Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday's devotion

We've been in the John Wesley class for 26 years - all of our married life. A few times a year, we "socialize" during Sunday School. We used to always do it on the "5th Sunday," but over the years we've started doing it just a couple of times of year. We bring food to share and catch up on each other's lives. I had prepared a devotion for yesterday and we enjoyed visiting so much that we only did announcements and prayer requests. I used Max Lucado's Come Thirsty book and used some of his chapter straight out of the book. I give him credit!! Here is the devotion:
Open with prayer

Have you heard of the Christmas Shoe Box project? A friend of ours, Ann Caton, asked us to help fill shoe boxes one year when we were all in a disciple class together. We bought little toys from the dollar store or Walmart and socks and underwear. I think we bought a jump rope and some markers. The couriers who deliver these shoe boxes actually get teary eyed when they describe delivery day. The children are thrilled when they receive the brightly colored boxes. They hold them and ooh and aah over them. When they finally open them, their eyes grow wide at the toys – perhaps a slinky or a yo-yo or a tiny doll. The gift these children cherish the most is the letter. Tucked inside each box, occupying little space but bringing great joy and excitement, is a handwritten note. Lines form around a translator as one by one the notes are read. Dear Jose, My name is Matthew and I am in the fourth grade. Do you go to school? I play soccer. Do you? I have a cat and his name is Snuggles because he loves to be petted. I’ve heard that some of the children sleep with their notes, amazed that someone in a far away country is thinking about them.

Did you know that we are like those children? We actually have Christmas everyday. We are given a “box” filled with the work of Jesus – his death on the cross and his resurrection. In our box, we also find the energy of Jesus Christ himself. We can indeed do all things through Christ and his strength. It never ceases to amaze me. When I am using his strength, I have amazing energy. In our box, we also find the love of Christ and we realize that nothing can separate us – not even death – from Jesus.

Sometimes when the couriers pass out the shoe boxes to the children, the children think the box itself is the gift. Were no one to tell them, they might carry the box to their poor home, place it in an honored location and admire it and show it off, but never open it.

Once again, did you know that we sometimes do the same thing with our gift? Max Lucado says that we have a tendency to place Jesus on the mantel of our hearts. We respect him but we never completely open his gifts. Lucado goes on to say, “Jesus is so willing to enter your world. The hospital room? He goes there. Late night deadlines? He’ll stay up with you. Are you watching the slow death of someone you love? He’ll sit by your side every single minute."

Don’t make the mistake that the associates of Lawrence of Arabia made. He took them to Paris after World War 1. They had never seen such sights. But do you know what impressed them the most? The faucet in the bathtub of their hotel room. They turned it on and off, on and off, amazed that with a twist of the wrist they could have all the water they wanted. When the time came to leave Paris and return to the east, Lawrence found them in the bathroom with wrenches, trying to disconnect the spout. “We need faucets,” they said. “If we have them, we will have all the water we want.” They didn’t understand the role of the faucet. Spouts carry water, not produce it. Spigots are the tool, not the source.

Through what faucets has God poured his love into our life? How about this church? Or the church you grew up in? How about your spouse? How about your grandmother? God’s water passes through many faucets. I was thinking about all of the faucets in my life. The current ones, of course, are the easiest to name – Mark and his sweet mama. This church. Each one of you. My Emmaus walk. My kids. My friends who have gone on, Susan Peterson and Polly Allison. Thinking even further back – Mrs. Saulter, numerous youth Sunday School teachers, my youth choir director, my high school choral director, Inez Lane, my sister, Becky, who had to put up with me through the worst years of my life – my list could go on and on. God’s gift comes in many packages. The treasure is not just the package. Each person I named is a treasure in my life, but the true treasure is the giver Himself. The one who breathed that breath of life into each of those persons – Jesus Christ Himself. Over the course of my lifetime, some of the packages have been torn. Some have been destroyed. Some of my faucets have developed a clog. When that happened, my heart was heavy. Sometimes very heavy. But then I have always heard the voice of the living water – “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” God himself is the fountain of living water. We can thank God for the faucets. We can thank God for the boxes in which his gifts come. BUT we need to remember to open them and we need to read his love letter to us.

Dear Lisa – Dear Mark – Dear Gary – Dear Dona – Dear Liz – Dear Fred,

Are you thirsty? Come and drink. I am the one who comforts you. I delight in you and claim you as my own. I will never fail you or forsake you. Come and drink. I love you. Your father.

Let’s close with prayer.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Habitat for Humanity - Women Build 2010

Trinity UMC provided the labor for the Habitat House build on Friday. I've suffered from some elbow problems this year and knew that I couldn't hammer or paint so I called my friend, Laura, who was in charge and asked what could I do. She said to come and bring a cool treat and a camera. So on Friday morning, I stopped at the Pig in Bluff Park and bought 24 bomb pops and put them on ice. I then followed my directions to Wylam Oaks.
I arrived at the home where some of our ladies were loading the left-over sod onto the pickup truck. I arrived in time to see the mouse run out of the sod!!
This is the view of the street. Look at that blue sky!!! Isn't it a pretty street? Looks like a good place to grow up and a good place to make memories.

This is the front view of the house.

These are some of the ladies working on the inside.

Clean up after sod work - a dirty job!
Phella enjoying a popsicle.

Melinda spent her birthday working on the Habitat House. Ladies - y'all were doing a great job!! I know the family is excited about their new home.

Swimmin' Swimmin' in the swimmin' pool

So what is a girl like me to do? I love sitting in the sunshine. I love hanging out at at a pool on a day like this. I NEED sunshine. I THRIVE in the sunshine. When our kids were growing up, we always had a membership at a local pool. When we lived in Helena, we belonged to Gobbler's Knob Swim & Tennis. Our kids could jump off the diving board and do a basic crawl stroke to the ladder when they were three years old. When we moved to this house, we joined the Shades Cliff pool. I loved that our kids were swimmers because that meant I could hang out at the pool with them and not feel guilty. So on a gorgeous Saturday like this, what could I do? This should give you a hint. A pump, a box with a kiddie pool and a diet pepsi!!
The box said that this part of the project required two people but I was a desperate woman . . .a woman who needed sunshine. The two man project became a one determined woman project.

Look at this - there are even little windows in the side of the pool. Just so you know, the pool is ten feet long.

I have no idea how many gallons of water I poured into the pool but I do know that it was cold and took quite some time to warm up. Mark was at his mom's cutting her grass. He arrived home and pulled up our big hill driveway to find me . . .lying in this pool with my head floating on a noodle and my feet propped on the side. A woman desperate for sunshine . . . a woman with a solution :-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

pink explosion baby shower

On Sunday, we (Kim, Laura, Phella, Dona, Melinda and I) hosted a baby shower for Emily. Her baby is due soon and we wanted to help her welcome baby Grayson into the world. We wanted to surround her with love!! Here we are at the beginning of the shower (Dona and Melinda were both out of town). Here is our pink explosion :-) Pinks of all shades from the palest pink to coral. We borrowed the acrylic stand from Mary Michael who goes to our church. I saw it several months ago on her blog and immediately asked if we could borrow it. We served tiny cupcakes and chocolate truffles made by Phella. We served all shades of pink m & m's with Grayson's name printed on them. We served cheese straws made by my sweet mother-in-law. Let's see, what else did we serve? We had tiny heart shaped sandwiches filled with a cream cheese/shredded white extra sharp cheddar and Monterrey jack blend and craisins. Laura M. dipped pretzel rods into chocolate and rolled them in sprinkles. We also served chocolate dipped strawberries and plain strawberries. And, of course, we served mixed nuts.

Here is a pile of those wonderful cheese straws!
I used my silhouette SD to cut little dresses and then decorated them with trims. I used various letters from scrapbooking stash to spell out her name. I then tied ribbon to the plants on the mantel and made a ribbon clothes line. Turned out pretty cute.

Here are the napkins. They are so simple to fold and cut. You just re-fold the napkin to where the open edges are on the front. You then cut a little slit on each side to make the sleeves and fold the bottom sides back at an angle. Then you fold the front edges back to make a collar. Then use a hole punch to punch through both layers and tie a piece of ribbon through for the finishing touch.

She received so many presents. She received bottles and diapers and clothes and a tiny little bathrobe. I honestly don't think I have ever seen so many presents at a shower!!

new young adult study

We started this study last week. There are 27 young adults signed up for the class and they are all between the ages of 23 and 29 (more or less) and they are all single. I would really recommend this book - the first week was about Orthodox Christians and last night was about Catholicism. Adam Hamilton looks at our similarities and differences and encourages each of us to grow in our faith walk. Each week, Mark and I have dinner for the group at 6:30 and I usually try to have homemade stuff. What you see below is not homemade . . .6 pounds - yes, 6 pounds of chicken fingers and they ate all but two very small ones. This is a good thing - that means they liked what we served.
Lots of sweet tea and water is served each week.
This is the homemade part. Those are two giant pans - a quadruple recipe of homemade mac and cheese. The pan on the bottom shelf on the left is green bean casserole. I guess you could say it was homemade - even though all those ingredients come out of a can :-) You see that pan with 27 biscuits on it? I burned them all. They had to go into the trash. How sad!!! In reality, no one missed them.
A giant bowl of salad with all the toppings is yummy!! My mother-in-law gave me that giant bowl. She and Mark's daddy brought it home from one of their travels. It has been long ago because he has been dead for 22 years. Those are not beers lined up behind the salad. Those are our fancy salt and pepper shakers.

Here is a pan of mac & cheese and the green bean casserole. I had the pan too full and lots of green bean goodness spilled into the bottom of my oven. I'm glad the food tasted good because I had several "burn" mishaps that night.

This week, I was in a conference all day on Tuesday so I pre-ordered Taziki's chicken and rice and Greek salad and had it delivered to the house. Oh, I forgot to say thank you to all of my friends who have baked homemade desserts for us. We've had cookies and brownies and almond skillet cake and pies.
I know that I have talked a lot about the food for the body but this group is so much more than just dinner. These young adults are bright and smart and funny. They want to learn more about God and their relationship with him and with others. They have keen insight. They sometimes have opinions different than mine and possibly different from each other. Mark and I stand back in awe and wonder as we watch God at work and we give him thanks that we can be a tiny part of this ministry.

mother's day

I'm sure that most of you know that my mom died when I was a Sophomore in high school. She had just celebrated her 50th birthday. God knew that I needed lots of help and he has blessed me with a wonderful mother-in-law. She has been my mentor and teacher for 26+ years now. She has taught me how to be a good hostess. She has taught me how to cook. I couldn't bake a thing (except maybe a cake mix!) when I married Mark. She has loved my children . . . and not just loved them, but tried to make up for the fact that she is their only grandparent. Here she is with Laura on Mother's day. And here she is opening her cards and gifts from us. She is a special mother indeed!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fresh veggies

When I was a little girl, my grandpa had the most amazing garden. I remember thinking that it was gigantic. There were rows of corn and prickly okra (which we called okrey and I recently found out that my friend, Amy grew up calling it that also) and yellow squash and pole beans and cucumbers and big boy tomatoes. He even planted strawberries . . .actually, I think my granny was the one who planted the strawberries. He always had green onions and they would serve them on the side of the beans. I've never liked raw onion so that was one that I didn't eat. My daddy always planted tomatoes and a few other things in our back yard. The first year that Mark and I were married, we planted a little garden. We had tomatoes and broccoli - I don't remember anything else! When Glenn was a little boy, he tried planting tomatoes in our back yard and we just didn't have enough sun for them to grow well. He nor Mark even like tomatoes but they thought it would be fun to grow them. I love fresh vegetables. As a matter of fact, my very first blog post came from a thought process as I was driving either to or from the farmer's market last year! See these beautiful veggies? They arrive once a week at my office courtesy of Grow Alabama (not really courtesy - I pay for them). This was last week's box. I've learned to cook all sorts of veggies - including greens which I have always HATED until this year. The strawberries have been yummy. You've never tasted lettuce until you've eaten fresh lettuce.
Last year, we participated in another program through East Lake UMC. I'm not sure if we will change back over or not. When we purchased veggies through the East Lake Farmer's Market, the minister in charge was able to purchase fresh veggies for those less fortunate. I don't know about you, but I take fresh veggies for granted. I rarely look at the price. If I want apples, I bag up apples in the grocery store or go to Costco and buy those gorgeous apples in the tray - I don't even look at the price usually. It is hard for me to imagine not having fresh fruit and veggies.
Our box comes every Wednesday and today we received several small and tender yellow squash, two zucchini, some Yukon gold (not Yukon but whatever grows in Alabama) new potatoes, some baby vidalias, some more strawberries (which I washed as soon as I walked through the door and they are all gone) and some tiny tender green beans. Produce is so good when it is picked small. For supper tonight, I put some olive oil in the skillet and stir fried the two types of squash with onions. It was delicious.
When I was describing gardens, I forgot to tell you about Dave's garden. Dave is one of the associate pastors at Trinity. He planted a garden last year and has done so again this year in a little courtyard that isn't used for anything else. He walked through the office yesterday eating fresh lettuce leaves that he picked and washed. Last year, he would pick the little tomatoes and wash them and put them in a bowl on the table in the office. Every time many of us walked by, we would pop a tiny tomato into our mouths. Delish!
So check out Grow Alabama and East Lake Farmer's Market - They are both on facebook. Both support our local farmers. Both provide nutritious and delicious fruits and veggies.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

new furniture (sort of) and new curtains

We have done very little in the redecorating of our home over the last several years. Two in college sort of trumps lots of other things! When the kids first went away to college, we painted the bonus room upstairs and we worked on our powder room last year. I love it but Mark wants to hire someone to "fix" it. We were given this chair as newlyweds and we had it reupholstered once. The fabric was very faded. This picture doesn't do this fabric justice. It is rich and warm and soft. This is the new fabric on our sofa. We bought living room and dining room furniture also when we were first married (26 years this month) and we bought traditional styles so that we could just keep recovering them. I will be honest. I could have purchased a brand new sofa for much less than the fabric and labor on this sofa but there is something to be said for having the same comfortable sofa forever.
I have removed the two blue plates (which are from Mark's family farm-only thing left after a fire) and the pretty red scripture plate because they don't match. These are the new curtains - I saved lots of money by sewing them myself. You read about the new table and new light fixture in a post a couple of months ago.

Here is the view of the family room from the kitchen table. We had those cabinets custom made back when the kids were in middle school. The tv is in the left cabinet and the old dinosaur computer is in the right cabinet. There is a pull out desk under the computer and the rest is storage. The printer is in the cabinet under the computer. It is nice to be able to close stuff up when company comes over. Just a glimpse into our home!!

the divine dance

What in the world does this gigantic fish have to do with "the divine dance" you might ask. Well, the divine dance was our senior high girl's retreat. It was a great book about who are we dancing for anyway. Are we dancing for Jesus? Are we dancing for others? I was blessed to be asked to go and give one of the talks to these girls. I love going on these weekends. I love being with this group of girls. Now what in the world is that big fish doing on a girl's weekend? One of the families in our church is so very generous with their farmhouse. They have allowed the entire youth group to descend upon this place and they have had a men's day at their place and they have allowed us to have the senior high girl's retreat there. My bedroom was this study . . .and the couch was right under this giant fish. I actually took a picture of it because I knew Mark and Glenn would love to see it. For that very same reason, I took a picture of all of these turkey heinies (I know that is not what they are . . .tail feathers, perhaps?). This was the view at the foot of my bed. I thought I took a picture of the cool sleeping loft where most of the girls slept but it was not on my camera.
Here is a picture of all the girls on Saturday morning - very early - 8 ish ...I was getting ready to give my talk and the weather alert radio was going off fairly often. This was one of those weekends in Alabama where the tornadoes are swooping through. We were supposed to stay all day on Saturday and play but the weather was so bad that we did both of the Saturday talks practically back to back and loaded the bus and skedaddled back to Birmingham. I love the way those sunglasses look on the girls. Number one reason is they hide the sleepy eyes :-) Number two reason is they look like I pasted stars on their faces.

Here are the adults - I'm on the left - hair clasp and all - no showers because we were on well water and it takes a lot of water to flush the toilet that many times. That is Jessie beside me and then Julie, our assistant student pastor and then Christy on the far right - the house belongs to Christy's family.

Here is the entire group - we always have to get a "t-shirt" shot. The t-shirts are really great. Our friend (and co-worker), Amy designed them. They remind me of a little girl and ballerinas. Amy used a great font on the back and she used these little wavy lines which remind me of little ruffles.

Several of these girls are going off to college this fall and I hope they know how much their church family loves them - we really do!! I hope each one of these girls knows that Jesus is the best dance partner and the best audience of all.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A new chapter . . .mother-in-law?

We are entering a new phase . . .our son, Glenn proposed to sweet Lauren on Friday night. We are going to have a daughter-in-law!!! Our daughter's name is Laura and our daughter-in-law to be's name is Lauren . . .even in my old age, I should be able to remember that one! Here is Glenn proposing to her in front of Glenn Hall on Auburn's campus. I'm not sure if this is the real picture or the re-enactment. My camera still has the roll of film . . .I've got to get a digital. I have borrowed these from Lauren's facebook page. Glenn did a great job of planning the night. They went bowling (which they had done on their first date) and then he had created an elaborate scavenger hunt. They had to take a picture of themselves at all of these different locations on the campus in order to win a free year's membership in the Auburn Alumni Association (pretty clever idea!!). The entire night was captured in pictures. They ended up on the lawn in front of Glenn Hall. There were 5 of us hiding down in a concrete stairwell behind the bushes - me, her mother (whose name is Ann), Laura and two of Lauren's friends. When we heard her squeal, we popped out and Lauren was so happy that she was crying!! Here is a picture of the ring. It is beautiful and we sure do thank our friends, Mike and Preston (both wonderful jewelers in two different cities) for helping Glenn.
Laura ordered this cute cookie cake for her brother and new sister-to-be. We took more than just cookies. Glenn had made chicken kebobs with chicken and peppers and onions and zuchinni and Mark and John Carl (Glenn's roommate) grilled them while the girls were spying on the proposal. I took homemade mac & cheese and oriental slaw. Lauren's mom brought her grandmother's carrot and raisin salad. We had beer and wine and celebrated the engagement. Now this is really weird to me. Mark and I are "pray-ers." We pray together every night. We ask the blessing even in most restaurant situations. We pray for our children every single day - actually many times every day. We got back to Glenn's house and finished cooking and we all started eating and we never said the blessing - we didn't pray for God's blessings on this young couple. I fretted about that (and prayed about it!) all the way home from Auburn.

Here is a picture of Laura and Lauren - my prayer is that they truly become sisters over the next 50 or 60 years!! I pray that they have a close relationship.
Here is one more picture of the cute couple. When I get my film developed, I may post a few more pictures.
Oh - one more cute thing. After Glenn proposed and Lauren said, "yes" - we heard clapping and cheering. We looked over to the next building (maybe math & science building?) and there was a row of cleaning ladies on their break sitting outside the building. They had witnessed the whole thing and were cheering for Glenn and Lauren. It was so sweet.
I don't know anything about being a mother-in-law . . . so this is truly the rambling of a middle-aged mom. I do have the example of a good mother-in-law. So here we go - on a new jaunt. They will get married probably in the fall - what plans we will be making!! If any of you have any good mother-in-law advice, please feel free to share!!