Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lost and found

Have you ever found something that you weren't aware that you had lost?  I had that happen last week on the shores of Lake Tahoe.  As the wind blew across the lake sending waves crashing onto the rocks below, as clouds floated overhead covering the sun for sporadic moments and lizards dashed around my legs letting me know that I was in their territory, I found something I didn't know I had lost...I found my home.  Not a physical home because, clearly, I was encroaching on the lizards home, but my spiritual home.  Okay, truthfully, I didn't completely find that home until a couple of days later, but this particular day that I am talking about, I found that I had been missing my home and didn't know it was lost.

It makes sense though.  I have been lost for awhile now.  I've been going through the motions, finding glimpses of God in the midst of the mundane, feeling more and more cut off from God, really spiritually dry and extremely tired of working so hard to hear so little from God.  All it took was sitting at the lizard's doorstep and I began to feel more buoyant, lighter, free.  It was there that God and I had a conversation, there where I asked some questions, heard some answers and received confirmation.  It was there that I realized what I had lost because I was getting it back.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it...or is it?

It's Saturday May 21st, 2011.  2pm.  If I were to believe a certain individual who has been in the news lately, in approximately 4 hours (my time) Jesus will be coming back...or a major earthquake will happen which will signal the beginning of Jesus coming back.  Haven't heard of any major earthquakes anywhere in the world today (and according to my source, earthquakes were to start at 6pm everywhere in the world!) so I'm gonna keep doing what I've been doing today:  reading a little, watching home improvement shows on TV, laundry and keeping the massive alligator lizard from getting inside the house. 

If, however, this earthquake does happen and I get to meet Jesus face to face today, well, let it be known that my last meal was Taco Work chips and Diet Pepsi.  :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


A week from today I will be sitting on the shores of a lake.  This could potentially be my view. (Admittedly borrowed the pic from a website.)

The last time I sat around this lake was a couple of years ago.  Two days before I had sat around a lake close by and got a nasty sunburn on my legs.  Two days later, as I sat along the shore of this lake, snowflakes were falling onto my very burnt legs.  Kind of a strange week.

Next week it may very well be the same kind of weather but I will be better prepared (i.e. have long pants and sweatshirts!).

What I am looking forward to, isn't the weather so much, or even the view, it's the space.  I'm paying big bucks to go spend time with God.  There is a part of my brain that says it's wrong that I have to pay money in order to take time to spend with God, but I know myself.  I know that carving out this time is hard.  Other things get in the way.  Having this space seems so precious, so sacred, so needed.  The fact that the retreat that I'm going to is in one of the most beautiful locations in the world (yes, I am a little biased), well, that's a bonus. (Plus people I love live there too.  Double bonus!)

I'm counting down the days and praying in the meantime for ears to hear, a heart that is open and eyes to see what God wants to share...or not share. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Re-post on Death...because blogger ate it.

I've read many a blog post, article, news clipping, etc., over the last few weeks.  As I sit and mull through the things being said, it occurs to me that I disagree with one thought.  There's a quote out there from the Vatican that says "No Christian rejoices in death...".  When I first heard it, I immediately thought "No, I don't agree.  I'm not so sure."  Which I know, especially in regards to the event in which the quote was made, makes me sound callous but let me explain.

There are absolutely times when I have not rejoiced, nor can I rejoice, in the death of people around me...and yet as I hear whispers of the closeness of death for my 90+year old friend, I know that in my grief at her passing, I will rejoice.  I will rejoice!  I will rejoice because I believe she will be face to face with God, sitting around the table with Jesus drinking Diet Coke out of a small can, eating cheesecake and at peace. 

One of the guys who used to work with the youth would always say that when he dies he wants his family to throw a graduation party because he will finally "have graduated and be with Jesus."  It's very much like him, but really a true testament to the view that we Christ following folks miss out on in the midst of our grief.  Yes, there is sadness and grief, but really underlying there is joy for the person who is finally, finally, face to face with Jesus.  Again, don't get me wrong.  Having walked through the valley of grief multiple times on my own and with others, rejoicing is the last thing we think about as we face the loss of someone we loved.  There are gradual moments down the road but our first reaction usually isn't joy.  Our loss is heavy and real and very, very hard.

In the case of my 90+ year old friend, in the midst of my tears, there will be joy.  She's been waiting a long time to meet Jesus.  We might just have to drink Diet Coke out of small cans and eat cheesecake in her honor as she meets Jesus face to face.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Creative Guy (formerly Train Guy)

Creative Guy joins me on Wednesday afternoons at the church.  He rides the school bus to the bus stop...which is conveniently the church parking lot...and then eats his lunch, watches a movie, does a project and plays on the playground until our Wednesday kids program starts.

Some Wednesdays, Creative Guy arrives having had a rough day.  Those are the days when his usual response to the question, "How was your day?", is "I don't want to talk about it."  Did I mention that he is 6 going on 16?  Other Wednesday's he'll arrive peppy and ready for fun.

Yesterday as he got off the bus (driven by the same bus driver that I had when I was getting dropped off at the church in elementary school!!) Creative Guy had a brilliant idea.  "Hey Brittany," he said, "you should come on my field trip to Johnson's Farm tomorrow.  We're going on the bus right when school starts, about 8:50.  You could ride the bus with me to school, since it picks me up at church, and then go on the field trip.  You'll need to bring a snack but don't bring it in a paper bag.  They have crows up there that will grab the paper bag and eat the bag and your snack!"  Love him.

Later, as he was watching Chicken Little for the hundredth time, he called out "Hey Brittany, do you know how to spell 'uh'?"  I was a little perplexed and asked him "What is the sentence?".  His response was "One day 'uh' (a)..."  The English teacher in me (thanks Mrs. C.) came out.  "Oh you mean 'a'.  One day 'a'."

About 20 minutes later I was called back into the room.  "Brittany, how about I tell you the story and you write it out."  And that's how I spent 15 minutes writing the story Mouse Goes to Camp by Creative Guy.  I left room for him to draw the pictures and wrote line after line about the Mouse who went to Camp and was told by the Teacher that there was a spirit in the lake and a secret jewel.  Turned out that the spirit in the lake was the Teacher in disguise and the jewel was a red sparkling jewel.  I'm thinking someone has been watching Scooby Doo.

At the end of the children's program, K came to take Creative Guy home.  Creative Guy is a planner.  He likes things to go his way, so when K appeared he turned to me and said "But Brittany, I wanted to go in and watch a little bit of a movie."  Sorry, Creative Guy, there is always next week.  :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Father and Daughter's Adventure on Mother's Day

For at least a couple of months, I've heard this scritch-scratching noise late at night and early in the morning.  Actually, now that I think about it, the scritch-scratching was preceded by the sound of something kind of running up and down the front walk of the house, brushing up against the house as it went.  The scritch-scratching has been more recent and has been right outside the window of my room...or, as I was starting to believe in the wall.  One night, not so long ago, I activated the motion lights outside, just to see if I could see what was causing the noise.  Light went on, noise stopped.  At least I could sleep.

Friday morning the scritch-scratching woke me up at about 5am.  I was not amused.  Papa Bear and I had lunch that day and I mentioned the noise.  Saturday morning it woke me up at 5am again.  Grrrr... Saturday night, just as I was trying to go to sleep it started AGAIN!  I lay in bed, listening intently trying to get an idea of where the noise was.  I tapped on the walls, the noise continued.  I got out a flashlight and made sure there was nothing actually UNDER my bed.  Then I went outside as quiet as I could be to see if I could locate the noise.  I opened the screen door, which always activates the automatic lights, but still the scritch-scratching continued.  I put one foot out the door onto the walkway, causing the boards to shift and bump and the scritch-scratching stopped!  Ah-ha!  There was no dealing with it at that time of night though.  Better to wait til daylight.

So Sunday dawned bright and beautiful.  I was up at out of the house just past the crack of dawn, as usual for one who works for a church, and didn't think much of the thing under the walkway.  When I got home, I noticed that Papa Bear had started to loosen one of the walk way boards, so I decided to move it off and see if I could see anything under that portion by my window.  I moved that board and the next thing I saw was this rodent body peek out and dash back under the rest of the walkway. "AH-HA!  A mouse!" is what I thought.

I quickly relayed the news to Papa Bear, who was busy inside dealing with the flying termites.  He would get to it later. I went about my good Sunday business...laundry and cleaning.

I was vacuuming later when the house phone rang.  We rarely answer the phone anymore, the proliferation of automated health care calls and "You are invited to the Macy's grand sale today only calls." have driven us to cringe in fear whenever the phone rings.  So in strict adherence to the avoidance of the phone calls, I let the machine pick up.  Then I heard in whispered tones "Brittany, the mouse, Brittany come outside.  Hello, hello, Brittany."  It was Papa Bear calling from his cell phone from right outside my room.

Opening the front door I peered out at Papa Bear standing just a few feet away with a square nosed shovel in hand.  Boards from the walkway were haphazardly strewn around him.  "It's right under here.  He's big too!" Papa Bear said.  "If you get a broom and scare it this way, I will get him."  Now, my dear Internet friends, this is where my compassion for little furry animals started to give way.  I knew what that shovel was for.  I have witnessed Papa Bear reach for the square-nosed shovel on the occasions where the rattlesnake was in the driveway.  I knew that the little furry animal under the deck was going to meet a painful end and I really didn't want to see it.  But I am a good girl, I do what my Dad asks...and truthfully, I was done with the scritch-scratching at 5am.

I retreated into the house for my shoes, stepped out the front door, retrieved the broom and moved just to where the walkway meets the deck when I heard "There he is!".  When I thought about the end of the rodent, I didn't think about the sounds of protest the rodent would make.  Ugh.  But there we were, me facing away, so as not to see anything and Papa Bear and the rodent in battle.  Papa Bear shifted and all of sudden the rodent had gotten free.  Now, at this moment I was standing at the open edge of the walkway and a memory flashed through my mind. It was evening time, down in Anaheim.  Opinionated Friend and I were walking along a slightly darkened pathway near the House of the Mouse when out of the bushes on one side of us a rat appears and runs, right in front of us, grazing Opinionated Friends foot...which was pretty amazing because neither of her feet were on the ground at that moment.

Momma's and G.G.'s favorite swear word...that's pretty much what I was thinking too.

With no broken bones or snakebites, I was dispatched to retrieve the cordless drill...which really, I think, was Papa Bear's kind way of giving me something to do while he dispensed of rodent number 2...and upon returning found that the rodents had built a nest of epic proportions right under the walkway we walk over every single day.  With rodent number 2 eliminated, the search was on for the severely wounded rodent number 1.  The walkway was taken up, nest removed, cement underneath sprayed down (the smell was nasty), de-con was placed, rodent number 1 was still not found.  Papa Bear looked under the deck (and retrieved the broken board) but rodent number 1 had eluded us.

As we were putting everything back together and cleaning up, I finally asked what kind of rodent it was.  My heavy heart was so sad for the mouse that I thought I had aided in offing.  Papa Bear, though, was kind enough to report the rodents were rats!  Two big ones!  One pregnant.  The sadness evaporated, my guilty feelings ebbed, the mystery was solved.

Rat number 1 is still missing.  Papa Bear is confident that he was severely wounded though.  If he does come back, there is some nice tasting de-con waiting for him to snack on but no nest to sleep in.  As for the deck, well, we are supposed to be tearing it out and rebuilding it anyway...I just helped it along a little.

And that, my friends, is the tale of a Father and Daughter adventure on Mother's Day.  Where was, Yo Momma, you ask?  In a hot tub in Iowa after a 60 mile bike ride...just where she wanted to be.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blessing and cursing

I was just thinking about that old rhyme that we tell kids when they are being teased or picked on..."sticks and stones may break my bones but names/words will never hurt me."  Why do we lie to children?

James, who wrote the book of James found in the Bible states that:
"People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!"  James 3:7-10 (NLT) 

It's true.  I've been on both sides of that truth.  I've blessed, I've cursed and I've been on the receiving end of both blessings and cursing.  I highly prefer to be praised, thanks.  And, truthfully, I'd rather bless others with my words.

Lately, I'm feeling a little too tender.  My skin feels thin, my heart a little too weak, my soul a little too dry.  Which means my guard goes up a little higher and I'm quicker to be sharp and critical with my words.  It's not something I'm proud of, as James says "this is not right!"  It has been pointed out that I've been a little too free with my words.  Which is kind of ironic for this shy, quiet, observant person.  Maybe I'm breaking out of that mold of me...maybe that is rubbing people the wrong way...maybe I am being free to speak. 

What I do know tonight is that we lie to our children about words and that James said it best..."it's not right!"*

*According to the New Living Translation of the Bible anyway.  :)