Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dancing with grief

Monday K's dad died. It was unexpected and quick. There are snippets of things that she will always remember from these days such as sitting down with Train Guy trying to explain why Grandma is here and Grandpa is not or the exact place where she got the news. The days leading up until Friday's funeral will seem to drag on and then that time will be suddenly over. People will expect her to be done grieving in a couple of months, maybe even just a couple of weeks. But that grieving time cannot be rushed. She will feel what she feels when she feels it. For K time will pass slowly and quickly simultaneously.

Two years ago today I began a dance with grief. Not for a father but for a brother of the heart. It too was sudden, though not quite unexpected. There are snippets of memories from those days that will always be with me. Getting the phone call at worship team rehearsal and the hugs from K and others as I fell apart. Driving in the race car with Lil Bro knowing that we needed to be with each other but also knowing that we had nothing to say. Sitting on the shore at LT doing a lot of yelling at God (though being the private person I am the yelling happened in my head). My dance with grief was intense for a long time but gradually the dance slowed down. Every so often, though, it catches me off guard and sends me spinning in a new direction.

Friday I will stand in the audience as K's family begins their dance with grief. And a part of me will dance with them knowing that they too will have a "two years ago" day and that even then the grieving will not be done.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Something stirring

The wind really kicked up around here last night. I noticed it because I was tossing and turning all night long. It's been pretty windy all day, the trees outside my office window have been in constant motion since I arrived. There seems to be something stirring in the air.

Yesterday I heard of three separate incidents with people I know that were eerily similar, each with very different outcomes. Today I heard of more incidents that makes me think, somethings stirring.

Yesterday I sat with a friend and talked about tough faith stuff, which has reverberated through my head for the last 24 hours, even making it's way into my dreams. Something is stirring.

Tonight I talk with Middle Schoolers about the power of Jesus can have in the midst of our problems. Tomorrow marks the day of a huge turning point in my understanding of Jesus' power in the midst of my problems. Something is stirring.

Tomorrow I talk with High Schoolers about dangerous prayers, where we ask God to search us, stretch us, break us and lead us. In three weeks I will be sitting on the shores of a lake asking God to search me, stretch me, break me and lead me. Yeah, I think something is stirring.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I know a lot of people who use their palm pilots thingies to keep track of their lives. A couple of friends use the big, thick, day planners to keep life on schedule. Some people really rely on their online calendars or ones that come with a certain email program. I have the PC(USA) calendar that runs from June to May. I've always found it funny that it runs from June to May but to be honest, I like it that way.

The whole calendar year thing has never really worked for me. My life has always revolved around the school year. Seriously, Papa Bear taught school for 30+ years, our lives revolved around the school year. Even when I was out of college and working at a bookstore, I didn't make the switch to thinking about the year in terms of January to December. It's always September through August...okay wait, September through June because really July and August are just free months!

Anyway, it's highly appropriate that I now use the PC(USA) calendar that runs from June to May because that is just how my brain works. Today, the brand new one arrived. It's so pretty, with nice boxes that tell me when important days are coming the celebration of the Small Church Ministry Sunday. That's a big one around here. Seriously though, I love this calendar. I have very specific rules for my calendar as well. All appointments need to be written in, even if they are after the fact and any that didn't happen need to be erased...yes I said erased because no pen comes near this calendar. Everything is written in pencil. EVERYTHING! Writing in pen in calendars only leads to trouble. If you have to change something and it's in pen, then there's the whole crossing out thing, which just makes for a messy calendar. Pencil is the only way to go.

Getting a new calendar is just so fabulous. It's clean and pretty, with that new calendar smell. Nothing has been written in it, the days are free, so if I wanted to I could trick myself into thinking that I'm a lady of leisure with nothing on her calendar, able to laze in the sunshine with a good book and a Diet Pepsi for the whole month of June...except reality intrudes when my calendar from 2007-2008 peeks out from beneath the new calendar. June is filled to overflowing and though much Diet Pepsi will be flowing that whole lady of leisure thing won't be happening.

For awhile, I will gaze on the pages with nothing written in the little boxes of days and sigh in longing for those days of leisure but soon my hand will begin to twitch and I will not be able to stop myself from reaching for my pencil to begin transferring birthdays, anniversaries, appointments and details to my new calendar. For though I like the sight of a calendar with nothing on it, I really like seeing my days take shape and new year begin.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Week in review

This has been a busy week. My Monday started earlier than usual and I've been running around ever since! It's amazing how busy life gets at certain points in the year. There is usually a lull in activity between Easter and summer, but it never lasts long. My lull was two weeks long. Now there are things scheduled almost every weekend through the middle of June.

Monday I got to spend a few hours being pampered and talking with a friend. We always wind up in some great theological discussions. It's always nice to share what I'm learning with a friend.

Tuesday and Wednesday are youth group nights which always brings about a whole lot of activity for me. I spent a lot of time looking over the curriculum for the next few weeks and preparing for some special events we have coming up. Throw in staff meeting, walking with K and the boys plus Bible Study with some of the High School students and my days were full. Oh and doing a few things that I would normally do on Thursdays because...

Thursday I went to my 2nd to last Come Away day of the season. I didn't have any major revelations but spent my time asking God a lot of questions. I'll let you know if I get any answers. After my Come Away I headed for meeting about the YAD's special event for General Assembly. We are 9 weeks away from General Assembly in SJ! I'm in charge of the t-shirts for the event amongst other things. It's kind of exciting to be a part of the planning for GA. After that meeting I headed back home for another meeting about Tapestry. I got home 12 hours after I left.

Friday was prom night for one of the local high schools. I have always wanted to do something for the students and never got my act together. This year, though, I offered to host a dinner for any students going to prom. That meant that I spent most of Friday, after Morning Glories Bible Study, going to Costco, cooking and helping with the transformation of the fireside room into the Fireside Bistro. It was amazing! A couple college students acted as the hostess and waitress, dressing up nicely and everything. We had so much fun that the college students now want to hold a college prom. This may become a tradition.

Saturday was a workday at the church, after which I got in a few hours of remote time (whoever decided that NCIS should have marathons on Saturday really, really is evil. I never watched that show until now!)

Today I was up extra early to put together the MediaShout for the 1st service, which I had neglected to do on Saturday. In a few minutes I am headed out the door for a Baby Shower and then it's time for RAW. And that, my friends was my week.

How was your week?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


One day last week I woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose. I knew that my allergies were bad but I also knew that this was not just allergies. So I did what I've done for the last few times a cold has been attempting to overtake my sinuses and headed to the local juice shop for a "coldbuster" smoothie. My stuffy nose symptoms disappeared (which is really the part that bugs me the most) but my sore throat persisted. Saturday morning I realized my voice was going to leave for awhile.

I struggled through worship on Sunday. Many people wanted to chat, which is fine but it took a toll on my voice. By the time I made it home in the afternoon, my voice sounded very froggy. And that's how it has been for the last few days. Froggy.

It's only when it's harder to talk that I notice how often I talk. I'm a pretty quiet person by nature, but I'm in a pretty vocal job. It's harder to talk over students in youth group. And leading in worship songs, forget it! I can start the song but everyone else needs to do the rest of the work. I lost my breath mid sentence in Bible Study today because I was working so hard to project my voice that I ran out of air.

Feeling froggy has been good, though, as I've sat back and listened to things around me. Monday night's Worship Team rehearsal there were a couple of times when all I could do was listen to the beautiful harmony coming from my teammates. There was a beauty in the simplicity of just a couple of voices as opposed to the 6 or so that are normally singing. Even if my voice is back in full form on Sunday, I think I'm going to have to suddenly lose my voice on that song.

Today in Bible Study I sat and listened to the students I was with. I realized that they have formed a bond that goes beyond just youth group, it's a deeper friendship based on shared experiences with God. It was a beautiful sound. And last night, at Middle School Group, I listened to the silence as students took in the message that God had prepared for them. The silence spoke volumes.

So, while I'm a little froggy, I'm paying more attention to God's movement, God's speaking, God's whispers and realizing that I need to be froggy a little bit more often.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Every so often we will sing the song "Holiness" in youth group. If you aren't familiar with it the lyrics basically say Holiness is what we long for, need and what God wants from us. It goes on to ask God to take our hearts, minds and wills and conform them into God's own. It's a great melody but sometimes I wonder how much I really mean the words when I sing them. Especially when we start changing that one word "Holiness" into others. Faithfulness isn't so hard, righteousness okay but brokenness...I don't like that one so much.

I've been thinking about what it means to ask God to "break" me. To rid me of things that I am clinging to and to fill me with things that God desires for me. When I hear of something being broken, my first association is pain. I don't like pain. I will go out of my way to avoid pain or actions that will lead to pain. I don't like to see other people in pain. Probably why I'm not the best person to be visiting people in hospitals.

Being broken also means that things change. As much as I would like to believe that I am so okay with change, it scares me. I can be flexible but only up to a certain point and then, well, my stubbornness really sets in! It's not all bad but certainly, to be broken means that things are going to move outside of my comfort zone into places where I don't necessarily want to go and that, my friends, is bad.

But being broken can also mean healing, renewal and new life. I was with some friends the other day that I haven't seen in awhile. As we were talking and sharing about life, I noticed that something had changed about one person. Their whole demeanour was different. As they spoke about what was going on in their life I realized that this person was in the process of being broken by God. It wasn't pretty, I could tell that beneath the surface there was a huge struggle going on. A struggle between what God wants and what my friend wants. A struggle between their way and God's way. It's emotionally overwhelming and physically draining but in the end, a new person emerges and new life begins.

I don't think that I will ever really long for brokenness and yet I know that it is in the broken places, in the moments where pain and God meet that I have experienced the deepest growth and change. It's truly where my heart, mind and will were all formed, transformed and conformed by God.

Praying for my friend in their brokenness.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I was on the radio again this morning. Talking about Pearlington, of course. It was a phone interview, so I didn't need to get up at the crack of dawn to head to the radio station, but rather get up at the crack of dawn and wait for the phone to ring while flipping channels between the morning news shows. It was pretty nice and I think the interview went pretty well after the first minute or so.

I've always wondered what it would be like to be on the radio and I'm pretty sure that it's a lot more pressure than I ever want to tackle. Seriously. When we were in the studio a few weeks ago there were so many rules...don't shuffle papers, speak directly into the microphone, don't cough into the microphone, don't speak over each other (I flubbed that one this morning) and so on. I moved in my chair once and it made such a loud squeak I immediately got very self-conscious. I don't like feeling that way. I also don't like listening to myself after I speak, in any instance. It's just fodder for me to beat myself up over and over again for something I said wrong or something that I forgot or whatever. I tend to be my toughest critic and rehash things that are said in my head over and over again anyway...why do I need a tape recording of it as well???

But the radio show went well today and I hope that there were a couple of people out there that heard something that spurs them into action, either by donating money or donating their time...and if there was a newspaper reporter listening who wanted to write up something about our trips to Pearlington, well, I wouldn't be opposed to that either! Anything to get the word out!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


As if writing on blogger wasn't enough of a time sucking exercise for me, I've recently joined that lets me share with my friends all the books that I'm reading, see what they are reading and share reviews of the books. That is all the books that I will admit to reading! Hee-hee! It's fun and I need friends, so if you are interested, join the site, let me know and I'll add you as my friend!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


ATA declares bankruptcy; Hawaii travelers left stranded

There are many places that I would not like to be stranded. Hawaii is on the list of places that I could handle. Today I heard that one of my comrades in ministry is stranded in Hawaii with his family. They had tickets with Aloha on Monday, who filed for bankruptcy and grounded the planes that same day. They took the vouchers for a hotel and were to travel on ATA. Today they woke up and learned that they were not flying with ATA either. There are no vouchers this time, though, and there are only 4 flights to CA today, which are full, plus seats are going for $900 and there are 6 of them flying. Ouch.

Not an ideal situation yet still there are worse places to be stranded!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Pictures from the last Mississippi trip can be found on my flickr site. Just click through the link on the sidebar and look for MS 5.

Side effects

My recent bout with an infection had me on two different medications that came with some not so pleasant side effects. Medication number 1 left me feeling pretty spacey, both meds caused my skin to itch if I was in the sun for too long and both meds had this little warning "you may experience ____ however, it may not occur until several weeks after ending the medication." I'm very thankful that this side effect didn't occur last week. It would have been very, very unpleasant. I am not a fan of this side effect.

It seems that many things in life have side effects. Spending time in a different time zone means that when I return to PST my inner clock is off and my sleeping patterns are funky for a few days. Spending time browsing my favorite blogs cuts into my prep time for groups, which has the side effect of my brain scrambling for the right words when I'm in that teaching moment. Everything has a side effect. Some are not so good but then there are those that are good.

Taking teams to Pearlington to help with Hurricane Katrina Recovery work has had an amazing side effects. I've found that I like this! I can be a missionary, in some sense of the word! Students who were uninterested in helping people before are eager for opportunities to help people. We are more compassionate when we see reports of devastation and destruction and quickly wonder "is that where we are going next?"

Hurricane Katrina has had amazing side effects on the people in Gulf Coast as well. Every time we go, I see more instances of neighbors helping neighbors despite race or wealth. We get the feeling that before the storm, there was a separation of people because of those issues. Papa Bear, Yo Momma and I were talking about the side effects of Hurricane Katrina and we all wondered if in 5-10 years the attitudes about race and gender will have been affected because of the breakdown of some of those barriers, neighbors helping neighbors, volunteers coming in of all races and genders to accomplish the same goals. It may not happen but it's interesting to ponder.

One of the side effects of our recovery work in Mississippi is that we have learned new skills. We have been "edumacated", as Mr. Ben would say, and feel like we need an outlet here at home for those skills to keep the honed for our next adventures but also to help out the people in our own neighborhoods. Soon we will start "Mississippi at Home". We will offer our services to help those around us spruce up their own homes using our new found knowledge to make a difference right here. I think it's going to be a great side effect!