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Friday, September 26, 2003

hooray hooray hooray hooray today today is your birthday!

Today is Ryan's birthday, whoo and hoo! She's only, like, my most favoritest person in the world, so I'm super duper happy she was born. Happy birthday Ryan!
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Thursday, September 25, 2003

But everything you see's not the way it seems -- Tears can sing and joy shed tears.

We're talking about Time this month @ St. Ned's. The other day during staff meeting we were discussing whether we think we live in the past, the present, or the future (hint: the right answer is 'the present'). And I suddenly realized that, earlier this year, I lost my future and I don't think I've really gotten it back. And I'm not especially sorry about that.

I started out the year engaged to Dennis, living with him in Oakland, planning the wedding, and with some certainty about where God was calling me to be. I had my future pretty well mapped out, and then it all fell apart and I stopped having a future that looked like anything specific.

I spent a lot of time trying to get that well-defined future back. I thought about rushing into seminary, just to feel like I was on a path, any path. I tried to make everything seem more solid than it was, because I'm not good with ambiguity. I'm just not. I like my life to be nicely mapped out. I liked being able to say to people, "Well, I know exactly what I'll be doing for the next five years or so."

It's strange to be in a place where I don't really have any goals that can be measured. I'm not very concerned with making more money right now or having a "better" job or having the answers about my vocation or anything else that my parents can write in their Christmas letter. Not that they have one, but you know what I mean. I'm just kind of sitting here and waiting for further instructions.

When I was totally focused on the future, all I could do was work toward it, to try to make that imagined thing real. I missed a lot of what was going on in my actual life as a result. Which, i-ron-ick-ally, probably led to losing that future, at least the way I thought it was going to be.

I don't know what will happen with me and Dennis now that we're together again, and I'm not really invested in needing to know. I'm just happy to have him around. It's a joy to love him.

I am starting to understand the point of the really horrible desert times. Maybe there are people who can move forward and deepen their faith in the midst of great joy. I'm not one of them. It's hard for me to trust people who say that they get more of a spiritual boost from the great times than the lousy ones. When I'm happy, it's more of an 'I'll just stay here, thanks' kind of energy. Shield the joyous. I don't start thinking about how I can rub off a little more skin to get down to the real stuff at that moment. For me, the most rewarding work happens in the low times, when I actually notice that God is there and would like to have a wuuuuuurd with me. I'm not saying that I'm cooperative, just that if it's gonna happen, it happens then.

The thing I learned this year is that I can go into the desert and deal with some of the really ugly stuff, with complete faith that I will come out again at some point. Maybe that's obvious to most people, but it's new for me; I've always been of the, "Well, this sucks. Guess this is where I live now. Might as well get used to it, because nothing will ever be good again," ilk as soon as I get a little bit of sand on my toes. Perspective? Not my strong suit.

This is what dear uncle Screwtape calls the law of undulation, and I see why it's dangerous (from the demon's viewpoint) for us to find about it. When I shut down that unpleasant little voice in my head that takes away all the hope, I'm free to live in the present moment and be really alive to what's happening, because God is there and there is movement.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

ooh yeah, baby, right there

My friend Tracy, who is a massage therapist, just came by the office with her massage chair and gave my neck and back some very welcome attention. Oooooh yeah. That was great.

She gave me a full-body massage for my birthday back in April, which was wooonderful. She set up her table in the library here at work, so I had an interesting moment when I realized that I was naked at church, which, let's face it, just doesn't happen all that often. At least not for me.

I've actually had a fair number of massages in my life, since we had an on-site person at BigStupidCo and I used to go to her every couple of weeks. But Tracy's massages are the best.
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small blessings laid upon us; small mysteries slowly unfold

I'm feeling a lot better about Godly Play for this Sunday. As I predicted, I'm getting a bunch of support from various directions. We'll have some extra adults in the room this week, we're going to make the expectations much clearer, and kids who can't deal with the two options they have, sitting in the circle or sitting with the doorperson, will be taken out of the room.

TheRev wants to be sure the majority of kids have a good experience and the teachers don't burn out. I understand where he's coming from, especially since we're still getting the program established, for all the kids.

This transition time is just a lot harder on some of the kids with Asperger's or ADD or learning disabilities, the ones who need a lot of order. Maybe if it doesn't work for them right now, they'll be able to try again when things are running more smoothly in a few months. I do feel drawn to find out more about doing religious ed with special needs kids. I saw these little flashes of grace happening on Sunday, and I wouldn't mind getting a bit closer to that at some point.

It's hard to be confronted with my own ideas about how things are supposed to work. I guess I thought Godly Play would work right out of the gate, and wouldn't involve anything as difficult and messy as actual children. Yes, it connected with me right away, but I'm not 10, and no one just shoved me in a room that's being run by that lady from the church office.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

because i'm a joyful girl

Dennis drove down from Berkeley early this morning to have breakfast with me. We hit the $2.99 special at Carrow's, which was fun mostly for the people-watching (except I really didn't want to know what I now know about that one loud guy's prostate). Then I went to work and he came by a little bit later with flowers for me, and some new music for my dented car. It was such a great way to start Tuesday.

I was up until 3 this morning finishing the ren faire costume for my niece. I didn't even take pictures of it; I just loaded it in the box this morning and sent it off to FedEx. So I was cranky and overtired for much of the day. I really could have used a blanket sleeper, a bottle, and a nap.

Instead, I got plumbing issues. I spent a healthy chunk of the morning dealing with toilets. Bad toilets. We had the two main bathrooms both down and I figured I'd be happier standing in one of them with a plumbing snake than I would be sitting at my desk and telling person after person that yes, I knew about the bathrooms and I had called someone to fix them. Also, the person I would normally call was having a lousy morning and I didn't want to make it worse.

Anyway, the toilet. I snaked it and got a pencil. Um, kids, no pencils in the toilet. That's pretty basic. Then I couldn't figure out why there was no water coming into the tank. I don't know all that much about toilets, but I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be water. Turned out that some helpful person turned off the water because the toilet was acting weird. But didn't, you know, tell anyone or leave a note or anything. So I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out what the deal was before I thought to try turning up the water at the wall valve. After that the thing worked fine. I got that same butch feeling I had after I changed my headlight bulb.

The other toilet had a small stupid problem with the chain connected to the stopper inside the tank. I fixed it in about 20 seconds. The problem part is getting replaced this week, so hopefully it won't happen again.

And, of course, I have flowers on my desk and I can look up and know who brought them and smile.
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Monday, September 22, 2003

funny but it seems I always wind up here with you; itís nice to know somebody loves me

I went to see Dennis yesterday after my disaster of a morning. He picked up dinner at one of our favorite taquerias and brought home Home Movie for our viewing amusement. I slipped into the moose-print PJ pants I keep there (if you've ever wondered what the diametric opposite of sexy is...it's the moose pants) and took up residence on the couch. We nuked up the heat pads my chiro gave me, and I used the one for my lower back while he wrapped the neck one around his keyboard-stressed arm and then we traded and I heated my neck and we moved the ice packs around. It was a perfect evening, if a bit invalid-esque.

It's so incredible to find that home isn't a place, it's another person.
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this monkey's gone to heaven

A moment of silence please for the giant inflatable monkey, who was decapitated at the youth group pool party yesterday.
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Sunday, September 21, 2003

hold on honey there's a new dawn coming

My first day of teaching Godly Play sucked like a big sucky thing that sucks rocks and lives in the far corner of the aquarium and not even the snails like it.

It was me with a group of 9 & 10 year-olds, mostly special-needs boys, and I had zero control over the situation. I read all of the GP materials again over the weekend and tried to use their methods of dealing with disruptive kids, but they don't seem to be written for cases where the vast majority of the kids are throwing things and running around and may or may not be able to stop doing that.

I just sat and cried after the class, I was so frustrated and disappointed and overwhelmed by the whole experience. I know that is lame and self-centered, because it isn't supposed to be about me at all. It just really feels like I fucked up and I can't even say where it all went wrong.

I think the fact that the Godly Play discipline plan didn't work is what really has me rattled, because I have no idea what else I could do. This is probably why parents usually teach Sunday School; at least they've developed instincts for this stuff. I, on the other hand, can't keep plants alive.

There's ongoing discussion about what we're going to do with this classroom, and I know I'll have more help and support until things improve. I'm on for storytelling for two more weeks and then I'll be off for at least three weeks. I'm going to a training next month on doing GP with older kids and with special needs kids, which should help fill in some of what's missing in the books. At least I'll be able to hear what's working for other people. The main thing I have to remember is that I'm not in this by myself, and that I don't need to come up with all the answers on my own. There's a whole team of people at St. Ned's, the kids have parents, there's the Godly Play organization, and of course Jesus shows up for class, too, and is there in the middle of it. Which is, you know, kind of the point. I'm just going to keep showing up and finding something to love about each kid.

There were a couple of really cool moments during the class, like when a couple of kids had the materials for the Creation story out and were trying to figure out what order the story goes in, and one kid was telling me all about the big bang and how God made dinosaurs and bacteria but that isn't in any of the pictures we have. I told him that we'll be talking about the Creation story next week and he can draw new pictures to put in his timeline. I'm glad the kids seemed so fired up about that story, since it may make next week easier. finds small shred of hope to cling to...
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