On The Platform

I serve on a worship team at Northbrook Church in Richfield, WI (http://www.northbrookchurch.org). It has been the most rewarding ministry experience of my life. I never sang or played in a band when I was a teenager or when I was in college. I did quite a bit of choral singing – high school, Catholic church, college, stage musicals – but I only rarely had even a piece of a song that could be considered a solo.

Choral singing is significantly different than being a member of a worship team. A good friend agrees with my estimation that it is more like being in a rock band than in a choral ensemble. I have had to learn to be led not by sight, but by ear. I have had to learn to count better than I ever have before. I have had to learn my part better than I ever have before. All of those have made me a better singer and a better overall musician over the past 18 months.

At times, I have really struggled – such as last Christmas time, when we began rehearsing “O Holy Night.” The song was playing the moment my dad died in a hospice a year earlier. I was having a very difficult time finding my notes, my entrances, the rhythm... and then I remembered my dad. I had to leave the platform in the middle of rehearsing a song. I was very embarrassed to have disrupted rehearsal, but thanks to very kind and understanding team members, I was able to excuse myself from that song. I was not yet strong enough to sing that song on the platform.

That underscored something my worship mentor had been telling me – it is OK to tell the worship leader that you are not able to do what you have been asked to do. It could be a section or a song that is out of your range, more technically challenging than you can handle or with emotional connotations that can prevent you from serving as God's guide into worship for the congregation.

It is important to know your limitations so that you can both challenge your limitations and know when you cannot. My limitations are different on different songs, different seasons (early in the morning in winter in Wisconsin is a terrible time to sing tenor) or different life situations (some Christmas songs still poke at a pretty tender spot in my heart).

I have learned my limitations over the past 18 months and I know I have been able to push them back in certain areas. I am now much more comfortable taking the tenor harmony on a song or tackling a solo line when I am asked to.

Most of all, I feel grateful that God is using me in this way. I have wanted to “be in a band” since about 1969. I now know the meaning of “better late than never.”

...and it is still more fun than just about anything else I have ever done.


The President Speaks

I am absolutely astonished at the level of vituperation being leveled at schools and school districts regarding decisions having been made regarding the upcoming speech by President Obama. I think many are overreacting to decisions in both directions. Some, angry that their children are not able to view the speech in class, are reminding us that schools in the past allowed their students to hear presidential speeches directed at students. Others, angry that their children are to be “forced” to hear the President speak, are calling for the heads of various personnel in charge of such decisions.

I think we all need to take a deep breath and place the President's speech in some sort of context – and I mean a larger context than “my political leanings are more important than yours.”

First, we should all listen when the President speaks. Our Presidents do not often speak directly to the American public. We need to respect the office of the President enough to listen when the the President speaks – it does not matter whether we voted for him or not.

Second, we need to acknowledge that, as parents, our children are being taught what they are being taught and how they are being taught by our choice. We have chosen to place our children in the schools they attend and have, therefore, agreed to place those teachers, boards, superintendents and administrators in charge of said education. We monitor and suggest to those professionals, but we have agreed to cede the power of control over the curricula by the act of registering our children.

My daughter's high school has taken the stand that, though the speech is important, it is not important enough to disrupt classes. Therefore, they are making the speech available to students in study halls. I think this approach makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons:

  • The schools have no control over the start time nor end time of the speech. Will it begin and end during or across class times? Further, I know few school systems operate on the same schedule – my daughter's high school is running on its third different schedule in as many years.
  • While there are many opportunities for teachers to align their curricula to allow for a presidential address, I cannot understand how such an address may be appropriate to a Chemistry, Algebra or Auto Shop class.
  • Under this approach, no one's political views are being advanced – not those who wholeheartedly support President Obama, not those who wholeheartedly decry his every move and not even those who sit somewhere in the middle. (Truth be told, we have to admit that is where the largest portion of our society sits.
While I am always glad to see heartfelt debate over the issues of the day, I do believe too many of us are taking these decisions, in either direction, too seriously. There are many opportunities to have your voice heard without the political shouting matches that have become all too common these days.

If your child's school is not making the decision you support, keep your child home from school that day and watch the speech together. For that matter, whether you agree or disagree with your local school's decision and whether your child views the speech in class that day, in study hall that day or not at all, watch it together and discuss the contents.


Windows 7 - III

I just cold-booted Windows 7 and finally remembered to time it. From a dead start, Windows 7 took 35 seconds to prompt me for my password and just another 15 seconds to reach the "usable state." 50 seconds is a pretty fast boot time. Recovering from Hibernate is just 23 seconds.

The "usable state" is reached when the operating system is functioning to the point where there is no longer an hour glass indicator showing the operating system is still loading components.

In contrast, my Windows XP Pro laptop takes 1 minute 47 seconds to reach the usable state from a cold boot. The recovery from Hibernate is 50 seconds.