Thursday, July 28, 2011

17 days...

A couple of weeks ago one of the Young Adults looked at me and said, "How can you be so calm about this?  If I were you, I would be freaking out!"  To which another Young Adult said, "Yeah, it's not even me and I'm freaking out!"  My only answer has been the same these last few weeks.  I wouldn't be this calm if I didn't know, with every part of me, that God had me on this journey and that God was leading the way.  I'm not 100% confident that God has a plan, only because God has a sense of humor and told me so, but I am confident that I'm not walking this road alone.

Tonight as I was scrolling through Google Reader (which is just awesome, BTW, and is helping me break my addiction to checking blogs multiple times a day), I came across a new post at The High Calling by Gordon Atkinson...whom I first came to know as Real Live Preacher.  I'm linking to the post, but suffice to say, I echo what Gordon is saying.  Faces of people I know and people I love came to mind as I was reading his blog post.  I pray that we can all find that peace within us and I would add that peace that comes from being truly connected to the ultimate guide in life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This, that and the other thing

This July has not been like last July.  Last July it was just downright pleasant all month.  This July has had more warm days.  Next week is VBS week.  I expect heat, heat and more heat.  Ugh.  At least we have moved VBS to the morning and we aren't trying giving ourselves heat exhaustion anymore.  One can only hope the fog will roll in every night and cool off the sanctuary.

I forgot to update y'all on things that have been going on.  A few weeks ago I got to officiate at a wedding!  Nope, I haven't been ordained.  There are counties in California that deputize people to perform a single wedding ceremony.  The couple who got married asked if I would be willing to go that route and I jumped at the chance!  The one reason that I would choose to be ordained right now would be to be a part of weddings.  Thanks to the County of San Diego for making it happen!  It was very special, especially because I've known the young man who got married since he was 6 years old and hiding under the table during Sunday School.  :)  I did, however, learn a couple of things.  Number 1:  If the couple says "outdoor wedding on a cliff" it's probably a good idea to sew rocks into the hem of my skirt and put my hair all the way up.  Number 2:  invest in a nice looking three ring binder.  Saves a lot of panic over whether or not you'll lose pages.  And yes, I will need to know all this again because in September I get to officiate at my cousin's wedding.  Very, very cool.

In sad news, Hop-a-long hops no more.  I'm pretty sure he helped some other animal get full one night before I went to San Diego.  In more happier news (for me anyway), the de-con on is working.  One more rat gone.  We do now have a chipmunk that scampers across the driveway and up trees and around corners and is basically making himself at home.  Papa Bear came back and the birds are happy.  So happy that they can't seem to stop in time on their way to the bird food and keep slamming into the floor to ceiling windows.  Seriously, there were 3 birds in less than 5 minutes that hit the windows the other day.  I think one hit pretty hard kept trying to fly in the window.  It was just fluttering it's wings and pressing it's face against the glass.  I think keeping the blinds closed, at least part way, would help, but Papa Bear likes them wide open.  Oh well, he's the one who has to clean the windows.

Sunday I preached at FPC for the last time as an employee of the church.  It was on the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.  The sermon went well at both services but I have to say I'm pretty glad to be done with being the worship leader and preaching on the same day.  Even though it only happened a few times a year, it's just too much to do in the service.  Before I gave the sermon at the 2nd service, my friend Beth, her husband and a friend of theirs the song below.  Beth started in singing the first line and I found myself in tears.  As the song continued and the harmonies came in I had to close my eyes and just pray that I would be able to stand up and preach.  It was just so good...and it sounded even better than the group who sings it below...but I am biased.  :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Happy Birthday G.G.

Today is G.G.'s 81st Birthday.  I've been blessed with a grandmother who is fun, adventerous, willing to listen, likes to laugh, encourages and supports those around her, has special part in her heart for each of her family members and always is happy to see us.  G.G. tends to downplay her importance to our family, but yet I know that each of her children always seek her out, her grand kids like having her around and the great-grand kids love her too!  We are all grateful that G.G. is in our lives.

Happy Birthday G.G.!  I love you!  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Community dinners

Tonight was the last time I would coordinate and lead a community dinner at the church.  Community dinners started some years ago.  They are free dinners, open to anyone in the community who would like to come.  We've had around 120 come each month.  It's really a cool thing to have a place for people to meet, eat and share life together, no strings attached.  The youth have helped out with one dinner a year, usually in the summer.  I have to say, one thing this church does well is feed people. 

A little while after the community dinners started, a group started thinking about reaching out to the homeless and hungry a little further.  The church has a shower, so a shower ministry started and then Free Lunch Tuesdays began.  It wasn't long after the all these things began that J came through the door.  J and I had gone to high school together.  His story was traumatic.  J went into the Army right after high school and I'm pretty sure he was suffering from PTSD when he returned and wound up on the streets.  He would come in for a shower once a week.  After a couple of months, J disappeared.  I'm not sure what happened to him.  That wouldn't be the last time that someone I knew would walk through the door.

A couple of years ago R came in.  R was once a neighbor of mine.  The first time I ran into him as he was signing in for the shower, I wasn't 100% sure it was him.  And then he smiled.  Yep, same guy.  A couple of weeks later, I was in the local Taqueria and there he was with his Mom.  Two days later, he was back at the church for a shower.  I soon found out that R had chosen to live on the street after being confronted by his family and given the choice of getting sober or moving out.  He moved out. 

There's something about R that has captured my heart.  R has always been the most polite, kind young man...with a drug and drinking problem.  He's got a great smile, a great sense of humor and has never been one of those who makes me feel like he's taking advantage of the system.  He's made his choices and he's dealing with them. 

Awhile back I heard that R wanted to make a change in his life.  He got a job, was trying to get an apartment and was sobering up.  I was excited for him and praying hard that he would make it.  Tonight he was back at the community dinner.  I was hoping that he was just there for dinner, that he was still working on getting his life on a clean path.  My hopes were dashed as soon as we made verbal contact.  R has lost his job.  I smelled the alcohol on him.  It made me sad, so sad.  And yet there is a part of me that has hope.  He joked about me just being able to yell down to his Mom if I heard of a job available.  His smile was just as genuine and he was just as polite as always.  I really like R...and it breaks my heart to see him struggling.  I'm going to keep an ear to the ground for a job for him and I'm gonna keep an eye out for him on the street.  He need to know that he is valued and valuable, respected and liked.  And I really like this guy.  I'm going to keep praying for R as he finds his way in the world.

There are many nay-sayers about the ministry the church is doing with the homeless and hungry.  People who look down on those who don't fit in with the rest of society, but I am proud to say that I've been a part of a group of people who are caring for those whose lives are visibly imperfect.  I'm pretty sure it's something that Jesus would do and that is enough for me.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I am more and more convinced that God has a great sense of humor.  Little things are happening all the time that lead me to believe that God is having some fun with me.  I'm O.K. with it, I like to laugh and I laugh easily sometimes (maybe a little too easily).  It may be that I'm in a better place and able to see God's humor in life clearer or maybe I'm just looking to God for a little laughter.

In late May, when I was pretty sure I was moving on to the next thing in life but hadn't told anyone about my decision, the Pastor asked if I had finished my Certificate in Youth Ministry that I had started years before.  It got me to thinking that I had taken the final class a year before but hadn't yet seen anything that said "Congratulations!  You're done!".  The Personnel team was wanting the official piece of paper saying I was certified, so I sent a quick email to the program administrator and found out that I was supposed to fill out a piece of paper.  Who knew?!  Obviously, not me!

I filled out the paper and sent it in.  I did notice the little box on the paper that said "please give us the address you will be at in 6-8 weeks". Hmm...would it really take 6-8 weeks?  Evidently, it does.  Today, about 6 weeks after mailing the paper in, I got an email.  I am officially certified!  My paper certificate will be arriving in the mail.  My transcripts will reflect my certification status AND I can officially update my resume (seriously, it said that). 

It's just a piece of paper, but it seems like so much is coming full circle and that God is having a little giggle.  Seems fitting that I get the piece of paper just as this chapter of my time in Youth Ministry is coming to an end. 

I'm adding a new line to my resume--Certificate in Youth Ministry...wonder if that will come in handy in the future?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Going to Costco

I went to our local Costco today.  Over the years, I've figured out the best times to shop at Costco*.  11am on a Thursday is not one of them.  Too close to the weekend and lunch time, but since I was already in the area and needed to buy items for our Flea Market this weekend, I was there.

Costco has always been one of those places that is the same and yet different every time you go.  Take today, for example.  It's been a couple of weeks since I wandered the aisles and this time I found that things had changed.  The specialty cold foods section was completely redone.  Where low refrigerators once stood, there are now large open refrigerators holding all the specialty cheeses, hummus, pasta and the 100 different types of hot dogs/sausages.  The sodas and bottled water had moved to the right side of the store in the back.  I didn't even check to see what was in their usual place.  The clothes were moved from the front-middle, to the middle- middle and there were couches and chairs where the summer items used to be.  My brain was a little befuddled at one moment and I found myself thinking "they better not have moved the books!" like that was the most important thing ever!!!

I am a creature of habit and planning.  These little changes may not seem like much, but they shake up my world and cause me to be a little out of balance.  I've been known to make lists for Costco according to where the items can be found in the store, don't they know that changing the layout messes up my lists?! 

It's not just the layout of the store that can cause panic, it's when all of a sudden, an item that we have been getting forever at Costco is suddenly not there.  Bagel Bites have disappeared from their shelves...don't they know that the youth group survives on Bagel Bites?  And why did they do away with the apricot filling in their cakes?  Vanilla and Chocolate are great, but what about a little variety?  (I do, however, love the change to the muffin packs.  The youth would always eat the blueberry or chocolate muffins and never touch the banana nut that the bakery insisted in putting in the variety pack.)

I know that I am not the only one who is shaken by the changes.  I hear it in the panic in the voices of people in the aisles.  "They don't have the gigantic jar of pickles anymore?  But where am I going to get pickles?"  "Wait, what happened to the towels?  They have been on this same aisle for 3 years!"  "Where are the samples?  We came here for a snack and there isn't one sample cart in the whole store!" 

We human beings do not like change...what does Costco not get about that?  

*If you must know, Tuesday evenings are the least busy times to shop in my experience.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

40 days away

Yesterday, I lounged around a friends house all afternoon.  Talking, being quiet, eating, laughing at the antics of a 2 year old and just in general resting.  The smattering of conversation jumped from subject to subject and at one point landed on my next phase of life.  It's a subject that comes up a lot these days.  :)

As we were talking I realized that for 12 years my life has revolved around my job.  It's been about the church and teenagers and parents and people who have needed something from me.  My job has been my life.  In a few weeks all of that is going to change.  In some ways I know that I am ready for that.  I am ready for more free time.  For time to spend with friends.  A part of me doesn't want a new job to appear in September but maybe October or November...though by then I may be going absolutely stir crazy!  I want some time to read books, to walk through the woods or along the beach.  To just allow my soul to rest.  To allow my brain to rest.

Opinionated Friend and I were talking about how we Americans tend to think that our lives revolve around our jobs.  We define ourselves by what we do.  When we don't have a job, there tends to be moments of panic because we have no way of describing ourselves.  Like the "about me" part of this blog, one of the first things we tell people is what we do, not who we are.  While I may currently be the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries that doesn't fully describe who I am.  I am first and foremost a child of God, finding my way in the world with God's guidance and love...everything else is the icing on the cake. 

I believe there is a lot of soul searching in my future.