Monday, November 27, 2006

Laughter at the Office

I got laughed at today. Hard.

It's not really embarrassing. A co-worker laughed at me. To the point where he nearly fell off his chair.

I love Jay. He's a 40 yr. old man in a 24 yr. old's body. (The little brother I never had, I tell him). He's the picture of professionalism, very good at his job, yet usually isn't afraid to have fun. Today he had fun because he laughed at me. I don't remember all the details (it wasn't that interesting) but I do remember that he said something to me that made me think of a sarcastic and mean comment. I bit my tongue and said nothing. He could tell I wanted to say something, so he called me on it. I told him I wasn't going to say what I was thinking because I was simply working on being a nicer person. So he thoughtfully and sincerely asked "What brought this about?" to which I replied. "I hate people."

This is where the laughter began. Incessent, non-stop laughter. For a looooooong time. So long that I started laughing because... well, it was funny.

Am I a nice person? I really don't know. It's possible I have my moments. It's also possible the moments are just about sucking up. It's also possible I'm just being too hard on myself. Either way, my co-worker didn't disagree with me. (Nor did he agree.) He just laughed.

I wonder if I would be happier than I am now if I was a nice person. Are the two connected? No one in my life is particularly mean to me, so either I have really thick skin or I'm too selfish to notice when someone's being mean back. (The latter of which is the more likely scenario.)

There really is no point to this story. I just kind of enjoyed the fact that someone had a good laugh at my expense today.

I don't know why, but I find this test hysterically funny. Probably because I'm not nice. Are they serious with some of those questions? It's amazing what Google can find.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

25 Things Most People Don't Know About Me

1.) I’m addicted to Orbit’s Sweet Mint gum.

2.) I am the most like my dad, but I fear I am turning into my mother.

3.) The crock pot is my favorite invention (next to the DVD player).

4.) I think The Office is one of the funniest shows on the planet.

5.) I have an aversion to the name “Robby” for an inexplicable reason.

6.) My favorite place to go is the beach - or anywhere near the ocean.

7.) Last year, for my dad’s birthday present, I surprised him by playing a guitar solo for the first time during a communion service. I played his favorite song Amazing Grace and he cried. I won’t ever play that song for anyone else.

8.) I hate Wal-Mart (for all the reasons you’d think).

9.) I hate K-Mart (but not for the reasons you’d think).

10.) I loathe JJ Abrahms. And Alias was one of my favorite shows (until Season 3).

11.) The cars I’ve owned are red, white and blue. (Not all at the same time and not on purpose.)

12.) I have an embarrassing weakness for Chick Lit.

13.) I hate the smell of vanilla, coconut, magnolias or cinnamon.

14.) I cannot make Jello.

15.) I hate to sew, even though my mom and my grandmother have made it one of the biggest parts of their lives.

16.) I was devastated (okay, not really) when I hate to cut my nails to learn how to play guitar.

17.) I am a terrible typist. (Although you can really tell that just by reading one of my posts).

18.) My favorite classic TV show is The Cosby Show.

19.) I have no desire to have kids. Not even a little.

20.) I’d rather be behind the scenes than on stage (preferably as director so I can tell people what to do)

21.) I am in touch with no one from high school. This is very intentional, and I couldn’t care less.

22.) I adore lime flavored tic tacs. All the other flavors are gross.

23.) I also adore Skeet Ulrich. But not for the reason you’d think.

24.) Hallmark commercials make me cry. (And this is related the #23).

25.) I think Will Ferrell is really, really, really funny. And I never thought I’d ever type that sentence.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Huskers and OJ

The Colorado/Nebraska game is this Friday. I cannot even remember a time when we didn't play this team the day after Thanksgiving, nor can I remember a time when they were acually a team I enjoyed watching play the Huskers.(Be gone, oranges on the field!)

One of the benefits of reading some Nebraska blogs is they often link to other blogs, one I hadn't crossed before. Read this joke to enjoy a good poke at the Buffs. Warning: offensive language. The joke is funny enough for me to still link to it, though.

That being said, please don't read anything else on the blog. It makes us Nebraskans look...well.. ignorant.

On the pop culture side - what the heck is OJ thinking? What an idiot.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Focusing on Christ

I had a professor in college who once said, "Jesus will never ask us to do something he hasn't done himself."

The process of restoration that I began nearly a year ago is still with me, if only in small pieces. I can happily say that God restored my heart this last year. Maybe not completely, for I am not sure that could ever happen on this earth, but it is restored enough so the sin that broke it down is no longer controlling it, but allowing me to move on. My heart is the epitome of Galatians 6:1. I was restored gently.

A by-product of this process is that I often find myself focusing on me, me and then me again. I fear my own selfishness is simply compounded by my joy that I am set free from the junk that's kept me bound for so long. To focus on what's happened to me instead of who's happened to me places me in where I shouldn't be - at the center.

Who is Jesus? His character is one of huge mystery to me. There are so many things he said that I don't understand, that I'm dying to ask him about. He's also equally not a mystery. He lived a simple life as a carpenter's son, who above all else taught us it all comes down to loving God with all we have and loving others... as what? as much as we love ourselves.

There is nothing more lovely and simple than that. But sometimes, there isn't anything that feels more impossible.

I'm not a people person. I don't like dealing with other people. It bugs me. It annoys me. That makes me selfish, this I know. But I can't bring myself to care. I know I should, and sometimes I feel guilty for it. Sometimes I don't. Most of the time I justify why I feel that way instead of asking God to help me change that part of myself. Why don't I? I'm stubborn. I don't want to change. To do so is to bend to something, and I don't like to bend to anything.

But I know this isn't about what I want. It's about what God wants for me, and who God wants me to be. And I know that I can only get there through focusing on Christ, not me. By knowing the person and character of the son of God who died for my sins.

It's All About Me

Watch the video at the above link and you'll never see worship music the same.

What I'm listening to: Relevent's podcast from 11/10/06
What I'm reading: Nothing, actually. I'm in a very serious dry (reading) spell.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Songs to Do Next

One of the overwhelming things about being a worship leader is deciding what new songs to tackle next. There's a lot of great stuff out there, but there is also just as much junk. The basic stuff I look for when choosing new songs are 1.)Does it honor God? 2.) Is it theologically correct? 3.) It is singable by most non-musicians?

Once a song passes that test, the hard work for me begins. I have a keyboardist who won't just play chords; she needs sheet music. So my next hurdle is finding written-out piano music for her. If I overcome that hurdle, the next is finding it in a key that most everyone can sing it in. This is the part of my job makes me tear my hair out each time.

A message to all the male, tenor worship leaders out there writing all that great music: If you are going to write it in such a high key, please make it available to us in a normal key.

There are a lot of great websites that allows you to transpose the sheet music down, but I often find myself struggling to find the music that's more obscure available at these sights. And that's tough when it's a song I really had my heart set on, and I get stuck at this point.

On a related topic, here is a great resource for worship leaders that I bet most of you don't know about. Download the October 29, 2006 video. It's a great time of worship, and the second song they do is very U2-esque which makes me go SQUEEEEE.

These are the songs I'm hoping to do next:
You are God Alone (Billy and Cindy Foote)
Offering (Paul Baloche)
You Never Let Go (Matt Redman)
Everything Glorious (David Crowder)
You Are Holy (MWS recorded it, no idea who wrote it. Request from the senior pastor)
All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises (Paul Baloche)
O Praise Him (David Crowder)
Friend of God (Michael Gungor and Israel Houghton)
My Hope (Darlene Zschech)
Treasure (Desperation Band)
Still the Cross (FFH)
Rock of Ages (Rita Baloche)
Psalm 125 (Waterdeep) Which I believe will only happen in my dreams...

Does anyone else have the trouble I do with the sheet music thing? I long for the day when I don't have to deal with it.

So what new songs are on your "To-Do" list?

What I'm listening to: Brian Doerkson's Live in Europe

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I guess I'm... surprised?

Haggard Resigns from New Life Church

I am surprised. But at the same time I'm not. Nothing much surprises me anymore. We live in a world where anything and everythings happens to anyone and everyone. I think I would be more shocked if Donald Rumsfeld did something like this... okay, maybe not.

Timing is everything, isn't it? Should it make me question the escort's motivation with election day 3 days away with a ban on gay marriage on the Colorado State ballot? It does, a little. But at the same time, I see his point. If Haggard was outspoken in his support of the ban and if Haggard did what the escort claims, it would make me want to come forward too.

I've been to New Life Church. It was one of the first churches I tried out when I moved to Colorado Springs. Strangely, I remember liking the church, but not liking Haggard and his preaching style. The church is huge - and I really felt out of place and overwhelmed. So I kept looking for a church. I might feel different about this development had I stayed.

This may sound strange to some of you reading this, but I feel for Haggard. There is no excuse for his hypocrisy, but he clearly needs help. Anyone who tries to live a double life does. God will forgive Haggard, and I pray that he is lead into restoration. I pray that he does not fall off the radar of those in his life that he needs most to support him through this. I pray he finds grace from others. I know that's what I'd want.

Related links of interest:

Inside the World of Evangelicals
An Accuser's Story
Richard Dawkins Interviews Ted Haggard
Why the Haggard Scandel Could Hurt Evangelical Turnout
When A Leader Falls

FYI - the worship band at New Life? They write some of the more unique new worship songs out there right now. Go out and buy Desperation's
From the Rooftops. Go. Now.

What I'm listening to: Derek Webb's
Mockingbird. LOVE.

Oh, and by the way, the Huskers won today and I was at Memorial Stadium to see it. What an incredible game!

Friday, November 03, 2006

My Fight for High-Ability Learning

Back in high school, I suppose I was what most people would call a "nerd". Not because I was ridiculously smart - I'm not - but because of other gifts I had. Attending public school in a town of less than 400 residents, there weren't many options for advanced placement or "gifted student" classes. But my educational service unit offered something incredibly unique: a two week program in the summer with the chance to study with a renowned scholar in fields such as art, computer science, logic, statistics, social science, medical science, and the like.

I had the pleasure of attending this program for four years. The competition was stiff - only the top ten students were accepted based on test scores or portfolios. With a little over 100 students accepted, around 400 applied. I think what these numbers say about the program, is not only that it's popular, but that public school just isn't enough, especially for gifted students.

For several years in a row now, the funds allocated by the state to successfully run this program have been cut. As a result, an alumni association was created to aid in that effort. But as always, money is tight. High Ability Learning (HAL) funds wer placed on a list of possible programs to cut in the next fiscal year, if budget cuts are necessary. Today was step one in an eight-month process to remove the funds from the "in-danger" list.

So I drove to our state capitol this morning, to testify and show support for a program that means a great deal to me. The State Board of Education was meeting and on the agenda was to discuss the budget prioritization. Today I saw a lot of courageous people testify.

Over 40 supporters showed up - some who left as early as 5:30am to be at that meeting. I watched in awe as student after student came forward to share how much high ability learning meant to them. A few cried, some were shy and not always sure of what to say, but we all took a stand for something that needed to be fought for. One girl, a sophomore I know from performing together in an Easter Passion Play, made note of all those in attendance that no longer have a stake in the program. Those of us past those years in our life, but were blessed so much by the program that we came to fight.

After 30 minutes of testimony, the State Board Members proceeded to discuss the motion to remove the funds from the cut list. A few minutes into the discussion, it was clear we really made an impression on the Board Members. Jim Scheer made a statement that the we made the best presentation to the State Board he has ever seen. The roll call vote was finally asked for and the vote began. When the voting was complete, the motion had passed. Six voted for, 1 against (Joe Higgins) and one abstained (Patricia Timm).

After the vote, another 5 minute break was asked for by Robert Evnen. Robert came out into the hall immediately and said to the group, "The only reason that this motion passed was because of the students from the Summer Honors Program and how well they presented the information." Before the vote, Robert was sure there were not enough votes to pass his motion, and he was surprised and impressed the motion had passed. Robert says he still wants to increase funds by working with the Legislature.

Today the Summer Honors Program students, faculty and alumni took on the Nebraska Commissioner of Education and won. I am proud of what I witnessed today.

Not a day goes by in my work week where I do not remember the words of the teachers I had while attending the Summer Honors Program. Their wisdom, breadth of knowledge and unique teaching approach has stayed with me for years. Not only did I have that chance to study with such prestigious scholars, but I had the chance to meet other students who lived over an hour away and never would've met who had the same passion for learning as I did. I've carried that with me and held it close to my heart.

A significant percentage of former Summer Honors students chose to stay and settle down in Nebraska. There was much talk today of "investing in the future of Nebraska" and I realized - I became that future.

It feels good to give back a little of what was once given to me.