Thursday, July 29, 2010

Some Steps

TFC is going through some changes and I'm quite excited about it. I shared our fiscal-year goals with the church in June and they're listed on my blog here.

I'm glad to report that we're taking some steps in three of these goals: 1) Continuing to focus beyond ourselves, 2) Parents discipling their children and 3) Increased generosity.

1) During our last discussion time, we celebrated a member of our congregation's focus on serving people at their workplace. It was a great teaching opportunity for explain that we are The Church 24/7, that encouraging someone who is having a bad day is just as much Church as being gathered together on Sunday mornings to study the scriptures. This is a small step but it's vital for helping people understand the biblical idea of The Body of Christ. We are always the body, not just when we get together. In fact, the times when we're not together are more vital for being the body than when we're together. In fact, when God first begins to gather the people that would be his body on earth, he tells Abram, "The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”- Genesis 12:1-3
The church exists not to gather (though that's a part of our rhythm) but to scatter and bless the world around us.
Which also explains why for the past year or so, I've stopped saying "welcome to church" on Sunday mornings and have dropped the phrase "going to church" from my vocabulary. Rather, we are the church. And I welcome people "to worship."

2) Last Wednesday, Noel and Dawn Forrester began discussion group / class designed to help parents become more intentional about teaching their kids to know God. We discussed some ideas and went through some sample family devotional activities. Noel said a few things that really hit home with me.
- Our kids are watching us all the time and they will imitate what they see. For a funny example of that, click here.
- We have to be patient with our kids, not expecting them to get it all at once and not forcing a lesson on them. Rather, we become patient enough to let them learn some things on their own and accept that it will take some trial-and-error for them to learn. I'm not patient...
- The family is the primary place where children learn about God. Noel said that he's always viewed what Pastor Andy does with the kids on Sunday as either supplemental or a discussion-starter. We can't expect church programming to replace parental instruction.

This class is also a step toward fulfilling another goal for this year, which is to "Pastor each other." I was being pastored by Noel and Dawn during that class while watching other people pastor each other.

3) At our first Advisory Council of this fiscal year, we were working through the budget when Brian Hupe suggested we take the money we'd allocated toward donuts and re-direct that money toward the Bangladesh project. Here's some info on the Bangladesh project from our weekly:
"TFC is partnering with a church in Korea (of which many former TFCers are a part) to build communities for widows and orphans in Bangladesh. When a woman becomes a widow in Bangladesh, they lose all their property and finances and are left with the option of prostitution or subsistence servitude. The death of the father also makes the children orphans. These orphans only forced to the street, where they also often turn to prostitution to survive. The Church of the Nazarene is building communities in Bangladesh that will bring together widows and orphans, rescuing both groups from the street and giving them employment and a new family. These communities will also be introducing a Muslim population to the love of Jesus Christ.
For $500, we can build a garden that will feed the widows and orphans in these communities. Please make checks out to TFC and put “Bangladesh” in the memo line. We’ll be collecting money until Labor Day Sunday."

It's not a lot of money, simply $500. But for TFC, it's a huge step. I can't help but think, "one small step for a church budget, one huge step for the mission of God." A massive change in direction from an attractional model to a missional model. Think about all the money churches use to create a positive guest/ shopping experience for people who show up for worship. My former mind-set was "we've gotta make it as comfortable and welcoming of environment as possible so the new person will a) come back and b) make an intellectual assent of belief in Jesus Christ. Donuts are all for the gospel."
Well, my mindset has changed in a couple ways. First of all, I'm come to understand gospel as WAY bigger than an individual accepting Jesus and getting their butts out of hell - though that's a small step toward living gospel. I've also realized that if you train people to expect to be catered to or to consume things "offered" by the church, they're missing what it means to follow Jesus and they'll eventually leave your church when they find another congregation that "offers" more.
But, don't take this as me saying that a church buying donuts is wrong or that people should never change churches. Rather, I'm talking about viewing the church through a different lens than what most of us (myself included) have been looking through.

Well, now instead of giving donuts to already well-fed Johnson Countians, TFC is providing enough money to build a sustainable garden that will feed orphans and widows who would've been on the street if not for the orphanage.

The Jesus I see in the Gospels would smile at that change in direction. Historians would affirm these steps as a return to some ideals of the early church. Theologians would likely affirm these steps as a move toward a more biblical view of church. And the Holy Spirit will let us know when it's time to take some more steps in this direction.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Call to Pastor

As you've likely noticed if you've been following this blog, I've been wrestling with and even re-understanding what it means to live out my calling to proclaim the message of Jesus and what a Christian community looks like. I've been working through two very helpful books, Missional Renaissance and Practicing Greatness both by Reggie McNeal.

In one section of Practicing Greatness, McNeal challenges spiritual leaders to identify their calling in life, anchor their lives within that calling and to then be flexible in how they flesh-out that calling. Here's a quote from the chapter entitled "The Discipline of Mission."

"Too many spiritual leaders have locked their call into one particular way of being expressed or pursued. For instance, 'I am called to be a pastor,' is a phrase I hear frequently when leaders are discussing with me their next chapter of life. Then they too often proceed to tell me exactly what kind of church they feel called to and where they want it to be located. I don't easily question a sense of God's call on their life, but reducing it to a preferred place of employment and a particular job description seems somehow to reduce the spiritual depth of genuine call.

I have seen too many leaders on the ropes financially and spiritually due to a shallow understanding of call. They don't know what else to do if God doesn't provide them a way of 'doing ministry' that fits their template....

The call to pastor contains a spiritual dynamism that transcends a vocational career path. Pastoring is a call that can be expressed in many ways, - from leading local congregations to serving as a pastoral counselor to chaplaining military personnel or prison inmates to leading a house church to pastoring pastors. This pastoring may either be paid or volunteer; it may be a career or a bivocational pursuit. The leader with this call is expressing a life mission that is oriented around and arising out of his or her person. How it gets expressed may change over time or depending upon circumstances. The call does not hing on having the title 'pastor' or drawing a salary from a local congregation.

The point of all of this is that I coach spiritual leaders to treat their call more fluently than most of them are inclined to do. They confuse the content of the call with the context of the call and how God might choose for them to live out the call in their lives. They need to be more flexible in this regard will be increasingly important for leaders as the expression of spirituality in North America moves beyond institutional settings into the street and marketplace. The desire to serve people in spiritual leadership will make the same transition. It already is. Each week I run into people who once pursued their call in the church but are now working in some aspect of community or business leadership as a way to express their call to ministry.

Spiritual leaders need to distill the core, the essence, of their call from God. Some key questions might help provide some clues:

1) What people or cause do you feel drawn to?
2) What do you want to help people do or achieve or experience?
3) How do you want to help people?
4) What message do you want to deliver?
5) How do you intend to serve or have an impact on the world?
6) Why did you say yest to God to begin with?

Answers to these questions should help the leader understand more clearly his call and life mission."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Full Circle

In the darkness of the GEHS auditorium during one of GCT's final dress rehearsals, I held my son in my arms and let my tears flow down my cheeks and into his curly blond hair. I was overcome with a sense of gratitude in realizing that this story had come full circle.

I guess I should provide some background information.

Annie is the story of an orphan girl hoping her biological parents will come rescue her from the orphanage. The opening song of the show is entitled Maybe and it's Annie's longings to be someone's little baby.

I think the line that hits me the most in that song is "Betcha he reads, betcha she sews..." Since Erin and I do both of those things.

But after a nation-wide search and a large financial reward fail to bring Annie's biological parents back to her, she agrees to Oliver Warbuck's plan to adopt her into his family. A massive adoption party ensues at the Warbucks' mansion, complete with a Supreme Court Justice on hand to sign the papers. But before Judge Brandice can sign the papers, Annie's "parent's" show up. The following is a combination ("mash-up" to Gleeks) of the disappointment of both Annie and Warbucks.

With the Tony Award worthy acting of Jim Hurd, you can see the pain of losing Annie on Warbucks' face.

All of this to explain what happened to us in 2007. We were seriously considering adopting a baby boy and were spending time talking with the potential birth-mom. But then, the baby was still-born four months premature. You can read the more about it here.

A couple weeks after that event, we were watching some kids in the Culture House production of Annie and were blindsided by painful emotions of loss when Annie sat on her suitcase and sang "I was almost his baby." We had been so close, only to have it torn away form us in a tragic manner.

Now you can probably understand why hearing Annie sing "won't you please come get your baby" as I hold my miracle baby - you can read all about the miracle of Dawson's adoption here - would cause me to cry tears of gratitude, thankfullness and joy. I wasn't the only one, either. After one of the performances, Dawson's biological Grandma came up to me, with tears in her eyes as well and thanked me for "taking care of my baby."

And if you'd like to learn how to become adoptive or foster parents of other "babies", check out the Adopt Kansas Kids website.

Oh yeah, Annie ends with the realization those "parents" were fakes and Annie is adopted into the Warbucks family and the orphanage is adopted by the Warbucks estate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When are we going to let it go?

When will the American Church ever stop believing that the Civil Religion of Christianity professed by our Founders and our current leaders is actually the Gospel of Jesus Christ? When will we let go of the myth that we're (or any nation can be) a "Christian Nation?"

During their presidential campaigns, both current President Obama and former President Bush quoted the Bible and used Christian and religious rhetoric. Does anyone think that having Presidents that quote the Bible means we're a Christian nation? No - many actions of both of these Presidents directly contradict the teachings of Jesus. But, I'll be fair and say that both of these Presidents can tell stories of their conversion to Jesus. But in NO WAY does that mean we're a Christian nation or that all of their actions as President were/ are Christ-honoring.

Yet, we do exactly that with our Founding Fathers. We pull out certain quotes of theirs to "prove" we're a Christian nation. In doing so, we ignore two obvious historical facts: 1) Many (though not all) of their actions contradicted the teachings of Jesus. Even the line from the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal" applied only to (if you look at the laws of the day) white, land-owning, males. 2) You can easily quote the Founding Fathers to "prove" we're not a Christian nation. I'm going to share some quotes below.

But before I do, let me clarify the reason for this post. Or better, let me have Greg Boyd explain why we must let this falsely reassuring and superiority-fostering belief of America's "Christianity" go:

In light of the way the faith of conservative Christians has been largely co-opted by this eurocentric myth, and in light of how this fusion of faith and mythic nationalism continues to blind Christians and others to the uniquely beautiful kingdom Jesus brought, I wish this [the book Lies My Teacher Told Me] was required reading for everyone.

Folks, there isn’t anything more than a empty misguided claim that makes America a “Christian” nation. Until this destructive myth is dispelled and the true history of this country is brought to light, I’m afraid the American church will continue to look more like the racially divided, imperialistic, consumeristic, individualistic and hedonistic culture we live it than it will look like Jesus Christ.

Keep God and his kingdom holy (=set apart, consecrated, distinct)!

You can read the entire blog post here.

Just from a biblical perspective, it's impossible for a government or nation (as defined by a civil entity like "United States of America") to be Christian. Only one nation was set-apart as the people of God - it was the nation of Israel. But with the coming of Jesus and later the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the people of God expanded from being the nation of Israel to the "new Israel" (Paul in Romans) which was/is the Church. And this is why I'm constantly on that crusade to help us break free of that myth. If Christians would stop trying to argue for or promote the "Christianity" of our nation and government, we'd be more free to live out the Kingdom of Jesus. Instead of "returning America back to God" we could focus upon helping the Kingdom of God become a reality right now, in our lives.

Both at our founding and still in our present day, our country has a lot of wonderful Christian people that love Jesus. Imagine how much more good could be accomplished if we'd focus less on the Civil Religion or trying to "win America back to God" and instead focused on living out the counter-cultural reality of God's kingdom.

With all of that said, here are the quotes. And I'm copying this from my sister's blog.

The First Amendment
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

Article VI, Section 3
" religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

"Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?"
-letter to Thomas Jefferson

"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?"
-letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved-- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
-letter to Thomas Jefferson

"The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
-Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli (June 7, 1797). Article 11

"Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, 'this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.'"
-a letter to Charles Cushing (October 19, 1756)

"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."
-"A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

"Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."
-"A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
-letter to Wm. Bradford, April 1, 1774

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
-1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches

"In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot ... they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose."
- to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
- letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787

"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one. But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests."
- to John Adams, 1803

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose."
- to Baron von Humboldt, 1813

"Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Christianity) than did he himself."
-in his private journal, Feb. 1800

It is not to be understood that I am with him (Jesus Christ) in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism, he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it."
- to Carey, 1816

"The priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, are as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore."
- to Story, Aug. 4, 1820

"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man. But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin.
1. That there are three Gods.
2. That good works, or the love of our neighbor, is nothing.
3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit the faith.
4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.
5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save."
- to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822

"Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a common censor over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."
-"Notes on Virginia"

The truth is, that the greatest enemies of the doctrine of Jesus are those, calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them to the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come, when the mystical generation [birth] of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation [birth] of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
- to John Adams, Apr. 11, 1823

"No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever."
-Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."
- letter to Horatio Spofford, 1816

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law."
-letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 1814

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."
-letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT
"The Complete Jefferson" by Saul K. Padover, pp 518-519

From Franklin's autobiography, p. 66:
"...Some books against Deism fell into my hands....It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quote to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations, in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."

From Franklin's autobiography, p. 66:
"My parents had given me betimes religious impressions, and I received from my infancy a pious education in the principles of Calvinism. But scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself"

From The Age of Reason, pp. 89:
"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of....Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and of my own part, I disbelieve them all."

From The Age of Reason:
"All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

From The Age of Reason:
"What is it the Bible teaches us? -- rapine, cruelty, and murder."

I set you FREE from defending or promoting the Christianity of America so you can be free to live the radical, upside down Kingdom of Jesus.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Annie - Final Weekend

"I knew your wife had a nice voice, but I had NO IDEA she could sing like that?" I heard that many times from people over the past two weekends, as they were blown away by my wife's performance in Annie. She's also still being recruited by a director from another community theatre who will be doing Annie later this year.

We sold just under 1,700 tickes, blowing away our previous record from two years ago. So for the first time in awhile, we have a cushion in our checking account, which feels very nice.

But what feels even nicer, for those who participated in the show, is the warm glow that comes from a job well done, the 'wowing' of thousands of people and the ending of an exhuasting stretch.

Of course, for many of the actors there is the letdown of it all being over. I wasn't in the show so I don't feel that. I'm feeling the opposite - the thrill of having my wife back in the family!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Power of Forgiveness

Could I forgive a man who shot my dad?
Could I forgive my own son for doing something like that?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ministry - Job or Vocation?

As I'm struggling to work through the changes that are happening in my understanding of my profession, calling, life mission, etc. it's been helpful to read perspectives on that very issue. Here's a good article from the Out of Ur blog.

July 6, 2010

Is Ministry a Job or Vocation?

And what difference does it make?

Eugene Peterson laments in For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts (Baker Books, 2010) that he has been “trying for fifty years now to be a pastor in a culture that doesn’t know the difference between a vocation and a job.” It was a bunch of artists that clued him in on the difference.

Definitions are in order. According to Peterson, a job is “an assignment to do work that can be quantified and evaluated.” Most jobs come with job descriptions, so it “is pretty easy to decide whether a job has been completed or not…whether a job is done well or badly.” This, Peterson argues, is the primary way Americans think of the pastor (and, presumably, that pastors think of themselves). Ministry is “a job that I get paid for, a job that is assigned to me by a denomination, a job that I am expected to do to the satisfaction of my congregation.”

A vocation is not like a job in these respects. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, “to call.” Although the term today can refer to any career or occupation (according to Webster), the word (vocatio, I imagine) was coined to describe the priestly calling to service in the church. So vocation=calling. This is how Peterson is using the word, anyway. And the struggle for pastors today, he continues, is to “keep the immediacy and authority of God’s call in my ears when an entire culture, both secular and ecclesial, is giving me a job description.”

During his seminary education in New York City, Peterson worked with a group of artists. They were dancers and poets and sculptors, and they all worked blue-collar jobs as taxi drivers, waiters, and salesmen—whatever they had to do to pay the rent and put food on the table. Soon enough Peterson realized that “none of them were defined by their jobs—they were artists, whether anyone else saw them as artists, and regardless of whether anyone would ever pay them to be artists.” That is to say, being an artist wasn’t a job for them, but a vocation. Their jobs simply kept them alive so they could pursue their vocations. “Their vocation didn’t come from what anyone thought of them or paid them.”

I found this discussion both liberating and convicting. Looking back over the past decade or so, I wonder if the angst I’ve experienced while trying to figure out what to do with my life has stemmed from confusing these two categories.

In my senior year of high school, I “surrendered to the gospel ministry” (that’s what we called it). I sensed a calling to dedicate my life and career to serving Christ through the local church. I immediately understood that vocation in terms of the jobs that commitment made possible or impossible. Before then, I wanted to teach high school English for a living. After, I knew that a call to ministry meant abandoning that career. At the time, the only ministers I knew were senior pastors, youth ministers, and worship leaders. The job description of pastor seemed the best decision.

In college I waffled. I was pastoring a church and didn’t appreciate the identity foisted upon me when people from church introduced me as “Pastor Brandon.” I still felt the sense of vocation, but didn’t like the job. Since then I’ve been trying to figure out what job would be enable me to live out my vocation.

The trouble is, I’m not sure I could tell you in a sentence what I feel called to. I have several jobs: editor, writer, college instructor, doctoral student (not paid for it, but it sure is work). None of those things are “ministry” in the strictest sense. Yet I feel “called” to ministry still, and there are parts of each of my jobs that satisfy my sense of calling. But it sure would be nice to answer the question, “What do you do?” with a sentence that doesn’t begin, “Well, it’s complicated…”

Jobs pay the bills; vocations may or may not. I suspect bi-vocational pastors, as they’re called, must have a deeper sense of vocation than the rest of us. So many men and women who feel called to the ministry drop out when they can’t find a job at a church that’s big enough to pay their rent and student loans because we tend to think of ministry as the job that will put food on our tables. I admire the men and women who do what they have to for a living so they can do what they are called to do for the kingdom.

—Brandon O’Brien is a contributing editor for Leadership and author of The Strategically Small Church (Bethany House, 2010)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Annie's Opening Weekend

Gardner Community Theatre’s 2010 Production of Annie opened over this past weekend. I went on Saturday night at it was the first time I’d seen the production in its entirety. As you can tell from the bottom picture, Dawson didn’t actually enjoy being at the dress rehearsals. He did have fun running up and down the aisles and clapping when other people clapped, but he didn’t like being sat down, hindering my ability to take pictures. And since my memory card became full during the 2nd Act on Saturday evening, I haven’t photographed the entire show nor video’d all of Erin’s songs yet. But I’ll get that done this next weekend.

The good news is that with another three performances still ahead this next weekend, we’ve already matched last year’s ticket sales! Saturday night I also got to talk with Danny Clinckscale of Sports Radio 810 who was there to watch his daughter. Danny thinks the Union Broadcasting Foundation might be interested in sponsoring GCT in the future, which could be great for us. There's no guarantee that would happen but it would be cool to have my favorite radio station sponsoring our local theatre.

I don’t think I’m just speaking out of my personal bias when I say my wife really shinned onstage. When Erin was in college, her voice teacher was trying to convince her to make a career out of singing. That obviously didn’t happen but her training from over a decade ago was evidenced in her voice soaring during the numbers with the rest of the chorus. After Sunday’s show a director from another community theatre preparing to do Annie told Erin she should try out for their show.

While these past two months have been one of the busiest times of our married life and I never could’ve been in the show, I did really miss it while hanging out with the guys in the dressing room and during the curtain call. Oh well, the show will go on next year (though I probably can’t do it next summer, either) and for years after that. This is GCT’s 5th season and to quote our president, “We’re just getting started.”
If you’d like to come this weekend, check the above GCT link for show times and directions to GEHS. Or just show up at GEHS with $8 per ticket at 7:00 on Friday or Saturday or 2:00 on Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and two more interesting stories...
While buying my wife flowers in the GCT "marketplace" before Saturday's show, I met the mom of the girl who plays Annie. She was so excited to find out I was Erin's husband, "We just LOVE Erin, she and Emily's chemistry on stage is so wonderful - she feeds off Erin's sweetness...." She just kept going on about how much she loves Erin. I said, "Yep, that's pretty much Erin's normal sweet disposition - unless she's mad at me."

Before Wednesday's dress rehearsal, Erin came out and saw Dawson. She was wearing the cape you can see in some pictures and had her hair pulled back with pins and clips, large clips sticking out from her hair. She was holding Dawson and talking with him, but he didn't go for it. "Who is this lady who sounds like mommy but doesn't look at all like mommy." He started screaming and went for our friend, Annie whom he at least recognized, since she's babysit him. It was kind of sad but mostly funny.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A 10th Year Celebration

10 year ago, Erin and I spent our wedding night on the Country Club Plaza. We had a comped dinner at the Plaza III Steakhouse and spent our wedding night in an apartment-sized room, gifted to us by Erin's dad in the hotel now known as the Intercontinental - probably the most expensive hotel in KC (that single night cost almost as much as our entire honeymoon). One of the best pictures from our entire 10 years of marriage was snapped that night, a picture of me helping my new bride into a carriage for a ride through the Plaza, as both of us were still in our wedding clothes. While we stayed, thanks to in the Plaza Marriott rather than the Intercontinental, we did take a ride up the same glass elevator we rode nervously rode in 10 years earlier. In our north-facing room on the 17th floor of the Marriott, we were able to watch a total of 9 different fireworks displays on Sunday evening.
On Sunday afternoon, we walked around Loose Park, near the spots where I first told Erin I loved her in July of 98 and where we had our engagement pictures taken in October of 99. We also spent Sunday afternoon reminiscing over highlights of each of our 10 years of marriage.

As an example of some highlights, we reminisced about all the different places from which we've watched fireworks. In 2000, we were on our honeymoon in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and had driven to the lake at which the fireworks were going to be shown, I remember driving through a ditch of some sort in order to get to the lake. Erin, having grown up in Johnson County and not yet having spent extended periods of time at my parents' place in Southeast Iowa, was a little unnerved by the mullets, rusty pickups, sawed-off shotguns and toothless and beer-soaked grins of the locals, so we ended up watching whatever fireworks we could see through the openings in the Ozark mountains as we drove back to the safety of our honeymoon cabin. The next summer, we had people over to our new place in Park North (Nazarene ghetto housing in West Olathe) only to have the Olathe fireworks display go terribly wrong. From our perch on a hill near the Great Mall, we were able to see the displays from Corporate Woods and Lenexa.
In 2004, we watched fireworks with some friends in the small town of Chariton, IA. In 2007, we dodged tornadoes just before watching fireworks on the lawn of the Mall in Washington, DC. In 2008, we watched the City of Lenexa's fireworks from the Theatre in the Park lawn, during intermission of Beauty and the Beast. In 2009, we had friends over and watched the fireworks shot off from GEHS while sitting on lawn chairs in our backyard. For the first time, we worried that the fireworks would wake our son.

This July, we got to add another cool place to our list of fireworks viewing.
In our north-facing room on the 17th floor of the Marriott, we were able to watch a total of 9 different fireworks displays in addition to the lightening streaking across the sky.

10 years creates a lot of memories.
And yet we're likely just getting started in this life-long journey of marriage.

We spent the weekend sharing how grateful we are to have each other in our lives and remembering the things that first caused us to fall in love and later to commit the rest of our lives to each other. The things I loved about Erin; her compassion, sensitivity, servant-heart, concern for others, empathy, angelic singing voice and dazzling beauty - they're even more apparent and appreciated now than they were ten years ago.

We also talked a bit about a speaker we heard at a MNU chapel when we'd just started dating. The speaker challenged these young college kids to only commit to marraige if they believed they could serve God better with that other person as their spouse than without. While admittedly, we were young and overly idealistic, Erin and I believed that to be the case in our new relationships. 10 years later, with most of the idealism gone and a few scars and a lot of changed lives, I believe even more strongly that we're better serving together than seperately.

I can't imagine a better person with whom to walk through life than my beautiful wife of ten years.