Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cynical Decorating

I set up our fake Christmas tree tonight.

 It was quite traumatic. First of all, I was depressed. I've never been very adept at decorating. I struggled as a child to cut a straight line when making crafts. My brother used to unwrap my Christmas presents and re-wrap them for me, folding my sloppy creases into neat ones, shaking his head at the crumpled mess. 
Decorating is like an algebra problem for me. It takes a lot of concentration and takes me hours to make a small amount of progress.
Thankfully, our tree is only about 4 feet tall, though it felt a lot larger. I couldn't figure out where to put the ornaments. Symmetry. Symmetry. Got to put them on evenly. I thought music might help me. The Nutcracker Suite played in the background. I once went to a ballet performance of the number. So beautiful. But then, it's just a fake world. Fake, like my tree. Like my ability to decorate. Like...
Then there were those crazy "Scentscicles." You know, those long scented sticks you can hang in your artificial tree to make it smell like a real one? 
Well, last years sticks were still in the bags of decorations and their faint smell of pine reminded me of my first boyfriend's cheap cologne. My first boyfriend. The one I swore I'd live and die for. The one who got upset at me for holding the hand of a 7-year old boy I was babysitting. These old things are going in the trash!

 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rock-N-Roll Trumps Church

It's the typical Sunday morning at the Antolick home. 
Me: "Honey, are you going to be ready on time?"
Matt: "Have faith, Babes. Don't be anxious. [then becoming silent and visibly tense]

Me: [sighing and pouting, with a furrowed brow] "Okay...oh, this is not about anxiety. Remember when we left for church a few weeks ago at 20 til 9 and we ended up late? Maybe we should leave a little earlier." 
Matt remains silent, and I then stop talking. I wait by the door while he gathers his last few things. We are both still in good moods and we make it out the door at last, at the original agreed time. We have no idea what is coming. 
As we drive out of the gated parking lot next to our building, we are eager to go and worship with the rest of the folks at the Journey, our church in Tower Grove South. 
Heading east towards the arch, and towards the next street leading us to the freeway, we see that the road is blocked off. No one is going through and police officers are redirecting people away from the area. So we turn around and go the other direction, hoping to re-route. That too ends in a dead end. So we turn around again and try another way. Road block after road block. At one point, my exasperated husband drives up to one of the police officers and asks him how we can get on the freeway. 
Police Officer [pointing into the air]: "Well, first ya go that way and then ya go that way." 
Matt: "Okay, thanks." We pull away.
Me: "Did you understand what he said?"
Matt: "I have no idea what he was talking about." 
Me: "Well, there's a Baptist church right there [me pointing to a church on the street corner we were stopped at]. Want to try that?"
Matt: [anxious]: "No, I don't think so. Let's go home. There is no freaking way we are going to church today." 
Later today we find the email from our building management company warning us that there will be street closures on this particular Sunday because of an annual Rock-N-Roll Marathon.
Church has been trumped. 



Friday, October 18, 2013

Free Write Thoughts from Today's Devotional Musings

I told God that he was weird today. The old prophet in Israel went to eat at the other prophet's house in Bethel because he was told by the inviting prophet that God said to do it (it was a lie). He was later cursed. (see 1 Kings 13) The hosting prophet sent the other prophet away on a donkey and along the way a lion came out and killed him. The lion did not eat the man or his animal, but just stood there, along with the donkey. Why is that story even in there? I'm ignorant, for sure, but on the surface it's such a bizarre tale. Why did the prophet have to die for such a "little" offense, and that which he did in ignorance? I do not understand.
Then reading James today about not being a forgetful hearer. The doer of the Word will be the blessed one. I want that. I want more "do" in my life. It goes along with my readings in Bonhoeffer. He talked about how ones theology had to be backed by practical living. "Real faith and love...were identical for him." This is the message of James: faith without works is dead, being alone. Visit the fatherless and the widow...give no respect to the rich, but give equal acknowledgement to the poor. 
Bonhoeffer also liked the idea of confessing your sins and faults to each other (also comes out of James!). He felt that this was healthy, not in an intercessory way, but in a pray for one another, encourage one another way. He felt that Lutherans had thrown the baby out with the bathwater when they broke away from Catholicism and did away with any sort of open confession. 
In the book it talks about how he confessed his struggles to his close friend Eberhard Bethge. One of Bonhoeffer's trials was depression. I can relate somewhat. Sometimes the darkness comes out of nowhere. Feelings can be so changeable and make a beautiful picture or a horror story out of life.
Who are your friends? Who are my friends? Who do we share and confess with and to? How have we been helping to heal one another through confession? 
  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lessons From Church & How to Not Follow Her Lead

Cold theology in the church helped give rise to the Nazi regime.

Lutherans, and all Christian peoples need to know this and be afraid of the dangers of apathy and religion.
When our theology is disconnected from our lives, and it is a ritual that we take part in an hour a week, we perpetuate a type of religion that is actually very dangerous. 
It was the fanatical and proactive, vision-casting and passionate Third Reich that helped fill this void. Churches and their peoples distanced themselves from the hurting and poor. Dry form, passiveness, unbelief, and intellectual skepticism made up the irrelevant orthodox establishments. 
It was this problem that gave Bonhoeffer the desire to visit Ghandi in India. He wanted to see what it looked like for non-followers of Jesus to actually attempt the life of the Sermon on the Mount. 
Bonhoeffer believed that "Lutheran theological education...produced not disciples of Christ, but out-of-touch theologians and clerics whose ability to live the Christian life -- and to help others live that life -- was not much in evidence." (from Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas) He was convinced that taking the Sermon on the Mount seriously was the anecdote to this lukewarmness.
I want to take Bonhoeffer's exhortations to heart:
"It is high time we broke with our theologically based restraint towards the state's actions -- which after all, is only fear. 'Speak out for those who cannot speak.' Who in the church today realizes that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us?"
"The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount. I believe the time has come to gather people together to do this."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sobibor & Ethical Excavation

Entrance to the St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center

Dr. Richard Freund (with arrow) sits and chats before the presentation
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the Sobibor Extermination Camp revolt in Poland. There were about 300 who escaped, but only 50-70 survived the war.

I had the privilege today of hearing Dr. Richard Freund of the University of Hartford speak before we watched the pre-release of his film "Deadly Deception at Sobibor" at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center. 

About 60-70 of us gathered in a side room and listened to Freund discuss his excavation efforts at the site of the Sobibor Extermination Camp. 

He is a short man with glasses and dark hair and he talks with a Boston accent. He wore a dark navy suit coat and had a yarmulke on his head. 

He told us how that in the Jewish tradition, one does not dig up the bones of the dead when excavating an area; that to do so in the case of a Holocaust site is to murder the person twice. Dr. Freund explained that he uses ground-penetrating radar that maps the entire subsurface. This allows the digger to know what is underneath before attempting to penetrate the soil. 

Despite having to peer through shadows of heads that blocked out chunks of the lower part of the screen I enjoyed the film. It was fascinating and sad. It was very interesting every time the camera zoomed in on an object that one of the workers pulled from the dirt. There were pieces of jewelry, piles of luggage keys, bones, a set of teeth, bottles, glasses, a Nazi eagle emblem, and even a Mickey Mouse pin.

It is good to be reminded of the cruel extent of racism in our world. To remember the loss of humanity and to pray against the tendencies in our own hearts to reject people that aren't like ourselves. It goes along with the sermon today I heard, taken from the book of James about rejecting or accepting people based on their outward appearance (James 1:27-2:13). We are all level at the cross. We must first recognize we are rescued people then we can accept other people. We are not special or elite. 


Saturday, October 12, 2013

ADD & Massage

Today I had a 6-year old client on my table. Her daddy and younger sister came in with her for her first massage appointment.

She had been begging her parents for a real massage "with oil," for awhile, and finally they decided to set one up. 
Her dad was a little concerned she'd be able to spend the 30 minutes they'd booked laying still on the table, especially since she was ADD. Dad did wonder, however, if massage might be just the thing she needed, something that would help to reset that seemingly always on-button that never seemed to be able to go off.

We all crowded into the small cozy massage room, my little client under some flannel midnight blue sheets, while Dad and her sister sat in the corner on a wooden chair, playing games on a computer tablet. 

Most of my clients are adults, so it was fun and cute to work around such tiny scapulae, arms, and neck.

She barely moved for the 30 minutes she lay on the table. During some points she even started to fall asleep. 

When it was all done I asked her how she liked it and she told me that she liked it a lot! Her dad was really impressed she had settled for that long, It was a moment of realization for both of us that massage is helpful for those active minds that struggle to relax and process the world around them.

Massage: it really does do a body good -- and a mind!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Top Five Fall Favorites ~ What Are Yours?





  1. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Via Instant Coffee
  2. Scarves 
  3. Falling Leaves
  4. Baked goods, including anything pumpkin! See my Pinterest pin for Pumpkin Bars: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/538883911633816821/
  5. Tights & Leggings
 
  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Anger

Last Sunday at the Journey Church Darrin Patrick preached on anger. He's been going through the book of James, and this past week's sermon was taken from the following portion:
James 1:19-21
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Here are some notes I took on my iPhone:
Anger can manifest in two ways: shutting down & outward expressions. The exhortation is to be slow to anger. Slowness in anger is right. Exodus 34:6. The phrase "slow to anger" literally means "long of nose," which comes from the idea that anger starts in the gut and eventually makes its way to the face, causing the expression to distort and nostrils to flare. God does get angry, but it takes him a long time. Anger in its purest form has its root in God. You cannot love without anger. Good anger wants elimination of the thing that is hurting the person. Unrighteous anger wants pain and revenge. Source of our anger:
1) people
2) circumstances
The anecdote to anger is patience.   
Anger likes to hide. We may say, "I'm just really impatient. I'm misunderstood. I'm a direct person. I'm frustrated," etc. 
Anger hides in our language. Anger hides in our families. We all grew up in a home that dealt with anger a certain way, whether through screaming and throwing things, or pushing down emotions, or even having a time-out session. All strategies in some ways are good, but our anger hides and we perceive these things as normal. Our anger hides in our temperaments. We can be a bottler, or we can be an outward processor. We say, "This is the way I am." We moralize the way we handle anger. It is a sin to never get angry. It is a sin to control anger without dealing with the root. It is a sin to explode in anger. 
How do we deal with the source of our anger? What causes us to lose our temper? If we are quiet, we may have a harder time figuring out where our anger comes from. Some people work out to deal with their anger. The ones who push down or "time-out" their anger have a difficult time finding the root of their anger. 
Our anger has to do with our devotion. It impacts our emotions. When our devotion is committed to ourselves, it is blocked. God is our first need. He is more than what we are looking for from others. 
We need to be quick to hear. We need to study to listen. We cannot pretend to listen. There is a big difference between showing and taking interest. 
In the text, our focus is to be on God, not others. When hell breaks out, all other stuff drowns out His voice. We need to stop and listen. Do we need to gripe to God? Not necessarily. Before I speak to God I've already spoken to myself. Be slow to speak, even to yourself. Your words guide your heart. 
Don't manage, embrace, etc. your anger. Repent and receive God's Word into it. What does it look like to repent? See his forgiveness for your sin a great thing. As we understand our forgiveness, so we will be able to forgive others. 
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Live from St. Louis!

Lots of people have asked what my husband has been up to lately. 


So in an attempt to help Matt's mom, who is presenting his work tonight at her church, we threw together this video. It only took 20 takes and 3 hours! Here it is:


video
 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Roman's Road -- Not a Happy Path

I am all discombobulated this morning (wow, got the spelling on that long word right the first time).

Got up late, even though I went to bed a somewhat decent hour (11PM-12AMish). I fell asleep on the couch last night watching a documentary about filmmaker Roman Polanski. I am not sure what I think of this man. He had a way of talking, detached and unemotional, that reminded me in some ways of the interviews in the film "Deliver Us From Evil" of the Irish priest Oliver O'Grady who molested many children. In some ways Polanski's nonchalance is unnerving, though I did watch clips of him crumble a bit after his wife Sharon Tate was murdered. I find it interesting that the 13-year old girl whom he allegedly raped has just come out a few days ago, saying that she forgives him, and there was another blurb online that mentioned she was emailing him. Not sure how true the latter is. I found the interviews in the film with the victim, Samantha Geimer (then in her 30's or 40's?) strange and devoid of shame. Who knows, really, what happened, though 13 is very young, and there's no excuse for an adult taking advantage of an adolescent, regardless of her willingness. Geimer says she forgives him for her own healing, which is a common way to cope with trauma.

Speaking of forgiveness, King David is such a model for forgiving his enemies. He understood his standing before God (an unworthy servant) and he never gave off a sense of entitlement. He was humble, and he gave good for evil. This makes me think that he did not give in to bitterness. With such a quickness to forgive, God had to have really given him victory over this temptation that I'm sure was there often. He said things like, "It may be that God will remember me and show me good for all of this evil." It demonstrated a submissive heart under trial and an understanding of God's control over all of the circumstances in his life. His God was big and people were smaller. Be big to me, God, and root out any lingering bitterness I have towards anyone. Make me ready to forgive because I understand my own forgiveness. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Yerba Mate and Social Justice

This morning I opted for this drink here, instead of my usual coffee.
I miss my coffee though. I'm just looking for a cleaner pick-up and it's good to break now and then from the steaming, hot, robust, and comforting cup of java that I normally sip as I'm having my morning devotions. Seriously, I could write an ode to coffee. Did Pablo Neruda cover this one?

Had the most interesting conversation of my life yesterday with a man who is the boyfriend of a woman who owns a massage boutique in town where I've been working out of. The shop is running a massage special and I went in just in case anyone wanted to get a massage. The man I talked to came to assist in making the place seem open to any passersby. 

Pete, his name, told me how he'd worked as a social worker back when the Pruitt-Igoe projects were still around here in St. Louis, a location a few minutes from our house. Check out this trailer of a great documentary Matt and I watched on the rise and fall of the Pruitt-Igoe housing developments:

 

Pete's background is in breaking horses, which was helpful in the work he did as a social worker with some of the inner city kids of St. Louis. These kids were the government throwaways. The ones that kept breaking out of institutions. The ones destined for juvenile then adult prison. 

The half-way house Pete worked at in his 20's was founded by a Jewish Christian woman from Germany who survived the Holocaust as a child. She studied psychology under Sigmund Freud. When she came to the United States she visited some of the state institutions where delinquents were kept. She later told Pete, "I saw the same look in their eyes that I saw in the camps: hopelessness." After this experience she knew exactly what she would do. Her home for troubled kids was unique. There were no locks on the doors or windows and each child was pursued and nurtured. Relationships were built and the children were taught Christian truths. 

The home had a school where the kids were actually encouraged to carry knives to protect themselves. These were not the little Swiss Army pocket-types. Think Crocodile Dundee. Life for these kids in the big city was no joke. Violence and fighting to stay alive was an everyday reality. 

"Jerome" came to live at the house with Pete. Jerome was a 300-pound kid who could have eaten a dozen eggs for breakfast if you let him. He had a volatile temper and he often flew into a rage when he didn't get his way. When he got tired of the rules he'd leave the home and wander back to the broken-down and law-forsaken projects at Pruitt-Igoe, only to be back again, days or weeks later after he'd tired of scrounging for food. Jerome's past was tough to hear about. Before the age of 8 he'd killed two people, though out of self-defense. He was fierce and his time on the street made him a force to be reckoned with. Jerome returned home, hot and sweaty, and took a shower. He became very angry after he learned that his clothes had been taken (Jerome was terrified to show his body in front of others) from him (a trick by Pete and his co-workers to teach him a lesson and keep him at the house). He threw a tantrum, and Pete jumped on his back, as he was used to doing with so many of the kids (he says that every day he wrestled a broken bottle or knife out of someone's hand) and helped to control Jerome's flailing. A very large does of thorazine was given which calmed the big guy down. Three hundred books were installed in Jerome's room along with the direction to read every one of them. After sulking for a couple of weeks Jerome made it through every last book. Today Jerome is a preacher in Chicago, working with inner city kids. 

Pete faults the government corruption and mismangement of funds for the breakdown of care for kids out on the streets. My question is, how will we as the church get involved? This is a serious thing to consider, and my constant prayer is, "Lord, show us the place we have in bringing social justice to the city." Kids are being thrown away, left and right and not many care. The work is hard. Mental illness is a real concern that not many of us know how to deal with. Politicians get money for every kid they institutionalize, and they want to shut down honest and meaningful efforts to affect change in these kids' lives. Human trafficking is a big business too. Matt and I are attending a church seminar on it next month. We cannot shut our eyes. What will I do? What will you do?


 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Almost a Student

In a little over a month I start my English studies at Webster University in Webster Groves, Missouri. From the end of October to the end of December I'll be spending my first semester 8 hours a week inside of this quaint building called The Pearson House.
Looking forward to delving into my first two classes: Intro to Critical Thinking & Literature Into Film Across the Americas. 
Webster University (see below)
boasts small and intimate classes and has a propensity for attracting artist types. More than one testimony of graduated students has praised the quality of instruction he or she received, and the teachers are said to push and challenge their pupils, as well as individually mentor and inspire them.
Besides academic challenges, I expect faith challenges. I look forward to these, and pray for love to speak to those around me and actively look for those I can encourage and share my testimony with.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm a bit groggy this morning, as I usually am, even after coffee. But I did perk up a bit after my morning readings.
One such was a poem that Bonhoeffer composed while imprisoned for his conspiring against Hitler: 

Stations on the Road to Freedom
Discipline
If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all things to govern your soul and your senses, for fear that your passions and longing may lead you away from the path you should follow. Chaste be your mind and your body, and both in subjection, obediently steadfastly seeking the aim set before them; only through discipline may a man learn to be free.
 

Action
Daring to do what is right, not what fancy may tell you, valiantly grasping occasions, not cravenly doubting—freedom comes only through deeds, not through thoughts taking wing. Faint not nor fear, but go out to the storm and the action, trusting in God whose commandment you faithfully follow; freedom, exultant, will welcome your spirit with joy.
 

Suffering
A change has come indeed. Your hands, so strong and active, are bound; in helplessness now you see your action is ended; you sigh in relief, your cause committing to stronger hands; so now you may rest contented. Only for one blissful moment could you draw near to touch freedom; then, that it might be perfected in glory, you gave it to God. 

Death
Come now, thou greatest of feasts on the journey to freedom eternal; death, cast aside all the burdensome chains, and demolish the walls of our temporal body, the walls of our souls that are blinded, so that at last we may see that which here remains hidden. Freedom, how long we have sought thee in discipline, action, and suffering; dying, we now may behold thee revealed in the Lord.


After reading my spirit is roused and desirous to serve; encouraged to press on and to "go out to the storm and the action..." This cloud of witnesses cheers me on in my work and prods me on to greater and riskier things for the glory of God. Help me, Lord! 

Longfellow's words come to mind: "Let us then be up and doing. With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, Still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait."



Monday, September 23, 2013

So it's been awhile since I've written anything. Life has changed significantly since the last post. Matt and I now live in St. Louis, in the middle of the city. Grand Center, they call it. It was August 3rd we moved into the Metropolitan Artist Lofts, an artist community of loft apartments on the corner of Grand and Olive that feature sound and dance studios, pottery, woodworking, and painting rooms for use when desired.

Life in the city is definitely different than it was in the quiet suburbs of Winter Springs, Florida! I park in the basement of our building, opening the door and then gate via a couple of buttons that hang from my key chain. Matt parks in a nearby parking garage. We live on the 3rd floor, so we usually ride the elevator to get from the car to our apartment door. The structure we live in was built in 1908 and was eventually transformed into loft apartments after sitting vacant for awhile. It's really fun to live in something so old!

Speaking of old, that's the highlight of living in this city. There is a lot of history everywhere. This place wreaks of the past, whether it's magnificent dated cathedrals that pierce the sky with their steeples, laundry facilities or shoe company buildings from another era with large faded letters still barely visible on the side of the crumbling brick, all outdoor excursions are a feast for the eyes and feel a bit like stepping back in time.

Nearby is an ice cream shop called The Fountain. We have probably been there about four times now. It's within walking distance, so it's a tempting place to have around the corner! They serve some of the best food and ice cream we have ever eaten. The decor is unique, an art deco style that is often photographed by its patrons. Our last visit we shared "Brownie in a Cup," a coffee mug filled with delicious sweet and salty brownie, rich vanilla ice cream, homemade fudge sauce (they make their own), and whipped cream. It was amazing.

Matt reads a lot these days. He has been plowing through book after book as he struggles to keep up with the heavy load of seminary. He is enjoying his classes and is learning a lot! Judy gives him work here and there. Most recently he worked on a marriage conciliation and saw the gospel come alive for the couple in ways they hadn't experienced before. This Thursday he drives to Columbus, Ohio to present some material with Judy and Daniel from Live at Peace Ministries about the importance of critical thinking in peacemaking.

I've been reading the book "Bonhoeffer," by Eric Metaxas. It's the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Oh, how I love this book, and I feel such love for a brother I will one day see in heaven. There are a few reasons I love this material. First, it is about a servant of Christ who loved Jesus intensely and lived an all-out life for his Lord, which eventually led him to martyrdom. Secondly, it centers around one of my favorite eras in history: World War II. Thirdly, it is inspirational historical nonfiction, a genre that I enjoy. Fourthly, Bonhoeffer was a big fan of reasoning and never shied away from talking to someone about an alternative view. He believed that truth could stand up to any scrutiny and he was not afraid to continually put it to the test.

This past Sunday Matt and I attended the Journey church and heard Pastor Darrin Patrick preach live at the 11AM service. It was a nice treat to hear him speak in person as opposed to watching him on a screen like we normally do. His words from James 1 about temptation and the role of God in our lives during trial were penetrating to my own heart, and at the end of the service we were all so taken up with our Lord that the music lifted us to an almost unearthly plane. I was transported in my worship and felt as if I could not contain the emotion that welled up inside of me as I sang songs like "Jesus Paid it All." The man next to us, Charles, the leader of our weekly Bible study/community group clapped and whooped "Amen!" as we sang about the forgiveness of sins and the coming of Christ. I found myself raising my hands high before my sweet Father, uncaring of everyone else around me. It was a joyous end to a clear meeting with God that day.