Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflection & Surprises pt 1

Home sweet home! The past few days have been quite the experience as I was priviledged enough to get to join our community Youth Group as they went to Minot to help with flood disaster relief. This trip has taught me a lot. So much, in fact, that I am quite certain I will not be able to fit it all into one post (ergo, the pt. 1 in the subject). But, before I get too in depth with this post, allow me to post what I wrote last night in the hotel hallway....

Who could have known
or understood
The strength that resides
hidden within
Showing itself at times
When strength could not
be imagined
or believed.
Showing itself at times
When one would
imagine tears
believe fear and sorrow.
It is when others cower
that the strength hidden
in those with true courage
and character
finds its way to truth.

It really was an amazing day - to see so many reach out to those in need; to see the strength within those who've lost so much - it isn't something you see every day. A great deal of my experiences have been of those turning a blind eye to those in need - or worse, helping someone else simply for the glory or because to not help would make them look selfish.

It really is disheartening to see people "help" just because it is something they need to do to look good to others. This reminds me of church - 90% (or more, most likely) of those who attend do not do so because they enjoy church. They do not do so because they want a closer relationship with God. And they do not do so to learn to be better Christians.

They do so because they were taught it's necessary to get into heaven. They do so because if they don't, it will look bad. They do so because they can then still call themselves "good Christians" while spending the next 6 days judging others, gossiping about others, and whatever else they choose to do.

But, I get off track. My point I was trying to write about is that today I saw a large group of 13-16 year olds giving of themselves - helping others. And not for pride, or glory, or physical rewards. I am very proud of each of them and have found a small bit of my faith in mankind renewed. 

I truly don't know where to start. These past few days have been a combination of so many emotions and events which will remain in my memory forever. I have met some wonderful people whose strength has been incredible. I have cried, and laughed, and prayed and hoped. I have spent time working side by side with my kids, others, new friends and old. I have used muscles I didn't realize I had - muscles which are now quite angry with me. I have watched a group of kids (young adults) push themselves to their limit - and then push themselves even further.I have pushed myself to my limit... and perhaps not quite as far past it as those younger, but I did push it more than I have before.

There was a lot which happened these past few days which really aren't surprising - although they are still special. When you see so much devastation, and watch people tear up as they describe having to move from their home, only to come back to it being completely ruined, and attempt to help them in any way you can - it changes you. It changes how you look at things. It makes you a appreciate what you have a little bit more. (Or, at least, it should do these things to some degree.) To see young adults attempting to help these people; to watch them actively engaged in learning the stories of the people - these are so amazing, and give a person a new found hope.

But one thing I was not expecting was a two or three hour conversation on religion. And, even more shocking, was that not only was it an enjoyable discussion, it has made me reconsider my dislike for the church. Does this mean I'm going to start attending church every Sunday? No. My reasons for not attending remain. However, maybe I will seek a way to be a part of a community of faith. Where and how? I haven't gotten that far yet. Why? I'm not sure on that either. Oddly enough, I think I have finally met a pastor who a) made sense; b) managed to slip through my defenses; c) has magical powers.

But, I will have to reflect more on this later. My brain is fried, my body is angry, and my emotions are on overload. Thank you to all the adults and young adults who helped make this trip wonderful. Thank you to the Hope Village for your hospitality and for all the hope you bring to everyone. Thank you to the wonderful families we helped for opening up your homes and hearts. And, thank you to my car conversationalist for letting me babble, for all the laughs, and for the insight.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Street Dance!

I love street dances. I have since I was a child. The small town I lived in had at least one a year, and all us younger kids would be right up in front. At that time, most of the dances were DJ'ed - by my father. Yes, I got to spend those first years falling asleep next to huge speakers, under the tables where the turn-tables were set up. I have fond memories of those days... which is quite possibly why my love of street dances still holds.

I don't care if the band sucks - I'll still be out there dancing. I don't care if no one else is out there (although, since my youngest two daughters started hanging out with me, this is rarely the case) - I'll still be out there dancing. I don't care if the "street dance" is held indoors or out - I'll still be out there dancing. Of course, although I'll still be dancing, I do still judge the bands.

There was one band who played here twice - a few years ago. They were really good... better the first time they were here. The second time, they seemed to have let their "fame" get to their heads (they're a relatively well known band). But, I'd still accept them coming back.

But last fall... the band we had rocked! Boomtown. If you haven't had a chance to hang with these boys, let me tell ya - you really need to hunt them down. These guys... on top of being just a great band musically... they were friendly, fun, entertaining. They made my kids feel incredibly special that night. There was probably never more than 2 dozen people in that small hall that night.... but these 4 kept rocking, and what few of us were there kept dancing. I have a ton of respect for these guys and just absolutely love them.

So, what is it that makes a band great? Well, naturally, ya need to be able to sing/play. But it's more than that. For the street-dance crowd - especially in a small town - the band needs to be friendly, needs to know how to accept (or politely turn down) requests, and needs to play to the crowd as if they are simply one of them. And most importantly - they have to have specific songs on their list (and, they need to know the words... OMG! one band didn't know the words to Jessie's Girl!. That group is now on my "I'll still dance to your music if you come back, but I really don't like you" list).

What songs should be on this list? Well, naturally not all of these will generally make the list - and it does depend on if the group is more rock or more country. But, some of the necessities includes:

Summer of '69
Jessie's Girl
Hurts so Good
You Shook Me All Night Long
Friends in Low Places
Cotton-eyed Joe
Sweet Home Alabama
Fishing in the Dark

I could probably come up with several more that I'd like to hear, but basically these 8 are MUST HAVES! And to be honest - if you're a rock band but can play the country songs in that list, or vice-versa, you've just pleased a huge crowd.

Another thing to consider - if you DON'T know any of these, or other often requested songs, put them on a CD for playing for when you're taking a break. These are classics - quite honestly no one cares if you sing it, or if the CD does, so long as we get to hear it. Going back to my favorite group ever Boomtown - Cotton-eye Joe was a recording... and we had an absolute blast with it, and it just made us appreciate the band even more that they had the song. 

And that all said, I have decided to add a few more songs to the "omg I'll love you forever" list - this is for you country boys out there... Luke Bryan - Country Girl Shake it For Me, Drunk on You, or I Don't Want this Night to End... and especially, Love and Theft - Angel Eyes. I don't know WHAT it is about Angel Eyes... But it's a great song, and I would love to dance to it at a street dance. 

Ibus and Wine

Today started out great. I woke up at 6:30 - a bit more tired than usual, but considering I had gotten a full 8 hours of sleep for a change, I attributed it to too much rest. And I was a bit cranky - not cranky-angry, but more that cranky feeling a person sometimes gets when they get pulled out of a good dream. Too bad I can't remember the dream - it must have been a really good one.

But, the sleepiness and the crankiness fell away as I put on black jeans and an adorable new top I hadn't worn yet. It requires a strapless - something I don't generally do - and it ties around the neck - another thing I don't wear often. But it is very adorable. The hair was a little uncooperative, but nothing too major. I have no one to impress. And so I head off to work, arriving at 7:30. I like getting in a little earlier than necessary - gives me a little peace and quiet.

It was around 7:45 that I started to notice a little pain in my shoulder/upper back. No big deal. I've dealt with back pain many times. Pop 4 Ibuprofen and move on. And this is what I did. 8:15am - ok, this is a little more than just a little back ache. It was getting incredibly worse. Maybe it was the outfit I chose. Now, some may find this a strange concept, but a) strapless bras are evil contraptions, and b) my back goes all weird if I wear a racer-back tank for too long. So, I quickly change into a normal boring tshirt and the underclothing required. This should fix it. 8:20, I start working again. By 9:00, I'm popping a couple more ibuprofen. That helped a little - dulled it at least. By 11:30, when I head off for lunch, I'm nearly in tears. This story continues in this way for several more hours. I managed to make it thru the day by overdosing on pain meds and by the use of a heating pad.

Now don't get me wrong. I could have easily just gone home and called it quits for the day. The thought occurred to me several times. But the truth is, the pain would have still been there - and quite possibly worse as there would have been nothing to keep my mind off the agony. Although, had I quit working, I could have started drinking my homemade wine a little earlier. I am hoping this homemade wine proves to be a remedy. I know whiskey works - but, alas, I don't have a bottle of that. So, I'm breaking open my barely-ready homemade wine.

And by the way - I must admit - this wine is GREAT! I'm drinking my grape one right now, but the fruit punch wine is equally good. I think I'm going to make one more - this one calls for just water, sugar, and yeast - essentially tasteless. BUT, it's supposed to be good for mixing with koolaids or other beverages. And, it should be clear, so I can carry it around in a water bottle and no one will know..

But anyway, time for a few more ibus and another glass of wine. WHY does this always happen on a weekend? Blah.