Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday Spirit?

Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few days, but we've been hearing Christmas music and even seeing Christmas decorations go up all month long. It's hard to believe that "the holidays" are here again, it seems like they come faster each year. Christmas and Thanksgiving have always been my favorite holidays. There's nothing quite like that "holiday spirit" that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It's a shame it takes a holiday to get you in that mood. 

I was driving in my car recently and of course Christmas music was on the radio. The same songs they play year after year, sung by the same artists. I love Christmas music, even before Thanksgiving, but listening to it this year, I realize that the music doesn't have the magic it once did. It doesn't get me "in the spirit." The more I reflected on this, the more I came to realize that the holidays don't really have the same magic they once seemed to have. As a kid you start thinking of Santa Claus and all the gifts you'll get and everyone being in a really good mood and it just makes you happy. But something about getting older makes that magic fade a little bit, kinda like when you go to Disney World as an adult. The holidays begin to "sneak up on you" and before you know it you're making comments like "Wow, is it Christmas already? Where has the year gone?" -- typical "adult" comment. The holidays can even seem like a burden or something you have to "get through." 

This is still my favorite time of year, but for different reasons than it used to be. Now I look forward to the holidays because it brings the family together and you get tons of great food. Starting with Thanksgiving, my family begins what I've come to call a "holiday marathon" of parties, get-togethers, and just lots and lots of eating. I'm blessed to have a close family that genuinely enjoys being together often. Our favorite holiday activities include arriving late, eating, eating more, taking a group nap, eating more, then sitting around the living room talking about anything you can imagine. Then we do it all again the next day, and on like that for about a week or so. 

And of course I'm able to better understand and really take in the significance of Christ's birth, which is what we really should be celebrating. My favorite Christmas song is "I Celebrate the Day" by Relient K. I think it best sums up how I feel about this time of year:

Here's to friends and family, good food, and a real reason to celebrate!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Behold, Ye Christmas Tree

I made this is in Illustrator today, thanks to an online tutorial.

I'm amazed at my own awesomeness.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why I'm Not a Graphic Designer

Recently I discovered that camp owns copies of Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop, Indesign, and all that neat stuff. I was really excited to find out about it, because deep down inside I've always seen myself as an amazing graphic a Brian Turney or something. OK, not really. But I did download all the programs on my work computer with visions of me creating some amazing pieces of digital art.

The reality is, I can't even get the spacing right on MS Word documents. What made me think I could master Adobe all by myself? I'm not sure, but I have definitely tried. In fact, I'd say I've wasted approximately 20 hours at work clicking aimlessly around Adobe programs. Maybe more than that.

But my attempts are futile, and I have yet to produce even a square with a shadow on it. That's why I invested in some books that should teach me the basics. They are currently being shipped, and I will soon know if I wasted 40 bucks.

Graphic designers of the world, I salute thee.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

(Business) Relationships

I think this may be the first serious post I've done in which I actually sort through some thoughts.

As a camp director, I find myself riding the line between business and ministry quite often. We're a ministry, so we want everything we do to be in the spirit of servanthood and to the glory of God. But we are also a business, and at the end of the day, we have to pay the bills to keep the lights on. Problems arise when the line between ministry and business aren't so well defined.

For example, one of my primary responsibilities is booking and hosting retreats. Easy enough, right? Not always. The majority of the groups who retreat at Camp Oak Hill are ministries themselves. Every day I receive calls from people interested in having a retreat at Oak Hill. Great! But these conversations are often awkward for me when I have to list rates and policies. Most of the time there aren't any problems, but every once in a while you get someone who wants to negotiate, or tell me that the rates are too high, or they want a deal because they are a ministry, too. As a fellow Christian, I want to help my brothers and sisters out and give them a quality experience at camp for the best possible price. But the reality is, there just isn't too much room for negotiation. The prices have been set because that is what it costs to operate.

This may seem like no big deal, but it bugs me. I'm all about relationships. But I'm finding in my current positition that I have to sometimes sacrifice a relationship for business, and this troubles me. If I give everyone a deal, I'll have great relationships with everyone. But at the end of the year, what do I say when we look at our budget and realize we didn't make it? Were the relationships worth it?

Currently I'm in a situation where I have to decide if its worth it to sacrifice a long-standing relationship with someone for the sake of business. The business side of me says we should go with whats cheaper. The relationship side of me says it'd' be a slap in the face to end our current relationship. So what do I do?

Business and ministry. An awkward partnership.

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