Sunday, August 31, 2008

Storm watch w/update

It seems ironic to me that I'm sitting today watching the news, praying fervently for those I know in Pearlington and preparing to leave on vacation tomorrow. Three years ago as Hurricane Katrina headed towards the Gulf Coast I was going on vacation. This time, though, I'm will have news access the whole time I'm gone.

Today we've learned that our friends in Pearlington are under a mandatory evacuation notice. This morning I thought of Miss Sandra and the Bailey's who won't leave their homes easily. I thought Mr. Keyes and Ms. Shirley. I thought of the Taylor's and the Wake's and the Earl's. I'm praying for their safety, for their protection and for wisdom in the midst of anxiety and stress.

Last night on the news as the ticker tape scrolled across the screen I saw this: 7000 residents in the Gulf Coast still living in trailers. The residents of the Gulf Coast are still trying to resettle after Katrina, it seems so wrong that they have to brace for Gustav now. Yet as hard as we try we can't stop nature. So I watch, wait and fervently pray.

UPDATE: For those who know Ben and Sue, they've evacuated (Tom's with them) and are concerned about storm surges. The news isn't saying much about anything other than NOLA so I'll update when I hear from Tom again. Pray!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Remembering and watching

When our team first arrived in Pearlington it was really late at night and dark. We couldn't see much but then we hadn't seen much in the hour it had taken to drive into Pearlington from New Orleans either. We didn't notice the tinkertoy design of the I-10 bridge, we didn't see the apartment buildings on the side of the abandoned or the homes that were destroyed. We didn't notice, not because we weren't looking, but because it was dark, so very dark. There weren't streetlights or lights on in homes. It was dark.

The morning brought a new vision to our eyes. Destruction surrounded us. The boat washed up on land that we'd seen pictures of was in the backyard of the camp we were staying in. That first glimpse of Pearlington 8 months after Hurricane Katrina ripped through is not something I will soon forget. Nor will I forget what it was like to return each of the subsequent trips. It's been humbling to be a small part of the recovery of Pearlington...and frustrating. Each time we go we witness the struggle of rebuilding, for every 5 steps forward it feels like we take 4 steps back but yet there is a constant movement forward.

Last March as we drove from Pearlington back into New Orleans at the end of our 6th trip we saw more signs of life, more streetlights, major work on the I-10 bridge that took it from being right on the water to rising high into the air, more businesses and more cars. I felt truly hopeful as we left, hopeful that someday soon the work would be done and life would return to whatever normal is for the Gulf Coast.

Today, as the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina comes around my heart is a little heavy and I'm feeling a little extra anxious for the Gulf Coast as Gustav begins to pick up steam. While remembering the horror of Katrina, I'm watching the preparations for Gustav and praying desperately that this storm doesn't bring the destruction that all are preparing for, that the hope that has been recently found again will not be lost and that all the work that has gone into making homes on the Gulf Coast more hurricane ready will not be tested this season. Praying for the residents of the Gulf Coast and remembering.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Last first day of school

Today I found myself with a whole day (after church) with nothing scribbled into the box on my calendar. Nothing. I rarely find myself with days like these, where nothing is scribbled in and nothing is piled up at home that needs to be dealt with...thanks to last weekends marathon laundry day. So I did something I've been needing to do for a long time, I went shopping for girl clothes. Not my favorite thing to do. The trying on of certain girl items always leaves me uncomfortable and irritated. Us big girls only have a few places that we can get certain girl items and when none of those items fits appropriately, well, I get pretty irritated with clothing manufacturers. But that's another blog entry.

Anyway, after my girl clothes shopping, I wandered through my favorite chain store (think bulleyes) and then decided that though I really love Aunt C. and could have dropped by her house as a surprise, I really just wanted to go home. (Thanks for understanding Aunt C.) And so I got onto the highway headed towards home. Mistake number one. Within a mile traffic came to a slow and we crawled along for a while. Then traffic stopped. I turned to the news radio station hoping to hear if this was just regular traffic or if there was an accident ahead. No word on that but the person reading the news was only too happy to share that this week we'll be having a heat wave**. Lovely. Suddenly the traffic started moving again and I happily moved along with the rest of the cars around me, past the one exit that would take me onto an alternate route and then traffic stopped again. That was enough, I quickly took the next exit and decided that my shopping time was not yet done. I then made mistake number two. I went into an office store.

The parking lot was busy but I've not been to this particular office store before, so I didn't think much of it and then I went inside. Holy cow. Parents and children were everywhere. Dads were yelling for children across the store, Mom's were pushing carts filled to the brim with back to school items and children were wandering through the aisles looking for just the right folder or pencil set. Yikes. The cashier commented that tomorrow is going to be even worse. I wished her luck and got out of there fast!

Driving home (on the alternate route) I started thinking about school. Specifically my last first day of high school. Not being in the "In" crowd I didn't' get the memo that said "wear toga's on the first day of school" but I wasn't the only one. I remember walking onto campus (having driven myself to school for the first time) and thinking "This is my Senior year". It felt different, I felt different. Maybe it was the acknowledgement that life was going to change drastically in the next year or the realization that over the summer life had changed for me. Whatever it was I remember that last first day of school and smile. It was a good year, a growing year. I wouldn't change it for anything.

Tomorrow the class of 2009 will step onto the local High School campus for their last first day of school. I hope and pray that years down the road they will be able to look back at that day and smile.

**If I had been thinking I would have known that this was the first week of school and stopped myself from making mistake number two...there's always a heat wave the first week of school. It's a given!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My week so far

Monday--Wake up tired...great. Head to Costco (aka the Hundred Dollar store) to buy all the food for Wednesday nights Community Dinner. Go to church and unload the 28lbs of beef, 4 boxes of tomatoes, 3 watermelons, 6 cantaloupes, 4 things of sour cream, 3 things of salsa, tortilla chips and more then head down to my office to figure out how many drivers are needed for the next day's trip to Raging Waters. Choose worship songs for the next couple of weeks, check my mailbox and clean it out, text and answer students about Raging Waters trip, lunch with K, back to texting and answering, check email inbox and clean answer pertinent questions. Go pick up Adventure Boy and Train Guy bring them back to church for a "picnic" before Worship Team rehearsal. Head to the grocery store and then home.

Tuesday--Wake up with a head cold...fantastic. Jump out of bed and head for Juice store for their fabulous coldbuster before meeting up with students at church for a day at Raging Waters....just what I need. Scramble at the last minute to replace a driver that didn't show and finally arrive at Raging Waters for a long day in the sun. 4:45pm encourage all students to head towards the vehicles for home. 5:20pm have students call their parents letting them know that we are going to be late because we are waiting for two students. 5:45 finally get on the road after late student #2 emerges from the bathroom. 6:10 sit in traffic listening to late student #1 state that "you should have told us to get ready to go at 4pm and then we wouldn't have been late." 6:11pm clench fists around steering wheel and bite lip to keep from responding with nasty sarcasm to late student #1's helpful suggestion. 6:35 arrive back at church and wait for parents to pick up their children. Return borrowed van. 7pm arrive at home, eat dinner and immediately head for bed...head cold getting nasty.

Wednesday--Wake up at 7am, text K and say "Not walking", go back to sleep till 8:20am...nasty head cold is getting nastier. Get up, shower and head to dentist for appointment...with a stop at Juice store for another coldbuster juice. Spend an hour and a half at dentist office trying to breath while nice dentist drills on a tooth. Leave dentist go to grocery store and buy 240 taco shells for community dinner. Go to church, unload vehicle, check emails, sit at desk and wonder "why am I here?" head home to sleep...head cold is moving. 3pm back at church to fix dinner with the youth for 100+ people. Spend next three hours directing students on the best way to cut watermelon, onions, mix brownies, brown taco meat, fill taco shells, set tables, make powdered lemonade. 6pm dinner is served and the race is on! 6:45 room is clearing out, so are students, start to get peeved that I'm sick and they are all leaving when there's still a mess to clean up. Thank God for 5 fabulous students who don't abandon their youth director and stop whining. 7:15pm realize that my head cold is now a chest cold inbetween coughing fits. 8pm everything's clean, I'm hungry (we fed 100+ people and ran out of taco shells within 20 minutes), go next door get chinese food, return to church to hang out with students leaving for college this week....10:55pm fight valiantly to keep eyes open during movie. 11:30pm say final goodbyes to students who don't want to leave, head home and immediately go to bed.

Thursday--Wake up and ponder calling in sick. Tell myself to "get over it" and get out of bed. While getting ready for work remember the day before, praise God for getting me through the day. Get coffee (first time this week!) and head for staff meeting. Leave staff meeting, help coworker set up new email account, check emails, clear out mailbox, sit at desk and wonder...what am I doing here? Trip to the juice store may be imminent...though those coldbuster things aren't working so well this time...and a return to bed may be close by. Is it really only Thursday?

Monday, August 18, 2008


One of the hardest things about serving in the same church in which I grew up is when the members that I've known for my whole life get sick. I freely acknowledge that I am not so great at visiting in hospitals and nursing homes. I've missed out on saying goodbye to many people because of that and I regret each one. This time, though, I had a plan and a back-up plan. I was going to go and say goodbye. If I was too late, I would not feel guilty because I had a plan. And then the phone rang and my back-up plan went into action.

There are no regrets for me that I didn't see Frank before he died. There are tears and grief, but no regrets. I'm sad that I won't be able to sit and listen to his stories anymore or tease Frank about his bad memory. I'm sad that I can't stand with him while he rolls his own cigarettes and give him a bad time about smoking. I'm sad that I won't be able to see that smile again or hear his laughter. I'm sad that our congregation has lost a great man. But, I'm so glad that he isn't struggling anymore. I'm so glad that he's with God. I'm so glad that I had the chance to grow up in the church and know Frank.

Praying for his wife, children and extended family and giving thanks for Frank.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I'm not sure when I gave the impression to people that I am not capable of doing things I say I will do. But somehow that impression is out there and it's really starting to! If anyone is tempted to give me a task and then take it back or call me over and over and over again making sure that I'm actually going to accomplish the task or try and tell me the best way to get the task done, think twice...the wrath of Brittany is bubbling and it won't be a pretty sight.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


It happened earlier in the week than I expected, that feeling of being done, done, done with VBS. Usually Friday comes around I think "Whew, I'm done." This time I think it was Wednesday night when the Fire truck came around to hose down the kids and I was on guard for our two different Matthew's who tend to find trouble. I think that's the moment when I felt done. The fact that there were two more days to come wasn't good.

My job was to be the "face" of VBS for the kids. So they saw me at the beginning, the middle and the end. I think I faked my lack of enthusiasm pretty well until the last afternoon when that one kid, you know the one I'm talking about, that one kid that pushes the boundaries all the time yet never does anything really super bad, pushed the one last button I had. The "look" came out, the kid knew he'd hit that button and I felt bad. Great. Just how the end of VBS should be.

Yet despite my feeling done, done, done way too early in the week, there were some great moments throughout the week...the kids that were eager, excited even, to pray before heading off to their different stations...laughter, hugs and smiles at the end of the running the Friday evening program...listening to the kids talk about Jesus, being forgiven and sharing with others. Not to mention the fact that Train Guy LOVED VBS and the singing. He's been sitting in church every week since birth and has never really engaged with the music until this week. Today in church he was dancing his little feet off. And he's upset that the CD that he got from VBS didn't have the "Oh Baby" song on it...know to the rest of us as "Pharaoh, Pharaoh". Too cute!

My all-time favorite moment of the week came on Friday afternoon when the 5-7 year olds were practicing their song for that night's performance. They had the motions down was just the words that were a little trouble for one of the girls. The line was "He is Lord, Lord, Lord" and I thought they had it until I watched an adorable 5 year old form the word and then I started laughing, silently of course...this she was singing "He is bored, bored, bored" with all her heart. I made sure she was standing away from the microphone for the program.

Another year of VBS is done...and PPB, I agree, where's the Hallmark card for that?!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


We are in the midst of Vacation Bible School mania. Every afternoon from 2-5pm we are host to kids eager to sing, play, craft and learn. As the resident song leader I get to dance and sing for 2 out of three hours. My throat is sore, my mind is reeling with lyrics to songs and motions and my eyes are heavy for the need of some sleep. But it certainly is awesome to see the results of this week. Yesterday Train Guy and I had a serious discussion about leprosy as a result of the story of the lepers and Jesus...we also discussed how Jesus has the power to heal us. Today kids were eager to say the opening prayer and our beaker is getting full of balloons with kids responding to the daily challenges. Yeah, as much as VBS wears me out, there's nothing like it.