Monday, December 27, 2010

Coconut's Christmas

Hope everyone has been having a fantastic Christmas! God's peace as you continue to meet each other in love and encounter Jesus in the humble and quiet places of your life.  <3

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Reading List

The Adolescent - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Ulysses - James Joyce
Nineteen Eighty Four -George Orwell

Either I wanted to be really depressed over Christmas break, or this is a sign that I need more Terry Prachett in my life.  But really, when is good literature anything else but melancholy-inducing?

What to do?

My room is organized.  Laundry's done.  The sidewalk's snow-free. No baking dishes left to wash.  No odd or end to tie up or put back in place.  No short story to edit.  Nothing to do, nothing to do, nothing to DO!

...I kind of like it.

If you're anything like me (or my mom for that matter), you always need something to focus your attention on. Maybe (like me) you like to do things, put things in order and be helpful, be somewhat of use.  Maybe (also like me) you enjoy doing things so that you can avoid thinking about other things. Like essays.  And life.

Sloth is a deadly sin, but what about busyness?  It can be just as distracting from focusing on God, as I'm sure we've all heard in abundance from our teachers, family, Churchworker friends.  How many times did Jesus take a time out and go off to spend some quality time with His Father?  And after a busy bout of mission work, Jesus invites His disciples to just chill out: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mark 6:31b)  Burn out happens, no matter how self-sufficient we think ourselves. We do nothing from our own strength - it's all a gift from the One who made us and has epic plans for our lives.

Finding rest - my new quest!

In other news...
It's Bring-Your-Stuffed-Monkey-to-Work day! Can you find Coconut?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bienvenue a Winnipeg

This is Coconut.  He is a world traveler.
His next stop? Winnipeg, Manitoba!
Now, you may know Winnipeg as the winter capital of Canada, but it is home to some of the warmest hearts this side of Saskatchewan, including those of Grandma and Grandpa.
Coconut had a great time hanging out at Grandma and Grandapa's 
making new friends,

 going to church,
rocking out to old records,

staying warm,
playing hide and go seek,
taking time to relax,
and eating Grandma's homemade oreo cookies.

Where did the time go?

He is looking forward to all the Christmas adventures to come in the lovely city of Brandon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday rant

Maybe it was the day, the fact that I was frustrated with other things, or that I had just finished reading Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution, but as I stood and sang as I had many other Sundays in many other churches, I began to notice something.

The church I attend is not what you'd call a mega-church, but the attendance is pretty substantial for a Lutheran congregation these days.  The sanctuary is filled with people of various backgrounds, ages, and familial statuses, and there is a balance of hymns and worship songs in the liturgy.  Pastor 's sermons are fiery and not too long, and Preschool and Sunday School both continue to run smoothly.  All in all, it's a comfortable and welcoming place.

Then I noticed the space - we have a fairly large building, two floors with a gymnasium and an attic study room where we usually hang for Young Adult events.  And my thoughts went on tangents.  Our church is located off a fairly seedy area of town, the kind of area people warn you against walking through at night: exemplifying this, during announcements, one of the congregation members informed us of vandalism to vehicles that had been happening during services.  He advised people to keep valuables out of sight, and that it was too bad it was happening, but that "it's just the society we live in".

That comment kind of threw me.  Images of a picnic in the parking lot filled with people from the community and cots set up in the sanctuary passed through my head. We are so blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with wealth in North America. We live in comfortable heated houses and comfortable double-doored churches.  We are in love with our own affluence.  How are we using the gifts God has given us to serve others?  That was my burning overwhelming question as I considered the space around me this past Sunday.

To be fair, our congregation is active in many things.  Members run schools, programs for inner city kids, Bible studies, soup kitchens and pancake breakfasts, world missions, outreach services to senior's homes, music ministry and many other God glorifying things.  In our congregation though, I also see people who are frustrated with the system, who are looking for somewhere to belong, who have difficult questions and pains.  People who see the Church as a place of closed doors and too-happy faces.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a country where Christianity was illegal, so that I could be part of a mobile family of believers meeting in houses,  on street corners, in the sewers of society, ready at any moment to die for what you believe.  Christianity like that is hard to find in our society.  But I am thankful of the community that I am part of, imperfect as it is and always will be.  We can't blame the Church for not doing or loving enough: we can only blame ourselves for not trying to change that.  We are the Church and by God's grace He will continue to work through us, in big ways and in small.

One of my favourite points in Claiborne's book is his reoccurring theme of Jesus as a homeless person.  “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-21) What if we as Christians lived that way? After all, we are in this world only a short time.  What is God calling us to do with our lives and the blessings He has given all of us, whether they be gifts of wealth, compassion, prophecy, artistry, homes, cars, churches, intelligence, the knack of knowing when someone needs a shoulder, the awareness that something needs to change?

And what if we listened?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dramatic Monologue

I suppose the biggest recent event in my life was One Acts.

Now, I haven't been a drama minor long, and just as I was starting to warm up to this idea of being a "drama kid", three things happened: 

1. Some dear members of the GTC (Green Thespians' Club) came up to me and said "Brittni, we're not asking you, we're telling you that you must direct a play for One Acts". Okay...directing was something I never wanted to do again. Not after that time in high school where a play I wrote and directed (granted, probably the worst adaptation of the Robin Hood and King Arthur myths ever compiled this side of the middle ages) was cut before production. Oh, how guilty and incompetent I felt!  I got over it pretty quick though.  And since there were not that many people signed up to do shows this semester, I thought what the heck?  And that's how I came to direct three amazing actors in a ten minute piece I wrote called Walls.

2. I auditioned for a musical piece.  And surprisingly got a part.  Graeme and myself, as directed by Erica, performed "No Matter What" from the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast.  It was splendid fun, especially when the invention crashed onto the stage during our opening night. The audience loved it. Or pitied us and only laughed to make us feel less bad.

3. Carla and Laura asked me to stage manage their capstone!  I learned so much about the backstage process during a full-length show. Our director, Nathania, was super encouraging. Josiah taught me how to work the light board, we made it through the speaker glitches, and I managed to play a song instead of a gunshot sound effect during a very serious scene.  It's serious, don't laugh.  Our PAs were fantastic to work with, and I managed to put together a stage managing binder with cues and everything!

So, that was my holistic drama experience.  I learned (again) that drama pretty much eats your life, but is totally worth it in the end.