Flashback Forward

Have you ever heard of Psalty the Singing Songbook? Or McGee and Me? Duncan the Donut Man? Steve Green Hide Em’ in your Heart Songs? Wee Sing? I hadn’t fully understood the breadth of the Christian youth sub-culture until a discussion during small group last week. Half of us grew up in Christian homes and were laughing and carrying on about these fun things, and the other half was looking at us like we were completely crazy.

Let’s start with Psalty. A huge royal blue singing hymnal? Totally normal in my world. Thus begins a fun series of flashbacks of fun, quirky things you may only know about if you were there. If you aren’t used to him though, I warn you, it’s a little scary. You might just want to fast forward to after the song is over…about 2:45.

My favorite line is “It’s going to be a Hopallujah Blast!!!” Hahahahaha. Soooo cheesy, and slightly creepy.

Halloweenophobia

I was hanging out on the Miriam-Webster Dictionary website the other day (yes, I do that…..and yes, I know I am a nerd), and came across this article of the top-10 most unusual phobias (you may have to click on “skip this ad” at some point to get back to the article – it will only do that once). Now, I am not a big fan of Halloween at all, but in keeping with tradition of this scariest of all holidays, I hope you enjoy reading this article about strange things people are afraid of as much as I did.

Also, true confession, I may have a minor case of #7: Kakorrhaphiophobia

Culture Shock

It is amazing to me how quickly culture changes, especially in the realm of technology. My friends and I were having a conversation yesterday about some of the interesting culture changes that have happened within Cru in the past 15 years or so, that I also believe are true of most of America in general. One of the ladies in the conversation had joined staff in the early to mid-90’s, and she was telling us that she remembered when the Operations director at the time had to mandate that staff check their email at least once every 3 days, in an effort to adapt to this “new” communication tool and be most effective in ministry.

Once every 3 days?? That seems crazy to us in today’s world. We literally laughed out loud when she said that. For the younger generation that was turning 5 or 10 in the mid-nineties, we only have faint memories of life before email. I remember when my family got our first desktop computer, and then when I was finally allowed to have my first-ever personal email address: BabiesRMe@aol.com. No, I’m not joking. That was my actual email address. It was 1997, I was 12, and thought I was the coolest kid ever. Do you even remember AOL? *Bing! You’ve Got Mail!* I loved that little voice. My brother and I had specific times of the day we were allowed to “go online”, and I thought it was awesome that I could check my email a few times a week.

Now it seems like most people freak out if they don’t have instant access to their email every minute of every day. People have their work email tied to their smart phones, blackberrys, computers…it won’t be long before we have little chips installed that will send emails right to our brains. Ok, maybe that is a little bit drastic, but in my opinion we are beginning to spiral a little out of control. It’s time for a reality check.

I propose a new mandate: Only have your work email on one source (preferably your computer), and you can only check and answer emails from that address during your normal work hours. 

Seriously. Give it a try, and experience freedom from the email leash. I have people who send me work emails in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep, on the weekends, holidays, days off, and more. For a while I was one of those people – checking my email constantly and responding to them at all hours of the day and night. Well, about 6 months into my new job I was sitting on my couch at 9pm reading and responding to work emails. I looked up and realized what I had become – someone so tied to my job that I couldn’t leave it even after I left the office. So, that day I shut down my work email and decided to try something new and radical: only working during working hours. What?! I know. I open Entourage while I am at work, and shut it down before leaving for the day. I do not read or respond to work email at night or on the weekends, and I love how much time and freedom it has given me to do other things that I love – reading books, blogging, scrapbooking, journaling, going on walks, watching movies, being with people, watercoloring, crafts, cleaning and decorating my home, and etc.

I know that everyone’s work is different – hours, days of the week you work, type of job, family, whatever. The point is not to restrict it to Monday through Friday from 9-5. The point is to know what hours you work, and what hours you don’t. The hours that you work, check your email to your hearts content. Read, respond, file, delete, repeat. But, when your work for the day is finished, make the choice to leave it alone (including email) until the next day. If it is a true emergency, they shouldn’t be emailing you anyway. Keep those hours that you are not working separate. I can almost guarantee that if you try it, your productivity will go up instead of down. Your brain needs a break from your job, and quite frankly, your job needs a break from you.

Ok. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

It takes all kinds….

Apartments, I am finding, are inhabited by some of the most interesting of God’s creations. The other night I went for a walk around the lakes in my complex, and as it was twilight, many people had their blinds open on their back sliding doors. I began to take note of what “home” means to some of my neighbors, and here is what I found.

Home means:

1) Entertainment central. A 62″ flat screen TV on the wall, and they are sitting on metal folding chairs playing video games, with not another stick of furniture in the room. Saw at least three of those, not even joking. This one just baffles me. Let’s just say in my opinion nothing in the entertainment industry is worth having to sit on metal folding chairs.

2) Pretending you live in the country. Every inch of the patio is covered in plants, as though trying to cover up the fact that you are surrounded by people on three sides and in front and behind you, and bring nature to you. Most of these families, I’ve noticed, had a similar motif going on the inside.

3) Low-maintenance. These are the opposite of the afore-mentioned types. So that you don’t have to keep up with your plants, you plant fake flowers in the ground. Hey, at least you still have pretty daffodils in the winter when everyone else’s yard is covered in snow. Maybe a chair or two, but that’s about it.

4) Something other than the apartment they are living in. Stuff in disarray all over the place, weeds covering the patio, barren, nothing resembling life or beauty.

5) Stuff. Living rooms packed from wall to wall, no sense of order or decoration, patio stuffed to overflowing with too-large-for-the-patio yard furniture, gnomes and other yard ornaments, umbrellas with beer advertisements, boxes, multiple grills, etc. Some of these make me wonder if they lived in a house and had to downsize for a time, and didn’t want to get rid of their furniture or pay to store it, so they just shoved it in to their new place.

6) An animal. For many of my neighbors that means an 800 square foot dog in a 600 square foot apartment…know what I mean? Large, hairy, long-tongued dogs that look like they need place to run around, stuffed into little apartments. Other people, though, have several cats, or reasonable sized apartment dogs. This is a common one that I’ve found – it seems like a lot of people include pets in their idea of “home”. I’m part of this crowd sometimes – I love fish, because they’re easy. And I’m also contemplating getting a cat. Or two. But I don’t want to become the Cat Lady.

7) Martha Stewart-esque. Paint on the walls, pillows on the sofa, pictures everywhere, flowers on the table, knick knacks, specific entertaining areas, matching towels and placemats, Ikea/pottery barn (I wish!)/Pier One/Home Goods accessories. I definitely fit in this category, and I’m ok with that. 😉

What are some interesting ways “home” is lived out that  you have come across??