Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bad day, better attitude

Some days are just designed to be tests.  Today was one of mine.  The first week of Advent is about hope.  It's a time to refocus on what's important.  To live in anticipation of the coming hope.  It's a remembrance of Israel waiting for the Messiah and now for us waiting for the second coming.  One of the questions of reflection asked how I could act with greater kindness and understanding.  So how did I start my day.  By honking at someone pulling illegally through a median.  I fantasized all the way to the doctors office about police chasing them down, imagined pillions shooting up from the road ... It occurred to me that this was not only unproductive but it was setting me up for a poor state of mind.  I hadn't gotten my prayer time in before I had to leave this morning.  By the time I arrived at my appointment I thought I had gotten my mind back on track.

That is until I found out my appointment is tomorrow.  No big deal, misunderstanding.  So I decided to make the most of it.  I went to a nearby park.  It was lovely.  Great view, brisk cool walk.


That is until I went back to my car and figured out I had locked myself out of my car.  Okay, called a friend to pick up my extra keys. Didn't get the right keys.  No big deal, called a locksmith.  Called my mom who said she would bring me coffee.  Out of the blue my husband called and I shared how my day had gone so far.  Got a couple errands done and arrived just in time to meet my mother who had also gotten me lunch.  Got some work done.

That is until I got notice I needed to come to a last minute doc appointment and that the murder mystery party game I've been working my brains off for had a guest cancel.  The key character. Fine, think about it later.  Ran home to pick up medical records.

That is until I'm petting my kitty while she was apparently peeing in my office chair.  

Sometimes life can seem like one big poke in the eye.  I admit that I struggled with my attitude today.  I tried telling God about my day but I wanted to call a friend a complain.  To hear the sympathy.  I'm not sure why we long for someone to Oo in sympathy but find it less satisfying to pour our heart out to the Lord and let it go.  My day wasn't fun but God is very good.  He kept interspersing the annoyances with very clear instances of love and care.  Even on very bad days, there is a choice.  You can drown in the annoyances and probably make a bad day worse.  Or you can see the care and love that is wrapped around you.  Our God is a loving Father.  He knows when we need comfort. You can choose to have a tantrum or you can lean into the loving embrace, take a deep breath and move on.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent

The holidays can be a challenging time of year for many.  The lists get longer, the stress gets bigger and the demands on our time grow.  My friend, Pam, and I decided this holiday we were going to do an Advent Bible Study.  In addition we are going to pray specifically for requests that line up with the weeks of Advent.  I am personally adding in a month of prayer discipline.
The end of the year tends to be, at least for me, filled with some annoying stressful things that make me think the entire year stunk.  (This is helped along by the fact that I usually haven't given myself a period of rest from the never ending tasks on my to do list).  This year, I don't want to be focused on the stress.  I want to focus on my Savior.  To participate in the anticipation of His coming.

So here's to an end of the year filled with anticipation not of things but of hope!

Here's to an end of the year meant to set up the beginning of the new year with success!

Here's to growth in areas of value!



As far as the prayer discipline, I wanted to share what I'm doing.
I have a hard time praying for a few reasons.  The first being that my head is so full of tasks and thoughts I can't seem to maintain a quite time of prayer for any length of time.  The second is I've had some heartbreak in the area of prayer I thought was answered and seemingly isn't.  I'm working on these in two ways.  I'm going to start a prayer log.  I think typing out my prayers will force me to focus and help me keep a record.  I'm also going to allow my brain a period of time to think about everything I have to do that day and I'm going to write it down.  I'll give it a  to do list to show my brain I heard it and I'll get to it in due time.  My prayer is that this will allow me the space to focus on God.  So here's my to do list for today.  Now to prayer!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Life is weird

It's been a while since I was able to sit for a few minutes and think.  I'd like to say this is a busy time of year for me but as I have a few minutes to sit and think I realize that is a less than true statement.  I don't have a non-busy time of year.  If I'm not in the midst of an event, I'm planning for and preparing an event.
This past weekend I attended a two day conference that was waaaaaaay too new age-y woo woo for me but despite the affirmations to get in touch with my inner orphan I did learn something God has been trying to wack into my brain for a long time.
I take service very seriously.  Any hint of personal laziness is anathema to me.  As my life has gotten busier I've had to whip my body past it's breaking point as my body's breaking point keeps getting shorter.  I'm sure you think that's ridiculous.

Part if it is my drive to help.  It's my purpose and I LOVE having purpose.  The other part is an impending feeling that my time is short.

Today I'm going to get another MRI.  I've been having some additional symptoms besides the headaches and fatigue.  I've been having dizzy spells.  Some of them while driving.  The thing in my brain is probably nothing.  I'm probably having more symptoms because I'm not getting the message that I need to stop treating every new task as an impending deadline that only I can accomplish.  I've got to relax or I'm going to kill myself (or make myself miserable enough to wish I was).

Each one of us has personal drives that are part of our makeup.  We are all different.  This weekends class, while not enjoyable for me, was full of people trying to identify who they are so they could set themselves back in balance.  I can respect that and it's a message I need to listen too.  What comes next can feel impossible.  How can I just turn it off?  Time and attention.  What is the Lord trying to teach you right now.  Does what He's asking of you seem impossible?  Have you failed before?  Shake it off and look to your Savior.  Don't shackle yourself with past failures.  Get up (or in my case sit down) and pay attention.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

At the Speed of Life

Being a minion is always hard work.  Time flies by at an alarming rate of schedules, deadlines and innovation.  The first challenge is always placing healthy boundaries so that the ever unmet needs of a charitable organization (shaped by the ever growing number of people they serve) doesn't burn you out.  The second challenge is managing the effects of long term service.  Pastors and ministry leaders take sabbatical for a reason.  Service is exhausting.

I have some wanderlust and my fingers itch to be doing something.  For me, that means that I tend to get my fingers busy doing something and then I'm in direct conflict with my wanderlust.  I know that sometimes life is about repetition.  So how do you keep your charity work from feeling like drudgery.

Doesn't that word sound awful.  Drudgery.  It makes me feel exhausted just saying it.  That idea of slogging through an endless mud pit just trying to find the energy to keep lifting one foot and then another to make your way forward.

Life is about relationship not tasks.  For a personality like mine, that's really hard to remember.  I have to work at remembering to focus on the people I care about.  In the past, I've tried to schedule time but lately I've noticed that I'm remembering to put less and less people on my schedule.  I'm already exhausted and I find the effort of connecting exhausting.  Is it any wonder that my service feels like a drudgery?

If you're feeling like work, service or life is a drudgery I encourage you to take a look at the priority you've placed on relationship in your life.  This isn't about being a social butterfly or pretending to like people you don't.  This is about plugging into the life giving resources God has given you.  Most of us need a reminder to shift our focus solely from tasks to the people we are ultimately doing the tasks for and with.  I'm not saying you lose sight of the finish line, I'm asking you to take your eyes from the line and look into the cheering crowd, glance at your fellow racers and soften your gaze.


Have you see this video.  It's showing different camera focus.  It's a great analogy for life. Sometimes, laser focus is necessary.  It allows you to see a limited amount in great detail.  Sometimes a wider angle is necessary.  It gives you more information in more general detail.  We get stuck seeing things from our favorite perspective.  If you're finding that life is feeling a little drudge-y, ask yourself where your relationships are?  Put your effort into breathing life and focus into your people.  

When was the last time you ask your friends how they were doing and really listened?  When was the last time you gazed into your loved ones face and told them how much you love them?  When was the last time you had a little fun with real people in the same room as you?  

Yeah, me too.  So that's my goal.  I need to shake off the exhaustion that comes from drudgery and reach out to the people in my life.  I need them and they need me.  I'm not serving people with tasks, I'm serving them with care and attention to the fact that they are people.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Inner Circle

When I was young I always strove to be the teachers pet.  I wanted to be on the inner circle of the people I admired.  I think everyone wants to be on the inner circle to one degree or another.  It's all a matter of whose inner circle you want to be in.

I was reading the parable of the sower today from the gospels and it struck me that I wanted to be on that inner circle.  Mark 4:10-11a says "When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them,..."
There were so many people around him when he told the parable he had to sit in a boat to keep all the people on the shore.  Later, when the crowds had left, He explained what he meant.  The thought popped into my head as I read this that I would be that person hanging around just to be on the fringes of the inner circle.  Just to catch the secret inner moments, the behind the scenes.  You see, I'm insecure but tenacious.  I serve and help and clean and just keeping hanging around until everyone leaves.

Being a teachers pet usually has some negative connotations.  Brown noser, suck up.  I felt the stigma when I was young but I much preferred the company of my teachers and adults.  I'm sure I enjoyed some preferential treatment but honestly I was just trying to survive by not having to interact with my peers.  As I got to high school my tried and true teachers pet role was no longer available.  Other people were already in the inner circle and there was no room for me.

As I read the parable it occurred to me that it is good and right to want to sit at the feet of Jesus.  To want to be a part of His inner circle.  To be where He is and listen.  I want to strive to be in His inner circle without questions of rank or importance.  The inner circle isn't a privileged class to fill our chests with pride.  It is a necessary place to be if we want to understand.  In this moment I feel like I am in the inner circle.  My earnest desire to be near Him has drawn me close.  I am sitting on the edge of the firelight and listening to my Savior explain, and it is a glorious feeling.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Forgotten Beauty

Have you ever had moments where you were certain God was trying to gently teach you something by making sure you hear the same things from completely random sources?  My friends and I have started a Bible Study called "Looking for Lovely" by Annie Downs.  The focus of this Study is learning to choose and seek out the good and lovely things.  We chose this study for two reasons.  This world is full of ugliness and we wanted to practice the discipline we worked on in 'Me, Myself and Lies'.  The lessons from this week and from the book I had been reading (Heaven by Randy Alcorn) have been focusing my mind on a specific area that it seems God wants me to learn.

As we were wrapping up our gathering, God brought my eye to the things I have in my house.  Paintings, pictures, knickknacks.  I have had such a strong desire to purge in the last few months but when I looked around last night, God prompted me with a question.  Why do you have all this stuff?  The answer He gave me is still affecting me this morning.

Most of what we surround ourselves with in our home reminds us of the people we love and the people who love us.  But routine, stress and life causes us to forget.  We walk past them without looking...without seeing.  It occurred to me then that we do the same thing with God.  The ever present gifts of God become almost invisible as we walk past them without seeing.  The mountain is always there, the trees always sway, the sky always swirls.  The beauty of them is often lost because I don't look. I forget what they mean and what they say.

No matter what is going on in my life, I can choose to pay attention to the hard and ugly things or the good and lovely things.

There have certainly been times when I knew I had to surround myself in God's beautiful creation because I had nothing else I felt I could praise Him for.  I sat in the mountains and, in various stages of bitterness and tears, thanked God for every little thing I could lay my eyes on.  It felt false and inadequate but I look back now and see it as the training I needed to persevere.  I see now that I had to train myself to see the wonder of what God has done.  It's so easy to forget, too easy to turn our eyes away from Him.

So today, my eyes are being drawn to those wonderful, beautiful, precious reminders of the people I love and who love me, past and present, and to my great, amazing and beautiful God who loves me!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hectic life

We realized fairly late we were running out of time very quickly.  The last week and some before the Con was a mad dash to get props and costumes done.  The collar is EVA foam and card stock.
We attached it to the cloth harness with velcro.

This did not last the day at the Con.  If I redo it, I will have to make a ridged harness.










 The chest armor I cut out of a template first and then cut it out of EVA foam.  The cones were made from craft foam.







I added the accents with craft foam, gap fill foam, pool noodles and craft gems.  I get delight out of using what I have at hand to "make it work" as Tim Gunn would say.








This was then coated with Plasti-dip.




The final product was painted with acrylic gold paint and we again attached it with velcro.  This had limited success during the rigors of con.  While my brazier never fell off, it came close.  I'll have to think of a better plan.


I bleed on this project to be sure but was one again pleased to play with found objects.  Shower curtain rings, dollar store ball, jewelry bail, pool noodles and paper.  My husband is a wiz with Pepekura.  I once again started with a base coat of Plasti-dip and then used a combo of acrylic paint, washi tape and paint pen.  



 It looked great and held up fairly well at the con but I got my head piece caught in the chain at least three times and the plastic ball expanded and contracted in the heat which caused the paint to crack on the drive home.

We got a lot of attention at the con.  We couldn't go more than a few steps without being stopped for pictures.  It was a unique experience to be sure.  In fact, Jason David Frank took our picture while we were getting our picture with him and posted it to his fan page.  It was a humbling experience.  My hubby's Lord Zedd had more problems at the con than we would have liked but we also had the least amount of time to figure things out.  Early failures and new materials/skill set made for a challenging deadline.  It still looked good in the pictures but if we do it again we're going to have to rethink quite a few things.  Almost all of our props and costume pieces need to be repaired or reworked.  My Gracie Law headdress didn't survive a second year either.  I'm going to have to redo all the feathers because of the fall out from this year.  We learned a lot this year and we stepped up our game.  We'll keep getting better.


 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Costume Update 2016 - mostly Rita Repulsa

This last week is going to be a mad whirl of finishing up costume pieces.  On that note I wanted to share the progress on some of our pieces.

I got the black fabric attached to the foam head piece and added the wrap around.





I then glued on the red gems and used gold fabric paint to add the accents along the band.


I then added the hanging straps and sewed them in.  I added some hook and eyes and wrapped some spare fabric from the dress around the hair.  My next big hurtle is the collar and chest piece.  The collar changed over the years so I have to pick a style and figure out how to accomplish it.





 Zedd's helmet is painted and other than some experiments we're conducting with plastidip, it's finished

Rita's staff has a base coat and needs some accents.  The plan is to experiment with gold washi tape and a paint pen.

The experiments we've been attempting with Zedd's exoskeleton have been less than successful.  We were working with what we had and using techniques we've never tried before so it was probably not the best plan to wait so long to start in earnest.

My basement is a wreck of thread, fabric and foam right now but this happens every year.  All in all, Rita's in pretty good shape.  Zedd really just needs figuring out what will work and then it should proceed quickly.

Monday, August 15, 2016

How to "How to" cosplay

Let me begin by saying I am not a professional cosplayer.  That's not what this blog is about.  I will not show you tutorials on intricate and skillful works of art that you wear.  I have an "every man's" perspective on cosplay.  So, for the regular Joe, this is for you.

I have been asked many times over the years to help people get started with costumes.  Most people don't wear them on a regular basis. (I know, weird right?)  That overwhelming sense of not knowing where to start is intimidating.  So I have been thinking of how to condense the getting started of cosplay to take the fear out and start on the path.  That means its LIST TIME!!!!!

  • Figure out what you want to be
    • For some people this step is easy.  For others, the plethora of choices can be paralyzing.  So here's me sub-list (arrrgh):
      • How comfortable are you with your body?  (I'm a conservative, large, Christian woman so I will never dress in skin tight spandex but I've seen large, bearded men wear that look so...whatever works for you)
      • How close of a copy do you want to make?  Choosing a character that has some similarities to you gives you a natural base to build on but it isn't necessary. Don't forget to consider that the more intricate the costume, the more time and money it will probably take.
      • Do you love a specific character?  Some people dress as something because it's popular, some people dress as something because they grew up reading the comic/watching the cartoon and some people think long and hard about what is both obscure and recognizable so that they will be one of a few in 100's of thousands just so they get their picture taken a lot.  (If this is your thing then don't dress as the newest release movie, avoid joker and harley quinn and DO NOT dress as Deadpool....never dress as deadpool.)  You might even consider mashups.  This might be a stretch your first time out but look up taco belle cosplay or cookie monster storm trooper.  Gender bending a character or mashing it up with something clever or unusual can be awesome.  
      • Do you have the skills or the finances to accomplish the look to your satisfaction?  
        • You can use cardboard boxes if you want to, if you have the skills you can even make that look good, but it's one of many options.  Think about your expectations.  You will probably not be able to accomplish the look a professional has managed after a year or mores work, but you can produce something you're happy with.
      • Don't forget to think about comfort and access
        • Sure your character may wear 1.5" high stilettos but you will not last a con day in those.  Either prepare to have slippers to take a break in or face the consequences.  I once walked barefoot on a con floor most of the day because I didn't prepare.
        • Think about the comfort of your costume.  Corsets and bulky armor may look cool but practical they are not.  It takes a great deal of negotiation to sit in a panel in some costumes.  Don't forget that, at some point, you may need to use the facilities....how are you going to get the necessaries free to use said receptacle?
        • Hard to see through visors, small breathing holes, bulky layers that add to heat and "wide load" costumes need to be viewed in light of the fact that you will be in a fairly restricted space with 150,000 of your closest friends.  You can still attempt those costumes but don't expect those to be the "see the con" days.  Plan plenty of water breaks, ventilation and rest.  Professional cosplayers do not spend the entire day of a con in their costume.  
  • How much do you want to spend?
    • Some costumes have very intricate pieces.  The easiest course is to buy what you need.  The funnest, and most frustrating, in my opinion is to make it.  That means anything from altering found objects from the thrift store to buying expensive professional materials to make it.  In the beginning it will also take practice which will inevitably cost precious time and materials.  Set a budget and give yourself plenty of time to troll multiple thrift stores and online prices.  
  • How much time do you have?
    • If you have given yourself a month or less...Don't set your expectations too high.  Remember this is just for fun.
    • If you have 6 months or more, don't waste it. Crafting a costume takes time.
  • Make a list of what you need
    • I always do a break down of the costume.  This helps me figure out what needs to be done so I don't get lost or overwhelmed.  List everything.  Socks, shoes/footwear, special undergarments, morph suits, capes, jewelry, wigs, crown/hat, sashes.  This forces you to focus on the tiny details and makes sure you aren't missing something vital at the last minute.
      • Figure out what the iconic things are about that character,  What do you have to have.  
      • Figure out which version you like the best (if it's a comic book character it's been through multiple costume changes in all likelihood) and then look at all the pieces you will need to construct, purchase or find.   
      • Look up photo references from as many angles as you can.  If you can find a tutorial then awesome but most people don't like giving away their secrets for free.
  • Choose a specific piece to start on
    • I always prioritize by what I need the most time to accomplish.  This usually means I'm learning a new skill or have to figure out how to accomplish a specific look.  Pinterest is where I start but YouTube also has a great collection of tutorials.  From them I figure out what that awesome cosplayer used and then look at the cost of the materials.  We don't spend a lot on our costumes but even we are getting more interest by the year in worbla and EVA foam.  (Don't freak out if you don't know what those are)
    • If you are starting off with special skills like 3D modeling or sewing, Great!  If you aren't, No Problem!  People who have a certain skill are likely to keep visiting that wheelhouse to work the problem whether it's the best solution or not.  Whether you have special skills or not, imagination and grace will be your biggest assets.
  • Be patient and work the problem
    • If you don't know what the word/material/skill is that someone has used...ask.  
      • Ask the internet, ask the speaker, ask a friend.  No one knows in the beginning.  Don't feel dumb or ignorant especially if it keeps you silent when the knowledge is there for the taking.  Every job/skill has a specific set of lingo and insider terms associated with it from janitor to president.  Don't let the lingo intimidate you.
    • Don't drown in the knowledge
      • There is no one way to make something. There is a lot of information out there.  Don't get discouraged.  Find the way that works for you and then give it a try.  I have learned more at the convention after my costume is built than I did making it.  Sometimes you won't know what to look for before you see it in person or sit in a costume/cosplay panel or stand next to someone in line.
    • Here is a short list of what I have found are the most common tools
      • Pepakura (This is a tool that lets you take a 3D file, flatten it on a piece of paper to print and then cut out and glue back together into a 3D shape.  This is my hubby's go to.  There are also free online resources for the 3D files. It's not a guarantee but it can still be useful even if you can't make your own 3D file.  This does have a learning curve)  
      • 3D Printing (Many libraries have 3D printers now.  As long as you have a 3D model, you can get 3D shapes printed for fairly cheep)
      • Worbla (these are plastic sheets that can be heated and molded into shape.  It is used a lot in armor)
      • EVA Foam (people mold, carve, shave and glue this high density foam into the coolest shapes.)
      • Found object (Not everyone has the ability to turn a toaster into a pulse rifle but people make some amazing stuff out of the weirdest things.  Just sayin'.)
      • Sewing (If you're making your own costume it is likely you will have to use a sewing machine.  If you can't, find a friend or hire a seamstress.  From body suits to intricate ball gowns, it is a skill that can not be overlooked)
 I hope that get's you started!  Ask away!  I can't wait to see what you make! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Let's talk progress

My hubby has finished modeling Lord Zedd's helmet and 
Rita Repulsa's Staff.  They are being fiber glassed and resin'd as I type. There was some trial and error involved in both pieces.  We also have to figure out some of the next steps for the Lord Zedd helmet.  Like getting the red visor and brain and ...well details.



Rita's Wig/headpiece thing has been hair'ed to my satisfaction.  I tried several things to adhere the hair to the mesh without much success.  Hot glue only worked on small portions and not enough to make me confident that the hair would stay.  I tried flocking glue next which did absolutely nothing and went to look for my last idea, spray adhesive.  I didn't have any...so I grabbed some silver spray paint.....  It totally worked.  At least enough of it worked.  I did go in and sew in more hair over the crown of the head  to give it more volume and to give it a natural part.  This also makes sure that the spray painted down hair is more secure.

I still need to make some decisions on how the rest of the headpiece will come into being.




The dress is nearly complete.  Buttons and zippers and hems (oh my) but I couldn't be more pleased with how it's come out so far.  I still want to do some more work on the bustle to add fullness and I have yet to start of the chest piece and collar.

Monday, July 25, 2016

I've got a minion problems and worry ain't one

I listened to a lot of Patch the Pirate when I was young.  Don't worry if you don't know who that is.  The important thing is that I learned some valuable life lessons from these programs during my formative years.  One such lesson was that I was a worrier and I needed to stop.  I come by it honestly to be sure and the struggles my parents are having with worry have made me take a look at myself and realize to my astonishment that the Lord has been working on me in that area.  I'm not worry free, but I have gained some skills, thanks to the Lord, in how to deal with it in a healthy way.  You see, I looked at my dad a couple of weeks ago and told him he really needed to stop worrying and he looked straight back at me and said "It's not like a light switch I can turn off".  Nobody wants to worry.  It's an awful feeling and has been proven to adversely affect our health.  I remember feeling that exact same way though.  If I could have found the switch I would have turned it off too.  So what happened that helped me find the switch?  We'll get to that, but first...you should listen to the song that inspired me when I was young...and still does.

I worry *snort, snort* worry *snort, snort* all my time away.... ah, memories.  Now on to business.

Because worry is a common problem, it is important to address it as a minion for many reasons.  Worry can rob us of the stamina necessary for ministry work because it's exhausting and there is too much to be done to waste it worrying.  It's crippling and imprisoning.  It steals our creativity and our joy.  But how do you stop doing it?

My Bible Study group knew we wanted to study HOW to take our thoughts captive.  We know the Bible says to do it but HOW?  So we started to look for material that would help us practice and learn how to ...

2 Corinthians 10:5New International Version (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

What we found was this: 
 by Jennifer Rothschild

I can't tell you how often me and my ladies have brought up what we learned from this study or how profoundly it affected us.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't an advertisement .  We found woefully few studies focused on the how to's of "don't worry", and "take every thought captive".  This study was about our destructive inner monologues.
It's true that my inner monologue was and is full of negative self talk.  How about yours?  Go ahead and think about it, I'll wait......that's what I thought.  Don't worry, you're not alone.  
As I was listening to the book of Matthew today Jesus said 17“Do you not yet realize that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then is eliminated? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. Mt 15: 17-18
There is a list of things in the following verses given as examples of what defiles a person including evil thoughts, slander and false testimony.  I used to think that was all spewing from the heart into the world but I failed to realize that our hearts and minds are in concert in this area.  What we believe about ourselves informs how we interact with the world.  Proverbs 12 tells us that, “As a man thinks, so is he.”
Rothschild reminded us that chopping off the root of the lies that we tell ourselves is vital to a practical working out of 2 Cor 10:5.  It doesn't take the enemy a lot of effort to use the lies we are already used to telling ourselves.  They are comfortable and familiar.  It takes effort and attention to listen to what's going on in our headspace, figure out the root of the lie and replace it with truth.  
When I was younger, I tried quoting verses or thinking about something Philippians 4:8 approved.  
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
It felt like a stop gap and never really worked.  Perhaps it was the vanity of youth or perhaps it just wasn't enough.  For me, what has worked is knowing and identifying the falsehood, the lie that is driving not only the negative behavior but the negative thoughts in my head.  If I fill my head with scripture on top of my wrong assumption I am more likely to try and fit what God has said into the context of what I already believe.  If I deal with the lie first, then replace it with God's truth, I have a clean space.  It's a release.  Letting go of the lie isn't always easy.  We've told some of them to ourselves for most of our lives.  Sometimes its hard to tell the difference between the healthy and the destructive.  It is a deeply personal journey and is bound to have some false starts.  
Like I said, it takes work and perseverance. Recognize the lie, refuse it and then replace it with the truth.  Sure it sounds simple but it's anything but.  I can tell you with absolute certainty that it's worth the effort.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Attack and Parry

I want so badly for  this blog to be eloquent, interesting and poignant.  I also want to use big words to mean I want my blog to be a good read.  So at least I've accomplished one of my goals today.


Since I shared with you all about what the Lord did at Crossfire last week and what I learned from it, it is only right that I share the hard bits too.  This week was not a success at Crossfire for me.  I have worked hard to maintain boundaries because I volunteer for more than one organization.  Up until this point, the boundaries have been fine.  Standing stones respected by all the tribal leaders.  It was good *thumps chest*.  This week the stones crack and fell partly over.  In my haste to assure the tribal leaders that the standing stones still stood for something even if they had fallen, more stones fell.  It was a stone massacre.

The rest of my day was doomed to be an utter failure.  Nothing was going right!  The list of tasks got longer as I failed to accomplish anything.  I was ready to scream, tear my hair out and cry hysterically.  I'm a dramatic person, so that wild eyed

So..... Here's what I learned:

  1. Trying to explain to someone you don't know how to fix something, when you have demonstrated greater skill than them in a tangential area, is unlikely to cause positive results.  They can't believe you because they can't do it and they know you have done things on that computer so you should be able to figure it out or at least know better then them what to do.  
  2. I tend to do two very bad things.  When I'm busy and focus, I'm not nice.  I resent every interruption and friendly hello.  I also paint "the whole day" as a failure.  The truth is the whole day wasn't a failure.  More on that later.
  3. Failure is a normal part of life and there are plenty of pithy quotes on the subject like "it's not how you fail it's how you proceed".  While those kinds of thoughts are true in my opinion, here's why.  What you focus on will shape and color your thoughts.  If you focus on your failure; your whole day, year, life, will feel like a failure.  If you focus on what God wants to teach you through a difficult circumstance, what you can do something about in the moment, plugging back into your support group or any number of positive and/or real things....well, suddenly (or gradually depending on how deep and long you've plunged into the depth) the false impression trying to define you can be let go.  It's still a choice, and the feelings might linger, but you can end the narrative of your day differently.
  4. I didn't want to have Bible Study after the day I had, but everyone of us has at one time or other had a bad day, thought it would be better if we just laid down and hid, and instead chose to come and been blessed for it.  Not only was I able to share my burden, which helped me release it, but the act of then turning to the Word of God and being reminded of who He is, took the focus off of me and back where it belonged.  It allowed me to ask Him what He wanted me to learn.  I believe part of what God wanted me to learn is that my worth is not bound to my accomplishments.  One of my longest battles has been with pride.  I like doing well and while that in itself isn't a problem, it can be.  It's an internal focus issue.  Yesterday was a reminder that pride does come before a fall.  Not only did I have a false sense of self, so did others. While I can't alter someone else's expectations of my ability, I can proceed in humility What a great reminder that I can't do it all and that's okay.  I wasn't designed to do it all.  
  5. After many years battling depression, in part for the above two reasons, I have learned to recognize the signs and I know what to do to counteract them.  It's hard.  Very hard.  But today I can start again, prioritize and proceed.  After all, a minion doesn't quit.  They just have an adventure trying to accomplish the task!  
I love stories, but several things in my life have reminded me that the heroes, sidekicks, antiheroes and minions all proceed through the story filled with hurtles, hardships, setbacks and failures.  No one skips from start of quest to triumphant ending.  That would be a terrible story.  So today I'm choosing to think of life as an adventure!  Bring on the Fire Swamp!

*EDIT*
Thinking you've learned a good lesson and facing the day thinking you'll be able to keep a good perspective on problems doesn't mean you won't have hard things happen.  Almost cried three times today but I kept it together.  Life is hard sometimes and it takes fortitude.  Especially when there is nothing you can do but wallow or release.  Being reminded of lost dreams while you're being introduced to new lost hopes was not a great follow up to yesterday, but that's what today has brought.  So once again, I have a choice.  I can wallow and sink or I can let it go and tread water.  I know which one I feel like doing, but I also know which one I'm going to chose.

Friday, July 15, 2016

When things don't work out

I had to have a discussion yesterday with a volunteer I'm responsible for at one of the ministries I serve.  It could have been a very uncomfortable discussion.  It could have been awkward and hurtful.
This is what the Lord did.

He reminded me to listen.  I only asked a few questions and gave the person time to think about how they really felt.  The main question was this.  "Do you feel like this is where the Lord wants you?"
A while ago I was volunteering at a church that I was not supposed to be at.  I poured myself out and it was never enough.  I suppressed the feelings of exhaustion and the very real sense that things were wrong and worked at understanding the pastor and believing he had the best intentions.  While the experience was horrific, God well and truly worked it for good.  I learned two things.

  1. No matter how good or worthy a charity, mission or ministry is, You may not be called to be there and that's okay. People will often stay when God wants to release them.  The reasons for doing so are many.  You want to avoid conflict.  You think service always means sacrifice.  You want to fill the need.  Whatever your reasons, it is good and right to check in with God and make sure that's where he wants you.  I would never encourage a minion to cut and run at the first feelings of discomfort.  That's not what I'm saying.  Sometimes sacrifice is what is called for and your feelings are being stirred by the flesh or the enemy to encourage you to leave where God has put you.  But sometimes, God is trying to get your attention.  I don't claim to have a five step program to help you figure that out but I can certainly tell you how it worked for me.  
    1. I have come to believe that while service is hard work it isn't soul sucking.  It's life giving.  Doing what the Lord wants you to do leaves you filled, not empty.  Exhaustion is not the same thing as empty.  Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.  That's why prayer and seeking are required.
    2. If you feel like something is wrong, figure it out.  In my case, I fought myself for a long time because I thought it was something wrong within me.  I laid myself before God and asked him to refine me in the fire of the trial that this service was, which He did.  I learned to see good in someone I didn't like.  To see things from another's perspective.  To think and pray before I approached a person with whom I had a conflict.  These were all good things.  But in the end, that sense of wrongness remained.  It was one of the ways God was trying to knock some sense into me because I wasn't listening to the subtle signs telling me to leave.  
    3. Set your emotions aside.  Emotions are tricky.  God is always trying to teach you something.  Always. Keep your focus on Him.  If you make a decision solely on how you feel it will always be an incomplete picture.  It can also cause you to execute the right decision in the wrong way.  
    4. Sometimes service is about picking up your cross and soldiering on.  Sometimes service is about picking up your cross and heading in a new direction.  
    5. Filling an area of need is a good and worthy thing, but sometimes you are filling a spot that God intended someone else to fill.  How can God call them to an area of service that you are occupying.  
  2. Recognizing when God has closed a door can sometimes be difficult.  It's not just opportunities or paths that God closes.  Sometimes he closes our skills and talents.  Tasks you had no difficulty accomplishing previously may suddenly end it failures.  If your creativity has suddenly dried up, your organization skills are suddenly gone and your mind is in chaos or your teachers spirit is suddenly impatient and unable to communicate ideas...there may be something going on.  It might be exhaustion.  Perhaps you just need to rest and be replenished.  Whether the problem is the enemy or not; Go before the Lord.  Examine and see.  Perhaps He's holding back the gifts He's given you until you are in the place He wants you to use them.
Just remember; 
Whether its you that is leaving or whether it's your ministry that is being left, it doesn't have to be a commentary on the person or the ministries character or worth.  It is good to follow the Lord.  Keep your focus on that.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Rita Repulsa Head Piece

 I got a lot of work done on the headpiece today.  I knew I needed a base to attach the various pieces to so I grabbed on of my pill box hats that I don't like and took off the embellishment.  I attached some foam.  
I then used some of my craft wire to build a structure for the pig tails.  I decided to cover it in cheese cloth and then used modge podge to give it a mache type of effect to add strength and give me a base to add the hair later on.  I then used a thinner craft wire to sew the pony tale/horn hair structures to the crown netting.  
The next step is to add the hair and fabric.  I'm happy with the base structure.  I'm also happy that it basically took a day so if I find it's not strong enough or malleable enough, I have time to start again.  I'm also pleased that I have spent $0 on this part of the project.  That ain't shabby.

I also spent some time today working on her ribbon bustle.  I'm not terribly happy with it yet but it is certainly at the good enough stage in case I run out of time.  




Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Social media fighting

What I do for the several organizations that I minion for is online social media.  One of the unfortunate side effects of this fact is that no matter how much I wish I could walk away from social media...I can't.

I stay out of most of the hot button issues like politics and whatever is making people upset like starbucks cups because I know people on both sides of the issue.  Anything I said would most likely offend someone and I believe the Bible is very clear on avoiding offense if it can be helped.  Plus, for the most part, it doesn't matter.  Who cares what Starbucks puts on their cups or doesn't.  For everything else I follow Rom 12:18 and Matt 7:1.

This week has been harder for me to stay silent.  The mass shooting in Orlando has once again drawn out the voices of people who what to talk about guns, terrorism and anti-LGBT sentiment.  While I have opinions on those things, that is not what strains my desire to keep silent.

Since I have friends in the LGBT community and the Christian community I am seeing posts ... well to be honest I'm a little appauled and great saddened.

  • My liberal (general category for brevety's sake not for labeling) friends are talking about the fake Christian sentiment of sympathy in contrast with the hatemongering they interpret the Christian lives showing in reality.  
  • My Christian friends are talking about politics and terrorism.  Some of them expressed sympathy for Orlando.
Again, this is a generalaztion but still a large representative of what I'm seeing from my limited perspective online.  I find it desturbing to the core.  

I could go into a lengthy discourse on how I feel about a great many of the issues represented in that dichotomy but there are only twoe that I feel compelled to address.  

People are people.  Don't murder people.  

I am grieved to the core that so many people were murdered and injured.  It's not okay and it's not right.  I could care less who did it or why, apart from making sure they can't do it again.  Why in the world has the conversation become the two above points and not the heart wrenching, soul response to such a large loss of life?  Why have we, the Christian community, let our testimony become so tainted that people can't even believe we would be sympathetic?  

I am so sorry.  I'm sorry so many people are suffering.  I'm sorry.  I know people are angry and upset.  It's upsetting that so many people were killed and injured.  I know every individual is expressing that feeling in the way that is important to them.  I just pray that everyone else remembers that before they react.

Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 Costume plan

This years costume is another group plan with my brother.


If you've followed my costume blogs then you know we three attempt at least one group cosplay for ComicCon.  This year my brother will be a Ranger and my hubby and I will attempt Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd.

It is always my custom to start out with a plan and since our schedule this year is making us start later than I like, the plan is going to be more outline and starting attempts right away.  People put hard work into these costumes but I haven't found a lot of good resources for step by step details on various parts of the costume. Maybe it's giving away information but since I am not a professional I don't mind sharing the steps I take.  Hopefully my trial and error will be helpful to people.

So...

My hubby is our 3D guy so he's taking on the modeling of the staffs and Lord Zedds ectoskeleton.  He will most likely Pepikura them again since it seems to be his go to.

My plan is to use the football pads I used for Apocalypse as the chest base for Rita.  This should have the added benefit of being a good base for the large collar.  The dress base is being made but the headpiece is going to be the challange.  I have three theories for how best to construct the piece.

  1. start with a grey wig base that I can pin on my head for stability and then attach the hair points like anime ponytales.  This will allow me to keep it light and breathable while only needing structure for the points.  
  2. make a wire frame covered with mached cheese cloth.  Make it more like a hat.
  3. paper mache or Pepikura the base shape and just glue on the hair.  Again, more like a hat.
The bustle will be easy but take time.  My goal is always to make the best costume I can without spending $100's of dollars.  We'll see how we do this year!

For the first time I feel we have some great costumes to put back into rotation so this will probably be the only new costumes we make this year which leaves me less panicked about not starting earlier.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I like big lists and I cannot lie

I've been trying to do things differently recently.  I struggle with some health issues and lately I've been having another battle with pain and fatigue.  Up until recently I've kind of tried to "give my body rest".  People have told me it's okay to rest when their body needs them too.  It's hard for a minion to give themselves permission to rest.  I've got things to do, I can't just be sitting around all day.  Plus, I've felt this pain and fatigue for a long time and resting doesn't seem to be doing anything.  Granted, I haven't been consistent is "resting".  I've tried a smattering of things.  Some supplements taken when I remember, some essential oils when I remember and sitting and occasionally reclining.  Inconsistency is a big problem.  I have a rabid work ethic when it comes to minioning but when it comes to my own health....I forget.  I forget to eat regularly, I forget to take necessary medicine, I forget supplements and then I can't muster energy to exercise.  It's been a problem I've tried to correct without success.  Unfortunately it's gotten worse recently.  I wake up in pain and with sever headaches.  I kept wondering if the excruciatingly expensive bed we got just so I could be comfortable or the ridiculously expensive pillow we got for the same purpose was defective.  Either way something is wrong.  I was staying in bed for more than 12 hours a day because I couldn't wake up or didn't feel rested and thought I just needed to be responsive to my body.  It didn't work.

So I'm trying something new.  I'm waking up earlier.  Instead of letting myself fall back asleep trying to capture that elusive wakefulness or rested feeling, I'm just going to accept that something is wrong but more sleep isn't going to fix it.  I need to get up and get my body moving.  This is for my mental health and my body health.  I need to accomplish something to contribute to our household.  Even if all I can handle for the day is filling the cats water.

I'm also trying to practice joy.  I have to keep reminding myself how important this is.  Joy is not happy and vice versa.  It's an intentional choice.  It's hard and it's important.

For a while now I've gathered my minion tasks because they are things I can do while I sit even if I feel so exhausted I can barely sit straight.  This isn't good.  Exhausted brain does not work very creatively or well.  I've been feeling like a failure because I'm not producing anything interesting so I delay, thinking I'll conjure something later.

By God's grace I have several friends who suffer from chronic illnesses of all sorts.

I know that sounds like a weird statement but let me explain.  Chronic illness is hard.  Very hard.  People expect you to get better and when you don't, they assume it's because you've done something wrong or you're just complaining for attention.  So, you stop talking about it.  It can be very lonely.  I wouldn't wish chronic illness on anyone but I've learn some very important lessons over the years because of wise people of God who suffer.

I am also blessed with a few people who understand and watch out for me when I don't watch out for myself.  It makes me feel incredibly loved.


A lot of people wonder why a loving God doesn't fix all the suffering in the world.  A lot of people wonder why bad things happen to good people.

I don't presume to know the mind of God but I do know one thing.  I need it.  I need the suffering to draw me close to Him.  To bring me to a place of reliance.  To give me sympathy, kindness and understanding for those who are suffering too.
I'm grateful for my friend Kimberly Rae who has and is suffering greatly and whom the Lord is using mightily.
I'm grateful for my other suffering friends nearby with whom I can share my burden and hopefully lighten their load as well.
If we have everything we need and/or want, we walk away from God.  We forget Him in the pursuit of our next want.

That's the long way around for the title of this blog.  All that is to say that, while I'm getting my spirit pointed back at my Savior, I know I need to try something new.  I need to figure out how to live with where I'm at.  So...

I've started a new list.  Not just a to do list, of which I have many, but an intentions list.  A goal list.

  • I need to practice writing.  You lose what you don't practice and I want to improve my skills, not lose them.  If I was putting this on a to do list I'd say something like - I need to practice writing every day for 15 minutes.  This isn't a to do list.  
  • I need to develop a deeper quiet time with the Lord
  • I need a schedule to motivate forward momentum.  Something reasonable for my level of health.  A gradually improving schedule so I know I have done something with my day/life
  • I need to establish a reasonable exercise routine.  I don't care if it's lame, I just need to be consistent.
  • I need to accomplish to do list items.  I don't care if I'm exhausted.  I can do at least one thing a day from my to do list.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Back to Minioning

It's been a while since I've actually talked about my minioning.  To be fair, it's like asking someone how work is.  Most of the time it's fine.  You're just working, getting things done and continuing the daily grind.  The same is true for minions, or for the uninitiated, volunteers.  There is always something to do, projects to get done and a plethora of new ideas that could be implemented if you only had the time and resources.

What has changed for me, to my utter astonishment and trepidation, is I have gained a level of responsibility I wasn't anticipating.  I'm kind of a boss.
I do not mean boss in any colloquial way.  I mean I've entered management, in so far as an all volunteer organization can have levels.

For those people who know me, I am not what you would call management material.  Apart from being a goofball some of the time, I'm also a nose in the book, don't talk to me while I'm working, I'm not here to gossip/play/chat I'm here to work, kind of girl.
 
I am baffled by coworkers who are offended that I'm "not nice" to them.  (Yes this was an actual criticism on my annual review.)  It's part of the reason why I have loved my current minion duties, because I can do them alone without having to worry about offending people.  

Life is not, however, lived in a bubble.  I have needed help and the ministry directors have actively pursued getting me some.  I am grateful and terrified.  

I'm still trying to figure out  what my management style is.  It's always a challenge for volunteer coordination because you can't really expect anything.  You have to live in the constant assumption that people are and are not going to follow through.  

It has been challenging for me to take an honest look at myself, and my flaws, and act with faith, hope and kindness as I try and gently nudge deadlines and commitments from volunteers without taking the projects back with a huff and just doing them myself because that would be easier.  

I don't feel I'm succeeding at the whole management/leadership thing.  Management and volunteer challenges aside, I know why I feel this way.  

  1. The whispers of the enemy already had a fine variety of insults and half truths on repeat in my head long before this.
  2. In the absence of feedback my natural tendency is to assume failure.
  3. I have not been clinging as closely to the Lord as I need to.
While the first two are true and are a dauntingly large part of why I feel what I feel, the third one is the only one that matters.  The Only One

I can't lead without the Shepherd leading me.  I can't proceed without my emotions coloring my actions unless I am snuggled so close to my Savior I can hear His heart.  

I fear this life is like Neverland.  We get caught up in fears, desires and the misguided certainty that what is important to us, is Important.  "Neverland makes you forget.  Never forget... to run home" To badly quote the movie Hook.  

So this week I am reorienting.  Facing my Savior and looking at Him.  Where my feet take me from there is less important than who I'm following.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

sorrow and grieving

Another friend is dying.  Soon I'll have another funeral to attend.  I've heard too many stories of people trying to say something, anything to express their sympathy and it comes across as trite, insensitive or empty.  I don't want to do that.  To speak foolishly and cause hurt.  I'm praying.  Praying for my friends, praying I help and not hurt, praying.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blind man walking

I saw a blind man cross the street today.  I've seen such things before but today it struck me how brave you must become when you lose something most people take for granted.  He stepped off the sidewalk at the crosswalk with boldness and walked with unhitched step to the other side.

This struck me today because someone I love has chosen to withhold their love from me.  They are angry with me.  In their eyes, I have treated them with disrespect.

People get offended for all sorts of reasons.  That's not what this post is about.  This also isn't about guilt or who's right or wrong.  Ultimately it doesn't matter.  The result, in my case, is a loss of relationship with someone important to me.  With someone who's love most people take for granted.

Luckily, I've been praying about and for this person for some time.  God, in His mercy and love, has shielded my heart from most of the hurt.  I have several choices in how to act and respond.  Leave them be to give them space, act the same as I always have, go out of my way to show love.  All of these options have merit and downfalls.  All of them can, and probably will be, misinterpreted.  I can't change their heart or mind.  I will leave that in God's hands.  My job is to examine my own heart, test my motives and honor God...

and then step boldly into the crosswalk.

Monday, March 21, 2016

I had a dream

I woke this morning from an interesting dream.  There is no way I can paint the emotional backdrop of this dream appropriately.   There is also no way it will make sense in the way my heart experienced it.  That makes the dream sound profound and epic and perhaps sets the bar higher than I intend.
It was a pastoral scene.  Rolling hills, ponds and trees held a picnic and relay like competition.  I was on a team with my husband, Vince and Sarah.  I felt  the pressure in my chest that often accompanies the competitive spirit roaring to life.  (Even now the dream fades from my memory and so I can't remember all the tasks) The competition required running to stations and puzzle solving, just the kind of thing our group of four excels at.
The problem was this, I knew I was dying. I had tried to prepare my husband.  I had tried to prepare and plan so that they wouldn't have to worry about anything when I died.  I made sure to take all my clothes so that the sight of them wouldn't make him sad.
An attendant came during the last challenge and told me that the plane was ready to go.  I got the impression that everyone knew I was dying, even my team, and we just hoped to have enough time to finish the competition.  Someone had made arrangements for me to hitch a ride on a transport plane and it couldn't wait any longer so I had to leave my team.
Weirdness of the dream aside, as I got on the plane I had one burning motivation.  I needed to finish preparing for my death by cleaning and purging the house.  I needed to make sure that I would be seen and remembered with a clean house, free of care.  A workman approved.  A Proverbs 31 woman.
I woke with the certainty that I needed to clean the house.  Deeply, well and with diligence.    

Dreams are interesting indeed.

The truth is I should be living each day as if it were my last.  I should be cleaning my house as if I will have a guest any second and as if the greatest honor I could do my husband was to care for his home with perfection.  I don't know if the first day of spring mixed with my guilt and was nudged by Biblical principles to send me a dream that would motivate me to action but spring clean fever has well and truly struck.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

That was a long break - Convention Costume Final Shots

I realized recently that I didn't give you any of the finished group shots of last years SL ComicCon costumes.  We got a lot of attention as Gracie Law (or the girl with green eyes) and LoPan.  In fact, as we were walking to the building some lady made her shuttle pull over so she could yell from the open door "GRACIE LAW!!!!"  I think these are going to be cycled into a regular con schedule.    



No one recognized us for Marvel Noir day which my brother was sad about but we discovered sushi burritos so I consider that a win.  
A total of 4 people recognized Agatha Heterodyne and Gilgamesh Wolfenbach.  That wasn't a big deal because John still got stopped often because the hat he made was so stinkin' cool.  It was a big hit.  I personally think this will make it back in the con rotation because it was comfortable and I felt like we looked good which contributes to the aforementioned comfort.




We are already starting to throw ideas around for 2016 because heaven forbid we take a break ;)





Now to the reason why it's been so long.  After Comic Con we went to visit family, had way to many funerals to attend and then started work for Gamefest at Starfest Denver.  We've done a ton of escape rooms this year, somewhere around 22.  I've also been hard at work trying to make sure the organizations I volunteer for have up to date yearly calendars and doing the whole marketing thing.

In at least two areas of my life I've been asked to step into a leadership role.  This has been challenging.  Not only has there been spiritual warfare associated with it but there have been some internal brain talk that hasn't helped me either.  I have spent a large percentage of my life avoiding leadership.  There are a couple reasons for this.  I have organizing skills, and an almost fanatical work ethic.  I do not have the patience, understanding or diplomacy to convince people that they should do what they say their going to do when the say they're going to do it.  This generally makes me the girl friday to the people in leadership.  I am confident that the Lord arranged these leadership opportunities partially because I didn't ask for them.  I am also confident that the Lord is going to do this.  I know I can't do this and I KNOW that God can.  The challenge now is remembering that God is going to do this rather than noticing the challenges, hurtles and obstacles.  That's true of anything I can think of.

Like all of you, my life is full.  Troubles and triumphs galore.  I've had tons of profound thoughts recently *har har* but didn't get them down before they were gone.  Sorry about that.  But it has reminded me to come back and at least give you an update.