Monday, December 30, 2013

You say it's your birthday...

I have this friend, this fantastic, brilliant, witty, compassionate, quiet force to be reckoned with, talented, don't mess with her or you will be the subject of a snarky text or ecard, amazing, wonderful friend.

She has seen her share of heartache and pain.  She has seen the depths of hurt, fear, loss and some how manages to pick herself up every time.  Every.time.  More than once I have looked at her life and wondered why God was calling her to be the modern day Job.  More than once I have looked up at the heavens, on her behalf, and said "Really?  This has got to stop!"  Yet, after every blow, every moment of heartache, my friend picks herself up and continues on with determination and a soul deep strength I sometimes wonder if she really knows she has.

My friend is also my best text buddy.  When my phone ribbits or says "Whaaatt??" in a decidedly Despicable Me Minion voice, I secretly hope it's her with some witty or sarcastic something or a fantastic picture of slippers...okay, sorry, that was totally an inside joke...those texts can take my day from blah to tears streaming down my face funny.  If we were to publish a book of our texts, well, let's just say a whole lotta people would be thinking a whole lot differently about us.  Some days they are snarky, some days angst filled, some days just meant to make the other person laugh.  She keeps me grounded and reminds me that I am loved.

In the last couple of years, life has taken us from weekly face to face check ins to rare moments of time together.  I miss her, yet I know God is doing something new in both our lives.  The time we have spent together has been precious and wonderful.  I pray there will be many more times ahead.  I am grateful for her presence in my life, for the opportunity I have had to sit on the sidelines and cheer her on, for the unwavering love and support she has given.  My life is better because of her friendship.

Today is my friend's birthday.  I wish her a year of love, happiness, poignant moments, peace, hope, renewed vision, faith that continues to move mountains and lots and lots of laughter.

Happy Birthday, my friend.  I love you more than words can say.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Taking responsibility

"This is all your fault, well, you and J.B*,"  New Pastor at New Church said to me on Christmas Eve.

I looked around the room, at the 75 or so people mingling and laughing, hugging and reconnecting.  I looked around the room with the multiple Christmas trees, twinkling lights, the angels and wreaths, the candles and the kids attempting to keep their candle lit as long as possible.  The music we had sung, the scripture that was read, the message of enjoying the presents and the presence (of Jesus), the story time with kids gathered listening eagerly and the sounds of children being children throughout the service filtered back through my mind.

I thought back to the day we were decorating the church for the Christmas season, with college students in abundance clearly enjoying putting up trees and decorations, when Yo Momma came up to me and said "New Pastor isn't sure if we will have a Christmas Eve service this year."  I thought back to my immediate reaction "What?  Why?  I will lead the music if that's the problem."  Low attendance the year before was one of the reasons.  "That's not a good enough reason for me."  I said.  I approached New Pastor moments later and said "I will be happy to lead music for the Christmas Eve service if the usual people don't want to."  I got an email that following Tuesday...Christmas Eve was on.

I thought back to all those things, to Yo Momma and I leading in Christmas Carols of joy as we had done together so often in the past, looked at New Pastor and smiled, "I'm okay with this being my fault.  I gladly take responsibility."

*Giving credit where credit is due, J.B. came up to Yo Momma after the service and thanked her for helping to lead the music and encouraging New Pastor to have the Christmas Eve service.  She's an instigator!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wait, what did you just sing?

We had an early Christmas celebration with Lil Bro, New Sis and Little Miss P last weekend.  Lil Bro works nights during the winter (there may not be snow falling out of the sky in CA but the ski resorts are making it and someone has to groom those slopes!), so New Sis and Little Miss P spent the weekend at the Tahoe house with us (Yo Momma, Papa Bear and I).

Little Miss P has the family singing gene and is often humming to herself.  At one point she was singing whatever song popped into her head at the given moment, even if it wasn't the one she was singing a second before.  Then she just started making up a song as she played.  It was very entertaining.

When I was in choir and leading the worship team at old church, one of the things we kept in our minds was the need to enunciate our words while singing.  I notice it all on the time on the radio.  I'll be singing along and suddenly realize the words I heard aren't really the words that are being sung...and I'm not really sure what the words are supposed to be.  Take for instance that song "You're my Sweetheart aka I belong with you, you belong with me."  The lyrics clearly say "You're my sweetheart", yet when listening I swear they say "home".  Doesn't make sense but that is what I hear...or don't hear.

So, this weekend, as Little Miss P was singing I had to stop and ask her to repeat what she was singing, twice because I wasn't really sure what I was hearing.  Now, whoever took "Jingle Bells" and rewrote the words to be "Christmas Bells, Christmas Bells, ring them all the day, tell the world that Jesus came to take our sins away!" (or some variation of that) is just messing with little kids heads.  Little Miss P sang the Christmas Bells version at her program a few weeks ago and clearly they are in her head...but so is Jingle Bells.

This is what she was singing:

"Christmas Bells, Christmas Bells,
ring them all the day.
Oh what fun it is to ride in a
Ho-Ho-Hopen sleigh."

Yes, she has mashed two lyrics together and came up some new lyrics herself...and for the record, I have no idea what a Ho-Ho-Hopen sleigh is and I don't want to know.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's a mystery

The Internet told me recently the identity of the "tips for Jesus" person has been revealed.  The news made me a little sad.  I really don't want to know who was going around leaving enormous tips for waiters and waitresses across the country.  It simply didn't matter.  I liked the mystery, the thought that there was someone out there doing something nice for others without needing recognition.

A few years ago I was given an anonymous gift of money.  It was significant and beautiful and as much as my curiosity was on high alert, I didn't need to know who had given the money to me.  I wrote a Thank You note, gave it to the person who did know and allowed the mystery to remain.

Several years earlier another gift had been given, to the church.  A very rundown room was all of a sudden furnished with beautiful furniture.  It was lovely.  The donors wanted to remain anonymous.  10 years later there were still people trying to figure out who had given the furniture to the church.

There are debates being waged left and right about what God thinks and who is "in" and whose "out", the hierarchy of sins and on and on and on...I wonder, sometimes, if we aren't seeking answers to things that will remain a mystery until we are face to face with God.  Answers that we, in our humanness, really* need to figure out but answers we may never have a black or white answer to because  God is mighty, powerful, compassionate, grace-filled and mysterious**.

I think I have things figured out and then I read the Bible again and everything gets flipped upside down.  I see a verse or a word I had never seen before and I am suddenly rethinking my stance. I look forward to asking God some serious questions (and please, don't tell me that I won't want to ask questions when I, hopefully, meet God...I have questions!!  Yes, mosquito's top the list.)  Until that time, I am perfectly okay with there just not being clear answers to some questions.  I am okay with the mystery.

*At least that is what we tell ourselves because we humans need to set limits.  I'm not convinced God sets as many limits.
**This is a non-exhaustive list of the qualities I have experienced with and know of God.  Feel free to add your own in as you read.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A question from a 7 year old

My favorite 7 year old, also known as Adventure Boy, spent some time with me recently.  He came over and had lunch, then played some computer games after which we met up with his family for a movie.

As we were headed out of the house for the movie Adventure Boy asked, "Brittany, why aren't you married?"  If I had a dime for every time I've asked that question of God...but I answered him simply, "No one has asked me yet."  Yes, I was trying to dodge the complexity of his question.  Adventure Boy, however, is bright and inquisitive and he turned the tables back on me.

His reply made this liberal minded woman rejoice for the openness of a young mind, "Why don't you ask someone?"

Yes, Adventure Boy, that is an option and I'm still looking.

This conversation reminded me of a year or two ago when K and Adventure Boy had picked me up from work and we were driving back over the big hill together.  I honestly can't remember what we were talking about but from the back seat he piped up and said "Do you know what? A long time ago people were treated badly because of the color of their skin.  That's just not right."  He was five then.

I know plenty of people who discount others because of their skin color, judging them as less than worthy.  I wish it wasn't just a long time ago.  All we have to do is turn on the news every night and we see it playing out in our cities, nation and our world.  Adventure Boy is dead on, it's just not right.

Adventure Boy, I love you.  And I love that your parents are raising you to value people for people and not the gender stereotypes nor what color their skin is.  You, Adventure Boy, give me hope.

*Bonus story*

Adventure Boy has been taking piano lessons.  He had his first recital on Sunday.  The same day I was being quizzed on my marital status, I asked him how he was feeling about the recital.  He said "Scared."  We had a little discussion in which I told him I thought he would do a great job because he likes people and likes to be in front of people, entertaining them.  I didn't get much of a response from that.

On Sunday after the recital I asked him how he felt about his performance and he said, "I play better in front of people."  This kid!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My place of ministry

*Much of this post was originally written in March.*

"You should write a book."  My friend the manager of the Office Suite where I work said that to me this morning.  That was after she had come into my office and sat for 10 minutes recapping all that had gone on in the office since I was last there on Thursday.  That conversation was followed by a visit from the gentleman down the hall who walks by my office heading towards the coffee room about 5 times a day.  Which was followed by a quick visit to the front desk where the receptionist unloaded her frustrations.  Then the phone call came from the office manager, "you should write a book about all of us who tell you all this stuff."

There are people I know who believe ministry only happens in the context of talking about God and Jesus.  If you aren't sharing about God or Jesus and lives aren't being "saved", then you aren't really doing ministry.  There are people who think ministry only happens in a church building on Sunday mornings by one person (in their minds that person should be male) who talks at you for 45 minutes.  There are people who believe I left ministry behind when God called me out of my job as Youth and Young Adult Director at the church of my past.

I have news for them.  I am doing "ministry".  My ministry involves listening to the people who show up at my office door during the day.  Some walk in and sit down in the chair, some just stand awhile.  Sometimes ministry happens in the hallways or by the coffee pots.  My ministry involves laughing with them, counseling them, asking about their lives, hearing their complaints, pointing out the positive, sympathizing with the tough parts and praying for them.  Praying for them as they are there, as they talk, as they are walking out the door and times in between.

Some people to whom I minister believe in God, some people don't.  I don't ask questions about their faith; As I listen to their stories their beliefs come to light sooner or later.  My job isn't to do anything but listen and pray.  Yes, in the eyes of many in the circle of Christianity, this makes me a horrible evangelist.  I'm really okay with that.

My ministry isn't just regulated to the ones who come into the office, I also minister to the one's whom I interact with via email and phone calls.  I minister as I solve problems, answer questions, reassure, encourage, equip, apologize, point out problems and so much more.  My ministry happens in an office building, near the airport, on the 2nd floor, surrounded by lawyers and CPA's, start up tech companies, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist and other businesses of which I have no idea what they do.  It's definitely not a church building but it's ministry all the same.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thoughts for today

Words haven't come easily in this space, lately.  I've thought about blogging a lot.  I have many blog posts started and stalled.  I think there are about 10 just sitting, waiting for me to finish my thoughts, or have the courage to hit "publish".  So in the meantime I share these opinions and thoughts:
  • The discussion about millennials and the church is kind of putting me off, simply because I don't fall in the age range of millennials but I have many of the same thoughts and feelings about the church expressed in the blog posts and articles I read.  Why aren't we church people just willing to admit there is a problem within the churches that goes beyond generations?  Is it because we can't quite name what the problem is yet, so we keep narrowing down the scope to individual generations?
  • Healthcare.  I work two jobs.  I don't receive health benefits with either job.  I have been denied healthcare because of "pre-existing conditions" and am VERY EXCITED that I have the opportunity to purchase a plan and at least be able to breathe a little easier.  I do not intend to "mooch" off the government.  I pay my taxes and I don't quibble about them.  I just want healthcare so I can go see my doctor and not worry about getting sick or injured and not having healthcare.  
  • While on the topic of healthcare, I seem to remember every October, when I had health insurance, the insurance companies sending out notices that our current insurance plan was being changed or discontinued or the rates were going up and up and up.  It seems to me some of the problems the Affordable Care Act faces aren't solely because of the ACA but because of the greediness of insurance companies.
  • Facebook continues to tick me off and I'm struggling to kick the addiction.  It's hardest when I am right now.
  • Just about the time Daylight Savings Time came to an end, I had an overwhelming urge to walk off the frustration and irritation roaring through me...of course it was dark outside and we gave away the treadmill that wasn't working so well and I wasn't wearing the right shoes to use the one at work.  Annnnnnnnnnddddddddd that urge has now passed.  
  • Saturday I went with some high school students, the youth pastor and another volunteer to a Christian concert 3 hours away.  It was so much fun and so loud.  In the space of 5 hours we heard 10 bands.  Some I will listen to again (Plumb, Crowder, TFK), some not so, I'm not going to name them.  Standing with hands raised, singing along to words that have buried themselves deep into my soul, with a multitude of instruments (guitar, piano, fiddle, upright bass, accordion, a JUG!) was soul filling. It's been a long time since I've been able to sing in worship like that...I miss it.
  • Creative Guy got a Kindle and besides reading books he likes to play games on the Kindle.  I have a Kindle as well and I enjoy the same things.  I found the game Despicable Me Minion Rush awhile back and suggested that Creative Guy try that.  It's a hit!  So much so that he called me a couple of weeks ago VERY excited that he had gotten past three difficult levels.  I now have instructions to call him when I find Gru's Disco Room or he will call me if he finds it first.  Love him.  Don't own a Kindle?  You can get it on your smart phone too.  It's free...and addicting.  =)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

So far today

Woke up at 2am, after going to sleep at 11pm.

Took antacids for the heartburn/acid reflux/stressed about work giving myself sleep issues thing.

Read until 3:45am.

Back to sleep.

Awake at 5:30am.

Out of bed 5:52am.

Showered, dressed, hair styled (it's been a good hair week, PRAISE JESUS!) and out the door 6:30am.

Bank to deposit and withdraw funds 6:40am.

Gas station as the line was on "E" and the low fuel light came on (a regular occurrence) 6:50am.

Star$ for a Salted Caramel White Mocha (my new go-to drink) 6:55am.

Bus station 7:00am.

Bus 7:04am.

Walgreens for aspirin/ibuprofen to fend off the headache that arrived in force on the bus.  8 something am. (didn't look at a clock).

Light rail 8:15ish.

Off light rail walk to office building 8:30am.

In office 8:35am.

Water and ibuprofen 8:40am.

Estimated departure time from work today 3:45pm.

Estimated time when I can return to bed 5:00pm.

Counting the minutes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

People, money, work and life

There are few things I detest more than dealing with money, especially other people's money.  Of course, what is one of things that I get to deal with in my current job?  Other people's money.  Ugh.

I don't write the checks. I process the forms to send to the treasurer who then writes the checks.  It's a multi-step process that seems clumsy at times and gets frustrating.  Some requests arrive in the mail, some are emailed.  If mailed I get to scan and compile the requests into a single document.  Some are emailed with one part being a PDF and another being a word doc.  Compiling all of those into a single document means cutting and pasting (if the cut and paste looks clear enough) but if that fails then I get to turn on the laptop computer, put all the files on a thumb drive, transfer them over to the laptop, open Adobe Acrobat and combine them into a single PDF, put them back on the thumb drive and transfer them back to the main computer and then continue.  (You may be asking why I don't have Adobe Acrobat on the main computer.  A.  Don't have the installation CD-ROM.  B.  It's an old version and the download files aren't available.  C.  There isn't money in the budget to buy the new version.)

The next step is to double check that the expense account is listed correctly AND make sure there is money in the budget.  If any there isn't I get to go up the chain of command and say, "Ummmm...."

The current system requires the overall committee chair to sign off on check requests.  Many people just send me the requests.  If there isn't a double signature I then get to email the file to the appropriate individual and wait for them to send me the signed file back.  That can take hours or days.  I get to follow up with the individuals for the 2nd signatures if I haven't heard back from them.

This year, instead of just recording the date, payee and check amount and the date I'm sending it to the treasurer, I also get to enter the information into the budget worksheet and track the budget to-date.  If the amount is over the budget limit, I flag the request and go up the chain of command..."Ummmm...."

I then compile all the files into a single email and send them to the treasurer, or in this case the treasurer's assistant who then processes them and comes back at me with "this is wrong, what about this" and so on...I seriously don't like this part of my job.

Now, add in this fabulous fact, the treasurer changes every.year.  Every year there is someone different who does things a little differently and the whole system goes through a major adjustment period.  Last year I sent requests in weekly and they were typically paid within 10 days.  This year I send in requests on the 1st and the 15th.  Sounds easy simple and like it would work well...not so.  If someone sends in a request on the 16th and there are 31 days in the month and the 1st is on a Saturday, that means that the request languishes for 15-20 days.  Add in those individuals (ahem) that wait a month or two or three before turning in receipts and things get dicey at times.  (Newsflash, if you want to pay your credit card on the due date with the funds owed by us, you need to send the receipt in within a day of purchasing your items!)

This is one of those weeks when the s**t has hit the fan.  "Where are my checks?  Why is it taking so long?" emails have been flying.  I had to question a couple of requests, which resulted in terse email strings (beginning to SERIOUSLY dislike emails).  The tension has begun to wind through my body until I cringe when that sound plays over the speakers indicating "You've got mail" and break out in a sweat.  My stomach is cramping, I can feel the hair on my head that is not already gray turning gray and I wonder, silently, do I love this job enough to deal with this?

And there, my friends, is where I have found myself week after week for months.  Asking questions. Do I love my job enough to keep doing this? If I changed jobs, there would be other issues with other things...would I love that job enough?  What am I going to do when I grow up?  Where am I headed?  Am I just marking time after being in full time ministry?  What am I passionate about?  Do I want to just have a job for the sake of making money to pay the bills and maybe (dream on) put some away for the future that just keeps getting closer?  What is it that God has in store for me?  Am I being too dense?  Have I ignored the signs?  Am I sabotaging myself because I'm afraid of failure?

I have no answers to those questions but I do know this...I really dislike dealing with people and their money...accounting, banking, anything financial is OUT!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A prayer for today

God of infinite wisdom and grace,

I could list the myriad of frustrations and angst running through my head...but you know.

I could spew the irritation and utter disbelief I'm feeling...but you know.

I could plead, for the millionth time, my case before you about the desires of my heart...but you know.

I could go on and on and on...but you know.

So I will simply ask for your unending grace today.

I will simply ask for (darn it I don't like praying for this) patience.

I will simply say Thank You for being forgiving and full of grace, for seeing past the mask I put in place for everyone else and loving me anyway.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A trip to Joplin turned into a trip to...

"We are looking for 6 people to give up their seats on this flight and fly out tomorrow.  We will provide hotel accommodations and meal voucher for tonight and tomorrow morning as well as a $300 voucher for future travel."  The announcement echoed through the waiting area where I sat with the Joplin Mission Team.  We were returning home from our week of work in Joplin, waiting in Dallas for our plane to arrive when the announcement was made.

I looked at Youth Pastor friend and said "You should do that."  I was half joking.  He looked at me and said, "I think you should."  I thought about it for a few seconds and then shrugged.  "Nope, can't leave my team."

The announcement was made again 30 minutes later.  They were looking for 3 people then.  I wrestled with the thought and Youth Pastor friend gave me the "you should take it" look.  Still, my sense of team spirit held strong.  Another 30 minutes, the plane that was to take us home had arrived and the third announcement was made.  "We are looking for one person to give up their seat on this flight and take a guaranteed flight out tomorrow morning.  We will give you meal vouchers, a voucher in a hotel tonight and a $500 travel voucher for future travel."  I didn't hesitate long that time.  I took my ticket, went up to the counter and said, "Yes, please."  I guess I can be bought.

10 minutes later my team was boarding the plane and I was sitting in the waiting area, waiting for my hotel, meal and travel vouchers.  I enjoyed two hot showers in a lovely bathroom with fresh, clean towels, serious luxury after a week on a Mission trip, slept in a real bed with clean sheets and arrived home at 9:30am the next morning.  No big deal.

Fast forward a bit and I have a $500 travel voucher and a deadline by which to use the voucher.  There were many options open.  Head to Mississippi for fun?  BE with the Revgals? (Gave that one serious consideration seeing as how I could visit Mississippi friends and go to BE. Like two vacations in one.) Washington State to visit family and friends? Maui with my parents and friends?  Washington DC?  Maine?  I just couldn't make a decision.

One day, sitting at work I had a moment of clarity.  I had to take a vacation or I was going to fall apart.  Not a working vacation like my last three have been but an actual go away and do nothing vacation.  That's when everything began to line up. The option was clear.  The airfare was just slightly higher than the travel voucher.  The dates freed up and suddenly I was going on vacation.

And that, my friends, is how a trip to Joplin turned into a trip to Maui. Aloha.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On my mind

Sitting at the computer, reading a job description, waiting for a phone call to give a recommendation for someone else for a Youth Ministry position (nope, I don't want the position and recommendation done) and all I can really think about is...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A message from God

I'm telling this tale because my friend Jeffy hasn't told it himself yet (hint, hint) and I need to associate something fun with church today.  All inaccuracies to the story are my own.

My friend Jeffy was once the custodian at Old Church.  He had to quit after his shoulder started giving him trouble and he couldn't manhandle the chairs and tables anymore.  The church hired someone new.  Old Church has gone through a lot of custodians.  A couple have been good and actually cleaned.  Most were nightmares.  Serious nightmares.  I was once accused of not liking homeless people because I pointed out that the current custodian wasn't doing his job. He wasn't homeless and it's a LONG story.

Anyhow, the newest custodian is one of the those custodians that needs a little assistance in cleaning the restrooms, so Jeffy has been going in and cleaning the restrooms.  Recently, Jeffy was at the church cleaning the night after the kids program had been held.  He was in the women's restroom checking the "little boxes" that tend to stink to high heaven if they aren't emptied within a day. He opened one box, peered in and noticed something in there but not what he expected.  That happens from time to time. Those little boxes sometimes just hold regular trash.  He pulled out the bag and at the bottom was an offering envelope.  Yes, you read that right, an offering envelope.  One from the pews in the Sanctuary.  It gets better.

On the front of the envelope was written.  "God has something good to tell you."  Jeffy chuckled a little, turned the envelope over and opened it up.  Written on the inside was this message:

"God thinks you are nice."

Sometimes God shows up in the most unexpected places.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Random Brittany fact of the day

I'm sure it says something about me.

I'm not sure what it says about me.

It's not the first time I've noticed it.

It might distract people.

I know it makes some people laugh.

Here's my confession:

I talk with my hands.

If someone forced me to sit on my hands while talking, I could do it but it would be reallllly difficult.

I manage to contain the free hand movement while talking, at times.

It's not very professional to be waving one's hands about in the air with fervor in polite company.

But when no one is in the office and I am on the phone...WATCH OUT!!!

I guess the good news is that no one else is around to watch me talk on the phone and gesture ferociously with my hands...unless they are walking by my open office door.

And the person who's eye would get poked out by my wild gesticulating would be me.

The other piece of good news is that I don't tend to talk a lot when with a large group of people.

And that, my friends, is a random Brittany fact of the day.  =D

Sunday, September 15, 2013

From Youth Pastor to volunteer

This post was started a few weeks ago...

I went to Youth Group last night.  I sat around the fire pit and talked with people.  I ran after the dodge balls that flew past the group.  I gave and received hugs.  I sat in the back on the ugly and uncomfortable seating and listened to the youth volunteer speak.  I listened to God say "It's not about where you are going, it's about who you are going there with."  I stayed afterwards and talked with a couple of others and was one of the last to leave.

I also watched the group.  The youth knew what was happening.  They had the routine down.  They went with the flow.  They did what they were asked.  They laughed, they played, they listened, they prayed, they interacted with their friends...sometimes with the others.

I watched the leaders.  They engaged the youth, they joined in the fun, they talked to each other and then they left.

I watched my friend, the Youth Pastor.  I knew he had put hours in beforehand setting things up.  I saw the weariness on his face.  I saw him enter into the game, letting go and playing for a few seconds, the tiredness on his face easing.  I saw him specifically go sit next to kids just to talk.  I saw him sit next to the one kid who needs just a little bit more attention while the volunteer youth worker was speaking.  I watched him head outside, as the group ended, to sit around the fire, talk with kids and greet parents as all his volunteers stayed inside...talking with each other.

Just the night before I had sat and listened for awhile as he shared the burdens on his heart.  I heard my own story in his words.  I heard the weariness, the frustration, the disillusionment with church people, the burden of too much on his plate.  I heard it all and understood.  I see the signs and I pray, oh how I pray, that God reveals the path ahead of Youth Pastor friend soon...and selfishly hope that path doesn't lead him away. 

Sitting in the back, joining the group for the first time, being in a youth group setting for the first time since I left my own two years ago (wow, that seems so long ago!), knowing the back story, I made a decision.  I made a decision not be the typical volunteer leader who comes just before group starts and leaves just after it's over.  I may have worked all day, commuted up to 3 hours round-trip and have to get up early the next morning to do it all over again.  I may show up just before group starts just because I can't get there any sooner but I will be one of the last to leave.  I will be the volunteer who hangs out and listens to Youth Pastor when he needs to download the nights events.  I will be tired at work the next day but that doesn't matter.  The spiritual and emotional health of Youth Pastor friend is more important.

It's been a few weeks since I started attending youth group.  I'm slowly finding my way and I think that God may have put the desire to volunteer on my heart, not for the benefit of the teens, but to be an encourager and supporter of the volunteers.  Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some teens that need some one on one attention I will gladly give...but a couple of the volunteers, they may actually be the people I am at youth group for.  It's a new road, a new journey, a new tale to tell.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Adventures with nature

We live in the mountains, next to a sand plant and nature is abundant.  Sometimes nature is unexpected, such as the day I returned home and wondered when we moved to the zoo.  Or the time when Creative Guy and I were heading out to the car and the biggest coyote I have ever seen came out of the bushes about 10 feet away from where we were.  I honestly thought for a minute it was a wolf.  Long time blog followers may remember the rodent invasion of May 2011 at Shangri-La O.

Sometimes nature is welcomed, sometimes not so much.

Cute birds on the bird feeder, welcome.
Squirrel on the bird feeder, not welcome.

Ants roaming around the yard, welcome.
Ants in the kitchen and bathrooms, not welcome.

Bats flying through the sky at night, welcome.
Bats stuck between the window and, yeah, not welcome.(The question we want to ask but are afraid to ask is how did it get there?)

Termites indoors, never welcome.
Scorpions indoors, never welcome.

Snakes in the garage, as long as they slither out without causing harm, tolerable.
Whatever ran out of the garage when I got home last night, again, as long as they run away without causing harm, tolerable.

Deer lounging under the cedar trees, welcome.
Rabbits hopping by, welcome.

The neighbors dog that is allowed to wander at will, really irritating.
The Siamese cat that scampers away the minute it sees a human being, well, I hope it's catching the rodents and snakes...and blue jays (the screechy, annoying ones).

Raccoons knocking over the garbage cans, decidedly not welcome.
Whatever animal keeps walking across the front porch in the wee hours in the morning, that is heavy enough to cause the porch to creak and moan and that wanders around the front year snorting like a pig, REALLY not welcome.

We may be investing in an animal cam or night cam or, as I will call it, "what the heck kind of animal keeps waking me up in the middle of the night" cam.  Then again, maybe I don't want to know...I might never leave the house at night again.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

23 Signs Your an Introvert

I've talked about my introverted tendencies before on this blog.  I know myself.

I just saw the list linked below on Huffington Post.  There is only one that doesn't necessarily apply at this moment in time and I HIGHLY identify with #1, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15...well, okay, most all of them.

For all those who ask how I can be an introvert and yet get up and speak in front of a lot of people with calm and ease...see #8.

For all those who attempt to get me to do things and I put you off for long periods of time, see #10 and 23.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Same statement, different venue

"We want new people!  We want to reach a younger audience!  We will fight change tooth and nail!  The new people must come in and like to do things the same way we have since the beginning of time!'

Having spent most of my working years in a church setting, I was under the illusion that this type of thinking occurred mostly in churches.  It doesn't.

One of the last times I heard Youth Specialties co-Founder Mike Yaconelli talk, he made the statement "When you do what you always do, you get what you always get."  My notes from that talk wound up on a bulletin board next to my desk and I read that statement over and over and over again.  It was hard to implement change, simply because it was easier to just keep doing what I had been doing.  Changes did happen, though, because I got tired of getting what I always got.

Fast forward years and I'm in a different job, no longer in full-time ministry (though I am going to be volunteering on a regular basis in someone else's youth group...eek!) and working with some who have been asked to think outside the box.  Guess what?  The people who have been in the game a long time don't want no stinkin' change.  Just come in and do things like they have always been done.  It's worked for us before, it will work again.  They say they want to attract younger people but...

The worse part?  Grown-ups who act like teenagers but say they are grown-ups.  I've worked with teenagers...I like them better than faux grown-ups.

There's a country song playing in my head right now...anyone want to take a guess as to what it is?  =)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Yesterday in Worship

I volunteered to run the sound system and computer for the worship service yesterday.  I  always go into those mornings nervously.  I contend that sound systems and other media items in churches are inhabited by little gremlins that like to (dilemma here, do I use the word I really want to or do I edit myself?) make even the most basic, non-eventful morning go haywire. (Edited version, in case you were wondering.)

It all was going well until I put the CD in to play before worship and the sound didn't come through the speakers. I checked all the buttons, looked to make sure it was playing and still nothing. So I looked at the myriad of wires spilling around the sound board and attempted to ascertain if the CD player was, in fact, plugged into the sound board.  Seconds later I looked up and saw the blue screen of death.  Not on the computer but from the projector.  Oh s......................  I jiggled wires, I checked connections, I looked at the time and knew Plan B had to happen...what Plan B was I had no idea.  I raced down to the main floor, alerted the worship leaders and raced back up to jiggle wires some more. Finally I found the one connection seeming to be the issue and we were back in black. Hal-le-luh-jah!!!  I was then afraid to touch anything for fear of that blue screen of death returning...seriously hate that screen.

We still went with Plan B. Instead of previously chosen songs that needed to be projected on the screen, we had a hymn sing of sorts.  This was supposed to happen.  Three older people chose songs and then one of the teens from the balcony raised his hand.  "Hymn 123, please."  His choice?  O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Now, I know this teen.  He could very well have been choosing that song because he liked that it was hymn 1,2,3.  Whatever the reason, we sang this hymn of longing, expectation and waiting and eventually celebration.  It was beautiful.

 I believe we need to sing Christmas/Advent songs all year long not just in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas, and yesterday whether in jest or not, we did, thanks to one teenage boy.

"O Come O Come Emmanuel"

O come o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the son of god appears

Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel

Oh come thou day-spring come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel

Oh come desire of nations bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid thou our sad divisions cease
And be thyself our king of peace

Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Every so often I feel the need to say the following...

I believe in a God of mystery.

I believe in a God who's love knows no human bounds.

I believe that each person has access to God.

I believe that God works in the lives of people who believe and don't believe in God...because God so loves.

I believe that no matter how hard I try, I cannot be God.

I cannot judge a persons soul,


commitment to,

or understanding of God,

without being judged myself...and probably most likely be found lacking all of the above.

I believe God knows a heck of a lot more than I do

and I believe that when I try to deny another persons faith because they don't believe in God or follow God the same way I do, I am the hypocrite, the Pharisee, the one lacking faith in a BIG, AMAZING, MYSTERIOUS GOD. - I know it secretly irritates the hell out of you that God loves me just as much as he loves you.

P.S.  This list of "I believes" is not limitless or even finished because I also believe that my faith, my understanding and my belief in God is an ever evolving story...check back this list will change at some point in the future.  =)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What was I saying?

I had an extended coffee meet-up with a friend on Friday.  It was a beautiful day and we sat enjoying the California close-enough-to-the-beach-that-it-is pleasant weather and talking.  I, in my typical don't think about it fashion, neglected the sunscreen.  I regret that decision today as I look at the lovely tan lines I know sport.  That v-neck tee was nice but the v-neck tan line does not look nice with all the scoop neck work shirts I own.  Oh well.

As we were talking my friend mentioned a song that we had sung with a couple of years back.  It was a Johnny Cash song.  Neither of us could remember the name.  Which prompted a discussion about how much we both tend to forget things these days.  Mere seconds later another friend asked about the doctor I was going to and I COULD NOT come up with her name.  Which prompted much laughter.

About an hour later in the midst of a lively discussion about, well, something, my friend and I both were distracted by the group of three next to us.  We attempted to keep the conversation going but the circus happening in this group just drew our attention away.  When that group finally left my friend looked at me and said, "What was I saying?", which caused another round of hysterical laughter.  It went on like that the rest of the time (and seeing as how we were there for almost 4 hours, there were a lot of those moments.  Best way to spend a Friday...even with the awesomely awkward tan lines I now have.)

I relate that story because just 10 minutes ago, as I was browsing through the Internet, I had a brilliant idea for a blog post.  I was going to pontificate and make grand statements and basically rant.  I signed into blogger and promptly forgot what I was going to post about.  It came back to me as I typed out that last sentence. I'm going to start another post and save it for later, if I don't get distracted by something else in the next 10 minutes.

This memory-distraction thing, though is kind of stressing me out.  For someone who values words as much as I do, the tendency to forget words is beginning to make me wonder what is happening to my brain.  Which makes me think that maybe it's a result of getting older.  Then I get depressed when I think of the number of candles that will be on my birthday cake this year (did someone yell fire?) and start thinking about how differently life turned out than I imagined they would when I was 20 and throw a pity party for one and then I remember my doctors name and that's enough of...HEY, that's the name of the Johnny Cash song, That's Enough!...wait, what I was I saying?

Welcome to my life. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dear News Media,

While I am happy for the Royal couple and the impending arrival of their first child, I really don't need to see "LIVE COVERAGE OF THE ROYAL BIRTH".  Additionally, having been in the room when Creative Guy and Adventure Boy made their way into the world, I'm pretty sure the Duchess doesn't want there to be "LIVE COVERAGE" of the royal birth either.  Just sayin'.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Less Miserable

A few months ago I was with K, N, Adventure Boy, Creative Guy and Grammy for a birthday/Oscar party night.  We all sat around the dinner table enjoying BBQ ribs and watching the beautiful people on TV being awarded for their movie efforts.  Les Miserables was up for some award and N started to make a comment about the movie saying, "Le Miserables...".  Creative Guy, the 8 year old young reader, looked at the TV screen and said "No Dad, it's LESS miserable."  All the adults in the room shared a look and tried really hard not to giggle too much.

I told the Bachelor Viewing crew that and we laughed and laughed and laughed.  It was a completely innocent remark on the part of a young reader and yet...

A few weeks ago I was walking down the sidewalk towards the light rail.  I tend to smile at people if we make eye contact and as I passed a lady she returned my smile with a big smile of her own.  I almost stopped on the sidewalk in shock.  I'm so used to smiling at people and getting nothing, NOTHING in return.  People either don't want to smile back and thereby invite a complete stranger to talk with them or they just aren't happy and so they don't smile.

I've been in the "just not happy" place in life.  I've done my fair share of whining and yet that simple statement by my 8 year old godson has had me thinking...less miserable.

I believe there are people who live life to be miserable.  I KNOW people who are determined to be miserable.  Something happens that annoys them the slightest bit and the drama begins.  Huge, sweeping, dramatic statements are made.  Everyone is out to get them.  Nothing goes their way EVER.  They move from one place of unhappiness to another, destined determined to be miserable.  They are also determined to make everyone around them miserable as well...or at least determined to see the world in a negative manner.

I can't live that way.  There are big, awful things happening in the world.  There are awful things happening all over the world that we simply don't hear about.  Not just awful, horrific, unspeakable acts occur all the time that we in US never, ever hear about.  In light of that, the fact that I'm not 100% happy right now doesn't mean much.  I look at my life and I see a lot to be less miserable about.  A roof over my head, a family that loves me, a God who offers grace and compassion all the time, friends who make me laugh, a job that doesn't stink, a car that works most of the time now, some money less money in the bank because of said car.  Not perfect but definitely not miserable.

There is a part of me convinced that being miserable is a state of mind.  I can choose to dwell on the crappy things in life, I can choose to think about the good things.  I can choose to remind myself over and over again about those qualities I find lacking or I can choose to remember the gifts and talents I've been blessed with.  I can choose to feel miserable or I can choose to be less miserable.

Some days it is admittedly harder than others to choose the less miserable point of view and yet today I think I am going to take a lesson, however inadvertent, from an 8 year old and be less miserable.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Where do I belong?

It's silly.  The other day on the RevGals facebook page (yes, I check in once a day even though I'm taking a break and lately I've been using that darn site for work!  geesh!) there was a question posed...what denomination are you?

One question and I suddenly felt very sad.  Answering that question used to be easy.  PC(USA) all the way.   In my heart I am still very much a PC(USA) girl.  But in real-churchgoing-life, I am no longer a PC(USA) girl.  I still hold membership in a PC(USA) church but that's only because I haven't officially sent my membership termination letter.  They won't be PC(USA) for long, either, as things look right now...the sadness deepens.
 I would love to attend a PC(USA) church and there are 3 others in town.  One is pseudo PC(USA). As soon as they can figure out how to do so, they are out.  The other 2 are very traditional in their worship and, well, that's just not me.

So I found a place where I feel I being "fed", to use christianese and even more importantly, where I was welcomed enthusiastically and I go there.  Right now I attend a church associated with the Conservative Baptist Association. My values and the values of many in the church do not match up.  I don't plan on ever becoming a member, but for now this is where God has me.  I treasure the people there but I don't agree with their viewpoints on many subjects and yet, I find myself drawn to this loosely associated Conservative Baptist Church...but I don't really feel like I belong. I don't claim the denomination as my own. I just happen to attend the church right now.

All of that said, it was such a simple question and yet my heart broke, one more time, as I looked at this journey of faith and recognized I don't have a true denomination that I call home. In the grand scheme, it truly does not matter, it is simply another word that gets in the way of faith and hinders us from viewing God without restriction...but that word was also a piece of my identity, another part left behind in this journey of faith.  Why does growing in faith have to be so hard sometimes?

So, to answer the innocently asked question, my name is Brittany. I don't have a true denominational home anymore. The day I do, I will let you know.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Things I miss, things I don't

There are some moments when I really miss working for a church, full-time.  I miss the people who just pop in to say Hi or the conversations about faith and humanity that occur randomly.  I miss the freedom and flexibility of the days schedule.  I miss late night conversations in the parking lot after youth group and the impromptu meet ups at the local Tacqueria after a youth group event.  I miss water balloons and messy night and small groups and worship team rehearsals where we worshiped freely without the eyes of the congregation on us.  I miss the relationships with people and the conversations where the layers fell away and we could get real about our lives, our doubts, our hopes and dreams.  I miss that stuff.

I do not miss the people who sit through the music, the prayers and the sermon and don't hear what is being said but only focus on the ONE thing that irritates them.  I don't miss those people then proceeding to corner me after the worship service to express their displeasure about the one thing that bothered them.  I don't miss ending worship on a high only to be brought back down to earth with a jarring thud.  I don't miss the never ending conversation about hymns or "those praise songs" and projectors or hymnals.  Serving communion by passing the plates or intinction (not sure I spelled that correctly).  I don't miss the conversations about the allowing people to bring their beverages into the sanctuary or making them drink them outside the doors.  I don't miss hearing the complaints about "those children" being too loud during the worship service.  I just don't miss that kind of stuff.

But I do miss a lot of the rest.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grumpy Monday's

I hereby declare this to be a grumpy Monday.

I woke up grumpy.

I waited in line for my coffee grumpy.

I watched two people who ordered after me get their coffee before me and continued to be grumpy.

I drove to work grumpy.

I have checked work emails and am still grumpy.

I listened to the person who can't seem to get to work on time and has a million excuses make another excuse and got grumpier...and I don't even work with them!

I am hoping that by the time the Bachelorette viewing party begins tonight my grumpiness will have been dispersed because it could get ugly people.  Tonight might be the night that I stay home and watch the Bachelorette by myself (though that takes the fun out of it.)

Sigh.  Grumpy Monday it is.  I think the door to the office will remain closed all day.  I'll try to keep the rest of my grumpiness to myself.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

It wasn't just a hand mixer

When I moved away for college, I moved into an apartment.  It was a cute little place close to campus.  I rode my bike across the street and then across campus most days.  Moving into an apartment meant that I got to open my "hope" chest and use all the pretty dishes that I had been collecting over the years.  Along with all the dishes, I took with me some hand-me-downs from family and friends to fill the cupboards of my apartment.

One of those hand-me-downs was a hand mixer that once belonged to Grandma O.  My Grandma O was a fabulous baker.  I never once remember going to her house and finding the cookie jar empty.  She made homemade rolls for special occasions that were melt in your mouth good.  Her apple pie was outstanding.  Grandma O wasn't good at verbalizing her feelings for people.  She wasn't an overly warm woman but I believe that Grandma O showed her love with food.  She baked, she cooked, she fed her family and friends and that is how she told us she loved us.

This afternoon, I pulled out Grandma O's mixer.  I had fresh lemons from my lemon tree and was determined to make a lemon meringue pie.  In college I had successfully made pies using that mixer, that turned out beautifully, with no weeping or shrinking or anything.  They tasted mighty good too.  Of course when I moved back home after college, the recipe I used to make those fantastic lemon meringue pies got lost in the shuffle.  I have tried to make that pie again, several times, with little success.  My Food Network magazine arrived Wednesday with an easier recipe, I had a fresh lemons, the kitchen was empty, I had the time and so it was time to try again.

I squeezed those fresh lemons (I should have taken a picture of my lemons...the rind is at least an inch thick.  They look like softballs.) and mixed together the ingredients for the base of the pie.  When ready, I poured it into the waiting shell (store-bought because while I have inherited a little bit of Grandma O's baking genes, I fail at pie dough.  FAIL.)  I then pulled down Grandma O's mixer, ready to tackle the meringue.

Upon putting the first beater in, I noticed that it wobbled a little.  The connection between the shaft and the beater blade seemed a little tenuous.  The next beater was a little more solid but when I put the second beater in, I noticed the two beaters came together too closely.  I tested it once outside the egg whites and they clanked together.  No good!  I pulled them out, switched places and tried again. A little less clanky, so I decided to give it a try.  Into the egg whites the beaters went.  I switched the mixer on and smoke started to come out of the motor, the beaters clanked together and then stopped, jammed together.  I looked at Grandma O's mixer and realized, the end had come.  There was no fixing this.  I pulled the cord from the socket, tried to eject the beaters to no avail.  I then pushed and pulled until they came apart.  The one tenuous beater was now even more wobbly.  The era of this hand mixer had come to an end. 

I washed the beaters, dried them, put them back into their rightful place on the mixer, loving wrapped the cord around the mixer and took it out to the recycling bin for their future ride to their final resting place.  It's just a hand mixer and yet, I will admit to feeling a little teary at the end of our time together.  They will be replaced by another hand mixer.  An updated one with a bigger motor.  But that mixer won't have the memories attached.  When I pull it out of the cupboard, I will no longer think of Grandma O and the wonderful things she made with that mixer.

As I started to write this post thinking about Grandma O and her baking, the dates started connecting and suddenly the tears that came weren't because of a silly hand mixer dying after, gosh, 40+ years of use. 22 years ago this week, Grandma and Grandpa O celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  We had a grand party, a dinner of course, at a favorite restaurant of theirs with family and friends surrounding them, celebrating their lives together.  That night Grandma O went to sleep and didn't wake up.

Over the years, I have come to believe that grief meanders in ever widening circles.  The first days, months and years, we cycle through our emotions, feeling the loss of those we loved in an immediate and profound ways over and over again.  As the years go on, the circles of emotions become wider, with longer times between the waves of sorrow.  Little things will trigger our emotions and the grief will return, maybe less intense, maybe just as intense as when we first felt the grief.  For me today it was an electric hand mixer, an inheritance from a Grandmother who left earth years too soon.  I grieve, not just the loss of her presence, amazing baking and cooking skills, but the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter that was just beginning to form after years of relationship "misses".

It wasn't just a hand mixer, it was a memory catcher; a reminder of someone I loved and the way she loved me in return. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taking a break

I made a decision the other day.  It was a decision that has been brewing for a little while now.  I decided to take a Facebook break of sorts.

I think it was when I realized I was hiding more posts than I was reading that the decision was made.

Or maybe when I found myself holding back from typing those three little letters that my friend E interprets as "We're That Famous" (look at it...look at it...don't get it?  eh, oh well.) as a comment on someones photo or status or whatever.

Maybe it was when I started feeling really awful about myself...there are a lot of perfectly happy, wonderful people on Facebook who are so content!  so happy!  doing so great!  have the perfect life!  perfect job!  look perfect!

The decision could have been made while reading the 1/8 of posts on there where the perfectly unhappy had to rant, yet again, about their perfectly unhappy lives.

It could have been when I felt like Facebook was just another version of the high school popularity contest.  How many friends do YOU have?  How many "likes" or comments did your last status update get?

Then again, it could have been the moment when I realized that I didn't need to do this anymore.  I didn't need to read all the posts or see all the pictures.  I didn't need to feel bad about myself or get frustrated with other's political "insights" that are, in my humble opinion, very one-sided.  I didn't need to read all of that...I just didn't.

And so, I decided to take a break of sorts.  I will go on to check if there are messages from anyone, because that happens, or if there were posts left on my wall (another thing that DRIVES ME CRAZY!  I have email and there's the whole private message thing.  The whole world does not need to see the conversation between you and I!)  I check certain pages (Hey, RevGals!) and then I.sign.out.

The strangest thing has happened.  I'm not up-to-date on all my friends lives and, well, it's okay.

I don't think constantly about what I can post on Facebook to get the most "likes" because it.doesn't.matter.

I'm also not angry every time I sign out.  I don't feel as bad about myself, my just average life or my lack of "popularity".  Sure, I do miss seeing photos but I know how to look for those.  My conversations don't include "Did you see so-and-so's post on Facebook?" and I am perfectly happy.  Gosh, just writing this post I realized how much Facebook reverted me to my angst-y teenage years.  So don't want to go there again!

This break may last a long time...I may revert to my old ways or maybe my page will languish there unused for a long time.  I don't truly know.  At the moment, I am at peace...and that, my friends, is good.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Six words in

I was on a website recently that had a job board.  I was curious, so I clicked on the job board.  An opening immediately jumped out to me.  "I could do this!  I would LOVE this!" My heart picked up a beat and I didn't even flinch at the location of the job.  I clicked the link.

Six words in I stopped reading.  Six words in.

I understand their position.  I don't agree with their position but I understand it to a point.  I keep coming back to this.  I did not ask to be equipped with the gifts and talents I've been equipped with.  I did not ask for the opportunities I have been given.  All of those things, God gave to me or called me to.  I did not one day wake up and decide to thumb my nose at a few verses in the Bible that say "a woman must not..." because I thought it would be fun.  I followed God.  I am still following God.

So, to the church back east with a position open which caught my attention and started to fan the flame of excitement and possibility in my soul, well, I wish you well as you seek your man.  This woman will keep her eyes open and keep following God's leading.  Obviously, that wasn't one.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A tale from the journey

I sat in a room with 12 other people listening to the presentation overviews being given. Nervous energy raced through my body. My fingers anxiously picked at the rough skin of my right thumb, looking for one dried loose piece of flesh to tear away. My right foot danced up and down, a telltale sign of the uncertainty in my mind.  I could feel it coming. My turn was next.

Steeling my resolve I met the meeting's leaders gaze head on, though everything in me wanted to revert to the hard and fast rule in school "never look authority figures in the eye!"  I was next.  And so I began.

"Fifteen months ago I walked into Mr. So-and-So's office for a job interview..." Two or three minutes later I was done. The overview for my presentation given.  I sat back in my chair and let out a breath of relief.  That's when I heard Mr. So-and-So say, "I think we hired the right person."

They didn't know, those 12 people, that the last time I made a presentation to a group of adults was in a church.  They didn't know that last presentation was on my most favorite Scripture passage in the Bible.  They had no way in knowing that in the last presentation I gave I talked about standing on a ledge, looking over a gap wondering if I  enough faith to take the step, the leap of faith if you will, to change my world.

I sat back in my chair, took a cleansing breath and felt, for the first time in a year and seven months, confident.  I have no idea where life is taking me.  I do not know where I will be a year from now but today I am relaxing into the role I have found myself in, grateful for the leap of faith that has brought me here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Today I missed the early commuter bus today by 30 seconds because:

  1. I am a girl.
  2. I got up 5 minutes late.
  3. I could not decide what to wear.
  4. Decided what to wear and then realized I had a "tan" line.  Changed mind on top.
  5. Put on new top.
  6. Went to leave and realized the fog was in.
  7. Went back for a sweater.
  8. I do not have a navy blue nor do I have an off white sweater.
  9. Had an off white sweater that I wore three times and decided it was awful.
  10. Donated it to Goodwill.
  11. It's cold, I need a sweater.
  12. Dilemma ensued.
  13. Wearing white and off-white unsettles me.
  14. Finally tore a white sweater off the hanger and refused to look in the mirror.
  15. Raced out the door, sailed through the various lights until that one light.
  16. Watched the bus turn up the street while sitting at that one light that
  17. Started writing a letter to the city about that stupid light in my head.
  18. Light turned green.
  19. Pushed the van ahead of me to park and ride.
  20. Jumped out of car.
  21. Watched bus pull away.
  22. Sometimes it is a pain to be a girl.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Perfect hair

I am wary of people with perfect hair.

Actually, let me rephrase that.  I am wary of WOMEN with perfect hair.

I don't mean women who have those wash and wear haircuts that just look nice all the time.  I mean the women whose hairstyles must have taken hours to get just right and whose hair looks ah-maz-ing day after day from morning til night.  Whether up or down, their hair is perfect.  Those kinds of women make me edgy.

9 out of 10 days my hair winds up in a ponytail or sloppy bun by the end of the day.  I have hair bands everywhere.  In my purse, on the bedside table, on the vanity, on the gearshift of my car, in my backpack, in my luggage, on my key chains, everywhere I can put a hair band, I will.  I know at some point during the day I will have had enough and need to get my hair off my neck, out of my face, just up!  I get up in the morning and it's a ramble, shamble mess that only water and shampoo will tame.  I blow dry, style it, spray the heck out of it and walk out the door and by the time I get to the car my hair will have arranged itself into whatever semblance of order it decides it would like to be in that day and I have to live with it.  Perfect hair eludes me.

And so I am wary of people who have perfect hair because of my experience with my own hair and thus, I decided, it's impossible for anyone to actually have perfect hair and have a real life.  Thereby I am wary of anyone with perfect hair and I judge them.

Awhile back I had a conversation with a lady who has perfect hair.  She is one of the people I have been wary of and judged.  It was a short but deep conversation and as it was wrapping up I was overwhelmed with remorse.  This perfect hair woman was struggling with a decision, a pretty tough decision that showed me there was more to her than her perfect hair.  In our brief but intense conversation I finally got her.  She may have perfect hair but underneath that perfectness is someone just as messed up as I am.  She's got just as many doubts, just as many questions and struggles with just as much as I struggle with...she just happens to have perfect hair.

I've started looking at people with perfect hair from a different viewpoint.  I look past their hair and wonder about the person beneath the surface.  What are their fears?  What makes them happy?  What are the things they struggle with?  What are the secrets they are holding onto?  Do they feel loved?  How do they get that perfect hair??!!  Okay, so I can't get completely past that one; feel free to judge me.

Everyone has a story.  We all have doubts, fears, failures and successes that have shaped us.  We all have secrets and need to feel loved.  We all look different on the outside but on the inside there is so much that brings us together.  I'm working on getting past my perfect hair wariness, to look below the surface and see people for who they are and not what I perceive them to be.  It's a challenge, and sometimes I still am wary of the person beneath that superficiality but at least I've taken the time to get to know the person.

I accept my limitations.  I will never have perfect hair...but I know there is something about me that other people see and judge me for.  I wish we would all stop judging and start looking at the person beneath the surface.  There's a lot we are missing.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday's nights of dottiness

A bunch of blog posts started and nothing has made it past the edit we're going a little dotty tonight.
  • Last weekend I was in Napa for work.  A big conference for the District.  It was lovely and beautiful and I would like to go back when I'm not working.  I met, roughly, 500 people including Rita Moreno (wow!) and it was good.  This introvert, however, has been seriously over-stimulated.
  • I drove back home and immediately went to my 2nd job because, well, I'm heading to Joplin, Missouri this Saturday to do tornado relief work there again and we had a fundraiser dinner last night.  I had left work last Tuesday and we had 60 raffle items.  By the time the raffle started yesterday we had 117.  It was a little busy yesterday but good!  We raised $3400 for the trip.
  • I've been doing a lot of thinking and praying about a step that I need to take to make something official and I've got to say, finding gracious words to say when one is seriously pissed off is tough.
  • The one of the local papers has a column about driving and roads and all that stuff.  This morning, as I was catching up on the column, I read for the millionth time someone make a comment about how ugly Prius' are and just have to say this...who cares?  Why does it matter how "pretty" a car is?   Why is this a bone of contention?  What does this actually matter in the world?  I don't get it.
  • I read a lot of blogs and one of the bloggers I read posted something today that makes me wonder if he read my mind...we haven't even met, so that would be a strange thing.  You can read the blog here.  Really, I wonder if he knows the same person I know and the situation that has been distracting and frustrating me lately.  I know a wolf in sheep's clothing.
  • Did I tell you I leave on Saturday for a week in Joplin?  With 27 students and 13 other adults?  Yeah.  I really didn't expect to go to Joplin again and yet, God is a little nutty like that.
  • Last year just before the Joplin trip, the drivers seat in my car decided it didn't want to remain in the vertical position but rather preferred to remain in the back seat.  This year there is a strong coolant smell wafting throughout the cabin.  Yes, it's a convertible and yes the weather has been beautiful, but really?
  • I'm watching one of those real housewives thing while typing this and judging a whole bunch of people.  Me thinks it's time to shut this down and go to sleep!
Goooooooood niiiigghhtt.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tragedy in a small city

Tomorrow there will be a funeral processional made up of 200 police and other vehicles that drives some 30 miles from one small city to a larger city.  In that processional will be the families of two police officers from the small city who were just doing there jobs, a week ago Tuesday, and lost their lives in the process.  This small city was in the national headlines.  It's quite something to see your small city's name on the national headlines for something so devastating and incomprehensible.

The funeral procession will head over the big hill at the tail end of commute time, driving slowly in one lane, while the other is kept clear, thus blocking traffic for about an hour.  I am planning on getting up extra early tomorrow to take the earlier bus to work in anticipation of more congestion on the bus and on the roads.  My small sacrifice of a few more minutes of sleep is nothing in comparison to the sacrifice of lives made in the line of duty...or families who have been violently ripped apart.

It is expected that 6,000 law enforcement officers from around the country will be in attendance at the memorial service.  The state Governor will be there along with a recent American Idol Alumni that hails from Small City.  Small City has a newly created arena that can hold 4,000 people, which is where the memorial service was supposed to be held...but then larger city talked with small city and an arena that can seat up to 15,000 people was procured...30 miles away over the big hill.  They expect the arena to be full.

Now, one would think that small city would be amazed at the outpouring of respect and care being shown to the fallen officers and their families and be supportive of the move to the larger city, even though that means a drive for them and that the memorial service isn't in "their" town and yet...and yet...and yet.

Today, I'm praying for two families.  One who watched their mom and partner walk out the door going to her job as usual and another who said goodbye to their dad and husband like a normal day never knowing that would be the last hug, the last kiss, the last smile...

I'm praying for the families, pondering those who choose to put themselves in harms way for the good of the community and the inability humans have at times to see beyond themselves and what works for or pleases them as individuals.

Sometimes we really need to get over ourselves.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dear fellow Christ Followers,

Can we please place a moratorium on assuming that we know the depths of another person's faith?  Can we please stop making pronouncements on places such as blogs and "spacehook" and comments on newspaper articles or magazine articles that basically say that no matter what a person may SAY about their beliefs, we will not believe them because they don't operate the way we think the should operate.  Or they don't say the things we think they should say if they truly do profess faith and so we say things to discount their faith.

It's tiring, it's belittling and it says a whole heck of a lot more about our lack of faith in a really big God who can do amazingly big things to say that someone whose ideals look different than ours isn't a Christ follower.  Instead of talking with someone, getting to know them, spending time with them, investing in their life, many times we sit on the sidelines, judging from afar, never really interacting with another person and really getting to know where they are in the matter of belief and faith.

This tendency is magnified a million times over when the person we are sitting in judgment of is a celebrity or someone in the media spotlight.  So, until I sit down in a conversation with the President of the United States, the Queen of England or any other person in power or in the celebrity spotlight, I will take them at their word in regards to their beliefs in a higher power.  I refuse to be one of those Christ Followers who sits in judgment of another persons faith without really knowing that person...and yes, while you are judging others for this very reason, I will be judging you for judging them. 


Really not perfect, unjustly judgmental (at times) and willing to admit it Brittany

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ministry for the moment

For the last year and a half I have been wondering what my place is within the church. Changing churches has made the question even more pronounced. While I knew people at New church, they had no real idea about my gifts or talents. They welcomed me in, and I have enjoyed being a pew "sitter".

Friday afternoon I was thinking about the weekend and the thought ran through my head, "On Sunday I am sitting in the balcony at church."  Most Sunday's Yo Momma and I sit on the comfy but creaky chairs on the main floor.  Yo Momma is an extrovert and she likes the interaction with people. I am definitely an introvert and I like to hide. Yo Momma has been out of town, so the balcony was beckoning.

Then the phone rang.

A couple of weeks ago the phone rang at 3:30pm on Saturday. On the other end was the piano player for the first service...the guitar player and leader was sick, could I fill in?  It was either say yes or don't go to church (that Sunday was a combined service.)  I said yes.

Friday afternoon was at least 24 hours more notice than the time.  So much for sitting in  balcony.

After church (everything went well) I was talking with someone about the opportunities for ministry that we either ignore or follow God's leading.  I suddenly realized this is my ministry, for the moment.  I am the back-up worship leader.  Most Sunday's I will sit in the pews and participate from there.  Every once in a while, though, I will respond to the last minute call or even those a couple weeks with advance notice.

My ministry is to be a support to those in the spotlight all the time, to give them a week off every so often and to fill in at the last minute when life happens.

So in two weeks I will fill in for the first service and two weeks after that I will fill in at the church around the corner and after that, well I will just wait and see where I am asked to go next.

Just call me the worship leader substitute.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I am a rule girl.  I follow the rules.  Yes, there are times when I like to push the boundaries of the rules (especially, these days, when it comes to understanding God, the Bible and Christianity) but I am a hard wired, follow the rules kinda girl.

One rule that I have been told all my life, and that has spawned many a fantastic sitcom episode, is that tasting food in the supermarket is forbidden.  You cannot pick up a bag of grapes, open the bag and taste one and then not buy the bag of grapes.  There is no taste testing in supermarkets...

Except yesterday, I was in the supermarket and I was looking at the grapes, and the lady working in the produce section looked at me and said, "taste one before you buy it."  WHAT?!?!  I know my face showed my complete lack of disbelief as I said "Are you serious?"  "Absolutely," she replied,   "we want you to. In fact, if you want to taste an orange, I'll go over and cut one open for you."  I looked around for the candid camera.  Not kidding.  I thought maybe an alarm would go off and the produce police would come out and fine me but I reached into the bag of grapes, with the produce person watching and tasted a grape.  No alarm bells, no produce police and no grapes.  They were sour, even the red ones.

I'm not sure how I feel about this change in rules and I honestly don't know if it's all supermarkets or just this one in town that wants us to taste test the produce before purchasing but I'll tell you what, I certainly appreciated not spending $4 on sour grapes yesterday.  As for the orange, well, I don't really like them anyway so I didn't take her up on the offer.  It is nice to know, though, that some rules are made to be broken.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The car phenomenon redux

When I was in youth ministry I used to be amazed at the power held by the front seat of the car.  Not just those annoying squabbles that would start the moment the car came into view about who got "shot gun" but the power the front seat had to turn the quietest kid into a veritable fountain of words. It was not the wisest decision to drive teens places by myself, I recognize my naivete looking back, but those moments driving kids home were precious and so important.

Of course, the car phenomenon also occurred when other teens were in the car but it took on a different twist.  The adult driver, whoever they were, ceased to be a person with ears listening to the conversation.  I learned more about the youth in the youth group I was leading driving on a 2 hour car trips than I did at youth group nights for two months.   Only the shrewdest of youth members would remember that I was driving the car, but usually it was like I wasn't in there or suddenly couldn't understand their language, the fountain of words would just flow.  I would  pipe in from time to time with a comment, especially when the conversation got a little too iffy for a youth group trip, or burst out laughing at the most absurd parts of the conversation just because I could not contain the laughter any more.  Those conversations are why we had monthly youth group excursions to places at least a half hour away.

A few former youth members, whom I now call friends, and I headed out to the Big City this past weekend.  It was about an hour and a half car ride.  The topics of discussion were varied and fun and we reminisced about the days of long youth group car trips.  They are at a point now where they are the adults taking youth group members places and they experience what I experienced.  It was awesome.

But the moment that clinched the whole day for me came in the 10 minute car ride from dropping one person off to the other persons house.  I was driving, they were in the back seat (too tired to move) and the power of the back seat was immense.  The fountain of words began to flow, so much so that we sat in their driveway for 10 minutes just talking.  I looked in the rear view mirror at this former youth member, who I now call friend, and tried really hard not to cry.  For sitting looking back at me was an adult, but also a teenager I had shuttled home for years, and there I was listening to them share their heart all these years later.

While much has changed, the phenomenon of the car remains.

Monday, January 28, 2013


I received a text message this morning, complete with picture, that left me in tears...tears of laughter.  One minute I was working on the Monday Morning Message that didn't want to be manipulated the way I wanted it manipulated and the next I was laughing, loudly, in the office with tears rolling down my face.

I firmly contend that we all need someone, or a few someones, in our life with whom we can share the nitty-gritty details about daily living.  People with whom you can pour out the depths of your soul and know, for absolute certain, they are not judging you, nor are they laughing AT you.  People that you know your deepest darkest secrets can be unveiled and they won't tell another soul on earth.  People who have seen you at your worst and they still call or text or email.

I am grateful to have a few of those kinds of people in my life.  I am grateful, too, that it isn't a one way sharing street.  I can send the text that tells them about my latest adventure in being me and they will reciprocate...though usually not on the same day.

Here's to all those friends with whom we can bare our souls and know that we are safe!!!  And to text messages that make us laugh so hard we cry.  :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Acronym's in my life

There are moments when I have to stop and just laugh at the absurdity of the world in which I reside.

In my job as an Administrative Assistant for District____ of Rotary International, I have had to learn a whole new lingo.  There is the District Governor, who can also go by DG.  The District Governor Elect or DGE.  The District Governor Nominee or DGN.  Now we have the District Governor Nominee Designate or DGND.  They, as a whole, are also known as the Governor String or the G-String.  I do not make this up.

There are a whole slew of people with the title of PDG or Past District Governor.  There are AG's who are Assistant Governor's for Area's...which completely confused me for the first six months where I kept calling the Assistant Governor's the Area Governor's.  The acronym still worked!

We also have the PE's aka President's-Elect and the PN or PEN (President Nominee or President Elect Nominee depending on the club).  

My personal favorite, though has got to be the Rotary International President or RIP.  Can anyone blame me when I see RIP John Henry and immediately wonder when I missed the memo that John Henry died?  PRIP confused the heck out of me to until I finally figured it out Past Rotary International President.  My head is spinning.

Now, I have only just grazed the surface of the acronym's that I must be familiar with to speak Rotary.  There is TRF and PHS, not to be confused with PHF (I think I made that one up) and SARs, which is not a disease in the world of Rotary, it's the Semi-Annual Reports which also means it's time to pay your dues. 

Rotary speak should not be confused with text speak, which is a whole world unto itself, especially if you are my Grandmother where "r dressing waiting fr u. hgs" means "Ranch dressing waiting for you.  Hugs".  I get ROFL (rolling on floor laughing) or LOL (laugh out loud), though I don't think people should actually use those acronyms when they are know who you are.  If you actually have to say "LOL" instead of laughing out loud, then things must not really be that funny.  BTW is pretty well known as "by the way".  FML had me stymied for a little while (Sorry, my mother reads this blog, I'm not interpreting).  Once I figured it out though, I realized how incorrectly people use that one. Does a hang nail actually deserve something so severe as an FML?  I hereby declare that the 2nd most over used acronym, right behind the ever annoying LOL.

I remember using FYI on a paper for the youth group one time and the youth couldn't figure it out.  It's like they had never seen an episode of Murphy Brown in their life...please, you don't need to remind me that they probably hadn't.  (FYI=For Your Information, if you were wondering).  TGIF was made famous by the food chain.  But probably my most favorite acronym comes from a bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun character...Tigger.

TTFN--Ta Ta For Now!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

On wrestling

Genesis 32: 22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone,and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[h] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

This passage of Genesis has fascinated me for a long time.  I've read it with different lenses, first reading in awe of a God who would come to earth and wrestle with Jacob.  Another in awe of Jacob who doesn't back down but continues to wrestle and demand a blessing.  Another reading had me shaking my head at a God who needs to "cheat" in order to make a point.  I don't fully understand this story in many ways and yet, on a soul level, this story brings me hope.

The wrestling part of the story is what brings me hope.  I have a hard time with the belief that questioning, wrestling, doubting and struggling with God is a bad thing.  As I have grown in my faith and my belief in God, I have gone through many, many moments of questioning, of doubting of struggling and wrestling.  My faith not only has remained, in most cases it has gotten stronger.  I need to know that God not only honors my struggles of faith but meets me right where I am and loves me anyway.
This last week, I sat talking with a friend...okay, honestly it was more like I walked in the door, he said "how are you?" and for the next 1/2 hour I shared way more than that one little question warranted...and had a few things pointed out to me, by my friend and by God.  Things I needed to hear, that needed to be realized and now that they are out in the open (what? you think I'm going to tell you what they are??  Sorry, this space used to be a safe is no longer.) I can clearly see that I've been wrestling with God.  Not willing to back down but demanding the blessing while I'm wrestling...and I am going to have a limp for awhile because, well, sometimes God "cheats".