Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Laugh And The World Laughs With You.....

I have to laugh at myself. You know, it is mentally healthy to be able to laugh at one's self. I do it often. But why now? The answer to that question would be because of the see-saw thought process going on in my head like kids on the playground structure that won't stop.

See, I created a project/program/field (whatever you want to call it) a while back. Anyone who knows me, can vouch for the fact that I get my hands wrapped up in all kinds of stuff....even when it is not my responsibility. This was one of those times. I saw a situation and saw that it needed to be taken care I created. I made guidelines and recruited. I shaped and researched. Then I delegated the whole basket to someone else as God was talking to me about those boundaries that get so fuzzy for me.

Recently though, I noticed that those guidelines and expectations I created (said in a scoffing tone directed at myself) have gotten a little askew. I find myself wondering if I should do anything about it. (Now wait a minute.....give me a break and let me finish explaining before you roll on the floor in laughter and point your finger in mock at the cyber image of me on your screen.)

I am torn because on the one hand, those guidelines were created with a huge purpose in peoples' safety. On the other hand, if the current head person wants to change things, that is their right and prerogative. But what if they either didn't realize the purpose of that guideline or aren't aware that all are not following it? Isn't that what administrator heads and friends do? each other out? What is at the root of my motive?.....helpfulness or control? Ack! Not that word! I work so hard to run and hide in denial of that word!
Is it wrong to say anything or not say anything? If it doesn't get fixed, is it really a big deal? And if it is a big who or whom is it a big deal?.....the program or me.

See, I laugh and I drive myself crazy.......
Admitting it is at least a step.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Scrooge Here....

I have a sparkle in my eye and the beginnings of a song in my heart. I am so grateful.

Last year, Christmas found me in not a happy place. I was so stretched and allowed myself to get completely over worked and drained. This caused me to want to hide in the back corner of the closet and never come out again. I didn't send out cards to anyone. Harsh to say, but I didn't even care at that point if anyone would be offended. I baked only what was required and did a few gifts out of self guilt...knowing that if I didn't, I would hate myself later. The girls and my husband decorated the house. The only thing I participated in was picking out the tree, and though there was a factor of it being a family tradition, I must admit that it had a lot to do with control as well.

It is not that I wasn't honored to live in a place where I have the freedom to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is not even that I didn't want to bless people any longer. I was just so terribly tired.

This year is proving to be different. I have already started the shopping (Some would be shocked that I say starting but in my home and limited budget...that is simply the way it is for now.) I have almost perfected the Christmas letter and photo collage that will be sent out to everyone. We are talking about getting our tree in a few days and it doesn't make me shudder in horror. I began making gifts over the weekend in between TIP calls and didn't feel stress or pressure. I started playing Christmas music yesterday and even sat down to watch my most favorite Christmas movie of all time.

Here is a clip from the best part.....

(I know, that part has nothing to do with Christmas. It is just so romantic!)

So, I am asking myself, "Why the change this year?" I certainly don't sit around eating bonbons on the couch while the world spins by. School and administration still consumes my life. I guess over the last few months I have been learning fresh, what apparently is God's life long learning lesson for me, that I matter. My opinions, wants, and desires are valid and shouldn't be shoved aside and buried. That is what I attribute the change to. Though it is certainly not a new thought, it is amazing how thought perspectives can change the good fortune around us. It is taking months to whittle away at the protective wall I put around myself to survive, but there are cracks in the mortar now.

I feel a glimmer of my old self returning....remembering and taking joy in the fact that it is not about the 10 parties, the shopping list, the baking and crafting. It is about the memory making. All the other stuff is just icing. I hear Tiny Tim Cratchit smiling at Ole Mr. Scrooge and declaring in his sweet little voice, "God bless us everyone!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Dennis the Menace Christmas...

Pardon me here while I tote my proud auntie hat for a minute. The following video is of my husband's nephew in his breaking movie role. Maxwell Perry Cotton plays none other than little Dennis himself. I haven't seen the whole movie yet but I am sure it will be true to his cute real life self and a great addition to the family viedo collection.

Monday, November 19, 2007

He Is What He Is....

I've written brief segments about him before. Younger than me by 4 1/2 years, he has always been a light in my life. He has a positive outlook on things and always seeks to do right by people. Being the eternal optomist, people are basically good in his eyes at all times. It is a refreshing and encouraging attitude to be around.

As kids, I of course lorded over him with authority like every older sibling is prone to do. Still, he was always right there beside me, sometimes to encourage and sometimes to torture as only a little brother can do. On the whole though, I'd say we grew up close to each other. Sure there was the occasional, "geez would you shut up already!" but never the wordy violent dialog that Hollywood tends to portray in siblings.

Even as my little brother, he was my valiant protector. As young as 10 years old, it was normal to find his short, pudgy, frekle faced self scanning over my new boyfriends and pulling them aside to let them know he would break their kneecaps if they hurt me.

When I turned 18 and got married, he was the "DJ with the Most-est". For me he took off his giant golden chain with self made initals (didn't every boy on the 80s want to be a rapper?). He combed back his hair and even donned a tie for the occasion.
After that, we didn't see much of each other. The military sent me away to the far corners of the globe as the dotting and supportive wife while he plowed through all those rough teen years....junior high and high school and even gaining a good 12 inches in height before I next saw him. Adulthood found him in the military globe-trotting around and then settling down in Florida for a bit to figure out who he wanted to be (ah the age old question of all people).

About 4 or 5 years ago (gosh I can't remember) he and his blushing new bride moved up to our area from Florida. How excited we were to have them close by. It was new territory for he and I. We had all kinds of childhood memories to fall back on and were totally devoted to each other, but relating as adults in an everyday world was new ground.
Because of life, schedules, and responsibilities, we haven't been able to spend the amount of time together that we would love to do, but we are able to see each other at least once a month. Our visits always include sitting around Mom's table and laughing over the pun of the hour, or our own versions of name that tune, or discussing the latest movie in revue form as if Siskel and Ebert sought out our opinion.
During these times, I can always depend on certain things happening. Now that he towers over me, he always sweeps me off my feet with the huge bear hug that only his strong and protective arms can do and makes the rest of the world stop in time. He always keeps his eye out on every one in the packed house to make sure they all feel aknowledged and special. And he always eats up being The Uncle for my girls, becoming their personal cheerleader in their life adventures.

Last night, he and his wonderful wife blessed Rosie with her birthday present....accessories for her drum set. They made sure it was all in proper working order for her. Cords and adapters can make my head spin, but it was all a breeze for him. One quick discussion between my brother and my husband and it was all working to the desired goal. (Now she can play music from her mp3 player, and hear the drums and music in her headset. She can also record and use her stereo as an amplifier.)

I teared up watching him "work" last night.
We've come a long way. I don't have anything eloquent to poetry or verse to explain what I am feeling.
I am just so grateful to have my brother.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Book By Its Cover....

Do you ever happen to notice my book list? I read more than some but less than others and thought that the some might find my Page Turners section mildly interesting.
If you didn't notice, that is okay.
If you did notice, you may be wondering about the newest one titled Captivating. There is an interesting story for me behind that book....and as usual.....a humbling piece of pie.

My dear, sweet, musical friend came to me a few weeks ago and said, "I am reading a book right now that you have GOT to read. It is totally changing my outlook on life. I wish I would have read this book when I was first married. As a matter of fact, I am going to get you the book and I won't take no for an answer. You must read it."

Emmediately the warning bells went off in my head. 'Ugh!' I thought. 'Another book that will condemn me and tell me about all of the things I am doing wrong as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. Give me a break. I am happy that YOU like it but I don't have time to beat myself up anymore than I already do. Maybe she will just forget about it as time goes on.'
Yeah my red hair was flaring some internal attitude. Shame on me.
Friend, if you read this, again I am sorry.
Sunday she came up to me with a big smile and plopping book bag
in my hands said, "Here you go. Just read it and you will
Again shame on me for I mumbled attitude......apologized for
being an ungrateful jerk 10 minutes later......and then
brought the book home.

I let it stare at me all through the evening. Then the voice in my head rang out with reason. Quietly it said, 'You can't judge the book unless you at least open it. Afterall you DO trust your friends right?'

So here I am to say, I am just two chapters into it now and I really do like it. It is not a book that conveys the 10 steps of a happy marriage or how to measure up to the infamous Proverbs 31 woman. It is a no-condemnation book that speaks to the heart of women...what we think and feel...without the psychiatric couch feeling. I actually found myself at a 6th grade basketball game today wishing I could inconspicuously read more of it without hurting our young friend's feeling at her first game. I even scanned out the first chapter and emailed it to another friend.

What will I find as I go deeper into it? I don't know. For now, I am excited with what I am reading.....
and proud of myself for not judging a book by its cover.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Always For The Children....

This past Sunday was a new experience for me....a freedom which I had forgotten. Let me see if I can explain without tripping all over myself with well intentioned thoughts......

For the past 18 years, I have volunteered my time in varying degrees of childrens ministry. I've done everything a volunteer can do in the different classes that cater to children from birth to 12 years old. I've done story telling to craft preparation, diaper changing to salvation leading, parent counseling to playdough making. I could go on for pages, but I won't bore with a long list. Just know that I have learned over the years to become pretty versitile. As we branched off from our home church in September of 2001 to start a new church south of the metro area, I had stepped away from being a department administrator over the kindergarten classroom (it was a really big church). With no direction in mind but the adventure that lay ahead, I eagerly sought out what God would have me to do next. That question was soon answered with this thought....we needed a childrens ministry department in our new church. With a gleam in their eyes and complete support, PJ and Co. gave me full reign to create...inspire....minister...and bless.

To be the "buck stops here" person has been such a learning experience for me. Over the past six years I have trained some 60 teachers in varying degrees of function. The first 4 years, my office was in my dinning room. There were shelves and cabinets of supplies, props, and resources everywhere we turned. Sometimes help was scarce and sometimes eager hands were falling everywhere to lift me up and offer encouragement. After all of this time, I think I am finally starting to learn a glimmer of what it means to delegate responsibility. No, I don't have it all figured out, but I am learning. It's by me letting go and giving the freedom to someone else to be responsible that they can step into their giftings, talents, and callings.

A while back, I sat down with PJ and Co. and expressed confusion and fatigue on my behalf. I had been running around trying to be all things by filling in gaps. My thoughts were things like, "How could I know what a classroom needs if I am never in there to see?" or "How could I expect other to teach with eagerness and joy if I don't do it myself?" and "As a leader I should be leading by example, working just as hard as those around me." I was wearing myself out teaching and overseeing 4 classrooms all at the same time.
Wisely, PJ and Co. said, "Sweets you have to take care of yourself. You must duplicate yourself out of a job. We don't want you to burn out. No wonder you are so tired. You can't inspire and seek future ideas if you are running around in circles. We want you to be around for a long time so let's develop a new game plan for you."
You know, in retrospect, I might have even given that same advice to someone else if I were sitting on the cousel side of things. Why are the simplest things always the hardest for me to see?

So, I now have a wonderful person that makes sure the teachers have all of the special supplies they want each week and I am training the last set of teachers to replace me on the classroom schedules. There is a person that makes the reminder phone calls for me, one that brings snacks every week for the kids, and another that sets up the prize tables. That brings me to my beginning statement.....This past Sunday was a new experience for me....a freedom which I had forgotten. I now have a wonderful woman that has come along side me to alternate administration on Sundays so that I can sit in the service. This past Sunday I did just that for the first time in years. I parked in the front of the building (no supplies to unload), walked straight into the sanctuary (no classes to check on), and participated without counting childrens heads or watching the clock for the classroom release time.

It was new and freeing for me.....not that I regret or grudgingly do anything that I do. Simply, I am grateful for the help around me for many hands DO make light work.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just Because....

Last night I wrestled for hours over the idea of simply jumping out the bedroom window into the backyard and laying on the trampoline in the rain.......

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Murphy's Law and Faith...

I had just said to my mom a couple of nights ago, "My car is running great. We drove up and back from Orcas Island with no problems."
What is it about making a statement like that that causes the Murphy's Law gremlins to wreak havoc on the playground of my life?

That same night all I did was put my grocery list in my pocket,
stick the key in the ignition, and prepare for that familiar sound
of the engine turning over in smooth and systematic form.

Instead I heard...tink...clink...clang.... the sound of a single
metal piece falling and hitting other metal objects. I looked under the car and found this part laying on the ground (labeled B in the diagram).
I've had parts malfunction before on my car, spark plugs getting clogged, filters needing to be replaced, and hoses cracking. But I've never had a part literally fall out of the engine before.
Instantly I felt a combination of:
a) you've got to be kidding me, where is the Candid Camera
b) I'd better cancel the meetings and reschedule the birthday party
c) how much is this going to cost
d) can he fix it and will he be angry
e) "Pippin" better spend the night at "Harper's" place so she can get to school in the morning
f) seriously where is the camera cause this is funny
g) guess we will eat pbj sandwiches for dinner tonight
Then my mind wrapped it all up with: no matter what, God will take care of it like He does everything else.

Yes my husband grumbled and moaned when I called and told him. He had every right to for he had the same thoughts running through his head as those that were making circles in mine. Using my brilliant years of high school drama training, I had described in adequate fashion the sounds I heard. It led him to declare that the tensioner that holds the fan belt had fallen off my car engine.
Amazingly though, and complete credit to God for all that happened next.
the part:
1) didn't need to be torqued off with a super was already on the ground
2) wasn't a dealer part so it didn't cost beaucoup money
3) the auto store had it in stock and was still open
4) ended up being a quicker fix that changing the oil in the car

What I thought was going to be a week long project only lasted a single evening.
God is so good!
It is no the battle of Faith vs. Murphy's Law...Faith wins again.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ice Show Tickets...

In the best New York accent I can muster, I say, "So, I know this guy....."
There I was, ten minutes until it was time to leave for French class, when I got a phone call from this friend. He said, "Hey whatcha doing? 'Cause I wanna give you guys free tickets to the ice show at the Rose Garden tonight."

Back when my husband was a pencil pusher in the office, we had opportunity on several occasions to use the company suite to watch events. We have seen a handful of basketball games, a rodeo, a few concerts, and my favorite gory hockey. But I cannot recall ever seeing an ice show. So what did I do? I encouraged my daughter to skip class with me and then loaded my family in the car.

Here is a secret.....I LOVE ice skating. I think it is the most beautiful and graceful type of dance a person can do. Even when it is shown on t.v., I sit mesmerized as I watch competitions of amateurs and experienced alike. Can I ice skate? Nope...I've never even stepped foot on an ice rink with those skinny blades strapped to my feet. I have heard it said that it is quite like roller skating, which I did frequently in junior high and the first year of high school. But, no....never on ice, never with blades.

So, there we sat, surrounded by hundreds of little girls and boys dressed up as Disney princesses and super heroes as we watched 2 hours of talent unfold in front of us. They did acrobatic feats and antics, drama and comedy, old tunes and new tunes. The whole time, I had a big Cheshire grin on my face and tears threatened to overflow onto my cheeks....despite my attempts to hide them. I cried at people sliding around on the ice in gigantic Disney character costumes because I thought it was beautiful! Dopey made me giggle with his silly ways. Sebastian took me instantly to the warm ocean waters and breezes as he sang my favorite, "Kiss The Girl". The romance of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White brought back memories of my mom and I watching these cartoons in my childhood.

It has been a long time since I have enjoyed myself like that.
I am so grateful for the evening and for our friend who took the time to share.