Saturday, February 05, 2011

Song! Challenge! Special! Winter! Edition!

Friends, it’s well and truly winter in Central Indiana. After the thorough IceWhoopin’ we got earlier in the week, we received another 3 or 4 inches of snow just today!

In honor of all of us who’ve taken a spill while shoveling the driveway and to celebrate those of you who’ve had the good sense to just stay inside today, here’s a winter-themed Song! Challenge!

And whether you’re in a part of the country that’s as deep in the white stuff as we are or you’re wearing shorts and sandals today, you can win today’s prize -- $10 in cash. Cold, hard cash.

In this week’s Song! Challenge!, all the songs contain cold-weather-related words or refer to winter in some way. To enter, just submit a comment with your guesses for all 14 song titles. (We don’t need artists this time around.) Oh, and just to make it a bit more difficult, all the song clips are backwards this time!

The deadline for entries is Sunday, February 6, 2011, at 7:00pm EST.

Good luck, and stay warm!

How To Play

Your task is to identify all 14 clips -- TITLE OF SONG ONLY -- in this week's Challenge!. Some extra information for this week's game:

* Three TV theme songs this week.
* Clips are numbered, to make it easier for you to keep track of which ones you're stuck on.
* Each clip is worth one point.
* I will hold all entries until the deadline and wait to post them until after the 7pm EST Sunday deadline.

The Rules

Your job is to enter your song guesses for all 14 clips (TITLE OF SONG ONLY) as a single comment here on the blog. Standard rules apply: Judge's decision final, have fun, blah blah blah. Again, I'll be counting minor misspellings and other tiny inaccuracies as correct, as long as you're mostly right.

You can submit your comment-entry starting at 7:00pm EST tonight, but I won't be approving any comments until after the Sunday evening deadline. No help from other entries this time around. The deadline for all entries is Sunday evening at 7:00pm EST.

You may enter as often as you like -- but each comment/entry will be counted independent of your other entries; so if you get a question right in one entry but wrong in another, it only counts as correct in the one you got it right in. (Got that?) If you're reading this on Facebook, go to the blog: http://sssemester.blogspot.com to hear the quiz and enter your comment/entry.

The Grand Prize


The first person to correctly identify all the clips in a single entry -- or the person with the most points by 7:00PM EST ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6 -- will win $10 in cold, hard cash, sponsored by me.

And hey! If you're cool and would like to participate as a prize sponsor by donating a prize valued at $10 or more, please e-mail me at SSSemester (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Readysetgo by clicking the player below:

Song! Challenge! Returns Tonight!

Hey, so... I know it's been over two months since my last blog post. I've missed you, too.

And now, I have news...

Now, I'm not saying I'm hopping back into things... BUT!

In honor of the fresh winter hell we're dealing with, I'm posting a special Song! Challenge! Winter! Edition! this evening at 7:00pm.

You'll want to be there. You can win $10 cold, hard cash! (Get it?! "Cold" hard cash...?)

OK, see you back here tonight!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Days of Truth: XII

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Twelfth: Something people never compliment you on.

I think I am an excellent driver -- able to drive safely and defensively, efficiently and quickly -- but I don't think I have ever received a compliment on my driving.

*single tear* *sniff* (Just kidding.)

30 Days of Truth: XI

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Eleventh: Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

As someone who generally discounts positive feedback as uninformed or misguided, I have trouble thinking of an answer for this one off the top of my head. (Do not read that as "People compliment me on so many things, I can't pick one!" Rather, read that as "I tend not to believe compliments and, while I do appreciate them, I do soon forget them.")

This is pretty good and has gotten a lot of compliments since it went on display last week.

This, while not exactly "good," strictly speaking, brought some good feedback when performed live at Family Fuel last month.

And since I kind of had trouble with this one, I peeked at what other people had said for their Day 11 Thing -- a lot of people said they get compliments on physical traits: their smile, their eyes, their hair. So I'll say physically, it's typically my speaking voice that gets the most compliments. Unless I'm very angry. (You wouldn't like me when I'm angry, Mr. McGee.) I get feedback that the folks I talk to on the phone at work appreciate my phone style, also.

So, there it is, I guess.

Did you know there are multiple verses to the "Baywatch" theme song?

Well, there are. Feast your ears on this:

30 Days of Truth: X

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Tenth: Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

See, it's getting to the point where all the 30 Dayses of Truths are doing is pointing out how weird I am.

Because, as of Spring 2009 at least, I don't think I'm hanging on to anyone that I need to let go or wish I didn't know. There are certainly experiences that I need to let go, but I can't think of any relationships I'm in that I wish didn't exist.

When things like this do come up, either in friendships or work or volunteer experiences, I pretty much give up on them, and either passively or passive-aggressively let them go.

I imagine there are healthier ways to cope with stuff like that, but I never claimed to be the healthiest.

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 Days of Truth: IX

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Ninth: Someone you didn't want to let go, but just drifted

Oh, hello. Did you notice that I was gone for almost three weeks? You probably didn't. Either that, or you've been hanging on my every word, waiting -- no, longing -- for the day I would return to this series. Well, either way, today is your lucky day! Both of you, my regular readers, will be glad to know that I'm back in the swing of things and will be posting to this series again on a daily basis until it's all done! Here goes...

See, part of the problem with me (and probably the problem which led me to procrastinate on this one) is that I do not really dwell on the past, at least where other people are involved. I feel like there are people that I miss now, but Futuristic Optimist Me believes that I'll run into them again, or that there will be time for us to reunite at some point in the future. So, the people who have drifted away (old friends, old coworkers, etc)? I imagine they haven't drifted away forever, even though some (most?) of them have.

The other part of this one, for me, is that there's almost nobody in the world, outside of my immediate family, that I don't get sick of after about three days. In fact, when I would travel with friends every summer to one of their family's beach homes, we always knew that by the third or fourth day, I would be ready for a Scott Alone Adventure, which would entail me walking to a theater for a movie alone or hiding out for a while in the church across the street from the condo or hanging out in the condo solo while everyone else went to the beach. So, in the language of the question, "Someone you didn't want to let go..." -- I pretty much want to let everyone go after three consecutive days with them.

Waxing philosophical, I would echo my Day VIII answer -- myself. My younger self that was, I think, a stronger and more effective leader and a better planner/doer and a better role model and an overall happier person. Like, Junior Year At IU Me. I'm disappointed that Junior Year At IU Me has drifted away.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Truth: VIII

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Eighth: Someone who has made your life hell, or treated you like crap

Hmm. I could say the Day Four guy(s). But I don't think I will.

Because when it comes down to it, I'd have to go with "me." (As inner self-monologues go, I'm pretty vicious.)

I believe with every fiber of my being that my decision to allow my life to feel like hell is just that -- my decision. In the times of my life when I've felt trapped, stuck, tortured, or otherwise screwed, it has, without exception, been a product of my own choices and a result of my own frame of mind.

But this also empowers me to claim my own happiness and embrace the times when I feel empowered, loved, self-actualized, or otherwise peachy.

That's a choice, too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sara Groves - Free Music Download, For Real!

Contemporary Christian recording artist Sara Groves has released a live recording of her "O Holy Night" Tour -- a concert she and her band performed in an Illinois women's prison.

You can get it free -- it's really good -- by clicking here or clicking the image below.

30 Days of Truth: VII

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Seventh: Someone who has made your life worth living for

I think I would answer my family for this one -- my mom and dad and brother, and now my brother's family: his wife and three beautiful kids. I know that seems cheesy, but even with all my great friends whom I love and adore, I keep coming back to my family.

My dad is the most dadly dad out there, and he's taught me so much.

My mom is the most momly mom out there, and she's loved me no matter what.

My brother is always there when I need him, and he can always make me laugh.

My sister-in-law does such an awesome job of keeping me grounded, and she reminds me of what's really important in life.

My niece Madelynn wows me and awes me and humbles me with her intelligent observations and questions, and with the way she can entertain herself when needed.

My nephew Owen is also a quick learner and a fearless explorer whose strength and focus impress me. I also laugh whenever he eats something and instantly says, "Mmmm!"

My niece Ellie (brand new about 7 weeks ago) (whom, Grandma reminds me, I haven't really blogged about, although I have tweeted about her) encourages me to be hopeful for the future and grateful for all the many gifts that I've received.

Learning, loving, laughing, remembering, humbling, exploring, and hoping -- all things that are pretty much what I think is worth living for.

30 Days of Truth: VI

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Sixth: Something you hope you never have to do in your life

So, now it's 9:00 on Day Seven and I'm just posting Day Six. Whatever, I think I'll just have to Day 3 myself and move on. (Bwahaha!)

Therefore. Something I hope I never have to do in my life...

I mean, I suppose I hope I never have to hurt someone or something. But I guess the "have to" part of that means it would be justified somehow -- like "kill Person X or we'll kill a family member." Or beating into submission a home invader. Or whatever. So, that's my answer, I suppose.

I do know that I hope never to have to use these words unironically.

And I've done things that I hope I never have to do again. For example, I hope I never have to wear a red, white, and blue sequined tophat again. I hope never again to have to dress as the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. And I hope never again to grow a vast media empire, only to die alone on my palatial estate, clutching a snow globe and cryptically uttering, "Rosebud."

(That last one might not have actually been me; I forget.)

Monday, November 08, 2010

FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!

That this is one of the defining televisory moments of my youth tells you a lot about me.

30 Days of Truth: V

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Fifth: Something you hope to do in your life

Well, I'm getting further and further from getting these things posted on time. (See Day 1.) (Except last night's delay actually emerged from tiredness after eating way too much pizza and ice cream for dinner and also I may be coming down with a cold or something.)

Anyway! Day the Fifth!

Again, this one's easy, and I've already referred to it. You can see all the things I hope to do on my Future Tree. I created it almost three years ago, and while specific projects have come and gone, everything pretty much fits under the umbrella of that tree. For example, remember the recital I mentioned I was considering? Looks like it's going to happen in about a year. I'm on the schedule to exhibit at the art gallery at St. Luke's for the month of November 2011, and I've committed to an opening performance/recital to go along with my show (which will probably be photography-based, unless I develop some other visual art skill in the meantime, which seems unlikely). So, you know, even though "Perform in a solo recital" is not on the Future Tree, it fits under "Use my voice for fun and for profit and for good."

It pretty much all goes back to the Future Tree on this one...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

30 Days of Truth: IV

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Fourth: Something you have to forgive someone else for

Well! This one's easy. (Finally.)

In our last installment, we learned about that one job. It would be easy to think that the person I need to forgive in that episode is the boss, whose behavior bordered on the legally actionable. But I have grown to accept that there's probably something going on -- like, underlying, potentially treatable issues that are beyond his control which cause him to behave the way he does. I just don't think he has the capacity to behave differently, and this has made it easier for me to forgive him.

Alas, he is not the one I still have to forgive. Rather, the person I have yet to forgive from that episode is one of the leaders who purported to be supportive of me and my role but who, it became clear in the post-mortem, was only in it for himself. This is a man whose professional experience should have better prepared him to assist me in navigating the challenges -- a man who, if he had chosen, could have been a strong advocate rather than an opponent. But because of his devotion to the boss and because of his self-appointed hero/savior complex with regard to the church and because of some underlying, potentially treatable issues (which, in his case, I somehow find less forgivable than the boss's underlying, potentially treatable issues*), he chose to pick sides, rather than creating a win-win. He did not choose my "side" (it felt like no one did), and I think that, more than anything, led to the episode ending the way it did.

It's not that I need to forgive him for leading to the end of that job for me; I know that I bear responsibility there. Rather, I need to forgive him for being such an unsupportive, dishonest ass to me and for being a poor leader for his church family.

I think someday, I'll get there. Probably not for a while, though.

*And also which I have no business knowing about, because confidentiality practices should have precluded the person who told me about them from telling me about them...

Friday, November 05, 2010

30 Days of Truth: III

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Third: Something you have to forgive yourself for

Hmm, this is a thinker because, again, there's a lot to choose from. And I've been staring at this blinking cursor on and off for the last two hours, trying to decide what to write about. Here goes...

I need to forgive myself for not trusting my intuition approximately four years ago, when I was interviewing for a job that would become what I now consider the worst experience of my career -- worst experience of my life, really.

The job itself seemed like it was tailor-made for me, mixing my experience and skill in church fundraising with my passion for outreach ministry and community-church partnerships. The task -- raise a couple million dollars from ambiguously-defined sources -- seemed ambitious but the energy around the campaign and my enthusiasm to return to professional fundraising clouded my judgment, I think.

When I went in for my second interview and asked questions that should have been easy to answer with straightforward facts, and when those questions were answered with Yoda-like riddles and sanctimonious claptrap, my Spidey-sense went off, but still I overlooked it. And when I talked with the hiring committee members and they had no real support for the campaign other than "Our leaders met and think we can do it," and when I heard from others around town about how difficult the man who would be my boss is, the alarm buzzers went off, but still I overlooked it. When the members of this community which claims it seeks, welcomes, and values all people looked down on me and my home church, I got pissed, but still I overlooked it. And when I thought about each of the people I met during the interview process and realized that not one of them seemed interested in me as much as what I could do for them, the siren sounded and red light flashed, but still I overlooked it.

So now, when I look back over the almost-two-years that I lasted in that job and observe all the major breakdowns in communication, major breakdowns in love and support, major breakdowns in fundraising best practices, and just overall major breakdowns, I am able to pinpoint about ten distinct things that I overlooked during the hiring process which, if I had trusted my intuition sufficiently and overlooked my -- my what? enthusiasm? greed? need to be needed? -- my whatever, I could have saved myself a LOT of headaches, heartaches, and soulaches.

The way that job ended almost exactly two years ago today did some pretty severe damage to me, vocation-wise and Vocation-wise, self-esteem-wise and relationship-wise, and I'm only now feeling like I'm getting over that. On days when I get down on myself about where I am in my career and where I am financially and where I am interpersonally, it's easy to look back on the way I overlooked my intuition and, in a very real way, sold out for a good-paying, important-sounding job.

My self-forgiveness for that is a work in progress. Some days are better than others, but the long-term prognosis is good, I think. Beats the alternative, right?

The Journey

It's unusual for me to find a commercial to be full of beauty and meaning, but this is pretty great:

Thursday, November 04, 2010

30 Days of Truth: II

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Second: Something you love about yourself

Holy crap! It's 11:50pm on Day 2, and I haven't posted yet. (Please to be referring to Day 1, haha.)

So. Something I love about myself.

*crickets chirping*

This is tough, because there are times in my life when I absolutely love SO MANY THINGS about myself. And then there are times in my life when I absolutely love ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about myself. I struggle with the balance between confidence and humility, pride and modesty, Sense and Sensibility. (I do not know what that means.)

Anyway.

So, let's just go for right now, at 11:51pm on Thursday, November 4, 2010, in the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, something I love about myself is my voice. And I mean that in the literal sense, in the musical sense, and in the figurative sense. One of the things on my Future Tree is to use my voice for fun, for profit, and for good, and I think I do that pretty consistently. Here's how:

Literally, I love the sound of my voice. Just today, I got a lovely compliment from a stranger on the phone; as I was scheduling an appointment for her with the psychologist I work for, she told me that I was very soothing and friendly, welcoming and caring. I think that's pretty cool, especially since I've always hated the telephone, which I think we can trace back to when I was younger before my voice changed and when I would answer the phone, people would call me "ma'am" or whatever. (Oddly, depending on the tone of voice I'm using and the person on the other end of the line, this occasionally still happens. Often when I'm speaking to African-American women on the phone, they'll hear my voice as female. You tell me.)

Musically, I'm coming into my own and learning about the power and mystery of my voice. Singing is something that I've always done (in the car, in the shower, etc.) but it's only in the last six years that I've been singing in any sort of structured environment. (Have I ever told the story of how that happened? It's a little bit mystical, so maybe there's a God component to why I love my voice. Story in the footnotes below.*) I've had the opportunity to sing solos in and around church, and I like the musical aspect of it, as well as the spiritual/emotional aspect of it.

In the figurative sense, I think it's taken three and a half decades for me to find my "voice" -- as a writer, as a leader, as a Christian, as a friend, etc. I'm not sure what has changed over the last couple years (I mean, a hell of a lot has changed over the last couple years, but I don't know what specifically to attribute THIS change to), but I've finally felt comfortable being myself -- the good and the bad that comes along with that. And I think that has shown in my writing -- what little writing I've done lately! But I also think that shows in my leadership; I feel like I know better today what's important to me...my values and priorities. And that makes me a better leader. I'm still experimenting, I think, using the words and phrases of Christianity -- my faith life until about five years ago had been a rather solitary, private enterprise. So I think that's one aspect of my voice that is in flux -- but I love that it's in flux...and I hope it's OK with both of you, dear readers, that I occasionally experiment with you on that here on ye olde blogge. I think I've also come into my own when it comes to speaking my truth as a friend. That's had some unpleasant consequences over the last couple years, but I think that's probably part of the adventure.

So, there you have it: I love my voice.

I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVE MMMMMMMYYYYYYYY VVVVVVVVVOOOOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIICCCCCCCCCCCCE!

* As I said, growing up, I always sang when I was alone -- in the car, in the shower, walking on campus at IU when no one else was around. But I didn't sing with a choir or anything. Until... In 2003, I was working on a consulting project in a city called St. Catharines, Ontario. I had just gotten back from my trip to Italy, Ghana, and the UK, and I was still very much in Say Yes To Any Request mode. I was attending a church event, just talking to a friend, when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Are you singing in the choir at Mountainview (the name of the church I was attending there)?" I, of course, told her "No," because (a) I wasn't, so "No" was the correct answer, and (b) I had never sung -- nor never seriously considered singing -- with a choir before. She immediately said, "You should be." I said, "What do you mean?" and she said, "You have a lovely God-given voice. Use it." So, I contacted the music director at Mountainview and got into the choir there. I've been singing with church choirs pretty much ever since then.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

30 Days of Truth: I

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the First: Something you hate about yourself

I suppose it's no surprise that this first post in the 30 Days of Truth series is coming at nearly midnight on Day One. Something I hate about myself is my finely honed skill of procrastination.

Now, don't get me wrong -- there's plenty of stuff going through my head as I contemplate the writing prompt, "Something you hate about yourself," which I have actually taken to mean, "Something about yourself that you'd like to improve." But I think the one that most vexes me is my tendency toward lifestyle of procrastination and its corollary, lack of follow-through. (See Kelsey's 30DaysOfTruth blog post on Unfinished Business. It's like she's writing my story.)

In my work situations, I tend to procrastinate on the non-essential stuff: filing, say, or as another example, filing. And although two trips to Africa and one to India have forever reshaped my concept of time (I am, it turns out, polychronic), I still manage to meet deadlines and keep the important tasks on the front burner.

But in my personal life, I've almost always chosen the path of the happy-go-lucky grasshopper over that of the hard-working ants. And we saw where that got the grasshopper. (Stupid ants.)

There's so much I want to do, and I've developed idea after idea after idea of things I could do, but I haven't taken the linear path on any one of them. Sure, I've made progress toward many items on my Future Tree (and in a couple cases I should have been more careful what I wished for, because come on), but I want to be the type of person with clearly articulated goals and work toward one or more of those goals every day of my life.

I am not currently that type of person.

Rather, I have kind of an "If you daydream it, it will come...someday...but first, how about a round of Angry Birds?" approach, which is very much getting me nowhere -- at least, nowhere on purpose. I've had a ton of kick-ass adventures and most of who I am is because I've been a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of guy, rather than an achievement-at-any-cost kind of guy.

Surely, though, there must be a balance. Someday I just might find it...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NOVEMBER TO MEMEMBER: 30 Days of Truth

In addition to the 29 Days of Giving, I'm adding the 30 Days of Truth meme. (Haha, I was already pretty truthful about the 29 Days of Giving, so what other truths could possibly be out there? Oh. Right.)

Anyway.

A FIHMIPY from Twitter has started a blog specifically for 30 Days of Truth, a blogging experience designed to prompt you into speaking honestly and frankly about yourself and your life, hopefully prompting self-reflection as well.

Well!

I like to think I can self-reflect with the best of them. But I've never really Stopped Being Polite and Started Getting Real™ here on ye olde blogge, so maybe it's time. Starting tomorrow, I'll do 30 Days of Truth, with as little [redacted]ing as possible. Just to give you a preview, here are the prompts:

Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like [crap].
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself.

So! Starting tomorrow, it will be self-disclosure-a-go-go around here! Tune back in to learn more and more!

Why We Give

As part of its annual stewardship drive, my church has encouraged us to undertake a 29 Days of Giving challenge. Based on the experiences of Cami Walker, who wrote 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, the program encourages us to be intentional about giving and receiving, making at least one gift every day for a month.

Over 400 members of the church have committed to participate in the exercise, which will culminate on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, when we submit our pledge cards "gratitude cards" indicating our pledge for 2011. Some have been sharing their experiences on the St. Luke's Facebook page, while others have been blogging about it on their own. (You should totally check out that link -- Angie Six is sharp as a tack and a great writer, to boot.) (And yes, her last name is "Six.")

I've heard lots of great stories already from folks around the congregation -- how their gifts have had impacts small and large for themselves and for others. I believe that anything that can send hundreds of people out into the world with more giving hearts is good for us, good for the world, and good for God.

At the same time, though, I wonder about the way we're doing it. Sermons on the topic and the 29 Gifts book itself seem to imply (or, occasionally, outright state) that giving and receiving are a zero-sum game: I gave X, and so therefore I received Y. I personally don't believe God/the Universe works that way and if that's how things do work, I'd venture to say that everyone in the world (me included) believes that she or he is owed something. It's only human to feel like we're giving more than we're getting, right?

I think this transactional outlook on Giving misses the point entirely. Yes, Jesus told us:
Somethingsomething give and it will be returned to you even more, pressed down, shaken, overflowing into your lap or whatever.*
And when I was doing capital campaigns for the Catholic Church, I loved to whip out:
God loves a cheerful giver (so please don't make my job raising money for the Bishop any harder than it already is).*
But I don't think it is cheer or joy that motivates us when we're giving with the expectation of receiving. I'm not sure it's greed, per se, but it's definitely not the selfless act of altruism that I think of when I think of "Giving." I think that by giving with intention, we can become more attuned to and grateful for the many blessings that are already present in our lives, but I do not think we can cause them to happen by giving. (Of course, I am open to rebuttal on this.)

Rather, giving from love is part of our "spiritual DNA." Once people were around, the first thing God did was give us things: a lovely garden to hang out in, animals and plants for food and shelter (and, later, for clothes), other humans to share the journey (and to [ahem]) with, rules to follow, etc. And at the very center of our faith as Christians is the idea that God gave us something -- in this case, God's only begotten son -- because God loved us so much.

Please to be repeating: BECAUSE GOD LOVED US SO MUCH, God gave us Jesus.

Indeed, everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God. If you believe, as I do, that we are made in God's image, then surely that aspect of God's identity lives in us. Surely we are to give from love, not from expectation of reciprocity or return -- or even from an acknowledgment that giving and receiving might be related. I give because I think it's the right thing to do and because it makes me feel good. When something good happens to me, I believe it happens because God/the Universe is benevolent and wants good for all of us (and also because I worked hard for it, usually).

And I can't believe I'm linking to a Focus on the Family document (I'm as surprised as you are), but this PDF goes along pretty well with my understanding of why we should give and how giving fits in the context of our Christianity.

You should read it, and read 29 Gifts, and read some of those sermons, and let me know what you think.

*This is from the Scott Semester Paraphrase Bible, available in your local Christian bookstore sometime next Never.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Currently...

...Reading: 29 Gifts: How a month of giving can change your life by Cami Walker

...Listening To: Night Sessions by Chris Botti

...Anticipating: The premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC

...Blogcrushing On: Crimes Against Hugh's Manatees

...Remembering: What it's like not to be over-programmed and to be able to sleep in on a Saturday

...Wearing: My jammies (yes, at almost noon)

...Driving: My trusty Nissan Versa (I mean, I'm not driving as I blog this, but still)

...Smelling Like: Right Guard Clinical Strength (because it was only $2 a can at Big Lots, which is half the price I pay for the Normal -- Non-Clinical? -- Strength stuff at Meijer) and also CKFree for men, but not in a convertible in the desert (Also, check out the scent profile: top notes of absinthe, jackfruit, thai star anise, juniper berry; heart notes of South African buchu, suede, coffee absolute, tobacco leaves; base notes of Costa Rican ironwood, oakwood, patchouli, Texan cedarwood. Whatever that means.)

...Creating: A plan -- an actual plan!

...Procrastinating By: Making this ridiculous list, haha

...Longing To Go: On an adventure that will test my skills, my faith, and my heart (Wondering if that can happen close to home or if it will require travel)

...Contemplating: My votes on Tuesday

...Wishing For: That day when we can all be quiet enough to really hear each other

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heavy Rotation

Here are some of the songs I'm playing a lot in iTunes these days...









Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Video Portrait

Artist Noah Kalina has created a "video portrait" of artist Josh Ruben. It is cool and creepy. If I ever have a haunted house or similar freaky-deaky home-decorating opportunity, I'm getting one of these made of me, and I'm hanging it on the wall and running it on a continuous loop.

Hit play and marvel...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

YOU SHOULD COME: St. Luke's Vaudeville Follies & Silent Auction

Hey, now that "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" has wrapped, I'm gearing up for a fundraiser for the St. Luke's Chancel Choir in a couple weeks.

Two shows -- October 22 & 23 -- will feature great Vaudeville and early Broadway music, corny comedy, and a ton of fun and surprises. The funds raised will help support the choir's outreach efforts, which provide opportunities for us to perform and serve in and around Indianapolis and even further from home.

Doors open (and the silent auction fun begins!) at 6:30 each night; performances start at 7:30. Tickets are available online or you can get them at the church -- $15 gets you dessert, beverage, and a heck of a fun time. Hope you can join us!

St. Luke's United Methodist Church is located at 100 W. 86th Street in Indianapolis.