Saturday, October 30, 2010

I have the best job!!

Back in my younger days - before children - I worked for a very large company. I made great money and had wonderful benefits including lots of vacation days. I enjoyed my job - sometimes - but I put up with a lot of crazy stuff. I worked in a place where it was common for folks to have affairs and who knows what else was going on! Now, I work in a place where we can pray if we want, I can read my Bible at my desk (if I need to do so), no one has ever "cussed me out" (though one older lady did talk rather ugly to me one day! - enough to make me cry!!). Working on staff at Trinity UMC is wonderful - we don't make a lot of money and I don't have a lot of vacation days but I LOVE what I do and I LOVE the people I get to spend time with each day and I LOVE Jesus . . .pretty good combination.

One day last week, a church member brought us a wonderful surprise. He brought us a basket of apples because he knew that we would probably have plenty of fattening treats from now through the first of the year. These apples were delicious and his presentation (yes, he is an artist) was spectacular!! Another great thing about working at Trinity . . .we have "servants" who help us all of the time. (some might call them volunteers but Adam Hamilton said that you "volunteer" for the junior league or at the country club - in the church, we are servants of the King!) On Sunday, a lady named Lisa (not me) counts all of the attendees at the two traditional services (she saves me an hour each Monday morning). On Monday, Myrnie comes in the afternoons and files new member cards for me and does any other "membership" task (like pulling all the individual "single" cards for the married people so that I can make them a married card - probably doesn't make sense but it is a big help). On Tuesday, Gayle comes and puts all of the members into the database (attendance for members) AND Sandra and Polly come in and stick labels on envelopes. Those are my main "helpers" and I appreciate them so much. I know that they are doing this because they love God and as Christians, we all need to serve in one way or another. I know they serve with no thought of reward . . .but I love to give them little treats for the various holidays. This is another fun part of my job . . .making treats - here is the giant bag of candy.

Look at these cute boxes we found (actually, my daughter, Laura found them for me!!)

I love the black cat ones - they made me smile. Once again, I am thankful - yes, I am!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PBJ's & Foot Washing

Our confirmation class is on Sunday nights and most of the kids in the group are in the sixth grade. I grew up Southern Baptist so was not "confirmed." I found this info on the UMC website and it is a good and simple explanation of confirmation:

Confirmation refers to the decision a person makes to respond to God's grace with intentional commitment, publicly reaffirming his or her baptismal vows before the congregation. (note from Lisa -- remember we baptize our babies in the UMC) Most confirmands are youth between the ages of eleven and fourteen, who have been nurtured in the church since their baptism as an infant or young child. Most churches offer a deliberate time of preparation before this service. During confirmation class, confirmands learn about the meaning of Christian faith; the history and teachings and The United Methodist Church; and an explanation of the baptismal and membership vows they will be professing.

One of our ministers, Suzanne, asked if each staff member would take a "turn" as a helper during confirmation. As I so often do, I somehow "over-volunteered." I volunteered to work confirmation on the same night as the Young Adult Tailgate party (previous post). Why do I do that? or should I say, "How do I do that?" It worked out fine and was a day spent in church and with church folks so it was a good day.

This was the room when I arrived. On the table, you can see a box of baggies, paper plates, a few plastic knives, my one little sheet of instructions and three loaves of bread. Guess what we were going to do? We made sandwiches for a local UMC that has lots of members who are homeless - Church of the Reconciler which is located downtown. We offer confirmation classes every year and this is a very large class - I think there are between 45 and 50 kids this year - all learning about their faith, their God and their relationship with Him. Isn't that awesome? Gives me chills!! Since the class is so large, they are divided into travel groups. They eat supper with the larger youth group (grades 6-12 - we have lots of students!!). Then the confirmation group comes together and has a short session all together. Then they move in their "travel group" to the activity. (that's where I come in!!)

This is our group as we were making the sandwiches. Our two boys (as sixth grade boys will do) had a little bit (actually a lot!) of jelly on their hands and they had excused themselves to the bathroom. A parent mentor travels with each travel group. I had never met this dad (sometimes happens in a large church - even to the membership secretary) and I enjoyed spending this 30 minutes with him. He and his wife have triplets (immediate connection since I'm married to an identical twin and have fraternal twin kids). One of their children has some special needs and he is so cool. I served communion to him one Sunday and as I served him, I said, "This is because Jesus loves you." He looked up at me with beautiful expressive eyes and said, "Jesus loves you, too!" I thought I was going to sob aloud because I was reminded of how much God does love me. Powerful moment. Anyway, back to confirmation class. We made lots of sandwiches and a good bit of mess!! I really enjoyed spending time with all of them. One of the students in my little group has sat in front of us in church (or sometimes behind us) for most of her life so I love that "connection."

I didn't get to participate in this part but I sneaked in to see the set-up and snapped a quick photo. Can you tell what they were about to do? They were going to wash feet. Now picture this - 6th graders . . .They are presented this in such a way that it is an honor to wash feet. Now remember, we are a mainline protestant church. We don't do a lot of foot washing in church. As a matter of fact, we wash hands on Maundy Thursday. So this is a new thing for these students. The whole night was about doing for others - sandwiches for the homeless and washing feet.
On nights like this, I give thanks and praise to call Jesus my Lord. On nights like this, I am so glad that I am a Christian. On nights like this, I am reminded that I am called to be a servant to others. On nights like this, I am humbled by sixth grade students and their willingness to participate. On nights like this, I give thanks for my church family. On nights like this, I am a middle-aged mom who is so very thankful.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tailgate Sunday!!

Our 4th Annual Young Adult Tailgate was on Sunday afternoon at Trinity. We had a great turn-out. No . . .Mark and I don't qualify as young adults (though we sometimes think we are!), but since we host the Young Adult study at our house on Tuesday nights . . .we were able to participate!! This is some of our group (and yes, that is Mark sneaking into the picture with all of the cute girls.) Let's see . ..Lindsay, Claire, Laura, Holly, Mary Ellen and Holly's friend and Jamie (with Mark in the background.) Daniel also came by our tent and so did Christy and Kelly. Since this was the first year for our group to have a tent, we thought had a nice group. I tried to make a giant orange and blue cake . . .but as you can see, it is more gold and the inside was more green. I was afraid to put any more food coloring in the batter and icing!! That cake was a big draw from other tents - I almost didn't take it because it was so ugly!!
Lindsay made these - they were wonderful. She took two lowfat wheat thins and put peanut butter between them and dipped them in chocolate. YUMMY!! I've had these made with ritz crackers before (and have made them myself) but the wheat thins added a nutty taste along with some extra crunch. Yes, I even brought a red and white checked cloth to represent the other team. You can tell how hot it was . . .the chocolate is melting!!

Our group is a group of unmarried, out of college, in their 20's . . .but there were lots of other young adults AND their children at this event. This is one cutie-patooty . . .look at the runny nose - allergies in Alabama.

This is an overview of the group. There goes one of the food judges walking down the middle - we didn't win any awards and we were disappointed!!

Here is another pic of that cutie-patootie!

This is one of my fav pics of the afternoon - this is Super Cooper! Isn't he cute? Both his parents were college cheerleaders. That doesn't really have anything to do with this post - I just think it is a fun fact to know and tell!!

Only the kids jumped in the jumpy thing . . .sure did look like fun.

Here is a pic of Mark and Holly and Lindsay. Don't they look happy!!

Here is a shot through our tent (thanks to Karen and Steve for letting us borrow the tent!!)

We even had live music and they were great!

I wonder what Mark is saying . . .Drew sure is laughing!

We even had corn hole and Holly and Lindsay were our players!! They represented us well (but they didn't win)
The afternoon ended with a hot dog eating contest and you notice there are no pictures . . .I was afraid that someone would throw up . . .so I stayed and cleaned up our tent and packed away our things.
What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon - with some of our church family!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I love the feel of the wind in my hair . . .I mean fur!

I was driving to my hair appointment today and there was a car in the lane beside me and it was about two car lengths in front of me. Something kept popping out of the sunroof and I couldn't imagine what it was . . .so I sped up . . .and just happened to have my camera in the seat beside me (I can't believe I actually had my camera when I needed it!!) I caught up with the car and snapped this picture . . .yes, it is a HUGE dog. Most dogs hang out the window . . .but not this giant!! Rather than hang his head out of the window, he simply sticks his (or I guess it could be her) head out of the sun roof . . .bet that wind felt good blowing through his/her fur!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our friends know how to throw a party!!

On Sunday, several of our friends hosted a "Tea" for Lauren - our future daughter-in-law. I understand that in different parts of the country (actually even different towns in Alabama) that parties are not all the same. This was a "Tea" - a come and go affair from 2-4 in the afternoon and people brought gifts. Lauren didn't open the gifts . . there is a hostess in the back who opens the gifts, records the gift and the giver's name and then the gifts are all displayed. The first picture was the table where you signed your name as a guest. In the background is the cute scrapbook that Lauren made and also a really cute "bride" decoration. Here is the food table. Isn't that centerpiece spectacular? Angela's home is beautiful and she also has the gift of arranging flowers!! See those little cakes that are front and center? Those are baby bites from a local bakery (Pastry Arts). They melt in your mouth. They have caramel ones and red velvet ones and chocolate ones . . .yummy! "Tea" food usually consists of little finger sandwiches (they served two kinds - chicken salad and cream cheese/olive ones), nuts, fruit, a sweet like the baby bites, punch, etc. They served a delicious punch that had almond flavoring in it.

Here are some of the gifts - looks like some fun kitchen stuff!! Lauren is learning to cook so now she will have all sorts of skillets and muffin tins, etc. to use.

Here are some more of the gifts displayed. Her china is at the front on the right - green and gold. When they were registering, Glenn grabbed the "gun" at Bed Bath and Beyond and registered for the deep fryer pictured in the bottom right corner. He was so excited that the McKays bought it for them.

Look at all of these cute Auburn gifts. Mama and Papa Bear purchased that really cute Auburn lamp for them. They received an ice bucket and picnic basket and two trays . . .such cute Auburn items.

I received a special surprise that day. Our friend, Jan drove down from Nashville. We were all so glad to see her! Here she is with my sweet friend, Phella. Two beautiful women!!

Lauren also received a special surprise. She knew that one friend from high school (in Georgia) was going to drive over . . .imagine her surprise when not one - BUT THREE friends made the trip to Alabama for her tea.

Our families came . . .this is my sister Glenine on the left (yes, our dad's name was Glenn and they made up the name Glenine - she is the oldest sister) . . then me . . .then Lauren . . then Laura . . .then my great niece, Jennifer. . .we were missing a few - Becky was not able to fly in from Texas and my step-mom, Joann was sick. Several other family members were out of town also. But my Aunt Faye and her daughter, Cindy came and it was so special to have them there also. Laura had on really tall shoes so she is bending down since the rest of us (except Jennifer) are short!!

Here I am with two friends - Ann (who is actually my boss) and Jan (our friend from Nashville).

This picture is great - front row is my niece, Grace and then Lauren and then Lydia and then Aunt Mary. Back row is my sister-in-law, Rebecca (married to Mark's brother Bill) and then Alice (married to Mark's identical twin brother George - Grace is their daughter) and then me. My mother-in-law is standing next to me and then our sweet girl, Laura. Next is Ashley - she is married to David and then David's mom, Molly and then Nancy (Lydia belongs to Nancy) - this is just a tiny group of the family from Mark's side. We were so thrilled that all of them could come. Mark's family and Aunt Mary's family have always been close and it was great to be together.

Sunday was a wonderful day - this is just a few of the pictures. One of the hostesses, Carolyn, took lots of great photos . . . just thought I would share a few!!

Our "motto" - the Elliott way

Our door is always open at our house - we love to have friends over. We love love love hosting the young adults every Tuesday night. We thrive when we "entertain." After 26 years of marriage, Mark and I have learned that we entertain "well" together - it is something we have in common. If I didn't have a job, I might invite friends over every weekend (but I do love my job!!). Laura brought this kitchen towel to me a few weeks ago (when she was out of town for a wedding) and I think it is just perfect. Can't you just hear me saying, "Welcome y'all" with my southern accent? (which must be more pronounced than I even imagined since several folks commented on it last week when we were in Kansas) When I was younger (and maybe not so tired?), I always thought our house had to be totally immaculate in order to entertain. Everything had to be just so-so. Something happened to me in the last few years - I realized that people love to come even when the baseboards are dusty. Now . . .they might talk about me on the way home. Example of car conversation: "Honey, can you believe that there were cobwebs on the chandelier at Lisa's house?" or "Dang! I can't believe they haven't finished that bathroom yet." It's ok if folks notice those things (I told you that I gave up worrying about that a few years ago) . . but I hope this is the car conversation: "I love going to Mark and Lisa's house. We always laugh so much. The food is good. I love sitting around that big table." or "I always feel so at home at the Elliott's house."
So come on over. Sit awhile. Visit with us. Welcome y'all! The door is always open! Do you know why? Max Lucado says it well in his new book, "Outlive Your Life." He writes, "As you welcome strangers (and I add friends and family) to your table, you are welcoming God Himself. Something holy happens around a dinner table that will never happen in a sanctuary. In a church auditorium you see the backs of heads. Around the table you see the expressions on faces. Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community." Another reason our door is always open is that I grew up in a little two bedroom (finally added a third) house in a very blue collar community. I always said that if I grew up and lived in a "nice" house that I was going to open the doors and use that home for God's glory. I don't think my parents ever invited friends over. I remember family coming to eat and I remember going to my grandmother's house to eat but I never remember my parents inviting friends over. I remember going to Andalusia to visit my best friend's family when we were young . . and they were having a party. I remember thinking, "I love this and want to be like them when I grow up." (They were having their Sunday School party at their house!!) Another reason is a selfish one - my parents are not living, my sisters both live out of town - so if we fill our home with joy and laughter from others, I am blessed. So now you know my secrets (or some of them, I might say!). . .so come on over - the door is always open. Welcome Y'all!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not bad for his age :-)

This is a great picture of Mark . . .skiing on his birthday this year. What a fun way to spend the day!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Old picture - crazy men!

This morning I sat down at our old dinosaur computer to look up the weather. I couldn't resist opening a few picture folders just because I love pictures and these pictures aren't on my laptop. Look what I found. This picture was taken about 5 years ago - I think this was during the summer of 2005 . . .right before Glenn and Laura went off to college. Mark's mother was having a "big" birthday that year and we decided to have some family portraits taken. Our good friend, Terrie, met us at the Botanical Gardens after work. The men were impatient (and very HOT) to say the least!! George is on the left, Bill is in the middle and yes, that is my wonderful hubby, Mark on the right acting like a crazy man. I must admit that when I saw this picture this morning, I burst into laughter. I think this was one of those times where Mark and George, the idential twins, showed up dressed just alike. How do they do that? I think it drives them crazy (but we all think it is funny). Bill is their younger brother and he looks like he is just barely tolerating them on this day. Aren't they silly??

Friday, October 1, 2010

How early is it . . .really?

Yes, it was very early in the morning . . .and no, we had not showered or put on make-up or combed our hair (Mark doesn't have that problem). I had brushed my teeth but that is all! This was our last morning at the beach. (I have on my Auburn shirt because we won the night before!!) I love the people in this picture. I love Mark - goodness, we've been married over 26 years now - we put up with a lot from each other - but we are good together. Guy and Phella are two of the best friends in the world. I met Phella when Glenn and Laura were just tiny babies and she was pregnant with Michael - we've been friends for almost 24 years. Guy and Phella are such blessings in our lives. I looked up the definition of friend and added some notes of my own!
A friend is . . .
1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts. (not just likes but loves and trusts enough to say anything to them; share anything; tell the other one he or she is wrong)
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance. (much much more than an acquaintance)
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade. (that would be life!)

I thank God for the blessing of friends - Today I thank God for Mark and Guy and Phella.

Free . . .free as I'll ever be . . .

Free - We're free as we'll ever be
Just as free
Free as we'll ever be

This song was playing while we were driving to the beach and I remember thinking that we are actually at a good place in life - middle age is not so bad - free to go to the beach for the weekend - actually much freer than when our kids were small . . .and still "young" enough to go and have a good time. That is definitely the musing of a middle-aged mom!!