This has been a long time coming, seeing as I haven't written anything in a month! What all has even happened since I wrote last?
First, early in February, there was the Madrigal Dinner at Minnehaha. This annual fine arts fundraiser finds us transforming the gym into a medieval English castle, building a stage upon which the Madrigal singers perform, and creating a kingdom of tables to which choir students dressed as servants flock to serve a four course meal to patrons. Minnehaha hires me back each year to help on it (this is my fourth or fifth, depending how one counts), and, though the week-long adventure was very grueling, tiring, and frankly, draining, the production went quite well. Even those who came on Saturday (the first of the two performance nights, and therefore the most error prone), proclaimed that this year's Dinner was the best ever! This is quite a feat, given that last year was unquestionably the best up to its time, so to think we beat out even that level of perfection is no small task, and thus, somewhat rewarding.
The downside of Madrigals for me is that it comes during the first week of second semester, which means I missed classes Wednesday through Friday of that week, and obviously also didn't have any chance to attempt homework until I got back to school Monday. Almost a month later, I'm still playing catchup in one of my classes. Well, all my assignments have been turned in, it's just a matter now of finishing the assigned readings from this one class from the beginning of the semester. I'm hopeful this or next weekend will see that burden lifted away.
I brought my guitar in to have surgery mid February. Never fear, it wasn't broken, I just decided the time was right for me to finally have a pickup installed. Not that I'll actually be playing into a system anytime soon, but when I finally do get good enough to play for Selah, or church, or whatever, it's nice to know I can just go and do it without having to worry about new installations then. I also bought a strap (so I can play standing up) and finally invested in a hard shell case to protect the guitar better than the wimpy cloth bag it came in–this in itself made me just feel more professional, like I finally had a right to have this instrument.
I've been playing a lot better, and even more important, I'm truly enjoying the time I get to spend "bonding" with my instrument. I truly feel like this is part of God's calling for my life–I'm not sure exactly where it will lead, but I know this will be part of my ministry, and my practice times have sort of taken on the feel like an extra prayer time: a very calming time spent with God in the midst of a far too busy day.
That same Wednesday that I picked up my guitar was Ash Wednesday, and though I didn't realize it at the time, I do think it marked a certain change in my overall attitude. For any number of reasons, I'd been feeling very down since Madrigals, but that day (and since) everything started to really, truly look up again. I had an absolutely wonderful dinner with a new friend from my interim class, followed by two very different, yet very similar Ash Wednesday church services (first at Emmaus, then at Boe), and went to bed feeling as though all would finally be right in the world.
The weekend following saw me spending some number of hours working with Ryan on the Student Congregation website, a site I'd designed for them two years ago but that they never used. Even now, I'm not sure that anything more will be done with it beyond this one update, but thanks to Ryan's motivation and that time we got to spend working together, the site looks better than it ever did, and they'll be promoting it in the Boe services, which means my work will, at least for now, not have been in vain.
The weekend also brought a somewhat scary but most-needed Selah get-together and team-building time. Did I mention before I joined Selah? I'll be helping with slides (not PowerPoint–Microsoft is evil and should disappear; I'm using a different software program). Despite my worries, it was actually a fun time. Scary, yes, since I didn't know a lot of the members, and even though I'm a 'high and mighty junior' myself, I'm still innately shy and easily intimidated by groups of unknown people, even if a lot of them are freshmen. Plus consider that, the way my mind operates, slides has to be about at the bottom of the importance list–Selah worship can easily continue without any electronic media, whereas it can't as easily go on without instrumentalists and vocalists. Thus, intimidation: all these other people are so much more important to the group than little old me. Regardless of the potential lack of real-world logic behind that statement, such is the way my brain functions. In any case, the team building games were actually fun, and it was great to finally meet so many of the people I'll be working with over the next semester.
Later that night Kurt drove up to campus and we went over to Ytterboe to play guitar in the practice rooms–what an amazing night: we spent almost two hours there, and Kurt taught me several new songs and strumming patterns that I'd been anxious to learn, as well as a bit of this foreign idea they call "music theory". It was just plain cool, though, to get to spend time with one of my guitar heros and get to know him even more as a real person.
That Sunday night was my big night, my 'premiere' at Selah: EasyWorship, motion backgrounds, text dissolves, a brave new world of slide presentation. And it went really well. Because of the Oscars party in the Pause we set up everything in the Black and Gold Ballroom instead, which, in my opinion, is a nicer venue, anyway. Having my computer up and running in Windows (blech!), I went through each of the songs' slides with the band as they practiced, fixed typos, and generally prepared to impress the coming crowd. The consensus is that it looked nice and wasn't distracting. Yay! I won't get to run slides every week for Selah, since there are 5 people to rotate through, but I'm glad they were willing to give me this chance to bring something that, in my opinion, is new and really exciting.
One successful production under my belt (well, okay, I counted 12 mistakes, but I'm highly, highly critical and most people noticed only a few, if any), I volunteered to run the lyrics for Thursday Night Bible Study, and since they don't have anyone really in charge of that, it's looking like I'll have the opportunity to do that each week if I want. We went ahead with it last night, and, again, though I counted 5 mistakes, even Adam only caught 2, and he reassured me that, from a worshiper perspective, it looked great.
God gave me my skills, my computer, my past experiences in tech at MA, and access to evertything I needed to pull this together for a reason; now it's time for me to start giving back in the ways that I'm able, and I'm glad to mostly be over that hump of inhibiting worry that always kept me from stepping forward before.