Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leaf People Art

I am always looking for artistic and creative projects to do with my students. Not only do I want to build up experience teaching arts lessons, but I want to expose my students to as much art as I can. God knows that need a healthy outlet to express themselves other than name calling.

I found this idea online for “Stick People.” I should really think of a better name. I had the time that day, so I was able to walk around my neighborhood and collect sticks and interesting types of leaves. It was nice to be in the neighborhood and notice the trees and the leaves that I normally would not have noticed. I did get some strange looks from neighbors as I would stop to pick up a leaf here and a twig there. It probably looked like I was picking up trash, but no, just leaves.

I created an example for my students. Although I don’t like putting ideas into their head about what their art should look like, I did want them to have some framework and structure, and not just start gluing down leaves randomly. The younger ones will do this. I was very impressed with their level of creativity. One student tore a long leaf to make boots for her person. Another student made a scooter to go alongside his person. After they made the stick people I decided to use the art a step further and incorporate character development into this project. I applied some lessons I learned from Inner City Arts. I asked the students to think about who this stick person was that they had created. What was their name? How old were they? Where did they live? What did they like to do? I just asked them to think about it, but they in fact wanted to write it all out. I was also very surprised at how in depth they were able to create characters in a very short amount of time. I had the students share their art with each other and tell about the character that they created. If I had more time, I would have had them start acting out these characters. I really enjoyed watching them create this art and see how they each created something very unique to who they were. Usually my students will never choose to do art when offered to play outside instead, but they do enjoy it once they get going. I was one of my more fulfilling moments at this job. Now I need to think about how I can continue to build off those great imaginations.

Monday, March 21, 2011

6 Months in Review

So we are half way through Megan’s Life in LA Season 1. I have been living in LA for about 6 months now. I thought I would look back at the episodes of this season and what God has been doing.

Safety. I have been pleasantly surprised with how safe I felt here thus far. I expected to be a lot more fearful about walking to my car and being at home alone. I am surprised at how quickly I have adjusted to being more cautious, not coming home too late, and calling my roommates when I am walking in. Although I have not seen or experienced any violence, that does not mean that this area is void of danger. Just a week ago, a friend from my bible study was mugged while walking home when it was light out. Given the reality of neighborhood, I am thankful that the Lord has protected my roommates and me and not made me overly fearful in living here.

Roommates. My roommates have far exceeded any expectation I had about living in community. Although I have had amazing roommates in the past, this has been a much different experience. Without all the busyness of college and campus ministry, I have been able to live life more with my roommates. Between sharing groceries, eating meals, cooking for each other, and praying for each other it has been quite the bonding experience. It’s also nice to be able to invite people over for dinner which seems to be more common place here than going out to a restaurant. Much cheaper too. I love our cozy little place!

Jobs. Being unemployed or partially employed for 6 months has definitely pressed some buttons in me about where my security comes from. I was forced to understand God as my Provider when my savings account that I built up the last 2 years began to quickly deplete. But I have never been without anything that I needed. By the grace of God I am currently working 2 part time jobs. One is for Star Education, an afterschool program. I have a lot of kindergarteners that are super cute. I have some freedom in the activities that I plan for them. I enjoy coming up with educational activities, art lessons, and of course theatre games. Disciple and authority with them has been a challenge but I am learning about how to love them as Jesus does. My second job is with a company called Street Beat. They are similar to Stomp in that they create music on repurposed instruments like trash cans and buckets. They also combine break dancing and parkour into their show. I am basically the personal assistant for the artistic director of the company. I job involves spearheading different projects that I have no experience with. I’ve been able to learn more about marketing, social media, networking, and arts education though I don’t know what I am doing most of the time. The hours of this job come and go. Although I am grateful for the work that God has given me, I never expected still feel this unstable in my job(s) 6 months after moving here. I think I really underestimated the job market given that after graduating it only took me 3 weeks to find a full time job.

Neighbors. Really being absorbed into this neighborhood is more difficult than I anticipated. Although I know the people in my building I can not say that I have a friendship with them. The cultural, gender, and generation gaps have made it hard for me to know how to best engage with them. As I take walks around the neighborhood, I pray for them, but don’t know how to meet new neighbors. There are opportunities to talk to people while waiting at the laundry mat, but I have been fearful of the language barrier and don’t really know what to say. I often feel defeated and don’t even want to try. I feel disappointed with myself that I have let fear paralyze me. I pray that God will give me more boldness, opportunities, and ways to care for the people in this neighborhood. You can be praying for me in this area.

Church. I have decided to attend Church of the Redeemer, Kevin Blue’s church for you IV and LAUP folk. The church is a multicultural/bilingual community of Christians who are dedicated to be in the community for the community. While I know that I do not have complete ownership over the mission of the church, I want God to grow my heart and actions toward this mission. I started going to a bible study on Mon nights. I am grateful for the people that I have met there. There is a family in the group that I babysit for. I get to watch this adorable little guy who will just sit with me let me sing songs to him for hours. It’s heaven, I tell you, heaven. I still feel like a bit of an outsider with the church at large, but I am grateful for the friendships that I have been able to make thus far.

Well that Season 1 so far. Highlights: My nephew being born, volunteering with Inner City Arts and taking the Creativity in the Classroom series, roommate bonding over a game of Quelf, singing songs to the kiddo I babysit, helping my students in Star engage with art, and enjoying the rainy season.

It’s has been a fairly smooth transition settling in. Now that I am situated, I am starting to think about more long term plans. Where am I going career wise? Where should I invest ministry wise? What skills do I need to develop? What friendships and people should I invest my time into? I anticipate that the next 6 months will feel a bit more jolting, as I consider these plans for the future.

Thank you to those who support and care for me, pray for me, and read my blog.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tales of Target

I love Target! I always have. The experience is relaxing and restful for me. (Except during the Christmas season). I could just walk around even if I have nothing to buy. Not like Walmart. I hate Walmart. I could write a whole other blog post about why I hate Walmart. I never shop at Walmart. But Target is amazing.

Things I love about Target:

· Wide isles

· Relaxing colors

· Usually not overly crowded, or at least it usually doesn’t seem that way

· Dollar spot

· Easy to find where thing are

· Most target have the same set up, so when I got into a new target usually I can easily find things

· I always find cool things there

· 5 dollar movies deals (dangerous though). DVD section is a huge temptation for me.

Today I was in Target and overheard some interesting conversations. Here are some one liners I caught as I was strolling about

Dad talking to his two little kids, “Well soon you’ll be 6 and that is just off the hook. I mean 6 is amazing.”

Guy on his phone, “You know, I’m really all familied out.”

Mom talking to her teenage daughter, “Now these have chemical. They have been animal tested…..”

The most interesting thing I overheard today was this women going up to parents trying to recruit their kids for a talent agency. I saw her walking around target talking to at least 3 different moms about how cute their kids were and how they were perfect for acting or modeling or something like that. What surprised me the most was how engaged these moms were. If I was a parent, I would think it was super sketch and be really skeptical. But she was having long conversation with all these moms. I got to give this lady props for her selling skills though. I wonder if it’s legal to come up to people inside target and recruit for a talent agency.

PS the picture is of my sister and me while filming part of a music video in Target. Great place to film a music video fyi.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present* help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of the city;* it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.

6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.*
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;

see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.’
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.*

Although I wish I could paint myself what I feel this psalm represents, I am glad that I can connect with it through others' work.