and my hilariously beautiful life...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Behind the Scenes

     Today is newsletter day!  Newsletter day is, well, as you may have already guessed, the day we create our Flyers, postcards, etc. for Lusk World Outreach!  This entry is kind of like a VIP backstage pass.  I'm letting you in on some ministry secrets that the rest of the world is not privy to.  And, if I could insert a sound button into the blog, you would have just experienced an on-the-edge-of-their-seats crowd oooing and ahhhing.  I wish I had a sound button so often, sigh, for so many things.  Just think of how fun it would be to have any sound you'd like at your disposal, anytime you please.  Can you imagine your kid walking in on you as you're eating the cheesecake you hid behind the brussel sprouts for such an occasion as this, and as they begin unraveling their crafty thread of reasoning of why they're entitled to a bite of the special treat,  M.C. Hammer begins belting "Can't Touch This, whoaaaaaaaa, whooaaaaa."  Hmm, Where was I before that lovely daydream...?  Oh yes, ministry distribution material...

Rule #1 for Newsletter day  - No kiddos!  We adore them, but, since Rev. Christina Lusk (who more frequently employs the alias, "Mo-ommm!") covers most of the graphic design for the ministry, she mustn't be demanded to forfeit her computer to a junkie, or become the referee of choice in the epic "He ripped the head off my doll! - I'm going to rip off his!", battles during these important design sessions.

        So, here I sit semi-alone (Michael is on the phone upstairs with some foreign somebody or other on the line.  At least, I think he is using the phone.  He's speaking so loudly it's possible that someone could hear him overseas without the device).

        How does a newsletter come to fruition?, you may ask. Well, as it's name states, it is a letter about news.  So, first off, we decide whats the latest and greatest thing happening that our precious, precious partners (ok, you should hear that precious partner bit the way I do in my head.  Think Benny Hinn... good job.  See, how easy that could've been to picture if I had that sound button.) have made happen by giving to LWO.  It's always great stuff because Jesus proves himself alive everywhere we go!  ("He's alliiivvveee." - Igor to Frankenstein's master.  Gotta get a sound button.)

      Michael is the news master.  He gets the ball rolling by writing the text he wants and choosing the photos and testimonies to be included.  And, based on budget or the amount of things we wish to report, we decide together the size the document will be when it arrives to our partners.  Smaller sizes cost considerably less, but we can tell you so much more if we opt for the full page.
     Ahhh... the photos -  sometimes we luck out and realize we've gotten some great images of people who received a miracle.  And, other times, our photographers, for whatever reason, took pictures of that pretty butterfly floating nearby, instead of the dude who just had his amputated leg grow back...  Occasionally, there's a lot of forehead slapping on Newsletter Day. We do the best we can with what we have.  (It's really not that we have bad photographers, often we have very little time to train whomever is available to work the camera.  Photo journalism is a learned skill and is much easier to do when you understand fully how the photos will be used - not something readily learned in a short time period.)

Wow... this is long.  So, if you're still with me...   Ok, I talked about text, check, photos, check...

It's my job to take the photos and the words and make something attractive out of it.  Sometimes that  works like a dream, and sometimes... Hey, I've just discovered a huge similarity between our printed materials and my blog entries.

Time wise, it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to ALL DAY and then some to complete the artistic process, and I am truly amazed and blessed by the positive feedback on my designs, because, honestly, I really don't know what the heck I'm doing.  If something looks cool, more often than not, it was one truly happy fluke.  But hey, I'll take the compliments.  They boost my stamina and keep me experimenting with techniques for the next time around.

After my design had been proof read (I'm still striving for a typo-free rough draft.) and approved by the boss, we upload it to the printshop who sends it to our AMAZING treasurer/secretary/office assistant, Shaena, who's stuffs and licks hundreds of envelopes. (Just think of all the people who come into contact with her DNA each month -no worries, she's clean.  And no, we're not too cheap or evil to get her self-stick envelopes.  The glue in them melts when she runs them through the printer.). She gets them all stamped and takes them to the post office, where a bunch of other people who don't even know they're working on God's behalf, deliver them to you.

Couple of other tidbits... lemme think.  Oh yes, lots of coffee and/or mate (mah-tay), a fair amount of glaring at the evangelist for even suggesting that I change the font on the layers I just flattened, (That means I can't make changes because I told the computer the project was finished.)  and equally fair amount of apologies for glaring...

    And my favorite Newsletter Day secret... We just about pee our pants thinking about all the exciting things we get to brag on Jesus about.  We shout and high five and sing the Hallelujah Chorus (not really something two people can do very well by themselves, IF ONLY I had a sound button, we could have some bass and soprano accompaniment) when we finally order the material, knowing that people like you will be just as excited about the miracles as we are!

Hmm, how will I end this exceedingly long dissertation on the LWO monthly updates?  I guess I'll let you end it... Pretend you can reach into my mind and press the button.  Two clicks will be a standing ovation from that same crowd in the beginning of the entry, and three is an old man with his head hanging off the bed executing a perfectly rhythmic snore - drool drip combination...

Oh wait, all this talking about newsletters... I should show you one, huh?

Also, sometimes, you know, er, just for fun - yeah, that's it... fun, we let a typo slip by.  Can you find it in the above flyer?  

Hey, I just had an idea...  Why don't you hop on our mailing list.  I'll bet you bloggeroonies will get just as excited about the stuff in them as we do!  Here, for a one-time offer, I'll even pass out my personal email address so you can send me your home address.  


P.S.  There's always room for volunteers to be a part of the history making process. 
What's your gifting or hobby?  We'd love to have YOU join our team!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ramblings of PBS Kids hostage

    Tonight, I am asking myself, "Christina, why are you even sitting down to write a blog?"  It's a valid question, since there's no way, after listening to Cookie Monster, (for an hour and a half) sing "C is for Cookie" - that's right, the SAME song, over and over,  I'll be able to, in any way, communicate with adult readers.  I'm not even sure what I just typed even makes sense.
    Noah is on such a Sesame Street kick, that as I plan my decor for my new home, I forget that this is a fleeting phase that will last but a moment, and that I don't really need to match my walls to the ever present furry characters that are ceaselessly dragged about our home and yard. Yes, indeed, I think I will put in a phone call tomorrow - "Cancel my order Sherman Williams, I came to my senses and decided against the Snuffleuffagus Sienna afterall."
     May I never forget this period of time won't last but a moment.  And, may I never forget that I am indeed an intelligent woman. This tiny blip in history may a little too often leave me wondering what's happening this very moment in world news?  Am I up to date on popular action flicks? - Negative.   I could, however, go on and on about how Ricky Gervais is the funniest celebrity to ever lull Elmo to sleep.  I could tell you that Burt and Ernie's never altered sweaters are back in style.
    Tonight as I foggy headedly write this message, I remind myself that I am the same person who got 4.0s in her college courses, who's bilingual, who plays a mean game of chess, and cannot only spell and pronounce "connoisseur", but that I am one in many things non-PBS Kids.  And, I encourage moms all over the blogosphere not to lose heart and feel like you're slipping into a never-ending sweatpants and diapers abyss... but rather, embrace such a time for what it truly is, a gift.  And, if what older people tell me is correct, it really doesn't last that long, and all too soon, we'll be looking back at these clean-the-toothpaste-out-of-the-heat-vent-AGAIN days, wishing we could spend just one more moment in them, looking into the innocent eyes that trust us completely to do what is in their best interest and shape them into the prosperous, educated, and happy adults we want them to be.

And without further ado, I must tell you, as the great Oscar the Grouch would say: NOW GET AWAY FROM MY BLOG - SCRAM!

Go ask your kids what they want to be when they grow up.  Make a card for them.  Play outside with those eager littles.  LISTEN to them.  Tell your tykes that Jesus has SUPER AWESOME plans for them (Reading Jeremiah 29:11 to them is a great way to do that)... and most importantly... Take those older folk's advice and never miss a moment you can't have back.

Much, much love,

The Extraordinary Ordinary Only Sometimes Semi-Coherent Me

PS.  Teach them good dental hygiene too.  That's important.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The First Ink

Today marked the fifth anniversary of our son's birthday.  It is sadly, also the anniversary of the day we discovered he had silently slipped into heaven.  Our grief is not nearly as heavy as it was that first year without him, as we are now able to identify passage of time, cook and eat our own meals without it seeming as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest during an avalanche, and there are, not complete days, but certainly hours that pass without thinking of that bittersweet day five years ago.

Today we (Michael and the kids, I, at the last minute decided it would be too much for me) visited his grave, the place where his tiny body lay inside his tiny coffin, inside the earth. I will visit soon, bringing fresh paint to color the crayons (His name is inside a crayon where the word Crayola usually is.) and the necessary tools to properly edge and clean his grave.  His stone also appropriately reads, "Having Fun With Jesus".

We also, as per request of Lucy, sorted through a box of mementos. We affectionally call it, "Isaac's Box".

Without fail, it always rushes back.  The lid comes off the box and we sort through locks of his soft brown hair.  Our faces snuggle into the blanket we wrapped him in durning those precious moments in which we could cuddle his tiny body before we left the hospital.  The bonnet placed on his head after his birth is set aside to allow the soaked tears to evaporate before carefully replacing it in the box.  We read the piles of cards so many dear to us sent, while wishing with all their might that they could've done more.  And we contemplate whether or not we should've written something in his empty journal with the price tag from Borders never removed.

Lucy seemed especially drawn to that journal.  She held it close and studied us, for a long time.  She admitted later she had never seen us cry like that and was waiting for the right moment to ask a question. "Mom, Dad, May I write something for Isaac in this book?" We nodded and she scurried off in search of a pen.

Extremely curious as to what she had written, I peeked over her shoulder and was moved by her happy message to her little brother:

"Today is your fifth Birth-day.  We got into your box.  My favirite thing that I found was the picture that mom drew for your gravestone and two of your ducks.  Today your little brother Noah said to dad I love" you daddy.  It was so cute.  I hope you have nice Birthdays in heaven."

It's good to remember our loved ones and our times together, even if our times together were only the times they kicked our ice cream bowl off our abdomens.  But, a little "fresh ink" moment can help draw us gently back into "the now" with a joy no sadness can conquer.  A refreshing perspective from my gem of a daughter has me basking in the present with two beautiful healthy children, and looking forward to the future when I will be surrounding myself with three.

And now, I might just grab that pen and share a thought or two in that formerly empty journal.

Goodnight, Everyone.

PS.  Lucy also asked me if Isaac's room in heaven had a closet made out of cheese balls.  I answered her with the most frequent response to her inquiries, "Honey, I really don't know, but that's a great question."