Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween with the Wrights

Just a few pics of the kids from this Halloween. This year, they all dressed up as scientists. Deborah was Dian Fossey. Faith was Jane Goodall. James was Albert Einstein. Christopher was Louis Pasteur. They had a blast learning about each of these scientists and getting their costumes together. Enjoy the pictures! (Click to embiggen)


Monday, October 26, 2009

Musical Monday

Good morning! Sorry it's been a full week since posting. I hope to find a little time in the coming week to update with what has been going on around here (not much!).

Anyway, today I'm going in a silly direction for Halloween. Last week, one of my FaceBook friends posted a status update about wanting to eat brains, but not eyes. I commented on it in some inane way, but then thought that I post a lot of status updates that sound like something, but are actually lyrics from songs or quotes from movies or television shows. So I went ahead and googled the comment to see if it was from a larger body of work. I am so glad that I did, as it brought me to Jonathan Coulton (JoCo to his fans). I haven't been this happy to discover new music in a long time!

So here's your zombie offering for today!

Your Brains by Jonathan Coulton

Heya Tom, it's Bob,
From the office down the hall.
It's good to see you buddy,
How've ya been?
Things have been okay for me,
Except that I'm a zombie now.
I really wish you'd let us in.
I think I speak for all of us when I say I understand
Why you folks might hesitate to submit to our demands,
But here's an FYI - you're all gonna die, screaming.

All we wanna do is eat your brains
Were not unreasonable,
I mean no-one's gonna eat your eyes
All we wanna do is eat your brains
Were at an impasse here,
Maybe we should compromise.
If you open up the door,
We'll all come inside and eat your brains.

I don't wanna nitpick Tom, but is this really your plan -
Spend your whole life locked inside a mall?
Maybe that's okay for now,
But someday you'll be out of food and guns,
And you'll have to make the call.
I'm not surprised to see you haven't thought it through enough -
You never had the head for all that 'bigger picture' stuff.
But Tom, that's what I do,
And I plan on eating you, slowly.

All we wanna do is eat your brains
Were not unreasonable,
I mean no-one's gonna eat your eyes
All we wanna do is eat your brains
Were at an impasse here
Maybe we should compromise
If you open up the door,
We'll all come inside and eat your brains

I'd like to help you Tom,
In any way I can.
I sure appreciate the way you're working with me.
I'm not a monster Tom - well, technically I am...I guess I am...

I've got another meeting Tom;
Maybe we could wrap it up.
I know we'll get to common ground somehow.
Meanwhile I'll report back to my colleagues,
Who are chewing on the doors.
I guess we'll table this for now.
I'm glad to see you take constructive criticism well
Thank you for your time, I know we're all busy as hell.
And we'll put this thing to bed,
When I bash your head open.

All we wanna do is eat your brains
Were not unreasonable,
I mean no-one's gonna eat your eyes
All we wanna do is eat your brains
Were at an impasse here
Maybe we should compromise
If you open up the door,
We'll all come inside and eat your brains

Monday, October 19, 2009

Musical Monday

Saturday night on my drive home from church, I got stuck in the post-game traffic headed south. So my 25-30 minute drive got extended into an hour long crawl. Normally this would irritate me, particularly after a long day at church to be followed by yet another long morning. However, on WV Public Radio, it's pledge time. And while I know that's not generally seen as a good thing, it usually means that they bring their A-list programming. Mountain Stage is a favorite to listen to around here anyway, but because it's pledge week, they were playing a "best of" program and it was really fantastic. Got to hear a lot of great music, but one song in particular stood out to me. It was "Leaves Don't Drop, They Just Let Go" by Carrie Newcomer.

The truth I learned when I was eight.
My dad swam the length of Spirit Lake.
It must have been a million miles.
This I knew was true.
My mother sang while hangin' clothes.
Her notes weren't perfect heaven knows.
But heaven opened anyway.
And this I knew was true.

Leaves don't drop they just let go,
And make a space for seeds to grow.
Every season brings a change,
A tree is what a seed contains,
To die and live is life's refrain.

I left her with some groceries,
Said, "Check the oil and call me please.”
She said " Hey, ma I'll be just fine."
This I knew was true.

Leaves don't drop they just let go,
And make a space for seeds to grow.
Every season brings a change,
A tree is what a seed contains,
To die and live is life's refrain.

I've traveled through my history,
From certainty to mystery.
God speaks in rhyme in paradox.
This I know is true.
And finally when life is through,
I'm what I am not just what I do.
It comes down to you and your next breath,
And this I know is true.

Leaves don't drop they just let go,
And make a space for seeds to grow.
Every season brings a change,
A tree is what a seed contains,
To die and live is life's refrain.




One of the things I love about living here in WV is that we get such vivid seasons, particularly fall. The drive home from church yesterday was absolutely stunning. For about three weeks a year, we get an absolutely spectacular panorama of color on the mountains here. Everything is ablaze with yellows and reds and oranges. I also love this season (and this song!) because it reminds me that all living things need rest so that they can move to the next stage. In those quiet, sometimes even barren times, new life is germinating. I know that personally, I can get frustrated in those dormant times in my life, when I feel like I'm just on hold. However, used wisely, those times can prepare for growth.

There are many different seasons to our lives. Let's take the time to enjoy each one of them!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Who is my Enemy?

Surfing around the internets, I find all kinds of fascinating stories. One that has caught the attention of several bloggers is the beginning of the Conservative Bible Project over at Conservapedia. Now, Bibles custom made for pretty much any demographic is a major money maker in Christianity, I'm sorry to say. Most are pretty harmless. The devotional thoughts in them are geared toward whatever group you fit into, highlighting passages that discuss your particular world view or life situation. They might stretch things here or there, but the stretching is done in the commentary, not in the actual wording of the Scripture itself.

This is where I believe eyebrows are being raised Mr. Schlafly's project. Rather than simply having another annotated Bible that shows the biblical support for various conservative ideals, it would seem that he is proposing that the Bible be completely retranslated, specifically for the conservative Christian. And not by looking at the original manuscripts and using people trained in Greek, Hebrew & Aramaic, but rather by simply looking at how a given passage favors conservative ideology or liberal ideology and changing it (or omitting it) accordingly.

Now translating the Bible to make it more conservative causes me to shake my head all by itself. But there is a larger implication that bothers me much more, that being an even greater sense of "us against them" even within the Church. Instead of embracing the idea that we're one in Christ put forth by Paul in Galatians 3, we're adding to the list of things that divide us. Rather than celebrating that which makes us the same, there are some who are desiring to highlight differences by using something that should draw us together as a wedge to separate us.

I recognize that various ideologies quote mine the Scriptures to back up their particular beliefs. Someone who tends toward a more socialist system will point to Acts 2 as proof that the Bible wants us all to live in communes. Someone who has a more free market ideology may point to 1 Timothy 5:8 as a reason to abandon helps programs like welfare. Prooftexting can allow one to label just about any political or economic principle as "biblical." But this is different. This is taking the whole of Scipture and manipulating it in such a way as to make it fit a very specific brand of conservatism.

Most people, even those who have only a passing familiarity with Christianity, have heard the story of the good Samaritan. What I find interesting is that the question asked of Jesus that precipitated the story was, "Who is my neighbor?" When I look at the Strong's definition for neighbor, it comes up as friend. When I see things like the conservative Bible, it frustrates me because it seems to be asking the question, "Who is my enemy?" The parable that Christ told in Luke 10 seems to say to me that we're to be looking for friends rather than enemies. How can we do that when we are deliberately choosing to segregate ourselves by changing the Bible to suit our political ideology?

All that said, I want to do what I can to promote unity. I can get a little divisive myself in some of my postings here and I want to try to scale that back for a season. I want to see what we can do to build community. Sometimes that does indeed mean challenging one another's way of thinking, but for at least a little while I'm going to try to keep things a bit lighter and look for some of that common ground. I hope you'll join me!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Musical Monday

A couple of weeks ago, David Crowder*Band came out with their most recent musical offering. I've been waiting to post a song from it until I'd had a chance to listen to it more. I had an immediate favorite, but wanted to give the whole thing a few more listens to see if anything else jumped out as a "real" favorite, as that happens with great frequency in my musical life. One song will jump out at me on the first listen, but when I've sat down and read all the lyrics and got beyond my own mondegreens, another will be the one that stays with me much longer.

But I must say, this time, my first favorite is still my favorite. In my car, I'll specifically go to this song before going back and listening to the rest of the album. I love everything about this song. If you were driving near me when I was listening to it, I'd be the person dancing around in their car singing with their head thrown back and gesticulating wildly. My minivan doesn't have the subs in the trunk, but if it did, I'd have the car that had the obnoxiously blaring music when I drove through the neighborhood. For the record, I really enjoy this entire album (and I will state that it works much better in one sitting, as the outro of each song is the intro for the next, including the last song working into the first -- super artsy and nice), but this song is just my favorite.

This week I'm posting "Oh Happiness" from DC*B's Church Music.

Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race
Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race

Friend or foe
Stranger or kin
All who come
Begin again
Hard or frail
Rich or poor
All in need
Need fear no more

Such a thing to give away

Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race
Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race

All regrets
Let go forget
There’s something that
Mends all of it

Such a thing to give away

Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race
Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race

Sound the church bells let them ring
Let them ring, for everything can be redeemed
We can be redeemed, oh all of us

Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race
Oh happiness, there’s grace
Enough for us and the whole human race
Yeah



Growing up I attended a pretty straight-laced Lutheran church. I have a lot of great memories from there -- it's where I went to school through 8th grade as well as where I first became involved in church music and I met Jesus there in a very real & personal way. That said, one thing that I remember was that emotions were always downplayed, happiness in particular. I understand why -- emotions are a fleeting thing. How I feel about something does not necessarily reflect the truth of the thing. We were taught about joy, but it was always emphasized that joy was a state of being, not a feeling and that one could be joyful even if they weren't feeling happy. Because of this, I think I was afraid to "feel" anything about my faith for a long time. I think I was worried that it would be shallow to just be happy. I mean, it certainly sounds "more spiritual" to say that you're joyful than to say that you're happy.

But you know what? Sometimes I am happy about my faith. I feel giggly and smiley and, well, happy about having a friend who loves me no matter what and who can't wait to spend time with me. That's a good feeling. And emotions are a good thing. And quite frankly, there is nothing that can inspire a good feeling like knowing that you're accepted and that redemption is a free gift. And it's free for you, for me and for everyone.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Family news

Haven't written about the family much lately, so here on this lazy Saturday, I figure I'll take a minute to catch up on family news.

Deborah: Sixth grade is quite a difference even from fifth. Lots more homework. We've got some issues with the science teacher who seems to be phoning it in a bit, but otherwise things are going pretty well. She has a boyfriend, but that doesn't seem to mean much as he doesn't call & he's in the same grade so they can't go anywhere. She started dv8 at church and is enjoying that quite a bit. Her bedtime has been extended for the first time this year. She's also been doing a bit of baby-sitting for my sister & BIL's Bible study. She loves getting a little cash each week and is looking forward to a more regular job any time. She's also dancing again this year with kidSTUFF. I'm proud of the level of maturity she shows. She still needs to work a bit on keeping her cool when she gets overwhelmed with homework, but in general, she's really turning into quite a nice young woman.

James: Loving third grade. He's got a great teacher and in our parent/teacher conference, she said that he's doing very well. Needs to learn to work a bit better in groups -- right now he has a tendency to finish his work and just sit there and doodle on his paper rather than working with the others in his group. But she said that he's socializing well on the playground and overall things have improved greatly from a few years ago. His most recent obsession has been with Pokemon, but it hasn't been so consuming that he's unable to talk about anything else. He recently had a birthday and is now nine years old. The day before his birthday, he told us that the next day we would be seeing the roll-out of James 9.0. We all thought that was pretty clever! He's moved into the T&T group at AWANA and seems to be enjoying that. I need to keep tabs on what is going on in REACH this year, because right now I'm not real excited about the level of "enrichment" that he's getting. Forty minutes on a website, even if it is an educational one, is simply not acceptable to me. If we have another one of those days, I'm going to need to call an emergency IEP meeting to discuss what is going on there and to see that there is some kind of actual curriculum being planned for him. This kid is pretty dang smart and I'm not okay with the gifted teacher squandering time out of the class doing junk like that.

Faith: She's having a bit of a rough year. She really loved her teacher last year and I guess this year her teacher is a bit loud, so she's not quite as excited about school. Academically she's doing well. At her conference, her teacher said that she thinks Faith should be recommended for the REACH program, but that she thinks she should wait a few years to take the test. She said that she's really shy around people she doesn't know (true) and her concern is that she might clam up when she's being tested and not perform to her potential and if she doesn't qualify now, it's unlikely that the board will retest at a later time. So we're going to work on building up her confidence so that she'll be able to do that in a few years. One of her projects around the house has been observing and reporting on the activities of the dogs. She is dressing up as Jane Goodall for Halloween this year, and apparently this is a kind of method acting for her as she explained yesterday that Ms. Goodall would think that was great work.

Christopher: He's doing well in first grade. He has the same teacher that James had in first grade and she is doing well with some of the behavior issues that Christopher was mimicking from James. His handwriting could still use quite a bit of work, but otherwise, he's doing just fine. He's lost both of his top front teeth, so he's got that adorable toothless smile again. But more evidence of my baby growing up! Fortunately, he's still as cuddly as ever, so I still get plenty of snuggles with him pretty much any time I want them. It's a good life!

Jason: Preparing for school is pretty much the biggest thing going on for him. We're still trying to determine if he's going to go to school for the science degree or if he's going to do the regent's degree. Either one is fine with me -- at this point it's mostly about what he has the time and ability to finish. I'm super proud of him for going back to school. I know it's going to be pretty nuts when he's back, but for the most part, I think it's going to be great for him. The biggest "problem" that he has right now is simply no musical outlet. I think he really misses playing with the college ministry at church. He runs sound for kidSTUFF and is glad to help out, but I'm sure he misses playing actual music.

Me: Things are good. I'm looking to get a job out of the house again. I like West, but I hate working for Citi. Plus, I have a lot of problems with the West system, which ends up costing me hours/money. I'm still playing at church, which I absolutely love. The people that I play with are fantastic & it's been great getting to know them. Also recently played a gig in DC with Under Shelter. I'm hoping that we'll start to get some more regular opportunities to play, as I really enjoy doing that (and the money is nice too!). I'm planning another facebook fast pretty soon. Need to get some things done around the house, and that place just sucks up my free time unlike anything else!

So that's a quick update here. Drop me a note & let me know what's new with you!
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
 
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