15 June, 2006

Akron Is Lovely

Another speechless weekend. In every way. I never knew a simple little road trip to help out at a dance show could be so impacting. The Christmas show was incredibly affirming and encouraging, but this weekend just blew me away, and it wasn't just the dancing.

Jealously was the sin of the weekend, though I wonder how many people noticed I was struggling with it. Jealous of those who trained for worship through dancing, jealousy of relationships, jealousy of others' self-control (doesn't that sound ironic?), jealousy of sounds I can't reproduce, and bitterness for why. Why? God has me here, that's why. I don't like God's plan; it requires shouldering his cross (not mine) and struggling with my own humanity. But, how can I worship him whole-heartedly if my heart is not his? Ah! It's so stupidly obvious.

God used the weekend as a springboard for a ton of work that he's doing and will do. A perfect work that I am confident he will finish. It started off with the ending of work, and my mother slugged through traffic to deliver me to the Behrens homestead. John and I took off some time thereafter, heading toward the setting sun. We arrived in Akron after the dance rehearsal was finished, so we convinced the Murphy girls to go eat. We went to Applebee's for unremarkable food and hilarious conversation. We drove in circles in Craig's car, moshing in the back seat and being pretty much ridiculous. After meeting Steve, we drove to Craig's secret park and went down slides and jumped off of swings. John had fun taunting me by sticking his feet in the path of my swing. I had fun pushing Jen so high I had to grab her ankles and pull down because she was too high to push. THEN we went back to Murphys' and I stayed there.

Morning came at 8:30 with little conversation between Jess and I, but I became entertainment for Mrs. Murphy while she kneaded dough and I sipped raw milk. Raw milk reminds me of whole milk, with some flour added to change the consistency and add some flavor :-) Quite good with homemade whole wheat cinnamon rolls. The gals got all packed for the rehearsal, sighing over their tights again (that always makes me laugh. Stockings in general are hateful, and dance tights that are full of runs and covered with pill-balls are really despicable). I got to mill around and watch them put the finishing touches on a few dances while folding programs for the show. Prayer was awesome as always, and so wonderful I wondered if the tears in my eyes would spill down my cheeks. Mrs. Hoffman has an amazing way of making everyone feel truly special and important, yet still keeping her authority.

I wondered why the dancers seemed to know who I was, and then I found out that she had read my blog to some of the classes!? Wow. That took my breath away. I hope they took what I said to heart. I meant every word, and mean them now.

The actual show was amazing. Mr. Hoffman explained the Jewish tradition of betrothal and marriage, and used that to illustrate how Christ is eagerly preparing a place for us, and how we should be working to please and honor him. The gospel was not reenacted, but rather described. The Christian life was showin in such detail and infused with so much meaning that the gospel would be hard to miss. The boys' dance with the "Jesus" shirts was amazing. Hey, Phillip smiled during that song! I was so glad he enjoyed it. I sure did. At this show, I didn't have a job, so I paid more attention to the actual dancing. The crowning piece, featuring brides and flower girls galore, was a beautiful work of pageantry and a perfect conclusion. I found some modern moves that astonished me, and made me appreciate my modern training a bit more. The song that goes "I go deeeeeper...into your glory" had a way cool modern combination for that line. I had some questions for Jess on Sunday night, learning a few new jumps and getting more ideas.

Somewhere between the dancing we went to church. Singing next to Jess seems rather pointless, so I just signed and enjoyed the sound of her voice. Worship was all about thanks. The sermon was about Jonah and evangelism. The pastor was encouraging us to plunge into people groups that we might not appreciate to spread the gospel. To go along with the jealousy theme, the ending struck me incredibly. Jonah had the privilege of being so close to God, and obviously understood his way more than I do, yet when Ninevah repents and seeks God, he just gets angry and bitter toward God for his mercy. I see my friends interact in ways that I do not have the self-control to, and I'm angry and bitter because God has given them that particular grace. That was frustratingly enlightening, and something I must work on--both the self-control and the jealousy.

Don't get the picture that my friends and I didn't enjoy each other's company--on the contrary, we had some crazy fun times. Dinner at Don Pablo's after Sunday's show was so funny. Christin has the honor of being one of a select few who have ever caused me to regurgitate liquid through my nose. We both were laughing so hard. She was in rare form, and amazing as always :-) John cracked a Homestar Runner joke, which went right over the heads of the Akronites :-P But I missed a few of their cultural references, so I settled with laughing hysterically at their hysterical laughter. The waiter misunderstood my order, but I got food eventually. Whatever I ate (ask John how to pronounce it) was delish, and the left-overs were still good.

After dinner we went to the Hoffman's so John could get his stuff. We tried to take off before the truck got there, but (fortunately, I think) we stayed to help unload. During that time I decided I'd just come live in Akron to complement Jess for the rest of her life, and Mike decided to be her personal bodyguard. What a threesome! Could you imagine us being able to tolerate it for more than a week? I think it'd be a hilariously failed effort :-P

We went to the basement for some music after unloading, and I gave Mrs. Hoffman a back rub. Oh, that singing was so sweet. The guitars and occasional piano sounded good, Jess was stellar, and I felt my voice was up to the task. And then people would say things, prayers and whatnot, that just added a spontaneous depth to the worship that I've rarely felt. It's not a big-conference feel, or even a homespun-Youth-Camp feel, but a group-of-friends-caught-up-in-one-purpose feel, sharing our passion and encouraging one another. The prayer at the end was a perfect wrap. And of course God orchestrated all of it, even the one time I felt satisfied with my voice.

And then the phone call came. That made me realize how foolish I'd been, trying to ignore authority in the hopes that it wouldn't become more restrictive. Ouch. Apologies to my parents for forgetting their wishes and not calling. John and I hit the road around midnight. I couldn't get comfortable in his car, which is unusual but probably a blessing; otherwise I might have fallen asleep. And of COURSE John needed my conversation to keep him awake! I mean, what does he do on the weekends when I'm not around? :-P (Totally sarcastic, that)

John stopped and got Vault, which seemed to help. His conversational cadence picked up :-P I only remember two things we talked about for that whole time. Of course we talked about the dance. I was gauging his purely visceral response to it. I can't see dance from that viewpoint (a decade of training will do that to you), so I appreciated hearing his opinion. We also talked about the difference between CoG culture and PCoP culture for quite a while. Then he dropped me off and texted me at 3:06 AM saying, "I didn't die!" He was even coherent enough for punctuation!

Lisa and I went on a "prayer walk" tonight and included the dancers in our thoughts. I think that night of dance really blessed her, and encouraged her in her own worship even though she doesn't dance. It was so neat to see another friend blessed by this ministry! Thank God she was able to come. And the other Pittsburgh people. And me :-)


Clear Ambassador said...

Whose self-control were you jealous of? I can't think of who it could be over there, and it's bugging me :-P

And it's funny, speaking of jealousy--on your visits you get to see a completely different side of the Murphy family and Mrs. Hoffman, a side I'll never see. I'm not jealous in a sinful way, just lightly miffed in an Akron-is-MY-place sorta way :-)

Ah, the dinner at Rally's bears conspicuous absence from your account :-) Sorry you had to be there for that :-/

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Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Ask about Rally's, if you must know :-)

You mean, all the Akronites don't have any self control?!? :-P

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Wes said...

Long post, But worth every word.
God is moving in glorious ways.

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