Sunday, June 30, 2013

B I N G O - YES, I said Bingo - Bible Bingo!!

I've been teaching adult Sunday school for over 20 years.  It never ceases to amaze me how little we all (I'm including myself in this sentence) know about the Bible and about church history and about our faith.  We know our own stories and what God has done for us and THAT IS VERY important because we can share that and no one can dispute it.  But when it gets right down to it, how many books are there in the Bible?  Where is Esther in the Bible?  Who is Esther?  Who were the prophets? 

We started studying a new book several weeks ago by Philip Yancey.  The name of the book is The Bible Jesus Read.  There is a chapter on Job and one on Psalms and one on Lamentations and one on the Prophets.  It was not an easy book to teach.  Our class is large - 50 or so people most weeks.  I (or sometimes someone else) lectures and asks questions along the way.  This book did not lend itself well to that style.  Part of the problem is that by the time we have coffee (and our class has to have time to socialize - we may be in our 40's and 50's but if you don't give us time to socialize, we are like 7th and 8th graders.  we cannot settle down.), make announcements, and have prayer requests and prayer . . .there is only about 20 minutes left for a lesson.  If you have ever taught sunday school in your life . . .close your eyes for a moment and imagine trying to cram the whole book of job into one 20 minute lesson.  Why not stretch one of those lessons out over two weeks? Well . . . we have lots of lakes houses and beach houses and various and sundry trips and odds are that the same folks might not even be there two Sundays in a row.  So what's a teacher to do?

Last Sunday, the lesson was on the prophets.  I used part of the material that Philip Yancey had in his book but I also asked a whole bunch of trivia questions FIRST.  I found these in some online quiz so I can't take credit for them and I can't remember where I found them so I can't give the person credit:

1.) Which prophet married a prostitute because God told him to?





2.) Who woke up under a tree and found an angel had cooked food for him?





3.) What prophet executed the prophets of Baal after God consumed his offering with fire?





4.) What lost item did the prophet Elisha cause to float to the surface of the Jordan?

Wedding ring

Ax head

Perfume vial

Valuable coin

I asked several more and then used some serious material from the book to finish the lesson.

All week I've been thinking about the fact that none of us seem to know enough about the Bible and how could we learn it without me just standing up there drilling facts into their heads.  The problem is that by the time you reach 50 . . .if someone stands in front of you and talks for 20 minutes and doesn't hold your interest . . .you fall asleep.  There are at least two men who fall asleep every Sunday.  These aren't OLD men (yet!!) AND I try to make the lessons as lively as possible.

So all week - I was thinking and praying . . .thinking and praying . . .thinking and praying.  I finally had an idea.  I got online and started researching Bible games.  Many of the games required some tech ability.  Most of the rooms at church have large screen tv's, etc. but our class just happens to be in a room with no access so I needed to find something old school.  I finally found a site that would build bingo cards - up to 1000 - for $12.  I just had to come up with the questions and provide a word list.  A little more searching . . .and I submitted the word list and viola' the cards were created and I printed them.

Since we would be playing on the Sunday before the Fourth of July, I had no idea whether we would have 5 people or 55 people in class.  We had closer to 55!!  I'm glad I printed enough cards!!!

I went to the Dollar Tree near our house on Saturday night and bought 5 prizes and put them in red, white and blue gift bags.  The prizes were flag glow sticks and kiddie floats in animal shapes and funky sunglasses.  Here is a picture of one of our class members wearing a pair of the sunglasses.  Karen was rocking them in the contemporary service.  Her teenaged son thought she was insane!!

I wasn't sure whether or not the class would enjoy Bible Bingo but everyone seemed to have a great time.  Some of the questions were very easy - What is the first book in the Bible? (Genesis)

Here is a sampling of a few of the other questions:
What is the name of a Christian symbol shaped like a fish? (ichthus or ichthys) 
Who wrote letters to many churches encouraging them to use their spiritual gifts and work together as the body of Christ? (Paul). 
This next question tripped up the whole back row of guys (we have two back rows of guys just like when we were younger - isn't that funny???) --
The question was "What was the name of Jesus hometown?" - I even told them that it might be a trick question . . .to think carefully.  The answer was Nazareth. 
The following question is the one that stumped my husband - and he usually gets all of the questions right!!

What do we call the bible lessons specifically written for the liturgical calendar cycle?

The answer is: The lectionary series

All of the questions weren't strictly from the Bible - some were from the faith journey - the Christian walk.  We had 1 girl and 5 guys to Bingo.  I only had 5 prizes and so I had to give Dean a consolation hug but I think someone shared their prize with him.  One couple, Rhonda and Bill, both bingoed (is that word?) and they shared one of their prizes with Karen (the sunglasses).

People sometimes think Christians are dull and boring and that we don't have any fun.  If you were walking down the hall at Trinity UMC on Sunday morning, I believe you would have heard lots of laughter and maybe some hooting and hollering coming from room 300.  This group of Christians likes to have fun AND we love Jesus!!

john wesley friends and fun

Back in May, Scott and Laura - Our Sunday School class president and his wife, offered their beautiful home for a Saturday evening get together.  We all knew that there were already many things going on that weekend - college graduations, We Love Homewood Day and parade, etc. but decided since their house was available we would just go ahead with the party.  Everyone was to bring a dish/appetizer/dessert to share.  Mark grilled two venison tenderloins and they ate every single bite!!  He always arranges them so beautifully!! 

Isn't her kitchen wonderful?  She has a huge island and she has the most amazing stove. She is always so generous to offer her house for a party.  (She offered her home for my 50th birthday party a few years ago)
The room is a big family room with an eat-in kitchen and a screened-in porch off to the side and they always open the door to the porch which makes the space seem even larger.  Living in the south, they can open that door to the porch even in December - especially if there are about 50 people in the room generating heat!!  Sorry for the tangent - back to the Saturday night in May.  It was a perfect evening.  We parked in Guy and Phella's driveway next door and walked over with them.  Our class is huge and on this night, the group was smaller than normal so everyone was actually able to talk with everyone else.  Sometimes that is not a possibility!!

It was so good to see Carolyn and Howard!

Laura is one of those folks who has this amazing ability to decorate her home.  She has folk art all over the walls.  You can see some of it around her pantry door and even above the cabinet near the clock.  On another wall, she has almost the entire wall covered with different kinds of folk art.  It looks wonderful.  If I did that in my house, it would look terrible.  Why do some people have the ability to make something look so great?  Her house is warm and inviting. 

This picture generated much chuckling.  Gary kept saying, "my sunday school teacher is taking a picture of my butt."  I turned around and looked and there was a fork sticking out of Gary's back pocket.  I think he was saving it in case he decided he wanted to eat some more!!  When I saw it, I couldn't resist.  I did, indeed, have to take a picture of his butt!!

This is my sister-in-law's platter.  She and George and Lynn (another class member who rode with them) arrived a little late because my niece marched in the parade.  She is in the band.  Alice made these jalapeno cream cheese bites that my daughter-in-love makes.  Check out my daughter-in-love's recipe here.  They are delicious!!!  I think that all of these were eaten also!!

It was a good night! Lots of food + lots of good conversation + lots of laughter = one good night!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Little Donkey, Steel City Pops and friends!!

Several weeks ago . . . actually quite a few weeks ago now . . .our friends, Preston and Frances invited us to meet them and our other friends, Dean and Donna at a restaurant in town, Little Donkey for dinner. It was a dark and stormy night (I love typing that!!! but it was true!!!) so a perfect night for gathering in a warm and dry restaurant and laughing the evening away. We started the night with a round of drinks - this restaurant has the BEST margaritas so you know that was my drink of choice and some folks had a beer. It was Friday night and we had all had a long week. Since Little Donkey is a mexican restaurant, we also had chips and salsa. This restaurant is more than mexican though . . .they smoke all their own meats and use lots of local produce. The menu is not your typical mexican restaurant menu. The first time I went there was when the restaurant was new and I HATED it. I didn't think I would ever go back. Then my friend, Lynn, invited me to go again and I did and the food was good. The third time it was even better. It actually seems like maybe I have been one other time also.  I think my problem was that I was trying to order food like I would get in your corner Mexican restaurant - wrong.   That night I ordered PAMBAZO  which cost $9.75 -- their description: Our homemade bun is dredged in guajillo and toasted on the griddle then filled with seared chorizo, potatoes, queso fresco, romaine lettuce and drizzled with crema.  It was on the sandwich menu but hear this warning - anything that is dredged and drenched has to be eaten with a fork.  Anyway, we spent the evening laughing and talking and eating. The perfect way to unwind after a really long week at work. When we finished eating it was still raining. We decided to run down the sidewalk to Steel City Pops.

sorry for the blurriness of the picture - Preston took it on his phone- see vulcan in the background - "steel" city pops - get it?

If you live within driving distance of Birmingham and have not been to Steel City Pops, get in your car today and drive to Birmingham. They are soooooo delicious. No one is paying me to write this blog post. They have no idea that I'm even writing about them. They make all their popsicles right there with real ingredients. My favorite is the toasted coconut. There are actually big hunks of toasted coconut down at the bottom of the stick. The buttermilk one tastes sort of like cheesecake. The blood orange is good. The peanut butter one is delicious. DO NOT THINK THEY ARE TOO EXPENSIVE. They are so worth every penny. This is a real treat. It was quite funny because while we were standing there eating our popsicles, several people we knew came into the store . . .our friend, Kyle and his son, Andy, who had just arrived home from college walked in. There are children in Steel City Pops but it is as much an adult store as a children's place.

Anyway, this was a great way to start the weekend - a margarita, mexican food, lots of laughter and good conversation with friends, and a popsicle - doesn't that sound like a great Friday night?  What is your favorite Friday night activity after a long week?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Alabama Women Bloggers - Getting to Know You Questions

I decided to link up today.  Back when Lauren and Glenn were living with us, I signed up with the Alabama Women Bloggers . . .and promptly forgot about it!!  I was reading Alabama Slacker Mama's blog today and saw that she had linked up . . .and remembered that I had signed up so decided to answer today's questions.  I don't have a lot of followers nor a lot of readers . . .but here goes anyway!

Alabama Women Bloggers

1. What part of the state do you call home?  I live in a suburb of Birmingham - just south of town.  I grew up in another suburb of  Birmingham that is northeast of town . . .and it is not a very nice place now.  Really makes me sad to see the area and what has become of some of the places I remember.  I now live in what we called the "over the mountain" area.  As a kid, I thought that was where only the rich folks lived.  Just FYI, we aren't rich, but we sure are blessed with good friends and family.

2. How long have you been blogging?  I started blogging in June of 2009. 

3. Why did you start blogging?  One of my "children" had just graduated from college and the other was about to graduate and I had been to the farmer's market and was thinking as I was driving home. (I do my best thinking in the car) I was thinking that I love to talk and now that the kids were grown there was no one to listen (I think Mark tunes me out :-). I was also thinking that I love to write down my thoughts. I had the highest grade in my class in English 102 in college where we had to keep a journal every single day . . and it was read by the professor and graded. (that love of writing!)  I was also thinking that I love to scrapbook but never have enough time. I love memories (my mom died right after her 50th birthday and I don't want to miss a thing!). I actually love being on the computer and the amazing ability of being able to connect with folks like my sister who live out of town. I guess it was a logical progression in my mind to blogging. To be honest, I really had no idea how to even start one and I think I may have googled it when I got home that day.

4. What is your favorite part of being a member of the Alabama Women Bloggers community?
Considering that this is the first thing I have really done with the community, I don't really know.  Someone share some ideas with me.  My sweet daughter-in-love over at Simply Free has made some great new friends via her blog.  They have even met for blog dates . . .what does she call those?  blates?  That is not right . . .what is it?  I'm going to the She Speaks conference later this summer and I am taking some blogging workshops.  It will be nice to say that I am a part of the Alabama Women Bloggers.  It would be nicer still to actually be able to make some comments about the group :-)

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I'm on staff at a church and I hope I will still be working there because I LOVE my job.  I imagine I might be a grandmother by then.  I imagine that I might be a mother-in-law to a son-in-law by then (our son is married but we are waiting on God to send Mr. Right for our daughter).  I think I will still be blogging.  I wonder how blogging will change in 5 years.  Technology changes so quickly.

6. If you could choose an actress to play you in your life, who would you choose and why?
Hmmmm. . . .good question.  When I was young and thin, one of the radio announcers in Birmingham compared me to a young Sophia Loren after I was first runner up in a beauty pageant (this would have been back in 1980 . . .a long time ago!)  I just googled fat, funny actresses and pulled up Melissa McCarthy.  I'm overweight and I like to laugh so she might work.

7. Name 5 things on your Bucket List that you hope you’ll check off before you die?
1.  I really really really want to see the Northern Lights -- problem is my husband says we have to go north when it is really cold to see them
2.  I would love to go to Alaska (but not when it is so cold)
3.  I would like to go back to a tropical island - we've been to Nassau (on our honeymoon for a week - not the best trip - I need to blog about that some time!!).  We've been to St. Marteen.  We've been to Hawaii.  I would love to go to Bali.
4.  I would really like to go to New Zealand and Australia and Greece.  (my bucket list seems to have a theme here - travel)
5.  I would like to go on a hot air balloon ride.  (I'm sure there are some really important things I want to do also - like help end poverty and bring about world peace . . .but I can't think of those at the moment)

8. If you could be known for one thing, what would it be and why?
I've told our Sunday School class this a million times (exaggeration).  I would love to be remembered as a philanthropist.  There is a major problem . . .I don't have that kind of money!!!  So . . .I would love to be remembered as a good wife and mama . . .and a good friend . . .and a prayer warrior . . .and a good Sunday school teacher . . .and the lady who welcomed  lots of folks into her home . . .and the person who shared Christ with many.  Yeah . . .I know that was way more than one thing.  Sorry.  I sometimes have a hard time following directions.

9. Describe the best moment(s) in your life.
Shoot -- I've lived a lot of years.  I don't think I can narrow it down to one.  When we dedicated the prayer labyrinth at church, I told Mark, "this is the biggest thing I've ever been a part of." (I was on the committee . . .poor grammar in previous sentence - oops).  He reminded me that the prayer garden was a thing and that I had given birth to twins.  That was indeed a pretty big moment in my life.  I was pretty scared and they were pretty amazing and I remember being awestruck by the miracle of God . . .not just one but TWO tiny babies . . .six weeks early . . .perfectly formed.  The day that Mark and I married was pretty special, too.  I also preached a sermon from our pulpit at Trinity one time.  That was terrifying and amazing all at the same time.  It is a good thing to have more than one "best" moment . . .it would be sad if I had only one after living all these years.  As soon as I hit publish, I'll think of a whole lot more.

10. If you could “be” anything (no consequences, no fear), what would you “be”?
probably a preacher . . .I would probably go back to school and become a preacher.  Maybe I'm "preaching" right where I am though . . .so maybe a graphic designer or something else creative.  I love to create. 

11. What or who inspires you to blog?
My family, friends, memories, and events all inspire me to blog.  As things are happening, I actually think, "oh my goodness I can hardly wait to blog about this."  Even my husband will say, "take a picture of this so you can blog about it."  He did that on my last post about cleaning the fuzz from the bottom of the chairs!!
I think I want to make sure that when I'm old (really old) I can look back at the stories and pictures and remember.

12. We’re headed to your neck of the woods… what restaurant would you recommend?
Hot and Hot Fish Club and order the Hot and Hot Tomato Salad or maybe Cafe' Dupont - both of these are actually in Birmingham - not in our suburb but they are well worth the 15-20 minute drive from our house.  We only go to those kinds of places for special occasions.  Tecate is great for Mexican food.  Bluff Park Diner is good for meat and three kind of food.  Tip Top Grill is a great place to watch the sun set and have a burger and some fries.  Sam's Deli down in Homewood has a great burger and some good hummus.  The Pita Stop and Taziki's both have great Greek food.  Birmingham has great food.  We have just about anything you want from Sushi to a taco food truck to cupcakes.

13. What’s a southern tradition you and your family have?
I've been thinking about this one.  I think our southern tradition is that we eat together as a family every Sunday after church at my mother-in-law's house.  She is in her late 80's and she prepares a home cooked lunch including dessert (a meat, two vegetables, a starch and a salad) EVERY Sunday and we all gather around her dining room table.  My husband and I and our three (daughter, son and daughter-in-love) are there.  Mark's (hubby) twin brother and his wife and daughter are there.  Their other brother and his wife are there (but they are usually late).  Sometimes someone invites a friend.  If any other family members are in town, they are with us.  The only thing is that my mother-in-law HATES sweet tea so we have to have unsweet tea.  To me that is not very southern . . .but everything else is southern to the core.  We sit around the table and tell stories and laugh.  We've heard the same stories a million (oops - there goes that exaggeration again) times but we laugh every time.

14. If you could pick your favorite blog post from your blog this year, what would it be?
I had a hard time picking . . .I really love the ones with lots of pictures because those are memories but this one has the best advice I guess.  It is called Ten Best Tips for Mothers.

15. We all love social media, tell us your links so we can follow you!
Well, you know my blog . . .Musings of a middle-aged mom.  I would love for you to come and visit often.

You can follow me on twitter (maybe I'll try to remember to tweet!!)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My smart husband and a smart "how to do" housecleaning shortcut

Maybe a better title for this post would be, "If we didn't entertain, we would live in utter filth."   One of my mother-in-law's good friends used to say that and I've adopted it as my motto!! How true! How true!! (by the way, the lady is in her 80's and has been saying that phrase for a long time . . .I just looked "utter filth" up in urban dictionary and it doesn't mean the same thing anymore - we are going with the old definition here -  meaning nasty house)  We hosted a party in our home last night (at some point I am sure that I will blog about it) and we've been cleaning and "fixing up" the house for weeks.  I wanted to share a trick with y'all!!

We have hardwood floors and we don't have rugs because of my allergies.  We keep felt pads on the bottom of our chair legs so they don't scratch the floors as they are scooted all around.  We usually buy sheets of adhesive backed felt in the craft department and change it often.  We've found it actually works better than the felt pads in the furniture section (and much cheaper!!).  There is a problem though . . .as you scoot chairs around they pick up dust and hair and whatever on those little felt pads and after a while... it looks like the bottom of the chair legs have little beards growing from them.

Mark placed a blanket on the floor and flipped some chairs over for me to begin working.  I had my new piece of felt and my scissors.  We looked at the felt and realized it wasn't worn at all, it was only "dusty and hairy."  Mark disappeared for a moment.  Where was he?  He went into the other room to get the lint roller.  He said, "just try it."

You can see how gross the pads become - little dust bunnies houseslippers attached to the bottom of each leg - but these aren't cute bunny houseslippers!!!!

Wanna see a close up?

Lint roller, hmmmmm?  Will it work?  Mark might just be the smartest man alive.  Could he be right?

LOOK AT THAT!!  Those felt pads look brand new!!!!

Look what is trapped on the lint roller!  YUCK!!!!!!  I think of us as "clean" people but it never ceases to amaze me how much dirt and dust and yuck and muck we can drag into our house each week. (plus we have a cat!!)

Hope this little trick helps some of you! Mark is indeed a smart man! A project that usually takes at least an hour . . .pull off the old sticky pads, cut new ones, stick new ones on . . .took just a few seconds and viola' - they looked brand new.

How about you? Do you have a wonderful housekeeping short cut to share? I'd love to hear. Just this last week I called my friend, Linda, and said, "How do you clean the very top of the cabinets?" We've been in this house 20 years - surely I have cleaned them before. I had to wear my dust mask. I crawled up there (onto the lower cabinets - which of course, then I had to disinfect) and sprayed down the top of the cabinets with lemon oil and wiped them up with paper towels . . .and then went back and did it again the next day. They aren't spotless but they are cleaner than they have been . . .probably since they were new!!! I painted all the spindles on our front porch - wrought iron and wooden . . . cleaned the walk through basement door and door from the deck with a Mr. Clean magic eraser . . . all in the name of love :-) If we didn't entertain, we would live in utter filth. Yep! How about you?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013 . . .and middle-aged mother thoughts!!

We celebrated Mother's Day weekend starting on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.  I picked Mark up at his office and we drove to Nashville (blog to follow about all of that soon!).  One of the reasons for our drive north was to pick up Mark's momma.  She had been visiting with Susie, my dear sister-in-law, who lives in Delaware.  We drove back to Birmingham on Friday afternoon.

On Mother's Day morning, no one was home but Mark and me.  He gave me a card with a crisp $50 bill inside earmarked for a pedicure which was desperately needed!!  Mark went to early church and sat with him mom in the balcony and then he and I met for Sunday School and then I went to the contemporary service and sat with our kids.  We then all met at Grandmother's house to order lunch from Zoe's.  While we were waiting, Grandmother opened her gifts.  We got her a beautiful outfit from Talbots (thanks to Aunt Susie for shopping this time!!!!).  We (Aunt Susie, Aunt Alice and I) usually go together to get an outfit for our mother/mother-in-law for most occasions.  Sometimes I shop (I am the one who purchased the kitchen aid mixer for last year's occasion - or I should say "one" of the occasions).  Sometimes Alice shops -actually she and I bought the Christmas gift this year with grandmother in tow!!  Susie shopped for Mother's Day.  Now it is time for birthday again in July . . .oops - looks like it might be my turn again. 

Here we are . . .sweet daughter-in-love, Lauren, Glenn, me and Laura.  They gave me all sorts of great surprises.  All three of them went together and gave me this really cool camera backpack made by Thirty-One and a matching lunchbox and a camera strap and lens case.  Laura gave me a great Auburn t-shirt with a monogrammed chevron pocket and Glenn and Lauren gave me a RED  - - yes, indeed I said R.E.D. -- whisk and spatula . . .(of course, it matches my red big mixer and red small mixer).  I felt so loved.

We had just placed our Zoe's order when Uncle Bill arrived.  I wanted to call and add his order to the order we had already phoned in but Mark said, "no, we will just go in and add it."  I just want you to know that was a HUGE mistake.  It took Mark and Glenn about an hour to get our food and we were starving!!  It was delicious when we finally ate.  When you are hungry food tastes so much better!!
Being a mother is and has been such a blessing.  It is far harder than I ever anticipated.  When they were little I was physically tired.  Some years I have been emotionally and spiritually tired.  I have prayed more than I ever thought possible (and I need to pray even more!!).  I never knew you could love anyone so fiercely. . . or want to protect anyone so much.  Being a mother has taught me more patience than I EVER thought I would have (I had none - zip - nada . . .I prayed for it and the very next month found out I was pregnant with twins.  Don't tell me that God doesn't have a sense of humor!!).  Being a mother has taught me to put others first - to not be so selfish - even when I really want to be.  Being a mother has shown me how God loves us unconditionally and how God extends grace to us . . .because I am reminded of that often - especially when I fail to extend unconditional love or grace.  Being a mother has shown me that I AM NOT IN CONTROL.  Dadgum it.  When they were little, I was somewhat in control.  They were sweet and kind and had good manners and all of those things but even then, I knew that these "children" were a gift from God.  They were His first.  He loved them even before I knew them. . . so I wasn't really in control.  I just thought I was in control :-)  Being a middle-aged mother has taught me that I need to put Mark (hubby) before my children - big switch there - probably should have done that years ago.  Being a middle-aged mother has shown me where I made mistakes, where I could have done a better job . . .but being middle-aged has also shown me what good and fine people Glenn and Laura (and now Lauren) are.  They have good hearts.  They love Jesus.  They love people.  They work hard.  They aren't perfect.  Heck - neither am I.  Are you?  None of us are.  Being a middle-aged mother has shown me that also!!  It has shown me that it is ok to be OK with who I am and who you are.  It has also shown me that I am never too old for God to shape and mold me into the woman he wants me to be . . .and to be ok with that, too!!  Being a middle-aged mother has made me think of my mother who died at age 50.  I wish I had known her more.  Being a middle-aged mother makes me smile - yes, it does.  It makes me realize that I have been blessed - very blessed!!  I've been blessed by my own mother and grandmothers who have all been gone so very long.  I've been blessed by my sweet mother-in-law and my two older sisters and also by ladies in the church where I grew up - Inez Lane and Mrs. Parker and so many others who took me in as their own.  I've been blessed now by having both older and younger friends . . . I'm in the middle . . .so middle-aged is not so bad.
Guess what?  I'm smiling.  I'm a middle-aged momma . . .and I've been thinking about that today and it is alright by me.  Yes, it is!!