Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Writer

I just watched the movie "The Soloist." A profound and beautiful movie about a writer who meets a street musician - a homeless Juliard dropout who loves music more than life itself. This writer records his story, and then becomes a part of it by trying to "help" him - finding out that playing God can be a lot more complicated than one first imagines.

It got me thinking about being a writer. We can wield such power, or we can just fill up empty air with empty words. I want to write things worth writing. I want to really dig into something and tell a story that needs to be told. The rest of the time writing feels like a waste. But I tell myself it's practice, or keeping sharp, or something like that. I've started journaling more as I blog less, largely because while the act of writing may be very important, that doesn't necessarily mean what was written is worth reading.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Mondays aren't so bad, or, work like a grown-up, play like a grown-up

Someone told me that the real meaning of the 21st century is that the people with the least to say have more ways to say it than ever. Those people are called bloggers.

I got a job at Converse. It's been about four weeks. For the first time since graduating (actually, ever), I am working full-time. On the one hand, it's so nice to feel like a real adult that's pulling her own weight, but on the other hand, I was finally starting to be domestic - cleaning the house regularly, cooking grocery shopping, etc, and now that whole carefully perfected routine has flown out the window.

I don't understand how modern people can keep a clean house, cook most nights, and work full time. Like my sister. She even runs several miles almost every day. Maybe it comes with practice. This whole adulthood thing is still very new to me.

I guess you'd like to hear about my new job. I am writing/compiling content for Converse's web site re-launch, slated for mid-january. It's perfect because the job ends a little before I leave for the training. I enjoy the work, too. Mostly gathering information from various campus folks and the current website, some assigning/editing pieces, but a fair amount of writing new content as well. I particularly enjoyed writing the section about Converse's traditions, like the way all the seniors wear panther ears (or horns), tails, and Chuck Taylors to opening convocation.

I even have my own office, since the assistant director of communications just left and they haven't filled his position yet. I'm getting paid like a real professional too. Yes, I feel very much like a grown-up.

This extra income source has made me feel slightly less guilty than I normally would about going out a little more with friends. On Monday, I went with my old roommate and good friend Anna and her best friend Sarah to Ichiban for sushi. It was half price, but we managed to generate a hefty bill nonetheless. I still can't believe we ate 10 rolls. That's about 50-60 pieces. That's like 20 pieces of sushi per person. We got beers too - the first drink I've gotten to order since turning 21. It was a Sapporo, which is a light Japanese beer. I liked it. But I couldn't finish it so Sarah and Anna helped.

Then we got some ice cream from Brewsters (hard to believe, I know, after eating all that sushi) and went to Anna's to watch the new movie she gave me for my birthday. Mirrormask is a very strange British film with a story by Neil Gaiman and produced by Jim Henson. But we liked it immensely. It made sense to package it with the Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal - many strange creatures and shifty, mind-blowing visual scenes that turn inside out and do other crazy things. But since it was made in 2006 and used CGI rather than puppetry and animation, it was perhaps even more visually stunning, if lacking some of the earthy richness achieved by the elaborate physical designs of the other two. But it had a distinctly unique flavor - I'm guessing because the director was also the art director and co-wrote the story. It was his baby, I imagine.

The score was odd - for such spectacular visuals one would expect something sweeping and orchestral, or perhaps kind of rock-anthem. But this music was distinctly urban, with tinges of electronica and hip-hop.

Anyway, it is a good movie for fans of Tim Burton or Jim Henson. Highly imaginitive, with an epic fantasy story line, and just creepy enought to be cool.

It's nearing 9:30 - bed is calling me. (I know, isn't that repulsively early? But sadly normal thanks to my two jobs, tutoring, and the daylight savings switch.) It's cold too. I'm ready to curl up under my nice warm blankets, and watch my cat leap up, wait for me to lift the blanket for her, and circle under the blanket a few times before settling down with her head barely poking out from under the covers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


It was a jazz themed party with champagne and lots of food and jazz records and dancing. Definitely my best birthday party ever.
The blurry photos came from my camera and the nice ones came from my aunt Mary Beth.
I am writing this post from Windows Live Writer, after editing the photos, tagging them, uploading them on Facebook, all through Windows Photo Gallery. Loving Windows 7.
Camera 018 Camera 019 Camera 020 R1- 4 R1- 6 R1- 8 R1- 9 R1-10 R1-11 R1-12 R1-13 R1-14 R1-15 R1-16 R1-17 R1-22 R1-23 R1-24

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I got a New Laptop

I am posting this from the BloggerBuddy Gadget - it's a 2-postage-stamp size app on the edge of my beautiful 15inch screen. Yay! Maybe the fact that I have my own computor again, combined with the fact that I can post a blog with a single mouse click, will encourage me to write more and shorter blogs. Won't that be nice?

More about my computer:

  • Windows 7
  • Card reader
  • DVD writer

  • 250GB hard drive

  • $350

I'm loving it so far. Windows 7 is a pretty steep learning curve though, considering I'm going from XP. Favorite new features so far include Snap, gadgets, themes (a slow slide show for my wall paper! So fun! ) and Google Toolbar.

Jump lists seems promising but I'll have to wait and prove its usefulness. I'm off to explore the super new Paint - always been my favorite MS program. I wonder how much it's like Paint.NET...

By the way, I turned 21 on Thursday and had an amazing party.
I don't think I can post pictures from this gadget but maybe later I will show you my blurry camera phone pix.

Woohoo! Wow it's half past one I probably should turn this thing off and get some sleep.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are you alive?

I asked a strange question to an unsuspecting friend yesterday. I saw her on facebook - this is someone I don't know very well, just see her at conferences since we were in junior high - and I IMed her asking if she was alive. "At the moment, yes." she replied, with a :).

I don't really know why I asked that. Perhaps because if someone asked me that, I would say, 'yes, finally.' Maybe a better question would have been, 'are you really living?'

The past 30 days, for me, have danced along Time's continuum like steps in a minuet - graceful, cadenced, neither too slow nor two fast. They've been spent working in the library, cooking, cleaning, organizing, making memories with friends and spending quality time with family and the Lord. I've read three graphic novels and a great biography, and am now engrossed in a lovely children's novel. I've sold some handmade jewelry and am now working on a custom piece. Of course the profits were promptly invested in new supplies...Michael's is a dangerous place!

I've been making the prayer meetings in Simpsonville on Wednesday nights (except for last night - my keys were missing!). When a child of God sincerely asks for the Lord to bless those gathered in His name, His answer is real - palpable. I encourage folks to not just pray at their meetings/church services, but to pray for them. In the car, even arriving early to ask the Spirit to move...He really honors that.

A few weeks past, while many saints were in the blending conference in Jacksonville, I visited the church in Columbia, where the remnant was gathered around a dining room table, praising God with raw, unaided voices and partaking of the communion that somehow tasted sweeter than ever. It was worth driving two hours, getting lost, missing the was more than made up for by the sweet fellowship, the meal afterward...this is the church life. Then I spent the rest of the day with a friend who recently moved to Columbia from Spartanburg, a friend whose main contact with Christianity has been judgement and restriction... she feels free, rooming with a quasi-Pagan who "accepts her just as she is" - she feels like she can create her life into whatever she wants it to be, now she has to figure out what that is. I am glad she feels free. But what will she choose? Christian though she may be, will she ever tap into the meaning of her life that is, already? Will she ever see how much she is loved and valued by her maker and be willing to accept His vision for her within His plan? Or will she grasp her life firmly and make of it what she thinks she wants, which may be much smaller than what could be...? I pray for her.

Bible study has been especially enjoyable, as the various members of rise up to supply every need. Kathy, our normal teacher, is still out, handling a lot with her sons...I never wrote about that, did I? Well, you'd be best off getting the full story here: (Caring Bridge for the Vangsnes boys) but basically, they were out in Montana, serving God as summer missionaries, when they had a terrible car wreck that left one with several broken bones and one in a coma.
Dan, whose leg and back are healing up surprisingly well, has recently come back home from the Montana hospital. Jeremy, who flew home much sooner, has come out of the coma into what is called a "semi-concious vegetative state." He can sometimes control movements and exhibit signs that he's comprehending what's being said to him, which is a long way from the braindead pronouncement the doctors initially gave him. If you pray, they could certainly use your prayers, although the prayers of the saints around the world have been so potent already...I wish I had time to tell you all the stories of miracles, large and small, that surround this family, but you'd be better off reading them for yourself at their site.

Anyway, Bible study has been a little different with various saints rising up to teach, and me finally putting my musical gifts to consistent use for their benefit. But it's so good. I always leave feeling like 'This is it. This is the church. This is...where it's at.' Something is happening with that rag-tag little band of Christians that go to different places on Sunday mornings. The Lord is doing something, He's been working on it for six years or so but it's now starting to...bubble up a little bit, like a simmering pot. We all feel it, although we couldn't tell you exactly what it is - it's something new.

Hmm. Sometimes you just start writing without an idea of what you mean to say. I guess life is like that, my life anyway. But I like it that way. God is writing this story and He knows exactly what He means by it. If I knew the ending, or even the next chapter, I might just cramp His style.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A time for every purpose

Hello. It's been a very, very long time. Camp came and camp ended. I drove from Missouri to Austin, Texas. I drove to Columbia, South Carolina. I drove to Atlanta, Georgia and flew to Anaheim, California. And now I am sitting at home again, at last.

So many wonderful people, wonderful stories. Although I haven't (and probably won't, unless someone asks or I write a memoir) typed any of it up, I kept up my little silver Mound Ridge journal pretty well. The internet broke about halfway through camp so I couldn't have blogged even if I'd felt like it. (After a week with those kids, just getting laundry done is an accomplishment.) It's kind of nice because I've never been that devoted to hand writing in a paper journal. I could write a lot more personal stuff, and God stuff, that would bore you or make you squirm. Don't feel you missed out too much.

It's weird coming back to this blog. I really don't know what to say. I guess I'll say that I'm a very changed person after this summer. God taught me many lessons, particularly about humility. I was used to seeing my life as my big picture, with God and other people fitting into it. I'm learning to see my life in terms of God's big picture, with others in there and myself as a tiny piece of it.

I read a book called Monk Habits for Everyday People. It's a Protestant's guide to applying the wisdom of St. Benedict's Rule to modern life. It was recommended to me by pastor Christian Boyd whom I think Pam mentioned in my previous post. It was just the book I needed to read in that place and time, thinking about discipline and purpose, what it means to be in community, submitting your own will and desires not just to God but for the people around you.

Then I went straight to the source and read the Rule itself. It's a quirky thing, full of archaisms, absurdities, humor and deep wisdom. It's hard to explain how these two books intersected with my story weaving its way across far-flung locales. In Austin, after enjoying the Barton Springs Sunday Circus and all the oddities therein, I'd read about monks who never laugh or engage in "idle talk" and somehow identify with both worlds. I took the Rule to the Full Time Training in Anaheim, one of the strictest but also most spiritually living Bible schools in the nation. Although most people there would not see their life in terms of monasticism, I do. The parallels were truly striking.

I guess brother Benedict has given a particular color cast to my whole summer, added a certain brilliancy that's hard to explain. Those two books, combined with repeated themes of experience and fellowship with the Giver and Purposer, brought me to a perspective that cut out a lot of the fluff and revealed the true sheen and worth of the essences of life.

In six months, I will be enrolled in the Full Time Training. This is what God has been preparing me for. This is the true desire of my heart and something I will be willing to strive toward harder than I have pursued graduate school. (Not that I won't be a librarian - that's still the plan. It's just on hold for two more years. I'll still be done with grad school before I'm 25.) On the other side of the country, my contact with parents, friends and family will be reduced to weekly phone calls. I will not see any of them for stretches of five months. My entire life will be structured around one thing - God. Not just learning about Him or doing some kind of obesience rituals supposed to make Him happy, but gaining Him. Breathing and eating and drinking Him. Getting Him into my being in in a way that transforms me not only into His image, but into His very life and nature. Not just because I want to be a better person but because I want to be a part of the reason for the universe, to bring joy to the heart of the Creator, to fully inhabit my place in His. . . His . . . I can't even think of a word big enough to describe it, big enough to capture the feeling I feel of His utter vastness and the smallness of my heart within Him.

With that goal in view, how am I to approach the next six months? What is truly important? God, family, friends. Living in a way that glorifies Him, benefits them, and draws us all closer together. I've been thinking and doing far too much. I need to truly live. It will require some painful sacrifices and I hope those reading my blog will understand. The things I have been a part of in Spartanburg have been good and wonderful things and I continue to fully support everyone involved in them. I believe it is all a part of God's plan. But I have to step out now. I realize many of those things had become reasons to neglect the people God put into my life to cherish and the more personal responsibilities I must now learn to bear as an adult. I hope that over the next few months, I will get to develop deeper relationships with all of you as human beings, whoever you are, and maybe even that we could spend time together, not doing, doing doing, but just being.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

"Live from Kansas City!"

I'm not actually in Kansas City. I am at Mound Ridge Camp near Saint James, MO. I've had one (very busy) week at camp but I don't have time to write about it right now.
However, my friend Pamela drove up with me on her way to Kansas City, and she wrote a very detailed note about the trip on her Facebook. She has given me permission to repost it here for your reading pleasure:

Lydia and I left Spartanburg Thursday morning at 8:45 and I got to my aunt and uncle's house probably around five or six yesterday (Saturday). First, a brief synopsis of the journey:

Thursday: Having eaten breakfast at Lydia's house, we only made one rest stop before briefly having lunch in a Taco Bell about half an hour past Knoxville. We'd completely avoided traffic and delays and were probably a good two hours ahead of schedule when we got to Nashville and missed our exit. We saw it, but we just couldn't get over fast enough. So we had to do a secondary way, that led us to the same place but through bumper to bumper traffic. Which wouldn't have been so bad except it was on a road where many other highways seem to be constantly merging and everyone (especially giant 18 wheelers) kept changing lanes for no apparent reason. We felt we'd almost been creamed like three times, but God protected us.The car did something weird at one point, and we pulled over. Lydia checked the oil, and that wasn't it. So we just decided to use either the AC or the stereo and not both and that seemed to solve it.Even so, we were still way ahead of schedule when we got near Lydia's aunt's house in
Kentucky. So much so that we decided to randomly stop at a garage sale we saw.

We got to her aunt's house at 4:30 Central time. Her aunt wasn't expected to be home, but she had told Lydia where she hid a key. We were there for about half an hour until I realized something... I didn't have my wallet!The last time I had remembered seeing it was at the Taco Bell, as I'd not used it at the garage sale. I figured it was either at the Taco Bell, the side of the highway where we stopped to check the car, or the garage sale. Since the Taco Bell was the only place I could hope to call, we hoped it was that. We tried several methods to get the number, but finally we found the reciept. It didn't have the area code on it, but we were able to obtain it and called and, Praise Jesus! it was there! You can't get on a plane without ID anymore and I'm supposed to be flying home. They agreed to use some of the money in it to pay for postage and are mailing it to my aunt and uncle's house.After that crisis was resolved, her
aunt was home and we ended up going out to dinner. It was good, and then afterwards we sang together, then went to bed.

Friday: We woke up and had breakfast, and hit the road by 8:45, again. At 2:30 Central we still hadn't eaten and were near O Fallon, IL. Lydia met a pastor when she was in MO last time who lives there. He and she and I have been having a 3way email conversation about God and the Body of Christ and community. So we called him up, just in case he was free, and he was! So we had a two hour lunch at the "St Louis Bread Company" which is really Paneras.

Just after we left him, we made our biggest error. First, I read the map wrong. Then we turned around and Lydia was saying how she should have listened to her gut and not my navigation. So then we get on the right road and I fold up the map and say confidently that we'll just stay on this for a while... and not five minutes later she says "aren't we supposed to turn here?" and before I can answer turns off. But of course, that means we were off the road AGAIN. So we decided that God had that happen so we were both humbled. :) We'd missed the bypass, and had to drive through the heart of St Louis, which took a while but now we have really nice pictures of the arch.We were finally in MO and it was pretty much smooth sailing. We got to the town right outside of Lydia's camp and we'd not eaten dinner since we'd had such a light lunch. I asked if we should stop but she just wanted to go there. So we did. It is very hot. :) Otherwise, it was pleasant and the people were wacky but nice. It was the last night of one camp session and so the other counselors were busy so Lydia and I and her guitar, Sancho, went singing to the Lord. Later, we played with the campers, and then had a very late dinner and went to bed.

Saturday: We woke up and had breakfast with the campers. Then Lydia helped clean up and I went and packed up and sang unto the Lord. Then Lydia and I went and sang in the chapel in the woods and played with Rex, the camp dog. But it was too hot for much singing and then it was really time to go. A fellow counselor decided to tag along. We were meeting my aunt and uncle half way, in Columbia, MO. We took 68 to 63 and 63 was supposed to take us all the way to Columbia, through Jefferson city. Apparently in Jefferson City you have to take three exits to stay on the same road? Not knowing this we continued on the same stretch of pavement, only apparently it was now 50! We realized this half an hour out of Jefferson City and had to turn around and therefore took an extra hour to meet up with my poor, patient relatives. My phone died just before we met with them. But meet with them we did, and they invited Lydia and whoever she wants to bring to come visit whenever.

(this is Lydia again) I hope I do get to Kansas City before I leave Missouri, however it's not happening this weekend as camp staff has made plans together. Tonight, we are watching the fireworks in Steelville. Tommorow, we are seeing St. Louis. I'm hoping I'll have some down time before the next camp starts Wednesday to relate to you some of the adventures of my first week as a counselor.
Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I'm back home, once again immersed in the constant commotion of my Sparkle City life. The two weeks since that lazy afternoon on the Meramac River might as well have been two years. That Sunday evening, my fellow counselor Bleke arrived from Missouri, then all sorts of staff began trickling in. As the week progressed, evenings at Mound Ridge evolved from scavenged dinners, scary movies and late-night stargazing to full-blown camp cooking, staff training videos and "Teambuilding." As regards the camp music program, I had to quickly adapt the fruit of two weeks of thoughtful, solitary perfectionism to the abilities and interests of real, non-musician folks who would have to carry on in my absence.

I think my favorite evening of that last, somewhat frenetic week was the night we began making music in earnest. The three senior counselors, plus a gaggle of 14 and 15 year old counselors-in-training, gathered around the campfire, each with a drum or a tambourine or some other delightful noisemaker. A vital precursor to the actual noisemaking, necessary for bolstering energy and lowering inhibitions, was of course, the obligatory round of s'mores. I began with some of the simpler tunes, easy enough to echo around a mouthful of marshmallow. Once the roasting sticks were all retired and we had a good few songs under our belt, we picked up our instruments and sang my favorite arrangement of the Lord's Prayer - learned from the Psalters. It's a catching Middle Eastern melody with a driving rhythm, each repetition whirling faster into the next until it spins into an ecstatic chorus of "Amens" and wild drumming. My "test campers" loved it. A few of the CIT's even started to dance.

This being the natural climax of our evening, we thereafter began packing up and heading to the cabins. I was inside the dining hall when I heard a man's irritated voice, asking the CITs for the person in charge. He came inside and asked me where there was an adult he could speak with. I told him that would be me, unless he cared to go up to the top of the hill to speak with Christy and Don. He proceeded to explain that having paid to camp at Mound Ridge to escape the intense stresses of his life, he did not take kindly to people beating "50 gallon barrels" when he was trying to enjoy a peaceful evening. I was aware that he and his wife had been camping down in the field (a good quarter mile walk from our fire circle) but I had no idea they were still there, or that a person in that field would be able to hear me playing the djembe way up here. He threatened to pack up and leave, and I apologized profusely and said it wouldn't happen again. He left in as big a huff as he had entered.

When I told Don the story, he laughed. "He thinks that was loud? What's he going to do with the 50 people who will be in the lodge right above him tomorrow night?" Don informed me that quiet hours didn't start until 11:00 anyway, and that the man had been informed of this. The incident had occurred at 10:30. I felt a little better after talking with him, but we didn't have another drum circle after that. The guy and his wife apparently did leave. None of us were terribly sad to see them go. Least of all the CITs, who'd gotten a bit of a fright.

It's storming out here and Dad says I should turn off the computer and go in. So I guess you won't get to hear about life back in Spartanburg. Ah well, it's pretty much the same old. My gig with the Windjammers (a 20's/New Orleans style jazz band) is this Sunday at 7:00 at USC Upstate, if you're curious. That's after Friday and Saturday trying to get my $50 worth of the Music Camp, without enjoying it too much. I have an 11am rehearsal.

Also, you really ought to look into Renaissance Street Navigation. It's a team scavenger hunt-type challenge thing that will be going on the 4th of July. I have to miss it but you bet I'd be there if I could. There's a $400 reward plus you get to go adventuring all around Spartanburg and learn about its history.

I swear, my camera must've sprouted feet. I keep seeing it in odd places and then it vanishes when I try to find it to upload pix. I'll try to get to it before I launch on my road trip Thursday. If not, you'll be hearing from me in Missouri next.

Farewell 'til then!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mound Ridge Week 2

I've stopped keeping track of the number of days I've been at camp. I guess it's been a week seeing as it's Monday and I got here on a Monday. I am becoming more aware of God's presence. That is easier when a) you are surrounded by His astoundingly beautiful creation, b) you are given time to think and c) the things to distract you from Him are limited.

I got a box from Mom and Dad. It had my camera card reader, my harmonica, my penny whistle, shampoo, and a box of granola bars, along with the music I'll need to learn to be ready to sing with the WindJammers Jazz Band when I get back in June. After dinner I took the music to the rec hall. There's an old out of tune piano there. It was fun banging out those old 20's tunes on it.

To the tune of "I Got A Dollar"

I got a sammich, I got a sammich. I got a sammich, yes I do.

Well actually it's a chicken wrap from Sonic. It was supposed to be a taco. Last night Don said he would bring me some Jack-in-the-Box tacos. Awesome. That's one of my very favoritest of foods. But this morning, all I see in the fridge is a bag from Sonic with something small wrapped in foil. Don explains that when he got to Jack-in-the-Box and ordered 2 dozen tacos (Christy and Don really love them too) the scuzzy-looking server said "They're in the freezer and we can't defrost them."
"Well," said Don, "Can't you just throw them in the fryer like you always do?"
"I donno, let me ask Al. Hey Al!"
Al comes in, looking just as scuzzy and unpersonable as the server, and says "What do you want?" It's become a scene, with customers in the line behind Don witnessing the whole thing.
"Never mind, I'll just figure it out, somewhere else."
He turned to the server.
"You should have just told me you were out of tacos."

Don offers this word of advice out of his 20 years in restaurant management. "If the service is unfriendly and the manager does not appear well-groomed or well-organized, don't eat there."

At this point, the journal entries are replaced by to-do lists and hastily scratched notes. It's just as I suspected. I have been a lot busier this week and consequently have had less time to write about it. But I'll summarize.

Most of the week I spent doing music stuff. Christy has put me in charge of music for the camp, which is a really exciting opportunity. Finally I can put my talents and experience with music in full service to God. So much of the week I was flipping through song books and playing various instruments, learning new tunes and trying to remember old ones. I'll be leading singing and accompanying on the guitar and sometimes the piano. It's a real challenge getting together all these songs, organizing them and working them into the daily schedules, mixing camp favorites with new material, and trying to make it all relevant to the daily Bible lessons, but I'm learning so much from it. I'm especially excited about arranging with a great assortment of instruments. Christy is truly a woman after my own heart. She has been collecting for the camp an awesome assortment of rhythm instruments, with tambourines, a djembe, and all the fun things that people like to bang, shake or click. She also has a dulcimer that I am making sure will make it into the worship times.
One of the greatest challenges but also a really exciting thing has been reconciling my passion for music with my commitment to stay centered on God. I don't come from a musically elaborate church tradition. Acoustic guitars and maybe a piano are about all you see on a Sunday morning. I have a lot of fun with music but often it has been at odds with, or at best a distraction from, my relationship with God. My prayer for this time is that more than just having a lot of fun with music at camp, I, the counselors and the children would be able to truly praise Him with the guitar and the djembe, the dulcimer and the tambourine. Reading Psalm 150 helped me claim the truth that this is possible:

Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

(Psalm 150, NIV)

On Wednesday, I went with Christy to the Presbytery of Missouri Stated Meeting. That's where representatives from all the churches in the state come together to fellowship, take care of church business, and listen to speakers talk about matters relevant to the church. We were there representing Mound Ridge, which is a Presbyterian camp and retreat center. We had a table and were passing out goodies and information.

I learned a lot. I don't really know much about the Presbyterian church, or traditional denominations for that matter. My favorite part was talking with a pastor named Christian Boyd. Christy knew that we would have a lot to talk about so she went to great pains to ensure we met. We spent lunch talking about all sorts of things pertaining to the Church, Christian community and radical brotherly love, rediscovering the deeply rooted practices of our faith, how denominations may be beginning to break down of their own accord (Awesome!) and him being a Benedictine oblate (that's kind of like a monk outside a monastery). He has a blog and his church website is really cool. I spent a long time yesterday link hopping from there, and found this awesome online Christian classics library, and this radical Christian emagazine thing.

Last night, Don's brother, sister and brother-in-law came to spend Memorial Day weekend. We ate dinner together and had a great sing-along. Don's brother-in-law Larry brought his guitar, and I had my penny whistle and harmonica. It was a blast and we stayed up til past midnight (Which is pretty late, for me, here).

I'm about to go kayaking on the Meramac with Don and Bob and Larry, so I need to get going. Until next time!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mound Ridge Camp Week 1

Hello from Missouri! It's been an interesting week. Since the only computor access I have is at the Welcome Center (with dial-up internet), I have been journaling the old-fashioned way.

I'm typing up my "field notes" (as my anthropology professor friend would call them) for you. The thing about journaling is, the less going on, the more time you have to write about it, and conversely, the more interesting things happen, the less time you have to record them. I'm sure future entries will be nowhere near as detailed, but might as well take advantage while it lasts.

Pictures will have to wait until next week; my card reader is in the mail on its way over.
Without further ado, I present the first installment of:

The Mound Ridge Journal
May 11, 2009 (Day 1)
I'm still very definitely sick. The decision was made to fly today anyway, despite flu-like symptoms which utterly destroyed my weekend, because the nice American Airlines people would not exchange my ticket for less than a $300 extra charge. It's amazing how much strength one can muster when one has no choice.

The flight from Charlotte to St. Louis was uneventful, marked only by a singularly personable flight attendant. I found Jenny (a seasoned summer counselor sent to pick me up) at the baggage claim, on the phone and leaning intently over her sudoku book. She was easy enough to distinguish by her Mound Ridge T-shirt.

The two-hour ride back to Mound Ridge was pleasant enough, but long. We had to go a little out of our way to get some 5 gallon jugs of something for redoing the pool. Don, the grounds/maintenance man, had requested them before 2:00, at which time the concrete truck came. That didn't happen, but he didn't seem to mind. "Hey," he called out from his golf cart as we pulled up to the Welcome Center, "Are you the sick girl?" Yes, I was, and still am. Luckily, Christy, the director, has been incredibly understanding. She said they weren't going to expect anything of me for the next two or three days and told me to get a lot of rest and heal up right.

Mound Ridge isn't quite what I expected. (Is anything ever?) Turning off at a rustic wooden sign reading 'Mound Ridge Camp and Retreat Center,' onefinds oneself ona long, narrow gravel road in the woods, passing signs that say '5 miles, God's Children at Play.' After the colorful totem pole you come to the welcome center / office / gift store, housed in what looks like a doublewide mobile home. A small house with a dog tied out, and some random out buildings that are a little junked up complete the picture. To be honest, the initial impression is more like the trailered homestead of an eccentric, woodsy, multi-generational family than a summer camp. I have to cut them some slack though, this is the off season and they are doing several maintenance projects like the pool revamp. I'm sure it will be tidied up before the campers come.

The staff, as far as I've met of them, are incredibly warm, friendly, and accomodating. The office assistant, Heather, brings her baby Jaspar to work. He is the sweetest thing, dark, with a frequent long-face expression that gives him an old-for-his-years look. chisty introduced me briefly, asked me what I needed, and had Jenny drive me to my cabin straightaway for a much-needed nap.

I saw the bulk of the buildings on the way down. Again, not what I was expecting. They are all small and nestled close together in the steep folds of a beautiful wooded hill. Jenny warned me we'd be on a hill, but still, somehow in my mind it was all flatter and spread out a bit more. But I like it. It all sort of feels like a quaint, rustic, miniature village on a hill, sort of like those Halmark porcelain winter scenes. My cabin is rustic indeed. It's down a steep little hill with mossy stone stairs anda narrow concrete channel in fron that feels like it may become a canal given a good rain. Jenny said it has been flooding lately. (not the cabin, the camp.) I'm staying in the right half, with three cots, and Jenny's on the left. I'm thankful for that; I admit I'd feel a little lonely and frightened here at the bottom of this hill by myself, and sick to boot.

The cleaning ladies were still working on it when we got here, an unforseen obstacle to my nap that I had to muster some patience to wait out. After bringing me a lovely assortment of clear sodas and herbal teas, Christy left me to wait in the Mace cabin porch, a few feet up from my cabin, Kickapoo. Mace is nice, in that quaint miniature way one would expect in this little village. I expect it is one of the older dwellings, at least half a century. According to a faded, peeling collage on the porch, it was renovated in 1997. But the fact of it appearing torn up and mildewed in the 'after' photos while clean and tidy in the 'before' shots, I can only attribute to some prank.

I am being distracted by the pointed bellowing of a group of cows. I was warned of this eerie noise back at the Welcome Center. They called them the Mad Cows and explained that they moo like that because their calves are being taken away from them. I'd be mad too.

When I finally got to take my nap, I had a lovely dream. I was running races with a young boy, a Mound Ridge camper. Over and over again we ran, with no pain or weariness. I was bounding, floating along the ground in great effortless strides only possible in the dream world. Mound ridge was grander, too, populated by stately stone buildings and an elegant water fountain, like a college campus. As we neared the end of our final run, I saw my friend Grace ahead of me, running, then slowing to a stop looking spent. "No, Grace!" I called out jokingly, "I need to see energy and speed, don't show me that!" So she got back up and jogged beside me chattering, obviously unaware I was in the middle of a race. I was sprinting furiously at this the final stretch, rounding the water fountain. Had it not been a dream I would surely have tripped and broken something. I flew at the middle step ofthe main building, arriving just half a second after the young boy. He grinned at me in triumph and I grinned back, mentioning I took the long route aound the water fountain. That didn't mean anything to him of course, but it was impossible to be upset with the endorphins still coursing strong.

As I rose into conciousness, sweating, I was quite sure I could hear a faint snoring in the cot next to me, but when I opened my eyes there was no one. A large black ant was exploring the bedspread next to my face. I brushed her off and listened carefully. I could still hear the snoring sound ever-so-faintly. Now, as I finish up in the darkening cabin, it's been replaced by the sound of birds, crickets, frogs croaking, and the mad cows of course. Every once in a while a plane flies overhead, a faint reminder of the civilization I've left entirely behind.

May 12, 2009
to the tune of "Raindrops"

Ants keep a'crawlin' on my bed
and very soon they could be fallin' on my head
- ants are not for me - oh -
(can) you get these ants out of my room, stop their crawlin'
sometime real soon?

(Day 2)
More ants. Slept all day. Went nowhere besides cabin and dining hall. Made earrings for Mom. Saw a tick crawling on my bed. Still coughing hard. Think I broke the coffee maker. Sick of being sick.

May 13, 2009 (Day 3)
Morning: Drank Tulsi Rose tea on the porch, hung out with the black cat Holly and her grey kitten.
Getting better. Spent a little time in the office getting to know the camp Bible lessons and brainstorming curriculum with Jenny. After dinner, we watched "Forces of Nature" in the conference room. We lined chairs up to make "couches" and spread our blankets and pillows over them.

The camp is really beautiful at night. That's when I noticed all the stone work - paths, waterways and walls everywhere, with big geodes that rise up and sparkle. And the way the moss grows all over it.

May 14, 2009 (Day 4)
Today Jenny and I spent most of the day working on programming. Deciding which games and crafts the camp is going to do when, etc. We did it all day long until we both had brain fatigue. We took some chill time in the cabins before creatively masterminding a meal of macaroni, taquitos, sliced avocados, salsa and cheese dip.
Rex is the camp dog. He is obsessed with playing fetch. He will keep bringing a stick back to you all day long. Today I accidentally threw it on the3 roof. Poor dog, he looked everywhere. I caught him looking at me out of the corner of his eye like 'Oh no, I can't let her kn0w I can't find it!'

May 15, 2009
I looked at a map today. Missouri is so much closer to Texas than South Carolina. When I road trip out here in July, I really don't want to drive all the way to SC, then turn around and drive for 3 days down to Texas with Mom and Dad to visit my siblings.

I'd really just like to drive down to Texas from Missouri, then fly Mom and Dad over and let them drive back with me to SC. Its a lot less time driving and more time with family. I'll have to research 1-way plane tickets from SC to Austin.

May 16, 2009 (Day 6)
Hallie came in last night. She is kitchen help i.e. dishwasher and a junior in high school. We (Hallie, Jenny and I) hung out and watched movies in the conference hall - which is a small stone building that serves as the staff lounge. We got caught in a rainstorm and had to wait it out - 10:30 and then we raced back in the rain and Jenn accidentally stepped on a frog.

Tonight we (Jenny, Hallie, Christy + baby grandaughter Marissa, and I) went to Ruby's, which is a really wonderful ice cream parlor. I had a coconut almond hot fudge sundae with a waffle cone on top. Then the three of us watched two more movies. Wehad a great time being really silly - talking in funny voices and copying each other.

Hallie is quiet at first - well really she's always quiet - but she is much fun. She squirts Jenny and her mom Sue (Sue is the weekend cook) with the water sprayer. Jenny encourages her. She bought her a massive water gun that Hallie doesn't hesitate to use against her. She even made herself a T-shirt with a big bullseye on the back. I wonder if today, after several surprise drenchings, she's starting to regret that.

May 18, 2009 (Today)
Besides a sore throat and that awful lingering cough, I'm feeling pretty much back to normal.
Christy took Hallie and me to Steelville Presbyterian Church. It was very nice. The people were friendly. A man with the Gideons (the people who put all those Bibles in hotels, prisons, barracks and such) gave a talk. I was happy to give $5 for a hotel Bible; I have been grateful to find one while traveling on more than one occasion. There was a small reception for the high school graduates, with some delicious red velvet / cherry cupcakes, and then it was back to Mound Ridge. I'm here all alone now; Christy and Don are visiting Don's sister who just had a stroke. It's peaceful here. I'm going to ride around on the golf cart and explore all the corners of the camp I haven't yet seen.

Until next week!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mound Ridge

It's official. I will be a counselor at Mound Ridge Camp this summer. It's a small, Presbyterian, outdoorsy camp in Missouri. I'm quite excited about it. Not only does it seem to be a spiritual place but because it is so small I will have the opportunity to exercise many of my gifts, teaching crafts, leading songs, etc. It's a beautiful, remote area in the Ozarks. There are rivers to be forded, trails to be trekked, trees to be climbed, mountains to be boarded down...I know it's going to be an experience to remember.

I will try to maintain a weekly chronicle of my time there and will have access to email and phone. But my contact with civilization will be somewhat limited. I'll have to get used to dial-up internet again.

I leave for set-up and orientation on May 11 or 12. That's the week after next. I'll be back the second week of June to work for SMC's summer semester, go to the Music Camp, and sing with the WindJammers for Ice Cream Sunday on Father's Day. Then I'll be driving back over with all my gear for the camp stretch and won't set foot in SC again for two whole months. What an adventure!

This may or may not be my last post 'til then. I will be accepting your best wishes in the comment box below.

PS. Look for the latest issue of Root starting Monday!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Global Warming vs. Hellfire

I don't really believe in "global warming," actually. The whole apocalyptic ice-caps-melting-which-will-cause-the-end-of-the-world thing. Mostly, this is due to the science curriculum I had in high school which convincingly enough at the time argued that the environmental changes being touted as proof didn't actually exceed normal fluctuations over the history of Earth. I haven't really looked into the science of it since then, who knows, things may have changed. I'm only mildly unpersuaded. I haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth yet, after all.

But here's why it doesn't really matter to me, and why, in fact, I'm actually pretty happy that the danger of global warming is becoming a matter of pressing international attention. Whether or not humanity is specifically destined for a Day After Tomorrow-like climate meltdown, or more of a Wall-E fate of Earth's natural resources being used up and spit out 'til there's nothing left to take, I am convinced that humanity's treatment of our planet over the past few generations is both unsustainable and morally wrong, and that we all need to change our behavior.

What global warming crusaders have done is created a crisis. They have alarmed the public by presenting a graphic, tangible doomsday toward which we appear to be careening at full speed. Without that, all my or anyone else's moral exhortations and vague doomy warnings could do little to get the majority of lazy, selfish humanity, to take notice, get off their butt, and begin to treat the earth the way we should have from the beginning. I've concluded that to be persuaded to do anything, humans in general need a message that is simple, urgent, and personally relevant. I can almost imagine a collection of activists and scientists gathered in some back room saying "if they need an apocalypse, we'll give 'em an apocalypse!" Hey, if we can judge by 2008/2009's rise in environmental concern in media, movies, business, politics, and the small but significant changes everyday Americans are starting to make, it seems to be working. I am almost disgusted at my pragmatism on this.

This attitude has been developing in my head for about a year now, but today, I was startled by the sudden illumination of an unexpected link to an issue that is much closer to me. That is, the subject of Christian evangelism. I am compelled to explore this connection, to "write through" the implications of this, here on this blog. How far do the similarities run? What makes the issues different?

Like many of my generation, I've had no sympathy and little respect for the so-called "hellfire and brimstone" preachers. I'm speaking of anyone who tries to convert people to Christianity out of the fear of Hell. People are driven to serve what they see as a God of punishment and hate because the alternative is far worse. At worst, this leads to an utterly false impression of God and at best, a wholly inadequate understanding of the reason we exist and why God created the universe in the first place. There is certainly no peace and happiness in such servitude.

You could call mine a theology of love. I don't trust myself to lay it out comprehensively (I'm no theologian), but I'll try to explain quickly, so you can see why I get so frustrated with the fire and brimstone types. It starts with why God made Everything. It's very simple. He was lonely. He created Man, and our astoundingly beautiful habitat, so that He could enjoy us and we could enjoy Him. God and Man - friends and lovers. As the Presbyterian Catechism so aptly puts it:

"What is the chief end of Man?"
"To glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

Why did God make Adam first, instead of making male and female right from the start? So he could set him there, with access to every good and beautiful thing he could conceive of, and say, "It is not good for Man to be alone" and then create the solution. It's a picture of God's own heart's desire: a companion, a counterpart, a wife.

Fast forward a few millennia. We Christians have to remember this original intention as we get entangled in the whole sin/salvation drama. Getting freed from the bondage of sin and death, from the threat of Hell if you will, is not the end of the story. People aren't saved just so they can walk around saying "yay, I'm saved, I'm not going to Hell." That's the beginning, the doorway into God's beautiful intention for us. Jesus didn't just die to cleanse us of our sins, he died to become "a life giving Spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:45) - allowing God and Man to be intimately joined in a way that was not before possible. Our end is better than righteousness - it is divine and holy bliss inseparably united with the one true God!

I'm not a preacher. My personal philosophy of evangelism boils down to "walking the walk." I've never "presented the gospel" to anyone, not in the way the evangelists talk about. Maybe I have been too quiet. I don't know. Most of what I've grown up hearing about is those who say too much and do too little. However, it would be stupid of me to claim to know what's the best way to share the gospel in every case. I really can't even cross out the fire and brimstone method. After all, look what Paul said:

"But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." Philippians 1:18

And the guys he was talking about didn't even have good intentions. Maybe even as bad as those who turn Christianity into some sort of pyramid scheme: "be converted so you can convert others!"

Anyway, I didn't really start blogging to lay out my thoughts on global warming or on evangelism. This is the tricky part. What was that link between them that just flashed at me like a minnow in a creek?

I guess it's like this. Global warming alarmists have presented humanity's sustainable living predicament in terms of a "change or eminent punishment is certain" proposition. Fire and brimstone preachers reduce salvation to an "accept God or hellfire is your certain end" proposition. You can throw the Christian "apocalypticists" (?) in there too. (You know, "Repent for Doomsday will arrive in September, 2012!") They all have that simplicity, urgency, and personal relevance that I've already admitted is a surefire way to get people to act. That was the initial similarity that startled me.

I've been so harsh on the brimstoners for neglecting the bigger picture, and yet sort of complacently condone the people who spread what I deem a falsehood because it has resulted in positive action. Does that mean I believe the end justify the means, even if there's untruth involved? Does that mean I should rejoice when the gospel is spread even mixed with deceit or gimmicks to make it more attractive or compelling? Think of everything that could stem out of that. "Follow God and He will bless you with MONEEEY!" "Become a Christian today, and you'll receive this shiny new toaster!" How appalling! (And yet I can't get Paul's words out of my mind...)

On the other hand, the realization gave me a little more insight into, not sympathy with but perhaps understanding of, those religious leaders and movements who focus on the dark things (Right now I'm reminded of all those graphic Renaissance frescoes I saw in Europe, of tortured souls in Hell). They wanted to break through to complacent congregations. Maybe describing the rewards of life and eternity with God didn't/wouldn't have had much effect. It's frustratingly true that people, when presented with a marvelously good thing, often say "oh that's nice" and get back on with their lives. In this light, especially if you measure your success by the number of butts in pews, I can begin to see how you might be tempted to try scaring them into Heaven by showing them Hell.

Only God can judge.

Here's a key difference though. As far as good environmental stewardship goes, that's a behavioral change. We measure success in terms of action and its consequences. Get the oil companies to change their disposal policy, resulting in less toxic spills. Get people to cut down on packaging and paper use, resulting in smaller landfills. So perhaps one motivation is just as good as another. I don't really care whether Joe turns his lights off when he leaves the room because he fears his children will see the apocalypse, he believes it's his responsibility as a steward of the Earth, or he just wants to save a few bucks on his electric bill. The light got turned off, right?

Christianity isn't behavioral like that. God doesn't want our actions, He wants our hearts. Of course true love manifests itself in action, but God has no use for a bunch of servants who do what He asks but don't feel anything for Him but fear. He already created servants in the angels, He's looking for something much more in us. Companion, remember? Counterpart.

One more thing about love. It goes hand-in-hand with truth. If you love somebody because of all these endearing characteristics, and then you find out that all those things were lies, did you really love that person? You only thought you did. You may be able to love them once you know the truth, but I don't believe real and perfect love can exist except in the face of the truth. (It follows: God is the only person who can love us really and fully, because He is the only person who can know us completely.) In turn, I don't think God could be happy with people loving Him with false notions of who He is. He doesn't want "Christians" at the expense of compromising or hiding His identity. It must sadden Him to see people following Him in ignorance and for the wrong reasons - I'm sure He'd rather they could see and love His true Self.

As far as global warming goes, if I were convinced it were a lie it might be different. I'm not really sure, and I believe the scientists and activists believe what they're saying at any rate. Good. No moral dilemma there.

I wonder if my attitude about these things will change. It likely will; at the very least be tweaked. It will be sort of fun to go back and read this and disagree with myself, and then tell my old self how I learned better.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Money Well Spent

I have $8 and eight days till payday. But today I had a miniature revelation that caused me to see my money in a new light.

The Cafe on Morgan Square is closed. I'm sad for Spartanburg more than for me, since I didn't go there a whole lot, but it was somewhat of a piece of local history.

Walking back to my car from a fruitless money-collecting trip to the Beehive, I was debating with myself whether to dig something up for lunch at home, or get something on the way. The sensible thing was to save my money, but as I was walking past Monsoon Noodle House, I suddenly had this flash of horror at the thought of it closing down too. For all I know, Monsoon is doing just fine, and I hear that the Cafe closed for health just as much as monetary reasons. But still, the thought shook me enough to change my course and walk through those big glass doors.

Schooled as I have been in the principles of thrift, I always look for ways for my work, time, or money to do double duty. Same research to write two different stories, vacuum while waiting for the laundry, etc. Usually, both those ends somehow serve me. But why not include in my considerations, how to get more bang not just for myself but for others? This is the principle behind the new social entrepreneurship movement as well as an impulse many nonprofits are beginning to capitalize on.

I have precious few extra dollars each month. As long as I still have a choice where and how to spend it, doesn't it make sense to put it where it will do the most good? Will Taco Bell notice and appreciate my last four dollars, or will Gaston, the owner of A Caribbean Sweetness, who remembers who I am and what I like and who always has some entertaining story of Cuba to share? When I can afford to buy a CD, do I reward Wal-Mart for their unethical treatment of employees and havoc wrought on local culture, or do I get it from Earshot, one of the few and by far the coolest indy record stores left in the area? (Why did I have to pick up that copy of How Wal-Mart is Destroying America? I'm afraid I already know what my New Year's Resolution is for 2010.)

We the consumers aren't the only ones suffering right now. I realized today that we have a responsibility not to turn our backs on our favorite businesses just when they may need us most.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reasons I love Asheville:

The Architecture.

The Art.

The Street Musicians.

The Fashion.

The Square.

The Lizard.

The Flora.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Summer Camp

A few bright spots appeared in my employment doldrums recently.

Yesterday, I was called to substitute teach for the first time. I registered as a sub a few months back but haven't really made the calls necessary to solicit work, because honestly, I was scared witless. I can count the number of days I've spent at a public school on one hand. But for whatever reason, Houston Elementary noticed my name on the very bottom of the list, and it happened to be one of the two days I'm not at SMC. Scared or not, I was not about to turn them down. It was kindergarten. Not so bad, especially as my friend Grace has been doing a lot of kindergarten subbing lately and always has good things to say about it.

I put up my bravest, most self-assured front when I got to the school the school, and I think I did a pretty good job of it. When I got to the classroom, though, I started to panic a little. "Where's the teacher's desk?" I asked the secretary. She unocked a tiny office in which the desk was tucked out of the way. "Oh. Well, where does she teach from?" "Oh, she has rotating centers." Ok, centers, like Montessori or something. I think I can handle that, as long as I have some kind of lesson plan.

"Lesson plan? Oh dear, I don't see it..." She shuffles around the room. I start to break a sweat. "She must have left it with Brenda." Turns out, Brenda was the teacher's assistant. A most wonderful, competent, knowing, take-charge teacher's assistant. She was what saved my bacon. I got through the day with a small measure of grace, basically just asking Brenda and doing whatever she told me to do. The kids, though a little naughty, were adorable and kept hugging me and saying "I love you Ms. Anthony!" At the end of the day Brenda thanked me, said I was wonderful and that she wants me back. Oh, blessings from Heaven! It could have been such a nightmare!

Today, my boss told me I am on the top of the list for summer hours. Things are looking bright for next year too. I took a look at SMC's summer calendar and confronted the stretches of time the library won't be open. Two weeks in May. Not too bad, if I can just squeeze all my bills into that first paycheck, I'll call it an unpaid vacation. Enough leftover for gas, and I might could pack a few sandwiches and go on an adventure.

Then there are the entire months of July and August. What will I do in the middle of the summer? Who hires people in the summer? I don't know where the idea came from but suddenly it was there in front of me, plain as day. Summer Camp!

It's perfect.

It's only for the summer months, lots of fresh air, quality kid time, and room and board all paid for! Sure, it's not a lot of money, the living conditions can be rough, and you have little down time. But it's such an adventure!

I've been wanting to travel and do something entirely on my own. Isn't this what people my age do? I could go to Alaska! Oregon! Practically anywhere! Plus, I'm way qualified with plenty of kid experience and handy skills to teach. Music, macrame, knitting, you name it.

I spent a couple of hours today surfing and The only hitch is convincing them that I'm worth hiring after the first session is over, since most sessions start in June. But surely, of the hundreds out there, someone will think I have enough to offer even starting late. I feel like it's actually attainable, worth the effort of filling out dozens of applications.

So now I'm feeling really good. The stress and desperation that surrounds most of my job hunting effort is nowhere in sight. I feel like I can breathe a little easier. I feel like it's where I belong.

Of course I can't breathe too easy until I actually land a summer camp job. I'm rolling up my sleeves.

Postscript. I finished the Root article. Whew. And the Sonny's job fell through, for the two of you who might have been curious.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


–noun Sociology.
a state or condition of individuals or society characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values, as in the case of uprooted people.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gmail Autopilot

What I see as I'm signing onto my email this morning:
April Fools.
Thanks, Google.
(if the colors are funny it's because the only computor in my household that still sort of reliably functions has a dead video card. or something like that.)
If you've been wondering where I've been these past few weeks, so have I. I finished the presentation on the Amish, it went really well. Now I'm trying to pick up the pieces of my life that started scattering with the cieling/power/roof incidents and have continued to fall apart as I got more and more enmired with the Amish presentation. I had no idea how much work and time goes into those things. And I have finish this article for Root that is way, way late. I really ought to get back to that.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shopping with Jesus

I want to tell you a story about how wonderful my Lord is.

Yersterday, I went to Barnes and Noble to buy some music with a gift card I've had forever. I've been learning lately how God wants to be invited into every corner of my life. Anywhere He's not welcome, I don't need to be. I was a little trepidatious about applying this in the arena of music, but I decided to do an experiment. I invited the Lord to shop for music with me. That is, I asked Him to help me choose and told Him that I wouldn't buy what He was against me having. I was a little afraid, thinking, well maybe He won't let me buy anything, or point out some kind of "spiritual music," but, whatever, we'll just see what happens.

This decision occurred after I had collected a large stack of CDs to take to that reader thing that lets you scan it and preview the tracks. So I sat down and began. Some of the music I didn't like, some of the music I kind of liked but the Lord was like "no." Then I came to a CD of an older band I like but don't have a lot of music by. All of the sudden the Lord was like "Yes!" This was the one. I was completely taken aback. I was not expecting Him to have a positive preference, I just expected Him to limit me. I double checked, but His voice was clear. When God speaks to you, you just know. I can't explain it.

So I bought it, and a cd of one of my favorite bands of which I'd had a pirate copy for years. I could tell the Lord wasn't thrilled about me buying that one but I knew the band deserved to be paid for all the times I'd listened to them and I'm trying to become a law-abiding music citizen.

I'm still so surprised at that choice the Lord made for me. It's by no means a spiritual band, and I them. It's a really fun album. But of course just because I bought this CD with the Lord's blessing doesn't mean it's automatically His will for me to listen to it whenever I want, or that they're somehow a band sanctioned by God and He wants everyone to listen to them. Of course not. I could speculate all day about why this CD, but that's a waste of time. Either I will eventually see some sort of divine reason for it, or I won't. All I know and care about right now is that I came to the Lord in vulnerability, with something I really care about, and He honored me and gave me something I really am happy with. He is just the sweetest person ever!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My power is out.

I'm blogging from work. It's been an interesting (and cold!) two days. Cole has graciously allowed me to reschedule the presentation. It is difficult to create a Powerpoint with no power.

The power goes out so often at my house that we've developed a routine. Light the candles, bring out the camping stoves, switch the fridge to gas. Boil a big pot of beans and keep hot water handy for cocoa and tea.

It's cold and we have no water because our well uses an electric pump, but yesterday was pleasant. I spent the morning visiting with elderly neighbors and the afternoon looking after some neglected small maintenance projects. My coat has all its buttons again. And my hair things, jewelry, and dresser have not been this organized since...ever. I was even able to get a little crafty with pimiento jars. I covered the lids with fabric and ribbons and they now hold hair ties and safety pins. I knew there was a reason my family has been saving all those glass jars. The jalapeno jar is especially shapely. Too bad it smells all spicy.

I'm so glad I was able to get out of the driveway and to work today. But I think I'm running a fever. Been feeling out of sorts all day, headachy and sniffly. I hope it goes away. Being sick with no power/heat/water is not a pleasant prospect.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

a string of unconnected news bytes

Yeah. It's March and it's snowing. I'm working on my presentation on the Amish for Cole's Anthropology class Thursday. And my ceiling caved in. Well about a quarter of it anyway. And I really think I'm going to be in grad school this time next year. I need money to take the GRE. Next week I am going to Atlanta for a conference, the week after that my band is playing at Shamrocks on the Square. Friday night I swing danced to an amazing band, Cristabel and the Jons, in the Cleveland Alumnae House at Converse. Wednesday I had a picnic on the hood of my car, under a beautiful tree on Kennedy Street.

I would upload pictures, but this is really just a brief update because I need to get back to the Amish presentation. It feels like being in college again. (Only this time, I am the guest lecturer!)

Oh yes three bands I recently discovered and love:

The Welcome Wagon
Noah and the Whale

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

still alive

Yesterday, I wore spring green velveteen pants. I just really wanted to type that. Spring Green Velveteen. It's really the only reason I'm blogging.

(Hey, inspiration doesn't strike that often. I take it when it comes.)

Ironically, it matched my chilled avocado soup. I didn't take a picture of either, but the soup looked about like this:

Cilantro and all. Except we didn't have such pretty matching cups to drink it out of at Soup Night.

Anything else to say? Oh, I didn't get my dream job. Ah well. God has other plans, obviously. I'm excited to know what they are, but I feel more and more like they will involve school for library science. I just have this vision of me as a reference librarian at a small liberal arts college and I like it. Actually, I can't shake it.

With today's paycheck, I must make the difficult decision: sign up for the GRE, finally, or have my car checked. It's got an oil leak. Man, having a car is so expensive.

For those of you who have been biting your nails in anticipation (steve), I am working on the second installment of the AiR story. Promise I am.

This week Grace and I were talking about how I keep myself so ridiculously busy all the time. Really, for only getting paid for 17 hours a week, you'd think I'd be less stressed out. And devote a hair more attention to the job search. I don't know, I care about the band, and the jam, and the stuff with the college kids, and the Augustine Project, and the Spark, but I'm getting so restless. Just kind of wish I could shirk everything and be a completely irresponsible kid. For the long term. 'Cause right now, whenever I goof off its with this looming air of "there's something else you should be doing" all the time. And no matter what I've accomplished during the day, it never feels like enough. Maybe that's me creating stress for myself again. Or maybe I should be feeling that way. Maybe I have my priorities all wrong and it's time for me to grow up and streamline my life. I know it's not fair to my family not pull my fair share of the weight around here.

All I really want to do is go back to being 10 again. Sheesh.

I did clean the house though. Hasn't been this clean in months. And I cooked some delicious peanut butter cookies and biscuits and chicken pot pie from scratch. In addition to the soup.

I need sleep.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Words just don't do it

Writing down every meaningful moment from the past two weeks became an impossible task, so I've decided not to try.

Tuesday, January 13

Mr. Haller and Scout

Soup Tuesday at Sarah Witt's.

Come to HUB-BUB this Tuesday (the 28th) at 8:00 to have as much fun as George is here.

Hookah and a cookbook. (Joey Geier, Sarah)

Friday, January 16

After the College Town interview, I unwound and celebrated with a little banjo pickin'.

Amanda and Cole Cheek at the SMC Faculty/Staff Winter Banquet

Tuesday, January 20

Wednesday, January 21

Birthday girl Grace Suggs, husband Jacob, and Georgie

Thursday, January 22

When a planned activity is canceled, an unplanned adventure generally results.

Nathaniel Coburn and Lindy Bunch. We ate sushi and talked big. Marvelous thinkers, those.

Friday, January 23

Screen was not working.

Source of the problem (notice the pinched spot on the pink wire).


Saturday, January 24

Allyn Steele's house.

Finally got to meet the man after hearing about him for a year.

Lindy Bunch.



Sunday, January 25

Chapman Cultural Center.

I was on the front row. It was a defining musical experience.

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