Monday, September 24, 2012

Summer 2012 - The Good, The Bad And The Awesome - Pt.3 The Awesome

Alright, it's time for the moment that all 2 of the readers of this blog have been waiting for. It's time for a look back at what I found to be awesome this past Summer.

Baptism in the Square
I've been part of a church for almost my entire life and, being part of the Evangelical side of the Christian spectrum, I've been witness to countless baptisms since my childhood. I chose to get baptised when I was around 10 or 11 and had a very wonderful Pastor dunk me in the (freezing cold!) baptismal tank. (Shout out to my mom for picking out the white turtle neck for me to wear while I was baptized in front of a hundred people or so. Thanks a lot!!). I have been to baptisms in large churches and small churches, baptisms that involved very small amounts of water and huge tanks, and baptisms indoors and at the beach. I love baptisms. For me, watching someone make a conscious and public choice to accept the grace, mercy and redemption of Christ is powerful. I love hearing the testimonies of people who have encountered a real and loving God and have seen their lives, and sometimes the lives of their entire families, be changed. I find that there is an overwhelming sense of hope at baptisms and it's infectious and wonderful.

This summer the church I attend put out a full page ad in several local papers inviting people to a Free Baptism Service in our city square. Now, for the record, a baptism should never cost you money. The ad was both a marketing ploy to get peoples' attention and a call to those who have never felt welcome in a church and/or those who have wanted to get baptised but for whatever reason have not.
Not the best reproduction, but you can check out a blog about the ad here
The Baptismal service took place at Harmony Square, our town's city centre, and included music, a brief bit of speaking about what Baptism is all about, a call to salvation and then the baptism. Over 100 people, some from the church, some from other churches and many from off the street chose to get baptised. I was a volunteer handing out towels and I can tell you that this was perhaps one of the most well-organized, authentic and beautiful "church things" I've been involved in. The atmosphere was full of hope, joy and new beginnings. I don't care if you're religious or not, a day full of that is just awesome.
Completely overwhelmed by God's grace. (Photo by Layne Grime of  Jonathon Grime  Photography)

The Ladies of Readers Anonymous

I've been a voracious reader of genre fiction for the last 6 years or so. I can very rarely be found without a book and I'm usually either in the middle of a book or at least about to start a book or two. Reading genre fiction can be quite lonely at times. Most people don't read what I read, the books I read are never part of Oprah's book club and are often sneered at by those who see genre fiction as a lesser form of entertainment. However, thanks to social media and the magical wonderfulness of the Internets I've been fortunate to become part of a very active community of other voracious genre fiction readers from across the continent and even in some cases the world. The members of this community that I'm closest to are (mostly) part of a Facebook book club called Readers Anonymous.

Readers Anonymous, is a very informal book club that has become an outlet for those of us with a decidedly dirty sense of humour, a penchant for Alpha heroes and a book buying habit so acute there could easily be a TLC special all about it. It's more than that though, Readers Anonymous is a group of like minded friends who can just as easily discuss the finer points of Shifter mythology as they can offer a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear to a hurting member. Needless to say when I had the opportunity to meet up with these ladies at a book convention in New Orleans, LA I jumped all over it.

Matching T-shirts make any group legit.
FYI: Do not walk down Bourbon St. in a group wearing shirts that can be misread as "Got Boobs?"
Trust me on this.

Now, in case you're not familiar with what a book convention is think about Comic Con and picture a much more hygienic and less dressed up group of, mostly, women who all read one branch of genre fiction or another meeting to discuss favourite books, authors, characters and genres. It sounds nerdy, but there's something empowering about being with 400 people who get your obscure references to obscure books. It's liberating in the way that any joining together of like minded people is. But enough about the convention because frankly, the best part about this trip was not the convention. Here's what was.
  • New Orleans was awesome. Never have I met people so friendly, so in love with their city and so kind. Yeah, Bourbon street is obnoxious and if a tourist isn't careful she can easily become caught up in its crazy and find herself checking "motorboat complete stranger" off her bucket list, but that's just one aspect of the city. The food *drools*, the old architecture and the history of this town is stellar.
New Orleans even makes dark alleys look good!

  • 40 or so new books from both authors I love and new authors was not a bad thing. :)
Go to Cafe Beignet to get your Beignets, but if you can't go there go to Cafe Du  Monde because it's iconic and  stuff.

  • Meeting and connecting with people I'd only previously communicated with on Facebook, Twitter or through blogs. I spent evenings laughing my butt off with author Dakota Cassidy (D'ahcoatah Cassiteh if you're nasty *snort*), blogger Chelsea from Vampire Book Club and others. I was pounced upon by Jen from Red Hot Books and connected with Pam (who is both gorgeous AND funny, which is not fair)from the blog I write for.
Author Dakotah Cassidy, Me, Pam, Nicole and Jen

  • And most importantly I got to meet the ladies of Readers Anonymous. I can't tell you how many times these ladies have made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry or have kept me from strangling my family with anecdotes of their own family trials and who have listened and offered support when life seemed to come at me with nothing but crap. It was a truly awesome thing to meet, share laughs, plot evil and commiserate with these ladies. In fact, when Jeff asked me what my favourite part of my trip was I had to admit it was time spent sitting on a hotel balcony, sweating, laughing, eating candy and occasionally reading really awful purple prose with a lisp.
Enjoying some grits, beignets and cafe au lait with (most of) the ladies of Readers Anonymous.

And that's the awesome.

I hope your summer was filled with awesome. I guess it's time to put away the flip flops and pull out the sweaters. It seems whether I'm ready or not Fall is here. Yay?

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