Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Willow Arts Conference Reflection 09

I didn't have a laptop with me for the Willow Arts Conference this year - so I just did updates on twitter. But just for the record, it was a great week of renewal as usual. Doesn't everyone need those times to sit back and be reminded of why they do what they do?

Here's the deal. I have my dream job - which doesn't quite seem fair (since it's the only full-time job I've had). I get to work to plan the weekly worship of a local church. AND I get to work alongside of people with incredible artistic gifts. To top it all off, this is in a community that has nurtured me & empowered me for pretty much my entire life. Wow.

And yet, far too often, I can get discouraged and tired. When your job is planning and preparing for Sundays - you start to realize that the deadline comes every week with amazing regularity. And - I'm what I like to call a "high-achieving slacker" - which means that I work best under pressure (though I usually cry somewhere in the process). And it can be way too easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Nancy Beach mentioned a few of these "enemies of wonder" in the first conference session: hurry, stress, too much technology, noise, lack of solitude, absence of celebration, boredom of routine..." I have definitely been influenced by a few of those.

The theme verse for the conference was from Isaiah 29 -
13 "And so the Lord says,
'These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.
14 Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites
with amazing wonders.
The wisdom of the wise will pass away,
and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.'"

I never want to be guilty of verse 13 - and yet, right after that, God's response in verse 14 is amazing! I am so grateful for the reminder to look to God in amazed wonder - and to offer genuine worship to Him.

As they ended the first session at the Arts Conference, they did an amazing drama/dance/video piece called, "Behold the Dreamer." It told the story of an artist in the church - and quite honestly, I don't think I could do it justice trying to describe it with words.

As the piece ended, this prayer came on the screen - and today it is my prayer for my ministry & for my team.

God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finale Week

This past week I went to 2 finale parties for TV shows - Tuesday night was The Biggest Loser (which I didn't watch this season; I went because I've enjoyed the show before and it's always fun to go to a finale party) and then Wednesday was LOST (which we got to watch with our LOST-loving friends; we even had Dharma snacks!). We have yet to watch the finale for "The Office" - hope to catch up on that soon.

This coming week holds yet another major finale - American Idol. You guys? I have a confession. I used to LOVE this show - but I'm kind of not loving it lately. I used to love seeing how people would pick songs on the various genre weeks and I loved giving my (usually very strong) opinion on each performance. I went 10/10 by myself in an AI round of a trivia challenge a few years ago. I enjoy spirited discussions about the show with co-workers and on message boards and blogs.

However, this year I haven't found any contestant that I've had any type of strong reaction to - positive or negative. I also really don't like having 4 judges.

I just...don't care very much. Which makes me a little sad and nostalgic for earlier AI seasons.

(Remember the AI finale when they had the Clay Aiken lookalike sing - and then brought the real Clay out behind him and he FREAKED OUT? Remember how much I hate Blake Lewis? Remember Fantasia singing after she won?)

My dad sent me this link - A guy ranked his top 95 all-time Idol contestants. Lots of obscure people near the bottom of the list. And he over-ranked the current season's contestants. (Scott Savol at #50? No way.) My dad and my favorite guy (more for personality than singing), George Huff comes in at #38.

Who is your all-time favorite idol contestant? Any other thoughts on AI?

(I will probably try to watch the finale this week - if only to see Adam Lambert sing some super-cheese generic "believe in your dreams/this is my moment" song they wrote for the finale. Or maybe the producers will do another 90's worship song for the group medley like they did last year...)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We're using a prayer in our services today (in part to celebrate Mother's Day) - and because we're using it, I've been pondering it quite a bit. It's a prayer that sits on my bulletin board at work, so I see it regularly.

I don't always reflect it - but I do believe in living life with purpose and intentionality. My life has been immeasurably blessed by women (both my mom & grandmothers - but also countless women at church, teachers, mentors, and friends) who have chosen to love unselfishly (which is actually redundant). They are examples to me of voices that speak against lies and rebel against the status quo. I am grateful for them - and want to make my life count - to the glory of God.

Dear God,
please make us dangerous women.
May we be women who acknowledge our power
to change, and grow, and be radically alive for God.
May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.
May we weep with those who weep and
speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
May we cherish children, embrace the elderly,
and empower the poor.
May we pray deeply and teach wisely.
May we be strong ang dentle leaders.
May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.
May we never hesitate to let passion push us,
conviction compel us, and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.
May we dismantle abusive systems and
silence lies with truth.
May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.
May we overflowe with goodness in the name of God
and by the power of Jesus.
And in that name and by that power,
may we change the world.
Dear God, please make us dangerous women.

-Lynne Hybels, "Nice Girls Don't Change the World

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Love this

Saturday, March 07, 2009

This is totally new information.

This was a good week. A week full of new and (mostly) amazing discoveries.
  • Turns out - I like eggplant parmesean. I'd heard people talk about it, but had never tried it. Thanks to my small group - I now know that egglant is not so scary (at least when it's covered in bread crumbs, fried, and covered in pasta sauce and cheese).
  • Did you know that St. John's Hospital has parking spaces reserved for clergy? This is totally new information! I realize it's a little lazy to want to find a convenient parking spot - but since I was going on hospital calls, I totally used it! (And since I took the last one, I tried not to think about the elderly priest who was going to have to park at the top of the parking garage because of me.)
  • I have discovered that I can work out (and by work out - I mean spend 25 - 40 minutes of torture - JILLIAN.) almost every day and not die. I may have walked around like an old lady for the better part of a week, but I definitely feel stronger/healthier already.
  • Did you also know that Sonic has a $1 mini sundae with candy? I recommend the Oreo topping.
  • Even though I read Fahrenheit 451 in high school, I remembered NONE of it when I saw a high school production this weekend. It was thought-provoking for sure. Did you know that Bradbury said the book is not as much about censorship as it is about the effect of television/mass media on people's desire to read? The threat is less people burning books - and more that people just don't read. (Makes me want to stretch myself in that area...)
  • Speaking of heat, we are in the middle of a HEAT WAVE (70's!) - but no one wants to turn on the A/C because we all know it's only March and it's central Illinois. But this means that Target, the grocery store, and pretty much any building are miserably hot. Also, it means that my feet stink.
Did you discover anything this week?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And so it is for us...

This is a reading from a Lent/Easter devotional I've had for a few years.
I write in my books as a general habit. This one my only note is next to the title: "Wow."

Ash Wednesday 2009

Living Lent
Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

We didn’t even know what moderation was. What it felt like. We didn’t just work: we inhaled our jobs, sucked them in, became them. Stayed late, brought work home – it was never enough, though, no matter how much time we put in.

We ordered things we didn’t need from the shiny catalogues that came to our houses: we ordered three times as much as we could use, and then we ordered three times as much as our children could use.

We didn’t just eat: we stuffed ourselves. We had gained only three pounds since the previous year, we told ourselves. Three pounds is not a lot. We had gained about that much in each of the twenty-five years since high school. We did not do the math.

We redid living rooms in which the furniture was not worn out. We threw away clothing that was merely out of style.

We felt that it was important to be good to ourselves, and that this meant that it was dangerous to tell ourselves no. About anything, ever. Repression of one’s desires was an unhealthy thing. I work hard, we told ourselves. I deserve a little treat. We treated ourselves every day.

There were times, coming into the house from work or waking early when all was quiet, when we felt uneasy about the sense of entitlement that characterized all our days. When we wondered if fevered overwork and excess of appetite were not two sides of the same coin – or rather, two poles between which we madly slalomed. Probably yes, we decided at these times. Suddenly we saw it all clearly: I am driven by my creatures – my schedule, my work, my possessions, my hungers. I do not drive them; they drive me. Probably yes. Certainly yes. This is how it is. We arose and did twenty sit-ups. The next day the moment had passed; we did none.

After moments like that, we were awash in self-contempt. You are weak. Self-indulgent. You are spineless about work and about everything else. You set no limits. You will become ineffective. We bridled at that last bit, drew ourselves up to our full heights, insisted defensively on our competence, on the respect we were due because of all our hard work. We looked for others whose lives were similarly overstuffed; we found them. “This is just the way it is,” we said to one another on the train, in the restaurant. “This is modern life. Maybe some people have time to measure things out by teaspoonfuls.” Our voices dripped contempt for those people who had such time. We felt oddly defensive, though no one had accused us of anything. But not me. Not anyone who has a life. I have a life. I work hard. I play hard.

When did the collision between our appetites and the needs of our souls happen? Was there a heart attack? Did we get laid off from work, one of the thousand certified as extraneous? Did a beloved child become a bored stranger, a marriage fall silent and cold? Or, by some exquisite working of God’s grace, did we just find the courage to look the truth in the eye and, for once, not blink? How did we come to know that we were dying a slow and unacknowledged death? And that the only way back to life was to set all our packages down and begin again, carrying with us only what we really needed?

We travail. We are heavy laden. Refresh us, O homeless, jobless, possession-less Savior. You came naked, and naked you go. And so it is for us. So it is for all of us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

Not been feeling the blogging for a while. Life has felt a little hectic. But here are some truly random thoughts... Many of these bullet points could have been their own posts - but I am feeling - how you say - lazy.
  • Had a chance to worship last week at seminary chapel (at LCS). It sure is fun to go to Lincoln when I'm not in school. You know what else is fun? Starting a song only to be blown back by the volume of voices singing along with you. Man, those people can sing. We did a song that I've only used as a choir piece before - "Instruments of Your Peace." It's based on the prayer of St. Francis - and worked really well corporately. (I also found a version by Kendall Payne on a worship album of hers. Who knew she had a worship album?)
  • Found a new blog - Sojourn - a church community in Louisville, Kentucky. They are one of those old-meets-new places that makes me very intrigued. Their worship albums (including their Advent one) are good. Also interesting - the Open Sourcebook - an online collection of new liturgical writings/service elements.
  • Josh and I had an awesome weekend in Geneva, Illinois a few weekends back. The bed & breakfast where we stayed inspired my visual artist side to venture out of hiding. You can see some photos on facebook. (Photography is the only safe visual arts medium for me. Until Rebekah teaches me how to throw pottery, anyways...)
  • Have had some great, challenging conversations with Melissa lately about taking risks versus playing it safe. Goes along with the current theme to our worship services - do we want safe, comfortable lives - or do we want lives that are used by God to do something bigger than we could do on our own?
  • Last Sunday we used a series of G.K. Chesterton quotes in worship, from his book, Orthodoxy. I was reminded as I was skimming over the book that Rich Mullins clearly read Chesterton. In the opening pages of Orthodoxy, he says, setting up the book as his own snapshots and attempts to describe his view of God, "I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me." (Which reminds me of the lyrics to RM's "Creed." Good stuff.)

Hopefully more, less-random thoughts to come. (I hope to blog a little bit during Lent.)

In the meantime, I am praying and waiting not so patiently for the arrival of Baby Sandel!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Randoms

Just a few, un-related bullet points for today:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

2008 Retrospective

It has been quite a year - and I doubt I'd be able to do it all justice in one post. But here are a few highlights from 2008 in my world (non-work):

  • Singing the Durufle Requiem with the Illinois Symphony Chorus
  • The Wizard of Oz pit orchestra
  • House hunting & the purchase of our first home in April

  • The coolest bridal shower ever - with lots of cake centerpieces

  • My sister, Rebekah, lives the dream (spends a summer in NYC)
  • My sister, Mary's high school graduation

  • Granny and Gramps' 60th anniversary

  • Lots of friends getting married (which meant doing the Cha Cha Slide A LOT) and lots of friends having babies (which mostly made me feel old)
  • Our wedding (July 12th)

  • Crazy/great trip/honeymoon in Mexico
  • Finding out about Baby Sandel
  • My brother Josh & Jenna's wedding (July 26th)

  • Millions of peaches

  • Olympic Opening Ceremonies party - where I fell asleep in the basement
  • New co-worker in my department - yay Gabe!
  • Going to 2 Cubs games

  • A new small group
  • Fun fall things - IN Covered Bridge Festival, haunted house in Terre Haute & the Great Pumpkin Patch
  • Election Day Birthday Party

  • The arrival of the PIANO to our house
  • The world's craziest Christmas season

Wow. Well - 2008, thanks for being an incredible year. We will definitely remember you!