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RAIN OF WONDER

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Soren Kierkegaard said, "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Some people live in the past. Some like to live for the future. What's really hard to do, is live in the present, soaking up the here and now, living life to the fullest as if tomorrow may never come. This blog, these writings, are my record of a journey that goes both forwards and backwards. It is a record of the here and now - what I am seeing, experiencing, and loving. It is a record of my passions, my dreams, and my goals. It is a record of my successes, and my failures. It is my story, and the story I find myself in the midst of. Thanks for journeying with me.

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    As you can see, the format for my blog is a little different. There is now a navigation menu where you can choose to return to my blog, go to Blogger's Home page, visit my profile, check out my pictures, or shoot me an email. I did keep all of my original links which you can find listed in both columns. Listed directly below are links to my most recent posts. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks.

    Relevant Articles I've written:

  • The Bravery (4.18.05)
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    end 8.23.2008 |

    It's been a little over 4 years.

    Rain of Wonder has been around for a little over 4 years. It was a fun blog to have, and launched me into a whole new realm of writing. However, I believe I have come to the end of a season, a believe a new start is in order.

    Therefore, this is the end for Rain of Wonder.

    I have started a new blog which you can check out at:

    http://tosinginthesilence.blogspot.com

    I'd love to see you there!

    Goodnight, and good luck, Rain of Wonder... We had a good run.

    little kid life lessons 8.03.2008 |

    There's something so amazing about kids and their ability to share their hearts. I seriously sometimes think I learn the most from people under the age of 10.

    Tonight I made a new friend. She's in the 3rd grade. And she likes to draw.

    She is also about to be a big sister.

    She also wants to play basketball in school.

    Her dog also just recently died. So did her grandpa.

    She also moves a lot, and hates having to say goodbye to her friends.

    And she has an aunt in her life who she says feels is more like her "dad."

    Wasn't totally sure what that meant... but that's beside the point.

    It was interesting to me how, in the short span of time I sat across from her coloring, that she shared so much of her life with me. I belong to a church plant in Bayview called Veritas, where our pastors Tim and Vicky are passionate about EXPERIENCING God, not just talking about him. They create opportunities for us to engage with God's word in tactile ways - things like drawing, which was exactly what we did tonight. I could see my soon-to-be little friend quickly run over to the table, pick up a piece of paper, and begin to draw. Initially, I wondered if I should sit down by her and start to color, or if that would just freak her out. I decided to go with my gut, which was saying "I WANT TO COLOR!"

    I sat down across from her, and within a few seconds, she was politely asking to use the color I was using. I had great plans for my brown colored pencil, but opted to infuse some other colors in my drawing so that she could use the brown pencil. From that point on, my little friend became an open book. She shared with me her excitement and fears for school. She told me she was about to become a big sister. She told me all about her interactions with her family, and about her Grandma who has 7 dogs, 3 cats, a bird, some turtles, and possibly some other animals, not to mention an entire household of people. She quickly warned me against some of the dogs as well, telling me they are quite mean. Good to know. Her stories went on and on, and I was absolutely amazed by her desire to share them with me. I felt so honored to have a glance into this little girl's life, and that she trusted me enough to share it all with me.

    As we got closer to finishing our pictures, I noticed she had drawn some grass with a tree in the middle, and a little girl standing next to the tree. I asked her what she drew, and if the little girl was her. She answered with a yes, and I also asked her if the little bubble above her head with "God," written in it, was a prayer. She said, "I'm praying to God, telling him I'm sad about my dog."

    My heart just melted. This little girl was so sad about her dog dying, and simply wrote out a little prayer to God to let him know she was sad. It wasn't written out of anger towards God, as if she believed he took away the puppy. It was not her complaining to God because she no longer has her friend. She was merely expressing her sadness to God as a friend, trusting that he'd provide her with comfort...

    This past week has been an incredibly hard week for me for multiple reasons. There really isn't any need for me to explain why it was a rough week, but it indeed was quite difficult on many levels. What is interesting to me is that this little girl showed me something I've had a lot of people try telling me before, and I just didn't get it. She showed me what it is to just "be" in whatever emotion you're feeling... and even a step further, to express it to God. So often, I try to "figure it out" before the IDEA of talking to God even crosses my mind. I analyze, I rationalize, I compartmentalize... anything I can do to "fix the situation," when instead, I need to simply write a letter that says, "God, I'm sad..." and just be with God, in my sadness. No fixing, no blaming, no complaining. Just being...

    So often, I think I have to figure it out... I have to not FEEL. I grew up in a culture where feelings were not to be trusted, so I continually shoved them aside or ignored them. It worked for a little while, but the older I got, and the more I stuffed, the more I learned I couldn't stuff for much longer. Now, as an adult, I'm learning how to handle my emotions and work through them. Needless to say, the process has been quite ugly...

    But it's interesting to me how people like my little friend tonight, can show me something so profound in something so simple as a colored pencil drawing. My heart melted by her genuine openness and honesty with me, and her willingness to be sad before God. She could have easily written angry words in the bubble, asking "God, why did you take my dog?" or demanding "God, I want another puppy!" Instead, she just simply said to me, "I am telling him I'm sad."

    As we finished coloring our pictures, I told her I was glad to have met her, and that I hope I get to see her next week so we could color some more together. She gave me a big grin, said it was nice to meet me too, and we then parted ways. She taught me a lesson I've been trying to learn for years... My blog entry doesn't do justice in describing our conversation, or this little girl's heart. But I'm so thankful to have met my little friend, and am indebted to her for the little kid life lesson.

    May I be a person who faces my emotions, and learns to be more open and honest with those around me. May I learn to live with my emotions, and not always try to "fix" them. And may I allow the God who designed me to be an emotional being, engage with me in those moments.

    48 Hour Film Project - Take One 6.23.2008 |



    (I have a lot to write about the film project I was a part of this weekend, so I plan to write it in two different entries. Take One is my journey leading up to the film project, and a little bit about the film project. Take Two will be more a “play-by-play” of the actual project.)

    As long as I can remember, storytelling has been a part of my life. When I was little, my friend Leah and I created our own television station where we created spoof televisions shows such as The B-Team (second string to the A-team), 14 Karat Gold (a hippie version of Solid Gold) and Star Trek: The Lost Generation (another hippie version… we were obsessed with hippies). We took an animation class at the Milwaukee Art Museum where I first learned to use a Super 8 camera. When I was in high school, I made a couple videos for my school. When I was at Judson College, I helped my friend Andrew create videos to show for a variety of events. When I went to UWM, I took all sorts of film classes, and I met someone who offered me a connection with Paramount Pictures. Even now, I find myself wondering about what my life would have looked like if I had picked up and moved to L.A. like I had planned… But while I didn’t move to L.A., and film has not played as large a role in my life as of late, I am still inspired by films.

    I remember when I first met Warren Matson, and he learned of my love for film… He said something like, “We should make a film together one day!” We quickly had a connection because of our love for film, and telling stories. He even started a “film club” where he and I, along with our friend Simon, got together once a month to watch movies together and talk about them afterwards. He introduced me to more classic movies, I introduced him to a few foreign films (hooray Werckmeister Harmonies!), and from then on, every time we saw each other, we found ourselves talking about movies.

    Last year, I heard about the 48 Hour Film Project through a guy named Jake, whose father I worked with at the Rescue Mission. For a reason that seems to escape me now, he was unable to enter his film. But I remember at the time thinking the concept of the 48 hour film project was spectacular… scary, but spectacular.

    Warren and I talked about the film project a couple of times, until one day, Warren told me that he was serious about entering, and was looking to create a team. With much delight, I accepted his invitation to join his team.

    Now, my knowledge/experience with filmmaking is minimal, at best. I was an English major with a minor in Film Studies, but I had never actually been involved in making a movie. Videos yes, films no. I’ve helped my brother make some videos, including a spin off of Shyamalan’s “Signs,” but my role was very small and insignificant. As far as camera work, I’ve worked as a cameraman for conferences, but in those situations, the camera is pretty well set up, and I was not required to adjust much aside from the focus and cropping. I’ve also helped shoot footage for my brother before, but again, there were other cameramen on hand, so it was not imperative that my footage be valuable. Needless to say, going into the 48 hour film project, I didn’t have much experience.

    Originally, our team seemed to be a bit of a ragged group – with different skill levels, and none of us having done anything too professional. However, as our group began to grow, Warren recruited some very talented, very experienced filmmakers.

    If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m slightly intimidated to work on projects with people who have high expectations. I remember a few years back, I worked on a video where I was the sole cameraman, and I was expected to get decent shots/interviews in a VERY short period of time. We had horrible lighting (an no lights to supplement) and our sound equipment totally malfunctioned. The person I was working with was had very high expectations and was clearly aggravated. Ever since then, I’ve been afraid of producing work for highly experienced, well-skilled people.

    When I found out I’d be working as a cameraman under these individuals, panic immediately set in. With the time constraints put on us, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to move fast enough and produce what they wanted. I feared I wasn’t qualified enough to serve in the role I’d been asked.

    However, as the day approached, it looked as though my responsibilities would be different than I expected (which was good!). Instead, I was to serve as assistant cameraman, helping the camera operator by moving the camera, plugging in all the cords, and wrangling them if need be. This seemed to be a role I could handle a bit better, though there was still a learning curve.

    I met Mitch, Megan, and Drew a few weeks before the project. The three of them are well versed in the world of film, and they would definitely prove to be unbelievably valuable on set. I mostly worked with Mitch, who served as the director of photography, as well as the cameraman and lighting director. He is very smart and experienced when it comes to film, but he could not have been any more patient with the varying skill levels he had to work with. He was willing to teach all of us, and was great to work for. I hope that some day in the future I get the opportunity to work with him again as I feel I could learn a great deal from him.

    The project was completed with 4 minutes to spare. We found out the genre and necessary “includes” for the film, wrote the film, and created a shot list all on Friday night, shot all day Saturday, edited Saturday night and Sunday, and laid down the soundtrack Sunday afternoon. I have yet to see the finished product, but am extremely excited to see the fruit of this journey.

    While my role was small, I feel like I learned a lot – if anything, just being on a film set was incredible. I’ve been in love with film for a long time, and have always wanted to experience what it would be like to be a part of a film. While this was on a small scale, it gave me a good glimpse into the world of movie making, and I was glad to be a part of it.

    Thanks to all the people I met while working on this project – I had a blast.

    storm 4.25.2008 |


    It's 3:41am. I fell asleep at 7:30pm. Hence my being wide awake at 3:41am.

    I'm laying in bed as I write this, sitting below an open window, listening to the thunderstorm as it is barking outside. I absolutely love thunderstorms. They make my heart so incredibly happy. I took the above picture last summer during a thunderstorm. It was my first attempt at a long exposure... Obviously, I did not have the hang of it. But the photo still turned out kind of fun. Anyway, with the little bit of coherency I have right now this early in the morning, I started thinking about why I love thunderstorms so much. I think part of the reason is because I have so many great memories attached to thunderstorms...

    1. When I was a little kid, my best friend Leah and I tried to create our very own weather station. We were convinced we were going to predict the weather, and provide the neighborhood with information so they could prepare for storms. Granted, we knew nothing about meteorology, but we'd sit in our weather station (ironically, a tree) and let everyone (ok, our parents) know when a storm was coming (um, basically, the sky would be pitch black... anyone would know a storm was coming...). Leah and I both had phones in our basements, so whenever the sirens went off and we'd have to head down to the basement, she and I would call each other on the phone and talk about the great storm that was outside, and what we were hearing on the radio. I have such great memories of talking with her on the phone during storms.

    2. Speaking of being in the basement... I love my mom dearly. She's a great mom, and always wanted us to be safe. But we had a lot of really crazy thunderstorms when I was little. Therefore, we would OFTEN go down to the basement during storms, despite some of our protesting (my brother and I, and sometimes my dad, would always want to sit on the front porch and watch). I have great memories though of sitting in the basement, in the dark (our power went out a bit) with a flashlight, listening to the siren and the radio, and waiting for the "all clear" to go back upstairs. I remember seeing my dad without his glasses - which seemed so unusual. I remember my mom being slightly worried that none of us were worried. And I remember both my brother and I being excited by the loud and bright fiasco happening right outside our windows.

    3. I remember once, for some reason, there was a horrible storm outside and for some reasons, the sirens hadn't gone off. I think I was old enough that my brother was away at college, and I remember my dad and I stepping outside to watch the storm. It was incredibly dark outside for the middle of the day, with crazy amounts of wind. I remember being excited because the sirens HADN'T gone off, and we were able to convince my mom that since they hadn't gone off, we didn't need to go down the basement. I remember standing outside with my dad, looking up at the sky, and talking about how great it felt to be in the middle of it. We talked about the power of storms and what a tornado might feel like. These kinds of moments between my dad and I were kind of rare, and I cherished every one of them... This memory in particular sticks out to me because I felt like we were getting away with something... We were outside in the middle of a storm, when we probably should have been inside taking cover.

    4. One of my greatest memories from Judson College is when my crazy roommate and I, along with our two friends Emily and Kristy from the 3rd floor of our dorm, would go out and play during the middle of thunderstorms. Now, I realize, this was not the safest thing in the world, as I have a friend who was struck by lightning, and just barely survived. However, we had SO much fun. We'd run all over campus: we'd run to all the dorms and see if we could find anyone else to join in our rain dance, and we'd run to all the computer labs - drenched - to find any of our friends who might join in... The parking lots had huge pot holes which created for amazing puddles to jump in. There was a spot, right in front of the chapel, where the ground was uneven, and created for a trench of sorts... We would run and slide across this on our backs or stomachs as nature's own slip-n-slide. Sure we'd get grass in places where the sun doesn't shine, but it was well worth it. I loved being out in the rain. Taking walks in the rain is probably one of my most favorite things to do... something I haven't really done since my days at Judson, and something I soon need to resurrect.

    5. Another memory from Judson was a tape I received from my friend Colin. We'd gone quite a long period without having any good thunderstorms. Just a bunch of dreary rain. I was lamenting to my friend Colin about it, that I hadn't been able to fall asleep to the sound of rain pounding on the roof, or thunder rumbling in the distance. the next day, he hands me a tape. He'd created an entire tape with thunderstorm sounds on it so that in the absence of thunderstorms, I could listen and fall asleep to the tape and at least PRETEND that there was a thunderstorm outside. How great is that? My friend Colin was amazing... and to this day, I think it's one of the most amazing gifts I've ever received.

    6. The last memory I'll share happened the night before my high school graduation. We had a horrible storm. While there weren't actually any tornados per se, there might as well have been. We had 80mph winds, and some pretty violent lightning. Once the storm had subsided, my brother and I somehow convinced my mom to let us go out in the car and survey the damage at like 4:00 in the morning. My brother and I hopped in the car, and found that there were more streets blocked than streets we could drive down. Trees were down everywhere. People were out in their yards, in the streets, surveying the damage. I can't ever remember a time being outside at 4am and seeing so many other people outside at 4am. We drove past a park where we grew up, and there were at least 30 trees split right in half, laying all over the park floor and the surround streets. While this storm created for some sadness in our hearts (our childhood park would never look the same as they had to cut down most of the trees, and there were a lot of people who suffered quite a bit of damage to their house) I remember feeling like my brother and I were on an adventure. We had to try to navigate around the city and find streets that were actually open. We talked about all the people we saw, all the crazy things we saw... It's one of my favorite memories with my brother, actually...

    There are so many other memories I could write about... but seeing as how it is the middle of the night, and my brain isn't at full capacity, I thought I'd write about the memories that stuck out to me. I love thunderstorms, and am so grateful I woke up for a half an hour of bliss this evening.

    Thanks for reading my fun memories of thunderstorms... my heart is happy right now.

    walk away 3.08.2008 |

    Sometimes, we come across songs that seem to reach deep within us. Right now, for me, in this moment, it is "Walk Away" by Ben Harper. It's beautiful. It's sad. And I love it. It has been on repeat on my iPod, and I now share it with you.

    Walk Away - Ben Harper

    Oh no
    Here comes that sun again
    That means another day
    Without you my friend

    And it hurts me
    To look into the mirror at myself
    And it hurts even more
    To have to be with somebody else
    And its so hard to do
    And so easy to say
    But sometimes
    Sometimes you just have to walk away
    Walk away

    With so many people
    To love in my life
    Why do I worry
    About one

    But you put the happy
    In my ness
    You put the good times
    Into my fun
    And its so hard to do
    And so easy to say
    But sometimes
    Sometimes you just have to walk away
    Walk away
    And head for the door

    We've tried the goodbye
    So many days
    We walk in the same direction
    So that we could never stray
    They say if you love somebody
    Than you have got to set them free
    But I would rather be locked to you
    Than live in this pain and misery

    They say time will
    Make all this go away
    But its time that has taken my tomorrows
    And turned them into yesterdays
    And once again that rising sun
    Is dropping on down
    And once again you my friend
    Are nowhere to be found
    And its so hard to do
    And so easy to say
    But sometimes
    Sometimes you just have to walk away
    Walk away
    And head for the door
    You just walk away
    Walk away

    results 2.13.2008 |



    I have a picture.

    This is my little friend Elijah. I haven't seen Elijah in months. He's probably so much bigger, and all the more adorable... I miss him immensely.

    But I thought this picture was fitting for this entry. We were having so much fun when we took this picture - laughing and laughing - so much, it was difficult to get a picture that wasn't blurry. A little over a week ago, I posted an entry about a "joy journey" I would take. I would like to clarify that what I'm about to list is not my main source of joy... rather, these are the things that when I am down, frustrated, sad, angry, annoyed... fill in the blank... that I look to, that help me remember the little things in life worth celebrating. My brother's friend Shauna wrote a book called "Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life." I love the title for this book, and I love the contents of the book even more. Shauna is so good at loving life, and celebrating even the simplest of things.

    And that was the purpose of my joy journey - to exercise my ability to focus on celebration rather than frustration, to recognize beauty in life, rather than ugliness, and to remember that being a kid - or rather, enjoying the life-giving activities of children - is sometimes far more fun than being an adult.

    So, without further introductory rambling, I present to you my joys list from the past week:

    - Listening to the "Curious George" soundtrack at work.
    - Coloring on my lunch break.
    - Random invite out to lunch by a favorite co-worker
    - Spelling out words one letter at a time in the email subject line
    - Wetsuit-sporting rubber duck my boss brought back from her business trip
    - Uncontrollable-laughter-which-leads-to-crying
    - Facebook messages from people I haven't seen/talked to in a while
    - My co-worker Kate, and all our weird quirky jokes
    - Friends who encourage me to pursue what I love
    - This amazing coloring book I found at Barnes and Noble, that one day, I will own
    - Dreaming about planting a church
    - Friends who suggest children's books for me to read
    - When a person brushes about 8 inches of snow off my car... anonymously
    - Snow days
    - Nerd glasses - especially when worn by a one Mr. Nigel
    - M. Night Shyamalan movies
    - Little kid giggles
    - Funny miscommunications (still wondering how "Nelson-Rowe" = "Nosow")
    - Unexpected thoughtfulness from others
    - New music playlists

    I'm sure there were more, but these were the "documented" ones. I had a great week. Lots of events, lots of people, and lots of moments that contributed to a what I would consider a week filled with joy.

    It was interesting to see, how when I made a conscious decision to focus on the positive, how much more quickly the negative seemed to disappear. I found it interesting how much my attitude changed the more I chose to celebrate, rather than sulk. It didn't always work. I still found moments where I was down, or frustrated...

    But I started to wonder what might happen if I made it a habit of doing this daily? Instead of it being some sort of experiment for a blog post, if it were to become a lifestyle? I am both excited and challenged by this joy journey, and where it has taken me. I can only hope that as I move forward, I am able to continue the journey in a way that goes beyond a one week experiment, but rather, something that will forever transform my ability to celebrate the extraordinary in every day life.

    commitment 2.06.2008 |

    Earlier this week, as I was sitting at my desk at work, daydreaming about how glorious a snow day would be, I received an email from my friend. It simply said,

    “Deep.

    Ham and eggs. A days work for the chicken, a lifetime commitment for the pig.”

    Deep.”

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I laughed pretty hard, and thanked my friend for providing me with a humorous intermission during my somewhat monotonous day. However, this quote kept replaying over and over in my head, and I began to think about the truth behind it’s statement.

    I know, I know… Gosh Tory, why do you have to make everything so serious and deep? Well, simple answer: Because I can. I love humor, and I definitely enjoyed the humorous angle to the above statement. But I also love when I discover profound thought and truth in simple things, especially when it smacks me over the head, as it often does.

    I began to think more about this quote, and actually found some interesting alternatives. One such alternative reads:

    "The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.”

    I use the term “committed” so loosely sometimes. I’m committed to eating healthier (which is why I’ve eaten too many pieces of banana bread today). I’m committed to writing a “quote series” on my blog (which is why I haven’t written for three days). I’m committed to becoming a better photographer (and yet, ask me how many photos I’ve taken in the past month – it’s pathetic, really). I’m committed to following Jesus (which is why I daily have to remind myself of that commitment). So often do I say I’m committed, and so often do I fail to truly understand what that means.

    However, I don’t think commitment is something to take lightly.

    I’m not always so flippant about commitment… In fact, it is a trait I strive to own. Take when I worked at the Mission… I worked so many hours off the clock, spent so many dollars of the money I made while actually punched in, and gave a huge piece of my heart away to children and friends I adored. I lived and breathed everything that was going on while I was there. I loved it. It was my passion, and I was committed to it 110%.

    However, I started to think about the things I’m NOT so passionate about… Where I currently work, being one of those things. I am committed because I signed an agreement that said I would be an employee of ASQ. I am committed because working there pays my bills – if I don’t work, I don’t have money to pay rent, which would mean I ultimately wouldn’t have a place to live. I’m committed because I gave them my word that every day, I would show up at 8, and work until 5. However, I’m not passionate about it. It is just a commitment I have made that day in and day out, I keep to because I have to. It’s not really an option.

    The thing that stuck out to me about commitment in the story of ham and eggs though, and the difference between situation one and situation two is this idea of sacrifice. How far does my commitment go, and what am I willing to sacrifice for it? This became tough when I started looking at other areas of my life, and how committed I am to them.

    How committed am I to going to and being a sacrificial member of a church?

    How committed am I to loving my neighbors, no matter what the cost?

    How committed am I to loving my co-workers, even if it means I don’t like my job?

    How committed am I to following Jesus, no matter how messy it gets?

    How much am I willing to sacrifice for these things?

    I began to wonder if I’m more like the chicken – simply a donor of minor proportions; or more like the pig – who gives his entire life for the cause. Sadly, I think more often than not, I’m a chicken.

    I wonder if that’s where the taunting phrase came from. You know when you’re a kid, and you’re afraid to do something – they yell “Chicken!” To some extent, what they’re really saying is, “You’re scared to commit. You’re scared to see what could really happen if you let go of it all… You’re too afraid to sacrifice it all for this one, big thing.”

    That’s me… all the way. I’m scared to commit to what I don’t know or understand. I’m scared to see what could happen if I really let go. And I’m scared to sacrifice it all, even though I know it’s for something far better. Basically, I’m scared to be the pig.

    But scary as it may be, commitment requires that I be the pig. It requires that I move beyond being a passive donor, and move towards being a sacrificial contributor. It requires that I no longer give just part of me, but all of me.

    May I be a person who provides the ham, not just eggs.

    (ps. check back later this week for a drawing I created in my journal to go with this post... should be up in the next couple of days)

    RAIN OF WONDER

    "Soren Kierkegaard said, "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." This is a record of my journey in both directions. "