Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Oh, my friends...


...I am so glad you are not dead!"--Sallah, Indiana Jones, quoted ad infinitum by my friends and me whenever we reunite.

Jessi and Anne have been halfway around the world having adventures. Today I get to pick them up.

Aaaaand...there was much rejoicing.

Friendships like these don't come along every day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Design*Snark

This week is getting busy, with a friend's wedding on Friday and with preparation for my annual work at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds with local non-profit group Teens for Christ. About 10 years ago, TFC bought a booth in the Expo building at the local fairgrounds. With our student volunteers, we raise a bit of money and a bit of awareness for the group in our community, and we teach students the skills of making coffee(a huge industry in our area!) and serving an excellent product. Anyway, with that ministry, my schedule is tight this week, so I was excited to get my first guest post submission idea from my friend and co-worker, Sarah Knepper, a Graphic Designer by profession, an artist by choice, and a snark-monger by necessity. Any fruit-logo'd products promoted below are Sarah's responsibility. Enjoy!

I'm honored to have this opportunity to guest-feature on Jana's terrific blog. We've worked together for about two years now and of all the people I've met across our company, she is definitely the most open to creative suggestion. I've often heard (and repeated) that "Everyone thinks they're a designer" but Jana is one of the few artists humble enough to admit where her experience ends, but good taste begins. On a dreary day, she is instrumental in joining in for a little "design snark" to get the juices flowing. So when I realized there were so many tell-tale signs of a "non-designer", she was only too happy to help comb through the list of somewhat wacky criticisms, and even, on occasion, to take a few to heart. With delight, she told me last week, "I'm a better person because I read your list!" So, to educate the masses and hopefully afford a few laughs at their expense, I present the first of a series of lists aimed at ridding the world of sub-par design. Enjoy!

You know you're not a designer if...

You've ever "designed" a flyer in Powerpoint.
You've ever asked to photoshop "out" or "in" people.
Bleed or cut marks make you think of emo teenagers.
PMS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantone) is an emotional state.
You use underlines. At all.
Leading rhymes with pleading.
You think that Nissan made the pathfinder.
A histogram is something you get at the hospital.
The only graphic design joke you know is about Comic Sans.
Italic means the same thing as cursive.
The words "retouching" and "stroke weight" make you feel uncomfortable.
"GD" is a cuss word.
You pronounce gif like its a brand of peanut butter.
Royalty-free means democratic.
You center anything.
You'd expect a clipping path to be a shortcut in the park.
You've asked why there are Latin words ("Lorem ispum dolor sit amet") in a design comp.
You think glossy LCD's are the the best kind of screen.
You run up to the printer yelling "Stop the presses!" every time you accidentally print 100 copies instead of 1.
You've ever had a custom-printed mousepad.
You've ever used more than two fonts in the same project.
White balance is a form of affirmative action.
You've never cleaned your keyboard.
You type two spaces after periods.
You staunchly believe anything smaller than 12pt is too small to read.
You think the client is always right.

Oh, and you use a PC.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A "Just" Life

"I know exactly what my five-year plan is."

Jeni surprised Sara and I in the middle of a conversation about how hard and scary it is to think about life in a five-year plan.

"I know what I want. I want to be living in Arizona, because you can get a great house for way less than here. I want to be married, well, hopefully, and have probably 2 kids by then." She grinned at us guilelessly as we stared a bit, then carefully avoided meeting each others' eyes. Sara cautiously implied that the picture she was painting might be more related to dream than to plan, but Jeni sailed past that warning sign glibly.

Perhaps Jeni got her dream. Some people's dreams seem to work out better than the best-laid plans. But if the dream doesn't work out 5 or 10 years down the road, where do you go? When other people got your dreams, but you're still waiting?

One of the biggest temptations I face when I wander mentally down that road of "why" is the "just" question. Lord, I just wanted ________, is that so much to ask? You gave _______ to __________, why not me?

Fill in the blank with one of your own unfulfilled desires, but they key word is "just." My vision of what my life could be is so small; I "just" want _________.

God wants more than that. He doesn't want "just" _________ for me. He wants things like good, satisfied, rested, joyful, peaceful, passionate. He wants a whole person, who helps others become whole, who help others become whole.

My vision is so small. "Just" isn't enough anymore.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nothing in Between

“O, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace!
…But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.”

–Beatrice,
Much Ado About Nothing

I’ve heard rumors over the years that I’m an intimidating girl for nice Christian guys to ask out. Naturally, I think this is hilarious, but now and then wonder secretly if I’m doing something wrong. One of my comforts is that Beatrice was intimidating, too.

I wish I could carry through that intimidation to the creeps who cross my path every once in a while, too. A few weeks ago, I came out of the grocery store to my car. I had just come from work and was wearing office clothes. As I put the grocery bag in the back seat, I became suddenly aware of a low voice speaking from the passenger window of the car next to me, a monologue in an undertone that I couldn’t quite catch except for a few filthy words. I turned to see who was speaking, and he abruptly looked away until I turned back to my car, then carried on the monologue and the stare as I got into the car and drove away. Ugh. A few days ago I was walking up from my office, in a busy downtown district, to meet my friend Eliot at a coffee shop, and got chatted up while waiting for crosswalks by TWO different men of obviously less-than-stellar character and implication. Again, I do a mental self-check of my clothing and note that jeans, a long shirt, and a loose jacket are not asking for any attention in that regard. The summer camp director in me even agrees that I could “praise the Lord” (raise my hands above my head) or say “oops, I dropped my lanyard” (reach to pick something up from the floor), with no untoward consequences.

Whenever it happens, I feel vulnerable, unprotected. But even worse is when the same attitude comes from someone who is not a stranger.

When “nice Christian guys” display some thought, look, word or action that reveals the real injustice of their hearts toward a woman (or women in general), it triggers such a spark of rage in me that Beatrice’s cry rings in my ears. I have spent a lot of time listening to many of my girl friends over the years. Since relationships are usually a fair amount *please read irony into that* of what all girls struggle with, I’ve heard stories that grieve me, stories of hurts inflicted by men in their lives, some outright abusive and most just somewhere on the scale of bumbling to self-centered. It happens oftener than you might think, and often enough that I find myself terribly discouraged some days at the long years that, on bad days, seem to stretch on ahead…alone, because I refuse to settle for “nice”, (a word which here means, a veneer of politeness covering a heart guided by lust, bitterness, shame, fear-driven decision making, laziness and self-focus.)

I do sound intimidating, don’t I?

I'm intimidated by it myself. I face (and almost daily fail) the same challenges every day, too. It's a battle to not live a false or double life in any sense. To keep my heart and mind steeped in the Word. To live a quiet life. To rejoice and to grieve with my friends. To cultivate my thought life and my time, to pull the weeds and encourage the fruit-bearing plants with food, water, and sunlight. To be willing to say no. To be willing to say yes.

To be willing to settle for nothing in between.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What I think about church at the moment

I worked at a large church in the Bay Area for over a year, and 90% of it was wonderful. I went to almost every event, and always had friends to meet. I was involved in 3 different ministries as a leader; Jr. High, Sunday morning coffee serving volunteers, and even a short-lived young adult study group. I babysat for MOPS on Friday mornings, I worked with the women's book club, I took Bible classes, I helped with events.

Now and then, I would hear complaints from other singles who found it difficult to connect. It sounded a lot like whining to me. "After all," I would think, "church isn't there to fulfill you personally. It's there for you to become a part of the family. Get involved, and then maybe you'll experience connection."

I have been on some sort of ministry inner circle since I was 13 years old, and my youth pastor changed my life by inviting me on a leadership trip. I thanked him at the end of the trip for letting me come "even though I'm not a leader." He smiled and said "You may not realize it, Jana, but I've got plans for you."

And he did. He made me try teaching, organizing, greeting people, thinking out of my comfort zone, mission trips, missional thinking, Bible study, Bible memorization, quiet times, fasting, outreach, witnessing, fundraising, and more. All of those elements became core to my life for the next leaps into working at Worldview Academy, going to a christian University, teaching at a Christian school after university, and working at a church after that. He gave me a sense of purpose in ministry leadership.

I think I became very reliant on being in the "inner circle." It was the best place to be, and I felt at home there. My struggle now is how to be good at being a regular attender at my large home church where my family has been for almost 20 years. I am heavily involved in 2 other ministries, and my schedule is already full; in fact, I've made some deliberate choices this year to cut back on the amount of time I have dedicated so I can spend more time with writing and art projects.

How do you get up the effort to go to church? To walk in the doors alone, knowing you may not even see someone you know? To know that no one would miss you if you don't show up? After a work week fraught with stress, how do you leave a welcomingly silent Sunday morning at home with coffee and comforting hum of the refrigerator and a good book to sit an an air-conditioned lecture room and mouth the words to songs you don't really know anymore?

It's time to leave for the late service, so I'm off. I'll be going to church for the first time in a month. I'll let you know how it goes.