Tuesday, September 26, 2006

He is painting a beautiful picture

I love the entire creative process of being a performer. There's an excitement that wells up within me when I start working on a new role and new music. There's a unique creativity and sensitivity that is required when one is forced to get to the depth and intimate details of a character via musical interpretation. It's hard to explain, but rehearsing music is always such an exhilarating process for me (as is performing) it's when I feel most like myself, as though I am doing the work that I was made to do.

Over the past few months I've been learning a role for a musical which the worship pastor at my church wrote. He finally completed the musical this summer after almost 15 years of writing bit by bit. The plan is to perform a concert version of the musical on Oct 27 and to hopefully stage it in 2007. What's incredible to me is that Alan managed to finish the musical even though he has been quite ill. The entire process for Alan has been one of faith, and that theme is clearly written in every note of the music. God has used Alan's music and words to paint an incredibly beautiful picture . The words and music are inspiring and encouraging. It's moving and it has such a strong message. I've found myself with tears in my eyes so many times as I've rehearsed through some of the pieces. I can clearly hear God's voice speaking through that music.

We've had a couple of ensemble rehearsals so far and I can't help but feel so excited. Excited is much of an understatement, I feel so much joy about this that I might just explode. It seems as though everyone involved is just as excited. I have no doubt that God is going to do mighty things through this musical, as a matter of fact He already has in the writing and in the bringing together of details. I just can't believe that I get to be a small part of it. How blessed am I! Thanks God :)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Emerging from the Chrysalis

One day a woman noticed a butterfly chrysalis on one of the branches in her front yard. She was fascinated. She had never seen a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis and was determined to witness the miracle. So day after day she monitored the chrysalis. One day she noticed that the butterfly was beginning to emerge. The butterfly struggled for an extended time, and was fighting hard in order to get out of its pod. The woman could not stand to watch the butterfly struggle, so she decided to help the butterfly and tore open the shell and set the new butterfly free. Hours later the woman returned to where she had set the butterfly free. To her surprise the beautiful butterfly was lying dead on the ground.

The woman later shared her story with a friend who had studied much about butterflies. Her friend said, "Surely you meant well by setting the butterfly free from it's chrysalis, but the struggle to get out of the chrysalis is one of the most important processes for the butterfly. You see, as it beats its wings against the walls and struggles to make its way out, the butterfly's wings are strengthened so that it can fly when it does emerge into the world. By setting it free early, the butterfly had not developed the strength in its wings to fly and could not survive in the world."

Monday, September 18, 2006

My name is on a door

I heard from the CPAF today. No news from homeland security about the work visa yet, but they wanted to encourage me as I wait in faith. The waiting has been as much of a process for them as it has been for me. They told me that they have set up all the little details in preparation for my arrival. They even put my name on the office door where I will be working this year. I wonder if it's a big shiny star sign that says Diva McNeil . . . . I highly doubt it. A diva can dream though can't she? :) That sign may very well be an old crusty little yellow post-it note with my name scribbled on it in pencil, but I really don't care. That sign is enough of a reminder that there is a place for me there. The CPAF team is waiting in faith and they are prepared for the day when God will finalize my trainee visa. I am looking forward to seeing that beautiful little sign on my office door very soon :)

I want to be a barbarian!!!!

Over the past two weeks, since finishing work, I've had plenty of time to read. I've read 5 books so far. Only one has really left a huge impression though. I read The Barbarian Way last weekend and have been referring back to it since. I was just so encouraged and motivated to change and live like a barbarian relying on the untamed faith within. McManus uses John the Baptist as an example of a Barbarian believer. He talks about how our Christian culture has learned to tame and refine the faith that God intended for us to live by. We have become a civilized society that sees those who act out in faith as crazy or insane. According to McManus the church, has adapted to the civilized way of society and does less than encourage us to be "crazy" believers who allow the untamed faith within to guide us to take action.

As I examined my own faith (a lot of which I have been doing lately) I realized that in many ways since I became a Christian I have been slowly learning how to refine and to tame my faith. At one point in the book McManus refers to new Christians and how they are prime examples of what the untamed faith looks like. They live their faith the barbarian way. On the most part new Christians are bold. They just want to share their new found love with the world and really don't care what people think. I was like that when I first became a Christian. I would walk down the street and practically explode with joy when I found someone to talk to about my faith. I shared with everyone how I was now a Christian and how knowing Christ in a personal way had changed me to the core. I don't know how, but slowly my faith has become less external and more internal. I share less and less and I lack the initial boldness that I had as a new believer, a boldness that came quite naturally.

McManus suggests that a new believer's faith can begin to be "domesticated" by something as simple as the wrong metaphor being applied to the new follower. He refers to John 3:3-8 when Jesus has a conversation with Nicodemus about being "born again".
"This, of course, leads us to perceive people who are new in the faith as nothing more than brand-new babes. They're innocent and helpless and incapable of caring for themselves much less serving others. Yet the phrase that Jesus used can also be translated not as "born again" but as "born from above." Jesus connected this birth not with a mother's womb, but with the Spirit of God descending from heaven and moving with power. The point in this: the metaphor of new birth has led us to some wrong conclusions. When we are born of flesh and blood, we are helpless and dependant on others even for our own survival. That is not the case when we are born of Spirit."- McManus (The Barbarian Way)

Just this past winter I tried really hard to tame my passion. Someone in my life made a sincere comment about how overly passionate I can be. I'll be the first to admit that when I do talk about my faith I have a tendency to gush a bit. Not only that, but when I'm passionate about His work and seeing Him move, I've never been afraid to vocalize how I feel or what I see. After several comments about my passion, I actually started to take my passion as something negative. I tried very hard to keep it to myself. I found myself joking about my "passion" and making a mockery of it. Thinking back I don't know why I would do that. I can be so dumb! I see now that it was a good thing that I failed miserably at completely withholding my passion ( I just couldn't keep it in:) While reading The Barbarian Way I realized that by trying to squelch my passion I was in many ways trying to tame my faith.

After reading the book I was encouraged to continue to strive to use my passion and untamed faith to make decisions and to just jump. These days my prayers have been focused on asking for the passion and courage to step out as a bold Barbarian. I don't in any way shape or form want to be indifferent when it comes to Jesus Christ. I don't want to be a believer who rationalizes apathy. I do not want to be a believer who does not step up into action. I want to be a passionate person. I want to embrace that passion and use it to feed my faith. I want to be viewed as a crazy nutbar who will do anything for the sake of Jesus Christ. (In this book I saw that God actually gives permission and encourags us all to be lunatics - yaaaaaaay Crazy!!!!:)

McManus just says so much in this short book. I can't articulate it all. I am convinced that this book carries a strong message from God, not only to me, but to every believer. We were designed to be barbarians who act and fight the battle using our untamed faith to guide us. I have no doubt that when we unleash that untamed faith within God is going to be glorified in such powerful ways.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Intimacy & Articulation

Last night was hard for me. Sometimes I just wish that I could be more articulate. So often I find myself struggling for the words to describe exactly how I feel or what I've experienced. When I can't articulate something to another person I feel so inadequate. How is it that I can't express in words something that defines who I am? How is it that there is so much inside of me that no one will ever know because I can't articulate it in words, facial expressions, actions, or even songs?

I was thinking the other day about intimacy with God and what makes my relationship with Him so amazing. And I have to say that I really love that He knows everything about me. I don't even have to try to articulate things to Him because He knows it all, even the things that I don't know about myself. He knows me intimately and to the core. God knows all that is in my heart and I truly cherish that intimacy. What is even more incredible is that He is the only One who will ever know all of me. There will never be another who knows me like He does.

I suppose that when it comes to articulating necessary things to others, I should just rely on Him to provide the words, since He knows us all intimately and knows exactly what we each need to hear through others. Last night I think that I failed to trust that intimacy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mr. Tay-toe Head

I introduced Julia to Mr. Potato Head yesterday. I was thinking that since she loved "tay-toes" so much that she might enjoy hanging out with Mr. Tay-toe Head. Julia was more interested in chewing on one of his noses than she was in him. I on the other hand very much enjoyed spending some quality time with the tater. He 's really quite cool. I didn't have a Mr. Potato Head growing up so I've never been able to appreciate him for all that he is. He can be so many things: From an average potato with a classic mustache and construction hat to a muscle man with geeky glasses (kinda like a super hero). He can also be a little artsy just by adding a long swirly mustache and a sticking out tongue. The options are endless. The best part about him is that he's got a storage area in his tooshie, so that he can carry a change of clothes with him wherever he goes. I didn't know that about him, it's a very cool feature. Mr. Potato Head is a man of mystery, yet he still manages to be charming, silly and very fun. I think I may have a bit of a crush on him. No doubt as Julia gets older she'll learn to appreciate him for more than just his nose cause Mr. Potato Head is without a doubt one hot spud :)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lessons from Auntie Diva

(Julia decides that the king orangutan at the zoo is nice, but not the man for her:)

Diva Lesson #7
How to Choose the Right Man for You
No denying that a diva has many choices when it comes to love (after all we constantly have men falling at our feet begging for our affection:) however, we must learn to choose wisely, as he will very much reflect the kind of diva that we are ( when it comes down to it, it's really all about maintaining our perfect reputation.)

Tips on how to determine if he's the right man.
**Remember: It is always important to look your cutest so that even if he's a "no" you leave him pining away and longing for your love and affection (see above photo). ***

1. Observe from afar. Does he a) have an interest in life? Does he read, play, work, laugh, and think? Or does he b) sit around all day, scratch his head, and pick bugs off his friend's back and then eat them?

2. Get a little closer. Try to strike up a conversation. Does he a) respond to your questions with actual sentences; follow up by inquiring about you; make a few jokes, all the while looking you in the eyes and smiling while he's talking? Or does he b) sit there scratching his head, making the occasional high pitched "ooo eee ahh" noise, and continue to pick the bugs off his friend's back and eat them?

3. Get a little bit more intimate. Ask him out for dinner (or manipulate him to ask you). Does he a) have excellent table manners? Does he say please, thank you etc. Is he kind to your server? Or does he b) sit there scratching his head, slobbering as he eats, dropping food everywhere, and for dessert decide to pick the bugs off his friend's back and eat them?

By this point you should have a pretty good idea as to whether or not he is worthy of being your man. If you answer b) to any of the above and continue to pursue and throw yourself at him - Girl, you've got problems and aren't worthy to carry the "Diva" name :)
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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Where the past meets today

I tend to go through phases where I'll listen to one CD in my car over and over for an extended period of time. This month my "theme CD" is Sarah Kelly's new release Where the Past Meets Today. At first I found the CD to be extremely raw and a little more rocked out than her last release, Take me Away. I wasn't sure if I liked it, but now I find myself listening to it over and over. Even when I try to put another CD in for a change, I'll end up pulling out Sarah Kelly and putting it back in.

Sarah Kelly's lyrics have always been the main reason why I listen, that and I think her voice is intensely expressive. The lyrics on this CD are all about change and moving into new seasons of life. I've read that many of them are referring to her own personal dealings with abuse as a child. In my opinion the sign of a true artist is being able to write lyrics that could apply to more than just one's own personal experiences. I'm finding a lot of her lyrics to be superbly relevant for what I'm going through lately. I'm standing on the edge of a huge change and I'm finding it difficult at times to keep myself composed and focused on my Provider rather than on what I'm hoping for Him to provide. Transitioning out without actually being gone is not easy either. Do I live as though I'm staying? Do I withdraw a bit? Do I phase out all together? I'm learning a lot about what happens when one chooses what seems to be massive change. Several things have strangely been put into perspective for me this past month, particularly when it comes to the many relationships in my life.

Songs have always helped me to sort out my emotions or to put things into perspective. That's why I believe music to be so important. This week there were several lyrics from the CD that just jumped out at me and honestly had me in tears, because I knew that I needed to hear them. Song lyrics are never powerful without the music that strengthens them, I believe Sarah Kelly's soulful voice just makes her honest lyrics all that more powerful. Where the past meets today is yet another staple in my CD collection. It's a CD that will be played over and over and will no doubt mean different things at different seasons in my life.

'Don't close your eyes, cause the best part is coming. The strength of tomorrow meets the power of now.' - Still Breathing

'Hold on Love, it's all on the line, but you'll be alright. Lift your head, you must be strong now, must sing out your song.' - Hold on Love

'Hello to new life, means hello to Goodbyes. Welcome to change rearranging the inside.'
-Hold on Love

'Time stand still in this moment. Dawn arise from nights keeping. All my love. Stored up treasure, heart awake from your keeping. And all I really want to say is I love You. And all I really want to do is be next to You. Here on the edge of what lies ahead, Ready to fall into You. . .fall into You. I'm not afraid of change or pain. Ready to fall into You . . . fall into You. Searching heart, Search is over. Peace has proven You real. Guarded heart, Guard this love now as faithfulness is revealed. '- Fall into You


Friday, September 01, 2006

I'm an opera singer.

As of 3pm today my life as a fertility clinic administrative assistant is over!!!! Yaaay!!!! I have to say it was always interesting to see people squirm when I told them that I'm an opera singer/fertility clinic professional. I never imagined myself knowing so much about this industry. It really has been a fascinating year and a half. I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about the many ways to make a baby. (believe it or not there is more than one way :) I'm really looking forward to removing the fertility vocabulary from my daily speech and to reestablishing myself as simply "an opera singer". From now on when asked what I do for a living there will be no slash and no sperm, I'll simply reply, "I'm an Opera Singer." I believe that is deserving of one loud vibrato filled operatic AAAAAAAAAA!!!!!