Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tagged by Jodi.

Jodi tagged me and since I have nothing useful to day today I'm going to go with that. Thanks, Jodi! Apparently I'm supposed to tell you all what I was doing ten years ago, twenty years ago and thirty years ago.

So ten years ago I was a twenty-five year old newlywed. Rusty and I had been married for about six months by late October of 1997. We lived in a great little apartment in Columbia, Maryland, outside of Baltimore. I was working at a desktop publishing job and he was working at NASA for the Landsat satellite project at the time (this last position he held at NASA was with SOHO.) Actually, almost exactly ten years ago this week was when we had a really fun Halloween party where we did one of those murder mystery games. Everyone came dressed as their character (and we made up some extra characters because so many people came.) The prize for top costume had to be Ashley and Wood dressed in leiderhosen made out of duct tape. I'm still not sure how we squeezed everyone into that apartment.

Twenty years ago... 1987... holy cow. October of my sophomore year of high school. I had just turned fifteen. This would have been around the time of year that I went to the homecoming game and dance at my boyfriend's high school (which was awesome because my high school didn't have school dances.) Also, around this time twenty years ago was when I met one of my very closest friends, Amy Williams. I was a cheerleader and she was at one of the games. It was raining and some of the cheerleaders were sitting under umbrellas because it was so nasty but one or two of us decided to stick it out. Amy came and sat near us and did all the cheers with us because that's exactly who she is - she has a great ability to look at any situation and find the most fun aspect of it and take it from there. I spent more time in high school laughing with her than anyone else. I still adore her and her family and now our kids love hanging out (and trying to push each other into Winton Woods lake. True friendship.)

And... 1977. In October of 1977 my mom was remarried for about seven months by then. I had just turned five. We were living in a new house in the middle of nowhere (a.k.a. the Fields-Ertel exit where at the time Natorp was the only thing around.) I had started kindergarten at J.F. Burns elementary school that fall where I made a friend named Jenny Hoop. Then, at the end of kindergarten my mom decided to put me into a new little Christian school in Fairfield for first grade. Where I started school the first day and walked in to see... Jenny Hoop. Our parents didn't know each other (yet) but her mom was the church secretary next door to the school and they had enrolled Jen there as well. Jen and I still keep in touch and I still love her. She's one of those people I don't see for a while then when I see her it's like no time passed at all. And since we moved back I've gotten to see her a lot more often.

So. Three decades. Man, I feel old.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

No TV talk, I promise.

So that was a nice little diversion, I'll admit.  But the reality of things right now is this - I feel God pushing me to grow up a little.  To grow up a lot.

Rusty and I had lunch with our pastor last week.  Tom was really helpful in helping us... ok, me... figure out what's important and what's not (Rusty never seems to get confused or doubt himself as far as his faith is concerned.)  Some of it was stuff I already knew.  I just wanted to hear it from someone else.  And Tom called me on that and asked, "why?"  and asked why I don't trust myself spiritually.  I would like to just end it here and say, "I don't know.  Let me think about it."  But that's total b.s.  I have a good idea of why.

There are so many professional Christians around.  I mean, I have faith and I think I understand what I read in the bible.  But then someone with a degree or book title on his resume makes things more complicated than they need to be.  Do I just double check myself and shrug and go on with my day?  No.  Not usually.  I'll admit my first response is often to assume that I got it wrong.  And that opens the door for all kinds of stupidity.  For fourteen different people with fourteen different agendas to jump in the pool and start splashing me with their knowledge while simultaneously trying to drown the other thirteen before they can get to me first.  I hate it!  What the crap is up with American Christianity at this point?  And what's wrong with me that I can't get around these idiots and live my life in Christ?

Seriously, I didn't realize how angry I was about all of this.  All of my questioning last week wasn't an indication of my faith starting to waver.  I wasn't trying to re-evaluate what I believe.  I realized that after talking to Tom.  I was trying to figure out where my beliefs put me in terms of the rules and how am I supposed to identify myself as a Christian in America today?  And guess what?  I refuse to do it.  I refuse to identify with anyone outside of Christ himself.  My political convictions are my own and I live in a country that allows me to choose based on those convictions.  I believe there are some great people trying to help the masses really understand the salvation that God offers us - not just the promise of eternity with God but also the unconditional love that frees us to truly be ourselves and allows us to start looking at others differently in light of that love.  The fact that Jesus' life and death give us reason for meaningful existence on earth until we die?  A benefit that some don't seem to grasp.  Their loss.  And all I can do is my best to live the example instead of giving in to the desire to issue a collective bitch slap to the more annoying amongst them (oh ye of great big mouths and very little love.)

(And by "them" I mean the larger group of angry, fighting, "Christian brothers" busy tattling on each other and tossing hate grenades.)

So there is it.  Whether he realized it or not, Tom issued a challenge by putting out there the possibility that God is trying to push me into the possibility of some spiritual maturing taking place.  I spent so much of my time growing up lying to myself - and often to others by acting like someone I wasn't - that I have one major rule I hold myself to since becoming a real believer.  I will not lie to myself or to anyone else.  I refuse to act in any way that goes against what I know to be true.  So I have to take this and go with it.  I know what I believe and I have to start standing strong in those beliefs.  And while I do that, I can not let just any old big mouth with a seminary degree bully me into believing that I'm not smart enough, or faithful enough, or good enough to experience God one-to-one.  I totally am.

So now I'm going to go gorge myself on C.S. Lewis.  The Great Divorce is a very comforting book for me...  weird word to describe a book, I guess.  But that's the first word that came to mind and it fits.  I think it's because in the story, in order to enter heaven you have to die to everything you were and be brutally honest with yourself before you can really experience the full reality of what God has in store for you.  And I also like it because Lewis' sci-fi heaven is not a very "church-like" interpretation at all.  Scandalous.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A better explanation.

Ok, so I did a pretty crappy job of explaining that show. So what this and it pretty much covers it. And you can see what I mean about the whole "stylized" thing (again, very cool):

Then watch this. And totally feel free to sing along:

Pushing Daisies

I don't watch a lot of TV. Or at least not consistantly. We record My Name is Earl, Mythbusters and two out of three CSI's (original and extra-cheese Miami flavor.) There are one or two other random shows I'll watch if I happen to catch them when they're on but for the most part I don't "follow" any one TV show anymore. I watched Lost during the first season but by season two I was so stressed out from the insanity of it all I just had to give up. It went from being quirky to needing a pen and notepad to keep up with it all. It's just not fun.

So a few weeks ago my mom mentions this show she thinks I'd really like - not just for what she's read about the story itself but also because it's supposedly to be very visually different. I love when my mom tells me about something because it "looks like you, Stacie." She's pretty much always on the ball with that one - from the Nick Bantock address book to Pushing Daisies. My mom's cool like that.

I decided that I'd go ahead and record an episode of Pushing Daisies and see if it was worth it. I'd missed the first week so our first recorded episode was number two. I swear, I was five minutes into it and I totally went back on my resignation to never get tangled up in a continuing storyline again. Everything about this show appeals to me - visually, it's very stylized with the characters interacting in a pretty modern way and the dialogue isn't dated. But between the costumes (especially those worn by the female characters), the cars, the architecture and serious color saturation of it all you can't pin the time period down to any one decade. It's like they took the coolest elements of the last sixty years and mixed it all together. There's a narrator who moves the story along, the main character is referred to as "the pie-maker", and the main setting is his pie shop which is appropriately (and awesomely) named "The Pie Hole." It's all very art deco-meets-nifty 50's-meets-mod. I have to say, I really like it.

Then there's the storyline itself. I can't even begin to explain it (and it made no sense to me until I watched it play out) so you can click here and get a quick explanation: http://abc.go.com/primetime/pushingdaisies/index?pn=about It sounds pretty complicated but it's really not. And there are a few little twists that are achingly sweet like the fact that Ned couldn't catch Chuck when she fell and could only watch helplessly or that Olive can get outside of her own feelings and care about Chuck's grieving aunts (oh my hell, Swoozie Kurtz in the eye patch kills me.) Plus the lunacy of it all - a one winged carrier pigeon gets a new wing by way of a taxidermied parrot donor and a "Bedazzle" machine (seriously) or the explanation and flashback of the Asian guy's family civil war history.

So after the first week I kept feeling like there was something somewhat familiar about the show even though I only recognized a few of the main actors (Swoozie Kurtz, Kristin Chenoweth.) I realized it was something about the flow of the story or the dialogue. Or the totally casual and hysterical way it the show deals with death without being morbid at all. Then I read that it was created by the guy who also came up with Dead Like Me which was one of the funniest and most unique shows I every watched. Nail number two in the coffin of me not getting sucked in. But the final blow came on this last episode.

There is a scene where Olive is trying to get Chuck's aunts to leave their house where they've been confining themselves since Chuck's death. Olive makes a comment about the one-winged pigeon flying away instead of going back into the cage she used to transport it to the aunts' house. She says maybe the aunts could put their grief inside a birdhouse, an imaginary birdhouse. In their soul. And then they'd be able to venture outside their house again. I turned to Rusty and said, "I adore this show. They just referenced a 'They Might Be Giants' song. Without being super cheesy." Then the show comes back from commercial, and? The aunt played by Swoozie Kurtz is driving a 1940's looking car while Olive and the other aunt are in the back seat singing...

And then? I think maybe I swooned a little. And sang along.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

YoungLife still rocks.

So when I was in high school I was involved in YoungLife. I went to a small Christian school but apparently someone was smart enough to say, "just 'cause those kids are in Christian school doesn't mean they're Christians." Rick Brantly, Donna Radford, Mike Murphy, Kathy Sullivan, Steve Rempe and Mikey with the last name I can't remember. I hated youth group but I adored YoungLife. My YL leader, Kathy, and I were especially close because her dad was my dad's boss. We had common GE employee picnic stories and she was so excited to meet "Dave Kelly's daughter" after getting Christmas cards from my family for years (my dad has worked for GE for over thirty years. Don't mess with a man with military clearance.)

Anyway, YoungLife was fun and cool and all about loving God without shoving it down your throat. It kept me sane in high school. I went on to do work crew one year and summer staff at Lake Champion, NY. And Rusty and I were leaders at Bowie High School in Maryland in the mid-90's when we were in college (before we were married.) I lived with my area director's family for a year when I was in college, some of our dearest friends are people we were involved with in leadership in Prince George's County, Maryland. YoungLife has played a big part in our lives individually and as a couple. Part of the story of how we met involves YL. It's a ministry we love and still support whenever possible.

Rusty and I at Bowie YL Halloween night at club, either 1995 or 1996

Having said that? I feel old and at the same time excited to see what this next generation of YL leaders is doing in the age of YouTube and mobile media. I was searching for "Bowie YoungLife" on YouTube and found this. It turns out it's Bowie, Texas, and not Bowie, Maryland. But still. This rocks (and the idea of Rusty, Erik, Buddy and John doing this makes me laugh so hard I squeak!):

I mean, the OK GO video is awesome. But this kills me - this is a group of guys not afraid to look like a bunch of idiots and who took the time to learn these moves just to entertain a group of high school kids for God's sake (literally.) And I'm so glad we never had to do anything quite so coordinated when we were leaders (though I did pretend to play guitar and sing a totally whacked out version of Smelly Cat at club once.)(And Rusty wore a metallice gold tuxedo. On purpose.)

Once I discovered YL on YouTube, I was totally impressed with the quality of the video I found. A few schools stand out, one in particular is Westside YL ("Westside" of what, I'm not sure.) They have a series of Real YoungLife Heroes videos set to the same style of the Budweiser commercials that made me laugh like an idiot when I found them. I'm posting one here and you can find the rest by clicking on the username:

So we're old now. It's been ten years since Rusty and I were leaders. But I still see the same humor and clever ideas and love for kids that we had for our kids and that our leaders had for us. And now we have a family at church whose daughters are involved in Lakota YL and it's fun to see them get so excited - and serve! - and see the cycle repeat itself again and again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Back to music (thank goodness, eh?)

So this song wasn't on the mix video tape. But this was one of the first songs I remember liking in late elementary school or jr. high. Since Jodi broke out the Altar Boys (and since I couldn't find the 77's singing "Do it for Love") I now present the Coloring Song by Petra. Going old school.

(this is the only video with the song on YouTube so I had to go with it for the song itself. Can't vouch for all the images but seemed harmless.)

Ok, then I had to add this because it's so chapel-tastic. You can't get much more Christian-school-in-the 80's than this (to this day I can't stand listening to Amy Grant or Michael W. Smith.) I cannot count how many girls sang this as a "special musical selection" through my chapel career in jr. high and high school. And? The clothes are totally awesome and the girl in the blue sweater vest at the beginning is just so excited she can't stand it.


For anyone getting tired of reading my rambling about all of this? Please understand that some of these issues are not hypothetical for me. There are people I know dealing with situations that are really hard on so many levels and how I love them and how I show God's love to them is a big thing. The only specific example I'll give is this from one of my old posts:
One of my closest friends died of AIDS two years after I moved here. I knew him for ten years, he went with me and helped me buy my first car, met and decided Rusty was good enough for me, and was a really, really great guy. But he never told me he was gay or when he got sick because he knew I'm a Christian and was afraid I "wouldn't love him anymore" (hearing someone tell me he said that nearly broke my heart because this guy was like my brother.) I found all of this out two years after he died. He apparently went to very great lengths to hide it from me since I met him when I was in high school, I worked with him, I hung out with him all the time. Do you have any idea how convicting that is, to know someone hid something like that - something so painful and life altering - because they were afraid you wouldn't love them anymore?

This is just one reason why stuff like this matters so much to me and why I get stuck on it.

Spiritual Formation.

Our church is doing a great new podcast called "The Next Level" with the intent that we, as Christians, learn to "feed ourselves." I've listened to all three episodes (I'm waiting for number four, guys...) and I've been really interested in what Tom and Luke have to say. I feel like for all my Christian school experience, Holy land map tests and daily bible class throughout high school I still have very little practical information on how to continue to grow past a certain point. But listening to the podcast and wanting to get more info on spiritual formation is what started these last few blog posts.

The reason I ended up Googling "Brian McLaren" and "dangerous" is because I had originally searched for "Spiritual Formation" and came up with this on the very first page of results: The Dangers of 'Spiritual Formation' and 'Spiritual Disciplines' Huh. Really. Then there was this: The Suburban Christian which referenced Brian. After a little more reading, I found out that my understanding that we're supposed to love and serve others can only go so far and if we love too much and try to make too many changes to the world around us in the name of love then we're in danger of promoting something called "Kingdom Now theology." Again, had no idea I was promoting anything more than trying to get around my own selfishness and see past what's going on with me and do something to help make someone else's life a little easier.

Honestly, this was all amazing to me. I mentioned that I had some idea that there were people out there that didn't like Brian's books. But I had no idea there were this many arguments for so many other things too. I totally didn't understand that many of those arguments were so hateful. Last week at small group Bruce asked, "so who does the bible say it's ok to not love?" Well, I didn't have an answer so I was planning on trying my best to not smack loser affair-having-wife-kicking-out-and-girlfriend-moving-in-while-totally-damaging-his-kids neighbor and to instead "love him" like Christ would. Now am I supposed to worry that if I do I'm somehow condoning what he's done? Where in the bible does it say when the love stops and the rules kick in? I mean, some point of view make it sound like if you love someone unconditionally then you're missing the point of the gospel (??!) and being too liberal and holy crap my head hurts.

For me, as someone who doesn't know Greek and can't use the word "eschatology" in a sentence and doesn't quite grasp the difference between doctrine and theology? Where do I start? I avoid Christian bookstores in general because you can walk in looking for a book on any given subject and depending on the denomination or personal slant of any one author you can get twenty books on the same subject and those twenty different books will tell you they're the right one. If you don't know anything about any of the authors you're at the mercy of the blurbs on the back of the book or like me, you'll go for the best jacket design (I'm an artist. Give me a break.) Anyway, this is the reason that Brian came up. We knew him and listened to him preach so obviously if I can avoid the other nineteen books out there and pick one from someone we know and trust, then I will, thanks. So after reading such crazy reviews and the downright hatred and fear out there regarding different books and authors I tried to do my homework and understand the arguements and that's where I hit the snag. Where my lack of understanding the terminology and the minutia of some of the points leaves me hanging. I want to understand if these arguments are valid, not just in Brian's writing but across the board.

Actually, I'll be really honest and say I don't want to take the time and trouble because it all annoys me. I know what I believe and why but I also admit I'm wrong sometimes (gasp!) So I feel like I need to think about things sometimes that I don't necessarily want to. I feel like it's a responsible thing for me personally to do because of my own experience in the past. I went through all those years in Christian school not knowing why I believed what I did. Then when it came down to it, I didn't actually believe what I thought I did. So now the why is something I feel I need to look into regardless of how irritating it may be.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Calmed down, thanks.

So could you tell I was a little amped up on that last one? I was being honest when I say, "I don't care what you call me" as far as which label applies to my particular brand of Christianity. But I really struggle with the fact that some of the arguements seem so petty and angry coming from people who claim to be speaking for God and our faith. After all these years I honestly don't know which debates I'm supposed to care about and which I'm not. Should I care that some believe in "substitutiary atonement" while others believe in "penal substitutiary atonement" and that one group believes the other group is "dangerously wrong" because of that difference?

When you get into calling someone a heretic or a "Son of Lucifer" because of their writing, you're getting kind of serious. And that kind of serious worries me enough to wonder if I've missed something. And I have no clue if what I'm missing is just more of the lovely brotherly love Christianity is infamous for or if it's really something I really need to be aware of.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dangerous minds.

So did you know if you Google "Brian McLaren" and "Dangerous" that you will get 46,000+ pages to check out? Rusty and I were talking about this earlier this morning. Our conversation got so in depth that we missed church altogether while we went over some of the 46,100 possible choices on reading about the danger of listening to or reading "Cult leader Brian McLaren" or "Emergent guru Brian McLaren." I had some idea he was becoming wildly unpopular in certain church circles. Rusty was floored, he had no clue (and imagine his surprise when he found out he'd stolen the name tag of a "cult leader" one Sunday and proudly worn it for all the world to see. Brian was amused at the time though now I'm thinking I'd rather he not wear his own name tag anymore for his own safety.)

It's interesting. Some of what I've read about Brian makes me say, "Yeah, so?" I mean, there are some awfully petty criticisms out there. Maybe it's from having sat in his congregation for a few years, both at the earlier stages at Paint Branch High School and then again later when Brian was becoming more well known when we moved back to Maryland and met at the farm. We never once heard him say anything that made us say, "Hey, wait a minute. He's wrong!" We never had that feeling, those alarm bells that made us wonder if Brian was smoking something. And I have a hard time believing he would preach something to the good people of Cedar Ridge on Sunday morning then go write a book that totally condradicts it. I'll confess, I've read Adventures in Missing the Point and A Generous Orthodoxy. And maybe it is because we have some personal knowledge of him and the kind of guy he is that I can read it and say some of it is so good to read and so much to think on and some of it is over my head both spiritually and philisophically so I give him the benefit of the doubt and think he means the best rather than the worst possible interpretation.

So after reading literally hundreds of blog posts on "Emergent" vs. "Emerging Church" vs. Mark Driscoll vs. Brian McLaren and his gang of "heretics" this is really all I have to say, as a lay person with twelve years of Christian school and four or so years of all-out rebellion towards God: Who the f@#$ cares? I mean, honestly, when it comes down to it, I don't care what the crap you call me. "Red Letter Christian"? Oh do not get me started on the Christianity Today article implying that my faith is of lesser quality because I happen to believe abortion and homosexuality are not the only two Christian issues affecting America today (this is a mini-tangent/rant, so just deal for a minute.) For some reason, my spiritual integrity boils down to this as far as Stan Guthry over at Christianity Today is concerned:

Remember the Sojourners ad released shortly before the 2004 election, "God Is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat"? But under the line, "We are not single-issue voters," it lists a series of black-and-white questions seemingly pulled directly from John Kerry's briefing book.

They range from poverty ("Do the candidates' budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families?") to the environment ("Do the candidates' policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it?").

I mean obviously I'm a raging liberal by asking those questions. Anyway, just a sidenote. But another good example of one group taking down another while not even making sense in the process (I'm still not sure how I'm supposed to feel bad about myself as a Believer for asking those questions, Stan.)

In the end, what someone wants to call Brian has no bearing on me, other than making me feel bad for him and his family and friends. All very good and very nice people. But in the end I don't care what I'm called or what group I end up being lumped with because day to day as I encounter people I won't ask myself, "Am I 'Emergent' or part of an 'Emerging church' or a 'Red Letter Christian' or whatever the latest group or thing to be is and depending on all that, how do I respond to this person in need?" No. No, I will say what I always try to say (sometimes I fail miserably.) I will try to say, "God loves me unconditionally. And I, as a person, quite often suck. So how can I show this person that God loves them unconditionally as well? Regardless of whether or not they suck. And it's not my job to determine whether they suck. It's my job to love them and let God sort the rest out."

See. This kind of we-say, they-say, you're wrong, no you're wrong arguing among the "faithful" is what makes me spaz about church in general. Freaks. And not the good kind (maybe for my next post I'll tell you about the "Once saved, always saved" arguements from bible class in high school for some real brotherly-love fun.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

More mix-tape love.

I now present, for your viewing pleasure, INXS. Never Tear Us Apart.

Prague, in all it's European-y-ness. And Michael Hutchins. And the line, ""I told you that we could fly 'cause we all have wings but some of us don't know why" which seemed so profound and is still actually pretty good after all these years.

ACHTUNG (Baby): Please note that I am the same person owning one iPod in which Kenny Rogers and Green Day, The Beastie Boys and Yo Yo Ma live side by side in peace and harmony. So don't be weirded out when RUN DMC shows up to bust a move with Sting and INXS. Because they were part of the original tape. Word to your mother*

*Yeah... I'm diverse and all. But I never invited Vanilla Ice to the mix video tape.

Random unconditional love.

I'm sure no no one that knows me is surprised by my blogging schizo tendancies. One minute I'm weeping about my freakish inability to blend in with the non-heathens and the next I'm getting all hot and melty over Sting. Good times (get used to it.)

Anyway, there are moments when this blog is just thinking out loud (or throwing tantrums, as the case may be.) Tonight I was replaying what we talked about at small group last night - unconditional love. And it was the first time I've really come out and talked about the effect of meeting Rusty had on me and how his love and the love of the people I came to be so close to really were a mirror of God's love for me. Our small group in Maryland was something I will always consider one of the most perfect groups of friends I've ever had. Wood, Ashley, Deeds, Ramsey, Sherry, Bruce and Karen (and sometimes Pete) are amazing people and during our trip back this past August, sitting in Deedie and Ramsey's back yard and just being with these people that I love, and that love me and my family... it's really not something I can put into words. And I honestly didn't think we'd find that connection again. Rusty, Alwood and Deedie went to high school together and I inherited them as my own friends. To have an "old friend" who marries someone as great as Ashley was a bonus for Rusty and later on to me when we got married (our first "real date" was to their wedding. I'm honored.) When we met Bruce and Sherry I was in awe for weeks. Sherry is one of those people who makes you think differently about everything. She sees and hears the beauty in the world that most people miss. Then she takes it and hands it to you in a way you totally "get." Her crayon anology is the reason for that grungy yellow crayon you may see pinned to my workroom wall if you ever come over and make a mess with me.

Anyway, such a great complimentary group of people and one I miss so much it makes me cry a little bit from time to time. These friends were with me at different times during a period when I was really becoming who God had created me to be and when I was finally feeling comfortable being that person. So imagine my surprise when last night at small group I felt myself opening up and adding to a conversation I wouldn't have thought I'd jump into outside of that circle of old friends. Instead, I was inside a circle of new friends. Same unconditional love, different people handing it out. We've been welcomed into our church in so many ways at so many different times. And I feel twice blessed now to have experienced such great friends in two entirely different places. Little by little I'm letting go of my church-o-phobia I think.

I'm off to find that INXS video I loved in 7th grade...

Mix-tape alternative.

So when I was in jr. high I decided I needed to put all of my favorite music videos onto one video tape [fee free to add a "back when MTV played videos" joke here] My friends and I would watch this tape during overnights and I believe some videos were even reenacted in their entirety during the legendary slumber party of '84.

I'm on a YouTube mission to find those videos. I'm interested in seeing how successful I am (and in seeing how many I can remember.)

For your viewing pleasure... Sting. And if you can get past the dance/body twitching at the beginning? Then right around 1:55-2:00 minute mark you'll see why he was the object of my affection. Holy crap, people.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Honesty is lame.

Ok, so that title made me laugh and probably is a bit over the top. But I wouldn't be me if i didn't blow something out of preportion once in a while, no?

So let me be honest. Church freaks me out. Not our church specifically (I like our church) but church in general. The institution of church itself. When I'm around people in a church setting or involved in a church activity a lot of times I tend to second-guess myself or my opinions more than I would otherwise. And not in a good "accountability" kind of way. More of a "I'm a freak and could therefore have nothing valid to add to this conversation/activity" kind of way. Holy crap, honesty is even more fun than I thought! [insert sarcasm there, please]

My mom and I have talked about my issues with church and more specifically my school experience. I think she's right in that I used to blame the school or the fact that it was a Christian school when I first starting addressing this back when I finally got my act together during college. I've gotten to the point that I understand that it wasn't that I went to a Christian school or to a certain kind of church that messed up my thinking about it. It was interacting with specific people in specific sitations while in those settings that did it. Just like a lot of people would say, "High school sucked", I tend to put my experience and feelings into a broader context because the lines between church and school were so blurred. I went to school with a lot of the same people I saw at church and youth group. So instead of "high school sucked" I would be more likely to say, "high school and church sucked" because they were one and the same in a lot of cases.

We changed churches a few times and eventually ended up at a large, wealthy church - the one that sat next door to the school. The one attended by many of the kids from school. I had kids in my graduating class/youth group whose parents owned car dealerships so they drove brand new cars, whose parents worked for the NFL and they left school every January to spend a week in Hawaii for the Pro-Bowl, kids whose lives were way different than those of us whose parents sacraficed financially to send us to that school. Think of the issues in such 80's movie classics as Some Kind of Wonderful or Molly Ringwald's character in Breakfast Club then throw in the aspect of spirituality and God and it takes it to a whole new level. Suddenly it's worse. Now you're dealing with the social stupidity of high school with a dose of "Am I saved? Am I going to hell?" thrown in. I'm not kidding you when I say I went to every altar call at chapel every week because I was miserable and figured it was my own fault because I wasn't Christian enough.

So like I said, I really like our church. But I have been surprised to find myself wondering if I've offended someone or keeping quiet during a discussion because I'm not sure my input is appropriate or out of line with the way I "should" be thinking. And though I dont' mind admitting it (like I did at the beginning of this post) I do find the whole thing weird. Because I don't tend to do that in any other situation. I don't have a problem saying I feel like a competent adult, artist and even mom for the most part. I feel like my relationship with God has matured and I know what's important now and what's not. But put me in a "church situation" and some of that collapses. And that annoys me because I have gotten past the high school stuff just like anyone else does when they grow up. But the church part is still lingering for some reason. Nothing about me changes when I walk through the doors at Journey. And absolutely no one there has made me feel that way. Same with CRCC back in Maryland. So apparently it's me. And I know that and am actually fine with admitting it. I just want to get to the point where I'm the same person regardless of who I'm talking to or where I am. If anyone at church ends up thinking I'm a nut then... I guess good for them that they figure it out sooner than later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Disney video #1

Scene: Disney's Animal Kingdom

The African drummers were great (though slightly cheesing for the camera) and about two-thirds of the way through I catch Sean in all his wiggling glory. He's a slave to the rhythm, people.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Did I mention?

Yeah. Rusty and I are going to run like hell through Walnut Hills cemetary Friday night, October 26. You should come join us! Click here: http://www.cincyrunlikehell.com/

P.S. "Able to be worn while running" costume ideas appreciated! So far I'm liking the idea of one of us dressing like "Lucky" the leprechaun and the other of us dressed like a kid carrying a cereal bowl and spoon ("They're after me 'Lucky Charms'!")

Catching up.

Thank you for the encouragement regarding how I was feeling on that last post. Things are going much better right now. We did not go the medication route for Liam and we're really happy we didn't. No matter what his issues, he's a great kid and God knows what he's doing.

I'm hoping to get some Disney photos up here soon.
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