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


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!