Friday, April 30, 2010

4 years

God weaves lives together in mysterious ways sometimes. Just when we need them, new people come in and make things better, help us through the trials at the moment or become the family that we never knew we were missing.

The unfortunate part of humanity is that many times, the people we treasure the most are the people we take for granted the most. We always think that there is going to be more time later...and sometimes later never comes.

It's been more than 4 years since I last heard Mark's voice, saw his smile, was the recipient of much teasing (as a younger "sister" is rightly due). I wish for a lot, but mostly just one more smile and hug from the man I came to cherish as a brother.

Today a few more tears are springing forth, for a brother lost too soon, for the kids that lost a great Dad and a wife who lost her husband and friend.

Grief is a winding road that sometimes never ends.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Danny and Jenny part 2

I recently joined Facebook. Not that I needed yet ANOTHER thing to tie my attention to the internet, really. It's interesting finding people that I haven't thought of since High School. Some are very recognizable, some not so much. Life changes, we change, it's all good.

Anyway, on one of my friend's page there was a link to a video for one of her songs ( I clicked to watch and there on the sidebar of YouTube was video of Danny and Jenny dancing. I cried all over again.

Through the beauty of embedded video, watch for yourself! :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

A letter

So a letter arrived at my house recently. It said something like "Hey Brittany, you've done some cool stuff and we want you and three of your closest friends to come to DC in June." It went on to say "Your way is paid, but your three friends have to foot their own bill." Cool.

There was more to the letter, including the words "Business attire" and "Gala" and "one minute speech" and other words that made me cringe just a little.

But the thing that really made me take a double take was a list of names under the title "Board of Selectors"...names like:

Hank Aaron
Corbin Bernsen
Ellen Burstyn
Laura W. Bush
Lee Ault Carter
Cris Collinsworth
Kirk Douglas
Michael Douglas
Whoopi Goldberg
Teresa Heinz Kerry
Hon. Trent Lott
Scott McClelland
Elliott Roosevelt, III
Neil Simon
Lesly Stahl
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Cicely Tyson
Chris Wallace
and those are just the ones I recognized off the bat. There are more. Yikes, yikes, yikes.

Me thinks I'm gonna need to go shopping for some fancy dud's cuz my jeans and t-shirts just aren't gonna be okay for this event.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday night--Updated

And the house is quiet. Lil Bro, New Sis and Baby P were here this week. It was nice to have them around, even though life just kept moving along. They left this morning so it's a quiet house tonight. I have to say I already miss this face:But having a night to myself is good for this soul. I'm taking a my FINAL class for the Certificate in Youth Ministry I've been working on for a few years. It's a good class, but as I told K today, God always seems to push me towards classes that speak directly to whatever stage of life that I'm in at the moment. It wrecks me. Bad enough that it's school and I have to read text-like books and write papers and do presentations but the spiritual themes of these classes just push me to the edge. My emotions are right on the brink of spilling over.

So tonight, I'm taking the night off. I'm gonna read a book that is SO not about spirituality. I might watch a movie that makes me cry (Steel Magnolias or Life as a House always work) and I'm gonna enjoy the quiet. But I still miss this face.
UPDATED: Movie that actually made me cry: Armageddon. That scene where Bruce Willis' character says goodbye to his daughter...sobbed like crazy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A belated note...

I missed it. Well, to be honest I remembered but in the midst of stuff, I just didn't post this when I was supposed too.

40 years and 2 days ago, these two tied the knot. 40 years and 2 days later, they still like each other and sometimes even wear the same silly grins on their faces when they gaze into each others eyes.

Congrats Yo Momma and Papa Bear!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Singing in the hallway

There are times, as a worship leader, that I wonder if what we do on Sunday morning connects with others. Easter Sunday in church it felt like we were really not connecting. Last Sunday, the connections were strong, as evidenced by one of our toughest critics coming up and saying "The music was really good today!".

This morning was an okay day. Not spectacular but not a total failure either. I know, though, that at least one song connected with one person. It was actually one of the people that is always the quietest in worship and is the least likely to go around singing to themselves...but I caught them this morning, walking down the hallway and singing the lyrics to the last song. It was good.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Five: Pack Your Bags Edition

Songbird at RevGalBlogPals says:
I'm preparing to pack my bags for the Big Event Three, and as I gather what I need I'm thinking about just that: what do I *need* to take with me? As a person who likes to pack light, I worry that in the end I may under pack and wish I had other things with me. I own the gigantor version of the bag to the right, but my morbid fear of having it go astray and not get to the ship means I'm more likely to try to pack it all in a carry-on bag instead, especially since I have a very tight connection on the way to the cruise. But won't I be sorry if I don't bring _______________?

With that in mind, here are five questions about packing to go on a trip.

1) Some fold, some roll and some simply fling into the bag. What's your technique for packing clothes? For me it's part fold, part roll. Shirts roll up wonderfully. Jeans not so much. Socks get stuffed into shoes and undies are always kept in a separate compartment from the rest of the clothes, usually a zippered pocket.

2) The tight regulations about carrying liquids on planes makes packing complicated. What might we find in your quart-size bag? Ever lose a liquid that was too big? I don't usually carry a whole lot of liquids with me, so I haven't had to throw anything away. The quart-size bag usually has a travel size lotion in it (cucumber melon) and that's about it. Though on the trip home from Mississippi this last time, it also had two of those cute little bottles of maple syrup that Cracker Barrel gives you when you have pancakes or french toast.

3) What's something you can't imagine leaving at home? Walking shoes. Doesn't matter where I'm going, if I don't have good walking shoes I'm not gonna be a happy camper. AND after last springs adventure where my checked bags made it home two days before I did, an extra t-shirt and undies get packed in my carry-on.

4) Do you have a bag with wheels? Absolutely. I tend to pack to the 50lb limit, so wheels are a must!
5) What's your favorite reading material for a non-driving trip (plane, train, bus, ship)? Fluff books usually. If I can lose myself in a book for a few hours, it's good. Though I am not above reading those gossip magazines either.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


There are times when it's hard to believe in an all-loving, compassionate, caring God. It's usually the times when life has taken a nose-dive, when the rocks at the bottom of the valley are piercing into the deepest part of my soul. When every breath hurts because of the bumps and bruises that have come along with the nose-dive, when every movement is a reminder of the hard landing and all I really want to do is just scream at the top of my lungs "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?!?!?!"...and receive a response to my words that makes sense. Not one of those throw away lines that are supposed to be helpful, but really aren't like"God has a plan", "God will only give you what you can handle" (ahem, that one needs to be deleted from Christianese, IMHO) or fill in the phrase that is most irritating to you, but words that make the whole situation understandable, clear and semi-acceptable.

I know that God is all-love, compassionate and caring. I really do. In the midst of tragedy, pain and suffering, though, it's really hard to believe in that God. When dealing with struggles of immense proportions, when the gritty reality of our humanness comes to light, when the fragility of life becomes overwhelmingly obvious, it just gets hard to believe.

But I do believe in that all-loving, compassionate, caring God...which in a way makes it easier to breathe, easier to scream out to God, easier to complain to and about, easier to question, easier to struggle with. It doesn't make the nose-dive any less painful, bruises any less real, but it does make it easier, even if in very small ways.

While my life isn't in a nose-dive, at the moment, my soul is raging to this all-loving, compassionate, caring God on behalf of two friends. One's husband has died, the other's husband is dying. Words cannot begin to heal their pain. Praying today for Meg and Kristin.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weather Report

Cloudy with intermittent showers...which really means watch out cuz one minute the sun is shining and it's beautiful, the next minute buckets of water will fall on your head.

Glad I'm indoors at the moment.

That is all.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big city, small town

Friday night in a big city. I was in town for a class that was running Friday night and all day Saturday. I could have technically driven home and back but chose to sleep instead and just got a hotel room. There was a fridge in the room, so in my wisdom I decided to head to the local grocery store after class and get some food for the following day. So there I was, at Safeway, in a big city at 9pm at night on a Friday and what did I see...teenagers everywhere. Literally everywhere. In the parking lot, in front of the store, in the store, sitting at booths (inside the store), in every aisle...what in the world?

The teens in our town complain that there is nothing to do. They are eager to get to a big city where there is "more to do". Makes one wonder...Why are the teens in this big city hanging around Safeway on a Friday night? Is there really not that much more to do in the big city than there are in the small town? Is there really no place better to go...or is the reason the teens hang around Safeway in the big city the same reason they hang around Safeway in the small town? Oh, I don't want to think about that.

And that fridge in my hotel room...yeah, it didn't work. Lovely.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Five: On the Road Again

Needing a little bit of fun in the midst of life's seriousness:

Sophia at RevGalBlogPals says:

My family is heading out to my husband's parents for the weekend later today. They would have preferred that we come at Easter, but I preferred that my choir director not bring my life to an early end! (Five liturgies to sing between Thursday and Sunday, two with major solos). So Low Sunday it is.

Some Gals and Pals may have been able to travel to join family or visit a vacation spot last week; some who had to stay put then may be traveling this weekend; and, if I recall correctly, some lucky ones are heading out to the Big Event next weekend. Hence: a road trip Friday Five.

1. When was your last, or will be your next, out of town travel?
My last trip was to Mississippi just about a week's becoming my home away from home. Next trip out of town, but not too far out of town, is this afternoon for school. Final class for my Certificate in Youth Ministry. Yippee!! Overnight stay is in the cards for this one class ends at 9:30pm tonight and begins at 8am tomorrow. A happier Brittany pays the hotel fee and gets more sleep.

2. Long car trips: love or loathe?
It depends on where I'm going and who I'm with. Long car trips by myself or with good friends are lovely. Long car trips with youth, not so much.

3. Do you prefer to be driver or passenger?
Driver all the way. I'm learning to be a better passenger, but it's harder.

4. If passenger, would you rather pass the time with handwork, conversing, reading, listening to music, or ???
Listening to music and watching the world go by, interspersed with conversation.

5. Are you going, or have you ever gone, on a RevGals BE? Happiest memories of the former, and/or most anticipated pleasures of the latter?
Have not had the pleasure of joining in the BE event...yet!

6. Bonus: a favorite piece of road trip music.
Definitely not the song referred to in the title of this post though...Yo Momma used to sing that every time we went on a trip...she corrupted the youth group, now every time we get in the car they sing it to me too. Argh! Really, give me the latest Amy Grant CD and I will be happy camper...which by the way is this one: Shameless plug :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Do your family a favor...

I spent an hour with a friend today at a Funeral home beginning the plans for her husband's funeral. I have one thing to say to all of you blog your family a favor and let them know what you want. Make it clear. Buried or cremated. Open or closed casket. Church service, graveside service, informal gathering, clear. Donations or flowers or both. Fortunately my friend had a pretty good idea about her husband's wishes but it just clarified for me that it's time to be proactive and make my wishes known. It doesn't mean anything other than being prepared and sparing my family from having to make decisions in the midst of grief.

Tomorrow I'm gonna do my family a favor and write down my about you?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Okay God,

How much more? I've asked that question of you for months now. It seems like a modern-day Job story is being written and the characters in this story are tired, done. They've been beat-up, overwhelmed, stripped bare and still there's more. It's time to start a new chapter...the chapter where things start looking better, where redemption is around the corner, where life begins to feel happy again.

The chapter that started today is just ugly and painful. Really, really painful. But then you were there, you heard the cries of anguish and despair. You listened to those little girls cry out in grief. You saw it all. I believe you are crying too. That's what keeps drawing me back to you, to my belief in your sovereignty. I don't think you would let any of them really go through this alone. I know that you were in that room, that you were crying too. It doesn't stop me from asking though...haven't they suffered enough?

I'm pleading, God, on their behalf, they have had enough. They need relief, a break, some joy, something good to happen, something miraculous (you know what I'm talking about). They need good news, great news even. Tonight, God, listen to the cries of those little girls, comfort their broken hearts, begin to bring healing to them and their momma. And God, please, enough is enough...bring them hope and joy again.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Whirlwind of emotions

Oh the last week! It's been a whirlwind of work, excitement, sadness, expectations, surprises and, well, just the ups and downs of life.

If you have been following the Mississippi Team blog, you know that we were able to help get a homeowner out of the trailer he's been living in, into his house. It was great moment to see the truck with furniture pull up and watch beds, a sofa and more head into the house.These pictures came over email and text messages of a party happening in California that I was missing to work in Mississippi (something that I have no regrets about at all) and then came the phone call that had the team in Mississippi hootin' and hollerin' loud enough to be heard in California, I'm sure.That's SuperSarah and R-girl with the local TV anchor...they were kind enough (along with Momma J) to represent me at the Award Ceremony!
This photo came with the caption "The Winner!"

There were a few days when I was SO tired and grumpy and trying really hard to be positive but failed miserably. Sigh. Dumb posts...
The hard part about serving in the mission field is that in one way or another a part of you is left behind. Before we left, I spoke to a group of youth and adults at another church about serving in Mississippi and told them that every single trip, no matter what, our hearts are broken over and over and over again. I wasn't making it up.

As much as we expect it, it still takes me by surprise. That feeling of utter helplessness, knowing that you can't fix what is really hurting on the inside of the people we meet. That no matter how hard we work all week, we won't get everything done. We rely on God to meet the needs of the people we meet, we share the love, hope and joy that we find in Jesus, we speak with love, hope and joy and we give a part of ourselves away each and every time.

And coming on the heels of that realization was also the realization that this really could be the end of this journey. The work has slowed way down, though there are still things to do. The future of taking teams to Mississippi is very much up in the air and that reality was intruding all week long. I feel like I'm beginning a grieving process.

Which is why Lil Bro got a text saying "send pics please!" He obliged and Little Miss Payten appeared on my phone throughout the week. Thanks Lil Bro! (If you can't read it on the pic Little Miss P is wearing her "First New Orleans T-shirt"...hee-hee!)

This yo-yo kind of weekwas capped off by a surprise this morning waiting for me in my office...there was a break in!