jump rope, tether ball,
sometimes they just whisper to each other
pointing to the boys, or to me.
I stand on the edge of the playground, watching.
My mind floats away, and I dream
of fairies and witches,
super heroes and maidens saved by strong
blond men on white horses.

POEM: Identity

I am…
The white girl
walking through soft brown eyes glaring
as I hide my yellow hair like a wound,
cover it like a secret,
a refugee alone in a library
sheltered by imagined worlds
from a brown skinned lunch room.
When will I represent just me,
not thousands of slave-owners,
wife-rapers, husband-beaters,
land-stealers, baby-killers,
destruction of tradition and language?
I am not white.
I lived amongst sod houses,
traveled by four-wheeler,
picked blueberries,
learned Inupiaq,
saw midnight suns and month-long blackness,
wore parkas and walked on iced oceans.
I am not Eskimo.
I think in English,
pray to Jesus Christ,
have no wise elders,
no home village,
wear a watch and keep a day-timer,
live alone.
I hate my white skin.
I stand apart from a white world,
which is traumatized by a whale hunt,
offended by a honey-pot,
and raises individuality and independence
as a lamp of perfection for all.
I wept horrified at the inaccuracy of Dances With Wolves,
raising native life as a pure
ideal, holy and good.
No lifestyle is faultless.
I wept silently
in history class in my white college
when the trail of tears was a comma
in a history book
and reservations were the concluding period.
No lifestyle should be stolen.
I balance on a wire,
a strand of taut sealgut,
between a white world
and a native village.
I am not white.
I am not native.
I cannot be both for each hates the other,
somewhere in their secret self,
buried below consciousness and clarity.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I'd literally never painted before the class I took with my sister the winter before I had Abigail... I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I've always/always/always done music stuff or drama stuff. I wrote, but that was more like an obsession... something I almost didn't have a choice about. Drama was a joy, and music was just who I was.

I'm not the greatest painter. I never will be. It doesn't drive me like it drives my sister. She obsesses about her paintings and thinks they're terrible or trashes them... I enjoy painting. A lot. But right now with a one year old I have no time for it and no space I can leave stuff out and grab 15 or 20 minutes a day... So, probably won't get to do it again until Abigail is in pre-school, too. This is okay. Disappointing, but okay. Which means I'll never be a fantastic painter, 'cuz it would drive me more...

Although, my father didn't really get to paint until he retired around 70. I should share some of his stuff, 'cuz some of it's really fantastic. Some is weird and bad, but some of it is honestly good. It's amazing what he did in the time he had....


Acrylics on Wood

Wasting time

What if we went through life never wasting time? ‘Think how severely we should be judged,’ Jesuit priest James V. Schaal reminds us, ‘if we never did a thing that was not simply useless! We would literally go through life doing nothing for its own sake.'

Even God ‘wasted’ time. ‘On the seventh day God rested and drew breath,’ the Bible says….
The first thing God sanctified was not a place or a person or a thing, but a time: Sabbath time. We need Sabbath time more now than ever.

We have as a Pilot one who sleeps in the back of boats. When ‘nothing’ is happening, something is happening. The technical term for silence should not be ‘dead air,’ but ‘live air.’

When water is still, it becomes clear. So, too, the mind and soul.

Quoted from Summoned to Lead, by Leonard Sweet


So, my husband was a wee bit embarassed/offended by my 'tits and ass' comment in my Nudity and Harry Potter post:

So, firstly- I would like to apologize to anyone else out there in cyber space who was embarassed/offended by the aforementioned comment.

Secondly- I would like to let everyone know I was quoting a song from A Chorus Line, in case you didn't know. I should not assume that everyone out there has musical lyrics racing through their brain at all hours...

Thirdly- I would like to share the aforementioned song's lyrics with anyone who hasn't read them. Sadly, my computer is pathetic and I can't download the song for you to click on and then listen to on your own computer, but I can let you know that there is a fansite dedicated to A Chorus Line, but if you don't like the lyrics to this song you probably won't like the lyrics to any of the others....

Dance:10! Looks:3 ( Val's song)
"But after a while I caught on,
I mean I saw what they were hiring.
I also swiped my dance card once after an audition.
And on a scale of ten they gave me:
For dance - 10! For looks - three.

Well![sung]Dance: ten, looks: three?
And I'm still on unemployment,
dancing for my own enjoyment
That ain't it kid, that ain't it kid
Dance: ten, looks: three
Is like to die!
Left the theatre and called the doctor
for my appointment to buy...

Tits and Ass.
Bought myself a fancy pair,
tightened up the derriere,
Did the nose with it,
all that goes with it.
Tits and Ass.
Had the bingo-bongos done,
suddenly I'm getting national tours.
Tits and Ass, won't get you jobs,
Unless they're yours!

Didn't cost a fortune neither
didn't hurt my sex-life either!
Flat and Sassy
I would get the strays and loser
beggars really can't be choosers
That ain't it kid, That ain't it kid
Fixed the chassis'
How do you do?!'
Life turned into an endless medley of
'Gee it had to be you'. Why?

Tits and Ass
Where the cupboard once was bare,
now you're knocking someones there
You have got 'em hey,
top to bottom hey!
Its a gas!
Just a dash of silicone,
shake your new maraccas and you're fine!
Tits and Ass, can change, your life

They sure changed mine[spoken]
You're all looking at my tits now aren't you? [etc]
[sung]Have it all done, honey take my word
Grab a cab come on,
see the wizard at Park and Seventy Third for

Tits and Ass
Orchestra and balcony
What they want it - what 'cha see.
Keep the best of you,
do the rest of you
Pits or class?
I have never seen it fail
Debutante or chorus girl or wife

Tits and Ass,
Yes Tits and Ass
Have changed my life

Sunday, February 11, 2007


tee-hee! If you want to feel better about a bad day you've had recently, keep reading!
Trust me. There is very little chance that your bad day could be worse than our friday...

First, I woke up with pink-eye. Everybody else in the house (both my girls, my mom, my husband, and my sister) have had it, and I thought maybe I'd missed it 'cuz I was my hands a zillion times a day since I change most of the diapers. But no. I got it.

Next Jake goes to work, and in the first five minutes rips a three or five inch hole in the back seam of his black pants. yay. Then he goes to cash his paycheck and finds out that since he was sick with the flu two days of the week before, his check was HALF of what it normally is, and he still had to buy new black pants 'cuz he just got to work...

Then he's late to come pick me up so that I can have the car to go to my doctor's appointment, and while we start arguing in the car taking him back to work some idiot in front of us is going 25 miles an hour up the on-ramp to the expressway. So, I get too close before I realize how slow he's going, and he taps on the brake. I avoid hitting him, but then he slows down to like 15... So, after we get up on the expressway I try to go around "mister crawly", but he decides to speed up to prevent me from passing him... And Jake and I are still arguing... I get past "mister crawly" going too fast, and then I take our exit too fast. And it's 25 degrees out, which I didn't know (but should have), which makes it VERY slippery. So, we start sliding... And we slide off the road and right over the cloverleaf and down into the ditch... Good note: Pretty much ends the argument. Bad note: we're stuck in deep snow...

To make a long story short, we tried to get out, got more stuck, started walking, didn't get picked up by the ten or fifteen cars that passed us, but somebody did call the police, who came and got us and took us back to the car and called a tow truck. We got towed out in about 15 minutes and got charged $125... yay.

(by the time the police found us we had already kissed and made up, and were laughing and holding hands. It just didn't matter anymore that I was going to be late for my appointment, plus now Jake was going to be late getting back to work...) :)

I missed my doctor's appointment, but went to urgent care, and got medicine for the pinkeye...

Two things could have made this day worse: if it had been -40 or so (although I think one of the cars would have stopped and helped us), or if we had flipped over (in fact, the policeman was amazed that I kept the car from flipping over when it hit the snow berm by the side of the road. Since the snow doesn't go away all winter, the snow plows just scrape it off the road and over to the side, which leaves this huge snow berm. Where we went over the side it was about 3 feet deep- over my knees- typically it's pretty hard and if you hit it full force with a car, the car flips over...)

POEM: Decades

If I were a redwood, tall and sturdy,
surrounded by air and dust flitting through light shafts
piercing to the secret darkness at my base,
rising from the ancient earth of Northern California
I would stand sturdy against the winds
which tear and rip at my limbs and leaves.
If I were a white birch, slender and lithe,
bark slowly winding from my trunk,
limbs bending beneath heavy snow weight,
elegantly gracing the hills of Central Alaska,
I would endure, match the seasons turning, turning,
go dormant beneath this heavy winter,
find renewal in the greening of spring,
and beauty in the coming brilliant autumn.
If I were a maple, ponderous and weighty,
heavy limbs bearing the burden of climbing moss,
solidly tranquil in the sultry breezes of Louisiana,
I would take time passing as a gift
and grow wise from knowledge.
I would learn to sit quietly and understand.
I would come to accept the things I cannot change,
like time, and disease, and God, and anger.
I would not let my fear break me and bend me,
and I would not run across miles to escape
that which is me.
I would not seek answers in the minutes and seconds,
but look to find answers in years and decades.

The Sunbathers

The Sunbathers
Acrylics on Wood

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Running a poor second to theatres...

These statements from Emerging Worship were valuable to me- I'm reading these quotes as a person who plans worship gatherings- not necessarily as someone who attends a worship service (although I do)... There's a huge difference. I'm NOT trying to bag on YOUR church or saying that what they do is wrong. I'm thinking about how to plan worship services that aren't just 'services', 'superficial', 'entertainment', or 'fill-up' stations... I want to be part of something that people remember because it changed them, gave them a clearer picture of God...

“She said that being in her church’s worship services was like watching a rerun of a 1980s TV show over and over again… It didn’t challenge her because it felt so programmatic, constrictive, and limiting. They were longing to express their worship to God when they came to church. But they felt restricted to passively sitting in their seats and worshiping as they were told. They longed for community, but the small group programs of the church felt so controlled and superficial.”

Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to theaters. –A.W. Tozer

"Most people view the weekend worship service as a place where we go to get service done to us by ‘getting our tanks filled up’ at the service station. It’s a place where someone will give a sermon and serve us with our weekly sustenance. In automobile terms, you could say it is our weekly fill-up. We come to our service station to have a song leader serve us by leading us in singing songs. All so we can feel good when we emotionally connect through mass singing and feel secure that we did ‘worship.’"

Quoted from Emerging Worship, by Dan Kimball

POEM: Ocean of You

I want you to
shake the inside of me
Smash me against the
coast of you
Your waves spilling
liquidly pounding
Let yourself pour over me
like a rushing waterfall
until we settle
against each other
smooth as a skipping stone
on a still pond
Sink into
the setting sun
as it slips over
the edge of the world
flooding over me

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nudity and Harry Potter

So, apparently Harry Potter (or, rather the actor playing him) is appearing nude in some play somewhere and a bunch of parents are all scandalized and h’et up, and there’s no way they’re takin’ their chill’en to see the next movie… My mom read it somewhere and was telling us some of the details she could remember, which wasn't very much really.

How old is he anyway? I don’t know what the child labor laws are like in England, but over here they’re shockingly strict and they’ll come down on movies, tv shows and plays like a ton of bricks if they’re messing around with nudity or overextending time… So, he must be older than I thought…

I don’t have much to say, except that it is interesting to me that probably most of those hot and bothered parents have supplied their precious innocent children with CD’s from the latest half-naked Brittney-Spears-wanna-be slithering across a stage…

What’s the difference?? I don’t know anything about the play itself, or its content, so I can’t claim it’s all in the interest of art, or that it is a hard-hitting play telling some horrible truth about abuse. I don’t know. It just seems like people show up for some hot button issue and then drop out when they’re son is gazing at some mostly unclothed girl on a CD or DVD cover or their daughter is wearing something to high school more appropriate for pole dancing (and don’t forget, I was a high school teacher in the not so distant past, I've seen more teeny-bopper 'tits and ass' than any straight adult woman should have to…)

(on a side-note: although I like Michael W. Smith and his music as much as the next 30-something white Christian, does it bother anyone else that the chorus to “Oops, I did it again” can be sung to the chorus of one of his latest songs “It’s All in the Serve”???? I’m serious. It’s NOT just that it’s the same chord structure. It can be sung almost like a descant over the top of what he’s singing… Does this bother anyone else???? Does he KNOW this??? I admit I never would have noticed this if my husband hadn't pointed it out... He had the dubious honor of working for Radio Shack and 'getting' to hear the song once every hour for a whole month...)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

postmodern worship gatherings

"Why “Post-modern” worship gatherings? We are rapidly moving from a modern to a postmodern world and from a Judeo-Christian nation to a post-Christian nation. As a result, we need to develop new approaches to ‘church.” This involves a shift in our worldview, ecclesiology, and epistemology. Emerging generations are growing up in a completely postmodern world. This drastically affects how they think-it’s not just a change in styles or preferences. It incredibly affects people’s spiritual viewpoints, their understanding of ‘God,” and their thoughts about ‘Christianity.” It affects how people process what they learn and how they think. It affects what forms of communication they use, how they make decisions, and they relate to one another. This affects the way we design worship services, and why aesthetics and the creation of a ‘sacred space’ are now important. Preaching must change, evangelism must change, and spiritual formation itself must change. Even leadership needs to change because of this cultural shift.

Some common values in postmodern worship gatherings-
Emerging worship moves away from a spectator type of gathering.
There is an organic design to the worship gathering. (opposite of linear)
A sacred space is created for the worship gathering."

Quotes from Emerging Worship, by Dan Kimball, Zondervan

What strikes me about the 'sacred space' issue is that in many ways I've been structuring sacred spaces for worship since I started leading worship. The room I've been in as the worship leader has struck me from the beginning, even as a worship leader for our BSU... We tried to make changes in the room, not just "shall we place the chairs facing forward or sideways today?", but bringing stuff in, changing the lighting... I wish I'd had more awareness of this back then 'cuz now I'm more aware than ever that it can make a huge difference, and I wish I could be working on this...

I've got two experiences that direct relate to the sacred space issue, one good and one bad.
Good experience:
When we lived in Seattle, Jake and I had the opportunity to work with Melinda Reed, the worship strategist for the Puget Sound Baptist Association, on this really cool Association-wide worship meeting. The meeting was called 'One', and was the first of what Melinda hoped would become an annual association event focusing on worship and using music, movement and the creative arts. I helped Melinda create the space and taught a group from our church some of the sign language/creative movement from a song that Company had used. We used candles and a huge tobacco cloth backdrop with colored lighting for different moods to create a 'sacred space'. It was WAY cool.

Bad experience:
The older congregation we worked with at Rose Hill Baptist had a HORRIBLE worship space. I honestly don't know if I've been in an uglier worship space... The building itself was a white brick squat little building. Inside was dim with yellowing lights and cheap dark 60's/70's fake wood paneling on the walls. It had old red and gold patterned thin carpeting. The foyer had old dark green linoleum and one tiny little yellowish light so that you walked into a dark dim area, and NO-ONE greeted you. And the church smelled bad- kind of musty, dusty and moldy... It was like visiting one of your great aunts and not in a good way...

One of my favorite experiences as a worship leader is actually from my first church out of seminary. Jake & I got to plan a Lord's Supper service that took place outside. Since our church was located around Lake Sammamish we met at a family's backyard. He was a gardener for Home Depot or Lowe's and had a gorgeous yard, trees, plants... It was a special service.

Another of my favorite experiences as a worship leader came from Celebration Church in Auburn. Our church was in the process of looking for a pastor, so no-one was there to say "let's do a Good Friday service." So Jake & I kind of ended up saying we'd do it. And we wrote out this long involved script-like service with music, readings and elements of the supper. We brought in blue lights and set up every plant in the church and some from home on stage to look like a garden. We kept the lights low and brought everyone forward into a half-circle... The material led us through Jesus' night in the garden, the arrest, the betrayals, and the crucifixion. We used video of Jesus' death from the Jesus movie... Since I'd planned it, it's hard for me to say, "yup, that was a success", but we had other people tell us that it was, people I trust.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

When I give my Heart

This is an incomplete thought... Something I'm mulling over and dealing with.

I know that I'm allowing Satan to steal from our family. That I'm allowing him to use the hurt we experienced from our last church family to prevent us from diving into another church. And that by allowing this we are losing out on the relationships, growth, family bonds, and support we could gain from the church family God has for us now...

I'm not even complaining anymore about what already happened. It happened. It was yucky. I have lost even more respect for pastors. I am more aware than ever that pastors are sinful humans just like me. (God, let me not forget that, I'm just as messed up as this pastor and his wife, just in different ways, ways that I'm comfortable and easy with, but to You, God, it's ALL sin. Some sins aren't better than others...)

Now I'm trying to figure out how to get back in there. How to open up my heart to the possibilities while still protecting my heart. I love this song and knew it long before Celine Dion made it popular, "When I give my heart, it will be completely, or I'll never give my heart... When I give my heart, it will be forever..." The only way I seem to know to give my heart is completely... And I don't want to cut that part of myself off. It seems to me that Jesus gave his heart completely away. He died for his love. How can I expect to follow him and do less? I guess I can't really see Jesus protecting his heart from involvement... I see him keeping his heart and eyes and soul fixed on his father- that was the only protection he chose. To be so deeply hooked into his father and his father's image of who he was and what his life was to be that the other things were merely passing.

I remember Jesus words as he looked over Jerusalem, "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem,.. How I have longed for you. How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" I don't hear this words spoken in a distant and cold British accent, I hear them loudly, passionately spoken by a Jewish young man. His compassion and mercy and longing come through here... His passion comes through here- at least when I hear these words in my imagination...

I want to be passionate about the work I do for Him. I want to be passionate about worship and the people He brings into my "sphere of influence". I want to be actively involved. I want to be 'pro-active'. Wildly, passionately involved and caring... I want the passion, drive and obedience that guided Jesus to guide my life and my choices.

I've got two other songs bopping around in my head right now...

"I am a rock. I am an island."
Something I longed for as a teenager- to be able to be strong without needing anyone else... Oh, please, God, let me not long for that!! Please let me be mature enough to know that Your will is NOT that we stand on our own, but that we be deeply involved with the lives of those around us. That we be planted deeply in the soil of our church family and the ministry ground around us. Please let me long for the things that make your heart burn, the things of eternity, the things that will last- people, not places; souls, not things; eternity, not programs...

"I have always longed for adventure. To do the things I've never dared...
My heart should be wild with rejoicing, Oh, why am I so scared?"
God has a plan for us. A new place. He is the one who allowed us to 'lose' the last church. He is the one who allowed us to be moved on, and there was a reason. I don't know what that reason is- whether he had a new place for us, or we needed to be somewhere else for him to do what he needed to do at SPBC, or he was testing us to see if we are ready for the next things he had for us, or quite frankly, it could have been all of those reasons, plus more. My God is a God who brings all things together for His good purposes. He sees the big picture and knows what is best for His children...

God, I'm close to breaking through here... I'm sorry it's taken me so long. I DON'T know what you're doing here. I don't know why you kept us here for another winter when we were so ready to just leave. I don't know why you didn't guide us find another church quickly. I don't know why we're still in Fairbanks. I feel trapped and old and used up. Please bring us a fresh wind. Please give us a place of usefulness and involvement. Please help us take off the hands we are holding so tightly over our wounded hearts. We're holding them so tight that you can't even get in there to clean the wounds out. How can we heal if we don't even let you in there to clean them?

Snow in February

Same view out our back window...
I want to track how the snow accumulates in that one view for an entire winter.
I don't see the differences from day to day, but as I look back at the other pictures I do see a change.

The sun was so pretty this morning reflecting off the snow in the trees... I wish I could show the sparkle and twinkle. Pictures are nice, but they just can't capture the sparkle and glow the eye sees.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jake, Deborah and Abigail

Our week of nastiness

Aargh, this last week has been so bad I don't even want to THINK about it... We are recovering from the pinkeye episode last week, but still doing the eye drops.

My mom has been really sick and mostly hanging out in bed, aching and tired... We figured it was the pinkeye getting her down, until...

Tuesday night, Jake and I woke to Deborah's screaming, went in there to find her with vomit all over her bed... We cleaned her and her bed up, got back to sleep, only to wake up to the same thing in another hour or two... She stayed home from pre-school, and just laid around on the couch all day.

Then as a bonus for our lovely week, our electricity was turned off Wednesday morning... My mom had been paying the back bill every month instead of paying the full bill. Then she had a meeting with them to arrange payments, but because she'd been sick she missed the meeting... Ooops.

Thank you, God, that we've been having atypical January/February weather!!! Normally it'd be -30 to -45... But this year it's been VERY warm, more like +10 or so... So the house got pretty cold, and we all stayed up bundled up, but it wasn't too terribly bad. We put up candles as it got darker, and my mom found my Dad's coin collection by candlelight. We got the girls in bed and then my mom, my sister and I played Phase 10 til 1:30ish by candlelight all bundled up in blankets and extra layers of clothes... Kind of like camping. We ended up having a really good time.

My dad had collected coins, and divided them among the three of us before he passed away. Mom didn't want us to have to sell them, but she knew it would eventually have to happen. So between that and her paycheck on the first we were able to make an appointment to get the electricity back up the by the next day- Thursday...

Except Thursday, I woke up sick, really sick. Throw-up and aches and chills sick... Made me sad I hadn't been more compassionate with Deborah the night before... Jake stayed home and watched the girls- ('bout drove him crazy, too!) I stayed in bed most of the day... Later I got up (about the time we got our electricity back) and tried to figure out things I could eat without throwing them up... I spent a fairly miserable night last night trying to find a way I could lay without my stomach hurting or my joints aching.

So, near as we can all tell- My mom, Deborah, my husband, my sister and I all had flu just with different symptoms.

Today, Friday, I'm shakey, but okay, and the house is warm again!
Our week is over! Surely, next week can't be as bad as the last 2... :)

Focus Time

On the value of time alone to think and enjoy the beauty of God's world:

Irish poet John O’Donohue said: ‘In the neglected crevices and corners of your evaded solitude, you will find the treasure that you have always sought elsewhere.’

Ezra Pound said something similar about beauty: ‘Beauty likes to keep away from the public glare. It likes to find a neglected or abandoned place.’

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going, and the insight to know when you’ve gone too far. –Old Irish toast

Quotes from Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet, Zondervan Books

January Reads

On Writing by Stephen King A+
Already did a blog entry about this book, so not much more to say- Excellent book. Don’t miss it.

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison B +
Liked this- We’ve got a witch who’s a bounty hunter, except she hates her job and has a LOT of problems with it. She quits, which puts a hit out on her from her ex-boss… Vampires, faeries, werefolks, witches… The highlight of the book is a pixie reminiscent of the ladybug in Pixars “Bugs”…

Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan A
A surprise… I picked this up ‘cuz the cover caught my eye- black with a white butterfly. Okay, so I like butterflies… Anyway, the book is very good. An intricate fantasy mystery set in some alternative world, with jumps back and forth to our world… An interesting situation with interesting characters.

One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey A-
A romance. Yes, a good one, and a fantasy one at that, but be aware that everything ends up well in the end, there is a boy and a girl who go off into the sunset, and there is some kissing. A retelling of the Andromeda tale- (don’t remember it? Cassiopeia is the queen, and her daughter is named Andromeda, a dragon/monster/Kraken must be prevented from devouring the countryside so the townspeople offer up a virgin girl every week to be eaten by the yucky monster. The princess’ name is drawn and she is chained to a post to be the next victim. Who will save her?) Well, in Lackey’s version she does a pretty good job of saving herself, and then “one good knight” joins her in the hunt to finish off the monster, except we find out that the ‘monster’ isn’t the dragon after all, and the knight isn’t typical either… (The knight isn’t the love interest, by the way…) Very good story.

Forever Odd by Dean Koontz B
The second in Koontz’ series about Odd Thomas, a fellow who can see dead people. Only they can never speak to him, instead they lead him around on nightmare chases trying to prevent terrible things happening. This one involves some voodoo weirdness. Not as good as the first one, but worth the time.

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher A-
Okay, this started out kind of lame and then got really good about 3-4 chapters into the book. I admit that if I didn’t already really like his wizard series I would have given up before it got good… I’m glad I stuck it out ‘cuz after that point I really liked it… Maybe it was the amount of set up he had to do? I don’t know. Definitely worth the time, but you’ve got to get through the slow bit at the beginning.

Rare Science Fiction edited by Ivan Howard
Belmont Books 1963
This is an old collection of sci-fi loaned to me by a friend… I enjoyed most of the stories in the book, a couple were merely okay, but some were excellent. My favorite is a Robert Silverburg called “Quick Freeze”, about a ship attempting to rescue a stranded ship’s crew on a frozen noxious gas planet… Except during their landing they melt enough of the ice to surround themselves in liquid which immediately refreezes after they land which traps their ship beneath a layer of thick ice… So the rescuers become the rescuees. Another is a Milton Lesser called “Do It Yourself” about a time in a post-apocolyptic future when everyone is known and respected only for the quality of their handwork. Fun to read old sci-fi, and think about how different the reality of our future is compared to what was imagined in the late 50’s-early 60’s…

Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet A-
Sweet focuses on leadership in the postmodern era- He’s specifically referring to church leadership, but really his examples could be used in the business world as well. He uses the story of Shackleton’s journey towards Antarctica to expand on his chosen leadership qualities. If you haven’t read about Shackleton’s ‘failed’ trip to cross the Antarctic continent then: A) you should! And B) this gives you a taste of Shackleton’s amazing trip.

Velocity by Dean Koontz B+
A re-read… Haven’t been to the library and I don’t have much I really want to re-read… I enjoyed reading this mystery over again knowing who the murderer is. The clues are sprinkled through the book, and once you know it’s apparent how Koontz laid the clues there for all to read…

Andre Talks Hair by Andre A
The guy who does Oprah's hair. He talks about products, finding a good hair stylist, and describes four basic types, which cover multi-ethnicities and weights. Very helpful for the 'product addict' who keeps buying new miracle stuff to get incredible, impossible results (that would be my sister). Helpful for the Mommy (me) who has a child with hair completely different than her own. I have stick straight, fine hair, so does Deborah. But Abigail has hair like her Daddy's- very, very fine with crazy curls. I'm so jealous of her hair! But I have absolutely no idea how to take care of it, and my husband's solution is to cut it off as short as possible. We're talking, sometimes he gets it cut so short he looks bald... Not really a choice with a baby girl. :) Andre to the rescue!!

The Valdemar Companion A+
This has a concordance of Valdemar terms, lands and names; a section of Valdemar maps; a short thumbnail of all the Valdemar books and short stories; interviews with Lackey and her editor; a 'traveler's guide' to Valdemar; plus, a new Lackey Valdemar novella. Very good for the fan, which I am. (by the way, this was interesting to me- Mercedes Lackey is older than I would have guessed. She started writing later, after she had a regular type career.) In her interview, she gives a pretty realistic description of what it can take to get your first book published. I'm sure it could be depressing for the new writer, but it was encouraging to me to read a realistic presentation of re-write after re-write after re-write...