Thursday, December 6, 2007

Szent Mikulás

How did I not know about St. Nicholas Day until High School? Is it a religious-based holiday or simply European? I'm thinking the latter, but let me know if you know otherwise.

Regardless of its origins, were you found to be naughty or nice this year? Did your favorite boots/shoes contain chocolate, candies, apples, and dates or switches, potatoes, stones, and wooden spoons?

I did not find either. Not celebrating this particular holiday, I choose instead to have an Advent Calendar filled with 24 days of treats - thanks Mom and John!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Death of Naivete

Being idealistic can have its downfalls. Expecting a certain level of vested interest from colleagues doesn't seem too crazy, but it can cause problems when working in a team environment. Group projects, team homework assignments, steering committees - all require a level of commitment from everyone involved, though motivations for that involvement may vary, and that's where we get the death of naivete.

In school we see this problem in group projects. Invariably the hard-working over-achievers get stuck with a lemon, and spend much of group time convincing said lemon what needs to be done. Worse, the group is forced to teach aforementioned lemon concepts learned in class because he or she wasn't interested in paying attention.

Retribution can be had through the process of peer evaluation. However, when that peer evaluation is only a small percentage of the final grade, one wonders about the effectiveness of a scathing review.

The Death of Naivete is when we believe everyone working with us holds the same motivations and interest in achieving organizational success. Let me clarify: everyone wants to see the organization succeed, but the reason they desire it is different.

Examples of those different motivations?

Idealistic : The good of the organization, the good of the clients/customers, satisfaction of a job well done,
Realistic: all of the above plus higher organizational profits, bigger paychecks, self promotion, etc.

Some motivations are to serve the self and some are to serve the organization.

As we begin to realize that another team member is not as vested or interested in the success of our project, our naivete begins to die a slow, agonizing death. We may become a bit jaded and increasingly frustrated that these few, who agreed to help the rest of us, were agreeing out of an interest of personal gain. Rather than hoping to see a successful project, they wished to obtain a bit credit for that success through as little effort as possible.

Perhaps their motivation has many facets, and the personal gain is just one, but we can't help but roll our eyes as they produce yet another excuse as to why they cannot participate in team activities, or finish their assigned portion of the work. Inside we scream, "Then why did you sign up???" Sometimes we add a sarcastic, "Duh, we're all busy yet we manage to pull our weight."

The most important thing to remember is that the Death of Naivete is a process. Like any death, we experience grief. A brief illustration:

Shock: What? Why are they not doing their part? Don't they want us to succeed?

Denial: They want to do a good job, they're just really busy. If we leave them alone it'll eventually come together.

Inward Anger: Why am I such a tool? I don't want the team to do a bad job, so I cover the slack, but seriously, stop being such a push over!

Outward Anger: Wait a minute, why am I blaming myself for this stress? That jerk is the one who isn't participating. I'm talking to their boss/professor!

Depression: No one cares about what we're trying to accomplish. They're just in it for themselves, and I can't persuade them otherwise. The world's going to hell in a handbasket.

Acceptance: Okay, so they aren't going to do their part. The other team members will share the burden, and we'll finish the project successfully. We can deal with any issues afterward.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Supermarket Stories

I was standing in line at the supermarket the other day. It's one of those small town grocery stores that has photos of the town of olde (yore?) plastered on the walls.

As I was standing in line, with nothing to gaze at but a bloated Britney Spears on the cover of the National Enquirer, I began to take stock of what the other store patrons were purchasing. The woman in front of me inspired the most curiousity.

A 50-something, great-aunt type, she placed but two items on the conveyor belt: a bunch of bananas (five in total), and a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps (generic label).

In pondering the type of person who purchases two such items at the same time, and what kind of life that person must lead, I came to the conclusion that both items would only be purchased by 2 types of people:

1. Homeless drunks who prefer a minty fresh breath with their alcoholic aftertaste, and who panhandle for change with the help of an adorable pet monkey

2. 50-something spinsters with a gaggle of Red Hat Society friends back home eager to start a roarin' game of Canasta, and waiting to make a drinkable York Peppermint Patty

I left, not sure which of the two best described this lady.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Accidental Sales-Person

I don't particularly enjoy selling things. Nevermind the fact that I went to University and studied Marketing. Don't believe the endless pages of search results you see on Career Builder; sales is just one small part of Marketing, not the lifeline. Regardless of the fact that I hate selling, in the past two days I've discovered that I'm pretty darn good at it. Without even trying!

Yesterday I had a volunteer group of corporate executives working with the kids. They came, they ate lunch, they toured, they glued, they made scarecrows.

My organization also just happened to have a matinee performance for our cultural arts program. We stopped in to listen to a song, and afterward I mentioned that we had a new BOGO (buy one get one, for those of you who've been living under a Payless ad-free rock) ticket special. Guests could buy two - two tickets for the price of one!

We continued on the tour, and then to the project. As the group is leaving Exec 1 comes to me and wants to buy tickets to the evening performance. (Great job Me!)

I head to the office and return with tickets; the exchange is made. Exec 2 then comes to me and wants to purchase a season membership. (Awesome!) The transaction is made and customer leaves happy and excited for great music.

Today I arrive to work and another matinee performance is on the docket. I head downstairs to usher the kids to their seats when Teacher calls me over and says she would like to buy tickets to the evening performance. (Deja vu?)

I go to my office and return with the tickets (remember: two - two tickets for one!). She then asks about student prices. Yes, students get a half-price ticket so she decides to bring the whole family to the show tonight. (Wahoo!)

I am now diligently stationed in the lobby with the express purpose of cajoling passers-by into purchasing tickets for tonight's performance. Actually I'm not, but it was threatened to be so.

So, while I never enjoyed sales and never purposefully meant to do it, I have become the Accidental Sales-Person. Money seems to flock wherever I go; however, rather than that money landing on my paycheck, it is given for whatever I happen to be selling at that moment. And get your mind out of the gutter.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Antiquated TV Date

Remember when you were young and, as your mother was cooking dinner, dad was busy setting up the TV trays before the next episode of Leave it to Beaver debuted? No? Well neither do I, mostly because I'm too young to have experienced an original viewing of Leave it to Beaver.

I did, however, grow up before the remote control was widely available, and my household was one without cable TV. Far behind my peers in pop culture references, the four channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS) we did get were chock full of fascinating television like Dallas, The Cosby Show, and Charlie's Angels.

On occassion mom would bust out the TV trays and we would gather 'round to watch our favorite show (or, Dad's favorite show as the case may be), and enjoy a healthy meal. Sidenote: Unsolved Mysteries always freaked me out as a child, but now, oddly enough, I love a good story of mystery and/or haunting.

I'd like to announce that my friends and I are reviving the practive with weekly TV dates. Monday is Double D (Dexter & Dinner), while Wednesday is the always-anticipated Kid Nation Mockathon '07.

Seriously, have you ever seen Kid Nation? It's the latest in "shows so easy to mock it's almost not fun yet only more so."

My favorite is Taylor who is learning that, while Mommy and Daddy call her a princess, everyone else hates a tyrant. It's a great lesson to watch being learned. Although I'm not a fan of the Southern accent. I can't hardly understand a word she says, but can only infer her meaning by the expressions of shock and outrage on the other children's faces.

A little irony to leave you by:
"Someone who can take control of all situations while considering everyone involved and listening to everyone's opinions. Also someone that makes sure that the job gets done and that everyone does his or her part." - Taylor when asked what she thinks makes a good leader

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Right Message the Wrong Way

Yesterday I took part in the Memory Walk in Milwaukee. My place of work organized a team because we receive a lot of funding from the Alzheimer's Association for our geriatric center. The program coordinator asked people to donate money and/or time to give back, which sounds a bit backward (we donate money to an association that gives money to us), but we do this with a lot of foundations and non-profits that give us money, so what can I say?

Interruption from Annoyed Mandi: a new family moved in upstairs and they have a toddler. This annoys me because a) small children make a lot of unnecessary noise, while b) other tenants are trying to sleep, concentrate, and/or live in peace. There's a reason why I have no children as of yet. Where was I?

So a friend and I are taking part in the walk. After much confusion at registration, we get our complimentary t-shirts and head off through the gauntlet of carnival clowns and various mascots in giant foam suits (think Brewer's sausages and Piggly Wiggly), as we try to find my teammates. Shaken, but not to be deterred, we finally make contact a few minutes before starting time. Mere minutes later Miss West Allis, complete with far too much makeup and a bad dye job, announces the start, and we're off.

Not 1/2 mile into the 3-mile walk, as my friend and I are discussing just how much the purse dog that the women ahead of us is carrying looks like a gremlin, we hear a plethora of shouting. Yes, I just said plethora. I'm studying to take the GRE and am trying to improve my verbal score.

The shouting turns out to be an "evangelist" preaching the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This is disturbing on many levels, the least of all being that this man knows nothing about the hundreds walkers and is, therefore, unable to make a connection meaningful enough to warrant a change in any of our religious beliefs. There are many, more disturbing, issues about the "shouting witness" practice of evangelism, but there's another website that explains it much better. Click here to read it. The author is a bit snide in his criticisms, but he does bring up some thought-provoking topics.

It's a very interesting post, especially in light of all the churches seeking to be more "relevant" yet falling short by giving visitors a great show, but little gospel. More on that in another post when I discuss my church-shopping expeditions in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Novel Idea

It's no secret that I like to read. Anyone who's seen my "library" can attest to the fact that I have many books. I haven't read them all, but I'm working on it. Usually I'll come out of the bookstore with a few new books, with the best of intentions to read them, and then I'll get sidetracked when I make another trip to Barnes & Noble and find even more tomes.

Yes, it can be an expensive habit, but I rationalize it by telling myself reading is good. After all there are other, worse, habits on which I could spend my money. Nevermind that the library is within walking distance from my apartment.

Recently I've been reading a book by Marek Halter called, "Sarah: A Novel." It's the story of Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah) in novel form. The author takes a few liberties with adaptation, but the overall affect is a vivid depiction of life in the ancient world.

The story stays true to the Biblical text, with a few "interesting" embellishments (read: Lot's infatuation with Sarai), but I particularly enjoy how the author wove research of that time period into the Biblical story through geographical descriptions, food, dress, and ritual traditions.

It was good choice after a few harrowing days of reading, "God and Country: American in Red and Blue," which sounded like it would be an excellent read, however, was a bit cumbersome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Accidental Environmentalist

Yesterday I was at the supermarket, and as I was idling through the aisles ("shopping is my cardio," as first spoken by Carrie Bradshaw) I took special notice of the items in my cart.

Spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, olives, whole wheat bread...

Notice anything?

Now, I don't proclaim to be a health nut. I like my chips and cookies just like the next girl, however, for some reason I kept gravitating toward the healthy foods.

Then came the checkout and the age old question, "Paper, or plastic?" The 'leave the water running while she brushes her teeth' girl inside of me just about died as I shook my head and handed over a large tote for my purchases. She died a little more (in spirit) as I walked out to my Toyota Prius.

That's when I noticed something...

I've become an Accidental Environmentalist!

I didn't mean for it to happen! I've never held any particular view on Global Warming, nor have I been overly concerned with a black bear's disappearing habitat. By the by, did you see that segment on the Today Show this morning? Scary!

I don't wear Birkenstocks, and I don't own anything made from hemp. It just seems as if I'm more aware of waste than I used to be. Not to mention that I cringe a little inside every time I see a Hummer speeding down the highway.

I first noticed these changes when I returned from Europe. And they seem to have snowballed since I purchased the Prius. Now I'm stuck in a downward spiral of conservation and there's little hope of escape.

So I guess I'll start shopping in the organic food store pretty soon. And I'll make sure my glass is separated by color before the recyclables are picked up. Not because I particularly want to, but because it's the next step in this sequence of Earth-saving. I am, after all, an Accidental Environmentalist.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gone Fishin'

You've heard the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime," right? Well, I find that it's one proverb I like to put into practice as much as possible.

For example, this week is the annual fundraising campaign for a large, national, non-profit organization. This non-profit is an organization we happen to partner with, and therefore we have several projects, speaking engagements, and tours going on throughout the week. It is my job to coordinate these events and make sure staff involved have all the details and resources necessary for success.

Now because I adhere to the above adage, I prefer to give as much information to my coworkers as I possibly can, and then let them worry about coordinating their department and staff as necessary. In this way I feel that I am setting them up for success, but allowing them to take part in the coordinating process (and by "take part," I mean, "take some responsibility).

However, as much as my plan makes sense to me, it sometimes falls by the wayside as I am called, time and again, to help my coworkers with their parts of the project. What I like to call, "spoon feeding," which I abhor. My workload piles up as I am unable to let things go unfinished, because I, ultimately, carry the responsibility for the success of my organization's part in the campaign

I now see just how easy it is to become a Micromanager.

What have I've learned from this experience is...
1. No matter how far in advance you prepare someone - they will lose the information.
2. No matter how much information you give them - it will never be enough
3. No matter how many contigency plans you make - the unknown will still happen
4. No matter how crazy it seems - you just have to grin and bear it

At the end of the day I'm pretty easygoing and able to handle the curveballs as they come (I just like to complain about it). I'm going to keep on fishing, and inviting my colleagues along, in the hopes that they one day make that big catch.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What it Means to Assume

I’m a painter not a pointer. There, I’ve said it.

When speaking with friends and acquaintances about current issues and such, I find myself defending opinions I don’t necessarily agree with. In many cases when I first bring up a topic, I’m at the beginning of my thought process. In my mind I’m saying, “let’s discuss the different sides of this issue and see where we end up,” whereas the other conversationalist hears me saying, “this is what I think, how ‘bout you?”

This makes for some tense discussions, because while I like to think aloud and talk things through as I go, further cementing an opinion on an issue, I find that others have their opinion already firmly in place. Sometimes I’m eviscerated for taking a stance when, in fact, I’m not taking a stance and am only beginning to work out what my stance would be if, indeed, I decided to have one.

I once read an article on MSN Lifestyle: Relationships about arguing with one’s spouse. The writer stated that she and her husband used to always argue about things, and then her husband would (in her mind) change his tune at the end. Thinking that he was merely placating her, she would either feel guilt about haranguing him into changing his stance or anger at his flip-flop personality.

She then went on to document future arguments and take special notice of her husband’s comments during each. She noticed that he wasn’t purposefully being a flip-flopper, just that he had a different way of thinking through his argument. While she formulized her arguments and opinions internally, he liked to talk through them aloud and receive feedback as he progressed.

I find that my process is similar to this poor schmuck of a husband, and that I also like to talk through my ideas aloud and get input as I go.

From now on I think I shall initiate each conversation with, “One opinion on -insert issue here- is thus, what do you think?” and then take the discussion from there. Then maybe I can have civilized conversations with people on hot-button issues without either side becoming defensive. After all, I can’t help that I like to talk my opinions through aloud and then make a judgment, but maybe I can help the part where I begin talking and the other person believes I’m already stating my steadfast opinion.

Tip to you, dear reader (and to myself): Think before you speak. If you’re not a person who does that naturally, then at least preface your comment with, “this isn’t my opinion, it’s just one side of this issue. What do you think?”

By the way, Bill Gates (a.k.a. Microsoft Word) doesn’t recognize that “preface” can be used as a noun and a verb. What will happen to our children’s grammar ability if they keep being so restricted? I shudder to imagine.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Think Before You Drink: Eine Bitte für Gebet

Please pray for Tim, the brother of a college friend of mine. He was in a serious accident in Germany, and you can read his story here, as well as journal updates on his condition from his family.

I hope it's okay that I quote a journal entry, because the Bettger family have been so faithful throughout this ordeal, and Tim especially has been amazing...

In talking about Tim's upcoming surgery, and recent decision to go through with it, his mother had this to say:
"Clearly this event will change us and change our family. But I like Tim's assessment, 'It may delay some of my plans, but it will not derail them.' As we talked about losing part of a limb and fighting through a series of surgeries, Tim said, 'I much prefer the thought of learning to use a prosthesis to the thought of relearning the alphabet.' What is clear to us is that God stepped into this situation and protected Tim from much more serious injury."

Isn't that amazing? I have no idea how I would feel if I were in a similar situation. I'm sure I would be thankful to be alive, but I can't say how I would react to having my life forever changed by a drunk driver.

What strikes me most is how there is no blame or hatred directed to the drunk driver. The Bettger family have been incredibly strong in their faith, and have constantly given Glory to God through their difficult time.

Please keep them in your prayers. Pray especially for Tim's recovery and that their faith remain strong as they face adversity.

Romans 8:26-28 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Five Love Languages

How you give and receive love, and how it affects your relationships (and not to mention, your reactions to certain situations)

Driving alone for long distances gives one a chance to contemplate life. Well, driving home from a weekend with friends, I began to ponder how I best give and receive love. I once attended a Bible Study on Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. We discussed the variations of giving and receiving long, and I was able to determine which language I ‘speak’ when showing love, and which one is most effective to me when receiving love.

I was looking back to certain situations in my life and realized that, because the language X (we’ll call it “X” for the purposes of this post) is most effective for me when receiving love, I’m very careful about whom I use X with and how they use it with me. Which sounds extremely vague, I know, but it’s a bit too personal to go into details without disclosing which language I’m talking about.

Basically, my point is that X means more to me than it may for others, and that’s why I’m careful about using it. And that may make for some awkward experiences, one of which happened recently. Which got me pondering. Which got me posting.

So my ‘Tip to You,’ dear reader, is to think about which language you use for giving love, and which you use for receiving love (and the same for your partner). It’s an interesting study that can open up a world of better communication in relationships. And consider it for relationships beyond romantic love (i.e. friends and family). If anything, a good discussion on the subject will help you understand what you want, and hopefully save you from miscommunication.

I respect Gary Chapman’s research and thoughts on this subject. It’s an interesting way to view our relationships with one another.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Corporate Volunteerism P.2

What Skills-Based Volunteering Means for the Food Pantry

According to, the benefits of an employee volunteer program for the company are an “increase in retention, growth of brand awareness, strength to customer loyalty, and improvement in productivity.” The benefits to the community are that the employee volunteer program “provides skilled and talented volunteers, it creates a quantifiable social impact, helps bring the community needs into focus, and offers direct cost savings in recruiting and labor costs.”

This list, particularly the “benefits to the community,” is based on the assumption that the community organization can easily utilize professional workers in a valuable way. This isn’t always the case.

In fact, as more and more volunteers request opportunities that allow them to build job skills, gain work experience, and use their professional knowledge, nonprofit organizations are having a hard time getting people to do the grunt work. Monotonously make sandwiches at a homeless shelter for a never-ending line of hungry clients? No way! Not when I can write, edit, design, and publish an organizational newsletter for an up-and-coming charity.

Of course, I must add that many volunteers are more than willing to help wherever is needed, and I have yet to meet a volunteer who doesn’t have his or her heart in the right place, but I’ve been reading a lot about how volunteer motivations, especially for the educated set, are becoming more about, “what you can do for me,” rather than, “what I can do for my country.”

I’m not saying that volunteering can’t be a 50/50 beneficial relationship. All I’m saying is that certain organizations, namely, those with grunt work-based opportunities, may see a shortage of applicants to fulfill the monotonous, low-skilled jobs.

But that’s just one girl’s opinion.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Developments in the Big Debate

Facebook v. MySpace
Is it a socio-economic thing?

In writing this entry, I had meant to get into the various socio-economic differences between my Facebook friends and MySpace friends, which effectively divide them along class lines. However, I didn't want to mistakenly alienate anyone by drawing attention to those differences.

Today, I opened up my MSN homepage and saw this article which describes the class distinctions teens are seeing among their friends on each social networking site, and how many teens are switching to Facebook in the hopes of getting into the "college set" before college. The articles states that, "Affluent kids from educated, well-to-do families have been fleeing MySpace for Facebook since it opened registration to the general public in September, while working-class kids still flock to MySpace."

I am one of those "kids" (not so much "teen" as "in my twenties") who flew the coop of Myspace to the affluently crowded nest of Facebook, and was immediately innundated with long-lost university friends and old high school acquaintances who are now college graduates. However, I must disagree with the author in that, I didn't flee to Facebook because, "Constant local news stories on predators targeting kids on MySpace further alienated the good kids." Rather, I just noticed that more of my friends were on Facebook, and I wanted to reconnect.

Take what you will from this article, and think what you will about the Big Debate of Facebook V. MySpace. All I can share with you is my experience on both networks, and my reasons for switching. This is, after all, just one girl's opinion.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Corporate Volunteerism P.1

Is it just a reason to get out of the office? Or do corporate volunteers really want to make a difference in the community?

The other week we organized a group volunteer project in our school. We set up a project where employees could take a half-day, come to the school, and spend time with our younger students.

The preparation for this day was going well. We had a schedule, we had supplies, and we even worked through some issues to accommodate a smaller-than-planned corporate volunteer group. However, a communications challenge arose when we tried to confirm the group’s participation. This company always had one main contact for it’s volunteer projects. She, however, was not the contact in this particular instance. Perhaps we should’ve seen the red flag.

The day of the project began bright and early with the preparations for the group’s arrival. Everything was set, and the kids were ready to go, and then we waited. And waited. Fifteen minutes after the allotted start time, two volunteers from the group arrived and assured us that, though the rest were in a meeting, they would be along shortly. Cut to thirty minutes later whereupon I welcomed two more volunteers. Then thirty minutes later when two more came. The arrivals continued in thirty-minute increments until all ten volunteers finally made it, the last two arriving after the project was finished.

Despite the disruption from the regimented – and highly irregular – arrival procession, our students managed to enjoy the time they had with the volunteers. After the project they (the students) went merrily on their way to lunch while the volunteers proceeded to the lobby of our organization.

They sat chatting for the next twenty minutes until I could coerce them into another activity at the organization. I imagine they simply tired of me asking if they wanted to do anything more productive with their remaining time, and were placating me by following along. The entire time I felt that I was infringing on company sponsored Social Time. Worse, I was the one left feeling guilty because the students were promised a morning of reading, and instead were given disruption and disappointment.

This made me wonder what expectations the volunteer group had for the day. Did they truly sign up for the project in order to share their love of reading with young students? Did they want to spend time interacting with kids in the classroom? Or was this simply a means to get off company property for the morning?

The corporate group’s actions left me in a bit of a conundrum, to say the least. We’ve had volunteers from this company before, and they are always polite, on time, and excited to participate in the activity. So what went wrong?

Before I can answer that question, I will need to understand the motivation behind the group signing up for the project in the first place. I must also review our communications, and look for ways to improve the information-sharing process before our next event.

Instinct tells me it was just a one-time flub. I believe there was a breakdown in the communications regarding the expectations for the project. There are many resources that discuss Corporate Volunteerism and many of them specifically list the benefits for companies and employees through such a program. However, very few talk about the benefits to the community organization, and even fewer are written from the perspective of the nonprofit.

I feel that some volunteers view their service as a blessing that the recipient should be thankful for, regardless of any extra work it causes on the part of the nonprofit. I feel that the needs of the volunteer are sometimes put before the needs of the program, which is a contradiction to the idea of volunteerism.

But that's just one girl's opinion.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Lord's Supper

From NIV:
24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:26 says, in regards to the Lord’s Supper, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” In pondering this verse I came to the realization that I always practice this sacrament with a certain level of introspection; I’m more focused on my shortcomings and prayerfully approaching my participation in the Lord’s Supper, than I am concerned with any other congregant’s experience. However, the use of the verb, “proclaim,” is interesting in that it defines the action of participating in the Lord’s Supper as something all (believer, nonbeliever alike) will see and take note of. I never before thought of the possibility that any bystanders were taking note of my involvement in Communion, nor that by my participation I was making any sort of proclamation other than that I was a confirmed member of the church. The secret? Therein lays the proclamation.

The Hyperstatic Union song, “In Remembrance of Him,” is largely focused on the believer’s experience during Communion: taking the bread and wine and prayerfully considering what it symbolizes (I use that term loosely, there’s another time and place for a doctrinal debate on the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper). While, yes, we are to “do this in remembrance” of the sacrifice of our savior, and Hyperstatic Union’s lyrics and melody beautifully demonstrate the thoughts and feelings behind this act, 1 Corinthians 11:26 hints at a more influential reason for partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It’s not just a sacrament between you and your savior. It’s not just something we Christians do because Jesus said so. It’s a way for us to express our beliefs, “proclaim the Lord’s death,” and share our reasons for doing so with anyone who asks.

This thought is made clearer by my experience as a missionary. I’ve been to church services around the world and in several languages. I didn’t always understand what was being said. Okay, strike that, I usually didn’t understand what was being said, and I had little to no communication or fellowship with my fellow congregants. Nevertheless, this verse is saying that even though I didn’t speak the language, even though I had little in common, culturally, with the other congregants, and even though I was an outsider I could still be effective as a missionary through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Simply by participating in “the breaking of the bread,” and, “the drinking of the cup,” I was able to “proclaim the death of my Lord.”

Maybe someone who never heard of Jesus saw me go into that church on Sunday and asked themselves, “Why?” Why would a turista (which is what they probably thought I was) take the time out of her sightseeing schedule to spend an hour at church service? Why would this visitor go out of her way to attend service and eat a bit of bread dipped in wine? (Intinction: highly recommended for bread served with sour European white wine) Maybe, just maybe, that same person took the initiative and asked a fellow communicant, and native speaker, why he or she takes part in this sacrament. Who knows?

1 Corinthians 11:26 gives me a bit of hope that God was using me in ways in which I wasn’t even aware. In fact, there are probably hundreds of similar instances when I thought I was acting normal, mundane, and He used it to open the curiosity and heart of a nonbeliever.

Oh, and for the Worship Leader's out there, the next time you need a hymn to sing during communion, try the song I mentioned above. There are many possibilities for instrumentals between verses and improvisation with the chorus. Take a listen on iTunes (it's the bonus track after "Now That It's Over")'s a stirring tribute to this blessed sacrament. 

In Remembrance of Him by Hyperstatic Union
Oh Sacred hands, wounded for my soul
This brokenness makes me whole
So my hands break the bread
Heeding words Jesus said
And I do this in remembrance of Him

By His stripes our bodies are healed
For this sacrifice the covenant was sealed
So my hands break the bread
Heeding words Jesus said
And I do this in remembrance of Him

This sacrament demands my purity
His blood was spilled and I have been set free
So my lips touch the glass
Doing what my savior asked
And I drink this in remembrance of Him

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks

Because I will be attending three baseball games in one week. That's 27 innings (barring overtime) in 168 hours.

"Heaven!" cheer you baseball lovers.

"Boring pit of dispair," cringe haters.

And while I don't consider myself a Baseball Hater per se, I will admit to feeling little love for the sport. In fact, I will say that I find it the most boring sport to watch. Even golf is better (I will be watching quite a bit of that in the next week as well).

I never understood why there must be 9 innings when 7 will do just as well. Seventh inning stretch? Not when you have the end of the game fast approaching. I always find the actual "stretch" portion of the game to commence around inning 4 anyway. That's usually when I make the second trip to the beer stand.

I don't know why baseball bores me. I certainly enjoyed playing the game in gym an extent. Perhaps it's having to watch long stretches of boring nothingness until something exciting happens. But don't blink! That "something interesting" will be over in less time than it takes to flag down the roving beer vendor. And it's not like they won't have an instant replay or three on the Jumbotron for you to enjoy if you happened to be in the restroom during the play.

And goodness knows you'll be using the restroom if you've been using your boredom as an excuse to drink yourself into excitement.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Ho yan

Happy 2007 everyone. Let me just say that this New Year's was much better than last, although it doesn't take much to beat out being that sick...even if I was in Ireland. And it really did set the tone for the rest of 2006. There were some good times, I'm not lying, but many things happening in the past 6 months have been cherries on top of a really excellent year. And when I say "really excellent" I'm saying it in the most sarcastic way possible. I don't think the banana split of 2006 can handle any more cherries on top of it, which is rather a good thing actually seeing as how it's now 2007.

Anyway, enough griping. Not much is happening in my world lately so I haven't been blogging. That's really the whole story. Boring I know. Hopefully there will be more later...if anything exciting happens that is.