Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I got Swag

What is wrong with people in the south? Apparently, if you get shiny lights and point them at a rock, fifteen thousand people will show up to watch!

Last weekend, Elizabeth decided to treat ME to a date. I know, shocker. Let me explain the rules of our dating contract. Most of you know that every Thursday night is date night. This is a time that no one or no thing is allowed to interfere with; its our time. However, as part of the contract, if we ever failed to comply with the regulations of the contract, due to extinuating circumstances, Elizabeth is responsible for redeeming the date by planning a substitionary date. In other words, if we miss a date night because of thanksgiving, christmas, etc. Elizabeth gets to plan the make up date at her discretion. To give you an idea of how this works, when we missed a date because I was at Alex’s wedding, she made up for it by taking me to see a Nascar Race. Georgians…

Anyways, back to the story.. Her newest date idea was to take me to a place called Stone Mountain and have a picnic. Stone Mountain is the South’s response to Mt. Rushmore. Let me describe it to you in this way: picture a rock, okay its a big rock, but its not exactly a mountain. It’s Georgia’s best effort at a mountain. Then picture a hundred drunk dixie boys repelling off the side chipping away the stone to create a monument to their favorite confederate generals. I know, I know. I don’t know how I’m surviving down here either! Every night of the summer they put on the world’s largest laser show spectacular. And, I’ll be honest, I like the shiny things as much as the next guy. It is a thirty minute productions where they used lasers put to music to create movies. They played a variety of songs which included songs by famous Georgian musicians, songs that mention Georgia or the south, or just patriotic songs in general. They used visual effects including projectors and fireworks to supplement the lasers. However, to make the experience more unique-- earlier that night, there had been a soul music concert there. So we had the added benefit of sharing this experience with no less than fifteen thousand brothas and sistas. We were unaware until we arrived that we needed a bucket of fried chicken and a skull cap in order to fit in. That is an absolutely unnecessary joke, but I thought I'd go for it while I could. Sorry if you're offended. Over all, it was a pretty fun show, and if you are ever in Georgia you should go. It is free once you are inside the park. I won’t even admit that I cried when they played the national anthem.

In other offensive news, this past Tuesday night, several days after the Stone Mountain episode, Elizabeth and I joined Mrs. Shalom for a movie night. She chose a movie that she had just gotten called Food Inc. I won’t go in to much detail, but I’ll say that it is a documentary describing how food gets from a seed to the table. It was rather upsetting. The film described the cruel treatment of workers, farmers, and animals. As a result of this production, Elizabeth and I became organics-- even on date night. I took her to an organic fast food restaurant (who even knew that existed?). The cows we were eating as hamburgers were not genetically engineered, and were allowed to graze on grass rather than fed corn. No more Taco Bell date nights for us! And this commitment has lasted almost 6 days!

Every Wednesday night, the other interns and I lead a Bible Study. We created this event and affectionately named it SWAG. No, it doesn’t stand for anything deep or spiritual like Students Walking After God or Seven Weeks Accepting Grace. Honestly, it is the name of the Cologne one of the guys I work with wears. In its defense, it smells delicious. Swag isn’t just a name though, its a style. My style. Anyway, we are doing a study on 1 Timothy. We aren’t really teaching it as much as we are just reading through and allowing the students to interact and discuss the material. It is a throw back to old school youth group which is ironic because we’re at NorthPoint. We are meeting a need the students asked for; going deeper. We are teaching them how to study the Bible. Overall, our first night went very well. So much so, in fact, that several students came up to thank me. I thought that was weird, since when do you get thanked for reading a chapter of the Bible? I’ll say this for NorthPoint, one of the things I’ve noticed is that the students don’t know much about God but they are passionate. I’ll take a passionate, naive student over a scholarly, apathetic one any day.

I can’t believe I am half way through my internship already, it seems like I just got here. I love and miss you all. The sun is hot and the humidity is oppressive, but God is GOOD!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Experiencing Greatness

On Sunday, Elizabeth and I decided to surprise Mrs. Shalom. She was leading a small group that morning, it was fantastic! Mrs. Shalom had put together a miniature replica of the tabernacle. It was complete with slaughtered sheep on the alter.

After that, we headed over to North Point for the service, and youʼll never guess what happened to me! We got to the church with ample time. I figured that getting there early would get us better seating than the ones we had last time. To my surprise, we walked into the sanctuary that was already almost full! I had talked with the couple that lives in the Mr. and Mrs Shalomʼs basement and told them I was coming. They offered to save me a spot, but when we found them among the mass of people, I realized I forgot to tell them I was bringing Elizabeth. As we stood there looking around like big dumb idiots, an usher noticed that we looked aimless and hopeless and asked if we were visitors. We told him no, we were in fact secondtimers. Apparently, that qualified us for a closer seats. He asked if weʼd like to sit "up front." When most people say "front," they are refering to the front third of the building. We didnʼt realize that he meant THE FRONT ROW. He seated us in the front row, center section. It was ideal for “The North Point Experience” meaning, it was up close and personal for all the action.

A few minutes into the service, a girl walked to the seat beside me wearing a headset and looking very in charge. Next to her, was HIM. Yes, the Andy Stanley. He sat not next to me, but in the seat next to the seat next to me. We were practically touching.. I leaned over and elbowed Elizabeth. She looked back at me with a knowing smirk. She knew that I was currently living a childhood fantasy. As the music started I glanced through my peripherals and noticed that he was singing along. I elbowed Elizabeth to inform her of the fact. He even moved his body slightly back and forth, I think I saw his arms swinging slightly. I was very excited about that. At the part of the service where you do the obligatory “meet and greet” Elizabeth encouraged me to ask Andy to sign my bible or at the very least get a picture with him taken by my phone. I told her I wasnʼt too excited about her heresy and that she could go blaspheme somewhere else. I think what I most admired about him that day was how excited he seemed to be about what he did. When it was his cue to go up on stage to do something he would jump from his seat and like run up there. I love being a part of his ministry knowing that he loves doing what he does. It is a huge encouragement to me. Iʼd like to say that I actually talked to him, but I was too chicken. So... thatʼs my Andy Stanley story.

So Iʼll tell you a date night story... I got an idea from my friend to take her to an event called “Screen on the Green.” Basically, they set up an enormous screen and projector out in a beautiful park. So, I took Elizabeth (thus, we call it "date night"). This, in my mind, was intended to be a romantic evening. On a Thursday night, I didnʼt expect there to be very many people. We arrived half an hour before the show started and there were already throngs of people. It was crazy. When we finally found a place to put a blanket, it was less than ideal. It was loud, crowded and muggy. So we improvised by people watching and making fun of the crazy rednecks. As the sun set and it became dark enough to see the screen without a glare,the movie began. Approximately fifteen minutes later, a group behind us began cheering loudly. I immediately realized what they were doing so I explained to Elizabeth that they were trying to get as many people as possible to cheer at absolutely nothing. They tried this again with the happy birthday song. It was obvious that it wasnʼt anyoneʼs birthday. The point was to get the crowd to join in. Throughout the movie, people were noisy, rambunctious, and walking back and forth in front of the screen. It was quite the cultural experience, Georgians...

For Memorial Day weekend, I spent my time watching Elizabethʼs little sister playing tennis in a tournament. Vani is freaking ridiculously good. In the mornings I warmed her up and then we drove her to the tennis courts. Watching her rekindled a passion for me to play tennis again. It awakened a deep longing within me to restart my tennis career. So that was fun.

If you ever wondered what it would be like to live with a 95 year old, itʼs a new experience every day. On Memorial day, Elizabethʼs family came over for a cookout. During dessert, Grammy began to explain to us how to do the ballroom dance, the two step. Because Elizabeth is a punk, she told Grammy that I didnʼt dance with her because I donʼt know how and I wonʼt just wing it. She manipulated the situation in order to have some fun (did I mention how much I hate her sometimes?) and coyly asked Grammy if she could show me how. I looked at Elizabeth with horror in my eyes. Without allowing for a response, Grammy got up, grabbed my hands, and pulled me to the open space in the kitchen floor. Everyone got involved. Mrs. Shalom and Vani turned on good oldies music to dance to while everyone else watched as Grammy two stepped me around the room. After a few minutes, She asked, “do you got it?” I nodded a yes and she explained to me, “When ya dance, one of the two of ya has got to lead...” I knew from the look on her face that I needed to pick up my game. I did the best I could and we only tripped a few times. Then, my sweet girlfriend cut in and I wooed her with my new skills. She was smitten. Have I mentioned how charming I can be. She is totally infatuated with me. I like her even though she is a brat.
So... that's all... stay tuned.