Monday, March 27, 2006

Was a five hour drive worth it?

I have no words. Well, no adequate words. All I can say, is, if you ever get a chance, go hear Todd Agnew in concert. His story, his heart, his beliefs, his philosophy - they all resonated so deeply inside me. I can't tell you how very convicted and broken I left that concert. All the things I have been dealing with were brought to the front of my life and worked over. Todd talked as much as he sang. I didn't care. The music and the words totally broke my heart. I have never felt this way after a "concert" before. I found myself angry with the "audience" who didn't get it, and didn't care. They just wanted to hear more, so they could sing, dance and "worship" Todd. And you could see on his face it was breaking his heart too. He told them their Amens meant nothing. Their words, nothing. He kept stepping out of the spotlight, but it always followed, and you could see it made him uncomfortable. He knew people didn't get it. His message, his heart, his passion. He literally told them to shut up, be still. Listen. Understand. They weren't capable of it. When he said he didn't wanna be a Christian anymore I don't think many people got it.....
He not only stepped on toes, he stomped hard on them. And they blew it off. Our hearts obviously aren't ready to hear this man's message. How sad. Todd Agnew has a great ministry ahead if he doesn't get beaten down and discouraged. And you could already see that in his face.
If you get a chance to go hear Todd Agnew, please do. I guarantee your heart will be convicted and you won't think about the poor, the needy, the widows, orphans, the lonely, hurting, marginal people, Christianity or our churches the same way ever again. You will rethink who you are, and who you should be. If you let God work you will come away with a broken heart and a new perspective on what it means to be a follower of Christ.

One other thing, it gave me a whole different perspective on these concerts, and why I go. And why I may not go to many more. I went to concert of a well known group on Friday night, one I really, really liked and have always thought had a wonderful message. The difference was night and day apparent this weekend. It caused me to do a lot of thinking about motive and message. To wonder how they can walk the fine line between ministry and show. And to ask when they become about themselves and their desires and not about God and his. When it becomes about what they are doing, and not what God is doing. When they start to believe their own press. To be fair, I think it is insidious. It starts innocently. So subtly they don't even realize it. And often we don't notice either till we are hit over the head with a 2x4 and see it for what it is.... And right now Todd Agnew is still being used of God in a humble and mighty way, and hasn't crossed that line. People may not like this, or his style. But I pray he stays this way, and that he will not be caught up in it, and will get out before his heart is changed.....

There are so many more things I want to say about this, but I can't figure out how to get my thoughts on paper. It is still working itself out in my heart.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Well the heart that hurts Is a heart that beats......

Easter. It's my favorite holiday. In fact, last Easter I blogged about it. This is what I wrote:
Easter Sunday:
In sitting and meditating today, it struck me how very much I like Easter. I think it's my favorite "holiday". So full of joy and above all hope! Easter lilies, greening grass, budding trees, sunrise services, joyous, vibrant music, sun streaming through stained glass windows. Spring, renewal, asparagus :) New beginnings. Grateful heart. Faith. Peace. I am filled with such a sense of joy and wonder and hope. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! And so too shall I live. How can I not celebrate and feel so wondrously happy, joyful, alive and thankful from the deepest part of my soul?

This year, just like with this past Christmas, so many discouraging things are happening. Without going into it all, the majority of them seem to have connections to church/Easter/choir etc. This year Easter, my favorite holiday is becoming a negative experience. I know it doesn't help that I feel tied to my church until Easter, and that Easter Sunday and Choir are the reason.
What does that have to do with anything? I don't know. It just has been a particularly hard year. I look at the joy of last Easter and wish I could capture just a fraction of it again. How did I get from last years joy to this years sadness?
Every where I turn things are painful, and falling apart, and just not good. Today just went from bad to worse. All day. One thing after another. Now, before I got ready to head out the door to choir practice (with dread....) I checked my email. Why, Oh why do I have to check it so often? I could have done very well without the email I received.
But no, there in black and white was the sad news that a friend was killed last night in a motorcycle accident. It took my breath away. He was only 23. He and his sweet wife Katya went to our church until they got married a year and a half ago. He (Yuri) and Katya traveled with Kelsey to Alaska on a missions trip, and Kelsey dearly loved him. I never saw either of them do anything but smile, and love life. It is just so tragic, so very, very sad. My heart just breaks for Katya.
I couldn't help it. The day just fell in on me and I could barely tell Kelsey before I broke down in great gut wrenching sobs.
All day, ALL day, with all the problems and upsetting news I have been just a step away from losing it. That was all it took to push me over the edge. Now I have to pull myself together, and go to choir practice.
To sing.
Joyful Easter music.
With a breaking heart.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

So long status quo - I think we just let go.....

Well, my older daughter has official been kicked out of youth group. Yep. Why you might ask? What did she do? Nothing other than being a college freshman this year. The new youth pastor said after Easter she is no longer going to be part of the youth group. Despite the fact that we have no college ministry at our church. And not only that, but she is no longer welcome in the high school Sunday School class either, again despite the fact that we do not have a college age class. She was in tears today. At one point they had said she could be an assistant leader, but now apparently they have reneged saying you have to be 2 years out of high school before you can do that. That made her mad. And considering the youth group is really little, and she is one of only two girls and she is willing to stay and participate you would think they would encourage her to stay for now.
What it's doing is making her leave, and also the other girl, her best friend, K, because she does not want to be the only girl. Well, actually, that isn't the only issue, but I won't go into that today. When she told Kim he said, well, that makes our decision all the more easy doesn't it. The decision being to leave our church and go elsewhere. So many things have transpired in the last few months. Things that have been taken away, or real problematic. Kim had a point - if it were not for these things we would probably not been brave enough to go even if we knew we should. We were like baby birds - we had to be kicked out of the nest! 6 weeks. Six weeks and I am done, and the girls. Kim still has some responsibilities, but we can work around them. I know we made the right decision. It's still hard. But then things like today occur to prod and nudge me to move along because I am not brave enough to do it alone!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Who was St. Patrick anyway?

Growing up in what is now Great Britain, Patrick was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland as a teenager. For six years he was forced to tend flocks, but he was free to turn to God for consolation. Over time, he underwent a profound conversion. After escaping and returning home, Patrick became convinced through a number of powerful dreams and visions that he was being called by God to go back to Ireland and walk among the very people who had enslaved him.
He returned as a priest eager to spread the gospel message among a people who were still practicing human sacrifice and were the major slave traders of their day. Patrick found a way to plant the gospel in that culture, proving himself a missionary of great skill. He believed God had chosen him to convert the Irish. Drawing on his own struggles earlier in life, he preached in a way that had special meaning to a people who were downtrodden and commonly dismissed as barbarian.
St. Patrick found God in nature, in people, in the Church he loved and served. He is a saint for the Irish—and for all peoples.

You can read about St. Patrick in his own words in the Confession of St. Patrick

Here is an excerpt:

Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, who does not know how to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone Lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity — benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise.
Wherefore, then, be astonished, ye great and little that fear God, and you men of letters on your estates, listen and pore over this. Who was it that roused up me, the fool that I am, from the midst of those who in the eyes of men are wise, and expert in law, and powerful in word and in everything? And He inspired me — me, the outcast of this world — before others, to be the man (if only I could!) who, with fear and reverence and without blame, should faithfully serve the people to whom the love of Christ conveyed and gave me for the duration of my life, if I should be worthy; yes indeed, to serve them humbly and sincerely.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I have decided to follow Jesus....No turning back.

OK – it's done. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Especially since we had a really good practice tonight – everything just went right and sounded awesome. But I knew in my heart that I had to do it. I had to be true to my decision and follow through with it. And so I told our music director that I would be leaving. I was a bit of a chicken and used the fact that I am helping with a church plant to ease the way. But we did have an opportunity to talk about a couple things – and not at all in a negative way. I was very careful. I don't want to leave with hard feelings on my or anyone's part. I am doing what I am doing because it's what God wants me to do right now. And that's all that gave me the courage to tell her, and give up the music ministry I am involved in that I love so very much.

So. I'm still upset about it. And I know people are talking about it. I know they are - the Choir director said as much when I talked to her tonight. And I have to finish out my obligations - because that is the way I am. So April 30 is THE END. And the next 6 weeks will be torture. The questions are already starting....

Now my 16 year old has no patience for this. She said I don't need to take their attitude. I don't owe them a detailed explanation. I need to smile and say I have a close friend that is starting a church, and he needs our support. And we have decided as a family to do this. We have thought hard about it, and prayed about it and feel this is God leading. And leave it at that. Smart girl. Where'd she come from?

And the kind of questions?
Are you unhappy here? What is going on with you? Is it a GARB church? This area has so many churches we don't need another - why are you doing this?
As well as all the comments designed to make me feel guilty - like I almost quit two weeks ago - but I didn't. We need you here. What about the womens ensemble and worship team?

After I told the music director last night I suddenly felt very unwelcome where I was. No longer part of the "in" group. I left the church feeling very alone. The door closing behind me seemed so final. I got in my car and cried.

You can't camouflage that!

Today I was sitting in my driveway waiting for my daughter to finally drag herself out of the house so we could go to work/school. I was absentmindedly staring out the car window at the neighbor's front yard and his two trees. And as I stared in the early morning light at the monochromatic tree limbs I suddenly realized right there, slightly right of center was a brilliant red cardinal. It just popped. Wow. Of course my eye was drawn right to it, and I could hardly tear my eyes away from its beauty. And it occurred to me that that is part of what being a Christ follower is all about. In this world of monochromatic sameness, of mind numbing cardboard cutout lives, we are to be brilliantly unique. A beacon. The bright spot. The unexpected thing that catches the eyes of the world and makes them want to watch us to see the beauty of Christ. To be good, and beautiful, and startling in our lives so they can hardly tear their eyes away from the love of God. Big shoes to fill, eh? But yet so simple....

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Disney Pictures....

OK - here are the pix from Disney! Enjoy. :)

It's official - we have arrived!
the orchestra concert. You can see Carissa if you look closely....
Our fearless leader (the good one. :) )
Carissa and Mr G
C R and L :)
B (he has been C's best friend since they were 4 :), C and R
with my dad and sister
the last several are obviously the parade.....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Where the Rubber Meets the Road...

Put up or shut up. Fish or Cut Bait. S_ _t or get off the pot. You know all the sayings. And that is right where I am. All my decisions about my church have been made. After my obligations at Easter are done I am gone. But as of today I haven't told the Choir Director, the Worship Team Leader or the ensemble I am in. Hasn't been necessary - yet. But, now after all the crap we have been through with worship team, after they shot themselves in the foot, painted themselves into a corner, and they were not able to do the job, suddenly they have decided that they want to use us again. My Achilles heel. Aargh. Gotta be strong. Stick to the decision I made. And now, I have to tell people. I am a wreck. I hate conflict. I hate doing things that make people think badly of me. I am not strong. I'm a chicken. But, it appears I have run out of time. I thought today was the day, but I have gotten a weeks reprieve. And I'm taking it, believe me, I am. But I have to do it. I have to act on what I know to be right and the decision that I have made.
And until I do it, the stress will just continue to weigh on me. Either choice I make, to wait, or to tell, will be painful. Guess I'm in for a rough couple weeks. That sucks.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How Evangelical Are You?

I took this quiz. Apparently I am backslidden....... :D

I Survived the "Happiest Place on Earth."

OK - all you ever wanted to know about my trip to Florida, and then some.....
First, let me say we DID have a good time. And the kids, at least 95% of them were good. And I am glad I went, and yes, I would go again.
With that said - the trip was also very difficult. Starting with loading the busses before we even left. We shoulda known right then that the leader had no organizational skills. NONE! None-the-less we managed to be on the road by 9 am. last Wednesday. Good kids, good chaperones, excitement, movies - what more could you want? We had the best bus by far - with the best kids of course! The day went well, but by evening we had some sick kids. One with the flu (yep!) and several car sick. Now those of you that know my daughter know how phobic she is about vomiting. And so she insisted she had to sit with me from that point on. All night. She slept. On me. I dozed a bit. I have long legs and busses are not conducive to getting a good nights rest for anyone, much less those of us with long legs! My tendonitis started flaring in my ankle. But on we rolled. I think I managed about 2 hours sleep when I became so exhausted that that outweighed my discomfort!
We arrived at Disney around 11:30 am., and after an hour of disorganized chaos, managed to get all the kids into the parks. I met up with my son and his friend who flew down, as well as my dad and my sister and spent the day with them at MGM. Warm. Sunny. Breezy. And something blowing around in the air that hit my eyes and I literally had tears pouring down my face several times that day. Thank goodness for sunglasses......
We checked into our hotel around 5. Ate at the food court. The kids went swimming. Typical stuff. Until lights out. I was on duty that night. Bah! What should have been simple suddenly blew up in my face. Along with routine stuff, and taping certain kid's doors, we suddenly had a situation on our hands. I ended up sitting for a couple hours - from midnight til 2:00 am. with a girl who was threatening to cut herself. She is a cutter, has been hospitalized and is on meds. But she had had some things happen on the bus ride that put her over the edge. And we weren't sure if she was really taking her meds. While the band director (- a sweet, but terrified 24 year old at this point) was talking to the school, her parents, social workers etc. I was with her. It took her awhile to open up, but she just talked and talked and talked once she got started. She was in anorexic mode - hadn't eaten all day, and said she would not eat the next day.She had weighed herself and was "up" to 120 pounds and was "fat." She has had issues with this also in the past and it was all the control she felt she had at that moment. We talked about so many things. Once she asked me if I was a psychiatrist. I said no, just a mom. Finally after 2 hours I pretty well had her talked down, and then they came to move her to another room and she lost it again. She wanted to room with me, but she couldn't - she had to be with a teacher from the HS for liability reasons. I did get her to walk with me to that room and I think she did ok then. So I slept from 2 til 6. Not a good way to start a trip. And certainly not a good way to start the craziest day of the trip.
The kids were involved with 4 back to back performances in the park that day (Friday). Yep - back to back. 86 degrees. High humidity. No food. 3 more kids got the flu. One girl got sick from heat, lack of sleep and stress. Soon all the kids were panicky. But all the performances went well and the kids FINALLY got to eat - around 5:00 pm. Very poor planning if you ask me - but no one did. The kids had to stay in the park til 9:30, then meet at the busses to go to the hotel. 98 percent did so. The rest were not anywhere to be seen. Late, lost, with the medics, AND back at the hotel where they were not supposed to be. So by the time all were accounted for, we got back to the hotel by 11:00. With hungry kids, who, since they ate lunch so late hadn't eaten dinner. Suddenly we had kids all over instead of in their rooms. Which made the Choir director (the big leader) lose it. Totally. Yelling at the kids. Swearing at the chaperones. Chaperones started turning on each other as well as screaming at kids. You know, the old kick the cat thing. They called an emergency chaperone meeting and we all got reamed out but good. Some of it was very inappropriate. And I was working on 4 hours sleep. Fortunately, at this point I could still manage to keep my thoughts to myself......
The next day we were up again at 6:00 am. for band and orchestra workshops in Orlando. More chaos. Unhappy adults. Unhappy kids. Angry people. And a totally whipped looking, overwhelmed 24 year old band director, who was caught between the adults and the dictator choir director. He felt so bad by this time that he apologized to the chaperones who were with him. OK you get the point.....
Afternoon in the parks on their own. Evening in the parks on their own. Couldn't go back to the hotel til 11:30. Exhausted kids who just wanted to sleep. I had such bad tendonitis in my ankle by now that I couldn't walk. But we were forbidden to go to the hotel. Cuz kids might "do things" in the rooms. Bah! The kids were exhausted, stressed, we had 6 with the flu and blisters abounded. Some kids rode around and around on the monorail to keep warm and sleep until they could return to the hotel. Poor, poor planning. A schedule set up for failure. More angry adults. Who begged to let some of us stay at the hotel the next day so the kids who wanted to could stay and swim and rest etc. Not allowed. Insanity. And because of more issues I only got a few hours of sleep again....
By now I'm having trouble not saying how I feel. I was losing it. We all were. We said a lot of things we shouldn't have. It was just so frustrating. More dumb adult happenings. More dumb kid issues. More dumb kids period. Who were making bad decisions because they were SO TIRED! It was another long, long day. We had a diabetic problem that we had to address. We had a girl who had a bad reaction to the sun. We had sick kids dumped on a bench instead of being allowed to stay in their room because that meant paying for an extra day.....and it went on and on and on. Halfway through this day I just wanted to be alone. By myself. I didn't wanna talk to anyone. Or think. I just wanted to sit on a bench, or walk through the park and be by myself. That's what having no down time does to you. Especially if you are an introvert.....
And then we got on the bus to go home. Finally we could sit. Our bus zonked in about 10 minutes. But the choir darlings on bus one with the dictator director had to stop to get "ready for bed" HUH? So, a half hour into the trip we stopped. Which woke up all our kids who were furious. And I can't repeat what the adults said. Back on the bus. Rolling again. One hour later STOPPED AGAIN!! Because some kids on bus 1 needed to go to the bathroom and the dictator director didn't want them to use the potty on the bus....????
By now the band director has had it. He's walking with me just muttering and stomping about. (Remember he's 24) He looks at me and says I think I'll go order a country fried steak and potatoes. We won't get home until Wednesday anyway!..... We all got slap happy after that and we adults kept the kiddies awake with our silliness. Shame on us - but we were so stressed and so tired, and we had to laugh to keep from being over the edge angry. This time the bus managed to travel until 6 am at which time - you guessed it, the dictator director wanted to stop for a buffet breakfast that no one even knew about. AND THEY WERE ALL SLEEPING! Argh. Enough. You get the picture. I'll quit whining now. We managed to arrive home around 9 pm Monday night. My feet were so swollen I couldn't walk. My toes looked like vienna sausages. No Lie. I spent yesterday at work with my feet on the desk and ice on my ankles. I went home from work and spent the evening with ice on my ankles. I fell asleep at 9. My feet look better, tho still swollen. I am still exhausted. With no hope of recovering this week, my schedule is just too busy.
But we did have a good time. It's just the bad is dominating my thoughts still.
We rode rides and sat in the sun. The parade was awesome and we got great pix. We ate well most of the time - tho it was fast food and we got tired of it. We made new friends and spent time with old friends. We got to know the kids a lot better. We were where it was warm. I got to ride some cool rides with my son - he flew down to spend his vacation at Disney. I got to go behind the scenes at the Magic Kingdom. I got yet another reminder of what it's like to be a teenager and the issues and stuff they are going though. And I hope at least part of the time I got to make a difference in a kid's life.
Would I go again? Absolutely!

Rides I managed to find time for:

Great Movie Ride
Rockin' Roller Coaster (my favorite :) )
Muppet 3-D
Back Lot Tour
Star Tours
Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show (Brand new and way cool)

Magic Kingdom

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (love this ride)
Haunted Mansion
Peter Pan
Winnie the Pooh
Buzz Lightyear
Small World


Mission Space (Left me totally disoriented for hours)
Test Track
Spaceship Earth
Soarin' (New and totally awesome....)

Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest(New and awesome roller coaster - in the dark and backwards....)
Kilimanjaro Safari

I don't have a lot of pictures. I was too busy... but I'll try to get a few up later. If I'm not sleeping..... :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The lights are on, but nobody's home.....

Well, I was gonna write a little about my trip, but I am WAY too exhausted. Like only 12 hours of sleep in the first 84 hours of the trip exhausted. Aargh! My brain cells just don't want to co-operate today, so I'll just have to say it's good to be back. We had fun (most of the time!) the sun was great, it was in the 80's and even with all the problems it sure beat being at work!
I'll try again tomorrow....... :)