Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jack's House

Our daughter, Laura is working on her Master's degree in Education. (Our son is working on his Master's in Exercise Physiology but he is in Auburn and I don't ever get to take pictures of his fun stuff - do you think he has fun stuff in Exercise Physiology? Ok - one of Laura's big projects was in Children's Lit (I guess that is what class this is for). I cannot tell you how many hours she spent creating these for a presentation. Here is "the" house that Jack built.
This is the rooster that crowed in the morn and the dog that worried the cat.

This is said cat . . .let's see what did the cat do? This is the cat that killed the rat. With Mr. Cat is the cow with the crumpled horn (see those horns!!) We also have the Rat who ate the cheese (pictured also) that lay in the house that Jack built.

I can't seem to keep all the people straight - I know that there is a man all tattered and torn - see him in the middle (bottom) with patches? I guess the girl on the left is the maiden who was all forlorn (but she is smiling!!). The cool guy in the tuxedo including tails is the judge all shaven and shorn . .that married the man all tattered and torn that kissed the maiden all forlorn (beginning to see the picture?) The guy at the top with bag of seeds is a farmer who was planting corn and my favorite is the artist who had drawn a picture of the farm planting his corn.
You can't see it but he even has an artist's brush in his hand. Hopefully, in the fall of 2011, Laura will begin teaching in an elementary school somewhere and I do think her artistic ability will come in handy. Yes, I am a middle-aged mother bragging on her 23 year old daughter - Yes, I am!

spring decorations

Spring has arrived in Alabama - look at those flowers on my kitchen table. I think they are one of my very favorite flowers. They make me smile when I look at them. They are blooming all up and down the bluff.
We were planning to eat dinner at a friend's house last night but a last minute change, had me scrambling for a centerpiece. To be honest, the friends that were coming over are so close to us that wouldn't have cared if I had a centerpiece at all . . .but I thought I would throw one together.

I told you that I love forsythia - here it is on my front door, too. I think it looks so pretty against that dark green door. I had looked at this wreath for three weeks at Joann's Fabrics and it was on sale 40% off yesterday - it was a sign!!

Happy spring!!

Oh to be YOUNG again!!

I have so much I want to say about this that I don't know where to begin. Maybe that is where I should begin - at the very beginning. Back in January, I was invited to go on our staff retreat - something I don't usually attend. I was invited because one of my co-workers was brand new - Karen - and she is doing a great job. My other co-worker, one of associate pastors, will be leaving in June. I've been doing my job six years so I was actually the one to be the bridge. During the retreat, we hashed out the things that need to change or be added in our church. We read survey results and so many people said so many nice things. One of the main areas we found lacking in our 3,000 member church is a young professionals ministry - especially for those that are unmarried, out of college - 23-29 years old. Since our twins fit into that age and stage of life, this voice came out of my mouth and it said, "I think I could work on that this spring. Maybe I could help get a core group of folks together so that when the new minister comes in June, there will be some folks ready to roll." (or something like that!) I said, "I can even feed them. We will have a get-together and see what they are interested in." I didn't bother to ask my sweet husband since we were an hour away at a retreat center and I had no cell or Internet service. We got home from the retreat and I planned the first evening and they all came - a lot of them - 26 or 27. We ate and then we asked them what are you interested in. They want friends and a place to belong a Bible study . . .and more meals like the one we served that night. So as you saw a few posts ago, we picked a study by John Ortberg and picked a date and sent out the invitations. I thought that it would be great if we could get a group of 10 together - that would be a wonderful start. For some unknown reason, I ordered 25 books from Cokesbury. Guess how many registered for the class? 24 - isn't God amazing? We've had two meetings and we've fed them some pretty good food. We cram them into our kitchen around our new lovely table (I posted about that recently too - and look at the new memories being made around our table - I just thought of that and it is going to make me cry!!!) When we were shopping for a house 17 years ago, my criteria that I was not willing to budge on was a large dining room for entertaining. Well, look at how many of them are crammed around that table eating a supper of homemade mac and cheese, green beans cooked all day, chicken fingers (from Walmart - what can I say? someones grandmother made them!!), rolls, salad and
scotcheroos for dessert.
After everyone eats, we cram into our family room by moving the sofa forward and making two rows of chairs behind the sofa and I think someone even sits on the piano bench. Once again, the new kitchen chairs which are tall like bar stools are so perfect. The back row can be taller. How did God know that I was going to need tall kitchen chairs?

As you can see from the picture, we had 20 on Tuesday night - 19 gorgeous, smart, funny, well-educated women and one wonderful guy.
One of the neatest things about all of this - remember I didn't tell Mark about it? He is so excited about this new ministry opportunity. He is loving it and calling it our ministry now - our group - our Bible study. Please pray for us as we continue on this new journey. We still have 4 sessions left. I'm cheating on the food this week - I've ordered Mexican food from the restaurant in the next neighborhood. I am making homemade guacamole (and I must brag - I make great guacamole because my sister-in-law, Alice taught me how!!) and I'm going to have shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes and homemade dessert.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


What, or I guess I should say "who" are "stuffettes." I don't know if you know this or not, but in a church the size of ours, there is no way that you can ever have enough paid staff to do all the work. As Christians, as church members, we are called to be an active part of the life of our church. We have a group of ladies who have faithfully come to the church office every week for years to help us. Their original job was to "stuff" the inserts into our weekly newsletter before we mailed them (now do you see why we affectionately call them "Stuffettes"?) I've been working at Trinity (in a paid position) for six years next week. These ladies (and at one time one man) have been so faithful. One of them died last month and we were so sad. One of them has a shoulder/arm problem and she has stopped coming. Another one, Polly, was in the hospital last week. They are aging. We don't do our newsletter in-house anymore so now they come and cut postcards for us and attach labels to postcards and envelopes. We appreciate them so much. We also have several other "office angels" who help us all the time. We have folks who answer the phones for us to go to meetings. We have folks who help us do membership audits and others who help us file. Over the years, we have tried to make/buy them treats for these ladies (and few men) for the various holidays throughout the year. For St. Patrick's day, I made them a cute card and I also made flower pens. I thought they turned out pretty cute!! This is not about me though -- this is just another way for us to say "thank you" to our helpers!!

Study at our house

Last night, we began a study in our home for the Trinity Young Professionals group. This group is made up of folks in their 20s (post college) who are unmarried. Some of them are in med school and some are in dental school. Some are working on masters in education, while some are already a part of the "working" world. We haven't had anything at our church for this age/stage group.

They expressed interest in doing a Bible/Book study. We are studying this:
I had a notebook and a Trinity pen for each one of them to write extra notes or prayer requests in.
ok - why is there a power ranger suit in the middle of our family room during a Bible study? John Ortberg talks about "morphing" in the study. When Glenn was in maybe the 5th grade, he wanted to be a power ranger for Halloween. I made this costume and it took hours! It ended up being about 85 degrees on Halloween that year and this was a very hot costume! I was thrilled to have it as a "visual."
I left the camera on the table so that we could take a picture of the group . . . did I remember? no! Maybe next Tuesday I will remember. 24 young adults have signed up for the study. I knew that 6 were out of town for spring break and two others had conflicts so we started with 16 young adults and Mark and me!! We began with dinner - we had a giant salad with cheese, bacon and croutons and a variety of salad dressings.
We had regular chili (two big pots full) and rice in case anyone wanted to serve their chili over rice.

We also served 'White" chili - it was really good. The carrots in the chili were "Alabama" locally grown carrots. They are so sweet. By the way, I've promised to feed them each Tuesday night!!
I didn't take a picture of dessert but we had Key Lime Pie - yummy. A large number of our guests had given up sweets/dessert for Lent so I had a couple of pies left over. As a matter of fact, we had enough white chili to take some to our friend who had surgery!
I think the first night of the study went well. I love spending time with young adults. I love to hear their thoughts and ideas. I know it is a little awkward on the first night when very few of this group had ever met much less.know each other, but by the end of the night, there were several conversations happening . . . I hope they all come back next week!! We will have food for the body and soul!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

24 hours that changed the world

Once again, I was so moved by today's sermon and our Sunday School lesson. This week's lesson from Adam Hamilton's book talked about the crowd and Barabbas and Pontius Pilate. There were several things that were powerful to me. First of all, Barabbas was the first sinner for whom Jesus died! We, like Barabbas, have been spared, with Jesus suffering the punishment we deserve.

Another thing that was meaningful to me was realizing (and maybe I knew this but had forgotten . . .or maybe it was brand new to me) that Matthew tells us Barabbas' name was actually "Jesus Barabbas." The name Barabbas means "son of the Father," and the name "Jesus" means "Savior"; so Matthew makes clear the crowd was being given a choice between two messianic figures. If you picture yourself as part of that crowd, which one do you pick? One is going to lead by force; throw out the Romans; reclaim your tax money, wealth and prosperity; and restore the strength of the Jewish kingdom. The other's leadership involves loving these same oppressors, serving them as they dwell among you, doubling the service they demand of you. Whom do you wish to see freed? Whom do you wish to see destroyed? When we see the choice in that way, it is not so difficult to understand the crowd's choice of Barabbas over Jesus. They chose the path of physical strength, military might, and lower taxes over the path of peace through sacrificial love. (pg 73 in 24 hours that changed the world) I told our class that I think I would have chosen Barabbas - which brought me to my knees. Now as Mark said after class, we have the benefit of being on this side of the cross and we would hopefully choose Jesus now. Donna (in class) pointed out that we have that choice every day -actually multiple times each day - whom do we choose?

That brings me to the other point that was so powerful. Mark and I firmly believe in getting up and going to church every Sunday. It helps that I am a teacher on Sunday mornings but we went even before I began to teach. We even went as newlyweds. If you live in our house, you go to church on Sunday mornings. That is the way that Mark and I were both raised and that is the way we have raised our kids. Well, I never thought about it in exactly this way before . . .this is from page 77 of the book: And who is your crowd? Who is your (MY) crowd? We find ourselves drawn in, doing things we know are not right, things we know are against God's will. Part of the reason gathering in church is so important is that for at least an hour every week we are surrounded by a crowd desiring to follow Jesus. It feels good to be among people who think the way we think and who encourage us. This crowd has a voice strong enough that it is hard to resist. We can be swayed by a crowd for good or for ill; so it is CRITICAL (caps are my emphasis!!), if only for an hour on Sundays, to be surrounded by friends who share our values, convictions and faith.

I truly give thanks for "our crowd" - our friends, our church family, our Sunday school class, Emmaus gatherings - I thank God for "our crowd."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

continuation of previous post!

Well, I'll tell you about the rest of the day. We sang a bunch of songs - we sang Do Lord O Do Lord . . .in this really special slow way. We sang I'll Fly Away. We sang a song that Charlie had written. I have great pics of the musicians and the singers and I can't load them!! We sang and the guy would either say "do it again" (which we did on several songs) or he would simply smile - when he smiled, we would all cheer. We are making this CD for all of us to have to remember the weekend . . . and we are also going to give it away. There is one song that I want our son to hear. It is Jesus Loves Me in a blues format. I love it! Recording was fun but hard work. We finally took a break and ate some lunch and visited a while. That was when I ran outside with the camera and took those outside shots in the other post. Then we came back together and sang some more. I really can't wait to hear it!! Here is Charlie - when he plays the guitar he plays with his whole body!

Here is Ruth Ann - standing on a chair so that she can see over everyone!

This is our sound guy. We lived for a smile from him as we finished each song. Smile was good! You can see Mark and a couple of the other husbands sitting in the background. They got to sing with us on a few songs but most of the songs were just women's voices.

Here is everyone gathered in Hutto Auditorium singing. I ran over to the other building (breezeway actually) for a potty break and when I came back in, the sound was truly amazing.

so now it is 8:42 . . and since we are springing forward tonight . . .that makes it 9:42 . . .so I think I may brush my teeth and put my weary body to bed. Need to be fresh and awake in order to teach Sunday School tomorrow!!

I must be a rock star - I helped record a CD today!

Today started bright and early. We all got up around 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning! Laura was off to take her Praxus test and Mark and I were on our way to Sumatanga. We worked an Emmaus Walk in January (number 363) and the music team was incredible. So these guys - a couple of attorneys, a guy who builds tennis courts for a living, a preacher who is a teacher right now got together and rented Hutto Auditorium at Camp Sumatanga (about an hour's drive from Birmingham) and arranged for a recording guy and all his microphones to magically appear. Of course, someone else (Debbie) made arrangements for everyone to bring food to share and Ruth Ann kept us all updated via email. Here are a few pictures from the day but for some reason, it is not allowing me to load anymore in this post . . .so I think I'll have to do another post also.

Here is Mark (on the right) and his friend, Bill Rush. They meet together every single Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. - dedication!! I have no idea why their shirts are so washed out - crazy digital camera :-)

Here is Fred along with friends, Larry and Jennie - I was walking around with my camera acting like a "Zap's" photographer - here, let me take your picture - smile please!
I have never ever ever in 17 years been to an Emmaus function where there was no food. Here is one table laden down with barbecue and sandwiches and potato salad.

Here is another table . . .This table has some healthier selections - fresh fruit - yummy clementines!! I see some trail mix and a pan of ham and cheese sandwiches (not healthy - but yummy and delicious . . .but I stayed away from those!! I can't eat just one.

Here are some of our lovely ladies - visiting before singing!

Here is another group of us - I'm on the left in the auburn sweatshirt - it was cold again today. I swear it was 71 degrees and sunny yesterday and today it was cold again!! Ruth Ann is in the middle of us and that is our friend Julie. In the back is Mark W. - he is the preacher who is a singer and a fiddler and he can play the guitar (that was my mid life crisis - he tried to teach me to play the guitar when I turned 40 - I'm not playing the guitar . . .and he is an excellent teacher - so what does that tell you?)

Ok - I know that I told you it was cold and rainy . . .and it was. I was actually standing outside and there was rain hitting my face and I looked up above me and there was blue sky. Really weird weather today!

Sumatanga is a gorgeous place - as a matter of fact, I always meet God there. Today was no disappointment - God was there - in the music, in the smiles, in the running water and the rain drops and the blue sky. God was indeed there.

Some of the shots around camp.

Since it won't let me add any more photos. I'm going to try another new post . . .hang on!!

Yes, I wanted to make handmade invitations . . .

I love to be creative. I love to think of a fun idea and to work on it. Tim, one of our associate pastors has an event each year to recognize all the babies born in the previous year. At Trinity, we had 34 girls and 47 boys born in 2009. Isn't that unbelievable??? I decided to work at home on Wednesday morning because my silhouette SD software is downloaded onto the dinosaur computer. But I wanted to use the kitchen table for my work surface and wanted to have my work email open on the laptop. So this is where it all began . . . and no, I was not drinking a beer while doing work for the church at 9:00 a.m. That is the pepper shaker - guess I had used it while eating breakfast!

I was even smart enough to begin the morning with a recycling box for all of my handy dandy left over paper. Most of the big pieces made it into the box but there was a trail of "hanging chads" in pink and blue from one end of my house to the other. I even arrived at the hospital to visit a friend and looked down and there were blue paper dots on my brown shoes!

This is the design at it appears on my computer screen. The letter across the bottom spell the words "Baby Girl." You set up the design using the millions of downloadable files. Then you attach the paper to a sticky sheet and set it up in the machine (looks like a small printer). Then back to the computer screen to tell it to "cut."
The machine moans and groans (really!) and cuts and cuts and then ejects the paper. You then gently peel the cut design from the sticky mat. Fold, glue printed vellum onto colored sheet with glue dots. Then I glued the colored paper inside the invitation. I tried to pray for all of those babies as I worked on the invitations. I must admit that when I finished the last boy invitation, I cheered. It was a much bigger and much more time consuming project. I spent 3 1/2 hours at home working on Wednesday. I spent most of the afternoon Thursday in the office working on these and then almost 8 hours on Friday (yes, Friday is my off day . . .) But they are finished. The envelopes are addressed and they will go in the mail on Monday. Our church family loves our babies and we want their families to know that!! I will admit that being able to do these things (like make invitations for a special occasion) is one of the reasons I love my job. My job is never boring. I support two pastors and work with another staff person on lots of jobs. I also support most of the staff in some way or another by using our database. Since I'm a people person, dealing with different folks makes me happy . . .most of the time :-)
Here are some pictures of the "boy" invitations - the girl invitations were pink on the outside and that fun lime green on the inside. I had a hard time getting a clear picture but I think this will give you an idea - you can see how the letters are cut. The one of the invitation sitting in the basket is so you can see how the colored paper showed through.

There was also a sheet that went inside that said something like, "This is not a baptism or a baby dedication . ..this is simply a time of rejoicing with our church family with our newest babies." (something like that! - we had 47 boy babies and 34 girl babies born into our church family in 2009)

I feel blessed to work in a place - in a church - where we want everyone to feel the love of Jesus - to realize that each individual is loved by the church also!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I organized my pantry . . .

Today's post is truly the rambling of a middle-aged mom! I was blessed to stay home with our kids all during their growing up years. I kept a pretty clean and organized house. Along with twins going away to college, came the need for me to work. I can't believe what a messy housekeeper I have become!! It seems as if I never get everything totally straightened up at the same time. There are always stacks of paper, closets that need cleaning, etc. Well, I decided to tackle our pantry today. It was so bad that I even googled "how to organize a pantry" yesterday and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a few tools . . .like turntables and stackable things! Here is the before picture.
Here is a close-up shot - isn't that unbelievable?

The "organization lady" (the one from google!) said to take everything - every single thing - out of the pantry and start from scratch . . .which I did! Look at those empty shelves.
This is where I put it all . . .the dining room table!! The "organizing lady" said to group "like things" together. That was pretty easy for most things, but there were some odd things in my pantry!!

For one thing, there were a gazillion boxes of jello pudding and jello. I didn't have to put many back though because most of them had expired . . .in 2006!!! So those ended up in the trash.

There were eight - yes, count them - eight bottles of salad dressing. None of those were out of date!! Looks like we need to eat some salad! In the right front, are two boxes of dry onion soup mix. Who knew that there was even an expiration date on those . . .there is and they were both way past their prime.

okay - this is the funniest "grouping." Those who know me well, know that when Mark and I almost 26 years ago, I couldn't bake a thing. I guess I have learned to bake along the way. One of my specialties is Brown Sugar Brownies (the very first thing my mother-in-law taught me to bake!!) I have eight - yes, once again EIGHT - what is with the 8's??? - eight bags of butterscotch chips. I can make a lot of brown sugar brownies. I also found peanut m & m's - unopened and candy bark, etc.
So here are some shots of the newly re-organized pantry. I zoomed in on my new "baking shelf." I had three things of cocoa - none expired but all open . . .and not enough used to combine any :-)

Aren't you impressed? I know that I am!! Look at those neat and clean shelves. The whole top row is breakfast stuff - cereal, oatmeal, grits, poptarts . . .
Here is a shot of the completed project! I must say that I have had a productive day. I've prepared a Sunday School lesson, walked on the treadmill, run the dishwasher, stripped the bed (haven't put the clean sheets back on yet!), done some laundry (sheets!) and organized the pantry!! Whew!
Some of you must leave compliments . . .please . . .lots of people have visited but only two people have ever commented. Maybe I need to give away a prize . . .I don't think the prize will be to come and organize your pantry!!