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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."