January 21, 2011

taking a moment

One one hand, I feel lazy. Things are moving pretty slowly this month, especially since spring semester doesn’t start until February and rehearsals for our next show, “Risen” don’t begin until next Sunday. There is still work to do for both my job and “Job” (working on the script for an original Masquer production based on that particular book of the Bible). But less running back and forth reduces the frantic pace that often marks my days.

On the other hand, I slightly savor the calm before the storm. Of course, I love storms- even metaphorical ones (usually). February marks the beginning of a 2011 busyness that won’t really stop or slow down. I’m assuming my school schedule will increase as I advance in classes- with more involved homework and film projects. WorkChurch becomes more involved this year as I move from adjusting to a new job to raising the standard for our kids’ ministry. Masquer is doing four productions in 2011, instead of the usual three. I’m getting a puppy for my birthday, so there is housebreaking and such on the horizon (advice and tips welcome! i’ve never had a puppy before!). As always, I hope for more writing jobs from the radio station. I’m looking for a local yoga class since I cancelled my gym membership. And as soon as the weather is consistently warm enough, I will be back in the water, reuniting with my fishy friends.

And that’s just the beginning… you know me, you know how it goes. i have a hard time saying “no” to opportunities for new adventure.

Mamaw seems to be doing pretty ok! I would say, “can you believe it?”, but honestly, it’s quite believable. She’s tough and not ready to throw in the towel just yet. She’s out of the hospital and in a rehabilitation facility to build strength. The future is still uncertain- as futures become with age and health issues. There’s talk of the grandkids visiting Ohio sometime to see her…. That brings mixed emotions, as I really want to see her but hate the thought of a good-bye- not to mention that you never really know if it IS good-bye (and always hope it’s not).

I love living in California. I don’t regret my decision to move across the country, and, though I care about my family, I don’t have the tiniest desire to ever live in Ohitucky again. However, there are times like this when I wish I could be more supportive and more present. These are the circumstances that call for visits and taking a turn helping out- sharing the load. This is when you want to play as many games of rummy with your grandmother and make sure you know all the family stories. It’s also the kind of situation that reminds you to cherish the moments you can with the people you love.

So cherish I will… and I do. From moments like this- sitting quietly in the sunlit living room, writing on the couch with my ipod as a companion…. to the joy of exploring the neighborhood on a warm day- walking with Kelly and Tootsie as the sun hits my shoulders and I am inspired to wear the colorful skirt my sister, Becca, sent from South Africa years ago. Or the comforting belonging feeling you get when your friends “kidnap” you for a fun, silly movie…. and it goes on, every day constructed of moments.

January 13, 2011

one day in a whole life

The challenge: Take one picture each hour all day to illustrate a day in your life.

This group project was inspired and organized by my friend, Becca, on her fabulous blog. She’ll be posting the results on February 1st, and it’s open to YOU, too. So check out my day, then be all excited to grab your camera and show me a piece of your life. :)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Wednesday, January 12th, 2011!

day in the life 001 9am: The first thing I see when I open my eyes is my star lamp, hanging right over my head. Based on this spectacular piece of photography and excitement, you know you’re in for a thrilling day.

day in the life 002

10am: Daily time in the Word. Right now i’m using this fantastic resource from Beth Moore- 90 days with Jesus. I cannot possibly be more enthusiastic about this book!

day in the life 00311am: Putting on make-up before heading out for the day!

day in the life 00512p: Quick stop at Jamba Juice! Thanks to Becca for providing a coupon that got me a coldbuster smoothie for $2! I drove the rest of the way to WorkChurch listening to fun music on a sunny, seventy-degree day, with a lovely view of the city below and snow-capped mountains in the distance- and the delightful taste of orange smoothie. :-D

day in the life 006 1p: My desk at WorkChurch. Today’s task included prepping for Sunday’s lesson and children’s sermon, organizing a mission project to collect canned goods, prepare postcards for students with birthdays or frequent absences, and create an attendance chart. Lots of administration for now!

day in the life 0072p: Because hours of desk can be boring, behold- i give you the view of a classroom!

day in the life 0093p: We also have a small play area, that I get to make sure is tidy each week. Thankfully, I have fantastic teachers and really great kids, so it’s a pretty minimal mess.

day in the life 011day in the life 0134[30]p: Ok, I know I’m cheating by putting two pictures, and I waited until 4:30 to take them… but whatever. This is my part of the project and I shall do it my way. ;) Sometimes I avoid the freeway and drive home along the coast. I stopped at one of my favorite dive sites to try to catch this pre-sunset happiness. We call it Whale Point, as this is where we saw actual, real-life whales this summer!! Sadly, we weren’t in the water at the time (i wonder if we could’ve heard their call?), but I’m optimistic for this coming season and so ready to be back in the water (once it is no longer 53-degrees, that is). I have hopes for sea lions or dolphins this year…. AND i read that they are protecting this particular site from fishing, which means increased wildlife, I hope.

day in the life 0145p: Mailed some postcards to church kids with coming birthdays!

day in the life 0156p: Took a break to watch Pushing Daisies with Tootsie.

day in the life 0167p: Back to work! Writing a spot (commercial) for the radio station.

day in the life 0178p: Oops…. distracted by Facebook… robot unicorn attack and chatting with my little sister, Claudia.

day in the life 0189p: Discipline prevails! Timing the written spot to make sure it is the right length to be aired.

day in the life 01910p: Hungry!! And it’s time to get groceries!! For the ultra-curious, I ended up making a scrumptious sandwich: veggie patty, fresh spinach, goat cheese, red-pepper hummus, toasted wheat bread. Oh, and a piece of Kelly’s amazing apple butter bread.

day in the life 02111p: Chilling with Kelly…. well, we were both on our computers. But it counts. We aren’t THAT anti-social..

day in the life 02212a: Working on the script for “Job”- a show Masquer (theater company) is doing this summer. The deeper I get into this scripture, the more there is to think about… include…. consider….. what a project! day in the life 023Sometime after 1a: I think I’m done for the day…….

January 02, 2011

is this what you want?

A sprint up the stairs left me a little breathless, but I still rushed through the church hallway to my office. I wasn’t late yet, but still needed to make copies, gather supplies for teaching the preschool class, and then join the worship team for pre-service prayer. However, talking to Mamaw for a few minutes was totally worth the delay in arrival to WorkChurch.

Had it really been only twenty-four hours since receiving the news that Mamaw was back in the hospital? Sitting across the booth at Denny’s in pajamas, I calmly explained to my friends, Amanda and Leah, the reason behind my family’s frequent texting. My grandmother has had quite a few health issues in recent years. It’s difficult to see someone we love be sick, yet it’s also a sad reality of aging. I prayed she would be healed and completely trusted that God had it under control.

My phone rang at ten o’clock last night from the kitchen counter. As I walked the few steps from my room down the hall, I intuitively knew it was my parents. And with a three-hours-ahead time difference in Ohio, a phone call at 1am cannot mean anything good. Sure enough, they reported that Mamaw had stopped breathing temporarily. She was doing ok for the moment, but they were on their way to join my aunt at the hospital. It didn’t look good.

Cue the cousin network. Within minutes, through the wonder of Verizon wireless and our borrowed internet connection, I was in touch with both of my sisters and my cousins, Sarah and Bethany. Years of family dysfunction have taught us that our own lines of communication are priceless. Waiting for updated news is hard enough, but throw in a 3,000 mile distance barrier, it’s maddening. There was absolutely nothing I could do for my family. Despite financial reality, I found myself researching plane ticket rates. I contemplated how fast I could be in Ohio, and the choice between saying good-bye in person, or attending a funeral. Past experience and God’s gracious gift rational thought reminded me to process this, prepare myself, and consider all options- including the option that Mamaw could totally pull through this.

You see, my paternal grandmother is a woman from the Appalachian hills of Kentucky. Maybe you’ve never met a true mountain hillbilly. They’re feisty. They’re strong, tough, fighters. They know how to handle the difficult circumstances of life. Picture Granny Clampett from “The Beverly Hillbillies”, and you’ve got a pretty close idea of Mamaw (I’ve never seen her handle a gun, but i suspect that, under the right circumstances- and before she started getting sick- that she would’ve been just fine).

The updates continued this morning. Miraculously, Mamaw is doing pretty good (considering the severity of her health circumstances). She’s still being treated for pneumonia and a handful of other things, but she’s awake and, importantly, breathing. She’s acting like her usual self. When I spoke to her for a few minutes this morning, she laughingly informed me that she was a “lady of leisure”, lying around all day while people waited on her. Way to turn a near-death experience into a hotel stay, Mamaw.

Another crisis averted- for the moment.

Back to the dash through the church hallway, I pushed aside the still-processing thoughts of family issues and what-ifs, the strategies and game plans in case of varying degrees of emergency. I reminded myself that this is happening on the heels of a crazy week sandwiched between Christmas and the New Year- a week that has been full of challenges and mixed emotion. I needed to replace these with smiles and joy, and bring out the genuine love for the kids in our congregation. Inside the sanctuary, the worship team was going over the morning’s music. This particular song was one I hadn’t heard in awhile, straying from the typical praise chorus.

The pathway is broken, and the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I will walk through the valley if You want me to

It may not be the way I would’ve chosen
As You lead me through a world that’s not my own
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I’d never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me, and I’m all by myself
And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help
I’ll remember the trials Your love put You through
And I will go through the fire if You want me to

Yes, Lord, I hear You.

In an attempt to avoid religious superstition, I want to be sure of a situation before I declare that Satan is attacking. Sometimes, I think we give him too much credit whenever life gets a little less comfortable. But reality is that our theater company is now creating a show based on the book of Job. The combination of God’s hands-on object lessons and the devil’s tendency to try to prevent holy things from happening is going to be a factor in our current life events. As I sit at my computer and flesh out the story of humanity understanding suffering and the “big picture”, it’s probably not a coincidence that I’m battling one of the most intense depressive cycles since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. How else to put myself in the shoes of a grieving father than face the possibility of loss in my own family? Am I gaining insight to the words “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I shall return there” when my finances take a nosedive into the abyss of car repair bills?

And won’t I still bless the name of the Lord, whether in sickness or health? Still claim that “though He slay me, still will I trust Him”? When it comes down to it, I step past my frustrations into the big perspective- “I still know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.” I speak the truth of these ancient scriptures (and, admittedly, take a teeny bit of comfort when reminded that my trials are not nearly as bad as homeboy Job over here).

Another song sums it up nicely-
The questions just amazes me
That circumstances possibly
could change who I forever am in You…..

Jesus, bring the rain.


(For those of you keeping track, or if you’re looking for some good musical inspiration, “If You Want Me To” is by Ginny Owens, and “Bring the Rain” is by MercyMe.)