Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'd be the Color Blue

"I told myself I would never wear this combination in front of anyone aside from family." 

I paused from folding laundry to assess my roommate's outfit.  It didn't seem too peculiar of lounge wear for a Saturday night in, so I inquired, "What do you mean?"

"Crop pants and Uggs."  Her crop pants were capri sweats, and her Uggs - well, those are those odd-looking boots that somehow entered the fashion scene several years ago and even gained popularity in Southern California where it is warm all year round.

I wasn't personally offended by my roomie's outfit, but rather I was honored that she would feel comfortable enough to include me in on a family only thing.

My roomie Shannen and I have been living together in NYC for nearly two years now, and it has been a great fit.  She gets free housing, and I get a great friend, some groceries, accountability, and a free therapist. 

Of course, part of the deal is that she has to put up with my randomness, but she doesn't seem to mind.  Like a few months ago, when we happen to be going to bed around the same time, and I created an adventuresome bedtime story.  After the story I told Shannen, "I wish I would have had more creativity when I was younger - it's so fun to make up lies."

Of course, as a writer, I meant fiction - lies to entertain, not to lies to hurt or deceive.


More recently I asked Shannen, "If you had to be another color - not a skin color - what would you want to be?"

She replied, "I'm not sure; no one has ever asked me that before."

"Really?"  I asked in a tone that suggested surprise, but in actuality I wasn't.  I had never been asked the question either.

"Hmmm... if I was the only person who was different color - probably yellow.  But if everyone was a different color I'd want to be blue.  How about you?"

"Definitely blue."  I didn't have a real reason, but I think perhaps watching too many episodes of Smurfs as a child played into my answer.  That, and being a Michigan fan.  One thing is for sure - there's hecka no way I would want to be the color red.  That'd be awful.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Night in Soho

If my life was a movie, I suspect that 88 Crosby would be included as one of the sets of the film.

After a rough day at work, and a decent jog in Central Park, an evening in Soho was exactly what I needed to be reminded that my life in New York isn't defined solely by my job at The King's College.  If it was, today would have been crushing, but instead today was simply an inconvenience.  Granted it is a major inconvenience, and hugely disappointing as well, but it's different.

Different in that... well, I've been through this once before and so I already know that in the end it's going to work out...

Even still, I wish inconvenience came with health insurance.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Disruptive Innovation

Today at the Empire State Building I learned about disruptive and sustaining innovations. 
Wikipedia can explain better than I...

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.
In contrast to disruptive innovation, a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks but rather only evolves existing ones with better value, allowing the firms within to compete against each other's sustaining improvements. Sustaining innovations may be either "discontinuous"[1] (i.e. "transformational" or "revolutionary") or "continuous" (i.e. "evolutionary").

One of my students (i.e. Jonathan Irwin) explained these two concepts from a business point of view, but then went on to explain the importance of disruptive innovation in our own lives as it relates to our spiritual journeys.  He talked about the Rich Young Ruler who was challenged to move beyond sustaining his life in his riches to entering into disruptive innovation by giving everything he has away.

What is difficult is that while sustaining, the cost seems too great to pursue a disruptive alternative, yet the irony is, in the end, it is this very act of moving into the disruptive that brings an even greater richness into our lives.  We just can't see it from the get go, so we hesitate to act and move and so instead we sustain.  After all, it's the seemingly sensible thing to do.  Yet, if there's anything I've learned in life and from Noah, often times sensibility opposes the very faith action that God is asking of us.

Several of the girls in my small group have and/or are taking steps to move from sustaining into the disruptive.

One gave up her business in Florida and made the move to New York - still uncertain what God has for her here, yet knowing that it is the very thing she needed to do.
Another gal is taking a month off from her crazed work life in the city to spend a month in Costa Rica to simply rest and seek God.
And yet another is moving from the financial safety of her current job to pursue a new position working with kids in Harlem.
And I, well, for now I'll just say that God is up to something... I just haven't figured out exactly what it is yet.

But the question for me, is I'm willing to allow the "disruptive" to evade my life in order for God to bring me to a place of greater richness and significance?

Why does it have to be so scary?  If only health insurance came with the pursuit of the disruptive; I'd be all "in."  But even that can't be used as an excuse, because if God is the one moving me into the "disruptive" I already know he will be faithful in watching out for me along the way.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Raw Conversations

2 days ago I turned 34, and today my niece Bryn turned 4.  Since I couldn't be present to celebrate in person, I skped into my sister's home for a bit this evening.  And one of the first things my sister says is, "Your boobs look smaller!  Did you get a breast reduction or something?  Or maybe it's just the shirt you're wearing." 
She was correct in her latter assumption rather than the first.  And I replied, "Only you could make such a statement."  Because in my family such a statement is understood to be compliment - because as genetics would have it, we have more than enough up top.  As my brother so poignantly stated over a family dinner a few years ago, "That's just how it is in the Blank family.  Big hands, big tits, and no a**."

There's something about the rawness of family conversations.  I wouldn't necessarily call it beautiful, but I do appreciate the honesty.  And in my family, there is often a playfulness tied to the honesty rather than a hurtfulness...

The best part of family is being known, and knowing that those people will stick by you through life no matter what... or at least that's how it is for me in my family context.

However, I know that's not how it is for everyone...

Tonight I hosted a small group in my apartment.  NYC is a city where many 20 and 30somethings live alone - without family.  And so this idea of church family...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Same Stuff?

About a month ago my mom told me over the phone, "Katrina, I think you should be a motivational speaker."  I pushed back on her suggestion.  "Mom, you've never even heard me speak.  Why do you say that?"  She poured out her motherly reasoning while I envisioned Chris Farley speaking about a van down the river. 

Funny thing is, I've "known" for quite some time that speaking will be a part of my life.  And when I say "known" I say that in a I just "deeply sense" sort of way - which is little to no help when attempting to provide an explanation.

But even with that "knowing" I haven't "known" nor do I still know what that might look like or be.  I considered perhaps it would entail speaking at women conferences - once I was old enough to be considered woman enough to have something signifcant to say on life.  Say, in my 50s or so - you know, after I had birthed a couple of kids and made it through the rough years in my marriage when my husband got wrapped up in his porn addiction and occasional trips to the local strip club where he got a 23 year old stripper pregant. The stripper miscarried, but even so, he leaves me for her for over a year, but a divorce is never finalized and he returns home after the stripper grows tired of him.  He had developed some sort of illness that caused her to be freaked out by his age. 

Sadly, I'm basing much of the "hypothetical" above off real stories and scenarios of woman that I know.

Tonight one of my favorite people in the world (i.e. one of my former Young Life girls) told me, "And then you're going to go all across the country speaking to college students and inspiring them to do significant things with their lives." 

Erwin Mcmanus says we are all made up of the same stuff - the same material - and in a sense, the same potential to make a signifcant impact in the world.  But the longer I work with college students and hearing their life stories and some of the crap shoot family lives they come from, I can't help but question Erwin's proposition that we're all made up of the same stuff.

The deficit going into life, simply by genetics or an alcoholic mother... make me think that maybe

(that maybe I'm too sleepy right now to keep writing...)

Because most people don't end up winning tickets to the Super Bowl
And most people aren't recruited out of their backyards for a job in that comes with free housing in Midtown Manhattan

Monday, March 26, 2012

34 on 34th Street

My favorite movie of all time is the movie BIG with Tom Hanks.  In the film a junior high boy named Josh makes a wish at a Zoltar machine - wishing to become BIG.
And, well he does.  He wakes the very next morning, finding himself in the body of a 30something year old.  And since his mom doesn't recognize him, Josh is forced out of his home and moves to New York to seek employment.

I'm still not sure why I liked the movie so much, although I suspect that the trampoline in Josh's apartment, and the oversized keyboard in FAO Swartz plays into it.  And interestingly enough, the only 2 movies I owned (on VHS, of course) for the longest time were BIG, and a similar film called 13 going on 30. 

In both films the main character ends up in New York in their 30s.  And here I am today living in New York City in my 30s.

Today is my 34th Birthday - or as my students wrote on a sign "Happy 17th... round 2."  I celebrated this evening with girls from my small group - sharing a meal and worshiping together...

And in our time together I asked for people to share stories of how they have experienced God's faithfulness in their lives...

And I shared a bit...

A song I had written, that I had forgotten about, with the opening line:
"Where you are, is where I want to be..."


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grout Family of Four

This past Saturday I received an early morning wake up text from Spring Hill and Forest Home's former director of marketing.  "Are you still in the city?  Do you know of any relatively cheap places I might be able to stay?" 

After clarifying that my friend Dave Grout was seeking lodging not just for him, but rather for his entire family, I offered three night's stay at my place.  So they packed up their vehicle and the very next day the Grout family of four arrived at my place in Midtown. 

Although Dave's wife was concerned that their family might be an inconvenience to me, I absolutely loved having them stay at my place.  I think partly because it is rare that I get to spend time with families in NYC.  It was the same in LA.  In both cities, my church of choice is filled with mainly 20 and 30 somethings, and so I miss out on experiencing the fullness of the Body of Christ.

After the Grouts headed out on Wednesday, I got thinking for the second time in my life, I don't think Christians should have to pay to stay in hotels.  (Unless they want to, of course or if they are newlyweds - or well, okay maybe I need to throw this argument out altogether for any married couple traveling without kids... )  But rather it seems to me that the universal church ought to be so extensive in extending hospitality that you can call up a church in any town or city, and inquire about a place to stay for the night.

Granted, I know the concern of not knowing someone, and the possibility that they might steal or other, but I don't know if that ought to be used as an excuse.

In the 70s my parents extended hospitality for nearly a year by hosting Vietnames refugees.  And in 2001, my parents' friend Doreen extended hospitality by allowing my parents to stay with her during the time our Lake House was being remodeled.

And I'll return to write more another time another day...

Sunday lunch in Bryant Park
SPOONS before bedtime
Took a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, just in time to see the sunset
Called on my special agent friend in LA for dinner recommendations in China Town = The Yummy Noodle
Hearing lots from Dave's youngest about Justin Bieber

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Write On

One Saturday I'm meeting up with a New York Times best selling author, the next an unknown writer who occupied Wall Street.

And tonight I met up with a courageous woman who recently spoke at the Women of the World Conference held here in NYC.  She too is a writer, but one that partners with a ghost.

I'm fascinated by all three - by their lives that they live and the stories that they tell...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gazebo Double Take

As I jogged out to the peninsula in Central Park, my eyes diverted from the path when I noticed a stunning bride in the gazebo to the right of me.  After taking in the scene, I realized that she wasn't standing in the gazebo simply for photos, but rather she was reciting her wedding vows.  I had stumbled upon her wedding ceremony. 

Less than a dozen individuals appeared to be officially a part of the ceremony, but I joined several other New Yorkers to unofficially witness the marriage of the couple, whose deep love for each other was obvious to all those around. 

But the couple was not your usual.  While the bride stood a slender 5'8", her partner stood a portly 5'5" with dreads pulled back into a pony tail, and round glasses capturing her eyes.  And, although the bride wore a white gown and held a bouquet of flowers, and the other wore a tux with a tie and a buteneer, both individuals were women.

So there I was, in the heart of Central Park, unofficially witnessing a gay wedding ceremony.  And as the couple in front of me teared up, so did I, but not for the same reason.  While they cried for the beauty of their love, I mourned the brokenness of love in this world.

Time for the rings - Ethan, age 3
The flower girl - about 7 years

And the officiater declared, "I now pronounce you spouses for life."  And then they kissed, and both official and unofficial onlookers clapped and cheered.  And I observed the boy next to me, probably 5 years old, clapping alongside his mother...

A 1/2 mile or so later I ran into a few of my college students fishing at one of the ponds.  Mitch, one of my favorite guy students, and I got talking and I shared with him what I had witnessed.  And he then shared with me some of what he remembered from a talk that Sy Rogers...

This past fall I was talking to my coworker Elijah who oversees all our overseas trip at The King's College.  He explained to me...

Several years ago a bill was presented in Uganda that called for the death penalty of homosexuals.  Elijah explained that even the church in Uganda has failed miserably to love these people stating, "The church is cutting of access points for healing and salvation."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Filled with Surprises

September 2011 - Age 23 - Onsted, Michigan

"Mom, do you ever get tired of living?"  I asked the question not because I was suicidal, but rather because I was premenstrual and disappointed that the guy I liked hadn't called me since I told him to stop calling me in mid-April.  I had explained to him that I wanted to focus on my ministry for the summer and that I didn't want to be distracted by his e-mails and phone calls.  But the summer was well over, and I still hadn't heard from him.  And I was beginning to regret the mistake I had made in pushing him aside.

My mom looked up from her book, and paused for a moment to formulate an answer.  "No, not really.  The great thing about life is that you never know what's going to happen next.  It's filled with surprises."

Surprises... hmmm... God, isn't about time you surprise me a boyfriend?  After all, I'm 23 years old - I'm getting old.  Shouldn't I be getting married soon?

Shortly after my conversation with my mom I drove into Ann Arbor for some college night worship thing being held at a church that looked like a toaster.  In fact, we called it just that - The Toaster Church.

At the end of the worship time my friend Christopher (aka Godwin) got up to make an announcement.  "For those of you who are going to New York, we'll be meeting at the Markley parking lot at midnight to leave for the city.  Please be sure to bring a sleeping bag and pillow and keep your packing to a minimum."

As people started in on their post worship service chit chat, I made a beeline for my friend Christopher.  "What is this about New York?"

"A group of us are taking a 15 passenger van to the city to help with post 9.11 stuff.  We still have 2 spots left if you want to come with us."


"Yeah.  Do you want to come?"

I glanced down at the clock in the back of the church to see if I had enough time to pull off making a round trip home to pack.  It would be close, but possible.  "Count me in.  I'll be there at midnight."

I rushed out of The Toaster Church and sped home to pack up and tell my parents the news that I would be heading to New York for the next few days.  They loaded me up with cash and snacks, and I made the 45 minute drive back to Ann Arbor for the second time in that same evening, all the while pondering, my mom's statement, "You never know what's going to happen next; life is filled with surprised." 

I made it back just in time to join the others on the 15 passenger van.  I couldn't believe I was heading to NYC.

March 11, 2012
Several Sundays ago I had another one of "those" moments.  You know, one of those moments where your world seems less than ideal, and nothing seems to be going your way.  And you haven't quite yet identified or remembered that you're amidst a great spiritual battle (or perhaps, if you're female, another episode of pms.)

I complained to my parents over the phone, ".............."  and started considering jobs in Indiana, so that at least I could be closer to my niece and nephews.

But then, the other day, just as my mom promised me years ago, something unexpected happened.  I was surprised by life.    

But in some aspects I'm not surprised at all, mainly because the longer I live, the more I understand that living a life of faith is filled with adventure and surprises - good ones!