Sunday, June 29, 2008

I got the Joy - Joy - Joy - Joy....

Church was about Joy today - well actually it's about joy all summer - based on Philippians. Specifically joy that overcomes: circumstances, adversaries, and personal agendas (whoa whoa whoa...what?). It stemmed from Philippians 1:12-26. And our pastor made an interesting comment about spontaneous incontrollable laughter that generally occurs when we shouldn't be laughing (ie a wedding, church, interview, meeting, class, prayer, family gathering....and I have experienced that in all of those places except a wedding) but that we're really wired for that type of overcoming joy that cannot be stopped.

He said Paul would have been on an 18 inch chain with a guard at all times - the same guard for 6 hours at a time and there would have been no privacy for either man (ew?!). Paul decided that since the guard could always see what he was doing, that he would write and preach God's grace and wound up converting the guards - but the verse says something a long the lines of "it was no secret among the guard that I am in chains for Christ" - really? No kidding, they must have thought he was nuts. But he was joyful - cool.

Joy is in the perspective - so if that's the case then it is, in theory, always possible to be joyful. I know I'm not so what's up with my perspective then? The thought being "How is God working in this" or "To live is___ and to die is ___" ..... that is going to take some more thought I think.

Fill in those blanks - I spent some time making a list and it looks something like this:
to live is:
love, success, happiness, companions, coffee, random good times, photos of good times, good music, long chats, good worship
to die then is: loneliness, disappointment, hunger, boredom, no communication, not enough sleep, poor sound quality, songs I don't know

Well look at that! Right there is part of my issue - the joy is in the small things which is ok but it's temporary and short lived joy. Paul said - and actually in the Greek there was no "is" as if he was so pumped he had word vomit, but he said "to live is Christ and to die is Gain" - yeah that's not on my immediate list today...ouch. But even the list he read from Chuck Swindoll was different. What would that look like?

joy is a cool word - better than happy and seems to connote, for me, an emotion that is not superficial or invisible but that takes over - makes you beam, jump, yell, cheer, laugh - without inhibition and sometimes uncontrollably. Pretty cool - but how often do we experience TRUE joy?

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Yakety Yak!" (Don't Talk Back)

As of today, I am an art teacher for Camp Edventure More - an arts and science camp that I have worked for every summer for 3 years now. Previously I was a counselor but am thrilled to be in a real teaching position and have my own space to make and use - an actual art room!

I never felt like an achiever in art, could not stand my art teacher in elementary school and never pursued anything remotely artistic aside from photography. I found myself considering what went wrong and what it would take to help a camper - student - random kid - love art and really believe that they are an artist and succeed at being creative.
My solution? Well not complete yet but today with the younger kids we read a story called "Dot" and it's about a girl who 'can't do art' and her teacher tells her to just make a mark and sign it - so she makes a dot and signs it. Turns out they frame it and make a big deal about so she makes a bunch of different kinds of dots - and it's art and everyone loves it. Point being, anything you do and are creative with and excited about is art and it may be different than what I drew or the person next to you drew but let's get excited about it because YOU did it and YOU put work into it - so be proud!

What does that *really* look like? Pulling details, " Cool wings on that bug!" or "Check out those colors!" "Wow I love that habitat!" etc.... but does that really seem effective?
I really believe children are naturally creative and imaginative and just need places to effectively use those skills - fine tune them perhaps and appreciate the outcome. So the project begins - learning how to teach art, love art, and make kids into artists.
More thoughts to follow...

Along those same lines is the idea that art can be a form of worship - whoa wait I'm working at a secular camp so how does that work? Well I definitely cannot talk about it but it's worth my sanity to keep it in mind, what these kids perceive to be the world around them and how they interpret it, change it, and represent it is a glimpse of the fingerprint of God on each of us and our perception, imagination, and appreciation in the world we live in.
hmmm more food for thought.

PS the title? That's my 'call and response' for the classroom to pay attention and get quiet - kinda fun!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lover of My Soul

I'm going to take a risk - according to Google, no one is really reading this except me anyway but it's a place to write. I'm going to go personal for a minute...

I am 3400 miles away from someone I care very much about. Someone in fact, that I love. In the past two summers I have operated under the mindset that a countdown, work, and spending time on the phone make it easier, while also trying to enjoy being home. It was ok - we survived and here we are, summer #3. I left with some tears this year but got on the plane out of my mind excited to come home. I am still so thrilled to be home and with my family and my attitude is very different. I am clinging to the time I have here at home because I was more than ready to be here and because I know I'm running out of "just being home" time. I didn't have the heavy lump in my throat when I called him the first day here, I didn't feel sad, lonely, or depressed because I have a summer ahead of me - I was content to be home. I am.

But tonight my family is off doing other things and my plans fell through so I am home. It is beautiful, finally getting cool, and smells wonderful of California plants and dry air. All of a sudden, while cleaning up the kitchen, it hit me. The dull ache and longing came back and I thought I might cry spontaneously with no warning. I turned on loud music and scrubbed the pots harder. I sent a text...two...three. It wasn't going to get better in my mind unless I magically wound up in his arms within the next 10 minutes.

Then I realized that the feeling itself is ok - it's good to 'miss' someone, I think it makes for a healthy relationship and makes you appreciate the time you do have. It's what I do with that feeling - so I directed it up. Yes up - to the real love of my life and giver of life. I prayed. I asked God to be my wholeness, my love, and to hold me. I asked him to be my love. And as soon as I finished cleaning and eating, I took off on a walk to enjoy what he has given me - love gifts if you will - and settled up on a hill overlooking Mount Tamalpais to journal. A 'date' perhaps.

So am I ready for this summer - and to be alone? I don't know... I like the idea sometimes but other times something is really missing. I LOVE being home but it still aches. But I think I just need to turn that ache over - and I know I'll have to do it repeatedly - so that God can use it to draw me to himself. He loved me first and I can't properly love if I don't love him back - first.

I'm sure it seems elementary but for a girl in love...profound!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Divine Dogs

Bear with me...
I'm not being sacrilegious but in light of the fact that our family dog is gone and the more time I spend at home, the more I am aware of his absence, I really believe dogs are given to us by God - I don't mean in a sappy "Precious Moments" way but in that dogs are created to be companions and that there is a fingerprint persay, of God himself in a dog.

Take for instance the dog I am borrowing for the night to keep me company. His name is Billy, he is a mutt with a brown body and a brown and white head and white 'knee-high' socks. He is medium sized, skinny, and short haired. He also has ears which stick straight up or out depending on his mood. Billy is very sweet, enjoys life, loves other dogs, and walks like a slinky. I'm not kidding - his back end is constantly trying to catch up with his front end and he runs in a zigzag manner.

My dog, Duncan (who passed away in April), thought he was a person, or at least equal in abilities and respect as a person. When I would walk him or sit at home with him I could literally talk to him, ask him how he was feeling (he had arthritis) or if he wanted to play or walk or be loved etc. Before you make judgments about my mental stability, liken it to the way we talk to small children, cheery, smiling, in love, and with the realization that they probably don't understand most of what we say. But Duncan seemed to realize I at least needed to just hear my own voice and would sit and look at me intently as I spoke, as if he was listening. You could say his name and his attention was on you until you dismissed him. I loved that and I suppose I took it for granted.

Billy? You say his name and he looks for .32 seconds to see if you have something he wants or is immediately making it worth his while. Then he goes back to being a dog. Conversation is not possible and I wound up looking stupid talking to him about the difficulty of our walk. He didn't show interest or even entertain me by pretending to listen. Billy had a different gift, making someone feel loved and needed and moreover, missed. I had to restrain him when my mom left for work and anytime I moved rooms in the house, he had to come except he can't walk on our wood floors so I had to carry him. Billy made me feel like I needed to take care of him, like he needed me - even while he was sleeping at the foot of my bed because he wouldn't leave me. My brothers are too old to 'need' me in the house when mom's at work, I'm just a fire marshal, referee, and lunch packer. But Billy needed me.

So are dogs divine? Do all dogs go to heaven? I'm finally able to toss those thoughts around without getting choked up.
I do believe God blesses us through our dogs - however different their roles, abilities, and personalities. I don't have a clue about whether they are in heaven but if they aren't, we won't miss them. But that doesn't mean I'm not hoping my sheltie is standing and waiting for me someday, eager to listen and love me.

...and I don't think I'm ready to get another dog unless he can converse.

I'm curious:
Do you have a dog? What does it 'divinely' offer you when you need it? Have you lost a pet?

Sunday, June 08, 2008


If you haven't heard the song or seen the Discovery Ad please do so: Watch Now
It pretty much sums up life.

Marin County is sunny, warm, dry, always clear, healthy, delicious, and expensive.

My Thoughts and snippets of commentary since Summer Really Started a week and 4 days ago?
* SFO is the cleanest airport
* I am in love with the Golden Gate Bridge
* It seriously will not rain until September
* I have to drink more water here
*I like being lazy for now
* I love being home
* Mom and I have tons of fun
* Good coffee
* Good food
* Good Wine
* I love seals
* Seriously dogs don't belong in baby snugglies
* Chiuahas are horrible
* Parents dating is .... strange
* I look at a mountain from my bedroom
* it's great to be away from everyone
* but it gets lonely sometimes
* everything is more expensive - except organic food
* fires are a major worry
* I check the earth quake map daily
* Oleander is very very poisonous - but beautiful
* plants here are jurassic in size and look like they only get miracle grow - huge and blossoming
* people use more mass transportation
* fifteen year olds are awful a lot of the time
* life is empty without a dog
* cats love you - only if you nap

more serious thoughts later...