Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wow

That's all I can really say right now is Wow.

I'm in Mississippi. The Jefferson Award Ceremony for my region was tonight...2000 miles away from where I am. Three fantastically wonderful friends went to the Ceremony in my place. They sent pics and texts and called and were wonderfully wowed by it all. And then there was nothing. No calls, no pics, no texts. The team here in Mississippi with me wanted to know...what's going on!

So I sent a text. "Debbie wants to see more pictures". And I got this text. "You won! You are going to DC!". NO.WAY! "Don't joke with me about this" was my response. And then the phone rang and there was much noise and hoopla and shouts and acclamations and some pretty silly happy dancing...and that was all in Mississippi. I melted into the floor when it finally sunk in...you think I'm joking...no joke. On the floor.

After a tumultuous 24 hour period in which I've had fun, frustration, dilemma's and more, to be told that the things that we are doing in Mississippi is worthy of being honored...it just is too much. I think my soul is overflowing...I know my head is racing so fast that I can barely think...it's just so cool, such an honor and completely overwhelming. Not just for me. Papa Bear could barely speak when I told him. He handed the phone to Yo Momma and couldn't get back on...that probably speaks more than any "I'm proud of you" he could say.

I'm blessed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Learning curve

There are things that one learns on trips with other people. Good things sometimes, tough things other times, annoying things often. I'm sure there are a number of annoying things about me (and I'm not saying that to be humble, I annoy myself sometimes). I caught myself doing one of those things today and decided to walk away from a situation so that other's could achieve. It all worked out but I was annoyed with myself for being annoying. Yeah, logic missing.

Anyway, on trips with others where we co-reside in a home we learn who snores, who talks in their sleep, the person who wakes up the fastest, who is perkiest in the morning and who isn't (me!), who will be the first to volunteer to help with something and the last. We learn who keeps things super neat and who loses all their stuff within the first 15 minutes of arriving. We learn who will be the last one out of the house in the morning (Debbie), who takes the longest showers (Sammy), who needs the shortest amount of time to get ready in the morning and who talks until they fall asleep.

It's fascinating getting to know people on a deeper level, learning to navigate the nuances, dance around the unknown and completely unexpected, yet expected, when people snap after being pushed to their limits. I like knowing where the limits are for others, it's a good thing to know just how much teasing one can take and when to back off.

Then there are those gem moments. Those moments when someone does or says something that makes the room erupt, usually in laughter. No kidding. I thought I knew a lot about Harold and Kanda, I really did, but when in the midst of conversation Kanda said "Oh, they just need to eat green weenie's and die." I realized that I did not know them as well as I thought. It even stunned Joe who spent much of his life at their house. It stunned Kanda and Harold who claim they make that statement all the time and couldn't believe that none of us had heard it before. Believe me, haven't heard it...would have remembered it...am going to remember it from now on!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mississippi Check list

Breakfast/lunch at Cracker Barrel--check.
Two hour gaggle about work projects this week--check.
Work projects change--check.
Ben giving me a bad time about anything he could--check.
Other Ben (Tom's son) giving me a bad time about paint colors--check.
Time spent listening to a local with lots on their heart--check.
Obligatory shopping trip to Wal-Mart--check.
Time spent on deck overlooking bayou--check.
Initial run to Lowes for supplies--check.
Laughter over the breakfast/lunch and dinner table--check.
1st person injured--check. (Not even on the job)
No-seeums (that you CAN SEE) swarming--check.
California girl operating on 4 1/2 hours sleep going to bed--check!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I spent the day with Songfriend and Todd T. It was the first time we'd hung out since October of 2008. Way too long. But good to catch up, to sit, talk "shop" and life and be grateful for the places that life has taken me and the people I've met along the way.

The morning started at the local newspaper, getting my picture taken. They are doing a story on the Jefferson Award, which is nice. I don't need the publicity, but it did get me thinking about this community in which I grew up and have chosen to live. I'm grateful for the people who have helped shape me into the person I am, whether that be family, friends or the members of the community I've come into contact with along the way. This award isn't just about the things that I do to help others, but about the people along the way who have taught me compassion, integrity, helped shape my sense of right and wrong, encouraged me and joined with me in the journey in Pearlington. I'm very blessed.

Tonight began with the packing of my bag for trip number 9 to Pearlington. It's hard to believe that it's time already. I'm trying not to over pack but that balance between just enough stuff and too much stuff can be pretty hard. Ugh. Just put me and my bag on a plane.

Tonight is ending with the realization of how fragile life is. One of my high school friend's husband is in a medically induced coma. He has cancer and underwent a bone marrow transplant recently. There are some pretty massive side effects of the transplant taking place, resulting in the need to induce a coma...it's just not looking good. I cannot even give words to the anguish that my friend is feeling and am just praying that God will come through with a miracle. A big one.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday night

It's 7:20 on a Monday night. I'm home, enjoying re-runs of "Grey's Anatomy". Why is it that I get addicted to shows AFTER they start the re-run circuit on Lifetime or TBS? I digress. It's a Monday night at 7:20 and I am home. This is unusual. Monday's are Worship Team Rehearsal Night. I'm never home before 8:15pm. But tonight someone else is leading the team because I'm going to Mississippi on Thursday and won't be here for worship on Sunday!!!!

I started my initial gathering of items over the weekend. Took my freshly laundered clothes and piled them in the spare room for packing. Tonight I pulled the roller bag off the rafters of the garage and then remembered my work boots. My poor $20 work boots that have seen me through 8 trips. They are showing the wear and tear, especially from the sticky floor at one of the houses in December. The soles are now coming loose. The toes are already wearing away, showing the metal underneath. Oh the power of those steel toes...I have sung many a refrain of "I am woman, hear me roar" while clomping around the Mississippi mud with those steel toed work boots. I've replaced my work gloves three or four times, but my boots...*sigh*.

Today my allergies came back with a series of sneezes and a raw throat. I took allergy meds for the first time in months and also decided to take the opportunity to enjoy some time alone before being surrounded with people (whom I love and am honored to spend time with, but really, this introvert doesn't get energized by people and I know it!) for 8 days. So I didn't go to work, stayed in and did...nothing. No preparing, no packing, no nothing. Just read a book, watched TV, browsed the Internet, played games and did...nothing. Feeling a little guilty about that? Check. Know that the next two and half days will be packed with things both stress-releasing (bumper cars, baby! lunch with songfriend and todd t.! a cut and a color, hallelujah!) and stress inducing (final preparations for being gone from church the week before Easter, packing, possible interview with local paper)? Check. Taking the day off worth it. Oh yeah!

And I didn't even mention last night where 7 women gathered around a table for good food, great margaritas, yummy chocolate, a little poker and a lot, a lot, a lot of laughter...and that's all you get to hear about that! What is said at the poker table, stays at the poker table. ;)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Walking music

Tuesday night I went for a walk. Down the driveway, down the big hill, down the medium hill, down the small hill, down a mid-sized hill and then up a smallish hill and up a driveway to a friends house. She and Yo Momma are quilting buddies and they are working on a project for one of the Mississippi homeowners. I was picking up the quilted quilt.

After visiting, with the quilted quilt stored safely in my back pack, I started the trek back home. Down the driveway, down the smallish hill. Up the mid-sized hill, up the small hill, up the medium hill, up the big hill, up the driveway. Oh my breathing was a little more difficult on the way home.

All the while, I was listening to my I-pod, with one earbud only so I could hear the cars coming up and down the roads. Three songs down, four songs up. Not bad. Once at home, I took some time to catch my breath and cool off before going in the house. That's when the song came on. The song that I love, love, love. I had recently loaded it back on my I-pod after months of missing it. It's one of those songs, that though I love, love, love it, is not one that some people would expect to find on my I-pod. It's not one that some church people would appreciate or approve of, but ya know what? I love, love, love it and don't really care if others don't like it. I do. Hmmm...I think it's time to pull that CD off the shelf and go for a drive in the car on some back country roads so I can sing along...LOUD!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ha!

I have been enjoying listening to music for free on Pandora.com at work. It's easier than downloading a bunch of songs onto my already slow computer and probably a better thing than wandering around with an I-Pod in all day.

Anyway, I have several "stations" on Pandora. Some very christian, some not so christian and one very country. The other day I found the button that said "quick mix". Ha! It's made for quite a listening experience.

Just listened to The Judds "Why Not Me" followed by David Crowder*Band "Never Let Go" to Goo Goo Dolls "Iris". Three songs I love, right in a row. It's almost like I'm listening to my I-Pod right now. How about that?!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Retraining the brain

With my job change in January, I realized that I would need to change my working hours a couple of days a week. Being that most of my job is done at night, I typically don't arrive at church until after 10am. Sometimes not til noon--especially if it's a Wednesday I will potentially be at church or hanging out with youth and young adults until 10pm. A church member walked past my door last night at 5:45pm and said "You work weird hours." She's right, that's the nature of the job. But now, I don't have to be at church on Tuesday evenings and Thursday evenings are freeing up a little too, so I can come in to work earlier.

I am not a morning person. Never have been, don't want to be. I'm not getting to work any earlier than 9 but good grief that's hard to do! Tuesday's have now become coffee mornings, so at least having the treat of a non-fat, with whip, white mocha makes getting up better. After 9 years of a schedule, it's hard to retrain my brain to function again before 10am. Not that I've ever done so well at that, but still.

It's curious though, as I start getting here earlier on specific days of the week, I've noticed that others are getting later and later. Take today, for instance. I arrived at 9:27am and there was no one upstairs in the main offices. After a while I started wondering if there was a holiday that I was missing. It wasn't until about 10:15 that the upstairs door started opening and closing. Never thought I would be the first one to the office!

As much as I enjoy having a night or two free a week, I still prefer the mornings when I don't have to rush around and hurry to work. I'll retrain my brain for this but I'll never really be a morning person.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Finding the good...Emi edition

I'm needing to remind myself of the good parts of church and make it public so people will remind me, gently, when I'm feeling VERY frustrated with church, about the good. I wasn't creative enough to come up with a name for this *series* on the last blog, but creativity hit today. It will be called finding the good. I don't know how many editions there will be, but thanks for reading.

Emi has been coming to Worship Team practice since before birth. She's been loved by us all for that long as well. When Emi was a baby, she would come in her car seat, bottle close at hand. I remember the first time Adventure Boy got a good look at Emi...he was enthralled! He looked at me, pointed and said "baby!". It was adorable.

Meg is a fabulous, comfy Mom and happy to share her daughters with us, so Emi has been passed around a lot, being held in the loving arms of adopted aunts and grandma's. As Emi has gotten older, she's gotten quite the personality and developed some characteristics that just melt the heart. Her smile can light up the room. She can make me laugh like no other...a few weeks ago she came in with hot chocolate in hand saying "It's freezing" in her two year old speech. Kanda bought Emi a microphone, when Emi tried to steal the microphones from whoever had her at the moment. The sound the microphone made was quickly silenced, which didn't phase Emi in the least...until she figured out that it wasn't making the same sounds the other microphones were. She's a smart one!

A while back, Yo Momma was holding Emi and decided that it was time to sit down, so Yo Momma sat on the top step of the stage and held Emi in her arms. Emi snuggled right in. I got a little teary watching the two of them. The next week, Emi came up to Yo Momma and stood looking up at her expectantly as to say "Sit down, it's snuggle time."

Most Sunday's Kanda can be found in the sound/media booth running the computer. Emi usually greets everyone on the stage and then heads back to Kanda. She knows that Kanda will scoop her up, cuddle with her and draw with her...or let her push the buttons on the computer!

Today, Emi came in feeling under the weather. She was snuggled up to Meg, not making much eye contact with anyone. She didn't want to go to Yo Momma, she wasn't gonna smile, she just snuggled in with her mom and was there. And then, she seemed to gather a little bit of energy. She wriggled down from Meg's lap and wandered off towards the back of the sanctuary to Kanda. They cuddled, they pushed the computers buttons, they drew pictures.

After church, Meg, Emi and Nat were getting ready to leave. Nat came running up to me for a hug and right behind her was Emi, arms outstretched smile on her face in her polka dot pjs (cuz little girls who don't feel good can wear their pjs to church!) ready for her hug. It struck me then, how grateful I am, for a church family who loves each other. For people like Yo Momma and Kanda who can step in as grandma's for a little girl, who are free with their cuddles, snuggles and hugs. For a place where a child can grow up secure in the knowledge that there are people looking out for her, loving her, cheering her on, eager to share whatever they can and blessed to be a part of her life.

Emi helped me find the good today.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Danny and Jenny

Church has not been my most favorite place recently. Not just the church I work for and attend but church in general. There are so many layers to the discontent within my heart that I'm not going to even try to unpack all of that here. To be honest, it's to close to let out just yet anyway. That said this weekend something happened that destroyed a piece of the discontent.

There is a family in the church that has a son with Downs Syndrome. Danny is about 3 or 4 years older than me. We pretty much grew up together along with Jenny, Danny's girlfriend, who has Down Syndrome as well. They are two of my favorite people. Jenny is just all smiles and hugs. I love seeing her and getting her hugs. Danny, well, I'm pretty sure that Danny has a direct line to God. If Danny says something about God, I listen hard cuz usually God has spoken to Danny's heart directly.

Every year at the church talent show, Danny is usually on stage with his sister Beth. They are a fabulous duo. Beth sings, Danny plays his harmonica. Sometimes it's one of Beth's tunes, but usually it's a Beach Boys tune, Danny's favorites. This year, Beth was in Sweden and so Danny was left to his own devices. He danced. He came in his top hat, his black pants, white tuxedo shirt, bow tie and had his trusty cane at his side. I'm pretty sure he danced to a Sinatra song, but I can't remember, all I remember is watching Danny dance. Danny bowed regally as he was done and then grandly ushered Jenny to the stage. Jenny danced as well, she's been taking lessons for years. She danced in her flowing white dress with her flowing rainbow scarf to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". It was magical. The crowd erupted in applause after both Danny and Jenny danced. There was applause, there were shouts of accolade and there were tears.

The tears were mine. They welled up as I stood in the back holding sweet Emi-pie, both of us engrossed in the beauty of the moment. Two people whom many would discredit and discount, dancing for their audience with grace and confidence. It made me proud to be a part of the church in that moment, proud to have a place where these two precious souls are welcomed, encouraged and loved.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Technology--updated edition


I love technology...until it doesn't work. Yesterday I was trying to save an appointment in my cell phone when all of a sudden the phone cycled off...and then on...and then off...and then on...you get the idea. I took the battery out, checked the contacts, put it back and tried again. Same thing.

Today I took it to the Cell Phone Store and the nice guy behind the counter listened to me, watched the phone cycle on and off, checked the warranty and handed me the phone number for the warranty center. 20 minutes later a new phone AND a new battery will be here within 2 days.

Which is fine...but for just a moment I panicked...what am I going to do without my phone for two whole days...three including today?! Three and half including yesterday! Nobody text me!!! The helpful person at the warranty center asked if I had saved all my contacts on the phone or the sim card...I don't know. And then she asked about pictures...agh!!! That wouldn't be an issue if the cute micro memory card I bought would actually STAY IN the phone! Oh well. Life goes on.

I love technology...when it works.

Update: Within 24 hours the new phone arrived. Helpful person at the warranty center clearly said "white phone with red" just like the one that I am sending back...I received a red phone with black. No big deal, I actually prefer that. What I would really like, though, is the back part of the phone that holds the battery in. Another call will be made. In the meantime, red replacement phone is sporting a white battery cover. Making my own fashion statement, one phone at a time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lights, camera...

Life has been a little surreal in a way, since receiving news about the Jefferson Award. Here's the link to the announcement. Yesterday I drove to the TV station and had my picture taken for the program and then this morning a cameraman/reporter came out and interviewed me and took footage of our team meeting. All of that is set to air the last week of March, when the award reception is...and here's the kicker...I won't even be in town for the reception! I'll be back in Mississippi doing the work that I am being honored for. Kind of appropriate, don't ya think?