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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Man To Beat

I've been wanting to link to Ken's blog for a while now, but I've been putting it off because I wanted to write something about him that would be relevant and heart-felt, and it takes a while for my heart to feel something relevant. But here I am, finally, and I think I can take the plunge.
Ken Okazaki is the first man I've met with his singular genius. He has 6 kids, a fully loaded life, and a whole roster of responsibilities. But this is a man who will have a new idea for something to do, something to be, every time I talk to him. Every idea, just as intricate and insane as the idea before it. If I had to elect one of my friends "most likely to be a tycoon / millionare / magnate," it would be him. He gushes it, and it makes me weak and embarrassed.
I resist it, a lot. Sitting in an office across from him, worn out and tired about all the things I have to think about and projects that I wish I hadn't signed on for, his zest and incredible capacity to think about a million projects, and still keep his current responsibilities in proper proportion, astounded and vexed me at the same time. When my brain feels dried up as a prune, my idea of relaxation is taking a walk and zoning out, making some ramen, watching a TV show. I've seen him study, research, and experiment with his ideas in most of his spare moments.
I'm going to be reading his blog to peel back his sneaky secrets. One day, I will be as powerful and zesty as Ken is.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hello again

I'm done my private experimental bit. I don't mind if you all come along for a look. I love you.
www.forestofstars.tumblr.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Clarification, my dear Watson

Very stupid title for a post. Excuse me.
I ought to have been clearer. I don't mind giving the URL for my new blog to people who don't necessarily know me personally. I've just gotta have an email address or sumfin to send it to. So if you said, "Send it to meeeeee" and I'm not super sure who you are (or maybe I am, but you're not sure I have your email address) then go ahead and be safe and give it to me in a comment.
Or! Send me an email at swallow.this@gmail.com
Love.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Verdict

Hi kids.
So this is what I've decided to do. I made a blog that I can keep private and secret, and I'd like to let you know where it is if you're at all interested. Give me a comment or an email or a somethingorother and I'll send you the URL. Mmmkay?
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm Yours Revisited

All thanks to my dear brother Dan (of photography, webdesign, and all-around coolness) for finding this gem of gold. (If you don't know it, have a listen to "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz, and this song'll have all that much more meaning.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cookies

I am tired, Beloved,
of chafing my heart against
the want of you;
of squeezing it into little inkdrops,
And posting it.
  • Amy Lowell, The Letter

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Merry Christmas!



This Christmas, and this New Year, promises to be different from all the rest. Every year it becomes more of a realistic, time-restricted, organized function for me, and less of a surprise, delight, excitement.
But there are those moments when I stop and think about Christmas and the Christmas of my childhood, and I get a shiver of surprise, delight, and excitement.
So don't forget to stop and think about Christmas.

Oh Dear, Blog Crisis

It does seem as though there may come a time in the very near future when closing down this blog will have been the best thing to do. The main thing I'd loathe about that is the zillions of posts that'd be lost (unless I painstakingly saved them all. I might save some! Hmmm). I'd miss not being able to post. I'd miss the fact that it's something I've been steadily doing since I was 14. I'd miss it all.
I was thinking about it, and being emo about it, and wondering if, closing it down for PR purposes would mean I was ashamed of it. I came to the conclusion that there is a difference between the way you are proud to portray yourself as an individual--Christian, Family-member, whatever--to people who more-or-less know you or your context, and the way that you would present yourself to people who are just being introduced to you for the first time. Maybe it's the sort of swing-around that happens as a result of suddenly finding yourself under the possibility of being googled by people.
I guess it's sort of like you oughtn't just talk off the top of your head to people you don't know. I would say something different to people who just met me for the first time. Not because I'd hide something or be less honest, but because I want them to understand. I want them to relate. I want to make sense to them.
I started off on this blog with no intention of being read by people I didn't know, or (just to prove how strange and Internet-ignorant I was) by people who weren't in the Family. Whereas I used to be sort of awkward and surprised when people I met for the first time would tell me they read my blog, I've sort of prepared my heart for it and realized that it's really a good thing.
Also, I've since realized, if I'm going to bother writing anything at all, I may as well write for as big an audience as I can. My Dad used to always say when I was a kid that if I was going to make music or write or do anything with one of my hobbies, that I ought to do it seriously and do something that could be used. I didn't often listen to him, because the unusable stuff--the stuff that just comes out and is unedited and untouched and yucky and messy--was the only stuff I really wanted to have anything to do with. You know how it is, being a lazy kid just trying to experiment. But I'm 20, dammit. I don't have as many excuses.
In so saying, I'm thinking about maintaining a presence on the Internet that is as purposeful and relatable as possible. Keeping it real, so that when people see or hear something with my name on it, they'll Google me and find something that explains who I am and what I'm doing, not just a bunch of rambling teenage thoughts. Agreed?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hiccup

Two of my best friends in the whole world just had their first kid. I love you guys to death and I'm proud of you. I have a feeling the little one will be legend.
That's it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pocket


You know how, when you don't have anything figured out and stuff is more or less chaos in your head, but you manage to crawl up a warm body and nestle yourself in a fuzzy pocket that fits you perfectly...
And you're so happy to know that you get to tag along on Someone who sees so much farther and is so much bigger than you. You get to absorb His warmth, feel his heartbeat, and let Him walk you to where you need to go.
Come on up. It's worth the climb up a long leg, and there's enough room for both of us to cuddle up with this handkerchief.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Express

I want to hear more young people express their love for Jesus. I don't know if this is correct about the Family or Christians in general, but I haven't heard so much of it personally. And then sometimes we get bothered by the fact that the things that we have to read and the songs we have to listen to speak in a language that we can't relate to--too flowery, too formal, too biblical.
I want to hear more of us express our love for Jesus out loud. We ought to be professing Christians, not just silently nodding our heads like lemmings. Isn't it one of the only ways that we have to really strengthen our faith and brotherhood with one another? Ought we not be sharing all things, especially our bond in Jesus?
Come come now.



desire burning in my mind
like a firefly lighting up the sky
my heart is aglow
i feel you burning up my soul
i'm a shipwreck a sailor lost at sea
you're a tidal wave
and you're crashing over me
caught in your current and i'm sinking
but drowning peacefully

i'm crying out come rescue me with love
like a child needs a night light in the dark
Lord light me up i'm lovesick for
just one touch
you're all I need
but you never seem to be enough

i'm romeo desperate for your love
i'd scale these garden walls
just to see the rising sun
but see what light breaks softly through
it's love that i never knew

Monday, October 26, 2009

Things I've Always Wanted To Do

  • Study and write Japanese poetry with a Japanese poet.
  • Take Enka lessons.
  • Take dance lessons.
  • Direct a music video.
  • Write a kick-ass song (I'm waiting for my rocket to come.)
  • Paint with a huge canvas and lots of oils.
  • Write/compile a book of reflections together with a photographer.
  • Organize and direct a concert/event/bash with a budget.
  • Start a charity foundation and set up a support system for it (fundraise!)
  • Update the 12FS; create a simple, modern, attractive package for youth and businesspeople.
  • Sing and dance in a musical.
  • Write, direct, perform, and film a full-length play with song and dance; something that will be thought provoking and heart-touching. (Let's harness the arts in our witness!) Tour colleges, schools, festivals, and halls. Sell a video production.
  • Compile and edit a book of personal prayers and praises to Jesus, and include contributor's names and reflections.
  • Have a blog in Japanese with updates on my missionary life, the projects I'm involved in, etc.
  • Have a business doing design work for Family homes that can afford a monetary investment.
  • Have enough material to compile and design a (strongly Christian) inspirational book mostly featuring quotes and portions from here and there, with 365 pages, each containing and completing a succulent inspiration for the day. I have a feeling I'd never be able to publish or commercialize anything like this, since there'd be too many copyright restrictions, but I'd like to make one for myself and people in the Family.
  • Study design from experts. (And probably quit when it starts getting too technical. Haha!)
  • Have the means to support other people on the ground with their projects.
  • Organize and help with the compilation of material for seminars and workshops on practical skills, success in business, work ethics for Family teenagers.
  • Own a pen-tablet.
  • Learn piano with a teacher.
  • Train with a vocal trainer. Singing, enunciation, speaking, breathing...
  • Set up a printing center.
  • Live in a small house.
  • Teach Literature, composition and Language Arts to teens.
  • Pin-down an opening for a particular witnessing tool, go to work making it, and get active advertising, promoting, and marketing it.
  • Write a screenplay for a movie (together with other writers).
  • Have a lot of cool talks with a make-up artist.
  • Take acting lessons.
  • Work the cash register at a supermarket.
  • Get better at public speaking.
  • Figure out a good balance between humility and confidence.
  • Find my way around a sewing machine. (And then...make stuff.)
  • Learn (maybe not so much study as...do) interior decorating.
  • Take a marketing course.
  • Find out "what things are really like in WS."
  • Study psychology.
  • Write a duet for me and someone else (with someone else in mind).
  • Have someone design a dress for me.
  • Direct filming and especially live televising (Learn what the heck this entails).
  • Learn film editing.
  • Sing in a choir.
  • I would be mildly interested in photography if I didn't have a little brother who was so annoyingly good at it.
  • (Also, webdesign.)
  • Acquire an amazing Japanese vocabulary.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

e e cummings

love is a place

love is a place
through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kibou at Tokyo Midtown



This was good fun. This is us, we did a 4 song set and an encore at "Cafe Orange," this hip pub/cafe in Tokyo Midtown which is in the center of Roppongi. Right outside the entrance of Roppongi subway station.
Steve and I went with Ikko to Tokyo where we met up with the other 2 members of KIBOU, hung out and performed a couple songs at a club the night before, celebrated my "of-age" ness and crashed in one of their apartments.
We were invited to this event that a guy who wants to manage our band was involved in sponsoring. It was actually quite a upscale event, about 100 people RSVPed to this formal-dress party that was held at the cafe, with a huge set-up outside. There were a few famous (and quite a few GOOD) performers that went on before us, some of them have hit songs that are soundtracks for Japanese movies. I didn't get to hang out so long with those people, because the Lord had showed me that this was an opportunity for me to get to know and witness to the members of the band (Ikko is an awesome guy, an Active member totally on fire, but the other two I hadn't really had a chance to talk to deeply yet.)
I had an awesome time and a great chat with them. They're both awesome and super into the message. They have very strong convictions about spreading kibou and changing the world, so that got me excited.
We had some great food, free access to the bar (aaaaahhhh it's great to be 20) and the handsome bartender even whipped up something "special" for me. All in all it was a great night, I met a lot of people.
It was crazy, and Steve I'm sure would say the same thing, how many people came up to us acting like actual...serious...almost deranged fans. Maybe some of them were drunk or something. But a lot of them had seen us on the internet or gotten our CD from their friends and had a lot of stories about how they felt healing power from our songs, or how their 3-year-old son gets super happy when he hears the song, or something. I was constantly just quite surprised. I don't think I was actually much of an on-fire witness cause I was just so surprised at every turn, I had nothing to say.
We did our show and it was great fun, even though I couldn't hear myself at ALL because of the surround sound screaming and yelling feature. But it was great fun. Steve and I kept marvelling how we were having such fruitful witnessing time whilst just kicking back and enjoying ourselves. It really is true, things are switched around in the Offensive.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Feelings On This Extreme Matter

So here's where I'm at right now. A lot of my prejudices have been completely thrown out of the window these past couple of months, and I totally understand and LOVE the Change Journey. My approach to all things religious and secular has been totally turned upside down, and I've actually grabbed ahold of that elusive connection with the Lord and to the Word that isn't based on my bundle of securities within the Family. I feel like I could be a muscular Christian, I can stand up for Jesus for real. It's a great feeling.
It's also great knowing that you've made a decision about your life, and you have the "peace that passes understanding" when you just KNOW you've done the right thing. You didn't know for sure before you did it, but now you know, and it's such a feeling of relief. You can look at anything and everything and think, "Hey, I can do that if I want to!" and get so happy just thinking about it.
(Just watch, now that I've said that, I'm going to start spiraling into a pit of despair and condemnation just so the Lord keeps me on my toes.)
Basically, XD couldn't have come at a better time for me. I didn't even need to trudge through it for a few days before I got the hang of it and started having a blast with it. I've been having a blast from the get-go.
So the other day, in the toilet, I had this thought that there are definitely some of my friends who should be doing XD but aren't. I don't know who they are, but YOU know who you are. I'm going to find you, I'm going to Skype you every day and ask you how many assignments you've finished. I really am going to ride you like...like...like something-not-gross-but-distinctly-motivating.
Because, I honestly believe it'll be the thing you need to get your grass hopping. Like, not so motivated? DUDE that's a problem! Let's get up and get motivated!!! And no, I don't mean the Middle-Eastern version of Activated. But if you have that at hand, you might as well grab that too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wondering about amazing things

I wonder things sometimes.
Like, how, in Australia, the Drover talks about your quality of life is about your "story." But then I wonder about these people who don't have much to say for themselves in earthly terms, the little people who have worked at sweet little jobs in faithfully for years and years. They don't have much of a "story." Is that kind of thing supposed to be inspiring for them?
This has been the question of my life lately. Does the Lord make people suited for "little" jobs and "big" jobs from birth? Does the Lord predestine some people to always be striving for better, bigger, more, exciting-er, and some people to be content with the mundane, the humble, the lowly? Are there some people for whom it would be against the Lord's will to stay in a "humble" situation, doing little things faithfully? Are there some people in whom the Lord has put that desire to burn and start projects and go places and be amazing--people who are SUPPOSED to be that way? Are we qualified to call those people "proud," or say that they aren't great disciples if they can't stand being in a small home cleaning toilets? These people who can't stand smilingly letting other people make decisions for them, who can't be content doing the same things every day waiting patiently for other people to catch the vision, and who don't believe that a ministry of standing-in for childcare slots and home laundry is for them--does the Lord design some people and intend for them to be that way?
THIS is something that, as I am interested in expanding my small mind lately, I have noticed as a sort of recurring theme in Family culture. Apparently, we're supposed to (or at least a lot of people that I've met or lived with had this idea) put big people in their place. We're supposed to help the people with "big" ministries (like musicians and witnessers) to maintain their humility with an even balance of toilet cleaning jobs and baby-diaper changing. I remember someone explaining this concept to a sheep who came over to the house after one of our Kando Bando shows: "We keep our musicians humble by rotating them on jobs like changing diapers when they get home!"
I know that some ministries do seem to be more fun, and it would be nice if everything could be fair for everyone in a home, when it comes to having fun. I know that sometimes it makes sense to have the people who are actively involved in the more "fun" ministries, sometimes stay home and clean the toilets so that the people who are doing the less "fun" ministries or who maybe deserve some recognition can go out on a fun grape-picking excursion.
But I don't know if I agree with trying to limit those people from carrying out their visions and the things that they've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into planning. These are people with dreams and ambition, and I wonder if we're forgetting to reward that?
I also don't know if I agree with trying to have "compassion" on people by telling them that their ministry is "less fun," "more mundane," and "not rewarding in and of itself." Aren't all ministries fun, exciting, and inspiriting, potentially? Isn't that supposed to be a matter of the heart? A mix of work-ethic and GUTS?
On one hand, it sounds word-based, all this "balance" talk. On the other hand, it doesn't really sound like a recipe for success.
But what is success? For years we were taught that success in the Lord's eyes is different from success in the world's eyes. We know that's still true, but now we're being taught that the Lord's idea of success is broader than we thought. It also includes successful witnessing ministries and incentives, setting up programs and even businesses to further and faciliate the mission, getting personally organized and trained well enough that you can be a professional in your field.
It gets me thinking: It's mighty hard to keep the vision for becoming a professional in your field, setting up a successful business venture, pioneering new methods of witnessing, and stepping outside the box to explore crazy new ministries, if we have this mindset of keeping big people in a small place.
There is still a lot of truth in the Word about being balanced, being moderate, being dilligent in the things that we must do as well as carrying out the things that the Lord has given us a fervent burden for. But then there's a lot in the Word about how we need to sometimes be willing to throw our desire for a perfect balance out of the window and not be afraid of some wildfire. Isn't that the premise for why we aren't doing FD home reviews these days, because the Lord knows that some areas might drag when other areas take off? Isn't the Lord asking us to plan big, inspire ambition, raise visionaries, cultivate dreams?
So it makes me wonder. Are we really supposed to be categorizing things as "big" and "small"? Can we maybe imagine that all things are "big" in Jesus's eyes? Can we be so loving and appreciative of everyone and whatever they do for the Family that the people who are becoming professionals at taking care of babies feel just as encouraged and validated as the people who are going out every day pioneering a new busking ministry, and planning for it and praying about it at night, or the people who have spent a lot of years hoping for an opportunity to enact a burden to support the home through an ellaborate CTP ministry?
I wonder if this is the way to breed more enthusiasm and inspiration--more entrepeneurs and visionaries--especially amongst the young people?
I wonder this, because I'm wondering myself what I want from the Family. I can say with conviction that yes, I would stay in the Lord's service even if it meant the Lord asked me to stay home with the kids so the witnessers could go out, and cook and clean to support a bunch of people working on a video ministry, as long as I personally felt the Lord's call to do that, and I was satisfied that I wasn't doing it just because I was too lazy to get up and start something and carry out the dreams the Lord gave me. And I'm happy that I can say that--I hope most people can say that, because I believe the Lord can't use us very much if we aren't at least willing to do anything for Him. But at the same time, I believe He doesn't give people talents and visions and dreams that He doesn't intend them to eventually carry out. He did not give me 10 little talent coins and expect me to come back to Him with 1. If He made me someone with a burning desire to find a project and dig into it, I know He intends to give me a project. I feel it. I feel that as one of the ways that the Lord is leading me. It's one of the only aspects of His will for me that I'm QUITE sure about right now.
And as surely as I feel this burden quite strongly, I'm QUITE sure that there are people whom the Lord has given the same strong desire for a ministry like raising children, or a beautiful anointing to manage a home and take care of the people in it. I don't believe those people are the stragglers, the ones who got "left behind," and I don't think we should see them that way. We've all got "big" jobs, don't we? I sometimes worry that when those people act as though they're being treated unfairly, it's they themselves who are stigmatizing themselves as the stragglers, whereas they could be professionals, they could be maximizers, they could be chefs and certified teachers. They could be amazing, just like any of us could be amazing.
So I kind of tend to think that Jesus makes everyone with the ability to be amazing. Being amazing is definitely not about how many people know your name at the end of it all, but how well you obeyed that burning and definite vision and desire that the Lord put in your heart. I believe all of it requires sacrifice, all of it requires guts, and all of it requires staying up late at night to figure your stuff out, and missing freetime to get better at what you do. It's all amazing, and it all takes the same amazing drive to get at what is ultimately the same amazing goal.
So I wonder. How amazing am I? How amazing are you?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Little Sunrise Story

There's a lot going on these days.
I fell to the evil wormy "FDTP disease" that almost everyone got (most of the staff) after coming home. A cold virus of some time that was probably just compounded by sheer exhaustion.
I think I sort of knew that waking up early and going to sleep late and expending myself with such vigor every day for a couple weeks was going to make me sick. I did it, and it did. But it was worth it. Still, I feel bad for my home that I had to come back sick to.
No matter how many times I've done it, I still don't know why I've never learned for good not to wash my hair when my ears are feeling sensitive--when I've blown my nose out and my ears are feeling like evacuated bomb shelters. But I did--I hate having dirty hair--and I went to sleep with a ringing in my ears that got worse and worse.
I was restless but half-asleep for the first part of the night, and it was only at around 1 in the morning that I realized I was wide awake with full, fantastic pain in both ears. I've had earaches a lot, but I can usually tell you which ear hurts more than the other; this time both ears hurt so fiercely that I couldn't tell you if it was an ear infection or a pole that had impaled my head in one ear and out the other.
I tried everything. I tried holding very still and relaxing my breathing. I tried to think positive thoughts, I tried praise time for everything I could think of, I tried praising the Lord for the pain. But after several hours of a very tense attempt at relaxation, I would grit my teeth and clench my fists and squeeze my eyes so hard that tears would come out and I would think, "Oh great, here I am, crying like a stupid baby."
I started thinking about the different kinds of pain. How I can handle some very very ouchy pain as long as I know where it's coming from, or that it's a surface kind of pain, or if I can see it, or if I know it's healthy or helping me somehow. The kind of pain that I can't handle a lot of is the kind that just begins from some place in my body and causes that whole area to clench in pain. I don't like having to desperately try to focus on other things and hypnotize myself away from the pain. I'd rather think about it and go "raaahhhh" and have something to bite down on (lucky Joan of Arc and those leather gloves).
But that doesn't really work when you know the only way to really get over the pain is to go to sleep.
So you try to find yourself an angle where the pain will sort of feel a little more bearable, just pulled back over the line of "aggggghhh" enough that you can have a little pant and seduce yourself to sleep. You sit up, lean against a pillow, lie down straight, lie down with your ear in a pillow, cover your head with a pillow. You find some positions that are soooort of maaaaybe the answer, and some positions that are whoa whoa no no that's not it. But you still can't go to sleep.
I started getting all theological with myself. I started trying to think of any sins I might have committed, or anything the Lord might whip out an earache to try to teach me, and I couldn't really think of anything that stood out to me more than all the other stuff. I tried to ask the Lord what key I could claim, and I claimed so many keys.
At 5, the sky outside my window was turning a sort of greyish tint. I put on my housecoat and went downstairs, turned on the video that was in the VCR and drank so many cups of hot hot water that I emptied the thermos. Then, when I realized I wasn't really watching Tarzan but rather continuing my mental struggle for a miracle of healing, I switched it off and sat myself above a pot of boiling water with a towel above my head. And when that didn't really work (it made my face quite hot and moist), I refilled the thermos and trudged back up to bed with a last hot cup of water. I walked out onto the balcony, sat down on the deck chair, and looked up at the sky.
It was so pretty. Kind of a "sweetie-grapefruit" tint of pinky-green, with grey and yellow all in a big swirl like a special kind of McFlurry. It looked so yummy, and the wind was just cold enough to make my body feel fresh and special.
And for some reason, I realized in a kind of quiet way, that the reason I didn't get my healing miracle, and the reason I was awake all night in pain, was because Someone wanted me to see the sunrise.
I realized, all night I'd done a lot of talking to God and telling Him what lessons I'd learned, what verses promised me healing, and trying to patronize Him into giving me a quick 'n easy sleep. I kept being noisy in my head, clenching and squeezing and tossing and turning. All at once, sitting outside in that chilly dawn, I felt all the words from Jesus that I hadn't waited long enough to hear pouring down like they were coming from the sky.
I knew I'd been busy. I've had a lot to think about and a lot of decisions to make, but I hadn't really had any of those "eureka" moments where I'm sitting with Jesus and it all makes sense and I just want to be near Him. And now I had one. At 5 in the morning, in a housecoat, with a cup of hot water.
All of a sudden the cup of water seemed to be doing the trick, and my ears weren't in a gripping pain anymore. Sure, they were still pulsing with a dull pressure, and they felt like they were carrying gallons of water in them, but they mostly felt like stubborn fat boys who were getting all quiet and obedient looking at the tremendous sky.
It was a moment when my heart said, "Thank You that life isn't easy, and You can't swoop down and pull me out of it, but thank You that I am alive, I'm safe, I have You, and You make the pain worth it every time."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Desperation #2

When I was reading "Desperate for Jesus," there was something else that jumped out at me. "Desperation" is something that's I picture alongside emotional drama, heart-wrenching, "emo" people. The kind of people who seem to always be having massive emotional victories and spiritual epiphanies, solely due to the fact that they're always off on the other end having emotional battles and private soul-searching. I don't think this is the way the Word is encouraging us to be. But I don't think we should write off "desperation" and be passive Chrsitians.
Desperation is something that we need to hold on to, in whatever form we can. Not only desperation for Jesus, or for souls, but desperation for whatever it is we want to do. Desperation for our projects, desperation for our business ventures, desperation for our friends, desperation for our families.
I know many people who are perfectly balanced humans, without any huge emotional swings, but who manage to get desperate when they need to get desperate, who will get on their feet and take a wild plunge into something, who will flail a fist in the air and tackle their own dragons and the dragons left unattended their less desperate co-workers. We need to have more of that in the Family. More willingness to be motivated by the small things, to get inspired and let the little man inside of them jump up and down with excitement. To go and start a dumb, make-believe project just for the sake of getting better at something. To say, "I want to be on the CGO board someday!!" and not have people raise eyebrows at them and think, "Hello? Don't you know that saying you want to be on a board is too obvious? You've got to chill out and strut your CGO skills in FRONT of the CGO people, but when they ask you if you want to be on the board, act like you never wanted to, because the Family loves reluctant leaders." WHAT IS THAT?? Someone tall and scary stand up somewhere and say that's ridiculous!
Okay!?

Desperation #1

There's a lot in the Word, (Look up "Desperate for Jesus" if you want a quick example) about the importance of being desperate--seekers of the spirit. Thing is though, it's easy to read them and only hear the difficult standard of desperation. "Needing Jesus at every hour of every day of every minute, and knowing you can't go a single day without him." I don't know anyone who feels like that.
We were reading this for JT Word yesterday, and I got a little stuck on this part. I didn't really want to read it to the JTs. "Okay kids? Do you get the point? You need to actually feel this way or TRY REALLY HARD to feel this way!!"
I don't know how I managed to miss getting that impression from these descriptions of desperation that are spotted all over the older GNs. I know one of my friends, before he left the Family, told me that was his dillema, that he didn't feel the desperation for Jesus that he knew he was supposed to. I don't remember exactly what I said to him, but I think I tried to explain what desperation for Jesus meant to me.
And after JT Word was done, I wrote out those things for myself.
1. It means knowing Jesus is there and snuggling up with the idea of Him, even if I don't feel warm and cozily tucked into His presence.
2. It means living the way He's asking me to live, serving Him and others (and myself, when I need to), because I KNOW He's real, and it makes a difference to Him.
3. It means sometimes wondering why you feel disconnected, and sometimes making an effort to seek, but not getting hung up on it and not feeling like a failure if things continue as normal.
4. It means opening myself to others, to change, and to the truth, because I find that He cannot be where selfishness, stagnation, and falsehoods are.
5. It means not being okay with the idea of never feeling Jesus in my life.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sailing Home

"Heart to Heart" are definitely some of my favorite people. I only get around to reflecting on this fact because their awesome album Sailing Home is finally available for everyone to download off the MO site.
James and Philip are two of the most amazing men that hail right up there with any of the best Family musicians. Philip has always been an eccentric musician, and James the more down-to-earth of the two, I guess. It's a huge treat to be able to see them perform, and I love their banter between songs. It's the best thing in the world.
I've never had the pleasure of meeting Sylvie, but I love the way she does it all--it's the best I've heard of her voice yet. That probably goes without saying, since the last thing she recorded before this was years and years ago.
John does a great job with some pretty silky mixes. We need more of this stuff in the Family.
Thanks for releasing your album for the Family, guys. I love it all, and it smooths over the rough stuff these days.
When I opened the credits (as I tend to like to do) I was surprised to see my name there, and then I remembered that John had gotten me into the studio one busy day at the HCS to sing some random backups throughout the album. I can't hear myself, but I guess I'm in there! PTL!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Slaying The Dragon

Today's rest day, and apart from sleeping in until 4 (in anticipation of a long week of ballooning at Enakyo), I have been doing very little. I am realizing how much I'm acting like an old woman these days--perfectly satisfied to go to another home and play with the kids, happy to be alone sipping little delightful things and flipping through my quote book. Can't see the screen without glasses and limping around with a super-sexy knee problem that won't heal. (The only time my knee problem made me feel sexy was when I was limping through Narita airport and looked like a criminal hijacker who'd just been shot by Dennis Quaid and was trying to make a stealthy escape.)
So in 10 days I'm another decade older, and I'm not going crazy thinking about it. I now live in one of those massive homes where we don't make a big fanfare out of individual birthdays; we have a party once a month for the "Virgos" and "Librans". We did have our first birthday shindig here, and that was a surprise party that Mom and I organized for Dad, because he was turning a milestone 60 and we wanted to do something special. But I don't expect anyone to be doing anything like that for me on my birthday. I'm just turning 20, it's not the sort of age to need cheering up on.
I just kinda wish I wasn't so stuck in my head, that's all. I wish I could hold off on a birthday until I actually felt like a new person, in a new life, opening the massive doors to all the new and strange creatures that would crawl inside and shock me with revelations and happenings. But I feel like the same Florence that I sometimes want to get away from.
I need to go get some coffee, fry some eggs, and wake up. Wish me luck with my monster PNPs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

PTL for FDTP

You know all those little things you want to praise the Lord for and tell other people about, but...they all happened in such rapid succession that they're strung like beads and and you feel like there's no other way to relate them but in a run-on sentence...? (Or in point form, as follows?)
  • I got to go to FDTP for a week.
  • I got to work with some of my favorite people ever, and
  • Do some of my favorite things, ever.
  • I got to pick up the most delightful FDTP attendee from Taiwan, and we had a long train ride to Tateyama together.
  • I got to, not only sing at, but help organize, LJ night, which is almost my very favorite thing to do in the whole world.
  • I have so much love and respect for the Hartingdon brothers, Robbo and Stevo. Robbo, with whom I share at least 5 things in common, and Stevo, who is a bundle of all of life's best things. Australia must be awesome.
  • I got help from a very sweet man named Josh when I was at my wits end with a desktop that I had to drag home. The hero used his handyman skills to pack me into one of his suitcases, and it was QUITE a breeze to take it through the trains. Thank you!
  • Cryssy is the sweetest. Working with her was better than I thought it would be--so easy to build up momentum and want to do more and better.
  • I am realizing, for the first time very clearly, some amazing things about the Change Journey and Jesus' will for me. Things that are only now making perfect, golden sense. What a thrill.
  • I got to teach layout classes, which was quite new and interesting. I had no idea how it was going to turn out going in, whether I'd be way over or way under everyone's heads. But it turns out 17-year-olds in the Family are an easy crowd, and they spurred me right along in giving it. It was a big fat chewy treat.
  • I got a BAD BAD knee problem the day before I was to go through a bunch of train stations to the airport and Tateyama, and had to get ahold of the Lord to see if I was okay with not going. My knee was half better overnight, and even though I wasn't able to walk properly on it for the next couple of days, it was good enough that I could get around at FDTP. I love Jesus.
  • I got to listen to Michael Fogarty give some of the most motivating and down-to-earth Word-times ever.
  • I got to sing "Some Nights" for "Story Behind The Song" night. I wasn't too thrilled about coming out with it, as it's one of the heaviest and honest-est songs I've ever written. But handsome boys (and men) were telling me for days afterward that they loved it and that it made them cry, and THAT is something I love doing. (Making...men...cry...?) It's funny, the things that you will do when you're carried away on the Spirit.
  • I got to see Angela, who I am so thrilled is still around and still the same as ever.
  • And I'm feeling like doing a mad amount of something. I've gotta find out what that something is.
Check out the Japan + Acton FDTP blog.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Hurrah Of Joy

You have no idea how great I feel.
I'm home from FDTP after lugging two suitcases through 8 train stations between Tateyama and Ryugasaki, and I am the best kind of wiped I've ever been. I jumped right into a meeting with the landlord, and I'm processing the home's orders, and I am still the best kind of happy.
I love you. I will see you soon for some personal time, oh blog that I love.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Viagra?

I got this in a Viagra advert today.
Getting a strong woody is like climbing on the highest mountain for you? With our pilule taken waking your friendo will be more like stepping over the threshold!

I just cannot make sense of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Little things

There are so many ways to touch people, it's amazing. Ways to touch people just by being yourself. Just by smiling. Just by doing something you've always done.
It's amazing how the "big" things that make you feel important and "impacting" touch fewer people than the little things. When I think about it that way, I'd rather be a little person doing little things. I like that amazing feeling of gratitude to the Lord when you find out that something you've done has touched someone, sometimes after years and years of not knowing, more than that dumb feeling of pride at doing something big and making tons of people watch you.
I want to do lots of little things to touch people. I'll write any number of dumb songs if they have something in them for someone. I'll pass out any number of black and white tracts and do puny performances for two or three people. I'll serve coffee for a visitor that comes to my house and check on them to make sure they have sheets, if it'll make them as happy as it makes me when someone bothers to do that for me.
I really wonder what are the tiny things that I could be doing differently to make more of a difference. There's so much that I need to learn from You.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

More informations about Ryugasaki

All is well in the house. Stephen and Rejoice have come to join us, and Mom moved in last night, so that bumps our team up to 9 plus 2 kiddies. A small team in a big house with so much to be done. It's quite fun, because it means getting lost in mammoth JJTs, which is better than being lost in mammoth groups of people, or groups of mammoths.
Our first visitor is coming to spend the night tonight. This is exciting. I will prepare our "visitor room," even though there are tons of empty rooms that she could stay in.
I will go explore the territory soon. So far the immediate terrain is looking good. A nearby supermarket, real close 7-11s in every direction--parks, post office, and police station (?) all within a stones' throw. Also, the train station is only about a 15-20 minute walk, and there's a 100 yen bus that takes you right to the house. There is a Gusto about a 10 minute walk away which I have not yet been to, but have seen on 2D on Navitime.
But I miss my friends. I feel far away.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Little people in a big empty house

So there is a second or two before my body shuts down and all is hurled into a world of unconsciousness, for me to tell you, my friends, that things are shaping up here in the house on Dragon's Cape (Yes, that is the name of the city where we live, and no it is NOT a good idea for a Home name.)
We have an internet connection, my room has been entirely setup and I even have one more monitor than I did before we moved. All is somewhat...dare I say it...peaceful. My phone perished again the day we got here, so things are somewhat quiet. The days are long and fulfilling. I have done more washing than is good for my hands, and more taking-care-of-kids than is good for my "Childcare is not my calling" reputation. People are trying to convince me that I am good with the kids, and I'm trying to find the right balance between keeping them from actually thinking so, and being thankful for the compliment.
I had to send off a few orders when we got here, and I realized how many different tiny things all come together in this tedious process. Where is the stapler? Where is the printer cable? Where is the Activate Japan stamp? Where is the paper cutter? Where is the piece of paper that tells us how much shipping to Hokkaido costs? Where is my mind?
I am looking forward to having lots of people to fill up this huge clean house of ours.
Over and out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Official Moving Post

I'm going to miss Chiba.
Tomorrow starts serious moving time. I had some kind of joke yesterday about "thinking inside the box"...since...yah...everything needs to be in boxes...but...the joke kind of died on me.
From tomorrow, we waste not a minute of money on our "Renta-truck" and we haul things frantically into it, as our dear and dedicated drivers go back and forth from old house to new. I wish I had a camera and was clever enough to take artistic pictures of the scramble and disarray--boxes from all angles and people's scurrying sandals. I am very sorry for my lack of talent in that respect. All I ever seem to be able to provide on any topic is a sort of quasi report on my crooked emotional state. So here it is.
For the last couple of days we've been drinking all our ice coffee out of plastic cups. The king of big, tall, fleurescant plastic cups that come with massive spiral straws. It's not very classy, but it feels like change.
Change is good, and as "huge" as this change is, it doesn't feel so huge. It doesn't feel like a leap into the dark. We've gotten lots of our home guidelines hashed out, our rooming plan fixed, our schedule decided before most of us have even seen the house. Which is okay, it means someone is looking out for us.
This kind of "moving" change is something that I've always enjoyed the idea of. I don't know if it has something to do with having rarely ever moved in my life but always wanting to; I have a definite desire to get on with it, even if it means sleeping on a cardboard box for a few nights just to get it all in the car and gone.
But there were a lot of things that were convenient about living here. Being right next door to Bayside, right down the road from QQ and Donkey, just 1,500 yen and one trainride away from the HCS. There's a lot to be said for all the sentimental bits of this house and memories in it, sure, but what I liked most about it was its location. Being at the center of all these other homes that made a triangle around us.
Still, I'm happy about this change. I'm happy that, at last, the office will be big(ger). We'll have a real uketsuke desk at our front door. We'll have aircon in every room (which we probably won't use, for the most part.) We'll have a big ofuro and a house that is not so blasted difficult to keep clean. We'll have lots of kids who speak English, and God knows I love a good English-speaking child. Lots of people that I'm looking forward to living and working with. A chance to change, to work harder, to love bigger and better.
So the good has triumphed over the bad in this situation, and I'm mostly thankful for the change and the opportunity to work with new people.
And maybe you can hope for some keitai pictures!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Activate Japan

Finally! A post about real life and its intricacies.
I work for Activate Japan, and it's probably the closest thing I have to a full time job (although, in our exciting lives for Jesus, we tend to take off doing lots of other things.)
The funniest thing about all this is, even though I grew up on the computer, typing out this and that, making little magazines and writing little stories, I never thought I'd be doing the work that I do now. For one thing, this is not the language I thought I'd ever be doing work in. It has been, for the last 3 years, a steady "learning as you go" experience. TYJ for the challenges that force us to learn new languages!!

Here! Is my handsome and quite qualified co-worker. His name is Akira. He is acting out his Muslim tendency to hide his face from sinners. He is also a very handy handyman, and really wants more people to come and help us in the FUN office so that he can do more handyman things with his handy hands.

So there's lots to be done and so little time to do it in. Some of the things we do are:
  • Receive orders for products and ship them off to field homes!
  • Process orders that come in directly from the General Public (I hope to be able to start marketing directly from Activate Japan more in the future...that would be so cool.) via our website, etc.
  • Process and coordinate the monthly printing and shipping of Activate magazines to subscribed readers! (As well as take care of incoming subscription information.)
  • CREATE new tools for witnessing in Japan, (Thankfully, we're able to outsource our translating, but the rest of the concept, design, and publishing for the most part happens right here.) as well as ship in products from overseas.
  • Keep up with all the financial business that is quite an ass-pain when you run an official company.
<--That is something Akira made to cheer himself up yesterday.
Things that cheer me up working in the office:

  • Akira trying to figure out his Spanish computer programs.
  • Getting @ed on Twitter
  • Knocking off lots of little to-dos
  • Remembering that, when we move, we will have a nice, big, new office to get inspired in.
  • Friends who know that I am loved best by a phone call that is short.
  • A clean canvas in Indesign
  • Crystal coming in with a snack for us (Crystal randomly makes snacks for us all the time. It is amazing.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Things I've Been Up To

What's better--a boring blog post, or none at all?
Since I happen to be the lucky owner of this blog, I get to answer that question, and while there is no real conclusive answer, the answer for today is "a boring blog post." So here I race!
Things I've been up to:

>>Attending (and staffing) Ken and Natacha's wedding. Which was good fun, good food, and good blisters. Highlights include: romping around with Mike D., singing in French (???) and harmonizing "I'm Yours" with Gabe, having storytime with the kids afterward in a half-dead aspirined-out state of mind, embarassing myself in front of guests with my strange inability to speak the right language at the right time, getting to know Ken and Natacha who I am very happy to be moving in with soon.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

>>Designing a new Christmas CD for production in Japan.Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

>>Finally getting around to tying up the loose ends with TCD approved songs "Remember Me" and "Stupid Things"
>>Anticipating a huge home move in the beginning of August. Packing/forsaking things.
>>Laying out WOW #6Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

>>Praying desperately against a seriously unwelcome nerve/muscle cramp in my hand that acts up every time I need to use my computer. (You. Also. Pray. Yes?) I may need to think about changing the way my stuff is set up.
>>Dying my hair. (This is really a very anticlimactic tale. For all of you who know me and know I've never dyed my hair before, you'd probably imagine something really exciting. It was really exciting when it was going in and when I was washing it out, but when all was said and done, it was still sort of the same color, except a duller, greyer, strangely purple-tinted version of my previous dirty blonde hair. I just went and kind of...blahed it out, I guess. Definitely not the intended product. Must fix.)
>>Praying in some funds for an MP3 player.
>>Missing my friends (and my phone).
>>Drawing a picture of Jesus.
>>Baking cookies!! (You'd never believe it, but I baked whole batches and batches that were ALL eaten by real humans!!)