Thursday, June 30, 2011

What makes something Patriotic?

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary describes Patriotism as "love for or devotion to one's country".  I can go along with that.  When I think of people who are Patriotic, I think of people who appreciate the country in which they reside or were born, find favor in aspects of that country, are loyal to that country...I'm sure I could come up with more but my brain is racing ahead.

So, today, when in my inbox at work I get the "Top 20 Patriotic Worship Songs", I was not surprised to see the usual list of "America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee, The Star Spangled Banner" and three others that I would classify as Patriotic.  That leaves 14 others in question.

Now, if Patriotism was described as love for or devotion to God, well then the rest of those songs I would consider to be Patriotic.  But that's that the definition of the word.  So how does this company justify listing 14 songs in the top "20" Patriotic song list?  I think they were reaching.  Which bugs me in this church culture that "wars" over things like Worship Songs vs. Hymns.  Really?  We need a list of "Patriotic" Praise songs that really aren't?  Just when I thought we were getting to a more level playing field in choices of music styles in churches. *Sigh*

I don't find anything wrong with Patriotism.  I think allegiance to one's country can be a good thing, I love going to the 4th of July fireworks show in Tahoe and hearing God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood or America the Beautiful by Ray Charles as the fireworks burst over the lake.  Moves me to tears every time.  I feel very patriotic then.  I appreciate the idea of our government, though I'm not so happy with the way things are going right now.  I appreciate that I live in a country where I am free to worship in the church/religion of my choice.  I don't, however, equate Patriotism as my belief in God.  I am a Christ Follower, that's where my devotion and love for God comes in, not in my devotion or love for my country.  To me, those don't walk hand in hand.

This Sunday the kids will be singing "God Bless America" in church.  I've struggled for awhile with singing those kinds of songs in the worship service (for reasons that are for another blog post for another time), but this Sunday the decision wasn't mine to make and that is fine with me! 

Sunday morning, we'll be singing songs of allegiance to God...and not one of them is on that "Top 20" list.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things I'll miss, things I won't

There are certain things that I will miss about my job.  Last night's adventure to the Food Bank is one.  I love helping out at the Food Bank and will probably do that by myself anyway, but I will miss the camaraderie of the youth and young adults...not to mention the In 'n' Out Burger/Krispy Kreme stop.  I will definitely miss these kinds of nights.

There are certain things that I will not miss though.  Like the intermittent Internet connection in my office.  I will not miss the frustration of trying to do a quick search for a youth talk and taking 15 minutes to connect and disconnect and reconnect to the Internet because the wind is blowing outside or whatever seriously stupid reason the Internet connection has.  I will not miss struggling with the Internet at work.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dots of life

  • This morning I took Adventure Boy and Creative Guy to soccer camp.  I had the windows rolled down a little but the interior of the car was warming up due to the bright ball of light that has been insistent on being around the last few days.  Adventure Boy piped up from the back "It's getting hot in here.  Roll up the windows."  My reply: "If I roll up the windows the car will only get warmer."  "NO," was Adventure Boy's response, "it will cool down."  Thus said the child who has known air conditioning in vehicles his whole life.
  • Last night was Messy Night at the church.  My last messy night as youth director.  It was good.  I especially enjoyed the power washer that we had to clean up the mess afterwards.  The job that usually takes 2 hours, took just a little over one.  Nice.
  • Tonight was Bible Study with the Young Adults and High School youth.  It was relaxed, filled with laughter and good discussions.  This is what I will miss about my job.
  • For a long while our household has been having a little bit of a struggle with the newspaper delivery person.  Namely, getting the newspaper delivered, correction, the RIGHT newspaper delivered.  A couple of weeks ago Papa Bear was actually swearing into the phone, albeit it was the automated answering system at the newspaper but he was still swearing.  I've been picking up the paper this last week and what an adventure it has been!  We got the correct paper two days, wrong paper one day, wrong paper and correct paper the next, wrong paper the next day, two day's worth of copies of the right paper and today, well, today I finally just started laughing.  We got not one, but two papers, both of the them different, neither of them the paper we subscribe too.  They were for the correct day though!  I think I'm going to pray for the newspaper delivery person. 
  • I don't care how old I get, I hope to never outgrow animated movies.  Excited to see Cars II and the new Winnie the Pooh movie this summer!
  • Currently reading Ashley Judd's book, All That is Bitter and Sweet.  My celebrity gawker side is being satisfied with the glimpse into her life and my God centered helping soul is resonating with her experiences in helping others.  And I'm only a few chapters in!
That's all for now!  Nighty-nite!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Because I know you are anxious for an update...

Hop-a-long is still with us.  Tonight, upon arriving home, I opened up the house to air it out (84 degrees upstairs...yikes!).  Within seconds of walking away from the door I heard the sound, the "hop-hop-hop" of this injured blue jay that has adopted our house.  The other night I heard the sound, the unmistakable sound of an animal in distress.  It was such a high pitch screech that I was sure Hop-a-long had met his demise.  The next afternoon, I spied him again, though, hopping underneath the trees.

A couple of mornings ago I heard an awful racket outside my window (at a time when I should have been asleep).  I peeked through the blinds to see Hop-a-long being picked on by two other blue jays.  Of course, I couldn't let that happen...just one little tap on the window and the bully blue jays scattered...and so did Hop-a-long.

Every time I leave or when I come home, I'm checking to see if Hop-a-long is still around.  That's a bad sign.  I'm getting attached to an injured blue jay.  Sigh.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I've notice lately that we humans are quick to complain and slow to be thankful.  I know that I fall into that category many times without really realizing it.  So I am instituting Thankful Thursdays.  I know that there are things to be thankful for in life.  I also know that when I focus on the positive aspects of life I am a happier person.  I don't like, um, well, witchy Brittany (just change out a letter and you will know what I really wanted to say right there).  I like thankful Brittany much, much better.

The rules will be simple, every Thursday I will find at least 5 things to be thankful for and write them down here.  Y'all can join in too...just leave a comment with what you are thankful for today.  You know you want to!   :)

1.  High School/Young Adult Bible Study.  It was fun to share, be challenged and watch the conversation flow throughout the room last night.  Good energy!

2.  300+ VBS kids and their 100+ leaders dancing, singing and having a blast!  Not to mention the awesome band!!  Yes, that is a cheeseburger hat on my head.

3.  Space to think and breathe and rejuvenate.  I love my housemates, but it's nice to have the house to myself sometimes.

4.  Pictures.  I've been going through a lot of pictures lately, remembering times gone by with the youth.  There are a lot of great memories associated with those pictures.

5.  Balloons.   A year ago March, my office was "decorated".  Some wonderful friends filled it with balloons and streamers.  Turns out that some of the balloons popped while they were decorating and the pieces of those balloons were hidden in special places.  I just found one such piece yesterday in a book.  I put it back in it's hiding place when I was done with the book.  There is still one balloon and parts of two of the streamers still decorating my office.  Not gonna take them down til the last second!  :) 

There are my five for today...what are yours?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


It's VBS week...that's Vacation Bible School, for those who are curious.  Not for the church that I am employed with but for the church down the street and around the corner.  A couple of years ago I was asked to lead music for them.  I said sure and have been doing so ever since.  It's always fun to see how other groups run their programs, helps keep the creativity flowing.  I also enjoy the fact that all I do is lead the band.  That's it.  I play 3 songs at the beginning, 2 songs at the end and am done.  This year they have increased the song load, so we have wound up doing 4 songs at the beginning and 3 at the end.  Not a big deal, it's fun. 

As fun as that is, the reality always strikes me about this time during the week that I still have my regular job to do.  Morning VBS really wreaks havoc with my schedule!  My usual schedule allows me to have most mornings free, seeing as how I work a lot of evening hours.  VBS means I have to be at neighbor church at 8:30am.  Today, I went from VBS, to work church for a staff meeting, to a lunch with K and Creative Guy, to work church and then to the beach with the youth groups.  Really, not a bad afternoon, but I left my house at 8:10am and arrived home at a house that had been closed up all day long, it was 86 degrees inside, and plants that needed attention.  Yeah, VBS messes with my schedule.  But it sure is fun!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The written version of what I shared in church this is changing!!

In the youth room downstairs, there is a wall that we have dubbed the Level Ground Wall of Fame.  On the wall are the hand prints and names of youth who have been a part of the high school ministry here at Felton Pres.  It started out as rite of passage, a way showing the youth that they have a place here, that they belong to the body of Christ.  Over the years we have also added hand prints of youth leaders who have been a part of the group for a time.  Those hand prints bring back great memories of people and adventures that we have experienced in youth ministry over the last 12 years.

In the last few months I’ve spent time praying, listening, talking to God and doing a lot of soul searching.  As clearly as I heard God calling me to be a part of the ministry at Felton Pres, I am hearing God calling me out of ministry.  To that end I have decided to resign as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and first service Worship leader.  My hand print will soon join those on the Level Ground Wall of Fame. I have been so blessed to be employed here, to grow and explore the calling on my life to reach out to the youth of this community and to share in the work that God is doing through this church.  I will be forever grateful for the love, grace, encouragement and support that this congregation has shown me, not only as an employee, but as one who has grown up in this church.

My future is very unclear.  God hasn’t revealed what’s next for me, though I’m sure some of you have some suggestions.  I’m not heading to school, there isn’t another job, I just know that God is asking me to step back from ministry here and take a leap of faith.   I do so confident that God has called me to this decision and that God will guide me wherever I am supposed to go…or as Ellen M. told me the other day, in the spirit of Jonah and the Whale, I’m excited to see where God is going to throw me up.

I will not be leaving until mid-August.  My end date is officially August 14th, so there are still 8 weeks of ministry to do here and I do so excited about the future but with a heavy heart.  Leaving here will be hard on many levels but most simply because you all have been my church family for 36 years.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity 12 years ago to answer God’s call.  I ask now, that you pray with me and for me as God and I begin a new adventure together.

Friday, June 10, 2011


It's becoming a wild animal refuge around the house lately.  We had the Rat Invasion 2011, followed by the Great Alligator Lizard attempted invasion.  We successfully eliminated the Rat Invasion...which came to a stinky conclusion.  The Great Alligator Lizard attempted invasion was re-routed someplace other than the house.  Which was good because that thing was HUGE!  There would have been no sleeping in this house if that had gotten in.  But now, we have a new resident.  Introducing Hop-a-long, the Blue Jay. 

Hop-a-long has a damaged wing and has taken up residency by our front porch.  It's rare to walk outside these days without Hop-a-long making his presence known.  I don't mind Hop-a-long.  I feel kind of bad for the bird, actually.  So does Papa Bear, evidently.  I was recently instructed to feed Hop-a-long at night, just put a little food out for him.  And maybe some water.

I'm okay with that, but I'm done with feeding the flock of blue jays that scare away all the other birds that we actually like.  Like the doves, the little sparrows and other cute birds with awful names (tufted titmouse?  really?) and sometimes, when they aren't too obnoxious, the pigeons.  Though the pigeons have this habit of flying into the windows.  Even with the blinds partly covering the windows, the pigeons still insist on trying to get through the windows.

Yep, a wild life refuge around here...well only the ones we actually like!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Keeping Secrets

Yesterday, K happened to pull into the church parking lot where Opinionated Friend (who is back in the US for a while, yay!) were standing talking.  In the car were Creative Guy and Adventure Boy.  Thursday is the last day of Kindergarten for Creative Guy.  He proudly shared that he read "42 words, 3 times" yesterday.  Way to go Creative Guy!  Reading has been a challenge this year.  The doors closed to the car and I asked K if they had gotten a copy of Chicken Little yet.  Her answer was no and as soon as she said that the car door popped open and Creative Guy bounded out.  "What are you talking about?" was the question.  "Secrets" was K's answer.  He promptly said "We don't keep secrets!"  I love the wisdom of a 6 year old.  It usually sounds like your own wisdom being turned back towards you.  :)

We all keep secrets, though, don't we?  Some are superficial things, books we don't want people to know we've read, music we don't want people to know we listen to, ideas that we don't really want to share.  Some are big things.  Things that we carry around like weights on our shoulders.  Things that burden us so much that soon we are hunched over from the enormity of it all.  Sometimes the secrets are so heavy that it's all we can do to move.

Today as I was cleaning out my inbox I came across an email sent years ago by a friend.  They were keeping a secret, a big one and this is what came out "I  haven’t confided in anyone. I got X the help they needed then and carried on. But every bit of this is spilling out into ‘real life’ right in front of me. I can’t go on pretending that everything is fine when it isn’t. It hasn’t been."  Secrets have a way of finding the light of day.

Two weeks ago, I sat on the shores of Lake Tahoe watching waves crash against the rocks, feeling the sun and the wind on my skin and sharing my secrets with God.  Which, in the grand scheme of things aren't really secrets from God, seeing as how I believe God is all-seeing and all-knowing.  Maybe what I did was admit the secrets to myself.  The secrets that I've been harboring for a while that have been weighing down my soul, causing my back to hunch and my spirits to fall.  They weren't earth shattering.  They didn't make God cringe in disgust (which I don't believe God does anyway) but they were my secrets, they were real for me.

In the space of four days God took those secrets and exposed the whole group that I was with.  I found myself opening my mouth and sharing things that I really didn't want to share, that felt a little too dangerous to share...and yet it was freeing as well.  The secrets were revealed and the people there took them, gave them the weight and seriousness they needed and then let.them.go.

I learned a lesson that week from God and the people I was with.  I came home knowing that it was time to share a secret with those around me.  Nothing earth shattering, nothing devastating just a secret that it was time to share.

Opinionated Friend said last night, as we stood talking in the parking lot, that there was something different about me.  Yep, there is...I'm sharing my secret, a few people at a time.  The burden is lifting from my shoulders.  I feel lighter, happier, more at peace within my soul.  It is good. 

One day, soon, I'll tell you, Internet friends.  I promise.  It just can't be today.