In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On the Move

I feel like I'm not really having a Christmas vacation. When you end up running from one place to another, there often isn't that much relaxation. As soon as we get back (and after a New Year's party), then I'll start work up again. That sure went quick!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Back in the Midwest

Well, I'm back from my 11 days in the great state of Washington. I usually say that I was in Seattle, but in actuality, my other half's sister lives an hour outside of Seattle (closer to Tacoma). This time, though, we went into Seattle twice. I like the big city. I'm not as keen on the suburban existence (a pseudo-existence, in my opinion).

It was 11 days of entertaining family (mainly children, but also his Mother). One of our trips into Seattle was to take the two oldest kids to "The Sound of Music" (the stage show). I'm a big musical theatre nut, so I was pretty excited. I was also excited to educate these kids on the joys of musical theatre. They are home-schooled, so every moment is an educational opportunity.

My other half's sister has four kids. The youngest is in her terrible twos. That means it's all about her! Sometimes she can be sweet, but she can be a little much. Of course, I'm finding that any kids can be a "bit much" after long enough.

The big excitement came on December 23rd, when my other half's sister slipped on the stairs and broke her foot. We all worked pretty well around it. The kids were rather understanding, and haven't bothered her too much. We still had our dinner on Christmas Eve, as planned. However, we didn't get to go to either the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service. We were planning to go to only one, but when the mother of the family got hurt, then the plan went downhill.

That may have been the most disappointing part of the trip. I think I'm really excited for a Christmas Eve service every year. I want to gather in the church while it's cold and dark outside. We worship, then we light candles and sing Silent Night.

...brief tangent...I have a pastor friend who lamented to me the planning of a Christmas Eve sermon. In his own words, "No one cares. They just want to light a candle and sing Silent Night. They really just want me to shut up so they can start singing."... I guess that's me too, huh?

I don't think I ever realized how attached I was to my family's Christmas traditions until I had to merge/compromise them with my other half. We've only been to Seattle twice for Christmas. We've been to my parent's about four times now. There really would come a day when I would like to have my own Christmas in my own home...but I don't know when that day would come (for most people, it seems to be when they have kids).

I'm not even as attached to dinner on a specific day, or even what day we exchange presents. I just feel like a Christmas Eve worship is a part of my tradition. It's harder to establish a Christmas Day worship, since many places don't have a Christmas Day worship (except for the odd years like this year). What's even more funny is that I still would have felt this way if we had gone to the Christmas Eve worship at my in-law's church. They are from a more evangelical, non-denominational Christian Church. I've been to a Christmas Eve worship there two years ago, and I remember feeling the same way then. Their style of worship doesn't connect with me.

Traditions are very important. We tend to make meaning of our lives by what I do ritually and traditionally. Probably the most obvious example of this is what we do on Christmas. Traditions help us understand who we are, how we relate to the world, and how we relate to God. Our important traditions demonstrate our values in action. When we choose to spend time with loved ones, we are making a statement. When we prepare all Thanksgiving Day for the shopping extravaganza on Black Friday, then we are making a state about what is important in our lives.

The heart of the tradition makes it have meaning. Celebrate your traditions!


p.s. I'm leaving town again to spend time with my family in Northern Minnesota. I'll be back on New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Latest Rant

Sometimes people are so dumb, I could just spit!

Hennepin County (the county in which Minneapolis is located) has partially repealed it's smoking ban. The ban does not affect city bans, like the very strict Minneapolis ban on smoking in bars and eating establishments.

I don't think I realized how much I appreciated a smoke-free environment until I actually got to experience one. I used to dread coming home from a bar smelling like a cigarette butt. I would hang my clothes all over the place, so the smoke smell could get out. Now I go out and I feel great! It's easier to stay out longer. I don't have to worry about lung cancer.

There were claims that people wouldn't go to bars that were smoke-free. Bar owners along the county border claimed that their customers would go to another county to light up in the bars.

There's even the quote in the paper that they will start to target the Minneapolis ban on smoking. I'm very disappointed that folks still want to continue to encourage a deadly habit.

I've probably offended some smokers out there. I apologize for my tone. I was just so excited to see a community encouraging healthy habits. It seems like we are moving backwards.

In other news, tonight my other half and I will be leaving for Christmas with his family in the Seattle area. We will be gone until Christmas Day. I'll see if I get to blog, but it will probably be pretty sparse for the next two weeks or so.

Happy Advent! Merry Christmas! Don't choke on second-hand smoke!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Repentance & Forgiveness

Today I'm shaken by the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. I've been following this story for some time. I was really interested in what would happen.

First off, let me state that I clearly do not know all the facts. I only know what I've heard on NPR and what I've read in the newspaper and on the internet.

That being said, I'm troubled by the fact that we (as a society) are so hell-bent on vengeance. I've looked at all that Tookie did since his time on death row. It seems to me he has certainly renounced the gang life he led (and founded). He wrote children's books to direct them away from gangs and violence. He negotiated between gangs, and helped to get people out of gangs.

There are some, the Governator included, who didn't see him as a repentant person. They stressed that he never admitted guilt to the particular crime he was convicted for. Other's want to lay the blame for all gang violence on him.

When do we accept repentance and offer forgiveness? Did we kill someone who had truly repented, or someone who never owned up to the hurt he caused? I'm generally against capital punishment. This seems like a case that a person was doing so much to try to undo his former crime. Did anyone forgive him?

In my head, I'm juxtaposing the news and editorials I heard these past few days with the news and editorials I heard last spring when Terri Schiavo. Do you think there were any of the same protesters at the two events? Or did those people who tried to break into the hospital with bread and water (which she couldn't have eaten anyway) stand in protest outside a prison to protect another form of sacred life? I doubt it. I have a hunch they were home, happy that another criminal was taken care of.

Of course, Terri Schiavo was not a criminal. She was a woman who died from a lack of brain activity, unable to make her body function. But does that make her life more sacred than Tookie's? I don't believe so. I think they were both children of God. Simul justus et peccator.

It is a part of our vocation as Christians to forgive. I am more convinced all the time that this is the hardest part of being a Christian. Not even the mega-Christians on TV are able to do it. I have not heard one of them forgive Tookie.

God, today I pray for Stanley Tookie Williams. Forgive him his sin. Welcome him into your fold. Love him like only you can. And God, I pray for use as well. Teach us radical forgiveness, not just seven time, but seventy times seven. Guide us. Amen.

Have we hit a nerve? Let's move to something more uplifting...

Sorry about the long and rambling previous post. My relationship with my congregation is still so complex. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend: PARTY!!!!

So, my other half and I have thrown a party the second Saturday of December ever since we moved into our present house (five year ago now). I've noticed that we tend to make our parties and open house and invite every possible person. This makes for really interesting combinations of people. I'm one of those folks who has "separate worlds". Often, those worlds do not mix. I associate with certain people around certain circumstances. Well, this party makes my worlds collide in the most extraordinary ways.

This year, I invited a lot of people from my work. I've invited a few in the past, but often they can't/don't show up. This year, a number of my co-workers came and brought family with them. That was interesting, because they got to meet a lot of my church worker-type friends, and my gay friends (there's a lot of overlap between my church friends and my gay friends).

This was also the first year my parents came to the party. The main purpose in coming down was to take the dog back up north with then for Christmas, while we are out of town. My mother, however, has the same party-planning tendencies that I have. So, she became a great hostess for the event. It was very helpful to have her and my dad around.

There were three definite "shifts" to the party. It began at 3:00 and went until midnight. The first two hours were filled with folks who were going to some other function later that evening. Most of my co-workers and some (shall we say) older folks were in the early shift. The middle shift were several of my friends (often the ones who stay until the bitter end). They holed themselves up in the back TV room to talk away from the rest of the crowd. The end shift were a lot of my urban youth ministry friends.

Also stopping by, were my former pastor (of Downtown Lutheran Church - everything seems to come back to that, doesn't it?). She and her husband were the folks who talked to us about the coffee shop idea. They informed me that they, also, have cooled to the coffee shop option. Alas, it was fun to dream...but that will remain a dream.

The last people to show up is a friend who is a white Christian rapper (no jokes, please). He came to our place after a concert in a suburb. It was him, his wife, a dancer, and a couple of gay folks who got to sit and chat until mid-night. He is the one who does all the work with the hip-hop worship service I'm involved in (where we did the ghetto version of a Christmas pageant).

Most of the food was eaten. There was very little glogg left (spiced Swedish wine). I'm calling the party a success! Good times were had by all.

Thus ends the recap of the party.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Prayers: The Saga Continues

OK - I realize that as I write this, I'm opening a whole can of worms. Not a bad can, mind you...but this is a lot. I've been internally processing my relationship with my congregation for quite some time now. This is a good community to process all this. Most of you are outside situation. Your perspective will be quite useful.

To respond to a few comments from the last post: I know that most of us have been posting about our ambivalent relationship with the Church. This has come up a lot lately with the Vatican document on gay clergy (or seminarians). Mind the Bear has been struggling with how he relates to his denomination. I have to say that I'm still fairly positive about my relationship with the ELCA. I'm not very bitter. I still believe in it as a tool of God. The hard part for me has been my relationship with this particular congregation. For one thing, I don't want to be a membership whore. I'm really bugged by those people who get ticked off at something that their congregation (or often the clergy) did or didn't do, and then sweep their membership somewhere else, until they get ticked off again. I want to be a stable presence. I actually feel guilty sometimes for not supporting the congregation. Because it is a large beautiful building in downtown Minneapolis, there are a lot of "absentee members". Many couples want to get married there, so they join the congregation to get the cheaper rate (yet another pet peeve of mine). Can I stress this enough: I DON'T WANT TO BE THAT SHALLOW.

I won't go into the fact that the congregation can't pay their staff, but someone can cough up 2.5 million dollars to build a bell tower...BUT TRUST ME, I COULD! All I'm going to say is, think of those kids who just got their budget cut. A bell tower doesn't really keep them in the faith community.

But, I digress. Here's the real story:

Sunday morning I hauled my butt out of bed at 6:45 after our party the night before. At 8:00, we met in the (interim) Senior Pastor's office to go through the worship service. I've gotten so emotionally distant from the place, I feel very withdrawn. I don't really chat with anyone.

The real adventure started when there was some time after that meeting before the worship started. I went to the fellowship hall and had a cup of hot chocolate. I re-read the prayers I had written. I feel a little lazy on how I wrote them. I looked at the lectionary texts for the day, and I re-wrote the scripture into prayer form. Now, I don't mean that I prayed on the themes of the texts (which is good). I really copied the texts and used personal pronouns. Here's what I came up with:

Creator God, our souls magnify you. You have looked with favor on the lowliness of us, your servants. You lift up and tear down. Help us, your people to recognize the wonderful and fearful things you have done. As we recognize your work and your action in the world, continue to hear the praise from our souls. Lord in your mercy...‚…

Lord God, your Spirit is upon us. You have anointed each of us. Send us to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners. Give us voice to proclaim the year of your favor, the vengeance of our God. Strengthen us to comfort those who mourn. Lord, in your mercy...‚…

Ever-closer God, give us voice to proclaim your advent. As John the Baptist called people to repentance, so too, let us call out for hearts to turn to you. Help us to proclaim and prepare the masses for your triumphant return. Help us to be prepared for the day and the hour. Lord, in your mercy...‚…

Healing God, be with those who mourn. Be with those in pain. Be among those who celebrate. Be among those who worry. Be among those who are not yet ready to know you. GodÂ…just be. Lord in your mercy...‚…

As I re-read them, I made a few changes. For one, I realized that I used the phrase "give us voice" about four times. That needed to go. Then, I realized that we were not using the Magnificat. I realized that (nearly) directly quoting the verses would be sending an unclear message. So, I scrapped the first petition, and wrote a paraphrase/prayer of the Epistle. I don't have it, so you can't see it. Sorry.

As I was writing this last petition, CrazyWoman came over. I don't know her name, but I remember many staff being afraid/annoyed with her when I worked there. She sat down at the table with me. She asked if I was the lector, and I said, "No, I'm the prayer." She then asked me if I had the Worship Pastor approve the prayers. I said, no, that he trusted me. I have prayed several times, and we never show him our prayers. She then launched into the fact that he should review my prayers because, "this church needs money." She then went into an assessment of the pastoral situation, which I believe was not based in fact.

She also told me that the Worship Pastor would know if the prayers were good enough for Rebecca. I made the mistake of asking, "Rebecca Who?” That got a huge reaction from her. She described this Rebecca person as the holder of purse strings and unofficial person to please. The only Rebecca I could think of was a former staff member who had also quit in the turmoil.

I excused myself from the table and walked away. I was clearly shaken. What was worse, I knew that she was crazy. But at the same time, she could articulate a level of dysfunction that I can feel as well. It's what left me feeling very off balance for the first worship service.

Here's the kicker: there are a number of wonderful people at this congregation. I was complimented on my prayers by several folks. Between services I had coffee with a woman who sings in the choir. I chatted with friends I had made there. I clearly want to be around these people.

This feeling of enjoying the community I have around the congregation gets mixed with the disgust at the dysfunction. I really enjoy the worship style. It's the best worship experience for me. It's fairly liturgical, while still being creative and global. The problem is that I can hardly listen to the voices from the front, because I have a high level of distrust of (mainly former) clergy and congregational leaders.

Lately, I've been attending a nice church that is three blocks from my house. I can walk to worship. I really like the pastor. The Director of Faith Formation was my college roommate. They are great people. However, they have not had the "gay conversation" as a congregation. That makes me nervous about putting my membership there.

Here's my other rub with where my membership is: I am a professional lay church worker who does not work in a congregation. I have an MA in Congregational Leadership and Christian Education from a fine Lutheran Seminary. My curse is that I will always be able to identify the "behind the scenes" work at any congregation where I am a member. Perhaps Downtown Lutheran Church is the best place to hold a membership while I go wherever I like. Or is there a lack of integrity in that? Most of my friends are also pastors, or at least seminary-educated folks. I have made it a personal rule to not have my friends as my pastors. That cuts out a lot of churches that I would like to support (take J's church for example). So, I support them as a friend, not as a member.

This has provoked rambling on my part, as well as many of you. This is a huge issue that I think I will continue to struggle with.

In the next post: you will finally hear about the party. Maybe I'll talk about the Hip-Hop Christmas Pageant we had last night.

Dysfunction and Prayers

OK - since Fr. B requested a full report (and I'm all about taking requests), I'll give some more details. I realized that my last post was rich with fodder in several different areas. I may have to break these up.

Since it's fairly timely, I'll explain the prayers, and my relationship with this congregation. I don't often attend the church where I am a member. That makes this more interesting. When I was in college, I actually worked there first. I did a youth ministry internship there. It was great. It is a large urban congregation in downtown Minneapolis. The kids were this wonderful combination between rich suburban kids and very poor immigrant, urban kids. They got along wonderfully. It was a very shaping experience. I feel a strong connection to urban ministry because of my work with these kids.

The problem was the rest of the congregation. This is a congregation that has an over-inflated sense of it's own self-worth. It has never been a neighborhood church, like other congregations. It was built to be the flagship church of the American Lutheran Church. It tended to attract high profile members in the Lutheran community. In the 70's they actually wrote a book about the history of the congregation, entitled What God Hath Wrought. Humble title, huh?

In the early 90's, it was discovered that a beloved senior pastor had an affair with some woman (not a member, and not at that time). To be honest, there were probably problems before this, but this is where I can trace a lot of our current dysfunction. Anyway, since then, they have gone through a string of pastors and staff.

When I starting doing stuff with the congregation, I was sort of blind to this. I was loving my work with the youth. They also had a nice gay/lesbian community that would get together. It was nice.

Oddly enough, the day we joined ended up being the day the congregation would vote on adopting the status of Reconciling In Christ. This is the Lutheran version of congregations affirming to GLBT people (back then they only had to be affirming to GL people, but it's since expanded). So, we were received as new members, and then were able to vote in the meeting.

The vote 11 votes (out of about 600 votes cast). This should have been my first clue. Many of us decided that we would "stay the course" (to steal another hopeless phrase). I worked with one of my favorite pastors to formulate a young adult ministry. I was able to handle the ambiguity of the congregation's feelings about me.

What really turned me away was when they attacked the youth program. During the transition between youth directors, they decided to cut the staff person to part-time, and give them no budget. A lot of the budget was spent on the urban kids, so this essentially turned them away. For me, that was the last straw. I decided that I needed to take a hiatus.

Which I have done for the last two years. I have been in several congregations. I've kept my membership, because I'm not quite sure how I relate to local congregations. Since I do a lot of ministry work on my own, I don't think I'll ever be a good congregational member. For my own sanity, I'm learning to say "no". So, that's where I am.

OK - I'll post this and continue with the prayers later. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Party Favors

Last night, we had our Advent/Christmas holiday party. We tend to do our parties open-house style. We invite everyone we can think of, and people tend to come for an hour or two. I understand that there are several parties going on this time of year, so people just make us part of the circuit.

Last night was a particularly good night. We had folks from my work, we had friends. Our last visitors are not the usuals. I often like the last visitors the best. By that point, I'm not running around and finding stuff. I can sit, relax, and talk. Often, some of our best friends are last. We exchange gifts. This year, we had a different group being last, and the conversation went in directions I never would have anticipated.

On the downside, I have to be the prayer at church this morning. This is a church where I still have membership, but I don't attend (I'll have to do another post to delve into the details of that place). Anyway, the woman who lines up prayers is pretty strong-willed, so I tend to do this once or twice a year. I happened to get scheduled for the day after our party. I also have to show up early (I'm an 10:30 worship type person). This time, I need to be there by 8:00 (some of you clergy have no pity, I know).

Here's hoping I can make it through two services at a congregation that makes me a little uncomfortable. Talk to you later.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Office Christmas Party Week

I enjoy this week at my college. Every department has a Christmas party. We have to do it this week. Once finals start, no one is thinking about parties. Today and tomorrow are the big days. By tomorrow afternoon, I'll be eating nitrogen ice cream in the chemistry lab, dividing pie with the math teachers, and hob-nobbing with the English faculty. It's a fun couple of days!

I've always found it interesting how the liturgical year matches with the academic calendar. This Advent, some students created an Advent devotional. They handed out one reading per day. Of course, they only have to create two weeks worth of material. Also, in chapel we continue to talk about preparation, expectation, and waiting. These take on a special meaning to a student who is fretting about finals, or to a faculty member who needs to finish assignments before the deadline.

Today in chapel, we slipped into Christmas, against the wishes of the college organist. You see, Christmas doesn't exist on the academic calendar. We won't return to school until after Martin Luther King Jr. Day (shall I say St. Martin's Day?). By then, we will be will into epiphany.

Then, during the doldrums of mid-spring semester, we journey through Lent. Spring and graduation often occur either in the joy of the Easter resurrection, or very close to the pouring of the Spirit in Pentecost.

I think that our position in life shapes our perspective. I look at the academic calendar through the liturgical calendar, and it shapes how those seasons affect me. It lets me appreciate those seasons even more.

But for now, I'll enjoy a little premature Advent/Christmas tidings.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Lovely Ms. Julie Andrews

I won theatre tickets for tonight. I am a big fan of the theatre, so I'm very much looking forward to the evening.

The play that we are seeing is The Boy Friend. It is the directorial debut for Julie Andrews. I believe this was the first musical Ms. Andrews did in the United States. After that, she went on to bigger and better things.

Ms. Andrews will be present this evening to help with the publicity. I wonder if she will make an appearance to the crowd? Usually the director is never seen (and often not present on a tour). I think that she is the big "draw" for the whole show.

I did not win the grand prize. That was a pass to a party after the show where the winner will meet Ms. Andrews. But I'm OK with my own prize. I'm excited for a night of theatre. I don't know much about the plot, but I'll enjoy myself anyway.

Heck, I'll take free tickets to anything!

Monday, December 05, 2005

29...and counting...

Today is my birthday.

I am 29 years old today.

Some of my friends thought that reaching (or even approaching) 30 meant their lives were over. I was even told by someone that he thought life was over at 20.

I've decided to take a different approach. As I think back through my 20s, I realized that I had both the heights and the depths of experiences. The 20s were not flawless, nor were they pain. However, I'm going to look forward to being (nearly) at a new threshold in my life.

Of course, I still have a year of being "in my 20s". I'll have to enjoy it, and not look too far into the future.

It reminds me of a book my high school English teacher read to was called The Perfect Present. I think I would like to find that book again and read it. I probably would appreciate it more than I did when he read it to us (he and I did not get along in my high school career).

Yes...I'm 29 and I'm fabulous!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Cleaning House

Yup, that's what I've been doing most of the day. We have a Christmas party at our house next weekend, so we need to make the place look nice for it.

Here's the problem: we have a dog. And he will undoubtly want to take a walk within this next week. And he will track dirt all over the nice kitchen floor that I mopped today.

I always have a sad feeling when I have just cleaned something, or even done the dishes, and then there is something that messes it up, like a dirty glass. Even today, I had cleaned the kitchen, and my other half (trying to help) carried up some food we were going to use for our party next week. I, somewhat mockingly, flipped out that he had "ruined my beautiful kitchen" by placing a jar of salsa and a can of pineapple on the counter (don't worry, those two will not be cooked or served together).

Even after my little hissy-fit, I started to put some stuff back on the counters. Yup, my kitchen is full again. And not just because of him. I had a part in it as well. Mea culpa.

So, that's been my Sunday afternoon. I hope yours was almost as exciting!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Advent Vespers

Tonight, we are going to see Advent Vespers. It is a worship service put on by the college where I work. Many other schools tend to have a Christmas concert, but we do a full-blown worship service.

Of course, there are some in the music program who consider it nothing more than a concert, but the rest of us know better!

Lining it up as a worship service allows more people to be involved. When I was a student, I carried candles, torches, and banners. There are readings from the campus pastors, the president, faculty, and sometimes students. It goes beyond the music department to include the whole campus community.

The other major difference is that we do not charge for tickets. You do need a ticket to get in, but they are envelopes. You can put whatever amount in that you like. Free will offering!

I've enjoyed attending these last couple of years. It's nice to sit and enjoy the music and the visual elements. It's fun to pick out what students I know and what they are doing. It's fun to be an alumnus on a night like this. It's nice to be a worshipper in a community of people all connected with this college.

Last year, my other half and I gave some money to the college. We hadn't tithed in a while, so it ended up being a large chunk of money. Now we are on the "favored donors" list. Tonight, in addition to the worship, we are attending a reception and dinner for donors. It should make the evening even more interesting. I'll have to wear my nice tie!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Butt Freakin' Cold!

My dog keeps bugging me to go outside for a walk. I'm resisting, because it takes me 10 minutes to get ready to go outside. Everything has to be put on in a certain order - not because there is any ritual to it (at least, not yet), but because all these layers need to be put over one another.

First, the wool socks go over my regular, black socks. Next, the vinyl pants go over my regular pants. Then I put a hooded fleece over my clothes. Before I put the hood up, I put a tuque on my head. Then I put the hood up. Then the boots. Then the outer coat. Finally, the hat and gloves. Then I have to leash the dog up, make sure I have a poop bag, and we are on our merry way.

Then the wind hits me in the face. It is currently 16 degrees outside. I don't like the cold. Yet I endure it so my dog can get a little exercise and relief.

Because of the high costs of heating this winter, our furnace was set very low this year. I'm even cold in the house. Again, I endure because I believe in a larger picture of lower energy bills.

Some years ago, I wrote a lot of songs with a friend. We had a grand old time. Our musical collaboration is over, but the songs live on. Many of our songs are "liturgical" (as liturgical as two camp counselors could get). Every so often, I'll share a song with you. This song does not fall into the liturgical category. It's just entertaining. Right now, it seems appropriate to share our hit, "Butt, Freakin' Cold." This is an actual phrase uttered by a friend of mine. It has now become legend.

Butt freakin' cold!
I can't feel my toes.
Butt freakin' cold!
Snot is freezing in my nose.
It's butt freakin' cold.
I feel numb.

I went to be the other night.
And I woke up when I had a great fright.
My covers fell off and I could see,
That the Cold was really getting to me.
I was curled in a ball in the middle of the bed,
And if I couldn't find my blanket, I knew I'd be dead.

Because it's
Butt freakin' cold!
I can't feel my toes.
Butt freakin' cold!
Snot is freezing in my nose.
It's butt freakin' cold.
I feel numb.

I dove off the dock, and into the lake,
And as soon as I did, I started to shake.
I looked at the lifeguard, but all I could see
Was a big pair of mittens, clapping at me.

Because it's
Butt freakin' cold!
I can't feel my toes.
Butt freakin' cold!
Snot is freezing in my nose.
It's butt freakin' cold.
I feel numb.

The music was pretty good too, if I do say so myself. I think about that song, and the stories it inspired at this time of year. It's a time when I wish I lived in a much warmer climate.

May the warmth of your Advent Wreath sustain you until spring!