Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thoroughly Modern Millie

I had a bad day yesterday. One of those days when you come home and are just crabby and annoyed with the world and every little thing in it.

Fortunately, our latest Netflix movie had arrived, and since it wasn't one my husband was really dying to see, and he was busy with other things, I curled up on the couch to try to de-stress and not take out my crabbiness on anyone. I had seen Thoroughly Modern Millie before as a child, other than some scattered images, I really had no memory of the musical. Which is somewhat surprisingly as I grew up watching a lot of musicals.

Two plus hours later, my bad mood was all cured as I finished watching what has to be the absolute worst musical of all time. It was so awful that it became ludicrously hilarious. I was sitting on the edge of my seat just waiting to see how much worse the movie could possibly get. I wonder if they've ever MST3Ked this movie? It would be great!

The end conclusions it that I cannot recommend this movie to anyone who has a serious love of musicals or who has ever liked Julie Andrews (as this will seriously mar your perception of her). However, if you're in a crabby, slightly cynical, primarily disgruntled sort of mood...this just might be the cure!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stamps

Just a friendly reminder that US stamp prices are going up (again!) in a few days. If you send out much mail, you might want to invest in some "Forever" stamps so that you don't have to pay quite as much for awhile.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turning Point

I just finished watching the movie, The Turning Point. While I think I may have seen it once before, years ago, I really didn't rememember much about it. I'm glad I watched it tonight though.

For those who have never seen the movie, it was made in the '70s (and is a definite product of that age - in terms of looks!). Beautiful dancing (Michael Baryshnikov is in it--a very young Baryshnikov, I might add!) However, the essential story is a struggle between two women in their late-30's, early-40's. Both women danced together in the ABC (American Ballet Company), and both were highly talented. One, however, gave up dancing so that she could raise a family. The other went on to be a prima ballerina. In the movie, they have met back up again as the prima's career is dying and the women who gave up her dancing is struggling with coming to terms with self-doubt over whether or not she made the right decision to give up her chance as a prima over having a family.

Some of the themes strongly resonated with me as they are issues with which I've struggling the last ten years, and especially ever since last fall when I had to make the decision about taking the position at the ballet studio in town. On the one hand is the recognition of the prima ballerina that the dance world is an all-consuming one. And unless you're willing to sacrifice much for it, you will never get very far. On the other hand is a woman with talent who never felt like that talent was given the recognition it deserved--instead she has had a "normal" life, and part of her resents that fact. And part of her just misses dancing.

All of these are things I have dealt with at some time or another in the last 10 years.

The truth of the matter is, I miss dancing. I miss ballet. I need to dance; part of me feels as if it's been lost when I haven't been dancing as I used to. But then there's another part of me that has me shying away from that world. And I haven't been able to determine why or what's wrong.

This movie kind of helped me see something more clearly than I've been able to up until now.

As much as I loved performing when I was younger, the truth of the matter is that performing is not what I want. Not really. I want to dance for the love of it. There is an indescribable passion that I feel as I dance that I get rarely from anything else in life. But it's not the stage that draws me. When I was in college, I started out as a drama major. And I realized, after a year, that while I enjoy performing, I didn't be a drama major. It was the love of the language and emotion that drew me to drama, not performing.

While I've had so many opportunities in my life to perform both in secular and in Christian circles, and I don't regret a single one of those, I don't want that world. Don't interpret that as not missing that world. In some ways I truly do. But there is a part of existence in that world that I don't want. Never wanted. Never liked. You can't have the world of performance without the grimy, political, competitive portion that goes hand in hand with the beautiful aspects. And for me, the grit and dirt often outweighed the beauty.

And the truth of the matter is that every time I've existed in that world, be it in a "Christian" form or non-christian, the gritty side has always been there. I guess it's part and parcel of being human. I knew when I was about 18 or 19 that while performing in a regular company would be amazing, if I was going to perform, I wanted to perform for Christ and as a witness. The opportunities I got during those years were wonderful. And I was able to do just that. But even then there was always that black side that it seems is so impossible to escape in the world of dance. The competition. The ugliness. Even amongst so-called Christian people, it was there. And what they did was beautiful. But I didn't like the hidden part of it. The side that no one sees outside of the backstage and dressing rooms.

I hope that I'm not entirely done with dance; I will always have to dance for myself. But I think God has needed me come to this place of (a) longing to dance again and (b) clear recognition of what I don't want. Even if I had stepped into the position that came open last fall, it would have been stepping into a consuming whirlpool in which it is difficult to keep one's head above the water if you don't really know what it is you want. And the truth is, I don't know what I want right now (and I say that not just in terms of dance but in relation to a number of aspects of my life). I do, however, know what I do not want. And at least that is a step in the right direction.

Eating out

Well, I owe both restaurants an apology. Sort of. They're not just open during the day. They just both happened to be closed on Mondays. Which means, last night, I went and had shrimp, fettucini alfredo for dinner. And I didn't have to make it. And I didn't stress about what was in it. And it was really, really good! And I ordered a pizza to take with me for lunch today, and it smells amazing at least (and I'm guessing probably tastes pretty good too, but I'll find out that later!).

If you're in Dallas, need gluten free food, the two restaurants I've found are here: Laura's Bistro (where I ate last night--seriously, even if you can have gluten, it was great food!) and the Kozy Kitchen (where I haven't eaten yet, but I'll let you know what I think when I do!).

Well, so far, it's been a quiet trip. My training is good if very intensive. One of those...."there's too much information and I think my head is going to explode keeping it all straight" sort of intensives. And it's been a bit depressing too because I've realized exactly how screwed up the system that we're using at work is! How to untangle that mess?

All right. I'm off for another day of brain exploding information. Wish me luck (or buy me a mop).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gone Away

Yes, I have. Not from you, but from my home. And my husband. And my puppies. And my (three big cheers of excitement) finally working garage door (hey, I have every right to be excited about that stupid garage door. It's been over a year!).

Where have I gone? To Dallas!

And now to answer all the other questions namely consisting of, "huh?"

I had to take a business trip (I feel old even saying that) for my work to get trained on this evil computer database we use. The training is four days, but since I needed to drive, I'll be gone six. Of course my hubs couldn't take that much time off work (or miss his class), and no one else was sent to be trained (not my preference, but of course they didn't ask my opinion on the matter), I'm on my own. Which is kind of scary and sad but kind of fun and exciting all at the same time. I'll give you a more developed opinion at the end of the week.

Today I drove down (and actually managed to not get lost until I was within one block of the hotel...........), got settled in, went out to find the two gluten free restaurants that I had discovered that Dallas has, found out both of them are only open until about 2 in the afternoon (apparently those who are gluten free don't eat dinner?), grumbled about that, got a salad (because by that time I was starving), prayed it wouldn't make me sick, came back and caught up on some work emails, took a quick soak in the pool and the jacuzzi (hee, hee, i just love nice hotels!), and came back up to my room to catch up on some (not-work) emails, blogs, and such. And now, I'm going to watch an episode of All Creatures Great and Small (I so dearly do love Netflix!) and hopefully fall asleep so I can get up and actually learn something tomorrow.

Good night! More on my random adventures tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Alive

While my brain is teeming with various thoughts, writing has not been something I've had time or discipline to do the last few weeks. I'll be back! But you'll have to give me a few days yet.

In the meantime, I hope you had a wonderful Easter and I hope that you will help celebrate the Thai New Year--Songkran--by dumping a bucket of water on someone's head!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: The Heavenly Man

Imprisoned three times, tortured for his faith, and receiver/witness of many unbelievable miracles, Brother Yun is one of those people who (like David Wilkerson in the Cross and the Switchblade) just astounds me with his faith.

The Heavenly Man is the autobiography of Brother Yun's life in Communist China as one of the initial leaders of the house-church movement there. And it is a really moving and challenging book. As I read description after description of the suffering he has gone through for the sake of the Lord, Brother Yun always came back to the concept that these things have happened to him so that he may be a better believer, a better witness, a stronger testimony of God's grace.

He doesn't set himself up as this person who should be looked up to and admired for his faith. Actually, he openly admits that two of the times he was imprisoned were directly because of his own arrogance in not listening to the warnings of the Lord. But then he goes on to describe how God used each of those situations despite Yun's mistakes.

That part was very encouraging. It is good to be reminded that God really can use any circumstances, even when those circumstances exist because we were foolish enough to not follow the original path He laid out for us. The situation we find ourselves in may be more painful because of our foolishness, but God is still there.

I think one of the most challenging parts of the book, for me at least, was a chapter near the end titled "Reflecting on Four Years in the West." Yun basically pinpoints in the Western church some of the major attitudes and the complacency that is so common. And not in all the churches did he have this experience; although, he did point out that the churches he spoke in that felt alive with the presence of the Lord were those with strong, active missions emphasis (and not just overseas emphasis but local as well).

But he talked about struggling to preach in a lot of the churches because there was no power, no sense of God in the fancy buildings. They are filled with people who have everything, who don't have to lean on the Lord, and so they become arrogant and push the very Savior away that they profess to worship. His prayer is that the Chinese church will be able to "help the Western church rise up and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit." How humbling is that, when we so often puff ourselves up as the ones who are leading the way?

How many others call themselves Christians and yet do not live out their faith? And I'm as guilty as anybody of this. For me, these concepts are ones that God seems to be bringing to the forefront of both my life and even more, Chris' life.

"The first thing needed for revival to return to your churches is the Word of the Lord. God's Word is missing. Sure there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God's Word. It's the truth that will set you free.

"Not only is knowledge of God's Word missing, but obedience to that Word. There's not much action taking place.

"When revival came to believers in China, the result was thousands of evangelists being sent out to all corners of the nation, carrying fire from the altar of God with them. When God moves in the West, it seems you want to stop and enjoy His presence and blessing too long, and build an altar to your experiences.

"You can never really know the Scriptures until you're willing to be changed by them.

"All genuine revivals of the Lord result in believers responding with action and soul winning. When God truly moves in your heart, you cannot remain silent....Furthermore, it's only when we step out in obedience and share the gospel with people that we come to know God's blessing in every area of our lives."

I highly recommend this book. I don't care what denomination you are (he's got a good spiel on that in the book as well!), if you believe in a God who moves, who does miracles, who wants us to live our lives in the expectation that He can return at any time, this book will challenge you (and quite possibly make you a little uncomfortable as well!).