Thursday, December 31, 2009

Too much

There is too much to tell you about this trip to Pearlington. Way too much. What I can tell you in the few seconds I have right now, is that God has given me many, many gifts these weeks. Not talent gifts, but gifts that come in small moments of grace, small times of reflection and in the hugs and laughter of friends.

I thought this was the last trip to Pearlington. I'm not so sure it is now. That's all I've got for now, there's just too much running through my head.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A trip to Wal Mart

In the 3 1/2 years that we've been coming to Pearlington, our team has made some significant connections with people. Different team members speak of different people with love and care. Ms. Sandra, Ms. Yvette, Sam, Ms. Pauline, Ben, Tom, Dave, the Dawseys, Ms. Ana, and the yellow house...oh wait the yellow house isn't a person, sorry. ;)

When we made the move to staying in the Motel 6 and then to rental homes we wound up going to Wal Mart a lot...A LOT! Like every night. Not being a Wal Mart fan, I would appreciate shopping somewhere else, but alas somewhere else is not to be had in Waveland, Mississippi. It's Wal Mart or nothing.

Wal Mart has the power to suck every bit of energy out of my body. It's just too overwhelming. I can got to Target, Costco or any number of places and be fine, but after a long day of working, no matter how awake I feel, the minute I walk in those doors my energy just runs dry.

It was on the trip in April that I began to look around the store and wonder if I was going to run into someone that we knew. My mind remembers faces pretty well. I can't always remember their names, but I tend not to forget faces too easily. On Saturday night, as we were checking out, an employee walked past me and I instantly knew it was Britney, Ms. Yvette's daughter. And then as we headed out the exit I looked at a little girl with her family and realized it was the Dawsey's. Since they didn't really know me, I didn't say anything but just tucked the encounter away.

This is trip we've tried to eliminate nightly Wal Mart runs to varying degrees of success. We stayed away on Sunday and wound up there on Monday night again. This time a little earlier in the evening. As Jolynn and I wandered through the store, getting the things on our list, a couple walked past me. I saw the man's face and knew instantly who it was. We made eye contact and he kept walking. Why would he know who I was, I'm supposed to be in California. As Jolynn and I made our way to the water aisle, he showed up again. This time I jumped on the opportunity. I walked up to him and said, "Are you in your house yet?" He looked at me with that polite smile one gets on their face when they are looking at someone they don't recognize and said, "Yes".

"Good," I said, "it's about time." He looked at me for a second and I could see the light bulb go off. His smile got wide and he started to laugh "Shoot! I didn't even recognize you!". He enveloped me into a hug that felt so good. A hug of a friend. We stood and talked for what felt like a long time and probably was only about 10 minutes. He called to his wife and had her come back to see me...she hadn't spent as much time with our group so that look of recognition didn't come until she saw my vest that said California on it. Ahhhh...the California group. We parted ways in Wal Mart with one last hug...a hug of a friend, of a brother who had shared a week with us, helping his neighbors and forging friendships that led to a reunion in Wal Mart.

As I walked away, I was overwhelmed with the blessings of the work we are doing and have done in Mississippi. We have made friends that aren't afraid to welcome us with hugs when we are reunited, with whom we can share in the joy of finally being in their homes and through whom God speaks and says "Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done."

BTW, the friends I met in Wal Mart were Dave and Tami Wake...they had moved into their home only 4 days before...4 years and 3 months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home. That's why we keep doing this.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh goodness

I had a whole blog ready to just cut and paste and it's not happening. So, go to the team blog for pics and updates. Updates will come here in the next couple of days.

www.ca2ms.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 17, 2009

All my backs are packed...

Okay, not quite. There are clothes in the dryer, batteries in the charger and I have two bills to pay. Today kind of got away from me, but I wouldn't change much...maybe would have gotten up about an hour earlier. Why is it that I felt compelled to change my sheets and clean-up a little this morning? I don't get it. I enjoyed lunch with a friend today, a pre-trip massage and adjustment and dinner with Train Guy and Adventure Boy. Train Guy was extra lovey tonight which just about melted my heart. Seriously. My Christmas gift to K & N was a weekend of kid-sitting...which Train Guy heard as a week and got really excited to spend a WEEK with me. I told him we would try a weekend first and then upgrade to a week if I survived. :)

Anyway, updates on the trip will be here sometime in the next few days. We don't have internet access at our rental houses so it may take a little while to update but never fear, I can't stay away too long!

Keep the prayers coming!

Surprise!

Office floor is clean! Yea!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To Do

My to do list at work is 12 items long...that's just the things I can remember that I want to accomplish at work...doesn't include packing. 38 hours until departure time...agh!

In other news, I just knocked over the trash can in my office, throwing little hole-punched circles of paper on to the floor. I could pick them up, but I'm going to leave them as an experiment. Will they be gone by tomorrow? Or by the time I return to my office in January? Or will I return to little circles of paper on the floor? Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My day

Today I wrote the following list for R-Girl...

My Day:
7:45-11:45 church (with Mississippi meeting in the middle)
12:30-2pm Young Adult Group
2:15-4pm Finish decorating Train Guy's birthday cake (a garbage truck)
4:15-6:30pm Church Christmas Celebration
6:30pm-8pm Train Guy's birthday pizza dinner

Here's what I remember about today:
  • Opening the door to the church for the custodian who forgot his keys to the church at home, who only had 15 minutes to spend cleaning.
  • Walking into the church only to see that those who had rehearsed the day before for the Christmas Celebration had not bothered to return the Sanctuary to it's natural state for the worship service. Lovely.
  • Keyboardist showing up 15 minutes before church started 'cuz the roads between her house and church were closed...glad she kept trying!
  • Having everyone in the worship service take a deep breath in and exhale out all the rush of the morning...it just felt right.
  • The prayer of Church Member A as he prayed for the Mississippi Team. I got teary. And Church Doc's prayer for the team to stay healthy. :)
  • Laughing around a table with Young Adults, sharing a meal and stories.
  • My aching feet and back.
  • Singing O Holy Night with a room full of people who were not hesitant to sing. I would have closed my eyes and reveled in the moment but I couldn't remember the chords to the song! Not so good when you're playing guitar.
  • The moment of pure harmonious bliss at the close of the Worship Team's special song...sweet.
  • The smile on Train Guy's face when he really saw his garbage truck cake (picture to come sometime). Worth all the worry.
  • Lil Bitty...enuf said. (Her mom will understand.)
But I have to say, the moment that I cherish the most today came in the form of an email that said "Are we ready? RCA". Yes, Ben, I'm ready...only 4 more days.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The basement

My office at church is located in what has been termed by some "the basement". The bottom half of the church is tucked up against a hill, so one whole side has no windows at all. Someone once said that adults don't like using the downstairs because it's "the basement"...a place best suited for youth and children. Which made me laugh. Before the big church remodel the basement was where our fellowship hall was...and the really good kitchen that was big and lovely and had plenty of room for cooking and plenty of cabinets...oh, sorry, sidetracked by history.

Anyway, in "the basement" is where my office resides. It's lovely because it's out of the way of the regular flow of traffic, usually quiet and allows me to blast my music as loud as I want without bothering a whole bunch of people. I like my basement office.

The summer is a wonderful time to be in my office as opposed to the rest of the church. It usually doesn't get warmer than mid-70's (it's a basement!) while the upstairs of the church gets into the high 90's. Yuck. But the winter time...the winter time is when my poor little hands freeze! Especially on Wednesdays when the kid's program is running and the downstairs door is open, which causes a draft into my office, which I never notice right away until I realize that I'm freeeeeeezzzzzzziiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg. Can you feel the chattering of my teeth and shaking of my hands?! If I could just remember to shut my door, my little space heater would get this office nice and toasty, more ovenish than freezerish. But alas, time and time again, I forget.

Despite the cold, I wouldn't trade this office for nothing...well, unless the powers that be saw fit to get A/C and turn the attic into an office...now THAT could be fun! Hmmm.... :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anticipation

In my possession are the "keys" to Rental House A in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
On my computer are words to prayers, meant to guide us as we work.
In a folder is my airline ticket information.
In the youth checking account is money to help cover the costs of our team.
11 days.
Anticipation is burning in my soul.
I'm almost ready.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas tree!

Yo Momma, Train Guy, Adventure Boy and I headed out to the Christmas Tree farm yesterday. We tromped all over the place searching for just the right tree, encountering many other people and their dogs, lots of prickly Christmas Trees (a strict no-no in our house!), some that were too small, many that were way to big and lots of potentially wonderful trees. It took awhile but we found just the right one...Train Guy was the first to spot it. We all took turns cutting it down, which was hard work but worth it! I guess I should have taken a picture of the decorated tree, but honestly,by the time the was hot cocoa made, crooked part of the trunk was cut off, lights and ornaments were on, I was too tired to even lift the camera...but we had fun!

Adventure Boy and I took a self-portrait. I forgot the camera was zoomed in but the more I look at the picture, the more I like it. Sweet memories.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My desk is overflowing with papers.
My brain is overflowing with things to be done.
My mouth has overflowed with things on my mind...
causing heated conversation...
for which there were apologies and finally understanding.
Chaos seems to be threatening to pull me under,
just when I feel like I've found a small amount of peace.

In the midst of chaos comes small moments.
The smile and compliment from church member M,
saying "Job well done on Sunday's message".
A recognition of the work that God is doing in my heart...
in his heart too.
The hug from church member B,
and the words "I pray for you."
A quick text with M relating moments of the day.
Laughing with A.
Grande Nonfat White Mocha with Whip...
paid for with a gift card...praise Jesus!

Small moments are good,
reminding that the chaos will soon ease...
into another type of chaos? Who knows.
I find myself longing for a day,
a day on a plane, heading toward a place
that has captured my heart,
to people that have captured my heart as well.
I find myself longing for a day,
a day to reflect and celebrate,
to push aside the chaos and rejoice.

"The angel said, 'Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master."--Luke 2:11 The Message

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Out of the mouths of 6th graders

Tonight was our annual Christmas Card Extravaganza. Every year we sign a bunch of Christmas cards to send to the church members and friends, as a Thank you and just a goodwill gesture. Middle School was up first...they signed 80 cards...pretty impressive. In the middle of pack one of the boy's yells "give me that card back, I signed my name wrong...I forgot the 'e'...that would mean my name was 'wad'." Oh, the innocence of 6th grade boys.

I think I will be checking the spelling of the names before they are mailed. Just sayin'.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Prayer

There was an ambulance in the neighborhood yesterday. I heard it come up the Valley and it kept getting closer and closer and closer. I quickly pulled up my favorite site that tells me where the fire engines and ambulances are going and there was my street name! Yikes!

Curiosity got the better of me and I went out onto our porch to look down the street and the ambulance was right next door. Yo Momma knits with Lovely Next Door Neighbor, she's been to our house a number of times but could I remember her name? Nope. All I could come up with was her husbands name. So I started praying...turns out, that's the name that God wanted me to be thinking of anyway. Lovely Next Door Neighbor was fine, it was her husband that needed the intercession.

I have a friend, I'll call her Contemplative Quilter, who has said many times that in the midst of her day, if the name of someone she knows comes to mind, she will pray for that person at that moment. It may be just a repeating of their name and a time of silence but she believes that person has come to mind for a reason and will intercede on their behalf with God. As I reflect on yesterday's ambulance moment, and as I read the email from Lovely Next Door Neighbor about what was going on while I was desperately trying to remember her name, I am fully convinced that God kept her name from me on purpose because she was not the one who needed prayer.

God works in mysterious ways...and for that I am actually pretty glad.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

If I had Twitter...

this is what I would have posted today.

7:30am--little birds outside my window, if i had a b.b. gun, you would be gone.

10am--Star$'s really, really needs to be open today.

10:15am--Payten just left me a voicemail...yes a 3 month old can talk...Auntie B in tears.

10:30am--Star$'s open! Hallelujah! Everyone who sees me today will be grateful.

11:30am--Next best thing to seeing Payten, seeing Sammy.

2pm--Local store open too. Good thing. 1 pumpkin pie to bake and 3 really outdated cans of evaporated milk at home. Gross.

3:30pm--Just ran over something in Aunt & Uncles driveway...pretty sure it was the paper...don't really want to check.

4:15pm--Turkey good injected with lots o butter good. Really, really good. So is sparkling wine.

4:45pm--I love stuffing. And mashed potatoes. And sweet potatoes.

6pm--Blessed to have a family that loves to laugh.

6:30pm--Pumpkin cake w/cream cheese filling and chocolate ganache oh so yummy.

7:30pm--Is it bedtime yet?

Happy Turkey Day!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Things running through my head...

  • Two phrases making me crazy..."You know" and "right?", as in "I just made this statement and want you to agree with me so I'll say 'right' afterwards." I want to scream..."No I don't know and I think you're wrong!".
  • Yo Momma and I attended Big Church Meeting Saturday. I enjoyed several things about the morning but left feeling a little sad. During the course of Big Church Meeting a Pastor commented that Big Church isn't doing a great job "handing down our faith". I wanted to yell out AMEN!!! That was something that was evident the moment I entered the room. There were three of us there that looked to be 35 and younger...some 40 somethings and a lot 50 and over. Big Church Meeting ended with a presentation on how we can be healthier, as in physically healthier, not church healthier. I sat their thinking that the Church is focusing on some things, that though they are important, should take a back seat to the big elephant in the room...the Church universal isn't doing such a great job of handing down faith.
  • The countdown to Mississippi is on. 25 days until I'm on a plane heading towards Pearlington. Prayer Warriors and financial sponsors still needed. Sponsors should head to this site www.ca2ms.blogspot.com for team information and sponsor information!
  • Speaking of the Mississippi trip, there are 5 of us that will be spending Christmas in Mississippi. I'm looking forward to Shrimp Scampi for Christmas Eve dinner...yum, yum, yum...and a walk on the on Christmas Day.
  • Sunday the Young Adult group went to lunch together down by the Yacht Harbor. We were sitting at a restaurant's outside patio, enjoying the sun and the heat coming from the outdoor heater that another table had requested. There were birds all over the place and one seagull decided that it needed a resting spot...and choose the top of the outdoor heater. It took about a second for the heat to register on it's feet and that bird shot off the heater and swooped down to the harbor below, feet first. I feel bad for the bird but it was pretty amusing at the same time. As was Sir Joe's reaction. I don't think I've seen someone laugh like that in a long time.
  • Why is it that the weeks that are short on workdays are the ones filled with the most stuff to do? And the most interruptions? Back to work for me!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

At the trampoline place

Today was the Middle School groups turn to go on an adventure. We headed over to the local trampoline place. It's basically a warehouse with a bunch of trampolines, a foam pit and a dodge ball area. The kids love it. I love watching them love it and laughing with them along the way. I was reminded, as we were driving home, why we do these things in youth ministry. It's not really about the place we go to, it's about the car ride, the time in a small space where the youth have to relate to each other. R-girl was my chaperone this time. I think it was good for her to see the other side of youth ministry as well.

The hard part, though, about going out in public is, well, the public. There were two mom's at the trampoline place that were so rude. At one point one of the mom's was berating a child (not her own, not with her, didn't know him at all) for not waiting in line. Didn't matter that she had just walked up and decided there should be a line or that this child had been jumping on the trampoline for awhile without many others around him. Then mom number two yelled at another child for the same thing. Again, the child had been jumping, no one was there, how were they supposed to know? Both kids walked away from the trampolines with a stunned look on their faces.

I'm pretty sure the mom's had no clue about their rudeness, nor did it seem like they would care very much...but I'm willing to bet if someone had treated their child that way there would have been hell to pay! I warned my group to stay away from the mom's and to make sure they waited in line, which they did. It was a good day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Brain,

I get the message...I need to exercise more.
Can you please, now, help me remember everything I'm supposed to take with me to the copy room upstairs?
Because time is running out and I keep having to run up and down the stairs after I've forgotten yet ANOTHER thing that needed to be copied, signed, placed in someones box, given to the Office Admin or done in the general vicinity of the upstairs of the church. Requiring a quick dash back to my office or back upstairs. And we both know what happens when I dash back to my office...I get distracted by the myriad of things that need to be filed, recycled, dealt with, email/phone that needs to be checked and things that need to be put away.
Please, please, please can I just remember everything and make one trip? Please?

Sincerely,
Brittany

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I did today

Today the local schools were out for Veteran's Day. I made the decision in August to do something fun with the High School Youth Group during the day and have the night off. So today we went to the Zoo. One of my chaperone's was a former Youth Group member. 10 years ago, when I started, he was in High School and he was that teenager. The one who lacked a mute button or an edit button. The one who would pull whatever stunt he could to make others laugh. The one who started the trouble and the one who was always getting "the eye" from me. I will admit to being very, very glad when he graduated high school.

The last year former YG member has moved back home and has become a regular volunteer with the High School group. He's grown up but still lacks an edit button at times and likes to pull stunts. Age has mellowed him a little, though, and the stunts are now projected onto the High School youth themselves. His favorite target is the current YG member who, I realized today, is kinda like him. Current YG member lacks a mute or edit button and likes to pull pranks, though his aren't as ingenious as former YG member's were. No kidding. As they punched each other, shared verbal jabs and bonded in the way that boys do, it occurred to me that they are much more like each other than they realize. It made me smile.

But beyond making me smile I felt grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to have been in ministry for 10 years, for the ability to see some of the youth grow into pretty awesome young adults and for the ability to spend a Wednesday in November at the Zoo.

It was a fun day at the Zoo...and a fun reminder that the faces of the youth may change over the years, but there will always be that one guy...what would we do without them?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Five--What's New?

Songbird over at RevGalBlogPals says:
There's a new baby on my street, a double PK whose Mom and Dad are Methodist pastors and church planters. I'm hoping to go over and meet her today. I love new babies, the way they smell and their sweet little fingers and toes. Little K has me thinking about all the new things that please us with their shiny freshness.

Please share with us five things you like *especially* when they are new.

1. Sweatshirts. Yo Momma and Papa Bear went to France this fall and brought me home a zip-up sweatshirt from Paris. I love the soft, fuzzy feel of the lining. Hmmm...might have to wear it today.

2. Planning Calenders. It's silly but looking at a blank, clean calendar is refreshing. Then adding in all the things that I get to do during a month (in pencil, no pens allowed!), reminds me that I'm blessed to have a job that allows me to have so much fun!

3. Highlighters. I can't explain it. I just like new highlighters, which is why every time I take a class, I go out and buy new highlighters. It's the little things in life that make me happy.

4. Paint on walls. The paint fumes, not so much, but the clean look of new paint is refreshing. Especially when I like the color :)

5. Babies. Their fresh scent, their peacefulness when they are sleeping and the snuggling. I think I like the snuggling the best.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dots of things I forgot...

  • Payten came to visit (brought her parents along too) last month. We had some good Auntie B and Baby P bonding time (still working on a blog name for her) and took our self-portraits again. She got to meet cousin Anthony and they bonded at the beach. Aren't they cute? We also went pumpkin huntin'...Payten was not impressed.
  • Adventure Boy turned 3 (three!) at the beginning of October. I couldn't help myself and made him a cake. Word on the street is that he liked his airplane cake.
  • K, Meg and I went to a Vince Gill concert in October...that man can sing! But has terrible taste in shirts. No kidding, it was painful to look at. Anyway we took a pact, at that concert, that there were certain things we would never do. #1. Have perfect hair. #2. Overload on perfume or powder (the fumes just about did us in!). #3. No Aqua Net (see #2). #4. Will not wear clothes that have been bedazzled. #5. No side-shaved haircuts. My #6. would be never to let the men in our lives wear shirts that were obnoxious...wish I could find a picture of it!
  • Last week at High School group our sole 9th grade boy came early to youth group. Another young lady came in soon after and both were enjoying their dinner of Nachos from Taq V (the place to eat in town) and talking about life. I can't remember the conversation but at one point 9th grade boy clapped his hands three times. His next comment was "but that word only has three syllables." It took me a moment and then I burst out laughing. I love that he had to say the word in his head and clap his hands to figure out how many syllables were in the word. To all you teachers out there, students are paying attention!
  • This one happened tonight so it's not really something that I forgot to tell you but something I had forgotten just the same...middle school boys squeal just as much as middle school girls. The game of tag tonight was pierced with squealing/screaming and I was getting after the girls to be quieter when Pastor's Son ran past me, wait for it, wait for it...squealing. :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Visitors

A fireman and a dinosaur just stopped by my house...thought y'all would like to see! They've been taking a lot of pictures and weren't excited about taking more...but they are having fun!
Edited to add: No sooner had I hit publish and the following picture showed up in my e-mail inbox. Jailbird Payten...hee-hee!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Laugh of the day

Today was a tense day. G.G. went in for a lumpectomy today, after being diagnosed with breast cancer a month ago. In the process of all the doctors visits, she also found out that she had gallstones as well, so it was a double whammy of a surgery day. She came through the surgery well and there is no sign of cancer so far in the lymph nodes, though there are still some tests to be done. We all breathed a sigh of relief after that news.

I didn't relax fully, though, until Meg and I exchanged the following text messages:

Meg: I just passed a guy on the corner with a sign that said "bet you can't hit me with a quarter." getting more creative out here!

Me: So did you try?

Meg: Nope, I was too busy texting

Me: Texting and driving! Naughty, naughty!

Meg: Yep, guess he should be glad that I didn't hit him with more than a quarter, eh?

I love my friends.

BTW--I do not condone texting and driving or talking on your cell and driving, or shopping in Safeway and talking on your bluetooth...but I needed that laugh.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This is scary

I got this video in an email today. Do we really think that kids don't watch EVERYTHING we do? (And to self-disclose, I like country music, that's not the part that freaks me out!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I love to laugh

My fabulous friends, M & L, gave me Tim Gunn's Guide to Style Daily Tear-off Calendar for Christmas. Being a Project Runway Fan, this was the perfect gift. All year I've been tearing off little hints about style and more. There was one, that I really cherish, that said something to the effect of sweatpants, with words that when worn on the body will be placed across your rear-end, should never, ever be worn out of the house...and even then, they are seriously questionable. Amen!

Anyway, the other day I was catching up on the calendar and came across this...
The power of looking happy cannot be underestimated. You'll feel better if you smile, and the reception you receive from others will be warmer. Modern life seems to lead to a rather grim set to the mouth; fight it and smile.
What truth there is in those words! A couple of friends recently wrote me a beautiful note that ended with "we love that you love to laugh." It's true. I love to laugh. Smiling, laughing makes me feel better.

I'm thinking about all of this today in regards to our worship services. Sunday mornings there just isn't a whole lot of laughter and smiling. The worship team at the early service knows how to smile. I know they do, I see the smiles on Monday nights when we rehearse (I hear the laughter too!) The smiles disappear on Sunday mornings. Even the cheeriest of people stop smiling on Sunday mornings. There seems to be an unwritten rule that says "smiles in worship is out of place".

I think it was a blogger that wrote recently that they didn't believe that Jesus was as solemn as Christians make Jesus out to be and I agree. Human beings are naturally attracted to people who are good natured, have a sense of humor, smiles, or laughs. People were attracted to Jesus, curious about Jesus, kids went to him, I think he probably laughed and smiled a lot.

So why the seriousness in church? Why do we take worship so seriously that we can't smile or laugh? I think some of the worship team would tell you that they are intimidated looking out at the faces that aren't smiling back at them. Which is true. There are some people who seem to be really, really grumpy in church...but yet maybe they are taking their cues from the people in front of them. I wonder if we started smiling more, how that would translate to those looking back at us.

I have a hard time passing by someone without smiling at them. I noticed it the other day in the grocery store. If I make eye contact with another person, I automatically smile. Even in my grumpiest of moods. Sometimes people respond with a "Hi" like they think maybe they know me but aren't sure, sometimes I'll get a smile in return, sometimes not. I wonder, was that what made Jesus so approachable? Did he automatically smile at people as he passed them by? It's a thought to ponder and a challenge for the rest of us.

Next time you are out and about, smile at a random person. Do they smile back? Does it make you feel silly or does the smile last a little longer on your face? If you are the church going kind, try smiling at those leading worship on Sunday morning...see if they respond. And if you lead worship, how about smiling at the people in church? I promise, they won't bite.

Let's fight the grimness of life with a smile...and just because I love to laugh...

Monday, October 26, 2009

In hiding

The Pastor just walked into my office and asked "Is the lighting in here a reflection of your mood?". I replied with "just didn't turn on the light" but really there is more to the story.

The typical day off for those in church ministry is Monday. Sunday is a work day, so many church people take Monday off. Not me. I decided early on that I liked working on Mondays for one very important reason...no one else is here. The building is quiet. People come and go, but they don't stay to chat. The phone doesn't ring as much, there isn't a line at the copy machine, it's just quiet. When we moved Worship Team rehearsal to Monday nights, Monday's became my day to plan for the next Sunday as well. Working on Monday is good for me...though people have caught on to my trying to hide, thus the Pastor coming to check in about next weeks service today...sigh.

But the last few Monday's have been a little, well, challenging. The public doesn't really get that whole church being closed on Monday's thing and they still appear. Being at the church alone, I tend not to open the door to strangers (yeah, I know, it could be Jesus. I think he might understand). I park in the back of the church but that doesn't stop some people. Two weeks ago someone really wanted attention. They tried every door (and there are a lot of them) but couldn't obtain entrance into the building so they started honking their car horn and yelling. Excuse me?? Really?!?! Last week there was a couple that took shelter from the rain under the overhangs. No big deal...until they started screaming at each other. I decided their time at the church was done and called for reinforcements. What happened to my quiet Mondays?

I approached my office a little more carefully today. After two weeks of interruptions from the outside world, all I really wanted today was a day of solitude and peace. I parked upstairs away from the building (though if you know my car, you could assume that I am in the building). I left the lights off and made sure my blinds were closed to the outside world today. Maybe next week I will turn the lights on and open up a little more. Today, I just want to hide.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Out on a limb

I was in high school when the movie people came to town. They came to film this movie...I never saw it, I heard it wasn't really good, but I thought of the title today as I was pushing the button to purchase my ticket to Mississippi a few minutes ago.

I'm going out on a limb. God started talking pretty loudly a while back about the possibility of our mission team returning to Pearlington in December, not for one week as we normally do, but for two weeks. So, we started talking back and forth as a team and God and I started having some pretty serious discussions. The two week trip would mean that I would spend the whole two weeks in Mississippi with teams coming in and out...and it would put me in Mississippi over Christmas, potentially alone.

Being the family girl that I am, it's not an easy thing to think about being alone for Christmas. Christmas morning with my family is my favorite time. Going down to Aunt R's and Uncle B's in my pjs. Watching the kids pile their presents in a pile. Heading home with Yo Momma, Papa Bear and G.G. Opening stockings, laughing at the silly things we got each other, eating cinnamon rolls and then gathering with the rest of the family at some point during the day for food, food and more food. It's family time and I love it.

God has other things in mind this year. I'm on that limb and I'm going to be with members of my God family for Christmas. 8 of us will leave on December 18th, with 5 of us staying through January 2nd and 3 coming home on the 24th. A group of 9 will head out to Pearlington on December 26th. It feels good. I'm hanging out on the limb feeling a little bit more like this...reaching for something good!

If you are interested in hearing about the journey or helping make it happen (I need to raise $1200 for the trip) head over to our team site www.ca2ms.blogspot.com. I'm out on a limb and it feels right.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And the rain came down...

The rain is truly coming down in buckets. After a late night last night (David Crowder Band concert...so awesome but it was a 2 hour drive there and 2 hour drive home...tired.) I woke up late this morning. I know that it started to rain about 2:30am and I could hear the water rushing down the drain outside my window. That was good...but it also reminded me that I needed to check the other drains as requested by Papa Bear.

The drain off the back of the house was clogged, I could tell by peering through the bedroom window. Great. So I did what I had to do, I opened the window and climbed out onto the garage roof, pulled a chair through the window and tried to unclog the drain. I then climbed back inside to get a tool and climbed back out. It took one push of the ruler (yes, I am resourceful) to get the drain clear, water came gushing down. And I did all of this in my sweatpants, sleep shirt and bare feet. Not the smartest thing ever.

The power went out as I was almost finished drying my hair. Which would have been fine, except I remembered that my car was parked in the garage...with the automatic door opener. I got it out only to then discover that the drains that have been placed around the house to get the water away from the house were plugged up. By the time I got it all taken care of I looked like I had just stepped from the shower. And still, no power.

So I sit here, at work, listening to the wind rip through trees...just watched one tree break in two and fall to the ground...the power flickering and I'm wondering, should I just cancel youth group and be done with it or should I be the true mountain girl that I am and just keep on? Dilemmas.

Updated at 6pm: Powers on. Youth Group on. Wind slowed down. Rain slowed down. Went home and changed the towel in the window that was leaking this morning, watched a little news and heard two different reports. One said 9 inches of rain, another 8, all in all a pretty impressive storm.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Windshield wipers

It's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. Buckets of rain is predicted. Last week, I decided it was time (after bugpalooza) to buy new windshield wipers. I was down at Costco, found the correct wipers at a price that seemed too good to be true and purchased. Yesterday, in anticipation of the buckets of rain, I spent time reminding myself how to install a new wiper blade. I finally got the old one off the drivers side, opened the box to get the windshield wipers out and one blade came out. What?! Then it dawned on me, the price really was too good to be true...there is only one wiper blade per box. A mega wiper blade at that...it really looked like two!

Tomorrow mega blade and wimpy blade will have to get me safely down to Costco...I've run out of time today. I hope they aren't sold out by the time I get there!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I don't want to talk about it

Cousin L's daughter started kindergarten last month. Little Miss, as I'll call her, hasn't been in preschool or daycare, so this was her first encounter with a pretty structured setting. Upon arriving home, Little Miss was asked about her day. Her reply? "I don't want to talk about it." It came out later, probably after a while of settling it all in her own head, that Little Miss was struggling with the restrictions of the classroom, having to sit down, not talk at certain times, ask to use crayons, all the things that a kindergarten child has problems with. Little Miss will figure it out, I'm not too worried, but her reaction to her day has stuck with me. "I don't want to talk about it."

I'm feeling like I'm in an "I don't want to talk about it" place. One of the things that I heard at the youth workers convention was that often, the change that needs to take place in our ministries, needs to start in us first. Over the past couple of weeks, the past month, if I look back probably the last year, I've felt that change coming. There's an unsettling in my soul. A recognition that God is molding and shaping me. Changing what was into something new. Part of that change has left me feeling discontent in many ways. And while I want to talk about it, I don't want to talk about it. The words aren't formed yet, the thought hasn't matured. The ah-ha, light bulb, flashbulbs, fireworks "I get it!" moment hasn't happened yet. I don't know what God is doing completely...but I do know that it's painful.

It's painful to have little moments of insight into the complexities of me and realize I don't like those things about me. It's painful to ask God to do something, have it happen, and then realize that it sounded nice but in reality, stinks. God chooses moments to speak that feel awkward and way too exposed. Some of the stuff that God is whispering is opening up those old wounds, the ones that have been long covered up by a mask of "I'm OK" when really I was not. Some of the whispers reveal truths I don't want to see. There are moments when it seems that my prayers, cries, my pleas seem to be floating out in the middle of that vastness which is God and God's timing. The waiting is painful, the examining is painful, the change is painful.

Little Miss has adjusted to school. She's learning the new structure, getting the pattern down, adapting to her environment and I know that somewhere on this journey, a new pattern, a new structure, a changed me will emerge. I guess I just talked about it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Boys to men

Two guys just stopped by my office. Last time I saw the two of them together was in 2003. They looked a lot different then, younger more naive, ready to take on the world no matter what anyone said. Today they looked a little more world weary. They've seen things, experienced things that have added a little more of an edge to them.

These guys looked around the youth room, found their hands on the Wall of Fame, reminisced about others whose hands and names were on the wall as well. They looked at pictures, complained that they weren't in any of them (not true), swapped stories of this trip and that trip, laughed a little and then we headed upstairs...

To the sanctuary. To make sure that the photo slide show, one of these guys put together, will work on the church computer. To the sanctuary, where in a few hours one of them will share his memories of his Dad and say a very public goodbye. The world weariness, for one of these guys, came quickly, the edge was earned through choices made by a Dad in despair. The despair that he left behind, though, is just as great.

Two guys came by my office today. The last time I saw them together, they were graduating High School, prepared to take on the world. Today they returned, a little beaten up and bruised, disillusioned but underneath, I caught a glimpse of the guys I used to know and praised God for the men they have become.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quote of the day

"Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning, the Devil says 'Oh crap, she's up!' "

Loving this one!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Watch for flying apples!

**Warning, this is an extra long post that's been brewing for a couple of weeks...

A couple of years ago we joined up with another church for our annual snow trip. We rented houses, borrowed vehicles and headed out for an adventure. An adventure it was. We had car problems, lots and lots of snow, an emergency car rental to get everyone home and then a blow-out on the way home on one of the cars. By the time we arrived back at the church at 10pm, we were tired. Snow trips are fun but I usually never get enough sleep, and this weekend wasn't any different. After everyone was finally picked up, I loaded up the leftover stuff and R-girl into the car and headed for home, thinking the adventure was behind us.

The road we took home wasn't the usual one for us. There are two roads that head our direction and as it turns out Road B was more direct than Road A, the usual route home. Road B is a little more secluded and tends to be less traveled by cars. As we drove towards home, R-girl and I were reviewing the weekend, commiserating about our general lack of sleep and laughing about things that had happened. We rounded a corner and that's when we saw the deer. He was a proud fellow with a good set of horns on his head and he was enjoying his late night snack by the side of the road. Now, being the semi-country girl that I am, I know that deer will do one of two things when headlights come at them. Run across the road in front of the car or stand still. Not knowing what this proud deer was going to do, I did what comes naturally to a person in this situation. I hit the brakes.

The brakes on this rental vehicle worked really well. We came to an immediate stop. The apples in the Costco pack on the back seat did not. Within seconds R-girl and I were being pelted by apples from inside our own vehicle! The combination of sleep deprivation, adrenaline from a quick stop and being pelted with apples had us in giggles. The proud deer looked at us for a second and resumed munching his snack. Amidst our giggling, R-girl and I managed to round up the apples and returning them to their pack and their place on the back seat.

As we headed on home, we were on alert now. As we drove away from proud deer we kept watching the side of the road to make sure there weren't any friends nearby. About a half mile down the road, I let my guard down a little and was in the midst of yawning very widely when I saw it. Proud deer's girlfriend. Again I hit the brakes and again the apples went flying! This time R-girl, amidst the laughter, was grumbling "dumb apples, dumb deer". What are the chances of the same thing happening two times in one night?

I managed to drop R-girl off safe and sound a few minutes later and made it home without any more deer spotting that night. The memory, though, has stayed with us. Yesterday, R-girl and I were reminiscing about the dumb deer and dumb apples and the thought hit me; dumb me. In my haste to get home, I had placed the pack of apples on top of a box on the back seat of the rental car. I remember thinking "I should move that to the seat" but got distracted and never did. And then, once we had the first apple flying encounter, instead of putting them on the floor or on the seat next to the box, I put the box of apples back in the same, exact place. You know what? I did the same thing after the second pelting. The apples went right back on top of that box.

So many times in my life, I do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results only to never see any change. As the phrase goes "When you do what you always do, you get what you always get." Yep. Pretty clear. Put the apples on the box, when you slam on the brakes, you will be pelted. Didn't learn it the first time? How about the second? Want to go for a third?

Change is a hard word for humans...it's even harder in a church setting. We do the things we do because we've always done them that way. They've worked before, they should work now. Mention the "c" word, and be ready for the firing range. Change is threatening, scary and seems to indicate that there is something desperately wrong with the person, the group of people, the institution. And so, we keep putting the apples back on the box, only to have them fly off and whack us in the head every once in a while.

Over the weekend I heard from many different speakers and God seemed to be saying the same thing through each of them...it's time for a change. In order for the Church universal to survive, we need to be changing. Not for the sake of change but because times are changing, people are changing. I loved how one speaker said it, Jesus will always be timeless but many of the things in our churches are not timeless. Some of those things need to be eliminated in order for the Church to survive, for the message of Jesus to be heard, for the peace of God to be shown.

Coming home and sharing that message with a handful of people, the reality of the threatening aspect of change hit home. Some reacted with a passion, immediately jumping to protect that which they cherished (and I hadn't even brought up...hmmmmmm...), some nodded their head in agreement and put the apples back on the box they had been resting on before, one passionately agreed and said "preach it, sister!". I know that God is working, I know that God is speaking to my heart for a reason and I'm listening. Praying for the strength to do and say what God is wanting me to say and do, that I will be able to listen, respectfully, to those who disagree and that God will speak louder than our fears. I'm watching for deer and flying apples.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Home

The weekend was a blur of information, images, thoughts, visceral reactions, food, smells and more. There is much to unpack, both literally and mentally. I'm wondering about the future of the Church universal and the Church personal. I'm pondering the state of youth ministry in my own situation, I'm thinking about the body of believers that I worship with, about those who will welcome some fresh ideas and those who will put up a wall, a very, very large intimidating wall. I'm thinking about our upcoming trip to Mississippi and the tug I'm feeling from God to change things, to sacrifice, to go outside my comfort zone. There is much going on in my brain and there is much to filter. I'm sure this space will be used to filter all of the stuff inside my head in the coming days and weeks.

Right now, I'm going to sleep.

Wrap-up of the day

It's really early in the morning or late at night, depending on how you look at it. I've been away from the hotel a full 15 hours. There was a lot packed into that time. Here's just a glimpse:
  • Heard from 3 young people who have started groups that give to others or are taking a stand on issues. Very, very impressive, enlightening, encouraging and cool. Just cool.
  • Worshipped with a children's choir from Africa. If I can get the video, church on Sunday will be worshipping with them as well. I'm making an executive decision as the worship leader...so there.
  • Watched an amazing performer bring a story to life that left the whole room in tears. And that was all within two hours.
  • Had lunch at the ESPNzone and watched the 49ers lose in the last seconds of the game...but had a yummy salad.
  • Participated in a workshop focusing on how we connect with God throughout the day in the moments that we have...good stuff. Did you know that chocolate and prayer go together? They do.
  • Enjoyed a caramel frappacino that tasted like caramel corn. Yum.
  • Listened to a discussion about youth revolutionizing the world. It was co-led by a guy who was an atheist, has come to Christianity while working in DC. He has worked for some pretty high mucky-mucks including the Obama campaign. There are a lot of things that I still need to review from that session. I thought I was going to walk away from the conference without buying any cd's or DVD's...not gonna happen.
  • Had dinner with other Presbyterian Youth Workers, including someone that I had gone to a class with a couple year ago. Good conversation and I came away with some new resources, plus after the expensive meals in this town, it was nice to have a free dinner! Thanks PC(USA)!
  • Tonight we heard from the woman the Lifetime movie, Homeless to Harvard, was based on. I appreciated hearing her perspective on life...it made me think about what I take for granted and what I assume.
  • And then, Jon-boy and I hung out and listened to Todd T.'s favorite band in the whole wide world...Lost and Found. Slinky! We also laughed until we couldn't breathe with the Skit Guys. A long but good day.
I've got a bunch of questions running through my head but I also have this little rant that must come out right now. Walking by the hand-out table, where all the extra hand-outs from the workshops wind up, I found this beauty called the Pure Freedom Fashion Challenge. I read through it, it makes sense. I don't like seeing bra straps, shorts that are to short, pants that are too low, I get it. However, it's really frustrating to hear people say "the youth shouldn't wear x, y or z" and then turn around to see the youth workers wearing x, y and z. Where do we think they get it from? It's just annoying. All weekend I've been hearing "youth look up to you!"...so why don't we get that they look at everything? Okay, rant over for now. It's time to sleep! More tomorrow!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brush with fame???

The LA Convention Center is right next door to the Staples Center, across the street from Nokia Live!, and down a block from the new Grammy Museum. When we arrived on Friday afternoon, Jon-boy and I overheard someone saying "Downtown LA rolls up the sidewalks at night...nothing is happening." Um....that's not my experience!

Last night was a concert that had a whole bunch of excited but buzzed people around Nokia Live! Lot's of people. Tonight there is even more going on. But let me back up a bit...

Today at NYWC the morning speaker hit a home run. Home.run. He spoke about change. Not a new topic by any means, it was the way he spoke about change that brought things that I've been thinking about in a full circle. My mind has been buzzing all day long...and it's been a good day for it to be buzzing. There weren't any seminars, now called Labs, to attend today. They had something they called "Open Space" going on. Basically people created their own topics and had a set time for others to come sit and discuss the topic. Great idea, but with my mind whirring from the morning seminar, and the chaos of trying to figure out what discussion started when, I opted to head back to my hotel room and take advantage of the spaciousness there to sit with God. I'm not prepared to talk about all that yet, but stayed tuned! On my way back to the hotel it became apparent that there was something going on at the Staples Center tonight. I made a mental note to check their website and see what was up.

Anyway, about 5:45 it was time to find Jon-boy and get dinner before the evening Session. I left my room to head back to the Convention with a stop at the hotel gift shop for some bottled water. Seriously, I don't know what hotels do to their water but there is a taste to it...water shouldn't taste! Rabbit trail, sorry. I bought the expensive water and headed for the escalator. Three men in suits got there ahead of me. I looked at one of the guys and thought "his nose has been broken". As we all headed out the front doors, a couple of women were coming in. One of the ladies looked at broken nose guy and immediately let out a string of Spanish, she clearly recognized him. It was then that the light bulb donned. The event happening at the Staples Center...a boxing match...broken nose guy is a boxer! Don't know who he is (boxing is so not my thing) but I have to admit, I felt a little more comfortable walking down to the Convention Center with a boxer in my midst. Hopefully if someone had tried anything broken nose boxer guy would have come to my rescue!

Tonight's speaker was Donald Miller, who's newest book just released. His talk was about the process of writing a book/screenplay and he tied it in nicely with how we live our lives, which is what I believe the book is about as well...I bought it but haven't read it, yet. Again, I connected with what he was saying so much. God is talking, what God is saying is still a little unclear, but God is definitely talking.

Jon-boy and I decided to skip out on late night options tonight...gonna save that for Skit Guys tomorrow. As we left, we noticed a crowd at the Nokia Live! area. It's been busy over there all weekend but I didn't go investigate what was happening. I heard someone say "they can't buy tickets for another couple hours" and my investigative hat went on. The TV just told me what I needed to know...people have been waiting in line for days to get first dibs on tickets to (drum roll please) the Michael Jackson movie. No joke. People have been sleeping out there for days to get tickets to the movie that supposedly is only going to run for a couple of weeks.

And that fight? Yeah, the Governator was there along with Rocky (Slyvester Stallone for those none movie buffs), Madonna's ex-husband, Mike Tyson and a whole slew of celebrities. My brush with fame...they were all in the building right next to where I was! Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Long day

It's 11:30pm...I've been up since 4:30am and should really go to bed NOW! If I get to sleep soon I will get a full 7 hours! There is much, however, rushing through my head, so I'm going to put it down here in whatever order it comes out. Feel free to read along or browse somewhere else.

The car ride to LA was pretty pain free. There were these bugs, however, that decided they really wanted to join us in LA. The front of my car is covered, covered in them. I couldn't get my windshield clean using the wiper fluid, it was ridiculous! We made good time until we were within 15 miles of our destination...then we crawled along for a half hour or so. 2 car accident that for some reason required 10 police/highway patrol people. No joke. My clutch leg was cramping up by the time we got past that. Missed the exit, twice, but managed to find the way to the Convention Center and eventually the hotel.

The hotel. Opinionated Friend, there is plenty of room for you too! Turns out I got a Jr. Suite. Couch, chair, desk, two double beds (the one drawback), vanity, bar area with fridge (yes!) and plenty of floor space for about 5 other people. Sent a pic text to Yo Momma and said "I could live here". I may just camp out here tomorrow and not go far.

As for the Convention itself...there are things that I've heard in the last 10 hours that I agree with, things that I don't. One speaker had me hooked right at the start and then went on a tangent that I just couldn't go on. Still said some good things but I was disappointed. Jon-boy told me I got a look on my face that expressed my complete disagreement...I tried to remain expressionless. Another speaker started out with some things that I questioned and then got to a place where God started whispering in my ear. The whispers are gentle and a little soft right now. I'm praying that they get a little louder and clearer, even if it gets rough.

The best part of the day, though, came in the form of two of my favorite groups. DC*B and Shane and Shane performed tonight. It was good. My soul is enlivened by DC*B and soothed by Shane and Shane. I go to sleep a happy camper tonight. Tomorrow is another long day. Not sure exactly what's in store but I'm praying that Jon-boy and I are open to God's whispering about ministry and about our own souls.

LA bound

This weekend the National Youth Workers Convention takes over the LA Convention Center. My cohort in ministry, Jon-boy, and I are heading there for the weekend. The time that this post goes live is the time that we will be leaving. I'm excited because one of my favorite bands will be there, DC*B, and one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, will be speaking. Both have new stuff out right now...excited about picking those up too! (Which reminds me, I don't need to pack all those books that I just packed!)

The bad thing about having to get up before the sun is that I need to get to sleep early...which is nearly impossible on a Thursday night when Project Runway is on (though I fell asleep a couple weeks just as the runway show began) and really hard when I've become addicted to Models of the Runway. I love the inside scoop/behind the scenes things, even if that's not reality. Totally dig it.

I'm looking forward to the weekend, looking forward to continuing my Youth Worker training, but most of all I'm looking forward to the opportunity to focus on my need for God, for my own spiritual rejuvenation and some time to just be.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It runs in the family...

So, I told you about Nat's song in the last post. It went pretty much like this..."You are 1 year, 2 year, 3 year, 4 year, 5 year, 6 and you get older every day."

Turns out, she gets her songwriting talent from her mom. I was walking by the computer in the church the other day and found a silly little ditty written to the tune of "I'm a little teapot". It's silly and fun and made me smile.

It started out like this:
"I miss my Brittany yes I do
I miss when we sing & take off our shoes."

Music world, watch out!

Monday, September 21, 2009

35

Where to begin...
  • G.G. and I began Baby Tour 2009 on Thursday morning. We started with Payten, catching up with Aunt C and Uncle K as well. Lil Bro and New Sis surprised me with a birthday cake, complete with candles. I don't have any pictures of that but it was cool. Payten was the youngest and skinniest of the babies on this tour, 4 weeks old and weighing in at 7lbs. She's got really long feet though. It's as long as my thumb!
  • Baby Tour 2009 headed to Colby's house next. G.G. and I had fun trying to get there. We found many places in CA without traffic! Though our blood pressure was rising quickly when the guy in the big truck refused to pull over even though he was going much slower than the rest of the cars on the road. Argh. Colby and I had a great time bonding, he's got a great smile, though I never caught it on camera. Colby's 11lbs and 7 weeks old. Colby's Brother, Brody, was a lot of fun too. Such adorable guys...the picture I would show you is not cooperating right now. Sorry.
  • Baby Tour 2009 continued for me with Sammy. Another young man with a great smile not caught on camera by me. He is a charmer and the oldest on the tour coming in at 11 weeks and weighing 16lbs. I had a fabulous time reuniting with Sammy and his parents. Why is it that the ones that live the closest are the ones I don't see enough?
  • This morning I turned on my cell phone and found this picture. It was a great way to start the day. Nat, the one on the right, also made a card/book... and wrote a song, reminding me that I'm getting older everyday but that Jesus loves me so, so, so, so, so, so, so MUCH. Love her.
  • At lunch with G.G. and B. Young, these two photos appeared on my phone with the captions.
Happy Birthday :)
  • And tonight Super Sarah and R-Girl treated me to dinner and made me cry. They spent a lot of time putting together a scrapbook of our many youth activities and had people write in the book as well. It just about did me in. I am blessed by them.
  • Overall a good way to end my 34th year and begin my 35th. All day I've been at a heightened level of awareness of the goodness of God...I have great friends, kids to love (and hand back to their parents) and family. Life may not look like what I thought it would look like at this point in time but I have nothing to complain about and God has reminded me of that all day long. God is good, life is good and it's been a great day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quick check-in

It's been a whirlwind few days and it's not slowing down yet. There are a couple of posts brewing, some fun, some serious. We'll see which one makes it out first!

In the meantime, I'm gonna be bold and ask those of you who are the praying kind to pray for my friend Karl. Some of you know him, some of you don't and I'm not going to share details, God knows them. Thanks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Evading a rant...

I can feel a church rant coming on. It's brewing, my mind is whirling, stomach churning and I'm trying to think happy thoughts but, grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

In other news, in a week I will be hugging this little one.And in a week and a day I'll be hugging this other little one.
I'm gonna focus on that today.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Skunked!

Got to work this morning, got out of my car, coffee, keys and cell phone in hand and got a whiff of skunk. It's not unusual around here to smell that smell. With so much in my hands, I opened a different door than usual to the church, one that will stay open and not just close automatically. That's when the pungent skunk odor really knocked me back. Yuck.

The downstairs hallway, the upstairs hallway, the custodians closet and now my office all reek of skunk. Luckily the youth room seems to have been spared. It would be a perfect day to work from home...except it's Parent/Youth Night and I have to be here.

Candles lit, windows open, hoping the smell of skunk goes away.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Baby recap

So, as far as I am aware, baby craze 2009 has come to an end. They have all made their arrivals and are doing well. Thanks to the tiny little SD card I bought today, I can now show you all the pictures I've gotten of the precious ones without having to text them to Meg who would then email to me. Such a process to get pics off the phone but no more! Woo-hoo! Here's the recap:

This is Kylie, she was the first. I'm hoping that we get to meet face to face sometime but she has this trip to Hawaii with her parents and grandparents coming up and her social calendar is pretty full. She's a cutie!

Sammy came second. Such a great picture, such a happy guy! Sammy and I spent some time together a few days after he was born, which was lovely. I'm hoping that we can reconnect sometime later this month...if he's available. M & L, I'll be calling!

Colby was the third arrival, stubbornly waiting until after I had to go home to make his way into the world. (Yes, it's all about me, clearly!) If you can't tell by this picture, big brother Brody is pretty protective and happy he's here.Payten was the last one and probably the one you will see most around here. She gave us a little scare this week but has rebounded. She's looking pretty serious in this picture. Her Auntie B is having a little bit of a problem living so far away but pictures help!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Found

I've spent the last two days working on my office. It's been the same for a few years now and I got bored with it. A few years ago I painted one wall blue. Just one small wall. I went out and bought more paint to continue onto another wall and never got it done. So yesterday I decided it was painting day. I now have two blue walls.

In the process I moved the gigantic filing cabinet and cleaned behind it, finding CD's that had been lost, a picture that I really didn't miss and a never used phone cord. That started my cleaning, rearranging jag which has resulted in everything that could possibly be moved, being moved. The floor has been vacuumed, the bookshelves dusted, books rearranged, things taken to the thrift store and more never used phone cords have appeared. I really don't know where they came from but at last count there were 4.

Things collect in a Youth Directors office. I found copies of birth certificates from a trip to Mexico that was taken WAY before I started here (which reiterated what I thought when I first started and had to clean out my predecessor's office, when it's time for me to leave, I'm taking a week and going through everything that will be left behind. Someone new shouldn't have to deal with my junk.) Then there are the bags of fake Easter Grass that I bought one year on the advice of Songfriend who would put them in the bottom of his youth members sleeping bags. It sounded like good clean fun...never did it though. There are the 3.5inch floppy disks with worship songs on PowerPoint from the days after the slide projector and before MediaShout. Coffee beans from a fundraiser 5 Mississippi Trips ago, protective glasses from the Mexico 2005 trip and the folder with all the information from that trip. And let's not forget the aforementioned 4 never used phone cords. The garbage and recycling bins are my friends this week.

In other news, Papa Bear has started his own blog. He's political, opinionated and isn't afraid to talk about it, so if you're up for reading you can find him here. Just remember, I warned you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Life's roads

It was in the summer before my 8th grade year that Jesus and I started our journey together in a more "formal" way. Growing up in the church, I knew God and I knew Jesus but that summer my faith became real, more potent, to use church language that summer I asked Jesus into my heart and life changed. It wasn't a huge change, I still was who I was but something was different. There was a peace, a confidence that I had because of my relationship with God that came from the inside out. Life with God felt right...life with God still feels right.

Over the years God and I have been through many ups and downs together. There have been times when everything has been great and times when I have been mad, mad, mad. God and Jesus have been those constant voices telling me when things are right, when things are wrong and when I've gone very astray. There was a time when I told God "No"...not to God being a part of my life but for my being a part of church life. God respected that and then drew me back in when the time was right. The roads that God, Jesus and I have traveled have been interesting and varied. There are some roads that I've tried to take that never seem to go anywhere and then the roads that God and Jesus lead me on that take me to places I never dreamed of going.

If God had followed the road that I thought I would be taking, I would be married with 3 kids, teaching Kindergarten somewhere. But the road that God had me traveled has me single, with so many kids of the heart it's hard to count them all, in Youth Ministry, constantly checking this website June through October and instantly on alert anytime the words "hurricane", "Katrina", "Mississippi", "NOLA" and "Pearlington" are said. And while I take no joy in the pain and heartache that Hurricane Katrina brought, I am grateful that in following the road that God had me on, I've been a part of bringing hope, joy and peace to the hearts of those that Katrina left in her wake 4 years ago.

It's not the road I would have taken, but I'm grateful to be on it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dots on a Wednesday

  • G.G. and I enjoyed our time with Payten and fam. We also enjoyed our car ride together. We didn't enjoy the people in the hotel who woke us up three times in one night but the price was right!
  • Something has died underneath the deck outside my window. It's really, really smelly. I thought about writing a poem to the dead thing under the deck but my funny side is hiding right now. Sorry, I know you all would have enjoyed it.
  • I dropped my cellphone today...again. Beginning to think I should have gotten the warranty on it.
  • I cannot get this out of my head. It's almost as bad as Meg's Get Frosty obsession. Almost.
  • A couple weeks ago the router was upgraded at the church. The goal was to get the wireless signal a little better in my office. Wouldn't you know the day that I have a bunch of Internet work to do, the darn thing kept dropping the signal. I was thisclose to throwing a huge fit. That would have been a sight to see!
  • I had something else that I was going to say but Papa Bear just interrupted the flow of my brain, so I'll leave you with these last two pictures of Payten, because I know you just have to see more! She wasn't so happy in this one. I love the little dimple in her chin. She was much more content here. (G.G. also had fun editing this pic.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

First meetings

G.G. and I made our way to Payten-land yesterday. First meetings are good.

She's got skinny, long feet and long fingers. I couldn't stop myself from taking this one. Lil Bro gave me a bad time about it but just look at that foot!Meg, this pic is just for you. What a face!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On the answering machine--update

The Pastor called me into his office today (yes, it's a Saturday, it was a church workday sprucing up the place, a job that never seems to end). Someone had called and left a message that went basically like this:

"Yeah, Hi. I go to the restaurant next door to the church. Yesterday I was there and wanted a glass of wine to go along with my food but they said they couldn't serve alcohol because the church is next door. I'm calling to see if there's something that you could do about that. They really need to serve wine with their food. So, hope there's something you can do to help them out and help me out. Thanks."

Ummmmm...couple of things here. #1, their being next door to a church doesn't seem to be the real issue. Rite Aid across the street sells alcohol and so does the liquor store next to that. I'm thinking a liquor license might not be what the owners want to get. #2. If you really need alcohol to eat the food at this establishment, I would find somewhere else to eat. Just sayin.

UPDATE: Songbird was right! CA code says:
23789.  (a) The department is specifically authorized to refuse the
issuance, other than renewal or ownership transfer, of any retail
license for premises located within the immediate vicinity of
churches and hospitals.

Friday, August 21, 2009

From Yo Momma aka New Grandma

My parents aren't excited about being grandparents at all (insert heavy sarcasm). Here's what Yo Momma has to report from the front lines.

"M(aka New Sis) brought Payten out and handed her to me. Yipee, I thought. Then I walked out into the living room and guess who says, don't I get to hold her? So much for me getting to have her."
"I figured out how to get her back. I told grandpa that his dinner was ready and he gave her right up. So Payten and I went upstairs to read mystery books together. She slept through the whole thing. J (aka Lil Bro) thought she should wake up and be fed, so he took her away. Just really can't get a real good grandma fix when people keep taking her away."
Only two more days til G.G. and I get to meet her. Yippee!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pictures

Papa Bear finally got around to sending me some pictures, so I'll share them with you.
Yo Momma and her first grandchild by blood. She's got 4 grandchildren of the heart!

Lil Bro (New Sis is in the background). His comment to me yesterday was that he had a hard time sleeping on Tuesday night. He kept listening to make sure Payten was breathing and so far she's a quiet sleeper.
Payten. Full confession time, I saw this picture and burst into tears. My favorite teacher, Mrs. C. loved to tell the story of my Aunt C. who, when I was born, burst into Mrs. C.'s classroom and danced around saying "I'm an aunt, I'm an aunt, I'm an aunt." Consider this blog my burst.

Oh, this waiting to meet her thing is really, really hard.

Side note to Cathie Mc.: I fell hard and it's just a picture :)