Monday, June 26, 2006

Small Group, Large Group

I went to my first Small Group at Immanuel Baptist church last night. One of the guys here, David Devasto, gave me a ride to the group that meets at the Marshalls' house, over the river in Indiana. (I'd gotten to talk a good bit with David, because he's a fellow music nerd!! Actually, he's a way more ACCOMPLISHED music nerd than I am. He just got his master's in composition from U of Louisville, and is a very good jazz and classical pianist. He left today for Iowa, where he'll be workin' on a Phd!) The Shueys, the Moodys, a SBTS student named Jennifer, and another family all are in that group, though not everyone was represented last night. It turns out Mrs. Marshall is a musician, too (which I knew but had forgotten), and I recognized a lot of her textbooks as the same ones we have! [Trin-- she actually used the same blue Form book we did!] Sunday was a rough day emotionally for me, but of course since it was David's last Sunday, and I was riding with him, we were there LONG after everyone else left, and the kids were in bed, lol. But I'm glad-- we had great conversation! I like the way they do small groups, though I was a little skeptical at first. Once you're in a small group, you stay in it, unless you move or the group gets too big, in which case you split. I thought that was a little narrow, but the people seem to really love each other! I guess you would get to know people that way!

Saturday night, Ashlea and I had a BIG group over to our not-so-big apartment! It was great! "As You Like It" (a Shakespearian comedy) was/is playing in Central Park, just up the block from us, for free, and a BUNCH of us went to it. It was good (though one actor, a very talented one at that, clearly had his mind in, ahem, the gutter), though it went a bit late ('til 11!), and after that, I was so tired I half-hoped no one came over, despite the big batch of chocolate-chip cookies & two loaves of bread I'd baked, all the cleaning we'd done, and the chips, salsa & tea Ashlea's gotten ready! But, oh, they came over all right. Rob played my guitar (he's a promising songwriter and singer, I will admit) and duly admired it. Warren kept reminding me of another SBTS student, John Patrick, and Doug kept asking me whether or not I could eat various food items. I talked a little more to Christen, Lisa, and Allison, and tried very hard to remember all the names of people I didn't know yet. I didn't do too well with remembering, though, because the next day Sina was asking me who all came, and I was at a loss for all the names. I know we had about 20 people, though, judging from the cups that were used! It was happy to have everyone here, to listen to people laughing and talking, eating and drinking. One thing about the members of IBC I've loved is that they seem to love one another very well. And that is SO sweet to see, to be a part of.

They're also obsessed with Canada. Saturday night Ryan kept insisting I was from Québec. heeheh, but then I turned the tables and started talking about how I moved from there when I was 7, and he got really confused and thought maybe I really WAS from Québec. [David, who was also a part of that conversation, kept talking about armpit pillows, at which time I stopped speaking to him.] lol Pastor Ryan Fullerton is Canadian (so, obviously, is his brother Nathan, who leads worship...and their wives are too). So is another elder, Pastor Chris Shipley & his family, and those of you who know Chris Powell would really laugh if you met THIS Canadian Chris. They are quite alike. And I think there are other Canuks in the mix. I can't seem to escape them. *sigh* Everyone has their crosses to bear... *wink wink*

If anyone has pictures from the Gathering Sat., I'd love to have them! I didn't take any once we got back to our apartment-- I was too busy making sure all the food was ok, and the cups were filled.

I still don't feel real comfortable going around milling about after church services yet, but I am feeling quite at ease in less formal group settings, and there have been PLENTY of those so far. So, see, Mom-- I am breaking out of my usually shy mold and making friends...sort of... ;D


It's been hot and humid-- the kind of days in which you seem constantly to be...there's just no other way to say it: salty! Good training for the mission field, I keep telling myself. Still no providential blessing in the finding-a-job realm, although there are 2 babysitting possibilities, one companion position (5 hours or so a day with an elderly woman), and cleaning jobs that may still work out. I haven't heard back from the more traditional jobs-- the hotels, restaurants, coffeeshops, etc. We'll see. It's nice not having to work just right now. I've got PLENTY of work. =D

Part of it has been to re-kindle my own imagination. There is a need for good stories as the fountain of good thoughts, which can then spill over into poetry and music! Lately, there's been a lot more facts and numeric patterns filling my brain-- academia, you know. Somehow we lose the stories way too easily... But at prayer meeting on Wednesday night, Ryan S. (yes, in photo below), gave a passionate, winsom presentation I guess you'd call it. Pastor Ryan had him come up before the assembled body and share his burden for the neighborhood children. [Immanuel's building is across the street from Shelby Park, a large community park teeming with children, most unsupervised-- well, let's put it this way: the two-year-olds come with the five-year-olds.] Ryan's heart for these kids was jarred to life when he realized it's the drug dealers whom they greet by who are quite happy to get to know these precious little souls, with the end goal of ruining their lives; putting them in bondage to the wares they sell. Should those who enslave be more willing to invest than those who would set free?? No!

What does all this have to do with Imagination? Getting there... basically Ryan's heart is going to come out into "Read With Us." Every Thursday from 7-8, we'll be in the gazebo at the park, reading with any kids who want to come. I went last week, and LOVED it! We had quite a group, and I think they'll all come back. We read to them, they read to us, both individually and in groups. We finished last week with Chapter 1 of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I enjoyed at least as much as the kids! Besides the huge need that these kids have-- to learn to read fluently, confidently, even enjoyably (they all read far below grade level)-- there is a dearth of imagination in that park. And where will they get that without stories?

Ryan's points kindled further conversation between Ashlea and I at home. As she said so well, "Without imagination, you're essentially limiting yourself to what you can see-- a fundamental flaw of the Enlightenment and Modernism." I wanted to shout "Amen!" This was something that bothered me a lot when I was tutoring at Berea Middle school last year: there were so many books that were supposed to be "relevant" to the students. Books about fragmented families, about tough life, about divorce, about dropping out of school, about gangs, about divorce... supposedly to stimulate the kids to read more. While I understand the sentiment, it disturbed me. They already know about all THAT. They don't need anyone to tell them THAT exists. We all know our own stories waaaay too well. What they need, what I need, are stories to get us outside of ourselves; stories where things are the same, but different; where we learn that things aren't always this way; where we learn to think a little differently than we ever thought before. What I was trying to put my finger on with those vaguely disappointing books was this : imagination! It was what I was missing!

This sounds like something I've heard before somewhere...something about "not sight," about something that was nothing if we could physically see it before us... what was it? Oh yeah-- it was hope. It was Faith. Are they so different from imagination?

Without imagination, and the skill to dicipher meaning from letters, how can a person ever think about Jesus? How can someone without imagination-- the ability to infuse unfamiliar word-formed-descriptions with life and color-- ever read and enjoy Scripture? When Ryan was saying some of this sort of thing, it took quite a bit of self-restraint to keep me from running up and hugging him right there! =D

To close, here are some quotes that were fresh in my mind from Mark Buchanon's so-far-very-good book, Your God is Too Safe. He's got an exceptionally good chapter on Imagination, Mystery and Wonder (Chapter 5-- I highly reccomend it). Speaking of our loss of imagination in our cultural pursuit of the easily understood, the pragmatic, he writes:
"We fear imagination [today] believing it somehow undermines the purity of truth [...] There's almost no awareness that maybe imagination is the missing link between having a doctrine, and living it. What's at stake is our ability to know God and worship Him." (p. 53)

And, from his foreward to the same book,
"An accurate understanding of the formation of the Christian life requires three things: stories well-told, Scripture sharply imagined, and language skillfully used. All three are essential."

The three build on one another, it seems to me, and I think that sentence could serve very well as a summary of the goals of "Read With Us," and I hope, every interaction I have with other people. Especially children.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mishmash post from Louisville, KY

For reasons unbeknownst to me, Louisville HotSpot (the community connection I'm on) blocks xanga, but not e-blogger...thence the switch. We'll see if I can manage it.

As many of you probably know, I’m in Louisville, KY for the summer (until August 14th, when I’ll have to be back in G’ville for student teaching!!)... Still not sure quite what I’ll be doing, but that’s why it’s going to be an adventure! =D I felt I’d been boring for far too long. I haven’t done any real exploring since Argentina in 2003!! No— that’s only half of why I’m here. Another thing I haven’t had much of since my stay in the Southern Hemisphere is thinking time. School (especially with overloading every term for the past 2 years) has been rather...taxing, and the summers have been taken up with stressful jobs each year. So I’m here, and so far, I definitely have had a fair share of both adventure AND down-time!

I've been wiped all day...all week... it's either the heat or something I've eaten or difficulty adjusting to sleeping in a new place, but I am really really zonked these days! I hope I can adjust soon. It's hard to stay motivated otherwise. Anyway, this is going to be quite a short post, mainly to see if this works. I practically have to hang out my window to get connection in the apartment, and this is the ONLY time of the day when we get more-or-less direct sunlight in the front window, so I'm really sweatin' (thanks a lot, Lori B., for wishing such a fate on me)! I'm not sure I can even manage the switch to this host, but I don't fancy paying $3 for a latte or something every time I want to post online! Although that little coffee shop 'round the corner sure is cute...

I should probably avoid all forms of coffee for a little while, anyway. Sina about killed me last night, with an (albeit wonderfully delicious and refreshing) iced mocha that was highly caffeinated. They didn't think I would notice if they didn't tell me... I wasn't so wired as I have been before, though... I'm looking forward to church tonight. Last time I went to Wed. night prayer meeting, I didn't know how to get there (and so finally arrived 20 minutes late), and felt highly agoraphobic and had to leave halfway through, to go sit in a more secure-feeling corner of the balcony! It's funny now, but it wasn't so funny then...

These are funny, though:

My roommate & I at the highly illustrious establishment, Dairy-Dell. [I call that Ashlea's demon-child face.] That's Ryan in the background.

And here are 3 of "the guys" here. Ryan, Rob, and Warren-- they were obsessed with being manly that night...even asked ME what the manliest thing I'd ever done was... You know what, though? Warren is the head of the deacon board at Immanuel-- all their church officers are quite young (except for Herman Vanderpool, who at 64 throws the average off). Dave Shuey was the youngest elder ever instated at Grace, and is now the OLDEST elder at Immanuel! It made me start wondering why we don't ever consider appointing younger church officers. Maybe if it was more expected, they'd treat their Faith and their God a little less flippantly?

Pictured below is the coating I ate [the bubblegum one]:
Yumm!, ay?