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Steven S. Billings

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

TRANSITIONAL DAYS

At times these seem like very strange days to me. I'm going through a number of transitions all at the same time.

The biggest transition, of course, is going from begin a single man to being married.

It's a huge change to go from having your own place where you make all the decisions to sharing a home with someone else, especially when it's her house, the place she's lived in for a number of years.

Thankfully, everywhere I look I see reminders that it's my place too. There are items in each room that I brought with me, so they say, "It's ok; you live here now. This is home."

Another huge change is moving from Michigan to Wisconsin. It's colder here with a lot more snow. Plus the pace of life is a lot different. Just driving around is enormously different.

Mind you, I enjoy most of these differences, but they do take some getting used to, and contribute to the fish-out-of-water feeling associated with relocation.

Then there's the change of moving from a townhouse into your own home. Newsflash: No one shows up to shovel your walk; you have to do that yourself. No one fixes your toilet or repairs the appliances when they break down. Don't get me wrong - I like doing these things and I love the sense of ownership, but it's an adjustment all the same.

And how about going from being employed to being out of work? On the one hand, I seem to have more time on my hands to do things like shoveling the walk and fixing the toilet, but on the other hand, I miss the regular responsibilities of my vocation. And I certainly miss the income.

Thank God, I do have a number of opportunities to be active in ministry, but going from a salary with benefits to a mere per diem is humbling, to say the least.

And even with the work I'm getting, it feels a bit strange not to be in charge. Rather than setting the tone in terms of worship practice, etc., I'm called upon to play by "house rules," so to speak.

For instance, I personally prefer a more traditional liturgical approach, but if that's not the practice of the congregation where I'm guest-preaching, I have to adjust to the local practice.

Now, I don't have any difficulty doing this; I'm just not used to it, which is the point.

And then there is the whole synodical issue. My wife is WELS; I'm LCMS. At least the LCMS congregations - even the ones that have a different worship practice than I'm used to - use the same hymnals that I'm familiar with, so it's not too much of a stretch to accommodate them. When I attend Liz's church, they use their own hymnal (as one might expect) which is significantly different than ours, so it's another learning curve.

Again, I can do it. But it's part of the adjustment mix.

The whole thing with the music biz is a tremendous learning experience. It's one thing to write and record your music. Once the project is completed, now what? Well, I'm going through the whole "now what" now.

I've been floundering a bit trying to figure out how to promote my CD and organize live performances.

Gaining access to the industry seems a real challenge. There are a number of catch-22s involved.

Agents want you to have a fan base before they take you on, but how do you get one if you're not touring, which is one of the reasons you get an agent, so he can help book public performances.

Record labels often want to develop you their way, so if you have a completed project they aren't interested. (I've discovered that in some cases they have their own recording studio, and they want you to record everything all over again, which - to my suspicious nature - seems to suggest that they are simply trying to make money off of you. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: It's the recording industry - DUH!) ;)

Those are just a couple of pitfalls of starting out in this business, and I'm sure I could mention a number of others if I took a minute to think about it, but I think I've made my point. Huge learning curve.

So, as you can see, I'm going through a LOT of changes. It's cool though. I'm enjoying them for the most part. But there are times when I have to remind myself to stop and catch my breath.

Breathing ... it's a good thing. I'll get to that after unpacking the next set of boxes or the next load of laundry or after clearing the foot of snow off the deck.

One of these days I'll look back at this period in my history and say, "Wow. That was weird." And I will be quick to add, "But it was well worth it!"

5:33 pm est

Thursday, January 17, 2008

AH, HIGH-SPEED!

It's nice to get to a place where I can update my blog!

Since moving to Oshkosh I've had trouble arranging high-speed internet at home. It seems that no one is offering it to my location at this time. I struck out with DSL, Cable, and Satellite. Harrumph!

In the meantime, I've been settling in, unpacking boxes, looking for work, and doing some husbandly chores about the house.

Speaking of which . . .

It's amazing how much snow we've been getting. I've been shoveling the walk off and on for days. We have a nice sized deck leading up to our front door. The thing that makes it difficult to shovel is that whoever built it used nails instead of screws, so the nails tend to work their way out of the wood, and the shovel gets caught on them. Today as I was shoveling, I had a hammer with me to pound the nails down whenever I got hung up by one. When the weather breaks we'll begin to replace the nails with screws so that next year we won't have this problem.

On the job front, I've met with the local pastors and the District President. My "candidate" status paperwork has arrived, so I may now begin to fill in at various pulpits in the area. So far I've gotten a number of preaching assignments, which is cool, but what I really want is to get a regular Call to a local congregation.

There are a number of calling congregations in the area, and one right in Oshkosh would be ideal for me. They are a Confessional/Liturgical congregation, and I think I would be ideal as their next pastor. I'm going to attend church there this Sunday and speak with the head elder. I pray I make a good impression on him.

For now, I have to be able to exercise my versatility in worship styles to accommodate the various congregations I'll be serving as guest pastor. I believe my familiarity with various worship forms will enable me to do a competent job for each worship setting.

As far as my CD is concerned, I've had little time to devote to promoting it, but that may now be changing. I've begun to contact various record labels and management firms in an effort to submit my CD for a distribution contract. One local congregation has inquired about having me present some special music for them, so I may offer to sing those songs which seem appropriate for worship. I ask the Lord's guidance and that He will open the doors which He desires that I walk through.

In all of this Liz has been a tremendous support to me. Marrying her is truly the wisest decision I've ever made. She is my best friend as well as being a wonderfully loving and patient wife. I love her completely.

That's about all for today. Not sure when I'll post again. Maybe next week when I come to hang out on the UWOSH campus. Take care and let me know how you all are doing.

God's peace!

3:01 pm est

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For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21)

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