Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The duct tape

There are many moments from this last Mississippi trip that I will never forget. Some are lessons learned that were a little painful, others were moments where I saw God work. My favorite moment had to do with duct tape.

A few years ago my friend N decided that I needed some pink duct tape. My guitar case was getting a little beat up from the airlines and so he bought the pink duct tape and I decorated my guitar case. Last February in D-land, my poncho tore, so N again came to the rescue, this time finding pink and purple plaid duct tape. My D-land poncho is now designer gear. In April the team in Mississippi found purple tie-dyed patterned duck tape and gifted me with as a special prize for being a Jefferson Award recipient. Cousin T found out about the different patterned duct tape and decided that because she loves anything ducks, that she wanted duct tape (or as we more commonly call it "duck" tape) for Christmas. I was happy to oblige.

While in Mississippi, I went to my favorite store to dislike shopping in but the only place available, and found a whole plethora of duct tape. Zebra striped, camo, bright yellow, red and yellow tie-dyed and flame patterned to name a few. I picked up the Zebra and red and yellow tie-dyed for Cousin T. That was Monday night.

On Tuesday we stopped at the Mini-Mart out on highway 90 to grab some sodas and coffee for the crew at lunch. As we walked up to the counter to pay, the lady behind the counter stood up and, as I said in a previous post, her stool that she normally sits had flames on the seat but was patched up by silver duct tape. I knew right then that I was getting her the flame duct tape.

Wednesday we went out to lunch, so we didn't go in the mini-mart. That afternoon, Ben and I had to make a run to Lowe's for more building materials. As we drove we started talking about what was happening in Pearlington. We talked about the new market that is going in on highway 604, which lead to a discussion about the mini-mart on highway 90. Ben doesn't hold high regard for that mini-mart nor the lady behind the counter. I commented that I actually got her to smile and his reply was that was because I was from out of town and that I wouldn't be around that long to bother her. It was a pretty interesting commentary on small town life.

That night, even though I was tired and had a blog to write, I drove a group to my favorite store to dislike but there are no other options and bought the flame colored duct tape.

Thursday lunchtime arrived and I was eager to get to the mini-mart. We pulled up and I jumped out and about bounced into the store. There was the lady behind the counter sitting on her stool. I walked up to the counter and produced the duct tape..."here, it's for you!" and then it happened. The lady behind the counter didn't just smile she laughed. A deep belly laugh. A laugh of surprise, a laugh of delight, a laugh that said sounded like music to my ears. I knew right then and there that my job for the week wasn't really about getting a ramp done, it was about bringing joy to the lady behind the counter.

As we left, she offered to pay for it and I refused..."it's my Christmas gift to you," I said. "Merry Christmas" was her reply. The smile was still on her face and I hope that every time she sees flame patterned duck tape she gets a smile on her face.

It's amazing what God and flame covered duct tape can do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not a talker

I am not a talker. I don't talk just to talk. If I have something to say, I usually have thought about what it is I am saying and try to choose my words carefully. There are very few times when I ramble on and on and on about nothing. Making small talk is painful, painful I say! This can be a problem on multiple levels.

It's a problem when meeting new people. Not being a great conversationalist, meeting new people is downright hard. There are a lot of uncomfortable silences and pauses. My mind races to think of any subject that can be easily discussed without putting really saying much, which is a problem seeing as how once that one single sentence is said there are minutes worth of silence left to be filled. So I am labeled as cold or aloof or unpersonable or maybe even superior, which is not really the case. I simply struggle with small talk and don't find it necessary to say words that I don't mean.

Which is a problem in my job, which is very much a people oriented job. Small talk is necessary. I've learned to ramble on and on and on and make small talk but that comes with a price. Simply put, for every 5 minutes of small talk I need 15 minutes of recharge time. Time where I can be alone with my thoughts, to allow my brain to catch up with all the input and output, to allow my introverted soul to reflect and figure out if I said what I really meant or if words just flowed out that had no meaning.

All of this came up in my head because of a text message I got from a friend today..."You got time to chat?" The answer was convoluted. Yes, I have time but No, I don't have the words. I've used up my quota of small talk. I have been chatty over silly little things to the nth degree over the last week and I'm chatted out. More than that, I simply don't have the words for what is going on in my head and heart. "I can't chat today...rain check for tomorrow?" was my reply to my friend. She was okay with that.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ready for take off

I'm sitting in the New Orleans airport waiting for our plane. It's been a good, quick, hard week in Mississippi. The tears that threatened all day yesterday finally spilled as I pulled into the driveway at the Yellow House. That last hug with Mr. Ben, I just didn't want to let go. The finality of this trip is palpable and yet...and yet...and yet.

I wish there was another trip around the corner. I wish there was more money to do the work that needs to be done for the people who are still without homes. As we took one final drive through Pearlington today, there were far too many houses still sitting empty, just the way they were left when they were cleaned out with nature taking over. We have always left thinking that there would be a next time in the near future. There is no next time in the near future. Our job is done.

Goodbye Pearlington. Goodbye Mississippi. Thanks for the memories...the life changing memories.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The lady behind the counter

Today was a day filled with moments that tested my patience, humbleness, ingenuity, flexibility and more. There were two moments in particular that stick out. I'm only going to tell you about one, though.

Pearlington only has one little mini-mart on the outskirts of town. It's pretty rundown but is frequented by many people all day long. The lady who works in the mini-mart has never been especially friendly. At all. Sunday we stopped in there at lunch to buy some soda's. I saw the lady behind the counter and didn't expect much in the way of friendliness. She surprised me though. She recognized that we were volunteers, specifically she recognized me. Yesterday, I got a little smile out of her as we were checking out, but not much. She was friendlier though.

Today, as we approached the counter, she was standing, instead of sitting on a stool. That's when I saw that her stool had been repaired with silver duct tape. Being the observant person I am, I noticed that the seat of the stool had a cover that had flames on it. Being the duct tape aficionado that I am, it immediately occurred to me that I had seen duct tape at Wal Mart the night before that had flames on it, or at least had the same color scheme on it. I had to bring her attention to the this fact and that's when it happened. The lady behind the counter broke into a full smile and laugh. It made my day. Sammy and I decided that we need to buy the flame colored duct tape for the lady at the mini-mart.

Sometimes I forget, on these trips, that it's not just about building houses but that it's also about helping people find joy again. I'll gladly spend a few dollars every day at the mini-mart buying stuff if it means that we can help the lady behind the counter find joy in life again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

For Meggie


(Please excuse the chipping pedicure...didn't have time to deal with that before I left.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cow in the neighborhood

That was the subject line of the email I received from my mother today. It was from a neighbor. Seems she and her husband were driving home the other night and almost hit a black cow as they turned into the neighborhood.

Now if we were living in say, Central CA or Texas, on a long country road out in the middle of nowhere, then almost hitting a cow wouldn't be so shocking. But on the Central Coast of CA? Cows in the neighborhood are rare, very rare. We have stray dogs (or dogs that just run loose...grrrrr), lots of deer, plenty of squirrels, singing coyotes, fox, birds and snakes. The neighbor up the road has emu's and I think at one point they had llama's too. Somewhere in the mountains we have a mountain lion, I'm sure, but a cow? That's a new one.

There used to be someone who owned a lion. It lived up the hill from G.G. I remember it getting loose one time and the school being on lock down...or maybe I dreamed that. Somewhere in the surrounding neighborhoods there are chickens and a rooster. I'm not a fan of the rooster. I know that there are skunks out there, I've smelled them. We've had rats in the garage, but I'm pretty sure that Papa Bear eliminated them. The next door neighbor had a horse once. The local Bigfoot Museum people are convinced that a Bigfoot is living in the woods around town. But a cow in the neighborhood...that is definitely a new one.

Which brings up the question, what would you do if you walked out your front door and were greeted with a stray cow? Would you try to catch it? Would you shoo it away? Would you call animal control to come round it up? The neighbor who sent the email said that the cow just ran down the road after they came upon it with their car...they didn't hit it, don't worry. Should they have followed it to see where it went? My mind is filled with questions and I have to say, I'm a little curious about this cow, now.

I wonder if that's what has been waking me up the last few nights. I've heard the swish-swish-swish of what could be a tail brushing against the house. But usually the motion lights go on when something as small as a raccoon...oh yeah, we have raccoons too, runs down the porch. If I'm woken up again tonight, I'll have to check out what's out there.

A cow in the neighborhood. This one I really want to see.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The weekend that was and the week to come

I'm feeling accomplished tonight. There are three people left on my Christmas shopping list. All the stocking stuffers that I felt the need to get, have been gotten...oh shoot, make that four people on my Christmas list...most of the gifts have been wrapped. This going to Mississippi before Christmas thing is good for my procrastination tendencies.

The weekend and all it's stuff is behind me. Train Guy's cake was VERY well received. His eyes got huge and got that little sparkle in them that said "job well done". The Christmas Celebration at church went well, only a couple of little hiccups. It went much better than the church service that morning. I am convinced that there is a gremlin living in the sound system at church that loves to mess with us on stressful mornings.

Saturday night Meg, K and I went to see The Judds in concert. I haven't listened to Judd's music in awhile. I realized Saturday night how much I love the simplicity of Judd's music. There's no offensive or questionable lyrics, they have great harmony and Wynonna has got a set of lungs that won't quit. It occurred to me halfway through that if Yo Momma and I were to go on the road together, we would be much like the Judd's. Yo Momma would prance around and be the people person that Naomi is and I would stand behind the mike, play a guitar and sing in the spirit of Wynonna...without the the power house voice.

Tomorrow is Ice Skating night for the youth. Wednesday is my day to wrap up all the loose ends at work and pack my bags then Thursday we fly away. I think I'm ready.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

6 years ago...

Train Guy turns 6 this week. Hard to believe that 6 years have passed since he came into the world.

This year he started Kindergarten. Every Wednesday I get to meet his bus at the front of the church parking lot. He hangs out with me for a couple of hours before the church's mid-week program begins. Sometimes we have to run errands...he's not a fan. Most weeks we put a movie on while he eats his lunch. Sometimes he'll want to do a project. Pens, paper, scissors, glue, tape is all at his disposal. Most times he wants to go outside to play. Out to the playground he runs and the play begins.

Train Guy has gotten a little more affectionate in the last year. He freely gives hugs and kisses. It's pretty special to be hugged all the time. He's just a pretty happy guy...unless something isn't going his way and then the tears start. Oh the tears. It's funny what will cause those tears to happen too. Usually they start at the end of the day, when he's exerted so much energy his inner warehouse is low. That's about the time I send him back to his parents. But sometimes I get the full brunt of those tired tears. Meltdowns only happen with the one's you love, right?

Last week it was raining. Train Guy and I were charged with the task of picking up Adventure Boy from preschool. As we walked to my car, with the rain coming down, Train Guy asks "Can we put the hood down?" Ummmm...No. Driving in the rain in the convertible is no fun...done it before. Silly boy.

Today (Sunday) Train Guy celebrates his birthday by watching the original Star Wars movie (#1 to me, #4 to everyone else). I was going to put together a Lego Cake with Star Wars characters on it but at the last second I found the pan I really wanted online for pretty cheap. So Train Guy (who still needs a new nickname) will be celebrating his 6th birthday by blowing out the candles on this cake...
Happy Birthday Train Guy! May the force be with you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tonight I'm thankful for...

(because I need to focus on the good)

-->Caramel Apple Spice from Star$.

-->Hugs and kisses from Train Guy.

-->Rain.

-->A roof over my head a night.

-->Co-workers who make work enjoyable.

-->Train Guy's warning to Jeff (church custodian) as they ate lunch and watched Toy Story 2 together this afternoon "the next part is a dream...starting now."

-->Heaters.

-->A Light Blazes in the Darkness (yeah, I know, two blog shout outs...deal.)

-->Staff Breakfast tomorrow...I love breakfast out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two weeks

In two weeks I will be on a plane for Mississippi...in fact if I move my clock ahead two hours, I'll be about 40 minutes from getting off the plane in New Orleans two weeks from now (seeing as how it's 11:15am as I write this). I'm eager, anxious and happy to say that I'm also fully funded! Yay!! Anything that comes in now is icing on the cake...or building materials.

In the meantime there are things to be done in the next two weeks. Train Guy and Adventure Boy will be joining Yo Momma and I in a Christmas Tree hunt tomorrow afternoon. Train Guy turns 6 next week, so there's a cake to be made...not gonna tell you what it is yet. K, Meg and I are heading back to the 80's and hanging with The Judds in a week or so. The church Christmas Celebration (big concerty thing) happens a week from Sunday. The youth group is going Ice Skating. There's a Christmas party to attend, a couple of breakfasts to go to, a few meet-ups with folks, oh and I need to make sure all the computer stuff is together for all the worship services between now and the 26th. Did I mention just regular work stuff? Didn't even talk about getting any presents together for Christmas Day. Eh, it will all work out.

But really, what I'm trying to do right now is slow down. Seems strange, huh? The next couple of weeks are going to go really fast. Mississippi will come and go. Christmas will come and go. In my busyness and tendency to so narrowly on things, I miss the big picture. I miss seeing the good stuff come out, so this season, I want to slow down and focus, to prepare for what is coming, to enjoy the moments and savor this time.

A few years back I bought an Advent Devotional Book by the RevGalBlogPals. I was being cheap and ordered the downloadable version and never really used it. This year I decided to print out the pages, put it in a binder and read it. I'm glad I did.

I also bought a book from another blogger...who is now no longer blogging, seems to be a theme these days...that I'm planning on taking on the Mississippi trip. We read it at the end of the evening last year and I'm gonna do it again this year. It's called "A Christmas Story You've Never Heard" by Gordon Atkinson. I love his retelling of the story of Christ's birth...I may have to buy the Shepherd's story this year.

Just today I found an online Advent Calendar that is going to become part of my daily routine, this season. All things to help me savor the time of this season, to focus on the big picture and to slow down a little.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The week that was and the weeks to come

Last week I decided was going to be vacation week for me. I've been at the church for so long (10 years!) that I've accrued extra vacation time in addition to the days that I haven't taken in years past. Vacation time it was!

Monday, G.G. and I decided to head north and visit the newest member of the family, Little T as well as his cousins Bubba and Curious Guy. I played trucks with Bubba, cuddled Little T and flirted with Curious Guy...oh yeah and enjoyed the time with my cousins and aunt and uncle. Wednesday G.G. and I made the trek to Tahoe for Thanksgiving with the family. Snow had made it's arrival, leaving a couple of feet of around the house. I woke up on Thanksgiving Day thinking "it would be so much fun to make a sled run by the house". And then I remembered that I didn't really want to do that. Instead I hung out with Little Miss P. We took our picture together again. I'll have to find it and post it for the world to see!

Saturday G.G. and I went home, through the snow and the rain. As we were driving home, it occurred to me that besides the conversation in the car with G.G. about work, I hadn't really thought about work all week. I didn't pick up a single book that had to do with work. I even avoided the computer, only checking things a couple of times in the week. I didn't stress out about all the stuff going down and worry about how I'm going to make it come January if all the financial stuff goes the way it's looking like it's gonna go. I just entered into the moments and let the rest of life go by. It was lovely.

Of course, now that I'm back home, back at work, that reality is looming. But before all of that goes down, there's this trip to Mississippi** that is coming. And Christmas. And Train Guy's birthday. I started a list today of all that needs to be done between now and the 16th...it's a lot of stuff which will just continue to grow until that moment I get on a plane bound for Mississippi...which reminds me I need to add rides to the airport to that list.

Add to it, today I woke up and found that for the first time in over a year I'm getting a cold. Raw throat, semi-stuffy nose. Loveliness. Guess all that rest and non-stress isn't good for my body...or maybe it was hanging out with all those kidd0's! Oh well, not gonna let it get me down. On with the show!

**For those that are curious, I'm $180 away from my goal for the Mississippi trip. If you can throw a couple of dollars into the hat, it would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just stuff

There is much going on in life lately. Much of it, I'm just not ready to share about yet. My brain keeps spinning and spinning and spinning but the words just don't want to come out here. Sorry.

I am, however, getting anxious about the upcoming trip to Mississippi. It's been such a huge part of my life for the last 5 years, that the reality of this being the last hurrah is weighing on my heart. And lest you think that I jest about this being the last trip, I'm already exploring other opportunities for the youth for spring or summer. I'm that serious. The other day I started to write about the trips, just because I couldn't stop thinking about them. One memory sparks another and another and another. It's good but overwhelming at the same time.

My anxiety is also tied to financing for the trip as well. I've got $400 to raise still. Aack! It's doable, just stressful. If you're willing to help out go here www.ca2ms.blogspot.com for details on how to help. You can also read about past trips.

Before all that, though, it's family time. G.G. and I are taking a quick jaunt to visit the Redding part of the family before heading to Tahoe for Thanksgiving. Which means I am going to be surrounded by family and babies for the next week...so excited!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kicking myself ever since

Saturday night was a benefit concert for the Mississippi Team. It was amazing! We raised just a little under $1100 for the upcoming trip. So nice, especially considering people like me who have yet to raise all the money needed for the trip. After getting home at about 10:30 and talking with Yo Momma for awhile, I headed for bed. I checked emails and Facebook, watched a little TV and turned out the light...only to lie in bed awake with my mind racing about all 9 trips to Pearlington. At 1am I finally turned the computer back on and wrote this sentence "I need to tell you about Pearlington". A little after 1:30 I turned the computer back off...oh wait, that is a little after the second 1:30am. Daylight Savings Time really did end at 2am on Sunday morning. The clock on my computer hit 1:59am and then went back to 1am. Strangeness. Thank goodness for that extra hour!

Sunday afternoon, I was sitting with Yo Momma, sharing about the night before recalling silly little things about that first trip back in April of 2006. One thing that stood out for me as I was writing was the woman at the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance call center who got really grumpy when I asked if we could add one more person to our group of 20. She reluctantly relented and then in a snippy tone said "but no more!'. Yes ma'am. It didn't occur to me until I was writing all that down that once we actually got to the camp it was only half full and stayed that way all week. Why was one more person a problem?!

As I was relating the story, Yo Momma looked at me and said "That's it! That's the job for you! You need to be that person who sends groups out, organizes their trips, helps them find a place to serve!"

What Yo Momma didn't know and what she soon came to find out was that job came up on the Presbyterian Job site awhile back, maybe a year and a half ago, and I was really close to applying for it but one thing held me back...the job is in Louisville, Kentucky. At that time, I wasn't willing to relocate but looking back I've been kicking myself ever since.

Every now and then I check the job site, just to see if a job like that comes up...because honestly, I could really dig a job like that.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

From November 2009

I was browsing back through my blog history, checking to see if there were posts that I hadn't posted yet, sitting in the draft box. There were. I deleted some but this one, written one year and two days ago rang true again.

November 2, 2009
Why do we do the things we do? That's been rumbling through my head lately. Most of it has been focused on the church, because that's where most of my time is spent. As I observe our activities, our rituals, I wonder, why do we do the things we do?

A few years ago, I began to really dislike the word tradition. Tradition was labeled to anything that the church had done once that was mildly successful and likely to be done again. It got me thinking, what makes something tradition? For some, I learned, it all came down to what they saw as important and worth hanging onto. That was tradition. Something that they wanted to change became outdated and old. Not the same thing as tradition.

The word tradition comes up regularly in our staff meetings. I cringe every time I hear it, much the same way that those new to a ministry setting cringes when they hear those fateful words "we've always done it this way." *Sigh*

We human beings like rituals. We like traditions. We do things the same way because it's comforting, familiar, safe. There are moments when we get caught up in safety and comfort and miss the something more that's out there.

Reading the Old Testament and the Gospels it stands out to me that when we get uber comfortable with our rituals, our routines, our traditions, we get into trouble. We miss the other that is out there. The other can be things that are different, that change what we have known and mess with our pre-conceived notions of what will be. Many times, in the midst of ritual or tradition that we do for God, we miss God.

Sundays ago during the worship service we read together a part of a creed that I remember reading most Communion Sundays growing up. I said it so many times that I can recall it almost word for word without needing help. It became something we did so often, that I missed reading the words, hearing the meaning behind them. It became a ritual. That particular ritual was phased out by the next Pastor, I'm sure with some people saying "but we've always done it this way" and new rituals were added...or not. As we read it together, this particular day, something took hold in me, something that said "this isn't just a ritual, these words have meaning, they have a purpose." In all my years of reading that creed, I had missed the other. I had missed the meaning and only saw a ritual. I had missed God.

Being a life-long church girl, it's been easy to do church, to focus on the rituals and the things we do for God and miss God along the way. I'm becoming more and more uncomfortable with that. My soul feels very unsettled, unsteady and lacking. How am I to encourage participation in church to youth and young adults when the I am having a hard time finding God in the church, in the rituals, in the tradition, in the ways "we've always done things"? I am tired of missing God in church. I want to find God again and if that means that some of the rituals, the things that we do for tradition sake have got to go away, then so be it.

As a staff we've been reading a book that speaks about what we do as a body of believers. The word "relevant" keeps popping up. The church universal is definitely struggling with relevance these days...maybe it's because we're a little stuck..."we've always done things this way". Pondering it all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A dotty Tuesday

  • I left my house a little before 9am this morning. Headed to Star$. It was a necessity this morning.
  • Got to work a little before 9:30. Immediately went to staff meeting.
  • Got out of staff meeting and talked with various people. Sent a couple of emails, fixed one problem on church website.
  • Went back home to get the booster seat so that I could help K out and pick up Train Guy from the bus.
  • Got the booster seat, headed to the polling place.
  • Was almost run over by the woman in the gold prius with the nutritionist license plate holder on her car as I walked from the farther away parking area to the polling place.
  • Voted so I have the right to complain.
  • Was almost run over AGAIN by the woman in the gold prius with the nutritionist license plate holder on her car as I walked from the polling place to the farther away parking area. REALLY????!!!!!
  • Pondered how potentially running over someone could possibly make the woman in the gold prius' day go more slowly.
  • Returned to work in time to do a couple of things before meeting the bus.
  • Stood in the parking lot with LN eating chocolate pie while waiting for the bus...and met one of my neighbors.
  • Greeted Train Guy as he got off the bus. Piled him into the car and took him to his house.
  • Talked with K and Train Guy.
  • Stopped and picked up lunch.
  • Went back to work.
  • Answered two phone calls.
  • And now it's 3pm.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Five: Comfort Media Edition

KathrynNJZ @ RevGalBlogPals says:

I don't get to watch that much tv anymore, but I actually wrote today's Oprah show down on my calendar. Why? Because she is hosting a Sound of Music cast reunion!!! Those of you who know me may be surprised that I would care so much about such a stereotypically girly flick, but I love it (although admittedly fast forward through the Reverend Mother's rendition of Climb Every Mountain). I can watch this movie over and over and over again.

It seems no matter how many new movies, tv shows or books come down the pike I still have my ol' stand by favorites that I can watch/read over and over and when I do they actually bring me comfort - like an old sweatshirt or a favorite food.

Today's Friday Five is an opportunity for you to list five of your favorite 'go-to' movies/tv shows/books. You can use images, links, explanations or netflix.

I'm having trouble making
this just five things, so I'm lumping into categories: Books, Movies, TV. I'll save music for another time.

1. Books: I'm a romance book junkie. I'll just admit it and be done. I tend to read a lot of books and donate them to the library but Susan Elisabeth Phillips books I collect. Also LaVryle Spencer, though she isn't writing anymore...which is why I linked to the wikipedia page for her. I can pick any of these books up and read them over and over and over again.

2. Movies: My go to/comfor
t/watch them over and over and over again favorites:
28 Days (the NOT scary one)
Home for the Holidays
Gone in 60 Seconds
Speed.
There are too many Disney movies to mention. BUT if I'm in the need for a really, really good cry Steel Magnolias and Life as a House will get the tears flowing every time!

3. TV: These days there isn't much that I watch on TV. I do a lot of channel surfing. Guaranteed, though, if one of these shows is one, I will stop and watch it.
NCIS

Gilmore Girls
Everybody Loves Raymond
The Cosby Show
Friends
The West Wing
Doesn't matter how many times I've seen the episodes, I still watch them over and over again. Oh, and McLeod's Daughters.
It's an Australian Show that I saw twice and was hooked. Thank God for Netflix and instant watch!

Hmmm...rain is threatening, it's my day off...comfort media, here I come!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Being transparent

There was a blogger that I used to read all the time who had label for posts titled "crap I'm tired of". She disappeared awhile back after the church she worked for did her WAY wrong. Blog taken down and everything. I recently found her again. I'm a little stalkerish like that. I don't think I ever commented on her blog, but I loved the words she said, the way she said things and that label "crap I'm tired of".

It's hard not being anonymous on this blog. It's hard because there are things that I want to say, things that I need to say but this isn't a safe place to say them...too many eyes see this page and it gets unsafe sometimes. Which is okay. I set it up that way, partly to edit what I say, to put some limits on how much is shared in this space. It's a filter that helps me say what I really mean, knowing that an unknown audience is out there reading my words.

Today a part of me wants to unburden myself, let everything just spill out but the saner part of me will borrow a label from a blogger I appreciated and admired just say that there's a lot of "crap I'm tired of" on my plate. If that gets me in trouble, so be it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Things making me happy edition

In no particular order some things making me happy at the moment:
  • The sound of rain hitting the deck outside my window.
  • NCIS re-runs.
  • Pumpkin Patches, Hay Bale Maze and youth who don't whine too much because of said rain.
  • Dark Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and I don't like dark chocolate that much!
  • The joyous expressions on the faces of the SF Giants players as they finally ended the torture that was the playoffs...though that means there's World Series torture to come. I don't really even like baseball, but I know that winning can be easier!
  • Library books.
  • Laughing with new friends.
  • Older friends who get it and aren't afraid to prod me gently.
  • Pictures of Little Miss P on my wall, computer and phone...though they make me a little teary.
  • Emi-pie calling me "Auntie Bertney".
  • Train Guy's smile as three fabulous church folk greet him at the school bus with song.
  • Family dinner with G.G. and Kappy.
  • A place to call home.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running through my head

There's a news story that just posted on our local newspaper website. Seems there was a road rage incident that wound up with one guy hacking at another guy with a machete. The machete guy was tazed by the CHP officers that just happened to be in the parking lot that the incident ended in. My mind is having a hard time wrapping itself around that.

Someone I know posted something on Facebook today that had me wanting to hide their status updates (ok, honestly, this person has posted insensitive stuff before and I'm almost at my wits end). It was about someone they didn't even know, just a news item they happened to see but took the time to post on Facebook how dumb the other person was. That's helpful.

Another friend has been asked recently by people why she isn't "over it" yet. By "over it" they mean why is she still grieving the loss of her husband. Hmmm...yeah.

Within hours of the Chilean miners being rescued there were people commenting left and right about the faults of one or more of the miners. I also saw a news article about how much those sunglasses cost that the miners wore as they came back to sunlight after 69 days in a cave. Don't celebrate the good in humanity too long! Make sure the bad is pointed out right away!

I get that life is hard and that we are all dealing with our own stuff but what happened to compassion for other people? What happened to thinking about how other people are feeling and recognizing that we all are fallible people?

Just what's running through my head today.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's a boy!

Cousin V had a big weekend. Meet Talan. 8lbs 5oz born on Saturday morning. G.G. reports he's got a full head of dark brown hair. He's a keeper!

Congrats Cousin V and Josh! And Thanks Cousin D for the pics! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Belated Birthday post

I started three posts this week and deleted them all. Kind of feeling a little *bleh*. I've talked a lot and listened a lot this week and now I'm worn out.

But I realized that I didn't share pictures from my road trip in September. Yo Momma asked what I wanted for my birthday and I said "I want to go to Disneyland." And so we did. Can I just say, Disneyland is probably the best place to be on your birthday. You can get a button like this that they personalize for you and all day long people will stop to wish you Happy Birthday. It's very lovely...even at 36. :)
Yo Momma was a good sport. She rode California Screamin' (we were too cheap to buy the picture so we took a picture of the picture), went to the top of the Fun Wheel with me (in the non-rocking cars, thankyouverymuch) and was a great D-land partner. She didn't know I was taking this picture our first time through Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but I had all kinds of fun! The Jonas Brothers were there shooting a commercial on my birthday. It may or may not be them standing on the stage in front of the castle...not that you can really see that in this picture.I didn't know who it was when I took the pic...still don't really care, to be honest. All I know is they were in the way of my getting a picture in front of the castle on my birthday...so we took one the next day. :) It was a great birthday. Thanks Yo Momma!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cake and deer

Adventure Boy turned 4 this week. He requested a blue angel cake. No, not a blue angel food cake. A blue angel PLANE cake. It was easier than I anticipated. Not 100% satisfied with it but I did love the recipe I found for yellow cake. It was yummy!

BTW, in case you are wondering, Rice Krispy Treats that you buy in the store don't get stale. I tried to make them stale...it didn't work.

In other news, there are some new residents at our house. Two of them are a little camera shy, but Buck was fine posing for the picture. He just wasn't gonna get up.I've told them that they are welcome to stay as long as they don't eat the roses, lemon leaves or dahlias. We'll see if they comply.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dream Job

The Friday Five over at RevGals had a bonus question today. It was "What would be your Dream ministry job include".

I got stuck on that question and haven't been able to really think about the others. My dream job is multifaceted. Ever since I first led a Snow Trip with youth, I've thought about buying property in Tahoe and building a retreat house. Not a retreat center with a bunch of cabins, but a multi-level house that 20-30 youth and their leaders could rent for the weekend for a reasonable cost. (Okay, there would be one cabin, away from the main house all for me...I need my sleep.) It always bugs me when I try to find places to rent, then need to rent vehicles and all that and the trips wind up costing over $200 for the weekend and that doesn't include snowboarding or skiing! Being the host at a retreat house would be part one.

At the same time I would like to be that person who helps teams of young people, help others in disaster response situations. Organizing and planning trips, finding the best deal, helping a group connect with serving others, all of it excites and motivates me. Watching young people make the connection between service and faith is powerful. I'm already doing that part of the job.

Part three would be a lot of what I'm doing already, helping young people make connections with faith in God. I could do without the pressure of the church setting, where it's more about conformity to a set of ideals that may or may not represent what is biblical. I'm not sure what the ideal setting would be, I just know that it's not exactly the one in which I currently work.

The fourth part would be time to write, dedicated time to write. I have so much whirling in my brain, books, articles, columns that would love to be written just not the time or energy to do so.

So there it is, my dream job in four parts. Host, organizer, connector and writer. Maybe one day...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Survey in the news

In the days of headlines that are meant to shock and outrage people, I shook my head and sighed heavily when I read the headline "Christian's Don't Know Much About Religion." I just wanted to head the other direction and ignore the headline.

But today I took some time to do a little digging around on this survey and I was surprised. The way the headline's read, I thought that meant that the whole survey was on Christianity and that Christian's didn't know the basic principles of their own faith. That's not what the survey is completely about, though. Yes, there are questions on there that Christians should know, absolutely. But the word religion, used in this context, isn't just Christianity. The survey asked questions about Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Mormonism as well...it also asked who the Vice President of the U.S. was and 41 out of 100 people didn't know the answer but that didn't get highlighted in the news reports...sigh.

As I read the survey and the results it struck me that unless we are specifically interested in learning more about the faith beliefs of others, we would be ignorant of the answers to some of the questions. I only know the name of the Hindu Deity's or when Mormonism was founded because I've done a study on religions with the youth group. I'll admit, sometimes I'm just not curious enough to ask the questions about other religions. When I do ask questions, though, the more I understand what compels people to believe one thing or another.

One of the other big parts of this headline was that atheists and agnostics know more about religion than Christians. Of course agnostic and atheists would know more than the average Christian. In order to not believe in something, it makes sense that some research has been done to figure out why others believe. As Christians many times we aren't willing to look at other religions and figure out what they are about. It's not even tolerance that I'm talking about, it's simply being curious about why other's believe what they believe.

So the headline's are partly right. But the issue isn't as cut and dried as the headlines make it. Now, I'm going to look up who Maimondes is so that I get that answer right!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Last February my phone rang, “Brittany, this is Teresa at KSBW, can you give me a call?” That one phone call impacted my life in an extraordinary way. I quickly found myself on the receiving end of a Jefferson Award (www.jeffersonawards.org) for the work that I’ve done, with the help of some amazing people, in Pearlington, Mississippi. It was while in Mississippi last March that I found out that I was heading to Washington DC to take part in the National Jefferson Awards. What a whirlwind!

At the National Jefferson Awards, I gave a one minute speech on the work we’d done in Pearlington. After the speech, a young woman approached me. This young woman had grown up in Pearlington and had evacuated with her family to Memphis as Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. Meeting someone from Pearlington, a town of 1700-2000 before the storm, at a dinner of 500 people astounded me. It was humbling, to say the least, to look into the eyes of a teenager and hear her say “Thank you for helping my town.” In that moment the power and mystery of God overwhelmed me.

This December I am going back to Pearlington, one last time. There are not enough words to express the impact serving in Pearlington has made on my life. I know that none of it would have been possible without God’s compelling force and my family and friends who have supported me for NINE trips! I am truly grateful for the support and care that y’all have shown over the last four and half years.

I humbly ask again for that support and care. This trip will cost approximately $750 per person, which is the amount I need to raise before getting on the plane on December 16th. If you are able to help, even just a few dollars, I would appreciate it. Checks can be sent payable to “FPC Youth” to FPC, ATTN: Mississippi Team, 6090 Highway 9, Felton, CA 95018 or you can make a donation through PayPal on our blog www.ca2ms.blogspot.com. Please make sure to note that you are sponsoring me! All donations are tax-deductible and a receipt will be mailed to you.

If you aren’t able to financially support me, would you be willing to support me through prayer? We know from experience, that prayer is even more important than finances on these trips.

Thank you, in advance, for your support and for your prayers. I know that I’ve asked a lot over the last four years and a half years and I don’t take your support lightly. Thank you for helping me, help the people of Pearlington.

In Christ,

Brittany

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In the news

When I was going into high school, I went to camp with a friend. The camp took us to some caverns nearby and we went exploring. I'd been in caves before but never like this. We had jumpsuits, headlamps and we were crawling through the cave. At one point I was overwhelmed with the feeling of not being able to get back out. I can still feel the panic coursing through my body.

Today is September 26th. On August 22nd thirty-three miners in Chile were trapped in a copper and gold mine. The news article I read today said that it will likely take until November for the miners to all be rescued. NOVEMBER!!! I can't imagine what those miners are going through.

Praying today that the rescue work will go quickly and smoothly and that the miners and their families will be reunited sooner than November!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Five: Music in life and worship

It's been awhile since I've joined in the fun!

Marybeth over at RevGalBlogPals says: Music is a part of the human experience, and part of religious traditions the world over. It is evocative and stirring, and many forms of worship are incomplete without it.

Our title comes from a quote popularly attributed to St. Augustine: "He who sings prays twice." A little Googling, however, indicates that Augustine didn't say exactly that. In fact, what he said just doesn't fit well onto a t-shirt. So we'll stick with what we have.

"Singing reduces stress and increases healthy breathing and emotional expression. Singing taps into a deep, age-old power available to all of us. When we find our voice, we find ourselves. Today, sing like you mean it." And let's talk about the role music plays in your life and worship.

1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?)
I sing all the time. In the car, in the shower, in worship, in the store, when I wake up, when I'm going to sleep. Music is constantly running through my head...I woke up several times this last week singing the theme songs to the rides I'd been on the day before (In the tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room...it's a small world after all...yo ho, yo ho a pirates life for me...sorry if they get stuck in your head too!). Listening to others sings makes me happy as well!

2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience.
Music has always been a part of my worship experience. Over the years God has spoken to me more and more through the words in songs, helping to connect the emotional part of my soul with words.

3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall?
It depends on the moment. Because I connect to God a lot through music, I think that I would miss that element in a worship gathering but I've been able to worship God without it as well. Music enhances how I worship God.

4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things!
I prefer music that I connect with. I don't connect with the sound of an organ. That doesn't mean that I don't love hymns! I tend to connect with the sound of a band, (guitars, keyboards/piano, bass, drums). I love the sound of voices singing in harmony in praise of God. If that's to hymns or praise songs, it's fine. I currently lead the worship team at my church, which consists of a band. We aren't the most happening thing ever but our goal isn't to be on the cutting edge, just to point people to God. That is what is important in worship to me.

5) What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points!
It's a go-to artist...no one who knows me will be surprised by this...Amy Grant. She didn't write this song, but she sings it well! I would embed the video, but youtube won't let me. :(

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beignets

I love beignets. I love them. Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans is just about my favorite place. Making beignets at home, they just don't turn out the same. So when I heard that the place I'm at had beignets, nothing was going to stop me from getting them!

Right now, this particular place has gingerbread beignets. I really don't care, as long as they are good. Yo Momma put our order in and waited. Out they came. They came with two dipping sauces, one is an eggnog cream and the other raspberry. The beignets were good, not like Cafe Du Monde, but they were good. I didn't notice any gingerbread flavor though.

As we were paying for our lunch and beignets, the waitress took our check and went to get change. She came back and said "There was a change in your bill. You didn't get the gingerbread beignets, so I had them take the charge off." What is that? These were the regular ones? We just got an order of beignets for free? Won't find me complaining! In fact, I'll be back tomorrow to try the gingerbread ones out! :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Road trip!

Yo Momma and I are on Road Trips this week. Road Trip #1 took us for Cousin V's baby shower. Auntie R joined in that adventure. It was a good time with a lot of laughs. That was a quick adventure, though cuz I had to be back home for church this morning. As of 10:30am this morning I am officially on vacation and I'm spending that time somewhere that I love. Getting to the somewhere that I love, though, required some driving. So we hoped in the magical gas-lesser car and braved the road.

I am here to tell you that people lose their brains when they get behind the wheel of a car. I do not jest. Something switches off and people just go out of their minds! We drove a very long straight road for a very long time. There are many trucks that travel along said road. The many trucks meant that the people who wanted to turn said road into the CA version of the Autobahn were slowed down many a time, especially when said road is only has two lanes in each direction. There were many who figured that if the left lane was slow and the right lane appeared free then they should drive there. Which they did only to cut off people in the left lane when the right lane slowed down. Some people figured that if they were close enough to the bumper of the car in front of them, that car would then go faster even if there were cars in front of that one preventing that from happening!

There were the vehicles towing things that were DEFINITELY not going the 55mph limit. One was driving so fast that the wind was tossing the trailer back and forth. I thought for sure that the trailer was just going to tip right over. I haven't ever pulled a trailer, but I have had a car full of teenagers playing football in the car (oh the stories) and I know how hard it was to drive with them moving all over the place. I'm sure it's pretty comparable.

There were the occasional road boulders or turtle drivers, those people who insist on going 5-10mph under the speed limit and drive in the passing lane and won't pull over no matter what because there are trucks in the other lane that they might come upon at any moment and heaven forbid they move!

My personal favorites, though, were the people who would ride the bumper of the magical gas-lesser car until Yo Momma or I pulled it into the slower lane (which we drove in most of the time) only to then take FOREVER to pass. Grrrrrr.....

In all fairness, I like to drive faster than I should but driving on trips like these remind me that my brain needs to be engaged, that courtesy on the road is not such a bad thing and that driving the speed limit (or a wee bit above) is usually a good idea.

Luckily the car is parked in a lovely space at a lovely hotel and it will not have to be moved unless we want to move it for the next few days. We'll be on foot or bus...and I'll tell you all about it as the week goes by!

In the meantime, this movie from 1950 is very much apropos for today.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Power of words

I've never been one to speak an over-abundance of words. Being a shy person, small talk is extremely painful, so I tend to be silent, which tends to be taken as being a snob, when the exact opposite is usually true. I like people (mostly) and am pretty easy to get along with, it's just hard to talk to people that I don't know. Sometimes it's hard to talk to people I do know.

Words have power. I've been on the receiving end of a many a painful word. That whole sticks and stones and words thing isn't as true as we would like to tell kids. Words can hurt. I tend to err on the side of extreme caution and try not to use words that will harm others. Some I know say it's silly, that they would prefer to just tell things straight out, people be darned. I can't do that. I pick and choose my words carefully (as the delete button on my computer will tell you). It's a safeguard for my feelings, really. If I choose not to say words that might strike others as wrong, I then won't be rejected and hurt by the other person. All of that means that there are a lot of words that run through my head all the time. Most of the time the words stay hidden in my head. Never to see the light of day.

There are moments, though, when I let the words come out. I still edit and try to tread carefully but sometimes the words just come out. It's like there's a balloon in my throat that expands with every word I swallow until it just can't hold anymore and it pops, letting the words that have been trapped inside come flowing out in a gush. When the person on the receiving end of the words is receptive, I am reassured that expressing the words that I keep trapped inside can be a good thing. However when the other person rejects those words, they essentially reject me and the message is sent "words are dangerous, keep silent."

Lately that balloon has popped a number of times. A few times the words have landed on safe places but far too often the words have been rejected thus I am rejected...messed up, I know, that's why I'm writing it out. Some of the words, I'm not sorry for saying, they needed to be said though I'm sad that they were rejected. Some of the words I just wish I could take back and let live in my head again. I remain convinced that words have a deep, deep power to hurt not just the receiver but the one who gives voice to the words.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A lemon tree

Last July I asked Lil Bro, while he was here, to help me move my lemon tree. I've had the lemon tree for several years. A couple of summers ago it exploded with lemons. I had lemons the size of softballs, which wound up being a lot of rind and little lemon, but that was okay. I had fresh lemons.

The lemon tree has been in a place where it's protected from the winter frost but over the last year it's barely blossomed at all. It was a little too protected. Branches had started growing through the deer netting that covered the top and most of the sides but not the bottom, which was noticeable because the bottom branches were stripped bare of leaves. It wasn't quite protected enough.

So it was moved to a better place, where there is more direct sun and room to branch out, instead of up like it's been doing. I bought new deer fencing and poles and surrounded the lemon tree. I watered it well and then walked away. I noticed that there were a couple of lemons forming on the tree but that was about all.

A week ago, as I was watering the lemon tree, I noticed that there were a lot of blossoms on the tree. The bottom branches, bare of leaves, now exploded with blossoms. It was like that all over. A bee was buzzing it's way through, landing on blossom after blossom. The top of the tree wasn't straining toward the sun anymore, it was relaxing in the warmth of the sun's rays. The branches are already growing and pushing at the deer fencing...gonna have to take care of that soon. Tonight, I noticed the beginning of 8 or 9 new lemons with many, many more blossoms still to open.

With a one little move and some extra attention my lemon tree, that I was pretty sure was dying, has had a resurgence of life. It occurs to me, that my faith life is much the same. There are times when I am full of bloom, full of vitality and life. Times when all is going well and much fruit is being produced. Then there are times when all productivity ceases. When I'm straining, reaching for any glimpse of the Son that I can get, when my faith gets stripped bare and death is imminent. It's in those places that I forget that I can move. That I NEED to move. That to survive, I need a change of scenery, that I need to ask someone to help me move into the Son again...and then I need to relax in the warmth of the ray's of the Son and allow the healing and growth to begin again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday

Train Guy comes and hangs out on Wednesdays. The bus drops him off after his morning of kindergarten in the church parking lot. It's a quick walk up the stairs for me to pick him up. We're still working into a routine, seeing as how this is only week three. Yesterday it was lunch at my desk and a Veggie Tales movie before Snack Time started.

Snack Time is our mid-week kid's program and Train Guy is loving it. They play games, do crafts, sing, listen to Bible Stories and more. I think the thing that Train Guy loves most is the playing. In fact I know it is. After Snack Time was over and I picked him up and told him it was time to go meet his parents at their office. "But I don't want to go to the office!" he said. "I want to play!" The need to play was so intense that he brokered a deal for two more minutes and raced back to the playground. It's good.

But my favorite moment of having Train Guy yesterday was as we were pulling out of the parking lot. It was kind of overcast and chilly yet Train Guy said, "I want the roof down." And so we drove down the road in the convertible with the roof down. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to a convertible convert, 5 year old Train Guy. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fresh perspective

After spending four days with teenagers, whom I love to pieces and wouldn't trade for anything, I have a two thoughts:

#1--I am so glad I am not a teenager anymore.
#2--Yo Momma and Papa Bear, I am sorry.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beneath the surface

Beneath the surface they bubble and percolate.
They stew and stir until there is no holding back
And it explodes...

Into a flurry of voice raising, pitch raising, eye raising
WORDS.

These words pour out onto shoulders
That hold them and listen
That carry the burden
That understand and empathize
That relate.

Beneath the surface the bubbling slows,
Percolating stops.
The stewing and stirring lessen
The explosion has ceased...for now.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five years

(This blog cross posted at our Felton to Pearlington blog)

It's hard to believe that 5 years have gone by since Hurricane Katrina demolished the Gulf Coast. I've been watching all the news stories, reading a lot of articles and reminiscing over the last 5 years. The focus has largely been on New Orleans, but here or there I've seen little things on the towns all along the Gulf Coast that are still struggling to recover as well. Of course, my thoughts have been on Pearlington...rightly so!

Tom D. and Ms. Denise were featured on CNN briefly, talking a little about the recovery efforts. I'm linking the video, so you can see. They are in the first minute of the 3 minute story.



As Tom and Soledad O'brien were walking in front of the Community Center (the red building) I got a little reminiscent of the first time we saw Pearlington. That lot was filled with blue plastic buildings and was the site of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Camp. Right next door was the parking lot for the Post Office...that wasn't there anymore. Members of our team painted Ms. Denise's house, helped install doors and things inside as well. Her husband, Ricky, is the one who worked with one of our crews out at Captain John's house, digging holes for the pilings and beginning the building process. I've driven past Ms. Denise's house way too many times to count seeing as she lives next door to Ben! Watching that short minute of video, it was like heading home again.

I can honestly say, that when God planted the seed of helping with Hurricane Katrina Recovery, I never, EVER thought that we would be going more than once, let alone 9 times with a potential 10th trip on the horizon. Nor would I have imagined meeting people who became friends within moments of meeting. Hurricane Katrina left a lot of damage in her wake, but she also compelled, at least this soul, to do something worthwhile and important. To tell a better story with her life. I'm proud of the story that God is telling through the team at FPC.

Tonight, as I went to write this blog, there was a comment on my personal blog. It was from Chelsea, the young woman I had the honor of meeting in DC at the Jefferson Awards who lived in Pearlington when the hurricane hit. Her parents are starting to rebuild. Her school wants to do a service day. They need our help. The story is not done...5 years later.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This, that and another thing

Today I learned that Pearlington, Mississippi will be featured on Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN tomorrow, Thursday the 26th (7pm CA time). Tom D. with Mountains to Mississippi spent time last week giving a tour of Pearlington to Soledad O'Brien. I'm setting my VCR (yes, so old school) and anxious to see what they say and what places they highlight! Tune in yourselves to get a look at the town that has made such an impact in my life. Wonder if the yellow house will be highlighted. Hmmmm...

In other Pearlington related news, I've been talking with Tom and Ben about going back in December. Nothing has been decided officially. The work has slowed down tremendously, but there's still the matter of a ramp that needs to be finished. *Sigh*

On to something completely different. Train Guy started school this week. Wednesdays he will be taking the bus to the church, hanging out with me for a couple of hours and then going to Snack Time, our kids program. Today we met with a couple of Young Adults at the local Taqueria at lunch. Train Guy has a tendency to be a little shy at times, so it took a while to warm up to the Young Adults. At one point, though, Z leaned over and whispered to Train Guy. I heard what they were saying, but pretended like I didn't and said "Hey, what are you guys whispering about." Train Guy looked at me, smiled and said "Secrets." Yep, he's old enough for school.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Train Guy

Today was Workday at the Church. Time to pull out the cleaning supplies, weed whackers and paint brushes and make the church look a little better. I've been bugged by the floor in our social hall, so I decided to tackle that monstrosity...my body is telling me I tackled that monstrosity well.

Yo Momma and I arrived to see Train Guy with a huge broom in his hands, sweeping up the leaves and branches that Kanda was cutting. They seemed to be working well as a team and that proved to be true all morning long. They were a pair. They trimmed a hedge, Train Guy on the low part, Kanda on the higher parts. They came in for a break together, they took pictures of people working, they took pictures of each other. They had conversations about the Good Samaritan and helping others and more and more and more. Wherever Kanda went, Train Guy was sure to follow.

At one point Train Guy (who needs a new nickname, BTW) came over to talk with me. I asked how he was doing and this is what he said, "The work is kind of boring and my back is hurting." Sounds like he's much older than 5, doesn't he? That didn't mean that he wasn't having fun though.

Kanda remarked at one point that she couldn't have gotten as much done without his help. She really meant it too. Which makes me grateful for a church family who encourages, supports and cheers on the youngest in our midst.

Just for the record, Train Guy also made Miss Shirley's day. He gave her a hug without any prompting. He's a keeper!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One year

It's hard to believe it but Little Miss P is One today. Upon our first meeting, I decided that we were going to take our picture together, one of those hold the camera as far out as possible and get your faces close together things. It's just a fun reminder of how she's growing and a fun way to be Auntie B!

She's been pretty good about looking at the camera...until this weekend. And then we got this...
And this...
And this...Oh well, it's still a picture together!

I think Little Miss P is pretty sweet...so do a lot of others including G.G. and Cousin Anthony.Happy 1st Birthday Little Miss P! You are loved!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The sun will come out...

All week at VBS we've had foggy mornings. It's been a blessing, really. For the last 10 years or so, we've had VBS in the afternoons when the temperature INSIDE the church hits 80. I can't tell you how many times I've collapsed in a heap of sweat at the end of the afternoon saying "never again". HA!

This summer has been the coldest on record for us in 30 years. After my week in the heat and humidity of Washington DC, I've enjoyed this cold summer. But today at VBS was fire truck day. The local fire department is kind enough to come out and hose down the kids for about 10 minutes at the end of our time together and all week the sun has stayed hidden behind the fog until 1pm or so.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook that it would be nice if there was sun for the fire truck, but pretty unlikely. And this morning in VBS we prayed "God, please let the sun come out for the fire truck." About an hour before the truck was to come, the fog started to disperse and at 11:30am, when we opened the doors and the kids go play, it was sunny and warm. Yes!

The best part of this story is this. We've been working on a Bible Memory Verse all week that goes something like this "Keep on asking and you will receive. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Luke 7:7-8)

Yep, God is even teaching the leaders some lessons this week.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Just Be

I was up early this morning. After two nights of not sleeping well, I was extra tired this morning. It was definitely a coffee morning.

I was the first to arrive at church. That's becoming more and more common lately. This morning, though, as I was turning on lights and getting things ready for the VBS kids, I became aware of the silence. It was a peaceful silence that urged me, begged me, to sit and listen. To pray, to breathe, to be still. So I was still. I listened to the silence and said a quick prayer. It was the only moment all day long that I truly felt at peace.

Mornings are not my thing. Even knowing that I need to be up early, it's hard to get to bed and settle down before 10 or 11 most nights...sometimes even later. The nights are when I can hide away from the world and let myself re-energize. To have a moment in the morning where I felt energized and ready to go was different. I can see why people get up extra early to spend time with God in the morning. It was good.

Doesn't mean I'm going to change my patterns. It does mean that I'm going to be more careful to listen to that voice, the one that urges me to stop what I'm doing and breathe, pray, listen and be still. That voice that says just "be". Good things happen when I stop and listen to God.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Randomness

Today was the first day of VBS. We switched things up this year and moved our time from the afternoon to the morning. Part of the reasoning was that it gets really hot in the afternoon. God was either really listening and wanting to help or is laughing at us this week. It's probably the coolest (weather wise) August we've had ever. Not being a morning person, I can guarantee that Star$ is going to be getting a lot more business from me this week. It's not like helping at the street down the church where all I do is step in and do the music, this time I have to be "on" for 3 hours...in the morning...oh yes, coffee is needed even if it is all psychological.

I got to talk with Opinionated Friend today. She moved to Rome at the beginning of July and it's the first time we've had to really catch up. It's interesting to hear the experiences she's having and the things she's noticing about life in Europe vs. life in the U.S. A lot more happening in the world than we hear about over here.

Tuesday night Train Guy and Adventure Boy were over, along with Emi-Pie and Nat. It's so fun to have these kids in my life. At one point I came downstairs to find all four of them piled on my bed watching a movie...they had started off in different rooms because one wanted to watch one movie and all the others another. It was nice to listen to them giggle and laugh and have fun together...all the while enjoying the view from the deck with Meg and K. Grateful for friends and their kids.

Speaking of kids...Miss Payten, Train Guy and Adventure Boy got to meet for the first time at G.G.'s birthday. Adventure Boy stood by Miss Payten's playpen for a longtime, at one point he was singing softly to her. Heart melting moment. Love these kiddo's.At that same party, Shirley flirted a little with Papa Bear. I caught her in action. It's hard not to smile when Shirley is around.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dear Neighbors,

When you have your next gathering, please be kind and have the squealing girls and the guys dropping the f*bombs in the loudest voices possible go inside at midnight. In the quiet of the dead of night your voices really do carry very, very far. The rest of us in the neighborhood really don't care to hear your conversations...or squeals...or swearing. Really.

Thank you,
A tired, irritated neighbor trying to be nice, who next time will get out of bed and figure out where you are and call you and not be so nice.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's all my fault

It's all my fault.

Last September when we started talking about VBS (Vacation Bible School) for this year, I made the crazy suggestion that we do our OWN thing. Not go through a box, but actually come up with everything ourselves. So off we went. Next week when kids come through the door they will be going "On the Road with Jesus". Nice catchy title isn't it? On the Road...hmmm, makes me think of a song...

When I was little we would start to drive somewhere on a trip and Yo Momma would start singing "On the Road again". Fast forward a few years and Yo Momma started driving on youth trips...and would sing into the walkie talkies "On the Road again..." my youth group picked that one up quickly. We go on a trip and somewhere along the way they will start singing, "On the Road again..."

So when I started thinking about songs for VBS, I thought of that song. I adjusted the lyrics for our audience and gave a copy to Train Guy and Adventure Boy for their approval.

K said to me yesterday "Adventure Boy got up this morning and started singing 'On the road again'. I couldn't figure out when he'd been listening to Willie Nelson and then remembered the CD." Turns out Adventure Boy has been listening to the CD every night as he falls asleep or in the morning or whenever he wants to. He's gonna have the lyrics to the songs down pat...

And it's all my fault.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Belated Birthday Love

I bought my Uncle a birthday card. It's still in the trunk of my car. His birthday was on the 15th.
I didn't get one for G.G. Helped throw a party for her instead.
Yo Momma left town and I realized I had done nothing for her birthday. NOTHING! And so I started to post this yesterday on her birthday, got distracted and realized I had failed again! Sigh.

In lieu of a Birthday Card, here are 10 of the things I love about Yo Momma.

10. She is a mother through and through, always wanting to take care of the people she loves.
9. That she isn't afraid to try something new...hence the text messages with words spelled wonky.
8. Her fierce loyalty and support of her children. Don't mess with Yo Momma!
7. I love singing with her...even in the morning.
6. Her laugh and smile.
5. Her generosity and kindness to others. She makes friends everywhere! (Okay, sometimes that gets
annoying but in general, I love it.)

4. How she willingly adopts people into her family...thus the many children and grandchildren that
aren't related by blood.3. Yo Momma's cooking is the bomb!
2. Her hugs.
1. That she's my mom and my friend!

So, Happy Birthday Yo Momma! I'm pretty proud to be your kid.Meg (an "adopted" one), Me and Yo Momma in June.