Saturday, October 31, 2009


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 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 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 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 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'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'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.