Thursday, January 31, 2008


I have always liked driving. I enjoy spending time in the car, listening to the radio, singing along, making wrong turns, making u-turns, finding little roads that seem to go nowhere but take you somewhere. I like watching the miles roll by on the odometer and watching the scenery out the windows. Driving got even better when I got the convertible, feeling the wind blow through my hair, the sun shining on my face and shoulders, the ability to look up and see the clouds or trees rolling by.

I like driving SUVs. I like being able to carry a bunch of people, sitting high off the road. But I also like driving small cars that get better gas mileage and can only carry a few people. I prefer manual transmissions over automatics and I really, really like cars that have good radio systems.

That last part was especially nice on Tuesday when I got back in the SUV we had rented on Monday in snow country because one of the vehicles we had taken on the Snow Trip broke down before we could get everyone home. My job for that day was to drive 6 hours back to snow country to take it back to the rental company. Yo Momma (the most fabulous mom in the world) drove her small SUV and I the monster SUV and we drove up the mountains. We talked occasionally on the walkie-talkies but most of the drive was just me and the satellite radio. (BTW--I am now officially a fan.) I listened to country music from the 90's all the way. It was fabulous. I haven't heard some of those songs in years. I was singing and dancing in my seat, just enjoying the ride.

At one point in the drive it occured to me that God had really worked this all out well. Before the Snow Trip I felt tired, just exhausted from all that has happened in the last month and so, so tired of being with people. I put in long, long hours in the days leading up to the trip trying to get everything done but I knew on the other side of the Snow Trip were three glorious days when I was I had earned those three days and had arranged for my volunteers to take the youth groups for the week, planned some self-care appointments and brought a bunch of books home to read and prepare for the coming weeks.

On the Snow Trip I found myself actually getting sleep, feeling energized, just hanging out with students, not my typical trip. The car problems didn't stress me out, I handled it well, made the decisions and went with it. I got the last SUV All Wheel Drive that the Rental Shop had and Yo Momma said she could do a return trip with me and it just all worked out.

God knew what I needed. God knew that I needed 6 glorious hours in a car all by myself. God knew that the drive would restore my sense of peace and contentment. God knew that I would use that time to talk as well and God provided moments for me to remember to when the snow got a little thick, the road got steep and my faith in the all wheel drive SUV waned. God heard my "I need help" prayer and gently blew the snow from the road, slowing me down and clearing the way. God heard, God knew, God provided.

I like driving, especially the convertible, but life sure is a lot better when God's in the driver's seat.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snow Trip Report

1 car in the dug-out Auto Shop.

1 car dug-out from the Rental Shop.

Roads very, very white and slippery for 60 miles.

22 people off the mountain safely.

1 tire blow-out, on a dry, clear road quickly changed.

22 people home safe and sound by 10:30pm.

1 return trip to the snow imminent to take back rental car.

3 fabulous days with students, with God and in the snow...priceless!

Monday, January 28, 2008


22 people

4 working vehicles

1 broken vehicle

1 Auto Shop snowed in

1 rental vehicle snowed in at the rental shop

Snow, snow and more snow

300 miles to travel today

Please pray

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Quick Weekend Update

Snow, lots and lots of snow. It's been falling out of the sky all day. The road's are very white, white, white. Makes life fun for 15 high school students, 3 College Students and 3 Youth Leaders. Seriously, seriously fun.

We're safe and warm in our homes-away-from-home. Skiing/Boarding was good. Lil' Bro came up to the ski area before work to say Hi. I miss Lil' Bro hugs. It's extra special to watch Lil' Bro with my "kids". I don't think he knows just how much they love him.

Tomorrow will be an adventure heading home. We've had some car trouble, nothing super serious but serious enough to need a different vehicle. Trin and I have worked everything out...we make a good team! It's been really nice to have someone else to take charge and rely on. A good group of students, a great group of chaperone's, it's been a great weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A little bit of a rant

I woke up later than usual this morning. Just in time to catch the last of the the morning news shows. Too early to miss news and pictures that made my blood boil. Poor Yo Momma got the brunt of my frustration as I made my way to the shower.

I don't understand people who feel the need to take their protests to funerals. I especially don't understand Christians who feel this need. The news that one extremist group is planning on demonstrating at Heath Ledger's funeral just undid me this morning. That's just what the family and friends need at this moment in time, to be faced with a bunch of people condemning the person they loved who just died unexpectedly and tragically. Grief isn't hard enough without a group of people carrying signs saying your loved one is going to hell because of a role they played in a movie. Yeah, that's compassionate and loving.

I pray that the God of Love and Compassion that I know will find a way to bring hope, peace and comfort to the family and friends of Heath Ledger despite the efforts of this group to bring shame and condemnation. And I pray that they will know that there are many more Christians in the world that mourn for them and with them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Day Off

Beginning with a side note: Welcome RevGalBlogPals! God has used many of your blogs to speak to me over the last couple of years and I am honored to be a part of the Ring! It just feels good.

Last week I decided that I was going to do something really, really selfish and actually take today off. What is that? You mean actually taking a paid holiday off isn't selfish? Hmmm.... Anyway, I've been wanting to see National Treasure 2 so I invited a couple of students to join me...what's that you say? Taking a day off and still spending time with students doesn't really jive? Hmmm...well, I wasn't at the office, so it still counts!

The movie was surprisingly good. I really liked National Treasure 1, so I wasn't expecting to like the 2nd as much. It was fun, though Nick C's hair was really, really bad. Bad dye job, bad cut, just bad...and I wasn't afraid to share my feelings with Jonathan throughout the movie, every time they had a closeup. Seriously, seriously awful hair.

We walked up and down Pacific Ave after the movie, stopping for pizza and bagels. As we were sitting around the table talking, I suddenly became profoundly grateful. Grateful for the students I was with, for the years of relationship building, for seeing a new friendship blossom between two of the students, for the opportunity to laugh, to share in new memories and to just be me.

Today God reminded me why I'm in Youth Ministry, why I'm in ministry at's about the people, it's about the relationships and it's about loving and knowing I am loved not because of anything I've done but because of who God has made me and gifted me to be. Today was a good day off.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I figured out how to get my Flickr photo's linked here. It only took a couple of hours! If you would like to see more photos from Mississippi, look to the right for the flickr link. I'll post other pictures when I get permission from the photographers!

Happy viewing!

Friday, January 18, 2008


There is a voice that has been telling me a story for a very long time. Sometimes I hear the voice in the midst of wonderful moments. It says things like "You don't deserve this happiness. If people really knew what you were like, they wouldn't like you. This happiness is just a fluke, things will change." In those unhappy, stressful moments the voice says "See, didn't I tell you? Why do you think you can achieve anything? You really are very inadequate."

That voice has driven me in many, many ways. It has convinced me that I am not worthy of recognition. It has convinced me that I will fail more often that I will succeed. It has convinced me that the happiness of other's that I lead is my responsibility. The voice has convinced me that I am unworthy, unlovable and undeserving of praise.

I don't like this voice. I really don't like that this voice lives inside of me, that it comes from my own heart.

On my Come Away day God decided to confront that voice. God showed me areas in which the voice has been winning the battle, places where I set myself up for failure. God showed me places where I have triumphed and succeeded only to allow the voice to convince me that I wasn't as good as I thought or as others were saying. God was there as I cried tears of sorrow and loss, as I wrote words of apology and allowed the places of deep jealousy and envy to be unveiled. God spoke words of forgiveness, diminishing the power of the voice, if only a margin. God said "I love you. You are worthy. I am so glad I made you."

This morning I realized that I had allowed the voice to speak again, after my Come Away day. I feel right into it's trap. But God was there this morning and God was doing the revealing this morning. And God said "I love you. You are worthy. I am so glad I made you." I am beginning to believe God more than the voice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Overload in bullet form: (started at 5pm)

  • In 45 minutes five students and a youth advisor are arriving to talk about our journey through the one year bible. It's the 16th. I'm on day 11. I still need to order the pizza and pick it up.
  • Youth group starts in an hour and a half. I know what I'm talking about. Just not so sure how it's going to be said. No games planned, no songs chosen. We're winging it.
  • Next weekend is the High School Snow Trip. We're going with another church whose youth leader called today and said she broke her foot and can't drive. Unless we get a new driver, 3 students will be walking to the snow 250 miles away.

Restarted at 10:50pm

  • Church computer doesn't like me anymore, which makes it hard to put together picture CD's from the Mississippi trip...all 6 of them! It keeps stopping in the middle of burning the CD and then crashes. UGH.
  • People are antsy for their donation receipts from Mississippi, and rightfully so. It's not a quick process though. This time it's not the computer but the printer. It will only go so fast!
  • Tomorrow is my Come Away Day. Which means driving in commute traffic to LG and then being silent for 4 hours. My mind is so busy, I pray that I can just put everything else aside and be with God.
  • After the Come Away I have a meeting in San Jose and then need to race back home for another meeting that night.

Yep, feeling a little bit on overload. Friday is just around the corner, though which means two days off! And I'm refusing to do any church related stuff on Saturday. I'm not going near that place! Will someone please hold me to that?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Full Plate

One of my favorite parts of the day while in Mississippi was lunch at First Missionary Baptist Church. There was so much good food to choose from! My plate would be heaping by the time I was done putting "a little of this and a little of that" on my plate. Sitting down to eat I usually looked at my plate and wondered "why is my plate so full?" Of course, I always made sure that I ate everything! Plus dessert!

Lately I've been looking at my calendar and saying "Why is my plate so full?" It's nothing new. I've been here before. This time though, I'm beginning to realize that while my plate is full, my energy and enthusiasm is running on empty. My focus has gotten off track. I need a break. Unfortunately that break really isn't going to happen for another two weeks. There is a bright spot coming this week though, a half-day set aside for me and God. To talk, to listen, to be silent, to just be. I'm looking forward to that day. It's like dessert. I don't want to miss it.

Yep, I've got a full plate. But dessert is coming.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

More pictures from Mississippi

There is no way to really show the work that was being done by the team in Mississippi, partly because while we were working, we weren't taking pictures. Here are a few images from the trip that tell a little bit of the story.

Gutters were installed at Ms. P's daughter's house.

Siding was repaired at Ms. L's house.

The house was leveled and a new sliding door installed at Ms. S's house.

Foam insulation went in at Mr. J's house.

The yard was cleaned up and floors prepared for laminate tiles at Mr. P's house.

And then of course were the reminders of the storm.

This is what one of the rooms at the yellow house looked like before we started working.
There are many more pictures. I will attempt to add them to an online photo book at some point and post the link here. If you are in town on Sunday we are sharing at both services, 9am and 11:15am. Feel free to join us!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Home and rain

The team made it safely home on Thursday night with only minor delays. We spent the morning wandering the French Quarter, feasting on beignets at Cafe Du Monde and buying gifts to bring home. 9 days is a long time to be with people 27 other people, going pretty much everywhere with them. I know we were all a little irritable, physically tired and emotionally exhausted by the time we got home on Thursday night. Yo Momma, The Dad and I stayed up until 12:15am California time talking about the body was definitely telling me that it was 2:15am Mississippi time! Overall it was a good trip, there is much still to be done in Pearlington and I'm pretty sure that I will have to go back in the future, though maybe with not so many people.

I would have updated things yesterday but by the time I was ready to begin thinking about using a computer the power went out. We've had rain, rain and more rain plus a lot of wind the last two days. I'm pretty sure the rain gauge outside my room was overflowing at some point last night and it holds 6 inches. The rain and power outage were the perfect excuses, though, for some much needed rest. Still not 100 percent rested, but I'm getting there. The power is on now and there are movies to watch, so I'm going to enjoy the rest of my day off and just vegg out.

More pictures and stories from the trip will be up in the next week or so. Thanks for reading along!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Day is done

When I was a Girl Scout we used to sing a song that went like this.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky.
All is well, safe we rest, God is nigh.

Our week is done. The sun has gone down from the sky and we have said our goodbyes to Pearlington and to it's residents. It's not been an easy week. There have been moments of conflict and frustration. We have experienced times of boredom along with that sense of urgency to finish the job. Some of us have sore muscles, some have struggled with allergies and illness, most are just plain tired. We've had a couple of small injuries and some scrapes and bruises. We've worked on 11 homes, put in around 900 hours of sweat equity into Pearlington, ate some great food and saw destruction that left us in tears. All of us have felt frustration and experienced some challenge but I don't think any of us would trade this experience for the world!

Here are our memorable moments from the week:

Jodi--The most memorable thing was walking into the Yellow House and just seeing the furniture turned on it's side...personal belongings, toys and pictures with a layer of dried mud over everything.

Joe--For me it was leaving Ms. S's house at the end of the day with the two kids running over saying "Don't leave! Aren't you going to come back and finish the house?" What do you tell them? How do you tell them that you're only here for a week and aren't going to be able to finish the job.

Zach--The change of people's opinions about Ms. S's house after we were done working on it. Before we got there the general consensus was that house needed to be torn down but not they say it will take a year to two years with volunteer help for her to be moved in.

Norm--Mr. P's house in the afternoon was one of the most exciting moments. Rita and Sandy came and said "We want to do more!" Everyone was teaching others how to do the work and we were running like crazy by the end of the work day. The other was at the site today roofing. Once everyone got started on their task it went well. When other groups came back to drop things off, they saw we were still working and joined in the work. At one point there were four lines of people working on the roof, racing to get it all down. It felt like things were really moving and was just fun.

Bill--One of the most memorable things for me was New Year's lunch, though it was long, it was moving to hear the people of the church share how much they appreciated all the people how had come to the town. They actually look at the storm as a blessing. They have served 6000 meals since the storm.
Lynn--The high point of the week was at the yellow house, walking into all that devastation and at the end of the day seeing the difference we made. No one stood around, everyone was moving and working hard and worked together well as a team.

Maaike--What I thought was really important was the feeling of being together and home with the people in this group. The most memorable was the yellow house and seeing what had happened in the storm.

Douglas--My funniest moment was today with the crowbars and Joe, just whacking stuff all day. My most memorable moment was being a team leader with Mark. It was fun for a couple of days and then I didn't want to be a leader anymore. My 2nd most memorable moment was the first day at the yellow house. It was like we were all on fire. I was always carrying buckets out.

Pedro--At Mr. M's house working in his closet, there were dirty clothes everywhere. Underneath one of the piles was a cockroach...Mark was like "Okay, that's a cockroach." I said, "Kill it." and Mark said "I don't know how to kill it." It was a lot of fun working with Mark. We worked together well.

Molly--I have three things about the week I will remember forever. The first was walking into the yellow house feeling angry that people have just left it that way and seeing the power of nature. The 2nd most cool thing was on the 2nd day at Ms. S's house when both her grandkids remembered me. It was really important to me. Third, I've had more "girl power" moments this week than I've had in my life. Everyday I've been proving myself. I feel like God has been showing me my strengths this week.

Joe G.--One was when went down to the Gulf and took that drive. Every house it was like just the metal bases of the house. It was pretty emotional. Second this week I've mostly worked with Norm. He's a really good worker and teacher. I had a lot of fun with him.

Mark--I liked being roommates with Joey. We talked late into the night and it was cool getting to know him. The other thing that I really liked was being a co-leader because if I had any hard decisions I could tell the other person to deal with it. I really enjoyed having a group of people who maybe didn't know what to do and maybe I knew what to do. We got together and worked together as a team. It was really cool that everyone came together to help other people

Jonathan--My most memorable moment of the trip was getting sick. I don't remember feeling that bad in a long time. But the brighter side was rooming with Joe. We've been best friends for a long time and he's still my best friend. On the site, the teamwork that we had on the flooring job was the other memorable moment. Whenever someone needed to help someone was there.

Pete—To have the opportunity to spend such profound time with my son was by far the best part of the trip. One of the most fun things was when Mr. Guy and Mr. Peanut had rock and roll flashbacks on the way back to Slidell. It was fun to finish strong and I felt like we finished strong today.

Violett—My best moment was today when Justine and I were talking. I liked that all of us were really close and actually bonded. Today I was talking with Brittany that I’m really a wanting and needing person, I’m always asking for more. I finally realized on this trip that there are people who have less and I need to be happy with what I have.

Sandy—Mine is being with my church family again on a week’s worth of travel. It’s always amazing how close we get in this one week and when we go home we stay that way. We have a bond that people can’t understand a lot. Also going to the Baptist Church lunches, seeing them still serving great meals, it hasn’t changed. It’s still just as good now as it was then. And I got to pound two nails into their new church building, one for me and one for my sister.

Michelle—My highlight of the trip was the yellow house the first day, how we all banded together. Also, the church where we eat lunch at being remembered by the people who were serving lunch. It was nice to know that someone remembered me. Also, just being here and being able to work when most people choose to sit on the couch and watch TV on their break. Probably the biggest highlight was at the end of the day sitting and listening to everyone’s day and hearing how they were changed by the day.

Guy—For me the highlight was being able to go back to Ms. S’s house because I had been there last year. It was also a low point because she seemed to be doing much worse but by the end of the week she was much better. She gave me a picture of her rose that I had pruned for her last year.
Rita--I really appreciate the fact that I was able to accepted and build relationships with everyone in this group. I enjoyed going to three different sites but I felt it was a real privilege to go to the yellow house. I know that everything I did throughout the week meant something but to see the inside change and the outside change that was the true Katrina experience.
Sarah--At Mr. P's house I felt not only did I learn something but I was tested because I had to teach people. I got to do the same thing today at Mr. J's house too. I think one of the best things about our group is how we all get along. We all care about each other.
Brittany--My favorite moments this week were hanging out with Ben and Tom, knowing that Katrina had brought them together and seeing the love and respect they have for each other. It was so special to be treated as an equal in the leadership capacity.
Sue--The thing that I appreciated most was the caring attitude the team had and the professionalism. For being volunteers we did a better job than some professionals. I was just totally bowled over today just seeing the greenhouse apart. There were some great victory calls as things feel down.

Debbie--I was struck today by the complex recovery process. Each house is different and the recovery is different. From the house that is in the same condition that we left it the last year, to the house that is finally in the beginning stages of recovery, to the house that the people have moved in but will have to move out because of the permit process. Yet everyone is still grasping onto hope. It's evident that everyone is in their own process is healing.

Gail--The thing that was the most memorable thing for me was the caring that the people of Pearlington have for us. The morning that we first came in one of the neighbors saw us come in, going across the glass door we were using to get across the gully. In the afternoon he was out cutting boards and putting them over the door making it a safe place for us to walk. Today at lunch on of the gentlemen we had met the day before came in, saw me and said "Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you!" He had brought a heater over to the house we had worked on the day before, knowing how cold it would be in the house.
Justine--Meeting Ms. L was great. She was so interesting. It was great to talk with her. Working on the yellow house, at first I didn't want to work there but going in I understand why my parents watch "This Old House". There was a chandelier in the bathroom! We got connected to the house and connected to the owner. It was amazing working with everyone on that house.
Regina--My most memorable moment was seeing Pete hit a nail in in 2 strokes when it took me 20. Also seeing how much it took to make the house level and straight. The first couple of days our crew didn't really know what we were really supposed to do but as the week went on we knew exactly what to do.
Alex--Ms. P's story about the Katrina disaster really brought home the whole thing while we are here. Walking into the yellow house, seeing what had been done and what was yet to do. Seeing the water level in the house and the mess made it all real to me. The other thing is what the team has accomplished this week. Finally, being on a mission trip with my two daughters was amazing, even though we were never on a site together.
Lisa--I enjoyed hanging out with people but it was hard in a lot of ways. I enjoyed that we got to see Ms. D today and that I was remembered by her daughter. It was just a different trip then last time.
Thank you, dear readers, for sending us, for commenting, for praying for us and for trusting God to care for us on our journey. We have been blessed!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Day 5...the beginning of the end

Throughout our time here on the Gulf Coast we've had warm days, cold days and rainy days. Today was a cold, windy day and it's supposed to be colder tomorrow. Oh joy.

It's evident from today that we're all tired, emotionally and mentally. Tempers are shorter, patience is vanishing and tears come a little bit easier. None of us are immune to these effects, though some are more clever at hiding them. As you pray for the team on Wednedsay, please pray that we would end our week of work on a high note, enjoying each other's company. Tomorrow is it, at 5pm we are done, we put all the tools back in Ben's trailers and head on home. I'm not excited about that. It's not a moment that any of us are really looking forward to, though the prospect of our own beds sounds really good right about now.

On to the work. Today a team headed back to the yellow house to start gutting the greenhouse and sheds out back. Guy came over with his chain saw and helped to eliminate a problem tree branch. We spent the whole day making the garbage pile bigger and bigger. If our work required a crowbar, Joe S. was quick to off his services. Our prayer is that he won't wound himself with that thing! We had a lot of visitors as well, curious to see what was happening. One group came through and made it a point to share how impressed they were with the job we had done inside the house. Hopefully by the time we are done tomorrow, people will be impressed with the outside work as well!
Mr. Peanut's house was busy today making sure the floor was level at Ms. S's house. There is a new sliding door in and sheetrock is going up to make the house weather safe before we need to leave. Debbie will be coming home with all her limbs intact, though I heard she shouldn't be trusted alone around a saw. Mr. Peanut's group is sorry to see the young 'uns leave (Ms. S's grandkids) but looking forward to a day where they don't have to worry about kids underfoot.

The flooring work at Mr. P's house ended today. Yo Momma and Violett rocked and got an "EQ" from the boss man. That's "early quit" in Ben-speak. Mr. P and friend enjoyed their company throughout the day. They couldn't just not do anything though, so Yo Momma and Violett headed over to the yellow house for the last hour of the day.

Mr. Bill took a group to a new site for us, just down the street from Mr. P's house. They spent the day taping and mudding drywall. I've heard tell that Sarah is a whiz at mudding corners. There is another day's work for them tomorrow, helping one family get a step closer to being in their home.

Norm and Alex finished up their roofing job today and spent some time talking with Ms. P and her family. Ms. P's grandson had stayed in the house while the rest of the family had evacuated. When Pearlington flooded, Ms. P's grandson was evacuated to Bay St. Louis, unbknownest to the rest of his family. Days after the storm, Ms. P and family went to the Bay to look for her grandson only to be told that the evacuation camps weren't keeping a list of names of the peopel there because there were just too many. By chance Ms. P's grandson spotted the top of his grandmother's van as they were driving away and chased down the car to be reunited with his family. It's stories like those that make us all realize how difficult it must have been in the days after the storm, not knowing where your family was or even how to find them.

Mark's crew continued flooring at Ms. J's house. Maaike is proving to be a great asset to the team! She laid down a peel and stick bathroom floor in about an hour and a half. Go Maaike! Pedro got mad at the boards and tried to break them, but was quickly calmed down by Jonathan. They have another day's work ahead of them and hope to have most of the floors done by tomorrow. They seem like a pretty happy team!

As we talked tonight in our nightly meeting, I was reminded that we sometimes forget how big our small jobs are to the people we work for. It gets tedious doing the same thing over and over. We are easily frustrated when we have to recut something 4 times to make it fit but yet the end result is that we are helping someone get one step closer to living in their home. Though the work may not be personally satisfying, the work is important. We are blessed to be here doing what God is calling us to do with an amazing team of people!