Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'm not a natural camping type person. I don't like living in dirt and tents but I will do it ever so often just for "fun"...even though I don't find it as much fun as say a hotel. In the name of being a good Youth Director and saving money, though, I will deal with camping a couple of times a year.

This last week was one of those weeks. A small but happy bunch loaded into the car on Sunday afternoon and headed out on a Road Trip. Much laughter, singing, dancing and talking ensued. Our first stop was Lake Isabella for a two night stay followed by a two night stay in San Simeon. It was a good trip and I'm so lucky to have gone camping with this great group. Highlights from the Road Trip:
  • Playing at a ghost town...though we didn't find any ghosts...Sammy was a little scared.
  • Walking the trail of 100 giants and getting to play in the trees.

  • Battling the wind at Lake Isabella...the tent almost collapsed on itself a number of times, we lost the directions to the camp stove and a couple of tent poles cracked under the pressure.
  • Having a close encounter with a snake in the dark.
  • Losing things out of the bags on the top of the car on the way from Lake Isabella to San Simeon. Luckily they didn't hit the car behind us!
  • Stopping at the shop that claims to be the last stop of James Dean before he died.
  • Touring Hearst Castle, especially the pools. Oh those glorious pools.
  • Playing on the beach in Pismo.
  • Singing around the camp, um, smolder. Yeah, had a little trouble with that.
  • Lunch in Monterey at Bubba Gumps and playing at Denis the Menace park.

But perhaps the most exciting moment on the whole trip was when we spotted the zebras. Yep, zebras on the California Coast. Mr. Hearst used to have a private zoo on his property complete with bears and zebras. The bears are gone but zebras remain. We spotted them one day but they were too far away. Luck was with us though, when we saw them by the side of the road on our way out of town. We stopped to take pictures and by the time we left 30 cars were parked alongside the road as well. So, if you are ever traveling up Highway 1 in California between Hearst Castle and San Simeon State Park look towards the hills, you just might spot a zebra.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five

This is my first go-round with the Friday Five from Revgalblogpals. Since I'm leaving Sunday for a Road Trip with some of my High School students it seemed very appropriate to begin my foray into the Friday Fives with this one! Happy reading!

Singing Owl says: "We will be at a chaplain's convention when you all are answering the Friday Five Questions. I'll look forward to reading your answers next week when I get home. At the moment we are trying to get the car loaded so we can hit the road, so this will be a simple F.F. This running around madly in order to leave has me wondering: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?"
  1. A credit card--Yo Momma and I always joke as we leave the house that if we ever get somewhere and find that we've forgotten something than we can just buy what we need. Thus, the credit card which came in happen when I actually forgot...
  2. My toiletry bag--it's awesome holds everything that I need and I never go away without it...except that one time when I was going to a friends wedding and left my toiletry bag fully loaded hanging in my room at home. Thank goodness for the above mentioned credit card and all night drug stores.
  3. Books--K and N can speak to this...I took over 10 books on our trip to Mexico a couple of years ago. My suitcase was pretty heavy. (I read all but 1 of those books BTW.)
  4. I-pod--it used to be CD's and sometimes still depending on how I'm traveling. Though those I-pod car adapter things are pretty good.
  5. Sunglasses--thus the "raccoon" look that is a constant look for me during the summer...but my eyes are being protected!
  6. Gum--yep, couldn't just do five things. Gum is my travel essential. I always wind up sharing with the people I'm traveling with too. It keeps coffee breath at bay and it's just so much fun to blow bubbles!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy Birthday G.G.

Today is G.G.'s birthday (aka Grandma but it's so much more fun to have a blog name). She is *ahem* years young. Seriously, you didn't think I was going to tell you did you? I know better. Though the picture above might be a little give away. Yo Momma and I went to lunch with G.G. and another wonderful friend today to celebrate. I've felt kind of like I've been in a fog all day and didn't feel like I celebrated G.G. enough so I thought I would share a little here.

G.G. has had her shares of ups and downs in life. She's raised 4 children, spent 40-some odd years married to a great, albeit tough as nails man (Boompa) who died a year after retiring. G.G. has been swinging single for the last 17 years. In my memories of growing up G.G. was always the who kept things together in our family. I remember monthly family dinners as we celebrated someones birthday (there are only two months out of the year that we don't have a birthday to celebrate...and one of those is December!). Christmas morning would always be spent at G.G. and Boompa's house. I remember extended family vacations and trips with just G.G. and Boompa in their 5th wheel. There are some sweet memories that time has not erased.
There have been many laughs over the years and many tears. She has changed in many ways, but yet she still remains the same. My cousins and I used to laugh and giggle whenever we got G.G. laughing hard enough to snort...which was always followed by "G.G. snorted!". There were many of those times. I remember her playing the piano for me so I could put on a show in her living room one family gathering and then playing the piano as we all gathered around to sing some of our favorite hymns and songs. G.G. would care for us when we were sick or injured, feed us wonderful cookies and love us because we were her grandkids.
Those who call her Mom or Grandma can thank her for some great, laughter, music, stubbornness among them. The importance of family has probably been the greatest legacy that G.G. has passed along to us though. I don't think she really realizes how deeply that has been rooted in each of us. Not just that we are family and stuck with each other but that we need to look out for each other, share together, love each other, celebrate together and learn from each other. It's hard with so many personalities but when it comes to G.G., we all agree, she's the glue that holds us all together.

Happy Birthday, G.G. You are loved more than you will ever fully comprehend.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Home again, home again

**Blogger would not let me spell check please excuse any spelling issues**

Driving home from the county of oranges and housewives yesterday the car was pretty quiet. I had mandated the day before that anyone sitting "shotgun" should be prepared to stay awake the whole drive or switch seats with someone. R-girl did a fabulous job, though there were a few moments I wondered if she had decided to take a quick little rest. There was the endless game of "spot an out of state license plate and smack the person next to you" that kept us all going though. Lots of people from Arizona on the road. And motorcycles. We were stuck in traffic for awhile and were being passed by many motorcyclists...we finally started counting them and were well into the 50's before I found a place to turn around and take a different road.

There are some things rolling around in my head that I want to talk about but some are not quite fully formed yet, so for now I'm just going to list somethings that I found interesting at the conference and get back to y'all later!
  • Bottled water is out for me. I'm committing to eliminating my use of bottled water and sticking to tap water...or the stuff that I get in big reusable bottles that sits in a jar in my office. What I'm really eliminating is the single use bottles. Too much pollution and questionable bottling practices. Not to mention the questionable practices of the companies in aquiring land and the resources.
  • Free trade does not equal fair trade. In fact from what I gleaned from this conference, free trade ain't all it's cracked up to be...though I kind of had that one figured out before hand.
  • Our ideas about humanitarian aid aren't bad, but they need to be evaluated for effectiveness. Newsflash...goverments can be corrupt!
  • Giving money to feed people vs. giving money to educate people.
  • Using language that's respectful to all people and how our descriptions of people groups plays a part in their view of themselves.

There's more but the two things that have come out of this conference that I'm really pondering on are these...

  1. Is it possible for us in society to stop debating with each other and really start listening to each other. My friend Randy just published a book called "Your Ministry of Conversation" that got me thinking about this topic. I'm noticing more and more the people who are willing to listen, the people who just want to debate and the people who just write other's thoughts and feelings off because they don't agree. I'm still wrestling with this a little but this has also lead me to...
  2. The one thing that I kept hearing over and over this week was "we need to get young people into the church". Now, I'm not disagreeing with that statement, however, there are some people who said this right in front of some "young people" and then proceeded to shoot down all those young people's thoughts and ideas. effective is that?? More to come on this subject.

But probably the best thing to come out of this conference was the opportunity to sit around a meal table 3 times a day with 4 college students, one high school student and two other fabulous adults as we shared about our day, the things we were learning or just laughed and laughed and laughed. Thanks county of oranges and housewives. We had a great time...oh! and the mouse kingdom was excellent too!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day two--oranges and housewives

There comes a point in every conference or convention where information overload sets in and my brain shuts down. It happened briefly this morning but I think it was partly due to the negative caffeine forces at work. The issue was fixed post haste and brain function returned to normal.

I heard a couple of gentlemen from Cameroon speak today. They had an interesting perspective on all the aid that is sent to Africa. They stated that aid money is sent in amazing amounts to the government but somewhere between the government and the people it gets lost. And if it does reach the people then the people then just begin to rely on the aid instead of working to do something about their situation.

I've heard that same statement from people about the welfare system in America or in reference to homeless programs. It's an interesting paradox, people willing to open their pocketbooks and help others out of a situation and yet those being helped aren't learning tools to help themselves. One of the speakers said something to this's like taking fish to a bear who should know how to fish. The more fish you bring the more the bear relies on you to bring the fish. The bear soon forgets how to fish and just relies on the one bringing the fish to them. Thus always needing help. This speaker suggested that instead of giving aid money we would be better off funding programs to help the people help themselves.

There's a term floating around here that I've heard before and not thought much footprints. Not carbon footprints, global footprints. As I have unpacked it for myself, everything that I buy, consume, use can be traced back to a beginning. It can be traced back to shippers, carriers, farmers, labourers, etc. It all starts somewhere, thus footprints. What that means for me is that when I consume, buy or use something I need to be aware of the process that it took that item to get to me, aware of those who worked to bring that item into existence and the conditions in which it came to be. I'm been pondering that a lot today and wondering what God is asking me to do with that information.

On a different note, R-girl and I have learned a new song for VBS this year (just a mere three weeks away!!!!) It will be much will the pirate dance that R-girl is excited to teach. There has been much laughter this evening. I'm very blessed with the company I keep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From the county of oranges and housewives

I'm in the county of oranges and housewives for a conference this week. Drove down yesterday with some students and friends. Pretty uneventful drive for me. Exciting for the driver of the other car in our caravan. The Highway Patrolman didn't like the rate of speed at which the other car was going. Luckily the Highway Patrolman was lenient and gave only a warning. It caused much excitement in the caravan though.

The conference this week in on peace. Specifically how we can be peacemakers in the midst of a world not very much into peace. Part of the focus is on poverty. We're only one day into the conference and already I feel like I should never buy anything ever again!! Okay, calming down, I'm realizing that I live in a insular world. I think about stuff that impacts me personally. I don't always think of the global repercussions. One of the speakers today was from India. She shared that we keep hearing about how many people don't have enough food in India and yet we never hear that some of the reasons that people don't have enough food is because their fields are being used to grow items that will be exported out of the country. While that may bring in money for the farmer, the food costs rise faster than the wages and there isn't enough to go around. Before, the farmer was able to feed his family off the land but not anymore. It's interesting to see how things that have been done to "help" actually do more harm sometimes.

Last night the new moderator of GA was here and spoke. Our group actually met up with him as we were all waiting to get our name badges and meal tickets. I've officially introduced myself to the moderator people! He led a town hall meeting that night and a few of us were immediately struck by how conscious he was to, well, moderate. Not share his own ideology but to listen, to encourage others to speak out and to apologize when necessary. I was refreshed listening to him earlier in the day and I left the town hall meeting with the sense that this leadership could be a great shift for the church. A shift towards a level playing field for all, a shift towards a greater awareness of others, a shift towards tough, tough discussions BUT a shift towards discussions rather than heated debates. That to me is probably the thing that gives me the most hope. I'm very, very tired of debates. It's past time for conversation to happen. Interesting to be thinking that at a peacemaking conference huh? :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Church today

It was my turn to give the sermon today. We looked at Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus tells Simon to fish in the deeper water of the lake. The title was "The Kiddie Pool or the Deep End?"; my premise was that we spend a lot of our time in the Kiddie pool because it's safe--we know what to expect, how things are done and are rarely in danger. But Jesus is constantly calling us out of the kiddie pool to dive into the deep end--where things are a little bit more treacherous. It went well, especially at the first service...the Holy Spirit definitely showed up in that service. The whole service was joyful. There were a lot of hugs and laughter after the service which is always a good thing.

My favorite moment in the service was during children's time. They were talking about the optimal place to build a home. The Children's Director asked where the best place was to start building a home and without missing a beat Train Guy spoke up loud and clear and said "On cement!" The congregation loved it, even clapped at his answer. K said Train Guy's face lit up when everyone clapped. After they were through the kids left to go down to Kid's Klub as we were getting ready to take the offering. I made some comment about Train Guy knowing his stuff when it came to building and again he pipes up as he's going through sanctuary doors "I know about shovels too!" So stinkin' cute.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Today was incredibly hectic and busy. I heard myself say out loud at work "I can't get any work done here!" That sums it up.

Tonight was Ministry Team night which meant dinner at Sandy's with Jon-Boy, R-Girl, Adventure Boy, Train Guy and K followed by our meeting. Adventure Boy and Train Guy played outside while we talked youth stuff. When the meeting was over I went outside to stop the rock throwing game. Adventure Boy had lost one of his shoes somewhere in the backyard so Train Guy and I went around the yard looking for the missing shoe.

We sang this happy tune as we looked for the shoe:
"Going on a shoe hunt...gotta find a green one."

After a couple of crazy, hectic, challenging, hard weeks it felt really good to march around a yard, singing a silly song with Train Guy. We eventually found the shoe after many verses of our song and did a happy dance followed by a big round of applause. Oh, how I love these guys.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I was laying in bed last night...okay I was tossing and turning in bed last night and I finally admitted to's time for a new mattress. Problem is I don't have money to buy a new mattress. Oh, I can take it out of my savings but I've already had to dip in there this year (car) and I need new tires which will eat away at another chunk and...sigh. The hope of a new mattress seemed dim.

This afternoon Fabulous Administrative Assistant said "let's go to lunch." It's a regular Wednesday occurrence but this time we went somewhere and took time to sit and eat. We had barely sat down when she said "I have something to tell you." I never like it when people start a conversation with that sentence. My mind immediately races to the millions of possibilities of what it might be and I always tense up. This time, though, the sentences that followed made me start to get teary. Seems like there are some people in the congregation who sent in a donation specifically for me. A big donation, a love gift. My first thought was "I can buy a new mattress!" And then I started trying to figure out who gave the gift, of course.

Tonight as I was sitting around with some of my students after group I was sharing about the gift, not in a bragging way but in a "Can you believe this??!!" way and student Z looked at me and said "You can get a new radio for your car!" Do you know that didn't occur to me at all. But the minute student Z said it the minute I realized I could! No more having 6 CD's held hostage by the in dash CD player. Oh, just the thought brings me joy.

Of course along with the joy and the excitement and the pondering (seriously I'm going to try to figure this out!) comes the realization that I've been holding a pretty serious chip on my shoulder as well. And it's time for the chip fall off. It's too easy in Ministry to feel overlooked, taken for granted, overworked and under appreciated. I've been feeling all of those emotions and more in the last couple of years and it's been taking a toll. So tonight, I'm feeling appreciated, yet also repentant. It's time to let go of the chip.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Like many people I know, I have allergies. I've never been tested (because that would involve needles and needles and I are not friends) so I don't know what exactly I'm allergic too. I've taken meds for my allergies for years and most days they work well. A couple of weeks ago when the smoke from the hundreds of fires burning in CA made it's way to this area I noticed that I was having a little more trouble breathing and just in general felt yucky. Smoke has moved on, though the fires are still burning, and I feel better.

I'm pretty sensitive to smelly things. I can walk in the house and know there is something rotten in the fridge. There are Sunday mornings when I try to avoid hugging particular people in the church who wear cologne or perfume because if I hug them, then I smell their perfume or cologne the rest of the day... surefire way to trigger a migraine. If something is really irritating my nose then I'm pretty positive that a migraine will soon follow. Having a best friend who is a chiropractor helps with those migraine things though. Adjustments are the bomb!

Today I've been sorting out items for our Clean-Up Bucket extravaganza. The PDA has asked for the buckets to be sent to people in the Midwest who are beginning the recovery process and I couldn't resist putting out the plea to Church folk. They've responded and now it's time to put them together and get them sent. In the process of sorting through the items I came across a bottle of detergent that wasn't closed very well. Didn't notice that, of course, until the detergent was on my pants. Lovely. Now I smell like detergent. My nose is telling my brain, "Not good!" and I soon may be heading home to change clothes because I can't afford a migraine this week.

This week in besides my normal Tuesday & Wednesday night youth group activities we have a Flea Market on Saturday and I'm preaching on Sunday. Oh and I'm preparing to leave for a week with students for a Conference in Southern CA the following week. Yes, busy is the name of the game. I repeat, I cannot afford a migraine this week.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Is the week over yet?

It's been a long week. An extremely long week. Started with having to stand up for something I'm feeling strongly about which led to wondering if I'm doing the right thing, which led to being close to just giving up, which led to just feeling worn out. In between there was Middle School Golfland night, High School Baseball Game night, G.G's hospital excursion and 4th of July. Tired. Very, very tired.

Tuesday night after the Golfland night (which was fun and happy with 4 middle school girls) I got home and checked the mail. The mailbox and I have had a love/hate relationship going on ever since I started to drive. I've wiped it out on occasion. Tuesday night in my emotionally spent haze I completely forgot to close the door to the mailbox and wound up trying to pull the door off with my side mirror. Now the door to the mailbox won't shut at all. I tried to maneuver it a little and the whole mailbox came loose from the post. Guess I'll be taking it off tomorrow and fixing it. Yippee.

Wednesday was Baseball Game night. Fun time. We were it Big City for the game. Good news is we found parking for 10 bucks as opposed to the outrageous 30 bucks for nearby lots. Bad news is our team lost. Oh and the fireworks that were to happen after the game. Couldn't see them. Saw the fog turning beautiful colors though. Got home late, late, late.

Thursday I was up early, early, early to drive back up towards Big City. G.G. had a procedure with a heart doctor at Prestigious Hospital to see what's happening. Procedure started at 9am. She was done by 11:30. Took her home about 6:30pm. Long day in the hospital. Good news, nothing is wrong! I was exhausted by the time we got home at 9pm.

I woke up on Friday morning thinking it was Saturday and feeling very bummed that I was going to have to go to work the next day. DUH, it's Friday, it's the 4th, which means Firehouse Pancake Breakfast and Small Town Parade. Train Guy, Adventure Boy, K & N picked me up and we spent the morning being Small Town people. Honestly, I was a little frustrated with the whole parade thing. We were being good citizens and sitting on the curb where all the other people had their chairs lined up and people just came and stood right in front of us. RIGHT.IN.FRONT! What is wrong with people!!!??? We left the parade early. Not super impressed with the Small Town Parade crowd this year. My afternoon was spent watching the NCIS marathon and being very lazy. I think I finally found some peace in those few hours before heading over to G.G.'s for pizza and conversation.

Today I've been on a walk, had a pedicure and lunch with K and am now supposed to be putting things together for tomorrow's worship service before heading off to a movie with R-Girl. In the back of my mind are the million things that I need to accomplish this week and I'm getting more and more tired just thinking about it all. I'm ready for this week to be over, for a new week to begin and for an attitude adjustment in the middle.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rant follow up

I spent the better part of the day yesterday praying and crafting a tough email to some people in my life. It's always hard to say things that others may not agree with. Respect means a lot to me and putting my opinions and views out for other to judge is always hard. Of course there has already been a little fallout and more will come. A rock and a hard place seems much more comfortable than the space I'm in right now.

Anyway, in the midst of praying and crafting I came across this blog entry that speaks directly to my blog rant from a couple of days ago. Says pretty much everything I shared with Aunt C. Check it out yourself!