Monday, December 31, 2007

Snake!

Today was a great day for everyone. We worked at 6 different homes today and got a lot of work done. There are many highlights today, so here goes...dot style!

  • Mark and Pedro rocked out on shelving at Mr. M's house...Mr. M was very appreciative of their hard work! In the afternoon they headed over to another house with Jonathan to install Pergo. Pedro was very excited about their day. I don't have pictures because they haven't given me any!

  • The group at Mr. P's house continued on with the floor prep. I've heard that Joey is very good at cutting out holes in plywood. Word on the street is that he's so exact that when the crew did a test fit, they almost couldn't get the board up! Sarah, Sandy, Jodi, Yo Momma, Violett and Jodi are a great team!
  • Work has been finished for the time being at The W's house. Debbie, Bill and Lisa put the finishing touches on their jobs today. Bill only put holes where they were supposed to be the and Debbie perfected her texturing technique.

  • Team Peanut out at Ms. S's house had an excellent day. They have gotten the house level and plumb! Even with the distraction of little ones, this team worked well. Thank you for your prayers for Ms. S. She seems to be finding hope in the work that is being done. Keep on praying!
  • Alex, Norm and Jonathan spent the morning roofing...Jonathan was taken away to another site in the afternoon, but Norm and Alex continued to make a great team! They even made it to meals on time! They were aided by some local residents as well. Hopefully they can finish the job tomorrow!

  • We started a new site today, which took the rest of the crew. On each trip we have driven by a yellow house that has sat vacant and pretty much untouched. Today our crew headed over to muck out. For some this was their first experience for others their 3rd or 4th, for all it was an experience not soon forgotten. It was amazing how fast the crew worked. Equally amazing was the immediate ties we all felt to this house. Douglas and Joe S. had a fabulous time figuring out how to get big pieces out of small places...Joe really likes crowbars. Maaike, Michelle, Lynn, Molly, Sue, Rita, Justine and I all took turns sweeping and shoveling. Lisa cleaned out the refrigerator and kitchen...and received the first but minor injury of the week. She was a trooper though! Justine and Joe found coin collections and Lynn and I argued about what was "junk" and what was "treasure". We made allowances for each other and moved on with the day.

The high point of the day came after lunch. I had taken a break from sweeping off the front steps and laid my tools and gloves on the steps. I came back from my break and went down the steps to put my gloves on when out of the corner of my eye I saw a snake coming out of the bushes. I'm a girl. I don't like snakes. I screamed and ran back up the steps. Michelle and Joe were there and were rapidly asked two questions "Is it real or fake? Who put it there?" Douglas was summarily fired from his job as site leader and taken to task for scaring three years off my life. I would post a picture of the fake snake but I don't need to see that again!

Thank you for your comments. We read them each night at our team meetings and have enjoyed hearing from people from home...even Holland!

We just rang in 2008 and the town of Slidell is going up in fireworks. Our hope and prayer is that in 2008 the town of Pearlington will finally see all their residents out of Fema trailers and into homes! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Day Off


I'm always amazed at how God works on these trips. Today was our day off and we got to sleep in a little, eat breakfast out if we were willing to get up, go to church together, play on the beach, have a nice lunch/dinner together and of course our almost daily Wally-World Adventures! Shopping! :)

We are never really sure where we are going to wind up on Sunday Mornings for Church. Over the last three trips we've worshipped with Baptists, Methodists and Lutherans. Today God lead us to a Presbyterian Church here in Slidell. We were a 1/2 hour early and one of the church elders came to talk with us. Turns out this Presbyterian Church has converted an unused 2nd floor of their Christian Education Building into a Dormitory to house groups coming to the Gulf Coast to help with the relief efforts...and they house them for free! It's a beautiful facility with room for 52 people. Is God sending us a message?

During the sermon, the Pastor talked about the Hurricane and how the residents of the Gulf Coast were driven from their homes, fleeing for their lives. Upon returning to their homes, many found that they had no home, that the place that they called their own had been ripped from them. He then shared about the Israelites, being taken out of their homes and wandering in the desert for forty years. When they finally returned home they found that they had no home. Yet through it all God never left them, God still cared and in fact was reaching down to hold them close and scoop them into waiting and comforting arms. It is good to remember that the whole Gulf Coast is in God's care.
Tomorrow is a work day. There is a potentially big mucking and gutting job out there, along with drywall and painting and flooring and shoring and...yeah the list is big. Thanks for the comments and the prayers! We love to hear from home!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mr. Peanut

It's hard to believe that three days have passed since we arrived in Mississippi. Our day off is tomorrow and though we will enjoy it, the day seems to have arrived so very quickly. I've been so impressed with this group. Everyone is getting along well, willing to work hard and having fun! It doesn't hurt that Mr. Tom and Mr. Ben have been around making us laugh at their comedy routine. We will miss Tom who is headed home to Colorado in the morning. His last words to me were "Come back again!"...why do I think that this isn't the last time I'm going to hear this??!

The crew at Mr. P's house rocked again today! The all woman crew was joined by Norm's crew and they began the process of preparing the subfloor for new flooring. By the end of the day this team was running like a well oiled machine. The site was humming. Joey joined Sue's ditch digging efforts and was very successful in getting the water to drain away from the driveway. Sue, Joey and others worked hard at getting the trash picked up from around the house as well. It's nice to see things moving along.
Bill's crew at the W's had a blast, from what I'm told. Texture, primer, electrical work and painting took place at this site today. Maaike especially liked the day, learning to put texture on the walls.

The group at Ms. L's house learned this morning that Ms. L was in the hospital. She's having heart problems and was having breathing issues last night. Please pray for her! The team kept working and finished the projects at her house today. Justine took on a special task and helped to spruce up the house for Ms. L's return.
Mark & Pedro got a new assignment today and started to put in new shelves at Mr. M's house. That was after our expedition to Lowe's...my 2nd of the day!

And then there is the crew at Ms. S's house. Today Ms. S's grandkids were over and they quickly dubbed Pete "Mr. Peanut". As you can see they all had a great time! The house is beginning to look like a house again, which is so wonderful to see. Molly and Joe were triumphant over a stubborn tree stump and weren't afraid to tell us...or take a picture.


As we head into a day off, there are a couple of things you can be praying for.
1--We've had a couple of people get sick over the last couple of days. With such a big team, it hasn't had a detrimental effect on the work being done, but it is a bit of a low point for the team and the individuals. Please pray for our health!

2--One of the biggest things happening has little to do with the homes but with the emotional health of the homeowners. We're seeing huge changes in some people and their outlooks on life. We would especially appreciate your continued prayer for Ms. S and Ms. L.

Before I go I need to make good on a promise to the Train Guy that I would post of Picture of Grandma Gail (Yo Momma), myself, Sandy and his Dad so here it is! We miss you Train Guy, Little Boy and K!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Day Two-Women Rock! Okay, so do the guys!

Our day started with Thunderstorms and downpours and ended with a beautiful sunset. We've had a lot going on so I'll get to it!

After a slow 1st day things started rockin' and rollin'! Pete's team is at Miss. S's house. A team from Trip #2 spent the week there last December. I'm sad to say that not much has progressed for Miss S. But Pete and his team came in with visions of Sugar Plums dancing in their heads and they are starting to get her gutted house level. If that happens then the house could possibly be raised to the required 4 foot level. After two years thats really, really good news.


Norm & Alex's Team spent the day at Ms. P's property. They worked on fascia board, gutters and are hoping to get a shower door in soon. Norm's team on Trip #3 worked for Ms. P. in June, so they all spent time catching up on life. Tomorrow they will be spending time on the roof...pray!

Mr. Bill's team headed over to The W's house. A team from trip #1 worked at the W's house back in April of 2006. It's so tough to go into a home that has been in construction for almost two years, see how close they are and then see how much still has to be done. Bill's team has been doing a lot of repair work from other groups. Lisa rocks at putting small pieces of sheetrock into gaps and Debbie loves her spray guns!

Yo Momma's team headed over to Mr. P's house. They spent the day scrapping a sub floor for new flooring. Violett & Sue worked hard outside getting a very muddy driveway ready for a trailer to back into with flooring tomorrow. Violett wins the prize in the dirt contest! This is an all woman team and they rocked! They showed the southern gentlemen down here that women can carry wood through mud and have fun at the same time! Go team!


Doug and Mark had a team (and they are very proud of that fact) and spent the day at Ms. L's house framing in doors. It was a frustrating day for them in some ways, but with a little help from Norm they conquered their challenges. They are eager to finish their job there tomorrow. Ms. L lived in the Bay Area of CA for 22 years which shocked us Californians. She knows where we live!

Things aren't going as smoothly as they could but through it all this team is staying positive and energetic. I'm having a blast driving from site to site, retrieving tools, people and laughing with Ben and Tom, our Foremen. There is joy and laughter in the air that is contagious, even when things aren't going like we want them too. God is clearly present on this trip and we are so grateful for your prayers and comments of support!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

On the ground in Pearlington Day 1--Trip 4

Oh the adventures of rental cars! Seriously this is getting ridiculous. Not only did we have to wait for vehicles because they only had one mini-van, they were trying to give us 3 vehicles when we had reserved 5. I stood my ground though, and we have 5 vans, 4 of them brand new.

It was a longer travel day yesterday but we made it safe and sound. Today was our first foray into the work ahead of us. It was so great to see Ben again and Tom, who flew in from Colorado, that was a great surprise. Both of these gentlemen have been organizing projects for us and are just fun guys to be around. They have a great respect for us and a great respect for the people of Pearlington. We are blessed by them!

We didn't get as much accomplished today as hoped. In fact it was a pretty slow day. Not that the work isn't there, it's just getting it all organized. But we found today that we've made connections. We saw a group from West Virginia that we had camped with last December, we worked for homeowners that we've worked for on trips 1 & 2. We are seeing familiar faces...and Pastor Ed's spy ate lunch with us. (His name is Derek, they worked together at Westminister Woods and now lives in Florida. He's here with a group from New York. I'm convinced he's a spy!!)

Our emotions have been in turmoil. Some highs, some lows. We have seen people who are still stuck in the same situation that they were in last year, which brings us down. We have seen homes that we've worked on completed and being lived in. We have had work and not had work. We're only on day 1 and already the anxiety of leaving is beginning to race through our heads. We are on an amazing journey. We need your prayers and your comments!

The following video and song is amazing. It says exactly why we are here. Enjoy and keep praying!

Monday, December 24, 2007

And so this is Christmas...

The day is flying by!! Between family, presents and packing the hours just seem to be zooming. It's been a good day, great gifts...my favorite so far is the Wacky Clucky Chicken...it just might end up in Mississippi with us. Seriously funny.

We probably won't update from Mississippi until Thursday, so until then, Merry Christmas!

Edited to add: We would love to hear from you while we are in Mississippi. Click on "leave comment" and type away. If you don't have a blog, just sign in as anonymous but please leave your name in the body of the comment...that way we can say Thank you later on!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mississippi Update and prayer request

The team leaves in 4 days. Christmas happens in 3. I'm not stressing out...just beginning to think of all those little details that I've forgotten about until today...like bowls. We need the plastic bowls from the church for our breakfasts. And the apple slicer, oh and spoons...I won't bore you with the rest of the list. I'm just sayin' that I've been waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the things that I need to bring with me. I'm not stressing out, really I'm not!

I do have one quick prayer request for our team member Sue. She's been having some issues with her shoulder and arm and thought maybe it was tennis elbow. But it's a little more serious than that and Sue is not sure if she is going to be able to make the trip. Which would be very, very sad for all of us! Please pray for Sue, that her body would be on the fast track for healing so that she can join us in Mississippi.

I'm off to bake Christmas cookies! Woo-hoo! :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

one week, One Week, ONE WEEK!

The Mississippi Team leaves in one week. That's 7 days people! In fact, one day is gone already so...6 days!

R-Girl, Baseball Gal and I had fun coming up with room names tonight. Last trip I wanted a way to know which rooms were ours at the Motel so we came up with code names. Every room was a rock band. This time we're going with the Christmas theme. We've got all 9 reindeer, Snowmen and more. There was much excitement when someone thought of a name. In fact, jumping up and down was involved. Good times.

Most everything else has come along well. One bag is almost packed with youth group stuff. Hopefully it isn't over the 50lb weight limit!

Sleep needs to happen soon, so I'm out. 6 days people! :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

10 Days and counting

The Mississippi Team was commissioned today. It hit me as I was sitting in the worship service that with Christmas and my Come Away Day in the next 10 days I only have 3 in-office working days this week and one of those days is half taken by the Middle School Ice Skating event. Yikes!

The Mississippi Trip is coming together. We still need about $6000 to come in but I've decided not to worry about that. The money will come in. We our team t-shirts look great! Yo Momma and I decided to get different color shirts for the team, so we have blue, green and red. It's fun. Really, there aren't a whole lot of details that I'm concerned about for the trip, it's the stuff that needs to happen at church while I'm gone. Oh, and the fact that Christmas is somewhere in there too. Yeah, it's the last 10 days before the trip and I'm beginning to realize it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Song Friend strikes again

There is no way to fully explain this other than to post it. If I could record it from my answering machine I would let y'all hear it for yourself...instead you will just have to make due with the words. My Song Friend presents Oh I Like Pie as sung to the tune of Oh Holy Night.




Oh I like pie
I like every kind of pie
I like fruit,
Meringue and cream
It is so good
so tasty delicious
I could eat pie every day
The flaky crust
the delicious filling
I could eat pie
morning noon and night
Oh I like pie
I like every kind of pie
Oh I like pie
oh I, I like pie
Oh I (here it comes) like PIE!
Oh I, I like pie
Thanks for the laugh, Song Friend!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scars

A friend and I were talking last night about happiness and Jesus. My friend had just watched a televised worship service in which a young lady was giving her testimony. As a result of all that had gone in her life, the way that she had found to ease her pain was to self-inflict pain by cutting. Her testimony was that God had found her and she had found God and freedom from cutting. My friend said that the Pastor asked this young girl "What have you gotten from out of all this?" and the young lady's reply was "Scars." My friend said it was clear that was not the answer the Pastor wanted...he was looking for something a little more happy.

I thought about that story a lot last night when I was supposed to be sleeping. Scars tell a story. I've got a scar on my right shin, right arm and thighs from chicken pox. There is a scar on my finger from slicing it on the trunk of my newly purchased car. I have a scar on another finger from a bad encounter with a rock and a pole. Then there's the random scar on my thumb that I can't remember how it got there.

But those are just the visible scars. You can't see the ones on the inside. The one that came about because of things I heard as a child from other children. The scar that is there from the death of two grandparents within two months. The scar from a friendship torn apart. The scar that is still tender from the loss of my foster brother.

Scars tell a story. They tell us that we have lived life. They are part of what shapes us and makes us who we are. Sometimes the scars seem shameful but other times they are a badge that says "I have survived." The implication of the Pastor's reaction to the young lady's story is that scars aren't something to be proud of or something that we should show. We should hide them.

I wonder if God uses our scars as reminders of where we have been and what we have been through. It seems to me that God used the scars on Jesus' body to tell a story to the men on the road to Emmaus and as a tool for Thomas to really believe. Even today we sing about those scars,"The nails in your hands, the nail in your feet, they tell me how much you love me." God clearly could have healed the wounds on Jesus' body...but God didn't. Today those scars are still a reminder of how powerful God's love is as well as a testament to the amazing gift Jesus gave us all.

My scars remind me of where I've been and the things that have happened along the way. Some of those things happened before I really knew God but many have happened as I've journeyed through life with God. Every time I look at them I remember life isn't easy but God loves me and we are on this journey together.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My current residence

I've started and deleted two different posts this week. They were happy, positive posts. I'm not in a happy, positive place. I'm tired of so many, many things. I'm fed up with so many, many things. Today I realized that one of the things that I'm really tired of hearing over and over again is "if you know Jesus, you're life will be happy". The underlying assumption being that if you're not happy, then you don't know Jesus. Give me a break.

When I'm in this frustrated, fed up place I tend to spend more time talking with God, reading my Bible, listening for God then when I'm in the happy, positive place. When I'm tired of all that life is throwing at me that's when I cling to the promise of Jesus and God. I'm pretty sure when I signed up for this ride with God and Jesus there wasn't any guarantee that life was going to be happy and positive until the end of time. I don't know why we keep teaching people that the Christian life is trouble free, it's a lie that needs to die.

I'm not in a happy, positive place. God is very aware of it and loves me anyway.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

28 days and counting

In 28 days our group leaves for Pearlington, Mississippi...with overnight stays in Slidell, Louisiana...I'm getting excited! Today at Lunch Bunch, a group that meets for lunch at FPC on Tuesday, I got to speak about our last trip in June. As I talked I felt myself get more and more excited, details came flooding to my mind about all three trips, memories hidden for a while flew to the surface and it suddenly hit me...we're going in less than a month!!! YIKES!!

There are so many little details that need to come together. Like food...where are we going to eat? T-shirts need to be ordered, last minute plane tickets need to be purchased and we still need about $12,000.00 to come in to pay for the trip. Okay. I'm officially overwhelmed. I'll just keep thinking about the 17 homes we've already worked on, the many people that we've met, the families that are steps closer to getting into their homes and the excitement that is building amongst the 27 or so other people that are going with me. God will take care of the rest...hey, maybe I should go pray.

Looking forward to seeing this sign:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

And for my next act...

It was my turn in the pulpit this morning. Speaking at two services is always a little nerve wracking. Once one is done, there's still another. Sometimes things are better the second time around..i.e. I remember everything I want to say, but I think today I felt like the first service was where I was the most relaxed. I didn't remember everything perfectly but it went well.

Between the two worship services I got to visit with a fabulous lady from Mississippi. She's been here helping her daughter off and on for the last couple of years. She's heading home a couple of days before our team leaves for MS, so we'll meet up with her again in Pearlington. I'm even debating on whether or not we can make it to her church on the Sunday we are there. That would be way cool!

Anyway, before the 2nd service started my nose was feeling a little stuffy, so I went to get some kleenex...nothing in the box. Paper towels were my next best thing. So I grabbed a paper towel out of the dispenser. There was a little leftover piece from the previous towel hanging on the corner which I didn't think much about...until I inhaled in preparation to blow my nose and the little leftover piece came loose and went right in my mouth and I choked on it. Like seriously choked on it. Of course this was right in front of the choir but I don't think they noticed I was choking it happened so fast. I was able to get it out (gross, I know) and then the wireless microphone came loose from the clip and disappeared down my shirt and the choir was waiting for me to pray (didn't know that!) and I thought "Can I get a do-over?" Yep, an exciting morning at FPC!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday

So last week I felt like I was just sitting around, kind of wasting time, though busy. This week, I'm wondering where I'm going to find the time to do all the things that I have to do. And because it's Thanksgiving and are out on break on Wednesday, I decided not have regular youth groups this week. Hello, that should free up hours! I guess it doesn't help that Thursday is Thanksgiving, which means a short work week and I'm "preaching" this Sunday. Just a little bit of extra stress...which I can handle but still, not enough hours this week.

I've been thinking about what I'm thankful for and how I show that thankfulness...to God and to people. So, I'm gonna ask you...how do you show your thankfulness to God and to people? Leave a comment, I promise I'll check!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Computer Woes

Last July I was in Springfield, MA at a friend's wedding. I had been asked to put together a PowerPoint of the happy couple's relationship and with the Mother of the Groom making sure everything was going to work when I noticed that my laptop, though plugged in, wasn't being charged. I thought it might be the plug that I was using but upon returning to my hotel room I realized that my AC Adapter wasn't working. I quickly put the PowerPoint on The Dad's computer and things went as well as they could.



I ordered another AC Adapter and things have been going well...until I got ready to go to Tampa. And then the new AC Adapter stopped working. The connection wouldn't come through to the computer. Great. The Dad came to the rescue again. For the last couple of weeks it's intermittently worked but then Saturday night it stopped again...and I got mad. Sunday afternoon as I was cleaning I decided it was time to replace the AC Adapter sooner rather than later as I have a lot of things to do in the next couple of weeks that require the laptop. I went to the website where I had ordered the previous AC Adapter and then it dawned on me...hey, this is still under warranty. YES! So, my AC Adapter went on a journey today with the US Mail to New Jersey. Hopefully by next week I will have a new AC Adapter. I'm still very fortunate to have a number of other computers to use...just not the one I really like.

And hey, it's fun to pull out the white boards for Youth Group every now and then. Maybe I'll have to get the overhead projector out for tomorrow. That would really be Old School

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mixing it up

I've been doing a lot of thinking about how we respond to God in worship and how we connect to worship. If you ask people in the Christian circle what worship is, many times the immediate response is singing. I've had that same thought for many years. I find that I can connect to God very easily through music and singing but that's not what constitutes worship as a whole. Worship, as we experience it at FPC, involves fellowship, prayer, silence, scripture, a sermon, announcements, greeting visitors, giving offerings, sometimes a testimony or minute for mission and music. It's not just about the music.

But when we start talking worship, we talk about music. It's really the first connecting point for many people. Over the years the style of music that's being played in many churches has changed and brought many headaches, frustration and fear with it. We've experienced a little of what was deemed the "worship wars" here. Every so often we get to a point where I think maybe this time we've moved on only to be hit over the head with 2x4 by someone who's not done with the subject. As a worship leader for a more contemporary service, I've found myself trying to balance my desire to push the ideas of what worship is a little further with the need to keep the peace. Usually my peacemaker persona wins out.


Not this week, though. This week I gave a nudge. See, I think part of worship is about bringing ourselves to God, offering ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit to move in and through us. We can sing a song like "Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee." with our hands at our sides, mouthing the words, singing because some worship leader chose the song or we can connect with God through that opportunity. So this week I asked those in worship to open their arms wide and listen as I read the words...


"Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Here am I, all of me. Take my life; it's all for Thee."

There were uncomfortable smiles on faces, nervous laughter and silly giggles but yet for one moment we all began to connect to God. YES! I had chills racing up and down my body, as I gazed over this group of people with whom I come and worship every week standing with their arms open in worship saying "Here am I, take my life." And the sound of those voices as we sang that song (some still keeping their arms wide open) was so powerful.

Later that evening I joined a small group of others to worship God. Again there was music but then there was also prayer and silence, no lengthy talks or ton of announcements, just the rawness of individuals coming together, laying their lives and hearts before God. It was just as moving to sit in silence and listen for God as it was to sing my heart out earlier that morning.


How do we respond to God in worship? In many, many ways.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One little connection

For over a year now we've had this problem with the projector in the Sanctuary. When we first got the projector we connected the remote control to the projector through a wire. It was fabulous. We could be in the back of the Sanctuary and control when the projector went on and off or easily switch between the computer and VCR, etc. But suddenly it stopped working. We tried and we tried and we tried but nothing. So we disconnected the wire and started using the remote like a real remote. Most times, it's been okay, just a little bit of a pain but whenever we use the projector for the 2nd service, I feel like I'm on parade. I have to walk down the center aisle feverishly pushing the on button hoping that the projector will turn on. Then, when we're done, I have to perform the same task, this time hoping that it will turn off.

Yesterday at staff meeting we were talking about the Christmas season and it came up that we'll be using the projector at the 2nd service every week during Advent. It was apparent that it was time to see if we could fix this problem. Initially I had someone check out the wire and was told that it was fine, that it must be a remote problem. So after a bit of checking, I found out where we could purchase a new remote, though it wasn't cheap. So I ordered it, got it and quickly hooked it up to the perfectly fine wire. Nothing. I checked to see if it would turn the projector on using it as a regular remote. Works great, no problem. There had to be something wrong with the wire. It was at this point I gave up. That was in March.

Today our newest retiree came by the church to help me solve the problem of the remote. He pulled out the ladder, scrambled up it and started checking the connections on the back of the computer. He wiggled the wires, I pressed the on button. Nothing. He switched a wire around, I pressed the on button. Nothing. And then he said "Wait, this connection says wired remote." He took the wire out of one spot and plugged it in, I pressed the on button...blast off!!! We have power! No more parading up and down the church to turn on and off the projector!! Woo-hoo!

We've spent the last couple of months in church talking about having a contagious faith, showing our love of Christ, sharing Christ through actions and words, helping others to hear, see and meet God. I've been reminded during this time that all I am really responsible for is making one little connection for people but it can be an important connection. If I steer someone into the wrong spot, the connection doesn't get made. It's like that wire to our remote control, if it's not in the right connection on the projector, nothing is going to happen. The information won't be sent to the right place.

I know that I've blown it before. I've seen and heard the results of others missteps in making that connection. That one little connection is so very important.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I should be wearing socks

I feel asleep last night at 9pm. I started the day at 4am Florida time and ended it at 9pm California time. In between there I was on Houston time for a few hours. And it was also the end of daylight savings time, which meant I got an extra hour of sleep, but really, it doesn't help much when you travel from the east to west coasts.

I had some time to sit in the Houston airport and think about random things. I've done a lot of traveling this year...a lot of traveling for me anyway. And as I've traveled I've noticed a few things.
  • Why is it that when you pay $100+ a night for a hotel room, in a fancy hotel that you also must pay $10-20 a day for wireless Internet? Whereas when you stay in a Best Western that can also get $100+ a night and isn't quite as fancy the wireless Internet is free. When I'm paying $50 or less at the Motel 6 in Slidell, I don't mind paying $3.00 for my wireless Internet card, but if I am paying over $100.00 a night, that Internet should be free!
  • Speaking of wireless, if airports really want to make people comfortable in their travels and accommodate them and encourage them to fly, maybe they should get on the free wireless bandwagon. I won't pay $7.95 to access the Internet in an airport that I'm only going to be in for a couple of hours. I really appreciated the free wireless and awesome rocking chairs in Charlotte, North Carolina and if I was awake enough to even turn on the computer in Tampa, I would have enjoyed the free wireless there. Houston and Dallas...the places that I have the most delays while traveling...yeah you have to pay there. Maybe it's a conspiracy. My hometown airport, SJC, needs to get on the free wireless bandwagon as well. Seriously.
  • K and I are curious. Why is it that people line up really early to board airplanes when they already have assigned seats? What's the rush? There was one lady that mystified us. She was not going to move as we came up to pre-board with the Little Boy. We could have caused a back-up on the plane as we tried to get the stroller put away, find our seats, put luggage in the overhead bins, etc. I don't get it.
  • Speaking of lining up, when heading to San Diego a couple of weeks ago on S.West my traveling partners and I were amazed at the rude people who were hurrying to get into boarding line A. They seriously camped out in front of us for over a half-hour. And it wasn't just one line, it was two lines swerving their way through the chairs. One guy came and stood with his rear end literally a foot from the face of my friend Todd. It was greater fodder for jokes later on but really, really rude. Todd couldn't handle it and moved and rear-end man immediately sat in his seat. Amazing.

I won't be traveling again for another 50 days. It's nice to go places but I always appreciate home. I came home this time with a light flip-flop tan line on my feet, which is totally unusual for me in November. I couldn't resist wearing my flip-flops today but home isn't as warm as Tampa and the cold that I came home probably isn't being helped by my lack of socks. But it sure is fun to have a little tan in November.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Live from St. Petersburg

Little Boy, K and I made it safe to St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a long day of travel, followed by a night of restlessness. Little Boy was NOT going to sleep in the crib. No way! He's on nap number two of the day right now. The first was in the stroller when we went to explore the local area. This one comes after swimming. Literally took him out of the pool, wrapped him in a towel and he was out. So stinkin' cute! Hopefully this late nap (it's 4pm here) doesn't mean that he's up all night. We'll deal.

The hotel is old. It's actually on the National Historical Hotels List. Fancy with a great view of what I've found out is Tampa Bay. We can see the Devil Ray's Stadium from our hotel room (they are a Major League Baseball Team, btw. I had to ask too.) and the local Pier. It's windy but warm, not super humid.

As I was walking around pushing the sleeping Little Boy, I started looking at the coast line through the eyes of a Hurricane Relief worker. It's scary how close the buildings are to the ocean. I can totally see why it's a big deal when Hurricanes come through...there's not a lot of protection out there. Plus the winds are strong and the current Hurricane is on the other side of the state. I seriously don't think I would ever be able to live here. I'm too much of a Californian, I'll deal with the earthquakes.

There are little movements coming from the crib. Time to go back to my nanny job!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween, Computers and Tampa

This morning in staff meeting we talked about Halloween because, well, it's Halloween. In the last few years I've come to realize that I don't really like Halloween. I don't mind the little kids getting dressed up and having fun, but the whole dark, scary part of Halloween just isn't my thing. I'm so tired of horror movies on TV. My imagination runs wild. Just ask Lil Bro, he's seen me in Haunted Houses. I'm chicken and I admit it. So I choose to not really participate in Halloween and that's okay.

Today the High School youth and I put together a mini-carnival for the kids at Snack Time complete with a ring-toss, ball toss, bobbing for apples, relays, a pinata and pumpkin bowling (which was my favorite). The kids all had a great time, even the big kids.

Tomorrow I head out to Tampa for the weekend. I'm going as the Little Boy's nanny while K is in a conference. I haven't been to Florida before, so it will be fun to add that to the places I've been. Hmmm...I should find a US map to post here with all the states I've visited. That could be fun. Anyway, I was planning on taking my laptop on the trip but randomly last night the power cord gave out. That would be power cord number two. It's working okay for right now but I'm being very careful not to move the cord at all. Sometimes technology is a pain! Yo Momma and The Dad (still haven't found a great name for him, though I've got a couple of ideas) are being nice though and letting me take their computer on the road...yea!

I've got to get some sleep. The plane leaves way early in the morning. I can't believe that it's going to be November in just a few hours. What happened to this year???

Sunday, October 28, 2007

God talking

Thursday was my "Come Away" day. One day a month from October to May I head to a retreat center for a day of guided prayer, it's called a Come Away. This day arrived two days after I got back from the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego. Yeah, I was pretty much done with hearing God talk when I went on my retreat day. But that didn't stop God.

Part of the guided prayer was reading through Genesis 12-17. It's where God is talking to Abram saying "I'm going to do great things through you!" Abram listens to God but always seems to do something that seemingly says "I believe you God but yet I think I need to do this my way." God continues, though, to forgive Abram and share God's dream for Abram "You will be the father of a great nation." Yes, it starts out with Abram being the father of a great nation. One. But the dream gets bigger. "I will give you many descendants, as many as the stars." And then "You will be the father of many nations." Not just one nation but many nations, not just one descendant but a multitude of descendants. God had dreams for Abram, dreams that got bigger each time God talked to Abram.

So there I was reading about God's dreams for Abram, remembering the words of Veggie Tales guy about God and his dreams and I thought "What dreams does God have for me?" Because clearly, God wants to talk about dreams with me right now. The subject just keeps coming up and I know that God is talking, I'm just not sure what I'm hearing. Or maybe I'm just not really listening. I know what dreams I have, I just don't know that those dreams are from God. Some feel like they are from the world or my own selfishness. Maybe I haven't dreamt the dreams that God has for me yet, maybe this is just preparation, getting me ready for the dreams that are to come. Whatever it is, this is an interesting new path of my journey.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Home Again--NYWC Wrap UP

I love going to the National Youth Workers Convention. I appreciate hearing from a wide variety of speakers, I appreciate listening to people who have "been there and done that". I like hanging out with my friends until 2am in fancy gazebos at a hotel that looks like the back lot of Universal Studios and Disneyland combined. I like laughing with said friends, wrestling over things we've heard in General Sessions or Seminars and eating good food. I like sitting in a room with 3200 other Youth Workers knowing that each one of us is hearing something different but that God is still working. I love it when I figure out what God has been up to during all those moments combined. I dig the National Youth Workers Convention.

I don't dig coming home and feeling like I need to sleep for 3 days straight because I'm so stinkin' tired from having fun and learning. Ugh. This time I came home feeling like I was never really able to consistently connect to God through music either. There were only a couple times that I really felt like I had worshipped God through music. That's huge for me. Music is what tends to tie everything together and connect all the pieces in my life. It's like an essential element of worship got left out of the picture this time and I'm not okay with that. I'll deal, just not okay with it.

On another note, it was a little bizarre to be visiting San Diego in the midst of the wildfires. It was hard not knowing exactly where the fires were, how far they were away from where we were and all that. My prayers are with the people of San Diego and surrounding towns as well as all the firefighters who are doing their best to save homes, businesses and people.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

National Youth Workers Convention Part Two

The Veggie Tales guy spoke at the General Session last night, Phil Vischer. He was the one who came up with the original idea for Veggie Tales. It was a good session, with the exception of rude talking guys and cellphones. Seriously, you want to talk, GO OUTSIDE!!!!!

Anyway, Phil was talking about his rise and fall with Veggie Tales. There was one thing that really stuck with me. He said that if God gives you a dream, makes the dream happen and then suddenly the dream goes away, maybe God is trying to get your attention to get you to ask yourself, "Is this dream more important in my life than God?". I almost burst into tears. It hit too close to home.

Lil Bro is engaged. When he told the family he was asking his fiance to marry him the only thing I could do was cry and cry hard, not for him but for me. It was horrible. Suddenly my dreams were crashing around me. I wasn't going to be the first one married, probably not the first to have children and there isn't anyone on the horizon at all. I spent a lot of time this summer asking God why it hurt so much, why I couldn't find that one person, if I'm destined to be the single girl at all the family events. I cried a lot.

Last night at General Session when Phil talked about dreams being ripped away, I realized that my dream really didn't have anything to do with God. It was just my dream. I owned it and expected God to fill in the missing parts. What a backwards idea about God, like I'm the one writing the story. It's easier sometimes to play the part of God rather than letting God be God and me be me. But I don't have the answers and unless I'm willing to listen to God, I'm just going to keep on struggling.

Friday, October 19, 2007

National Youth Workers Convention

I'm in San Diego right now, sitting on the floor of a lovely hotel room. My roommates are returning from their seminars and I've spent the last hour and a half alternating between sleeping and thinking about the story of the woman at the well in John 4. For the third time in a week that scripture passage has come up and I've needed to just sit with it for a couple of hours instead of going to a seminar. I've got some wrestling to do with that passage this weekend, so pray for me.

So far, it's been a nice break from normal life and fun to hang out with my youthworker friends. Dinner is next on the list and then another general session with the David Crowder*Band leading worship. Looking forward to that! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CD player

I have a love/hate relationship with my car's CD player. When it works, I love it...when it doesn't, well you know. The CD player is an in dash player capable of having 6 Cd's inserted at a time. I love that. I hate that the CD player likes to randomly take the Cd's hostage and not let me A.) play them or B.) get them out!

A couple of years ago the CD player decided to take the Cd's hostage and for almost a year I traveled around without a CD player. I finally broke down and went to see how much it would cost to replace it. Needless to say, I bought an Ipod and an Ipod car adapter instead because that would be cheaper. Then a year ago July my car battery died and we replaced the battery. I remember driving down the driveway after replacing the battery hearing a weird sound. It was the sound of the Cd's resetting. I quickly pressed eject and my beloved Cd's came flying out! FREEDOM!!!

I decided to only put Cd's in the player only after downloading them onto my Ipod after that. Which has been a good idea because the CD player will randomly choose moments to not shuffle correctly to the next CD, get stuck and say "CD error". Great. I've become quite adept at disconnecting the car battery, reconnecting it and resetting the CD player.

Last night a CD got stuck, almost out of the player but not quite. I was not in the mood to fool with it (I was coming home from Middle School Youth Group, enuf said). This morning I freed the stuck CD and noticed that CD #6 seems to not be in the player. Which is strange because I know that CD #6 is, in fact, still inside the player. I anticipate another round of disconnecting, reconnecting and more time listening to the radio in the near future. I am grateful for the few moments when the music I love flows through the speakers but sometimes this stuff just gets old.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Crisis averted

I love planning things. I love figuring out schedules and how each part will come together to make an event or trip turn out perfectly. I am a huge fan of the internet and especially appreciate all the websites that let me reserve and purchase the necessary components quickly. I don't like phones or having to talk to automated systems...unless the moment comes when disaster strikes.

There are 29 people on the "We're going to Pearlington in December" list. I've been purchasing airline tickest for most of them, there are some who are on the fence just a little. I bought 7 tickets last week and then purchased 6 this morning before heading to the High School, the bank and lunch. I came back and purchased 6 more. I checked the names, pushed the button and was printing out the itinerary when I spotted my mistake...I had purchased a ticket for the same person twice!!!!! My adrenline started pumping, I quickly hit cancel only to find out that I couldn't cancel it, my name wasn't on the list of passengers! OH NO!!!!

My mouse and I scrambled all over the website and found the Reservations number. I quickly dialed, became short with the automated answering service and waited...one minute, two minutes, three minutes until I heard a voice say "Hello, Mary at reservations."

"I've made a mistake!" I exclaimed, "I bought a ticket for the same person twice! Help!" Luckily Mary knew what to do. She pushed the right buttons on her end "Good thing you called quickly, it hasn't been ticketed yet." She pushed more buttons and then, the words that eased my panicked heart, "Okay, it's all taken care of, crisis averted."

I love planning things. I like making reservations on the internet. And today, I even like talking on the phone.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Today I'm thankful for...

  • Books and down comforters
  • mornings with nothing to do
  • G.G.'s running water and hot shower...(yeah, bathroom remodels aren't fun)
  • 25 people saying "Yes!" to the Mississippi trip
  • People who are willing to work
  • Acorns in abundance and the crows that love them
  • Hamburgers and potato salad
  • Women in Mississippi willing to share their stories of Katrina in a book
  • Pictures from Mississippi that bring back memories and tears
  • The reminder that my temporary lack of running water is nothing and that my home repairs are taking far less time than some people in the Gulf Coast...I've got nothing to complain about
  • That Christmas is 72 days away, which means we leave for Mississippi in 73 days! Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Dear Mr. Tree Guy

Dear Mr. Tree Guy,

I saw you today, in your big white truck with your big white trailer. I saw you stopped at the stop sign wanting to make a left turn onto a road without a stop sign. I was passing you as you started to pull out when the traffic coming from your left was clear, into a space that isn't a merge lane. I looked behind me and watched you as you cut off two cars. I continued to check on you as I drove down the road following the 45 mile speed limit and you continued to fall back, back, back, back, clearly going much slower than 45. The last time I saw you clearly, there was a line of 10 or so cars behind you, including the two you had cut off. I noticed that you weren't going to bother to pull over and let them pass; but then why would you do that when you clearly had some place more important to be one truck and trailer length in front of them? I also noticed that when you and the other 10 cars were stopped at the stoplight there weren't any cars coming up behind you for quite a while. Which I take to mean that if you had only waited just a little bit longer you could have pulled out safely onto the road.

I'm not sure why your rudeness bothered me so much today. I wasn't the one directly affected. Maybe it's because in the last couple of weeks I've noticed more and more people being rude while driving. You know, honking and getting frustrated with other drivers when they were following the rules of the road (Yes, I'm talking about you impatient man in truck who wanted me to risk having my beautiful car smashed to pieces by the big rig making a wide turn). Yes, Mr. Tree Guy, you are not the only rude, impatient driver out on the road. I'm sure I will find someone else to be bothered about tomorrow. But I can guarantee you, when anyone in my circle of family or friends needs tree work done, we will not be calling you. See, unlike all the other rude people in vehicles that I've come across in the past few weeks, you are the only one with your name and phone number so nicely painted on your truck. Thank you for that.

So, Mr. Tree Guy, I hope you got to where you needed to go. I'll be sure to make sure I watch out for you next time I'm on the road because I've seen you around before. And Thank you for reminding me that I need to be more careful in my driving. I certainly wouldn't want to have someone write a blog about my driving rudeness.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

End of a very long week

This morning while preparing for the worship service, someone asked me if I was glad that it was the start of a new week. It was then that I realized that tend to think of Sunday's as the last day of my week, rather than the start of the week. I think it's something that's leftover from my school days, Monday's signaled a time to get back to something where as Sunday's were still a day off!

Sunday's are no longer a day off but they still signal the end of the week. And it's been a tough week, though it started out pretty tame. I was actually very bored on Tuesday, which isn't a state that I like to find myself in, it means my mind can wander and I start thinking about deep things and, well, that can get uncomfortable, very uncomfortable.

Then Wednesday hit and life went something like this...up, clean house before the Parents return, errands, staff meeting, extended time with fellow staff member, youth group prep, unexpected office visit, time spent holding my head in hands and praying after unexpected office visit, youth group, home, welcome Parents back, bed, up, visit with Song Friend (thanks for the advice, btw), youth workers gathering, lunch with youth worker friends, walk with K and boys, computer prep for Sunday's service, choir practice, home, bed, up, bake scones for Bible Study, Bible Study, tough phone call as a result of unexpected office visit, lunch with K, pick up Train Guy and Little Boy, grocery store, home with TG and LB, play, send TG and LB home, bake cake for Little Boy's 1st birthday party, head to church for 9-11pm shift for prayer vigil...and breathe.

I wasn't looking forward to the prayer vigil. I was going because I had signed up and didn't have a good excuse for backing out. I really wanted to stay home in my sweatpants, sweatshirt and slippers, but I put on some real shoes and went. I was really ready to just crawl into my bed, pull the covers over my head and hide, but I went to the church to pray. I needed that. I needed to sit on the floor of the sanctuary and pray with others. I needed to be challenged to pray for the people on the prayer cards. I needed to sit and listen to the prayers of lament, joy and concern be given to God. I needed to sit and know that God was big and I am not and that is just soooooo okay. I needed to be close to tears, on the verge of breaking down and know that God was there, that God knew, that God was hearing me. It was a powerful oasis in the midst of a high stress busy weekend. Because though I took time to breathe there was still the whole decorating of the cake, Birthday Party, wedding rehearsal, back to birthday party, home, bed, up, church (both services & rehearsals), lunch, wedding, home, meeting, home, bed thing to be done.

It's been an emotional and physical rollercoaster of a week and I'm glad that for me, Sunday is the end of one week and Monday the beginning of another. Tomorrow is a new day, a new week and I ready for a new one!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Song Friend

A year or two after I first started in Youth Ministry, I met a fellow Youth Worker. I remember the location of our first meeting pretty well, it was in downtown S.C. on a cold evening in December. Our groups were getting together to hand out blankets and sing Christmas Carols. There were about 5 different churches involved, with teenagers everywhere. I'm a pretty shy person by nature. I'm quiet and don't really like to draw a whole lot of attention to myself. The other Youth Worker, totally different. He's pretty darn outgoing, likes to make others laugh and is not afraid to strike up conversations with people. I remember watching him, impressed with his outgoing attitude and not really sure what to make of him.


Fast-forwarding a couple of years, this fellow Youth Worker turned out to be a very good friend. There were four of us (I was the only girl) who would get together regularly for breakfasts, plan joint activities for our youth groups, and just in general became good friends. Little did I know what I was in for.


One normal day I checked my cellphone only to see that I had missed a phone call from my Youth Worker friend. I innocently retrieved my voicemail only to be accosted by a noise that sounded like a cat wailing only it was a person singing...I remember thinking "What drunk person stole my Youth Worker friends phone and called me only to sing some random song??" Then it hit me, this was my friend. That's when I started thinking of him as my Song Friend.

Over the course of the next couple of years I would hit play on the answering machine at work and hear songs about sandwiches (it apparently got lost) and other randomness. My Song Friend knows I like to laugh, which makes me an easy target. The songs brightened my day though, and reminded me that I was cared for by other people in ministry, that I wasn't alone. Though as a Worship Leader I was pretty certain I was never going to ask my Song Friend to actually sing on the Worship Team...ever.


Then the songs stopped. Things in my Song Friend's life got messy and tough. There were a lot of moments of deep sharing, the playfulness wasn't quite as light. Many fervent prayers have been said on behalf of Song Friend and the bond grew tighter in our circle of friends. God is mysterious sometimes and we don't always understand it. That year of change in my Song Friend's life was dramatic, scary and started a shift in our circle that changed everything. One of our circle moved away, Song Friend moved out of ministry into the "real world" and we didn't see each other as often. The times together became a little more awkward as we all adjusted to the new changes in our friendship. I've been thinking a lot about Song Friend lately. I miss him, I miss our circle, I miss sitting across a table talking about life, ministry and everything in between. I miss being teased over my Amy Grant posters or not driving with the convertible down on cold but sunny days in January. I miss my Song Friend.


Saturday I was at church for a work day. I was expecting a student to show up to help and he wasn't there so I went into my office to check my messages. I hit play on my answering machine and the noise coming from my answering machine made me stop and think "What drunk person left a message on my answering machine?" It hit me fast and furious. I knew that voice! I remember that wailing! That's Song Friend! And singing an Amy Grant song??!!! It was beautiful, it was marvelous, I laughed so hard I was doubled over, tears began to form in my eyes. It was so good to hear that voice.

I'm going to listen to that message over and over and over again, until the day I accidentally hit delete and erase all my messages. My Song Friend is back. Life just got happier again.

"Angels watching over meeeeeeeee......."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thoughts while driving to the airport

I was driving The Parents to the airport the other morning somewhere between 4:30am and 5:20am. I'm not really sure what time it was exactly because it was dark and I couldn't see the clock. Anyway, we were going north on 17 and there was pretty much no traffic. There was one car ahead of me, in the slow lane, and I noticed that another was entering the highway. Yo Momma, The Dad and I watched in amazement as the car in front of us refused to let the other car onto the highway. Like refused. They didn't pull over into the empty left lane and then braked so that the car entering the highway had to brake hard or smash into the other car. Did I mention that there was no traffic, with no one but me coming up and there was plenty of time for this person to move over? It was stunning.

That was only the first of the rude people driving incidents for the day. It got me to thinking about how rude and angry we are becoming as a society. I had a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago about this same subject and her comment was "Even the hippies are angry!" I'm not really sure how it all happened but I've noticed that rudeness starts early, I've seen it in the Train Guy. He can get pretty demanding and rude when he feels like he's not being heard. So far the reaction that he's received isn't encouraging that behavior. So far.

I found a book the other day called Please is a Good Word to Say. It's a great kids book that talks all about manners. I bought it to have at my house when the Train Guy and Little Boy come over and am tempted to buy one for every child that I know. I remember my parents always making a big deal over manners when I was a child and I find myself making a big deal out of manners today. I say "Thank You" even when other people should be thanking me. "Please" is a regular part of my vocabulary though I'm finding that I don't use "You're Welcome" as much as I use "No problem!". My point is that I think manners are things that can be drilled into us as children and that should be continued to be drilled into us as adults.

The Dad used to always say "Kill them with kindness" whenever I was struggling with another person. Jesus said "Love your enemies". Then there's that fabulous saying "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar". Love that one. My point is rudeness or anger doesn't attract the attention that most of us desire. We attract anger, frustration and disdain, which only serves to make us more irritable and angry. It's a vicious circle.

When did we stop paying attention to the basic rules of kindness and love? When did we lose our manners? Is there a way that we can get it back? Some in the Christian world would say when everyone comes to Jesus, but I've got to say, some of the rudest people I know are Christians. I remember when I was working at Borders just dreading working Sunday afternoons when people would get out church and come to the store. And it's not just the retail stores that have stories like that. Ask any waiter or waitress what Sunday's are like, you'll hear a lot of stories.

My feeling is that rudeness is a heart and mind condition. When our hearts and minds are filled with negativity, we're rude and angry. Some of us choose to live in the negative but personally, it's hard for me to stay there because deep down my negativity comes not from the world around me but from deep inside me, from the place where I don't like myself. I don't like living in that place. When I'm unhappy 9 times out of 10 it's because I'm unhappy with myself, that's where my rudeness and anger comes from. It's hard to accept that but there it is. I'm so grateful that I don't have to figure it all out on my own though. I am so grateful for the constant presence of God who constantly points me in the direction of understanding and knowledge and who won't let me stay in that place of anger and rudeness.

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." ~Galatians 5:14-15

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Birthday week and a little Mississippi stuff

I am officially 33. It sounds older than I feel. Not that 33 is old. I think we get a different perspective on age as the years go by. What seemed so old at 16 isn't so old once you get there!

I've celebrated my birthday well this week. Baked my own birthday cake, twice...the second wasn't nearly as elaborate as the first but still tasted good! Yo Momma made Jambalaya for my birthday dinner. Yum, yum, yum. Thanks Yo Momma!

Yesterday I got a pedicure, G.G. gave me a nice gift certificate for that, and today I spent some of my birthday gift cards on things that I wanted. It's always nice to spend money without spending my money. All in all a great birthday week!

Today was the first team meeting for the December Mississippi trip. We could potentially have 26 people on this next trip. I'm looking forward to seeing the team that God puts together. In the meantime we'll be praying that airline fares get a little cheaper, for sponsors to come through for us and for just the right team to head to Pearlington. It's only three months away!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday

It's been one of those days when my mind hasn't stopped racing all day long. I wish I could say that everything that has raced through my mind has been positive but that would be lying. I've found myself getting more frustrated, depressed and angry. I don't like that. I like the happy positive side of life. I don't want to be angry, depressed and frustrated. So I'm going to focus on the positive aspects right now, in the blog and see if I can't "happy up"! I like the dot things, so here goes.
  • Youth groups went really well this week. Both groups had fun, participated in the discussions and were happy to be there. I realized as I was writing that down that part of my frustration this week had to do with feeling rushed to get the lesson part of the meeting together (it's been a busy week). God shined through, despite me, so that's all that matters.

  • Worship Team on Monday night rocked! Seriously. It's getting harder and harder for me to stand still while singing and playing because the music is just flowing through me. We had a great rehearsal, enjoyed having all our musicians back together and made an "old school" song come alive again. I really pray that we bring that same energy and excitement to the Sunday morning service.

  • My guitar has an owie but Tim at the repair shop says that it looks only superficial and should be fixable. In the meantime I'm borrowing the Pastor's guitar for worship. Nice.

  • I had lunch with a student today and it was so nice. Panda Express and good conversation. I love my job.

And my final reason to look on the positive side of life...tomorrow is my birthday. Last weekend I got really creative and I baked my own birthday cake. I've had the cake pan for two years and never got around to doing anything with it. I had some free moments last weekend, was going to have to use all my decorating stuff anyway, so I baked my own cake for my early birthday celebration. It came out really well, if I don't say so myself. I think so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Off to war

When I first started in youth ministry, I found very quickly that there were some ground rules that needed to be set within the group. One of those rules had to do with politics. We don't talk politics at youth group, or at least we don't argue about politics at youth group. Dexter and Sir Joe Esquire were the main reasons I came up with that rule. Best buds who did not see eye to eye when it came to politics. It could get ugly and loud really fast. So, the no politics rule.

It's not been easy to keep that unwritten rule at times. Three years ago it got really hard, the day that M.J. was killed in Iraq. This week it's harder still as C.S. goes to Iraq tomorrow. There are so many things that I would like to say and a rule that I would really like to break. But I won't and instead tomorrow we will pray, "Lord Jesus, keep her safe. Bring an end to this war. Bring the men and women of the military home. Bring peace to our world. Bring peace to our hearts. Amen."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Dad

The Dad requested, via email, a new blog name. He thinks "The Dad" is a little plain. Frankly he sounded a little jealous over Yo Momma's blog name. So for the last few weeks I've been thinking about a new blog name for The Dad. It's not as easy as it would seem.

Yo Momma's name came from our 2nd trip to Mississippi. I was working on the home of a mom and her teenage daughter. Any time the daughter was calling for her mom she would yell out "Yo Momma! Hey Momma!" It amused me. Especially combined with Southern drawl. Totally awesome. Anyway, I can't remember how it exactly happened but I started calling to my mom that way on our trip. It's stuck. Being a very white girl in CA I get my fair share of looks when I call for her on the street. Some may find it derogatory, but really it's just meant with a lot of love and fun.

In thinking about a new blog name for The Dad, I've been trying to come up with something as fun and with as much love. I could call him "Coach" or "Mr. O". I remember in High School trying desperately to get his attention with a "Hey Dad!" to no avail only to try "Coach" or "Mr. O" and have him turn around.

Around the house we have nicknames for him, depending on what's happening. One that's been around for a while has been "Mr. Clean" and the newest name is "Everything I do turns to crap" Man. But while they are names given in fun and affection, they are names that we use as warnings to each other. As in, "Don't go in there 'Everything I do turns to crap' Man is here." Not really blog names.

So, the search continues. In the mean time, he's The Dad. The guy who has set the bar really high for any other guys in my life, the one that I know loves me beyond measure, even when I don't take his advice, and who supports me in just about everything I try. That's my dad...and I love him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A first for me!

I started in Youth Ministry 8 years ago and have tried to create many different environments for the youth. We've had game nights, we've created a tropical theme in the youth room, we have icicle lights all around the room as our main source of light. I've had nights where the we sit in a more contemplative environment, sharing by candlelight. But tonight was the first time that the environment in the youth room was set by outside forces. Tonight, on our first night back to youth group after summer, we had youth group by candlelight...because the power went out at 4pm.

It amazes me that in all these years, this is the first time that we've actually had the power go out in youth group. Even more amazing is the fact that it's September! This rural valley is used to power outages in winter and early spring, but September?? Pretty uncommon! I've had candles around the youth room just in case for years. Finally we got some use out of them! If I had been thinking I would have gone upstairs and grabbed the propane lanterns too, but I didn't think about them until I got home. Oh well. It was a memorable night and it certainly didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the youth. Hide and seek in the dark is their favorite game!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Memory lapse

K and I got back into the walking habit today. I picked her and the boys up and we walked through the park. Afterwards we headed out for coffee, cuz what is better for you than coffee after walking?? As we drove to the coffee spot the Train Guy was in his seat in the back talking. He was talking about where we were going, what he wanted to do, the weather, just talking. K was talking too in front seat and I was listening to both of them. I heard the Train Guy say "I want to go to Jamba Juice. Yeah, I do. I think I want the peach juice. Yeah, I think so." K and I didn't respond to what he was saying and the Train Guy didn't like it so he got a little louder. "Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I think so. YEAH, I THINK SO!"

Of course that got the attention of the adults in the front seat. K immediately responded with "Train Guy, do you feel that we aren't paying enough attention to you? Please don't yell. What is it that you wanted to say?" And this was the Train Guy's response. "I want...I can't remember what I said."

It is so nice that a two year old has memory lapses too.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Church Camp

Last weekend was our annual All Church Retreat or as the Train Guy called it Church Camp. We've had Church Camp for many years and I've attended many but not all of them. Usually I get one of the fabulous Cabins the KOA has but this year I purchased a tent for the youth group so I decided we better use it. It's HUGE! Seriously. We've nicknamed it the Taj Mahal. I love it.

Anyway, this years Church Camp was extra special good. It may have been because the Train Guy and Little Boy were there. Maybe because Yo Momma and R-Girl were there. Maybe because I had enough sleep going into the weekend that the lack of sleep throughout the weekend wasn't going to bug me. I can't pinpoint any one thing. I found myself sitting around the camp fire at midnight on Saturday, not tired even though I hadn't slept super well the night before, but content. Happy to be sitting with three other people talking, laughing, listening to the sounds of the night and staring into a fire.

I think my experience with Church Camp this weekend is a little like what the Church must have looked like in Acts 2. We shared meals together, shared life together, laughed, worshipped, listened to each other, studied together, sang together, prayed together, watched over each other's children...or dogs...and just in general were the body of Christ. Church camp reminded me that Church life can be happy and good. I think I need more reminders like that throughout the year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bathrooms and ants

It's been fun this summer at Home-Sweet-Home. Every summer the ants invade; those little annoying insects that show up at first, alone, but are soon followed by a million of their closest friends and relatives. I honestly don't know what they found when they first showed up. I had the kitchen spotless. Dishes were done, food put away, nary a crumb on the counter and still, the ants came marching one by one.

Then they showed up in the bathroom, marching around the shower. I don't like sharing a bathroom with ants. So I took action. I got the ant spray and went around the house looking for entry points. I sprayed around the foundation, I sprayed the porch beams, I sprayed around windows. And still the ants came marching.

All this time Yo Momma and The Dad (nickname still in transition) were gone. But then, one day, Yo Momma came home to join me in the fight against the ants. Well, actually she came home because it was time to come home. The first morning that Yo Momma was home the light in my bathroom suddenly gave out. That's when we noticed the water. Water that was pooling in the light fixture. And that's when I started sharing a bathroom with Yo Momma and The Dad. Turns out the shower from upstairs had a leak and was drip, drip, dripping down through the floor into the ceiling of the bathroom downstairs and directly into my light fixture. Nice.

So the upstairs shower door was replaced. No more sharing a bathroom with The Parents. But today the floor was torn up, which means the toilet had to come out and the shower is inaccessible, which means I'm again sharing a bathroom with The Parents and ants.

I still don't like sharing a bathroom with ants.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Dots of the week

Vacation is fabulous, I just have to say. Every year when vacation comes around I wonder what I'm going to do and then by the time the week is over, I wonder how I ran out of time! I still have two more days of vacation left but found myself with a little time to reflect. I like dots, so here's what's been going on this week and what's running through my mind!
  • Yo Momma and I hopped in the convertible aka the "race car"on Tuesday and headed up to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I highly recommend it. Especially the play "On the Razzle". Excellent. I love the nuances of live theater and I love seeing how the actors and actresses respond to unexpected events. During the second act of the last play we saw the lights went out. The actors on stage didn't miss a beat as the back-up lights went on. They just kept going. I was really impressed that there were emergency lights designed to illuminate the stage in case of power outages. Nice. The lights came back on JUST as the cast took their final bow. It made me aware that though things like lighting only add to the experience of theater but the really important part is the ability of the actors to convey the message of the play. I don't need special effects to dazzle me when the acting is so good!
  • While I don't particularly like driving north on Boring Road that goes through the state, I do have to say I noticed that once we reached the neighboring state slower moving vehicles actually moved to the right so faster moving vehicles could pass on the left. We don't do that so well in CA. Especially in the Bay Area. So listen up! All y'all who move over to let faster moving vehicles pass in the appropriate lanes, Thank You. Road Boulders, you are not helping the situation, just let the people drive the speed they choose and MOVE OVER!
  • I've read three books this week and didn't turn on a TV for four whole days. I realized that I turn on the TV when I'm home for the noise. Maybe it's time to get out of that habit. (TV was just turned off.)
  • It's been stinkin' hot this week up north and at home, so what did I choose to do today? Head to a local amusement park with the Train Guy, Little Boy and K. It was hot but so much fun. Train Guy and I rode Whirling Strawberries. It's quite an experience. My favorite moment of the day was on our last train ride of the day. Train Guy had pretty much worn himself out but wanted to go on the train "one more time". Halfway through the ride Train Guy was asleep. It was a kodak moment...too bad we forgot the cameras!
  • My biggest project of the week was putting up new window blinds in my room. I took me a little while to do tonight. It's amazing how window blinds can change the look of a room. Hopefully they keep the light out a little better too!
  • Tomorrow is Church Day and I'm still on vacation. That means that I don't have to get up to be at church at 8am. I don't even have to go to church at all! Usually when I'm not in church it's because I'm on a trip with the youth. The last time I had a Sunday morning off I was on a plane headed home after a friends wedding. This time I have some options and I'm home. I'm feeling the need to go to church, but I'm not feeling the need to go to my church. I'm not sure where I will end up tomorrow. But I do know that I will appreciate sleeping in!
  • And last little dot thing for the night, The Dad is complaining about his Blog name. He doesn't feel that "The Dad" is very exciting. Um-hm. I'm not so sure he will like any of the others that have run through my head either. I'll keep thinking and let you know!

That's it. I'm tired. Bed is calling and so is another book!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Flip-flop's and choices

I've been thinking a lot lately about choices. It came up the other day while I was watching one of those morning news shows. The new thing is that flip-flops, if worn as the sole choice of footwear, is bad for your feet...no arch support. Okay. The general public has been warned. Is this going to keep me from wearing my flip-flops all summer long. No. Not even nasty plantar warts kept me from wearing flip-flops all summer long (was that too much info? it was last summer). It's my choice.

My music of choice is country. I like it. I get tired of the continual comments about country music from those who don't like it. I sit and smile and try to be a good sport when really inside I'm thinking "Get over it! Geesh!" We all make our choices, if you don't like mine fine but LET IT GO ALREADY!!!

We all make choices. It's part of life. Some choices lead us down paths of greatness, some lead us into despair. There are choices that will bring us joy, there are choices that will bring us pain. My choice is not going to be the same as yours. We will make mistakes, we will disagree, we will regret our choices and we will also rejoice in and enjoy our choices. What's great is that once our choice has made, there is another one around the corner and it's a big one. Ready?? We can deal with our choices or we can whine, complain and regret our choices to the point where we annoy everyone around us.

I guess my point is that I'm tired of hearing on the news, from friends, from people on the street, from "experts" about my choices whatever they may be. I've got a brain, I'm pretty good about thinking things through and I'm pretty much okay with my choices. I'll deal with whatever comes about because of them. So, experts, friends, new and random people, thanks for your input, but I'm okay.

I'm off to find my flip-flops.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Safe

Our fabulous VBS director and I struck a deal, she'd get me a gift certificate for a pedicure as a thank you and I would get her one. It worked very nicely. So that's where we sat yesterday morning, letting someone pamper us. As we were sitting there I noticed that the TV was turned to the Food Network one of my favorites (though I really don't appreciate one particular person on the Food Network...he wasn't on, thank goodness). It crossed my mind that having the TV turned to the Food Network was a safe channel for a nail salon. No news, no politics, no controversial shows, just food. People could just sit and enjoy their time without getting riled up by whatever was on the TV.

Tonight in the middle of a meeting I was suddenly struck with the thought that things that I've been taken for granted could be in jeopardy or unsafe. I get pretty complacent and forget that life is always changing until something happens to rock my world a little.

And then I read a blog that reminded me that life with Jesus isn't supposed to be safe...not in the way that I've taken life with Jesus anyway. Jesus was the embodiment of "unsafe". Jesus shook things up big time and though he brought grace, mercy and peace along the way, Jesus wasn't safe. He didn't follow the "party lines", he didn't do what was expected by the people, Jesus rocked people's worlds.

I've allowed myself to become complacent in this life with Jesus. I've forgotten that life with Jesus isn't safe, it doesn't follow my rules, things get rocky and sometimes I get hurt...and sometimes it feels down right unsafe to follow Jesus. But I'm never alone; Jesus isn't going anywhere. He's ready to take me on a new adventure...I wonder if I'm willing to follow.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Allergies

I woke up this morning sneezing. It's never a great day when I wake up sneezing. There are only two things that means, a cold or allergies. Today I think it's allergies, though as the day has gone on my throat has gotten a little more raw, which could mean this is turning into something uglier. Yea.

The thing that bugs me the most about allergies is that just when I think I've got control of them with meds, the wind starts blowing stuff around and I start sneezing over and over and over again. Itchy eyes aren't my favorite either cuz then I wind up with black circles under my eyes...mascara. I love the raccoon look...NOT!

I've never had myself tested to see what I'm allergic too, and really I don't care. I take my Kirkland brand of Claritin faithfully, use Allergy Eye Drops and hope that takes care of it. But on days like today I wish I could hide in an allergen free room and breathe! Without sneezing three times in a row, having my nose run constantly and rubbing at my itchy eyes.

Oh well, it could be worse. I'm off to buy more eye drops. Hopefully the wind dies down soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Just rambling...

I always feel like I should have something important, special, well thought out to say here. There are a number of things running through my head right now, so I'll just put them down in dot form and leave it at that!
  • VBS ended last night. We had a good week with only one hiccup. I'm even willing to lead the songs again next year...just as long as we have someone else do the closing music!
  • I am not a fan of flea markets. They are a great fundraiser but can be such a hassle. I'm very, very grateful for people like Sandy who are willing to put up with the hassle to raise money for the Mississippi team.
  • I'm ready for a week off...vacation is just two weeks away! YES!
  • I'm not ready, however, for school to be back in session. I like summer and hanging out with students during the day!
  • It really irks me when people say they are going to do something and then don't follow through, especially when I'm counting on them. My "don't rely on other people" instincts get fired up and that's not good people!
  • I like "Jesus-is-my-boyfriend" music also known as "Praise Music". I just need it in writing. I like leading the worship team on Sunday mornings in "praise music". I like drums, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards and harmony vocals. AND, I like Hymns, though I prefer hymns that are actually singable, as opposed to ones that drag or that get way too high...same with "Praise" music.
  • Why is it that PowerPoint can play all the songs on my computer except the three that I want on the slide show for tomorrow?

And with that said, it's time for me to sign off, set the alarm and get some sleep before church tomorrow. It's Mission Report Sunday and we're having a BBQ after church to say thanks to our sponsors. A long day is in store!

Nighty-nite!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It's gettin' loud over here

It's day two of Vacation Bible School. 63 children ages 3-11 are running around the church today, learning about God, shouting "Yee-hah!" and singing praises to God with their loudest voices. I'm always amazed at how VBS pulls together, seemingly at the last second and works out to be a great adventure for the children and the leaders. I'm also amazed at the number of Middle School, High School and College Students who show up year after year to be leaders. They love this stuff.

My job is to lead the singing. Two years ago I was ready to quit. I was DONE with leading the songs, just worn out. I gave myself one more year, which has turned into two and can I just say, I'm digging it again. There's something about teaching the moves to "I Like Bananas" and singing "Pharaoh, Pharaoh" over and over again that is comforting, refreshing and revitalizing. Don't get me wrong, by the end of the week I will have sung those two songs enough times that I won't want to hear them again for years, but for today, for this week, I'm digging it again. And it feels really good.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mississippi Part 4

Felton Pres. June Mississippi Team


Our June Mississippi Team met last night to talk about the last trip and just be together again. It is always interesting to gather together a month or so after and share our experiences. The general consensus was that this was the best trip so far. We talked about the people that we met, the projects that we completed and the feelings that we had about our time together. There weren't too many negative comments about the trip at all. And most everyone asked "So when are we going back?"

I've struggled a little bit with that question. Not because I don't want to go back, believe me, but because I'm concerned about wearing out our sponsors. We've been to Pearlington 3 times in 14 months. We've raised and spent over $40,000.00. Not a dime of that was wasted, yet I'm still a little hesitant to ask the people who sponsored us the last three times to go it again. Especially because costs keep rising. But on the other hand if we don't go to Pearlington to help people rebuild their homes, who is going to do it?

So I started thinking and came up with the following statistics

  • 35 people have spent 18 days working in Pearlington, Mississippi. (People may have gone on multiple trips but were only counted once. The days do not include travel days or days off.)

  • Those 35 people over the course of 18 days have worked about 2,300 hours.

  • We've raised and spent $40,000.00 over the course of three trips. That's an average of $1,143.00 per person.

  • If we were to have been paid as day laborers at $15.00 an hour we would have earned a grand total of $35,000.00.

And then there's this gem of a statistic that we heard while in Pearlington.

  • 95 percent of the work that's being done in the Gulf Coast is being done by faith-based groups.

We have to go back. We have to ask our friends, family, church and community to support us again because we are the ones getting the work done. The government isn't doing it, FEMA isn't doing it. It's groups just like ours who are actually helping people get into homes after losing everything. If we don't go, who will?

My "Thank You" letters are almost ready to be sent to everyone who sponsored me in June and they will soon be followed by another letter saying "Please support our team as we head to Pearlington, Mississippi for the fourth time in December." Though I am hesitant to ask, I will because I know the good that is being done, because I've seen this town start to come to life again, because I know the answer to my own question. If we don't go, no one will.