Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do You Live in the Moment or Do You Live in Next Week?

Business Calendar & Schedule

Our family calendar is full. With 2 teens in the house, some activity is always going on. My own father became frustrated after I repeatedly turned down dinner invitations.

Ah, you never have time for your parents, he sighed.

Dad, I have the time. I just need to book it. Don’t you remember what it’s like to have teenagers in the house?

He doesn’t. 

We have obligations. I’m never living in the moment. My brain is already thinking about next Wednesday.

A few posts ago I wrote about juggling too many plates, knowing when to let the plates drop and warning against making people our plates. Specifically, I began to think of worshiping in church as an obligation, one causing me to act resentful. A response caught my eye and I’d like to share it with you.

My friend and fellow church-goer, Carter, is 20 years sober. After he read the post, he commented:

Well, when I first started reading this I thought it was going to be about's what I think of when I see the word "plate". Then I realized it was about juggling something I know nothing about. One of the nice things about being a retired chronic drug addict is that I'm not burdened by the nonsensical intellectual thought patterns of a healthy brain. In other words, I don't get to over-think service. 

There are a few key phrases that have been drilled into my brain, like "keep it simple stupid" and "if you want to keep something you have to give it away" or "if you want to get different results take different actions". And for someone like me who has to "live one day at a time", I've become okay with relating to God as a "conscious part of my every day thought". Which brings me back full-circle to the food concept, "You can't stay full on yesterday's hamburger" is another reminder that this is a one day at a time adventure. 

These things that are discussed in the context of obligations are more like nourishment to me and I love to eat! I feel nourished when I am of service. I feel fulfilled when I think of God as my subsidence. I feel blessed to even have quality problems in areas were at one point I had no areas at all. Sometimes my gloating and doting of and to my blessings is annoying to others who don't understand that more times than I could've lost it all I did lose it all. In this next phase of my life I am living in a fairytale and I'm happy to be the toad.

Well, shut my mouth.

Compared to most, my life has been relatively easy. I often get caught up in the “poor me, I’m so busy” mode, I selfishly forget there are others who absolutely live day by day. 

Some because they don’t have a choice. 

Some, because like Carter, they know what hell is and they’ll spend each morning thanking God for another sunrise.

I need friends like Carter to remind me how lucky I am. And if I feel my day is too packed and busy? I’ll thank God for the opportunity to be a light for Him and work in some time for rest.

I can plan to live in the moment, can’t I? 

Ugh. This may be harder than I thought.

What about you? Are you booked solid or do you keep your days open for whatever adventure comes your way?

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Traits My Tween & Teen Acquired From Participating in Live Theater

Journey Theater Arts Group

Edd and I created drama daughters.

For this musical loving mama, all is right with the world. My football fanatic, Sports Radio listening, ESPN watching spouse spent years wishing the girls would show some interest in a ball or a bat or a finish line. I’m pretty sure he’s done with that fantasy.

Though our preference in extra-curriculars may not align, Edd and I whole-heartedly agree the characteristics our kids have learned from theater far outshine any of the characters they’ve played.

Journey Theater Arts Group

1. Confidence
Performing is still just as nerve-wracking for the girls in their 10th show as it was in their 1st, but the high they get while in character keeps bringing them back for more. This self-assurance on stage has transferred into all other areas in their lives. Watching their confidence develop in middle school and high school gives us a sense of peace knowing (hoping? praying?) they’ll make positive decisions for themselves.

2. Respect for Authority
If a student disrespects a teacher at school, the student stays in class. If an actor disrespects a director in theater, the actor may be asked to leave the show. While some kids would be mortified to have an adult (other than parents) angry with them, the whole cast knows part of being in a production is showing respect for each other and the artistic team. I know I don’t need to worry about my kids talking back to an adult when I’m not around. (Let me emphasize: other than parents.)

3. Working Together
Each cast is different and each brings a multitude of personalities. The girls have had to work closely with others who don’t share the same priorities or attitude. They’ve developed coping techniques to remain positive even if the friends they need to spend day after day with are driving them batty. And I’m assuming the other kids have devised ways to get along when my kids are driving them batty. 

Journey Theater Arts Group

4. Empathy
Directors are excellent at making sure each actor creates his character’s backstory. You may watch Emma playing “Old Widow” on stage, but did you know her character’s husband died when they were only 20 and she’s been mourning him since? The audience may never know the history, but when “Old Widow” is acting with “Mother Meg”, they are using this information in order to relate to each other. The ability to relate on stage became ingrained enough for my kids to relate to others in real life. 

5. There Are No Small Parts
A pretty cliché theater phrase, yes? Because it’s true! Les Miserables would be ineffective with just lead parts. Phantom of the Opera needs party guests at the masquerade ball. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat needs children for the children's chorus. We will all have times in the spotlight and we will all take our spots in the background; in school, at work, during life.

Journey Theater Arts Group

6. Accountability 
Lines need to be memorized by a deadline. Appointed stage marks need to be hit at the right time. Actors who don’t abide by these rules not only look foolish, they let others down. It’s a lesson our daughters use in school group projects as well as their own friendships. If my girls tell another person they’ll do something, they do everything in their power to fulfill that agreement. (Again: this determination doesn’t apply in child-parent relationships.)

7. Courage to Try
In show rehearsals, sometimes the director’s initial vision doesn’t pan out and the whole scene needs to be re-worked. Sometimes a dance routine doesn’t fit. Sometimes actors are asked for their opinions. All of these are examples for my girls to try something, and if it doesn’t work, to try something new.

In her Fashion Marketing class, Emma's assignment was to give a presentation about Coco Chanel. She wrote the research on her notecards, ready to share. At the last minute, she made a change. Instead of just relaying the information, she gave the talk as the famous designer, herself. Bon Jour, she started, I am Coco Channel. When I met her teacher, she remarked in all the years teaching that class, she’d never seen anything like it. Theater kid, I replied.

8. Multi-age Friendships
In school, the girls hang out with others their own ages. In theater, the cast ranges in ages 8-18, and they all become close with one another. My girls have kids who look up to them and older youth to call mentors. At Annika’s last birthday party the youngest kid was 9 and the oldest was 17. I appreciate they know age shouldn't define a friendship.

9. Handling Disappointment
We have a rule in this house: you can cry over disappointment for one night. After that, it’s time to move on and show support for your fellow actors, classmates, friends, etc. This rule has served our girls well. Over the summer, Annika did not get cast in the summer production. She was sad. And disappointed. And heartbroken. And depressed. And we let her cry about it for one night. The next day, Annika announced she would be the show cheerleader. She’d come to every show and yell the loudest at curtain call.
That is exactly what happened.

10. Compassion
Not every kid gets cast in every show. While searching the cast list and finding their names is beyond exciting, there is always an immediate cloud over the happiness when they look for names that aren’t there. The absolute best part of this particular theater group is the radiating compassion from the troupe. Those who are cut are immediately showered with hugs and many voices asking How can we make this easier?

Our kids know they won’t get to do everything they want to do all the time. Sometimes, life doesn’t go the way we plan. That shouldn’t stop us from trying again or trying something different. 

Sometimes, life for others doesn’t go the way they plan. Our job is to be a listening ear and encourage them to try again or try something different. This lesson is good in theater, but also in healthy relationships.

Portland area friends can come see our girls in Journey Theater Arts Group's production of Robin Hood, November 7-16. I’ve explained what they’ve learned off the stage. Come see how they use all of these attributes when performing.

*Journey Theater Arts Group produces four shows each season in the Portland/Vancouver Metro Area. Check out their website here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mark Driscoll Impacts the Non-Mars Hill People, Too.

Wednesday, news broke of Mark Driscoll’s resignation from the Mars Hill enterprise he created. I’ve hesitated writing about Driscoll out of respect for my many friends who attend his church. Now, he’s stepped down. I know my friends are hurting and for their pain, I am sorry. But for the many he’s hurt over the years, I hope some form of healing can begin.

When our family first learned we’d be moving to Seattle in Spring of 2008, I knew I could cross one task off of my list - church hunting. 

We had just left our beloved “mega” in California where we learned a ton, grew spiritually, and served in ways we’ve never helped before. I’d heard of Mars Hill in Seattle. I didn’t know a ton about it, but everyone (in church news) who was anyone (in church news) in the Pacific Northwest talked about the place. With so many Christians and new-believers attending, surely we’d fit right in. I’d been a church girl all of my life, but Edd was still fairly new to the faith. I assumed we’d both find a way to be part of the community.

We attended worship at Mars Hill one Sunday just before Easter. After checking the girls in with children’s ministry, Edd and I sat among others our age - some younger, some older, but most everyone looked like us. After singing familiar praise songs, the worship band parted and Mark Driscoll appeared on the gigantic white screen at the head of the space. Being one of the satellite locations, the sermon was brought to us via the wonders of media. 

Driscoll started with the familiar story of Jesus’ torturous hanging on the cross. 

His description turned gruesome. That’s okay. I grew up in the church. I’m used to this for illustration and emotion.

His description turned gory. That’s okay. I saw Passion of the Christ. I get the horror of what was done to our Lord and Savior.

His description turned genital. That’s...wait. Huh? Why was he talking about Jesus’ penis while nailed to a cross? What Scripture verse is this? How did I miss this in the past? 

Edd and I just turned and looked at each other - not sure we could believe the message we were listening to. When the service was over and kids were collected, we slammed the car doors and beat it out of there. 

What. Was. That?

At first, I thought I was the one in the wrong. After all, this Driscoll guy knows a lot more than me, right? Sure, my former career was in ministry, but this guy took a group of 20 and turned it into a group of thousands. The masses followed him! Surely, I was being a prude.

Edd’s first words to me after we drove off the property, Never again.

Okay then. My experience with Mars Hill could be chalked up to 2 hours of lifetime experience.

Nature of a Servant Portland

Only I forgot to anticipate the shear number of Mars Hill members who would be surrounding me in the Seattle-Metro local, members who would become my friends. Moving to Portland three years later didn’t solve the problem. Mars Hill opened a campus nearby within months of our relocation. But it wasn’t just my immediate neighbors around which I minded my tongue; Driscoll started Mars Hill plants all around the country. More and more people in my life were now listening to him preach.

I love my friends. I respect my friends and know they love Jesus with their whole hearts. I kept my mouth shut. (I know. Shocking.) 

Then I had some friends leave Mars Hill, and word of spiritual abuse spread. I listened to Driscoll’s podcasts. I watched his sermons on YouTube. Anger grew in the pit of my soul. 

I read accounts of what was happening on the inside. Why did he claim to represent Jesus’ love when his words sounded like hate and self-serving crap?

I have a huge inner struggle with those in ministry blatantly serving their own egos. We all mess up. None of us are perfect. All of us are self-serving way more than we should be. But I do hold Christian leaders to a higher standard. They have chosen this profession and their actions speak louder than most. 

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly
James 3:1 

I’d love to believe Driscoll began his ministry without spiritual abuse, money schemes, lack of respect for women or gay-bashing on his agenda. But I’ve seen first hand what happens when pastors take power and turn it to themselves rather than to where the glory really belongs. This behavior doesn’t give any Christian anywhere a good reputation in front of our non-Christian friends.

I will say this: Mark Driscoll, this week you’ve encouraged me. I need to step up my game if I am going to live the Christian life I believe I need to live. I want to be the better person. I need to remember others are watching me and my actions, even when I’m in a bad space. The whole reason for this blog is so I'll learn the nature of a servant. Thanks for forcing me to remember what is really important.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:25-28

I pray everyone who calls himself/herself a Christian will learn from all happening within this congregation right now. We are called to be humble, which can be difficult for a person in a public position - like a pastor, or a blogger for that matter. Something good can come from all of this, but it's up to us to make that good happen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Still Behind, But Still Moving: A Self Pep-Talk

After 1 year I’m still one of the slowest at boot camp, but I’m still working out.

After 2 years I’m still in therapy, but each time I learn a little more about myself.

After 3 years of blogging I’m still an “unknown”, but I’m still writing.

After 6 years of youth ministry I don’t have any Bible verses memorized, but I know Jesus loves you and me.

After 10 years of teaching I can’t remember the rules of positives and negatives, fractions, and decimals, but I can still balance my checkbook.

After 14 years of being a mother I still have no idea what I am doing, but my kids eat at least three times a day.

Do you see what is in this cup?
It's soda.
I don't allow soda.
And yet...

After 18 years of being a wife I still pick stupid fights with my husband, but I live with someone who loves me anyway.

After 24 years of making dinner I still overcook pork and chicken, but no one’s died.

After 44 years of being Andee I’m just as confused as ever, but each day I remind myself the real adventure is exploring what lies ahead.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Won't Celebrate Columbus Day

nature of a servant Columbus Day
Taino Tribe

Since 1937, the United States has been given the closest Monday to the 12th of October to celebrate Christopher Columbus. Today, I won’t go to the bank and there will be no mail in my lock-box. Some of you have children off of school, though our district is in full session. All to commemorate the man who discovered our country.
Or the man who helped to wipe out entire indigenous tribes once he found Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

Same thing.

In fourteen-hundred and ninety two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

These two lines are the extent of what a lot of Americans know about Christopher Columbus. It’s all I remember from my own elementary school days. Even in my beginning years of teaching, October was the month of the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria art projects and crossword puzzles.

In fact, it wasn’t until the last few years substitute teaching and then home-schooling when I really began doing research on who discovered what. Imagine this: people already lived in North America and South America long, long, LONG before any European showed up. I guess this land didn’t really need discovering, huh?

Luckily for Columbus, he landed near the home of the Taino, a peaceful tribe. Had he instead landed on an island nearby, he would have met the Caribs - warriors who probably would have killed ol’ Chris then and there. 


Instead, Columbus and his troop set up shop in the Dominican Republic, accepted help from the native peoples, and then killed, raped, enslaved, and left disease folk behind. Not right away, mind you. This happened over a few years and at least four voyages to and from Spain.

So you’ll forgive me if I’m not shouting Yay, Chris! in today's parade.

I don’t mean for this post to be a high school term paper. But I would love for you to spend a few moments researching a bit of history for yourselves. 

Maybe you’ll find information to refute my beliefs. 
Maybe you’ll learn something new. 
Maybe you’ll encourage your hometown to follow Seattle’s lead and use the day to honor indigenous citizens.

How cool would it be if we could actually come up with a way to use October 12 as an awareness day to help existing tribes with their many oppressions; poverty, alcoholism, and cultural disconnection to name a few.

If you have today off, why don't you spend some time educating yourselves instead of heading to the nearest department store sale. Honor those who deserve to be honored.

Resources to check out:
Wiconi International (The work of Richard Twiss, rest his soul)
The Oatmeal Comic, Columbus Day (warning - it’s simple, but graphic)

What’s your view on the subject of this Federal Holiday? Comment below to get this conversation started.