Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Parades, Dentist's Office, and Bjorlin Christmas

Well, Christmas in Duluth has been just what the doctor ordered. It reminds me of this song that is a Duluth staple around the holidays:

Apparently, one of the local TV stations commissioned Merv Griffin to write and sing that song especially for the Christmas City of the North Parade, which is the parade held in downtown Duluth every year on the Friday before Thanksgiving. If you listen to the last 20 seconds of the song, you will hear the specific Duluth shout out. Oh, the memories from that parade! Hermantown's band would march in it every year, and I remember wondering why Duluth thought it was a good idea to hold an outdoor anything at that time of the year. Half the brass instruments would freeze up on their respective player's spit, your hands would become almost unresponsive to any brain signals, and the below freezing weather did very little for a band's intonation, believe it or not. But it was all worth it when you saw those beautiful cheerleaders in their snowmobile suits. I wonder if there was any frostbite reported post-Christmas city?

Speaking of medical attention, I made it through my dentist appointment! I walked in at 7:50 with a healthy dose of fear and trembling and was escorted into the dental chair by a hygienist that is a friend of the family's. This was good because I could shower her with excuses and caveats before she began, and she couldn't guilt trip me quite as bad knowing I could go cry to my family. Then the cleaning process began. About ten minutes in, I'm sure it looked like a reenactment of a Civil War surgery as she stopped periodically to sharpen her torture tools with the sching sching of metal against metal. At about 20 minutes I started getting lightheaded from the loss of blood as I practiced centering prayer and other forms of meditation. At 30 minutes I was debating whether to ask for a blood transfusion or local anesthesia when she said, "Well, let's just polish these things up!" Then out came the floss and the obligatory question, "So, how much do you floss?" Always believing honesty to be the best policy, I answer, "Not much." Which is true, as far as it goes. I'm not going to define what "not much" means or rub it in her face how little I've been flossing. Here's how I would graph out my flossing:

I do try really hard after to be better, but it never seems to stick. I am going to give it another college try after this cleaning. However, I don't have any cavities. The exact conversation at the end of my check-up:
Dentist: Well, I can't see anything wrong with you.
Dave: Really?
Dentist: Yep, it looks good.
Dave: It's a Christmas miracle!
Dentist: Miracle at the dentist's office...I like that!
Dave (running out so they can't change their mind): Okay, see you lat... (door slams shut and tires screech as I fly out of the parking lot).

I probably should have consumed some juice and cookies to get the blood sugar up before driving, but I'm a risk-taker.

Bjorlin Christmas (Dec. 28th) went well up at Anna and Peter's. We played some games, ate some food, and ended the night opening presents. I was ecstatic with this Duluth Pack bag:

Also, I got two pictures framed, which both look absolutely incredible. Add a couple pairs of smart wool socks and a Dylan CD and it was about as much as this boy could ask for.

Now, I'm headed down to the Brewhouse because I haven't eaten in about an hour and a half. Get ready for some food/exercise-related New Year's Resolutions on my next post after this vacation gluttony!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011: Road Trip Edition

I'm currently sitting in the Harju living room in Duluth feeling pretty content after a long day of driving. I have to say, this was probably the best road trip I've had with my brother in quite a long time. We had a audiobook we both could agree on (Divergent - it's like Hunger Games set in Chicago), we didn't argue at all about church/worship styles, and he didn't fake hypoglycemia the whole way! So, all in all, it was a good Christmas. I will never enjoy the drive through Wisconsin. I swear the billboards alternate between cheese and adult superstores with maybe a pro-life billboard thrown in. I think the most confusing I saw this year was: "God Bless America: Life Begins at Conception." How are those two related? It's like saying, "Happy Hanukkah: CFC's Accelerate Ozone Depletion."

Also, my stint as Christmas pastor went well. Both services went off without a hitch (I mean, our pianist who I will not name did skip the Psalter lesson Christmas Eve, but I'll let it go this time.) even if attendance was a bit slim. I think it's a bit harder to preach when there's only 25 people there because you can see everyone's instant reaction instead of focusing on the group as a whole if that makes sense. I felt like the Monsignor in the first scene at the church in Sister Act: "We are a small congregation this morning...too many mornings" (obviously the last part is not true).

And a nice ending to the night was seeing D Rose stick it to the Lakers.

The Lakers losing feels like a fulfillment of the Magnificat. You know, the proud being scattered in their conceit and the rich being sent away empty. Now if only the Packers would have lost, it truly would have been a good Christmas. Oh well, a boy can dream.

Now, we're going to start Home Alone 2, so I'm out. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas. I'll leave you with the third verse (in the Covenant Hymnal) of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which for some reason was the verse of hymnody that struck me this year:

O you beneath life's crushing load,
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow;
look now, for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road
and hear the angels sing.

I love that last part. Sometimes when we aren't feeling the Christmas spirit (this isn't my personal experience this year, but it just struck me for some reason) or we cannot feel the hope and joy ourselves, the best we can do is sit beside the road and listen to the cosmos praise God. I like that.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Adoption, Margie's Candies, and Tebow

Well, I had a dream last night that I somehow got on an adoption list and received a call telling me that an adoption agency had a baby for me. While I was freaking out, I kept thinking, "When did I sign up for this? Did I think I was signing up for a Compassion International child and accidentally sign up for an actual child? How did anyone think I was fit to be a single parent on an income of $10,000 a year? Was it because I already had an extra room? Shouldn't I have had visitations or interviews or something?" Then, I got in a car accident on a foggy night and woke up while I was flying through the air. Overall, it was a great night of sleep.

Why didn't I know that the Beatles went to Margie's Candies after their show at Comiskey? This makes me love the place all that much more. Seriously, last night I could have been sitting at the same table that once held John, Paul, George and Ringo! I'm inspired just thinking about it.

Whenever I see that my peanut butter uses "unblanched" or "blanched" nuts, all I can think of is that these nuts hold some reference to Blanche Devereaux from the Golden Girls.

So, there's that.

In other news, Christmas is fast approaching! I have to say the lack of snow is really killing my Christmas buzz, but at this point I hope it holds off until I turn off the ignition in Duluth. Then, I could go for a blizzard (and I mean that in relation to both the weather and DQ). I will say, I am excited to be in Duluth at the Hotel Harju. Besides world peace and a return of sane politicians, I would like a Duluth Pack computer bag, framing for artwork I bought this year, smart wool socks, and Amazon/iTunes gift cards.

Well, since I mentioned the Wild's recent ascendency to power, they have lost four in a row (although getting a point out of the shootout with the Blackhawks). I knew I should have kept my mouth shut. In sports news that make me smile, the Packers losing to the Chiefs was pretty great. Hopefully, it will lead to a quick exit in the playoffs. Finally, this SNL skit, while maybe a bit sacrilegious, is also pretty funny:

What I like from a religious stand point is Jesus telling Tebow (and us all) that we have to do our own hard work (at seminary: studying; in football: stretching and reading the playbook; giving a sermon: reading commentaries and practicing) and not expect God to make up for our lack of preparation.

Okay, I need a shower something fierce after a nice jog through the neighborhood.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Books by Their Cover, Atlantis, and Yahoo!

You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but I think you can fairly judge the publishing company. I don't understand how so many books have such unappealing covers. Seriously, sometimes I think it must be some type of aversion therapy for biblioholics.

So, just after my post about how great the Wild were doing they drop two in a row, one of which was to the Blackhawks. I should have gone with the age-old wisdom of the no-hitter; don't mention it, or you'll ruin it.

I decided I wasn't going to post The Daily Show clips for a while because I didn't want to be a one-trick pony, but...Oh my goodness! (which should make you think of Carol Burnett mocking an orphan) A clip combining John Stewart, FoxNews, the Muppets, and It's a Wonderful Life...this is like finding a unicorn, the fountain of youth, the lost city of Atlantis, my rollerblades that I lost in seventh grade when my duffle bag was stolen at the old Corey Veech memorial football field! Sit back and feast your eyes on this:

My Yahoo! account (I know, I need to make a full transition to Gmail, but there's a certain familiarity and nostalgia that goes along with Yahoo!; this is similarly why I clung to Xanga while popular opinion was rolling its gurney to the morgue) has the following headline on its homepage: "In exclusive ABC/Yahoo! interview (first of all, whoppie!, an exclusive ABC/Yahoo! interview!), Obama says, 'I want to make really good two-term president.'" I can almost guarantee this was not Obama said, unless he tricked ABC/Yahoo! and had a presi-bot give the interview - one who hadn't quite mastered the correct usage of indefinite articles.

Congratulations to my brother Stephen, who will be done with his first semester of seminary by this time tomorrow! One down, five to go!

I can't believe there are only 10 more days until Christmas! I will admit I would like to see a bit of snow, but if my luck holds it will save itself for Christmas and dump down two or three feet as I attempt to drive back to Duluth. I have done a 360 on Hwy 53 though, so I should be well-seasoned for some crazy driving.

If you are around, you can come to ResCov for an Advent Lessons and Carols on Sunday at 7 (preceded by a potluck!), a Christmas Eve service at 7, and a Christmas Day (Sunday) service at the usual 10:30. I'm the pastor in town this year, so that probably is dissuading you from coming, but maybe you should come just to see if I can keep it together! It'll be some good, ole-fashioned ecclesial rubbernecking as you drive pass the carnage (don't worry; it won't actually be bad).

Okay, I need to figure out something to do tonight. I have been a reading machine today, but I should try and leave my self-imposed dungeon for a few hours at least.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Soccer Trouble and Gambling

So, I've tried to like soccer for quite a while. I agree that it is a worldwide sport that truly has fans on almost every continent. Also, I have no doubt that soccer players are amazing athletes in peak physical shape. The excitement of the World Cup is amazing and infectious, but I still can't get into it. I think the length and slower pace of games combined with my own soccer ignorance creates this perfect storm of "meh." However, here is the one thing that I truly dislike about soccer:

It reminds me of this:

Now, I realize all sports have this element to a degree (the NBA has increasingly become a game of floppers from Vlade Divac to Lebron himself), but it just seems to happen much more often in soccer. Can someone explain this phenomenon to me?

I bet you $10,000 (in school loan debt, so more like $-10,000) I can't pass up a chance to show how out of touch Mitt Romney is. Shoot, I'm about to lose. Okay, Mitt: if people already think you are a rich, out of touch businessman, why would you ever bet someone 10,000 bucks! Obviously, we have to hear from Jon Stewart on this:

What I'm really happy about is how they debunked Romney's later assertion that this was "an outrageous number to answer an outrageous charge," seeing as $10,000 is .005 % of your worth (am I don't that math right? 10,000 of about 200 million?). That would be outrageous as me betting someone (not counting school loans) about 75 cents (don't do the math; it will just depress you and me both). How outrageous of me to have to dig in my chain jar or under my couch cushions to pay off this lavish bet! If you're going to be someone something outrageous, it should be considered outrageous for you. So, you could have bet 500 trillion dollars or your firstborn son/daughter or a promise not to slick back your hair for a month...that would be outrageous.

Lloyd: Yeah right! I bet you 20 bucks that I can get you gambling before the end of the day.
Harry: No way.
Lloyd: "I'll give you 3-1 odds."
Harry: Nope.
Lloyd: 5-1.
Harry: Nope.
Lloyd: 10-1.
Harry: You're on!
Lloyd: "I'm gonna get ya.
Harry: nuh-uh.
Lloyd: I don't know how, but I'm gonna get ya!"

Well, it's time to get my butt to work. Later.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Technology and Negative Newt (Among Other Things)

Well, it looks like the rest of the songs are vying for second place because "O Holy Night" just won't let up. Three versions of "O Holy Night" that you must have.
1. Mariah Carey - duh.
2. Tracy Chapman - it is acoustic and stripped down and beautiful.
3. Bing Crosby - He can sing the phonebook, as they say, and it would be beautiful.

And apparently I have 16 versions of this song on iTunes. Yikes. Some other good versions: Shelby Lynn, Puppini Sisters, Melissa McClelland. Versions I could do without: Glee and Chris Tomlin.

Either God and Tim Tebow have worked out a Tebowic covenant or Tebow sold his soul to the devil a la Damn Yankees. There is no other way to explain the craziness that has been these last eight games. He doesn't throw completions, half the time looks way out of place in the NFL, but then always manages to win games in heroic fashions. The end of that Bears game was pretty crazy (I could hear my upstairs neighbor pacing and stomping, and it didn't sound like happy pacing or stomping).

See, I know Bears fans are going to say, "Well, what about your Vikings? There's nothing to brag about there!" Yes, this is exactly the point. We're so bad that right now that losing is in our best interest, and the season has been out of reach for quite some time. You, on the other hand, should have been able to clinch a playoff spot with a bit of decent play, yet it's been choke-city. And how about those Minnesota Wild? First place, sixth straight on the road, 17 out of their last 21, and most points in the NHL. I have to say it's nice to have some good hockey in Minnesota. Also, the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) Bulldogs have a 14 game unbeaten streak going and are rated first in the country!

Remember when Newt Gingrich said he wasn't going to negative on Romney? Well, it didn't last long during the debate, but I did quite enjoy his zinger and how aghast Romney is (and the crowd for that matter) that Gingrich could possibly state what is obviously true. I have to admit that I kind of liked Gingrich for that 2.3 seconds. Then he kept talking...

So, after reading Infinite Jest, a sprawling, futuristic novel by now-deceased author David Foster Wallace about technological entertainment basically overtaking society, I think I've become convinced that I don't ever want a smart phone - something I've been mulling over for quite a while. I think there's something weird about always being in contact with people by several simultaneous forms of media (phone, text, email, chat, facebook), having all questions immediately answered at the touch of a button (now you don't have to wait for anything!), and boiling communication down to the lowest common denominator. Call me a luddite, but I don't want people to get a hold of me whenever they want by multiple forms of communication; I don't want to spend all my free time looking at a phone. Knowing myself, I would be much too tempted to play on my smart phone during any conversation/lecture/homily/meeting that I arbitrarily decide doesn't need my full attention. I think you miss out when you do this and have a hard time living in any kind of present reality. Plus, people's phone etiquette is already so terrible, this just adds to most people's rudeness (including my own). No, I think I'm better off with the dumb phone. Now I may have to find a carabiner and some rope because I'm up pretty high on this horse/soapbox. "On belay? Belay on!"

Only one more week of Advent. It kind of makes me sad that Advent is only four weeks, but c'est la calendrier liturgique. But you should all come to our Advent Lessons and Carols next Sunday night at 7 p.m. preceded by a potluck at 5:30. It's probably going to be my Advent highlight.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

O Holy Night, Winterizing, and War on Christmas

"O Holy Night" has jumped out to a commanding lead over the competition. I can't say that that I'm too surprised by this. Four things you should know about "O Holy Night":
1. It was written by the French poet Placide Cappeau and put to music by Adolph Adam. This was significant because Adam was a Jew and Cappeau a social radical, and church leaders refused to play the music in church because of this. However, it gained such popularity among the masses that they eventually relented, and "Minuit Chretien/Cantique de Noel" became what it is today.
2. It was translated to English by an abolitionist minister John Sullivan Dwight, who gave us the especially poignant and loosely translated, "Truly he taught us to love one another/his law is love and his gospel is peace./Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother,/and in his name all oppression shall cease."
3. It was the first song broadcast live on the radio by the guy who invented the AM radio. He played it on the violin and sang the last verse.
4. In 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war, a soldier jumped out of the trenches and began singing this (much like a similar WWI story). Apparently, the Germans joined in with their own carol, a temporary truce was called, and neither side fought that night.

I feel like I need to play this:

In other news, I did my winterizing shopping yesterday, which meant picking up both lotion and chapstick so that my hands and lips make it through this season of perpetual dryness. This need was exacerbated by moving furniture all week in the plummeting temperatures. I have to say I wasn't too excited to see snow on the ground on Friday knowing that an apartment had to be set up in the midst of it, which is kind of sad because generally I'm a sucker for that first snowfall.

I enjoyed this rejoinder by Jon Stewart to Bill O'Reilly's War on Christmas bit:

I just can't imagine anyone getting worked up about a "War on Christmas." I think such Christians should divert their anger from imaginary wars of semantics to actual wars that kill people. Try stopping those wars, you know, like that one guy, that "Prince-of-peace-turn-the-other-cheek" guy. Also, if you need the government to validate Christmas, I think we've already lost the war. Same goes for trying to keep the 10 commandments in public places. Let's try keeping the 1o commandments first...and I have to play this clip because it's about the best thing ever (wait until the end!):

Okay, I need to work up the courage to go for a run today. Neither the spirit nor the flesh seem particularly willing this morning.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Poll Results, Favorite Christmas Song, and Confessions

The polls have closed, and Sufjan Stevens edged out both the cast of Peanuts and Mariah Carey for best Christmas album. I'm expecting he'll want to write a guest post as his form of an acceptance speech. So, for the next 18 days, you are asked to pick your favorite Christmas song from the list on the left. Choose wisely.

I think one of my favorite Christmas songs as of late is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow written in 1864. His wife had just died in an accidental fire, his country was being torn apart from the Civil War, and his son had just been grievously injured on the battlefield. He begins with what seems like a happy note:

I heard the bells on Christmas day,
their old familiar carols play
and wild and sweet the words repeat,
of peace on earth, good will to men (sic).

But he really gets into the heart of it on the fourth and fifth verse. In the midst of so much personal and corporate suffering, he honestly writes:

But in despair I bow my head,
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"for hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men."

Yet, the last verse sings of a deep hope in the midst of grief and despair. I get the chills when I hear it:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
the wrong shall fail, the right prevail
with peace on earth, good will to men."

That will preach! I always liked Pedro the Lion's version, mainly because I imagine Dave Bazan's almost despairing voice is exactly how I imagine Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's frame of mind in writing this.

On a totally unrelated notes, here are some things I've been needing to confess for a while:
1. I feel an innate sense of superiority over people who rely on snooze buttons (no offense to my current roommate or previous roommates). I don't try to think this way, but subconsciously (sometimes more "sub" than others) that such people are a bit weaker in some way because of their inability to get up in the morning.
2. I don't like the new Bon Iver album. I think it sounds like he was forced to record an album using only the instruments in Yanni's recording studio. All that synthesizer detracts from the album in my humble opinion.
3. Last Christmas I got subscriptions to both The Economist and The New Yorker, and I barely read either of them. I have such good intentions and enjoy when I do, but I don't.
4. I've always known I should like John's songs better, but I like Paul's. Frankly, I'm a sucker for a good ballad.
5. I usually can't tell the difference between good and bad coffee. In fact, I'm still not a huge fan of coffee in any form (espresso drinks excluded).

We're up to 5 apartments set up this week. I think we'll have six by Friday. I'm going to be a bodybuilding Santa for Christmas this year. Later.

Monday, December 5, 2011

O Christmas Tree, Liturgical Pet Peeves, and Augustine at His Best

Seventeen hours to go on the voting and Sufjan has taken a one vote lead! This could go down to the wire!

So, yesterday (Monday) I went to Home Depot (sorry small businesses and McClain's) and got my first ever Christmas tree! I have to say I was pretty excited driving home with the tree strapped to the top of the old Rav4. As Andrew and I were decorating it, I thought there should be nostalgic Christmas music as the camera slowly panned to me putting the star on top of the tree and then faded out, out from the house, from the block, until all you could see were the twinkling Christmas lights of the city. Then it would cut to someone doing a good deed for a person in need on the streets of downtown Chicago followed by a cut to Jesus being born in the manger. (c) Dave Bjorlin 2011. Here's the pathetic picture.

The crooked shades inspired me to title this picture, "Deadbeat Christmas."

Well, in the last three work days, Matt and I have set up four apartments for families coming over the next two weeks. I think we should enter some competition or something because we've got it down to a science. Granted, I could also use a masseuse or a good hot tub because my body is sore from all this lifting.

So, as someone who plans a fair number of worship services and searches the internet for resources, I have come across a fair number of things that really grate on my liturgical nerves. So, I thought I would share those in case any of you see a career in writing liturgies or prayers. These are in no particular order:
1. Calls to worship that don't call you to worship. I feel like people just throw a verse at the top of the service. It would be like using a confession that doesn't confess any sins; it just doesn't make sense. This goes for invocations. Invoke something please!
2. Advent confessions that begin in any way resembling this: "God, in the midst of the busyness of Christmas," or "The trees are up, the lights are on in the house, but we have forgotten...", or "our calendars are full of parties and gift exchanges, yet...". I don't know why, but this seems like a slippery slope to "Remember the reason for the season!" and "Put Christ back in Christmas!"
3. explicit and over-the-top symbolism. I don't know if I can explain this one well, but there is something about overtly obvious symbols that take away some of the need for symbols altogether.
4. Clip art as bulletin art. It just shouldn't be done.
5. Space ideas (meaning the worship space, not NASA space) that require an architect and/or a structural engineer to build it and several tithing architects and engineers to fund.

Well, I came across this St. Augustine gem while reading City of God. He is talking about people who can do incredible physical feats that others can't:
"A number of people produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from that region. I know from my own experience of a man who used to sweat whenever he chose." Boy, Augustine should have been a talent agent rather than a bishop/theologian. He could have made a fortune!

I just found out that the term for replacing swear words with euphemisms is "taboo deformation." What a great phrase!

Okay, I'm going for a run. Later.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baby Massages, Long Sundays, and Tebow

Two more days of voting, and Sufjan has taken A Charlie Brown Christmas's place as co-leader with Mariah. Only a few more days of voting before the poll is switched!

I saw a sign the other day for baby massages, and I think that is kind of weird. All I can picture is a baby laying face down on a massage table with a glass of wine at its head, saying things like, "Oh, you wouldn't believe the stress at work. Oh my gosh, that knot right there....yeah, stay there for a few minutes. I just feel the stress ebbing away. Oh, if you could hit the feet, I've been having trouble with my know, being on my feet all day is really starting to take its toll."

The second Sunday of Advent went fairly well. It was a busy week because I was preaching and presenting on the topic of Advent after the service as well (and the evening service at 7). I think in the future I would chose to lead a discussion on a Sunday that I wasn't preaching. It was kind of a challenge to switch modes during coffee hour and also to dig into my extrovert reserves for another couple hours of leading discussion. Good thing the meal was lasagna, so I could carbo load as I talked a la Michael Scott right before the Fun Run for Rabies.

Needless to say, I crashed into a glorious Sunday nap afterward. Few things are superior in life to a lazy Sunday afternoon of sleeping and reading.

This week is going to be the week of World Relief. I think about five families are coming in, so we will be setting up apartments like its our job (which, it is) over the next few days. However, right around the 16th, my life will hit the brakes for a few weeks, and I am looking forward to that day in hopeful Advent expectation.

Speaking of which, the other day we picked up some furniture from an apartment where they were engaged in an all-day Lord of the Rings extended version viewing party (all three in one day). It took all of my will not to ask if I could stay and order a pizza with them.

Well, the Vikings just couldn't handle the Tebow yesterday. I have been a scoffer these past six seven weeks, but I must say, the record is speaking louder than the stats at this point. Granted, running the option in the NFL just doesn't bode well for QB longevity. If there is a bright side, it's that I am not a Bears fan. Now there was an ugly game. It turns out Jay Cutler was the only thing keeping that team afloat. Now, if only Aaron Rodgers would stumble across some kryptonite...and Troy Aikman and Joe Buck would start miming their commentary instead of speaking it..then, all would be right with the world. I think Green Bay fans are so zealous because what else are you going to cheer for in Green Bay? I remember the first time I drove through Green Bay as a seven year-old thinking, "Really?"

Well, the first candidate bites the dust. Herman Cain, we hardly knew thee...but the more we knew, the less we wanted to know. Who's the next to fall? I'm guessing the hindenbergian campaign of Michelle Bachmann. Yet, maybe some of the rabid Cain fans will bring new life to a sinking campaign? I guess we'll all have to stay tuned and be thankful for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Well, here goes Monday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Completed Applications, Muppet Review, and World Relief Decembers

So, as I mentioned on Facebook, all of my applications have been sent in! I can't tell you what a process this is, especially for someone who has a penchant towards disorganization and misplacing things. It's no doubt a blessing that I live in this technological age of online applications that reduces the number of papers I must sort through and makes it almost impossible to lose parts of the application. It truly is like another part-time job filling out the papers, writing essays, asking people to write letters of recommendation, etc. This is how I felt when I finished:

I mean, it was perhaps on a smaller scale...maybe. I think I figured out that it cost me $463 to apply. I know that's not a huge sum of money, but I think that's a fairly steep price to pay to see if you even have a chance to attend school. So, this Advent season will be brought to you by ramen noodles (just matter the amount of money in my bank account, I pass on ramen. I'm more a mac and cheese kind of guy).

So now, after my obvious celebratory nap, I'm trying to decide how to mark this occasion. Maybe Chipotle? Maybe a night out on the town? Maybe some good solid reading of a novel? Maybe I'll go over and practice my sermon. The world is my oyster, and I'm going to crack that sucker open and see if someone left me a pearl.

I don't think I ever mentioned how much I appreciated The Muppets. It was exactly what it should be, and I have to admit getting a little misty-eyed when Kermit began strumming the banjo for "Rainbow Connection." The only weak spot for me was the bizarre rap by the evil CEO. Yet, on the whole it left me feeling hopeful for least those who appreciate the muppets. I think my favorite line was when the network exec was showing the gang the current hit on network television, "Punch the Teacher." After you see the premise (basically two hours of teachers getting punched by students), it cuts a way from the show, but not before you here one of the teachers lament, "I just wanted to make a difference!" A little social commentary via the muppets.

Oh, I guess I could also celebrate the fact that I registered for Midwinter? What I should say is I celebrate going to a church that will pay for me to go to midwinter. I definitely celebrate that! Hopefully there's good books in the book bag we receive at the beginning of the conference. That makes or breaks the conference for me.

Well, guess what month is turning out to be the busiest month for World Relief donations coordinators? If you guessed December, you're our winner! Nothing like moving furniture in December...fa la la la la la la.

For those of you who were sorely offended by my less than glowing praise of U2, I will tell you that I did listen to the entire Joshua Tree album the other day. I will say it was better than I expected. I actually liked some of the lesser known tracks towards the end more than the standards at the the one that starts with a harmonica.

Okay, I'm off to see what this night has in store for me. Let's be honest, it's probably reading with an early bedtime, but I'll take it!